Northern California wildfires prompt evacuations, burn homes

Hundreds of Northern California homes and businesses were threatened Monday after wind-driven wildfires broke out over the weekend, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes throughout rural regions north of San Francisco.

The biggest fires continued to grow but there were no reports of injuries or deaths, California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

About 3,000 residents evacuated homes in Lake County, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of San Francisco. A wildfire there that was not contained at all grew to 13 square miles (21 square kilometers) and destroyed at least 22 homes and buildings, the agency reported.

Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said more than 230 firefighters using helicopters, bulldozers and other equipment were battling the Lake County fire in a rugged area that made it difficult to get equipment close the blaze.

“It’s kind of the worst possible combination,” Cox said.

Authorities also ordered residents to evacuate in Tehama County, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of San Francisco, where two wildfires were burning. One grew to 4 square miles (6 square kilometers) while the smaller one of about half a square mile destroyed multiple homes and businesses in the city of Red Bluff.

A Red Bluff police officer helping residents evacuate lost his home to the smaller wildfire, authorities said.

Red Bluff Police Lt. Matt Hansen said Corporal Ruben Murgia’s pregnant wife and three young children were ordered to evacuate their home while he was on duty Saturday when the fire started. The family escaped safely, but lost nearly all of their possessions, Hansen said.

Hansen said about $10,000 in cash along with furniture and clothing has been donated to the family as they search for a rental home.

That fire was under control and nearly extinguished, Cal Fire reported.

Cal Fire said the larger fire was 20 percent contained. A nearby casino was serving as an animal evacuation center.

Residents also fled a wildfire in Shasta County about 300 miles (482 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

No cause has been determined for any of the fires.

Officials said hot weather, high winds and dry conditions are fueling the fires less than a year after California’s costliest fires killed 44 people and tore through the state’s wine country in October, causing an estimated $10 billion in damage.

Downed power lines were blamed for 12 of the two dozen 2017 fires. The causes of the other fires are under investigation.

While the blazes were the first major blazes of the season to hit California, others have raged throughout the west for weeks. Last week, a Colorado wildfire forced residents of more than 1,000 homes to evacuate and led to warnings for others to get ready to leave.

The fire 13 miles (43 kilometers) north of Durango was in the Four Corners Region where Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet — the epicenter of a large U.S. Southwest swath of exceptional drought, the worst category of drought.

Moderate to extreme drought conditions affect larger areas of those four states plus parts of Nevada, California, Oregon, Oklahoma and Texas, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that a wildfire of less than a square mile destroyed multiple homes and businesses and that the larger wildfire of 4 square miles (6 square kilometers) did not.

SeaWorld officials ‘heartbroken’ after girl, 5, fatally struck in parking lot

SeaWorld said it was “heartbroken” after a 5-year-old girl was fatally run over by a truck at a parking lot in its San Antonio location Sunday night.

The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the youngster as Michaela Tirado of Aubrey, Texas. She and her family were leaving the SeaWorld San Antonio at about 8 p.m. when she ran away from them, darted between parked cars and was struck by a pickup truck.

SEAWORLD GETTING RID OF PLASTIC STRAWS, PLASTIC BAG AT ALL US PARKS

The driver of the truck stopped and attempted help, according to KSAT. Tirado was pronounced dead at the scene. 

“We are deeply saddened that last night a young girl was fatally struck by a guest vehicle while exiting SeaWorld’s San Antonio park,” the park said in a statement Monday. “The entire SeaWorld family is heartbroken over this tragic accident. Our focus and thoughts are with her family and our team to provide the support they need in the difficult days and weeks ahead.”

San Antonio police also stated Monday no criminal charges were pending in the case. 

NYPD IDs 1 of 5 suspects in mistaken-identity machete killing

The New York Police Department on Monday identified one of five suspects in the brutal killing of a 15-year-old boy who was pulled out of a store and stabbed several times by a group of men with long knives.

Surveillance footage published by the Post showed Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, who dreamed of being a police officer, being dragged from the store by his attackers, who were seen stabbing the teen repeatedly with a machete.

The New York Post, citing police sources, identified one of the suspects as Kevin J. Alvarez, 19. He was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, gang assault and assault, the paper reported.

Two suspects reportedly were taken into custody in the Bronx, while three more were tracked down to Paterson, New Jersey.

The attack stemmed from a case of “mistaken identity,” the paper reported.

The New York Times reported that social media users believed that the victim may have been mistaken for another teen seen in a sex video with one of the suspect’s relatives.

Members of the Trinitarios street gangs reportedly apologized to Guzman-Feliz’s family and said, “It wasn’t supposed to be him.”

Police said they responded to a 911 call about an assault in progress just before midnight on Wednesday.

Guzman-Feliz, according to investigators, got into an argument with a group outside a bodega on East 183rd Street and was stabbed in the neck. The suspects bolted and Guzman-Feliz tried to reach a nearby hospital on foot, but collapsed before arriving.

NYPD Chief Terence Monahan described Guzman-Feliz’s murder as “among the most brutal crimes I’ve seen in my 36yr career.”

The Times reported that the NYPD has been flooded with tips and needed additional staff to field all of the calls to the city’s 1-800-577-TIPS hotline.

Fox News’ Nicole Darrah contributed to this report 

Koreas discuss removing North’s artillery from tense border

The rival Koreas are discussing the possible relocation of North Korea’s long-range artillery guns away from the tense Korean border, South Korea’s prime minister said Monday, as the countries forge ahead with steps to lower tensions and extend a recent detente.

If realized, it would be yet another conciliatory step by North Korea since it entered talks on giving up its nuclear weapons earlier this year. But some experts say it might be a tactic to push Seoul and Washington to withdraw their more sophisticated artillery systems from front-line areas in return for pulling back its outdated conventional weapons.

