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  • Michael Dodge/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The sister of one of four Americans killed when a plane crashed into a shopping center shortly after takeoff near Melbourne, Australia, remembered her brother as "handsome" and "athletic.""Dear friends and family, my handsome athletic big brother was killed today in a plane accident while on his 'once in a lifetime' trip to Australia. It was a charter flight with 2 of his friends flying to another island to play golf," Denelle Wicht, the sister of Greg Reynolds De Haven, wrote on Facebook.Wicht told ABC News that her brother was traveling in a group, and that the husbands had split up with their wives for the day. She said that the group had been traveling for two weeks before the accident took place."Greg was on a vacation trip with a group of friends and wives. They were to spend three weeks in Australia, and I think they were there for two weeks plus when this happened. The group was spending the day going separate ways, there are other wives who lost their husbands. So so sad. Such a great guy," Wicht said in a Facebook message.The plane had taken off from Essendon Airport around 9 a.m. local time and suffered a "catastrophic engine failure" in the air, according to Victoria Police assistant commissioner Stephen Leane.The pilot attempted to return to the airport and crashed into the DFO shopping center, Leane said. There were no fatalities on the ground, he added.A State Department official confirmed that four U.S. citizens were aboard the flight. “We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who died in today’s tragic crash," the official said.Victoria's premier, Daniel Andrews, called the incident the “worst civil aviation accident in our state” in 30 years.The identities of those who died and the nationality of the fifth victim were not immediately known.“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those who died in today’s tragic crash," a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Canberra said. Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The controversial shooting death of a 15-year-old by a Border Patrol agent across the U.S.-Mexico border nearly seven years ago has made its way to the Supreme Court.On Tuesday, the court is set to hear arguments in Hernández v. Mesa, which will determine whether the family of a non-American who was killed on the Mexican side of the United States border can sue over their son’s death in U.S. federal court.Sergio Hernández Guereca, an unarmed Mexican national, was shot and killed in the summer of 2010 by U.S. Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa, who was patrolling the border by bicycle.The case reaches the Supreme Court at a time when immigration enforcement and border security have been thrust into the national spotlight by the Trump administration.One of President Trump’s executive orders, issued on Jan. 25, called for the "immediate construction" of a physical wall on the southern border, as well as the hiring of an additional 5,000 Border Patrol agents.How we got hereIn 2010, Mesa, while standing on the U.S. side of the border, pointed his service weapon at Hernández, who was on the Mexican side of the border, and struck the teen. Hernández died at the scene of the shooting.Beyond that, there is little agreement about what happened between the two sides. The facts of the case have never been argued in court, so for the purposes of the Supreme Court hearing, both parties will rely on the account of the facts brought by the petitioners -- the Hernández family.Hernández was playing a game with friends on the border between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico in which they would run up and touch the U.S. fence and then run back down, according to court documents.After Mesa arrived on the U.S. side, he caught one of the boys and the other two ran behind a pillar on the Mexican side of the border. Mesa, who remained on U.S. soil, then shot Hernández as he peered out from pillar.U.S. authorities initially claimed that Hernández was throwing rocks and Mesa had shot him in self-defense. But cellphone video later revealed that Hernández was shot as he peered his head out, according to the petitioner’s brief.Hernández’s parents sued Mesa in federal court, but the district court dismissed the claim. The case then moved up to the Fifth Circuit of Appeals, which also sided with Mesa.The Hernández family then appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to take the case in October of last year."We just want to prove our case in court," said Robert Hilliard, lead attorney representing the Hernández family.Hernández’s "parents want justice," he said.Mesa's sideThe Department of Justice concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mesa under a federal homicide charge and that prosecutors lacked jurisdiction under civil rights statutes because Hernández was "neither within the borders of the United States nor present on U.S. property" at the time of the shooting, according to a DOJ announcement in 2012 when the investigation was concluded.Mesa was charged by Mexican authorities, but was never extradited to face those charges."We are very confident" that the Supreme Court will find that the opinion of the Fifth Circuit is in line with the case law,” said Randolph Ortega, Mesa's attorney.Mesa, who is still with the Border Patrol, had to uproot his family and re-locate from the El Paso area because of death threats, said Ortega."It’s been extremely difficult," he said.Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which oversees Border Patrol, declined to comment on pending litigation.The issue before the Supreme CourtThe case brings into question the constitutional rights of non-citizens, which could potentially impact other legislation and expand the scope of U.S law."The Fourth Amendment protects non-citizens against the arbitrary use of deadly force at the border, at le