In a speech marking the 68th anniversary of the start of the 1950-53 Korean War, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said that “moving (North Korea’s) long-range artillery to the rear is under discussion,” as he explained what types of goodwill steps between the Koreas have been taken in recent months.

Lee’s comments appeared to be Seoul’s first official confirmation of media reports that South Korea demanded that North Korea reposition its forward-deployed artillery pieces during inter-Korean military talks on June 14. Seoul’s Defense Ministry, which has denied those reports, said it had no immediate comment on Lee’s speech.

North Korea has deployed an estimated 1,000 artillery pieces and rockets along the 248-kilomter (155-mile) border, putting the Seoul metropolitan area within its striking distance. Seoul, a capital city with 10 million people, is about 40-50 kilometers (25-30 miles) from the border.

Many experts have called the North Korean artillery threats “significant” because it can inflict massive casualties and devastate much of Seoul in the initial hours of a war before the much-better-equipped U.S. and South Korean militaries could fully respond.

But there are also views that such an assessment may be an exaggeration as the North’s artillery guns in general have poor accuracy and cannot destroy hard concrete structures. During a North Korean artillery strike on a South Korean border island in 2010 that killed four people, 90 of the 170 shells fired by the North fell into the sea while 30 of the 80 shells that reached the island didn’t explode, according to military commentator Lee Illwoo.

North Korea’s pullout of its artillery would be “meaningless” or a symbolic “gesture for peace,” Lee said.

South Korean media speculated that during the June 14 military talks, North Korea likely demanded that South Korea and the United States withdraw their own artillery systems from the border as a reciprocal measure. Local media reports said North Korea also proposed the two Koreas and the United States stop flying surveillance and other aircraft near the border.

Shin Won-sik, a retired three-star South Korean general, said in a newspaper column last week that the South may not able to find any place to reposition its artillery assets in densely populated rear areas if it pulls them from the border.

North Korea has said it’s willing to give up its nuclear program if it’s provided a reliable security assurance from the United States. But it hasn’t taken any serious steps toward disarmament while repeating a vague pledge to achieve “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a phrase it has used in the past when it requested the United States to withdraw its 28,500 troops from South Korea and stop military exercises with the South.

North Korea’s outreach to Seoul and Washington has still produced a temporary detente on the Korean Peninsula, with U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un holding a landmark summit on June 12.

South Korea and the United States recently announced the suspension of their annual military exercises called Ulchi Freedom Guardian and two other small-scale drills in part of efforts to increase the chances of successful nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. Some experts say the drills’ suspension could weaken the allies’ combined defense posture against North Korea.

On Monday, military officers of the two Koreas met and agreed to fully restore their military hotline communication channels, the South’s Defense Ministry said.

The U.S. military said Saturday it moved 100 wooden coffins to the inter-Korean border to prepare for North Korea’s return of the remains of American soldiers who have been missing since the 1950-53 Korean War. The two Koreas last week also agreed to restart temporary reunions of families separated by the war in August.

Mattis focusing on strategic security issues in China talks

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis laid out plans for a less contentious, more open dialogue with Chinese leaders as he travels to Asia, less than a month after he slammed Beijing at an international conference for its militarization of islands in the South China Sea.

Speaking to reporters on his plane Sunday en route to a stop in Alaska, Mattis avoided any of the sharp criticism of China that he had voiced recently. Instead, he insisted that he is going into the talks with Chinese leaders without any preconceived notions, and wants to focus on larger, more strategic security issues.

According to officials, a key topic of the discussions later this week will be the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the role China can play, considering its longstanding friendship with North Korea.

“I want to go in right now without basically poisoning the well at this point. I’m going there to have a conversation,” said Mattis. “I do not want to immediately go in with a certain preset expectation of what they are going to say. I want to go in and do a lot of listening.”

Mattis’ more diplomatic tack reflects the U.S. administration’s recognition of China’s crucial influence on Korea as negotiations move ahead to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

One senior U.S. official said that while Mattis will willingly lay out America’s position on China’s military buildup in the South China Sea and other points of contention, the Pentagon chief doesn’t want to open the conversations with “the irritants.” Instead, the goal is to have higher quality talks about the two countries’ military relationship, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations on the trip.

Last month, however, Mattis abruptly disinvited China from a multinational exercise in the Pacific that will begin in a few days, in retribution for Beijing putting weapons systems on manmade islands in the South China Sea. And days later he publicly threatened “much larger consequences in the future” if the militarization continued.

China recently has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers and other equipment on the Spratly Islands, and landed a bomber aircraft at Woody Island. China says it is within its rights to build up defenses on islands in the South China Sea that it believes are its sovereign territory.

Many nations fear that Beijing will use the construction on the islands to extend its military reach and potentially try to restrict navigation in the South China Sea.

It’s all but certain the Chinese will raise those issues with Mattis, as well as Beijing’s long-held opposition to increasing U.S. contacts with Taiwan. China claims the self-ruled island as its territory.

For the U.S., however, North Korea will be a primary topic in the talks with senior Chinese leaders. And while the U.S. would like to see China use its influence to reinfore the denuclearization negotiations with North Korea, it also wants Beijing to remain committed to enforcing sanctions against the North, as part of the pressure campaign.

China also is likely pleased that the U.S. has suspended any major military exercises with South Korea as part of the nuclear negotiations.

Mattis said Sunday that the Pentagon cancelled two Marine military exchanges as well as the larger Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise this fall, because the defense department considered them consistent with what President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had agreed on at the summit about two weeks ago.

The U.S. has also long been frustrated that China doesn’t share much information about any war scenarios or other contingencies it has in place in the event of a conflict on the Korean peninsula or the collapse of the North Korean government.

By improving its relationship with Beijing, Washington believes it could better prepare for any problems and be able to coordinate more effectively with China.

This is Mattis’ first trip to China, both personally and as defense secretary. He said he has been in Hong Kong several times. The last Pentagon chief to visit China was Chuck Hagel in April 2014.

But both Mattis and his immediate predecessor, Ash Carter, have spent a great deal of time in Asia, in the wake of the much-vaunted U.S. increased emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region. Mattis has traveled to Asia seven times during his 17-month tenure as defense secretary, and this marks his third visit so far this year.

During his stop in Alaska, Mattis will visit a key element of the America’s missile defense system at Fort Greely, the strategic missile interceptors. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, flew with Mattis from Washington and is expected to go to Fort Greely with him.

The Pentagon budget calls for increasing the number of interceptors from 44 to 64, and that additional 20 will be located at Fort Greely. Critics question the reliability of the interceptors, arguing that years of testing has yet to prove them to be sufficiently effective against a sophisticated threat.

In addition, Mattis will travel to South Korea and Japan to meet with his defense counterparts as well as other national leaders.

Growing wildfires prompt evacuations in rural California

Wind-driven wildfires destroyed buildings and threatened hundreds of others Sunday as they raced across dry brush in rural Northern California.

The Pawnee Fire that broke out Saturday near the community of Clearlake Oaks has destroyed 12 buildings and threatened an additional 600 as it burned out of control across about 12 square miles (31 sq. kilometers). Authorities ordered people to evacuate all homes in the Spring Valley area, where about 3,000 people live.

“What we’re stressing is that people, when they get the evacuation order, they heed it immediately and get out and stay out until it is safe to return,” state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said. “This is one of four large fires burning in Northern California. It’s a good reminder that fire season is upon us.”

Erratic wind and heat gripping a swath of California from San Jose to the Oregon border drove the flames, which were north of the wine country region where devastating wildfires killed 44 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses last October.

Farther north, a fire spanning about three-quarters of a mile in Tehama County destroyed “multiple residential and commercial buildings,” Cal Fire said. But firefighters appeared to be making good progress — the Stoll Fire was halfway contained and some evacuees were allowed to return home, authorities said.

A second fire in Tehama County consumed 5.5 square miles (14 square kilometers), but no buildings were reported burned. The so-called Lane Fire threatened 200 structures and some homes had been evacuated, Cox said. It was 10 percent contained.

A fire in neighboring Shasta County grew to 1.6 square miles (4.14 sq. kilometers) and was 20 percent contained. The so-called Creek Fire had damaged no structures but did prompt evacuations.

The cause of each blaze was under investigation Sunday. No one was reported hurt.

More than 230 firefighters using helicopters, bulldozers and other equipment were battling the Pawnee Fire in a rugged area that made it difficult to get equipment up close.

“It’s kind of the worst possible combination,” Cox said.

Matthew Henderson, who was in the area taking photographs, said he saw the fire jump a road at one point, briefly cutting off access to part of Spring Valley until firefighters pushed it back.

Pennsylvania man finds hope after years of addiction and despair

The flight of industry has decimated a small Pennsylvania town, and the inundation of opioids has its back against the wall – and some of the city’s men are paying the price.

Reading, Pa., is a town plagued by declining education rates, rising drug-related deaths and a population mired in poverty. For many of its men, there is no opportunity or respite.

T.C. Wilson knows this struggle all too well. He’s a resident at Hope Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in the city. The 34-year-old is a lifetime resident of Reading and said it has experienced a steady decline in quality of life alongside upticks in violence and drug use.

“You know, I got involved with heroin and lost my job, which I worked for ten years straight. I was in line to be a foreman. … I just didn’t care, I stopped caring about everything.”

– T.C. Wilson

“They’ve gotten worse,” Wilson said. “You can’t walk five blocks without walking into a drug dealer or an abandoned house that people break into to get high.”

Wilson, like two-thirds of the city’s adult residents, only has a high school diploma. That’s a striking difference from the national 85 percent of young graduate. Only 8 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree, a stark gap from the 28 percent who have them nationwide.

This gap in educational attainment leads many residents down a path of little prosperity – nearly 40 percent of people in Reading live in poverty, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Wilson graduated high school, but not without his share of struggles. At 15 years old, he said he was kicked out of his home by his mother over money disputes.

“She had a lot of money issues,” he said. “And I was paying rent at the time at the jobs that I was working. … And money wasn’t going towards what I was giving her to go towards, and so I stopped giving her money.”

This sense of apathy pervades many in the state, where suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 25 to 32. On average, one person dies every five hours on average in Pennsylvania.

– American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Despite the hand he was dealt, Wilson persevered. He graduated in 2002 after working a series of jobs at Walmart, a nursing home and as a paperboy. Nearly a decade later in 2011, Wilson was engaged to a woman when he returned home to find her dead from a brain aneurysm on the bathroom floor.

“When I came home from work, you know, I had to find her the way she was,” he said. “And, to be honest, it kind of destroyed me. It still hurts.”

Her death sent him into a spiral of drug abuse and poor decisions. Wilson escaped his addiction with his life, a stroke of luck many in Reading don’t receive. In 2016, more than 4,500 died from drug-related overdoses, an increase of 37 percent from the year prior, according to a Drug Enforcement Agency analysis.

T.C. Wilson is a lifetime resident of Reading and said it has experienced a steady decline in quality of life alongside upticks in violence and drug use.

 (Fox News)

More than 13 people died daily from overdoses, the vast majority from opioids.

“That took me straight to jail after a few years,” Wilson said. “You know, I got involved with heroin and lost my job, which I worked for ten years straight. I was in line to be a foreman. … I just didn’t care, I stopped caring about everything.”

This sense of apathy pervades many in the state, where suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 25 to 32. On average, one person dies every five hours on average in Pennsylvania, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Wilson would eventually find love again and got engaged to a woman named Megan. They had a daughter together, who was six months old when they were both put in jail.

“I came home from work, and she was dead in the bathroom. She relapsed while I was at work, and my 3-year-old daughter was home alone with her for two hours.”