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  • Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation in North Dakota met with state representatives on Thursday, after the governor issued an emergency evacuation order for the Oceti Sakowin protest camp.John Bigelow, media director of the Oceti Sakowin camp, told ABC News that representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and one official from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department attended the meeting outside on the Cannonball River Bridge, along with officials from North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s office, including the executive director of the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission, Scott Davis.The meeting was scheduled, in part, to discuss the details of the emergency evacuation order, according to Bigelow.A source at the camp told ABC News after Thursday's meeting that the federal deadline of Feb. 22 — the same deadline set by the governor's order — remains in effect for the camp to be vacated.Burgum signed an emergency evacuation order on Wednesday night for the Oceti Sakowin protest camp “out of concern for the safety of people who are residing on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) land in southern Morton County and to avoid an ecological disaster to the Missouri River,” according to a statement from the Republican governor’s office.The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe began coordinating a cleanup in late January, but state officials say it isn't happening fast enough. Burgum’s emergency evacuation order cited increasing temperatures and the threat of flooding as the impetus in speeding up the camp's clean-up."Warm temperatures have accelerated snowmelt in the area of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp, and the National Weather Service reports that the Cannonball River should be on the watch for rising water levels and an increased risk of ice jams later this week," the statement from the governor’s office read."Due to these conditions, the governor’s emergency order addresses safety concerns to human life as anyone in the floodplain is at risk for possible injury or death. The order also addresses the need to protect the Missouri River from the waste that will flow into the Cannonball River and Lake Oahe if the camp is not cleared and the cleanup expedited," the statement added.The Cannonball River is a tributary of the Missouri River.The Army Corps, in a letter issued Feb. 3, ordered those camping on federal property to vacate to prevent injuries and significant environmental damage in the event of flooding in the area.“The Oceti Sakowin camp needs to be evacuated no later than Feb. 22 in order to allow private contractors to accelerate the removal of waste from the camp,” the statement from the governor’s office read.Bigelow, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who has been at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp for the past six months, said law enforcement officials on Wednesday moved up the barricade separating protesters from the pipeline construction area to within a few hundred yards of the camp's north gate, the main entrance. But there was no law enforcement presence south of the barricade ahead of Thursday’s meeting, Bigelow said.Bigelow said there was some tension Thursday morning when front-load tractors and roll-off trucks rolled in to begin removing garbage and waste from the campground, which is situated at the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.“Most folks are concentrating on breaking down their camps to move out of Oceti Sakowin and either back home or to one of the other camps that’s been set up,” he told ABC News Thursday, ahead of the scheduled meeting.Federal officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs remained south of the barricade Thursday morning and were expected to set up a road block to prevent vehicles from crossing the Cannonball River Bridge during the meeting, according to
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  • Horry County Sheriff's Office(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) — A man with a felony record in South Carolina purchased a gun from an undercover FBI agent with the intention of carrying out an attack in "the spirit of Dylann Roof," authorities said Thursday.Benjamin McDowell, 29, who had allegedly become affiliated with white supremacist gangs during his time in prison, purchased a .40 caliber Glock handgun and ammunition, according to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Grant Lowe.According to the complaint, McDowell was arrested in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina shortly after purchasing the weapon and charged as a felon in possession of a firearm.The agent said that McDowell had made unspecified threats, once telling Lowe that he might shoot at a gathering of black people.Authorities began investigating McDowell in December after he threatened a local synagogue on Facebook. Several days later, he again posted to Facebook, complaining that white supremacists were often unwilling to act on their convictions."All they wanne (sic) do is stay loaded on drugs the Jews put here to destroy white man and they feast on the drugs. they should be Feasting on the enemy that stole their Heritage and their bloodline and trying to run us off of this Earth," McDowell wrote. "if you ain't got the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof did, you need to shut the f--- up."On or about Jan. 6, 2017, according to the complaint, McDowell had requested an "iron," a code word for a gun, over Facebook Messenger.Court records show that since 2008, McDowell's criminal record included charges for assault and burglary. It also said local authorities had kept tabs on him prior to December because of the alleged white supremacist connections he had made in prison.Dylann Roof was sentenced to death last month for the 2015 massacre of nine black worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • David Livingston/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The 9th Circuit Court may have blocked President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations, but a massive rally organized by Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons in response to the travel ban remains slated for Sunday in New York City's Times Square.The rally, called "I Am A Muslim Too," seeks to unite people of all faiths. So Simmons will be joined by Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the non-profit organization Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) and Imam Shamsi Ali of the Jamaica Muslim Center, who served as grand marshal of New York City's Muslim Day Parade last fall.Religious leaders from more than 50 other organizations will also take part in the rally, "to declare their solidarity with Muslims facing discrimination," reads a press release for the rally, taking place from noon to 4 p.m. Organizer says they expect thousands to attend."As Trump wraps up [his] first month in office we call on all New Yorkers to gather and declare 'I am a Muslim too,'" adds the press release.
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