– T.C. Wilson

He found himself at rock bottom when his daughter was put into the system while he served eight months in jail. He went to rehab and a sober-living facility near Philadelphia; throughout it all, Wilson vowed to get his daughter back.

Eventually, after he said he jumped through every hoop the court set before him, he was granted full parental rights. Wilson said it was important his daughter raised by her parents, a privilege he was never given.

“I didn’t even know who my father was,” Wilson said. “I’m named after someone who isn’t my father. … I didn’t want my daughter not to know who her father was.”

Wilson was actively working on getting himself set up for success, even planning on buying his grandmother’s house after she passed away. Things were going well with his fiancée; then the unthinkable happened again.

Wilson says he hopes to be a full-time father to his daughter soon.

 (Fox News)

“I came home from work, and she was dead in the bathroom,” he said. “She relapsed while I was at work, and my 3-year-old daughter was home alone with her for two hours. I don’t even know how to explain that feeling, once is hard enough.”

The hits kept coming after his fiance’s death; Wilson’s car stopped working, and he promptly lost the job he obtained through a temp agency. He was left with no choice but to ask his sister to take his daughter while he checked himself into Hope Rescue Mission, a local homeless shelter.

“A lot of the times we’re dealing with folks that are in addiction, folks that have grown up in households where, you know, function behavior might not have been modeled,” Frank Grill, director of Hope Rescue Mission, said. “So you’re trying to kind of change those heart sets and mindsets of the individuals that come through here.”

“I can’t even put into words, like, between the guidance that the staff has given me, the trust they give me, the opportunities that they’ve given me – it’s overwhelming sometimes”

– T.C. Wilson

The faith-based organization serves two primary roles: a place for destitute men to stay for overnight shelter, and a long-term home for those who want to join their “discipleship” program to secure jobs and eventually have a place of their own. Wilson is eight months into the latter.

A leader at the shelter, Wilson works two jobs in addition to security detail. He said he hopes to be stable and find a home to move into soon. Most importantly, he hopes to be a full-time father to his daughter soon. Hope Rescue Mission has proved a buoy to men like Wilson who are flailing in life’s waters.

“I can’t even put into words, like, between the guidance that the staff has given me, the trust they give me, the opportunities that they’ve given me – it’s overwhelming sometimes,” he said. “Because climbing up those 19 steps, you feel broken.”

White House says it knows locations of all migrant children in custody

The Trump administration says that it has accounted for all immigrant children who have been separated from their families after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, and is working to reunite them.

A fact sheet released late Saturday by agencies involved in the separations reported that 522 children had been reunited with “adults.” Another 16 reunions scheduled for Friday were delayed because of weather affecting travel, but U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said those reunions were expected to take place by the end of the weekend.

CBP added that some children were never taken into custody by Health and Human Services (HHS) because their parents’ criminal cases were processed too quickly.

HHS previously said that 2,053 minors who were separated at the border were being cared for in its facilities as of last Wednesday, when President Trump signed an executive order aimed at stopping the separations. Officials have said as many as 2,300 children had been separated from the time the policy began until June 9. It was not clear whether any of the 2,000 remaining children were taken into custody after June 9.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), parents must request that their children be deported with them once they are reunited.

“It should be noted that in the past many parents have elected to be removed without their children,” the fact sheet says.

ICE added that it implemented an identification mechanism to ensure ongoing tracking of linked family members throughout the detention and removal process; designated detention locations for separated parents and vowed to ensure communication with children in HHS custody; worked closely with foreign consulates to ensure that travel documents are issued for both the parent and child at time of removal; and coordinated with HHS for the reuniting of the child prior to the parents’ departure from the U.S.

As part of the effort, ICE officials have posted notices in all its facilities advising detained parents trying to find or communicate with their children to call a hotline staffed 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, or send an email. Attorneys at the border have said they have been frantically trying to locate information about the children on behalf of their clients.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alligator goes for a swim at Florida beach

Beachgoers in Bonita Springs, Fla., were treated to a strange sight last week: an alligator going for a swim. 

“Rare alligator sighting today at the Island!” Capt. Jessica DeGraw of Island Time Dolphin and Shelling Cruises, Inc. posted on the cruise company’s Instagram page.

The video shows the gator swimming in the water before coming ashore on Big Hickory Island.

“First time I’ve ever seen it on Big Hickory Preserve,” DeGraw told Fox 13.

According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, it’s rare to see alligators in the ocean since they are freshwater animals.

FLORIDA GATOR HEAD-BUTTS TRAPPER IN ESCAPE ATTEMPT

“There are many things you may encounter when swimming in the ocean. Alligators probably aren’t one of them,” the agency said on its website.

“While alligators can tolerate salt water for a few hours or even days, they are primarily freshwater animals, living in swampy areas, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds,” the government agency said.

The Sunshine State is known for its reptilian incidents. A 47-year-old Florida woman was dragged by an alligator into a pond and killed. Another gator was caught on video head-butting a trapper. 

Christopher Carbone is a reporter for FoxNews.com. He can be reached at christopher.carbone@foxnews.com or on Twitter @christocarbone.

Cop killer who murdered New York police officer in 1973 granted parole

A cop killer who murdered a New York City police officer in 1973 has been granted parole and will be released in July, the New York Post reported.

Robert Hayes, a member of the Black Liberation Army, opened fire on Officer Sidney Thompson as he tried to arrest him and another BLA member for jumping a subway turnstile at an uptown station.

“My husband was killed for 15 cents,” said Joyce Thompson, 68, referring to the price of a subway ride at the time of her husband’s murder. Joyce Thompson received the letter June 15 informing her of Hayes’ parole.

“It just broke my heart,” she said.

After the shootout that killed Thompson, Hayes fled and was in hiding for almost four months when NYPD officers reportedly found him at a BLA safe house in the Bronx. Hayes fired on the pursuing officers with a sawed-off shotgun, injuring two of them in the shootout.

Hayes was convicted of Thompson’s murder in March 1974; he was the first Black Liberation Army member to be found guilty of murder in New York State, according to a story on the trial in the New York Daily News. He was sentenced to 35 years to life.

“So what does this mean, if you killed a cop and you live long enough, you’re gonna get out?” Thompson’s outraged son, Steven, 51, asked The Post. “He should die in jail.”

“Life means life,” said Thompson of Hayes’ 1974 sentence.

Steven Thompson was 6 years old when Hayes killed his father. He joined the NYPD in 1990, according to the Post, and wore his father’s shield – No. 3801. He quit the force in 1996, however, after two officers were killed in the line of duty in the Bronx. He is outraged that neither of those officers’ murders led to the death penalty for the offenders.

“That showed to me that police officers’ lives mean nothing,” he said.

“My husband was killed for 15 cents.”

– Joyce Thompson

Hayes, in an exclusive interview from jail with the New York Post on Friday, said he plans a simple life and will focus on growing vegetables and raising chickens in upstate New York.

“I just want to do good,” Hayes, 69, said. “I promise repentance.”

“Had I thought about it, I would have made better decisions,” he said.

The news of Hayes’ release comes two months after another former BLA member and cop killer, Herman Bell, 70, was released on parole after serving 47 years of a possible life sentence for the 1971 murders of two NYPD officers, Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have protested the release of inmates convicted of killing police officers.

“Murdering a police officer in cold blood is a crime beyond the frontiers of rehabilitation or redemption,” de Blasio reportedly wrote to the board regarding Bell’s release.

Eddie Matos and Anthony Bottom, two other NYPD cop killers, are also due for parole hearings this year.

Critic of Trump border policies took cash from private-prison operators: report

A vocal critic of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is a top recipent of campaign donations from operators of privately run prisons, according to a report.

The 2016 re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., received a total of $7,500 from private prison operators, the Seattle Times reported, citing Federal Election Commission filings and data from OpenSecrets.org, a campaign-finance transparency organization.

The sum includes $5,000 from the Florida-based political-action committee for the GEO Group, the nation’s largest private-prison firm, the data show.

GEO Group operates the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Wash., which has faced protests and lawsuits alleging mistreatment of detainees facing deportation, the Times reported.

Aside from the GEO Group, Murray also received a $2,500 donation from the PAC for Management and Training Corp., a Utah company that runs facilities housing immigrant detainees, according to the Times.

Eli Zupnik, a Murray campaign spokesman, dismissed the donations as “inconsequential,” telling the Times that she had received thousands of donations in her last campaign, “none of which would influence her decisions.”

“Senator Murray is a leading critic of President Trump’s horrendous policies that are increasing the needless and inhumane detention of immigrants and families,” Zupnik wrote in an emailed statement obtained by the Times.

“Senator Murray is a leading critic of President Trump’s horrendous policies that are increasing the needless and inhumane detention of immigrants and families.”

– Eli Zupnik, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

“She has spent years working to shine a spotlight on what she called the ‘highly disturbing’ conditions at private detention centers, and she has been consistently aggressive and vocal in her opposition to federal spending on for-profit prisons that lack any meaningful transparency or accountability.”

Murray has condemned the Trump administration over the separation of children from parents and has been critical of federal taxpayer money going to private prisons.

“We don’t know where those children are,” said Murray, the ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Murray sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar, demanding to know “how parents and children are being informed about each other’s safety, where they are located, the age of the children and if the tender-aged children are being cared for appropriately, and if and when parents and children will be reunited,” the Times reported.

“We have no idea what they’re doing,” Murray said. “It is just beyond reprehensible that the administration is not answering these questions.”

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, was the only other Washington state member of Congress to receive private-prison firm money in 2016 — a $2,500 donation also from the GEO Group’s PAC, the Times reported.

So far, none has received donations in 2018.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

Man firing weapon is fatally shot by Minneapolis police: reports

Minneapolis police shot and killed a man who was firing a handgun as he walked down a city street Saturday, authorities said. 

In a statement on the department’s Facebook page, police say the shooting happened around 5:30 p.m. local time on the north side of the Minnesota city.

Two 911 calls reported that a man was firing shots into the air and the ground, police said.

When officers arrived, they pursued a suspect on foot and the chase “ended in shots being fired.”

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement that the body cameras of the officers involved were “on and activated.”

Hours after the shooting, the Star-Tribune reported that a loud but peaceful crowd started to gather at the scene.

Minneapolis police made international headlines last summer when an officer was charged with first-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Justine Damond, an Australian woman who had called 911 to report a possible sexual assault. 

That shooting led to the resignation of police Chief Janeé Harteau and the appointment of Medaria Arradondo, the first black chief in the Minneapolis Police Department’s 150-year history, the Star-Tribune reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This is a developing news story. 

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Trump backs Nevada Sen. Heller, talks immigration and trade at state’s GOP convention

President Trump talked trade and immigration on Saturday while fundraising in Nevada for Republican Sen. Dean Heller. He also unveiled a nickname, “Wacky Jacky,” for Heller’s Democrat opponent in the state’s Senate election.

The president made his remarks at the Nevada Republican Party Convention and said that post-North Korea summit with dictator Kim Jong Un, he plans to move forward with renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and working on trade with China.

Trump said that he thought trade with China would ultimately “work out,” but that it’s “been very tough on our country for very many years.”

Of NAFTA, Trump said the deal has “been a disaster for us.”

“So we’re renegotiating NAFTA and I think when it’s finished its going to be … it’s got to be a fair deal. It’s got to be fair, we can’t do this any longer,” Trump said.

He also briefly mentioned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while talking about “ridiculous” tariff percentages rates on products going into the country.

Trump said Trudeau is “a nice guy, but we can’t have it.”

TRUMP TRAVELS TO LAS VEGAS TO BACK SEN. HELLER AMID PUSH TO EXPAND GOP’S HOLD ON SENATE

Earlier this month following the G7 summit in Canada, Trump slammed the Canadian leader, accusing him of making “false statements” at a news conference and pulling his endorsement of an agreed-upon joint communique arising from the economic summit.

“The trade stuff is coming along, just starting, but it’s going to happen because, you know, we’re the piggy bank that everybody likes to rob from,” Trump said.

He moved on to immigration, saying that America has “to be very strong” and that he thought “our people are actually doing a very good job, handling a very difficult situation.”

The administration has faced a slew of criticism in recent weeks over an immigration policy that’s led to the separation of children and parents coming across the U.S. border.

“But this is a problem that should’ve been solved years ago, so we’re working very hard,” Trump said. “The fact is, we need more Republicans because the Democrats are obstructionists” hindering a legislative solution.

“They won’t vote. They’re total obstructionists,” he continued before mentioning Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and accusing liberal Dems of using the immigration controversy to gain an advantage in the midterm elections later this year.

FILE - In this Oct. 4, 2017, file photo, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev, speaks during a media briefing at Metro Police headquarters in Las Vegas. President Donald Trump will headline the Nevada Republican Party’s annual convention on Saturday, June 23, 2018, and also appear at a fundraiser with Heller, officials confirmed Monday, June 18.  (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File)

Sen. Heller is the only Republican senator seeking re-election in a state won by Trump’s 2016 rival Hillary Clinton.

 (AP)

The president next segued into job and unemployment numbers, before saying he’d “signed the biggest tax cut and reform in the history of our country,” something he said Heller “really helped” with and fought “hard” to accomplish.

PROTESTERS TAUNT DHS BOSS KIRSTJEN NIELSEN OUTSIDE HER HOME

Heller is the only Republican senator seeking re-election in a state won by Trump’s 2016 rival Hillary Clinton. He’s facing off against Democrat Jacky Rosen, who so far has outraised and outspent Heller in the November race.

Of Rosen, Trump said she “wants to raise taxes.” He also teased “a great nickname for her” before dubbing her “Wacky Jacky,” a name he claimed “didn’t come from” him but rather was one “that people have known.”

He also said he’d heard that she was campaigning in Nevada with a fellow Democrat.

“Wacky Jacky is campaigning with Pocahontas. You believe this?” Trump said, resurrecting his nickname for Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a vocal Trump critic. “When you see that, that’s not the senator you want.” 

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Veteran’s small business is gifted $15,000 worth of lawn equipment after his gear is stolen

Just a month after finding out that he’d been robbed, an Oklahoma veteran will continue to run his landscaping business, which hires vets, thanks to a nonprofit group’s donation of $15,000 worth of new equipment on Friday.

Cody Nichols, who served in the Marines, owns and operates Our Troops Services, a small business in Tulsa that hires veterans for landscaping, fencing and construction jobs. His company took a hit on May 20 when he discovered that all of his equipment had been taken.

Nichols and his fellow veterans were left with nothing but a couple of donated push mowers to continue working, but they soon fell behind.

The veteran’s luck turned around on Friday, though, when a nonprofit group, Soldier’s Wish, surprised Nichols with $15,000 worth of new lawn equipment, the Tulsa World reported.

Tony Heineman, advancement and development officer for Soldier's Wish, hugs Cody Nichols, left, after presenting him with new lawn equipment at Bloss Equipment in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday, June 22, 2018.  Nichols, a veteran whose life and business were disrupted when his lawn equipment was stolen received $15,000 worth of new lawn-mowing equipment through the nonprofit group Soldier's Wish. The Tulsa-based organization works to meet the needs of military veterans.  (Morgan Hornsby /Tulsa World via AP)

Tony Heineman, advancement and development officer for Soldier’s Wish, hugs Cody Nichols, left, after presenting him with new lawn equipment at Bloss Equipment in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday, June 22, 2018.

 (AP)

“We’re going to survive. I really thought our company was going to die,” Nichols said according to the publication.

Nichols, who said he’s been adding new customers recently, will now continue his work thanks to a commercial riding mower and the generosity of others in the military community.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Paulina Dedaj is a writer/ reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @PaulinaDedaj.

New video shows woman trying to resist YouTube stunt that killed boyfriend

A transcript and portions of a video show a Minnesota woman who was urged by her boyfriend to shoot him for a YouTube stunt gone wrong tried to resist.

The Norman County prosecutor on Friday released the transcript and portions of the video Pedro Ruiz III, 22, took with his girlfriend, Monalisa Perez, 20, last year. The final video of the incident was not released because Norman County Attorney James Brue said it was “clearly offensive to common sensibilities.”

According to court documents, the couple had prepared the stunt hoping for it to go viral.

Police said the couple set up two cameras outside their Halstad home. Their 3-year-old daughter and almost 30 other people were watching.

LATINO NON-PROFIT FACES QUESTIONS OVER BIG MONEY, INVOLVEMENT IN IMMIGRANT KIDS’ HOUSING 

Perez, who was pregnant at the time with their second child, was heard in the video telling Ruiz she could not shoot him. Ruiz asked his girlfriend to shoot him with a .50 caliber handgun while he held an encyclopedia to his chest. He assured her that he had done it before with a different book.

“I can’t do it babe,” she said. “I’m so scared. [inaudible] my heart is beating out of [inaudible].”

“Babe, if I kill you what’s gonna happen to my life. Like no, this isn’t OK,” she said. “I don’t want to be responsible.”

Perez and Ruiz

Monalisa Perez, 20, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the shooting of her boyfriend Pedro Ruiz and was sentenced to 180 days in jail.

 (Northwest Regional Corrections/YouTube)

“As long as you hit the book, you’ll be fine. Come on.” Ruiz told her.

The bullet went through the book, killing Ruiz on June 26, 2017.

In December 2017, Perez pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter. She was sentenced to 180 days in jail. She will serve her sentence in 30-day installments each year for six years.

MISSING ALABAMA SOLDIER FOUND DEAD AT CAMP BLANDING 

Before his death, Ruiz was an up-and-coming YouTube star. The couple had a presence on the site by performing pranks including eating a doughnut with baby powder sprinkled on. However, his new YouTube channel was going to follow him doing outrageous stunts, FOX 9 reported. Ruiz said he was inspired by MTV shows “Jack—” and “Nitro Circus.”

“I may fail, but if I fail I want to die trying. We’re all going to die anyways – it’s just a matter of how and when,” Ruiz was heard saying in one of his videos.

In another video released by prosecutors, Ruiz was heard saying he could die from the stunt but had “confidence that my girlfriend will hit the book and not me.”

“So if I’m going to die, I’m pretty much ready to go to heaven right now. If I die, I’ll be ready for Jesus. He probably won’t accept me into the pearly gates because of how stupid this is, but I have confidence that my girlfriend will hit the book and not me,” he said.

Fox News’ Lucia Suarez and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.

Pair dressed in religious garb to rob banks, authorities say

Two women who robbed banks while wearing religious garb will soon be heading to prison, authorities said.

One of the women, identified as Melisa Aquino Arias, 23, of Passaic, N.J., pleaded guilty Friday to robbing a bank in Garfield, N.J., last September while wearing a head cover resembling that of a nun, NJ.com reported.  

Arias also pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal money from an ATM in Scotrun, in Pennsylvania’s Poconos region, also last September, the outlet said.

n2

Melisa Aquino Arias, 23, and Swahilys Pedraza-Rodriquez, 19, pleaded guilty to robbing a bank in Garfield, N.J., while wearing a head covering and conspiring to steal money from an ATM at a bank in Scotrun, Pa.

 (FBI)

She faces up to 41 years in prison when sentenced Sept. 21, authorities said.

Arias and her co-conspirator, identified as Swahilys Pedraza-Rodriquez, 19, of New Haven, Conn., took $2,900 while robbing the Garfield bank at gunpoint, authorities said.

Arias’ two guilty pleas came just weeks after Pedraza-Rodriguez, of pleaded guilty to the same offenses. She is scheduled to be sentenced in August, according to NJ.com.

n3

Melisa Aquino Arias, 23, and Swahilys Pedraza-Rodriquez, 19, pleaded guilty to robbing a bank in Garfield, N.J., while wearing a head covering and conspiring to steal money from an ATM at a bank in Scotrun, Pa.

 (FBI)

The pair first appeared in nun’s habits for an attempted robbery in Tannersville, Pa., last August, the report said.

The New Jersey news site reported that the pair also wore hijabs during some robberies.

n4

Melisa Aquino Arias, 23, and Swahilys Pedraza-Rodriquez, 19, pleaded guilty to robbing a bank in Garfield, N.J., while wearing a head covering and conspiring to steal money from an ATM at a bank in Scotrun, Pa.

 (FBI)

Last October, about two weeks after the Garfield robbery, Arias wore an orange hijab and Pedraza-Rodriguez a black head cover when they went to a bank in Teaneck, N.J., to ask about opening an account, according to the NJ.com report.

This time, the bank’s manager recognized them and called police, the report said. The two women were then arrested at gunpoint after trying to flee the bank, according to NJ.com

The two Leonia police officers who arrested Arias and Pedraza-Rodriguez had recognized them from a wanted poster, authorities said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.

‘Ashamed’ Comey weighs calling himself Canadian, rips Trump border actions during Ireland visit

During a visit to Ireland, fired FBI Director James Comey said Friday that he was so ashamed of current U.S. immigration policies that he considered telling Irish customs officials that he was Canadian when he arrived.

Comey made the remark during a public interview in Dublin, the Irish Times reported

“I am ashamed of the way my country has acted with respect of those children. I am disgusted, I am horrified, I am embarrassed, I’m ashamed,” he said.

Comey, who is on a promotional tour for his book, “A Higher Loyalty,” arrived in Ireland with his wife this week.  

“My wife and I were joking, not really joking; we wanted to tell the people on the customs line coming here that we were Canadian. And we were joking but it’s funny because it reveals a truth: I’m ashamed.”

– Former FBI Director James Comey

“My wife and I were joking, not really joking; we wanted to tell the people on the customs line coming here that we were Canadian. And we were joking but it’s funny because it reveals a truth: I’m ashamed,” he said.

Comey blamed the U.S.-Mexico border crisis — in which scores of children were separated from their parents until President Donald Trump issued an executive order changing the policy — on political and economic conditions in Central America.

A day earlier, in an interview with the Guardian, Comey likened the detention centers for immigrants arriving in the U.S. to the Japanese internment camps during World II and the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

Comey also told the Dublin crowd that his decision to reopen a case on Hillary Clinton’s alleged mishandling of emails just 11 days before the November 2016 presidential election was not motivated by politics. It was a decision many have blamed for her loss.  

The former FBI director also reiterated his criticism of President Trump, whom he said is “morally unqualified for office.”

Comey ended by expressing confidence that the country’s “democratic institutions” will withstand any political fervors.

“The rule of law is spine,” he said. “No president serves long enough to screw that up. Donald Trump, even if he were competent, he could not screw that up.” 

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Ex-teacher busted for allegedly having sex with same teen Anthony Weiner sexted

A former teacher from North Carolina has been accused of sex offenses with a minor — the same ​girl that Anthony Weiner got ​sent to prison for sexting in 2016, a report says.

Sources told WSOC-TV that the disgraced ex-congressman​ from Queens​, who is serving a 21-month prison sentence, could play a pivotal role in the ​new ​case.

Jonathan Busch, 54, is charged with statutory rape of a child under​​ the age of 15 and indecent liberties with a child. He was arrested Thursday in Gaston County, which is where Weiner’s teenage victim reportedly lives.

The girl is now 18 years old, but she was 15 when she began sexting the pervy politician in January 2016. It’s unclear how Busch made contact with her. Authorities would only say that the alleged interactions took place in June and September 2016.

The former teacher used to be employed by Lake Norman High School in Mooresville, but the girl was not a student. School officials told the Charlotte Observer that Busch resigned this week. They said that alleged incidents with the minor “did not occur” on campus.

Busch was arrested Thursday and later released on bond.

Investigators have released little details about the case, but law experts told WSOC that they wouldn’t be surprised if Weiner became the main focus.

“A defense lawyer is certainly going to be looking into that situation,” said former Gaston county prosecutor Michael Neece, who is now a defense attorney.

“Sometimes it can become a trial within a trial.”

Weiner, who ran for mayor and lost in 2005 and 2013, is locked up at the Bureau of Prison’s Federal Medical Center in Devins, Massachusetts.

The fact that his teenage victim was caught in yet another sexual misconduct case didn’t surprise child advocacy experts who spoke to WSOC.

“It’s a lot of sadness,” said Erin Weatherford-Famer, executive director for the Alliance for Children. “There is so much trust that has been broken.”

Going through the judicial process a second time will likely be very tough on the girl, Weatherford-Famer said.

“They are so vulnerable at that point,” she explained.

Protesters taunt DHS boss Kirstjen Nielsen outside her home

A cabal of protesters gathered outside Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s Virginia townhouse Friday morning, blasting audio of crying immigrant children and chanting “No justice, no sleep.”

The small crowd of about two dozen protesters was led by CREDO Action, a progressive grassroots organization. Video posted to social media shows the protesters repeatedly yelling, “Shame!” as Nielsen leaves her home and enters a vehicle.

“History will remember you!” shouted one protester with a British accent. “You belong in the Hague! You’re a modern-day Nazi!”

Heidi Hess, the group’s co-director, called Nielsen a “child snatcher” in a statement. She said it’s important to “shine a spotlight” on the people responsible for what’s happening “on the border and detention centers.”

Some Democratic lawmakers lauded the protesters.

“Walking in @SecNielsen DC area neighborhood to remind her @ neighbors snatching from is wrong!” U.S. Rep. David Bowen of Wisconsin tweeted.

“Good morning @SecNielsen. Kids don’t sleep in peace. You don’t sleep in piece,”  tweeted David Leopold, a former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

On Tuesday, Nielsen was chased out of a D.C.-area Mexican restaurant by another left-wing political activist group.

The group included an employee of the U.S. Department of Justice, Fox News reported.

Numerous protests have broken out across the country in reaction to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy in which people entering the U.S. illegally face being prosecuted.

More than 2,300 children were taken from their families since the policies’ enactment, but after public outcry, President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered that they be reunited. But the reversal led to only more confusion, as parents were left searching for their children.   

More protests and rallies are scheduled this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, where the state’s Democratic convention is being held. More than two dozen congressional Democrats plan to visit detention facilities in McAllen and Los Fresnos.

Another protest is scheduled in Homestead, Fla.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

The Latest: Prosecutor: Trial ends ‘long and dark chapter’

The Latest on the guilty verdicts for Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and his co-defendant Paul Weadick (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

The top federal prosecutor for Massachusetts says the murder conviction of an 84-year-old former New England Mafia boss “ends a long and dark chapter” in the city of Boston.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling spoke to reporters Friday after jurors found Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and his co-defendant, Paul Weadick, guilty of the 1993 killing of Steven DiSarro.

Lelling said he hopes the conviction provides some measure of peace and justice for DiSarro’s family members, who for years never knew what happened to their husband and father.

DiSarro’s remains weren’t found until 2016 when the FBI received a tip that they were buried near a mill building in Providence, Rhode Island.

Salemme’s attorney said they will appeal the conviction. Weadick and Salemme will be sentenced in September.

___

3:30 p.m.

An attorney for an 84-year-old former New England Mafia boss convicted of killing a nightclub owner in 1993 says they will appeal.

Jurors on Friday found Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and his co-defendant Paul Weadick guilty of murder of a federal witness in the death of Steven DiSarro.

Salemme attorney Steven Boozang said Salemme is disappointed but feels worse for Weadick, who at 63 is much younger. Boozang said it was a “tough set of facts” but they had been hopeful jurors would clear Salemme of the charge. Salemme and Weadick face life in prison when sentenced in September.

___

This story has been corrected to reflect that Weadick is 63, not 62 and that murder of a federal witness calls for a life sentence, not up to life.

___

3:06 p.m.

An 84-year-old former New England Mafia boss has been convicted of killing a nightclub owner more than two decades ago.

Jurors on Friday found Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme guilty in the slaying of Steven DiSarro in 1993. Salemme’s co-defendant, Paul Weadick, was also convicted. Each now faces up to life in prison.

Prosecutors say Salemme watched as his son strangled DiSarro and Weadick held DiSarro’s feet. Salemme’s son died in 1995. Authorities said Salemme was worried DiSarro would cooperate with authorities investigating the mobster.

Salemme was head of the New England family of La Cosa Nostra in the early 1990s.

DiSarro’s remains were dug up in 2016 after authorities received a tip that they were buried behind a mill building in Providence, Rhode Island.

___

2:55 p.m.

Jurors have reached a verdict in the case of a former New England Mafia boss charged with killing a nightclub owner in 1993.

The verdict was set to be read Friday, three days after the jury began deliberating.

Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and his co-defendant, Paul Weadick, are accused of killing nightclub owner Steven DiSarro because Salemme worried he’d cooperate with authorities who were investigating his activities in the mob.

Prosecutors say Salemme watched as his son strangled DiSarro while Weadick held DiSarro’s feet. Salemme’s son died in 1995.

Lawyers for Salemme and Weadick sought to discredit the government’s star witness, another mobster who says he walked in on the killing.

Salemme and Weadick each face up to life in prison if convicted.