Antonprado/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's a Super Bowl test for America's national security.
Celebrations marking the nation's 239th birthday are facing what some call the most serious threats since 2001.
“The threat stream is very high,” Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing said Friday. “In fact, we don't think it's been this high since 9/11.”
From Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston Saturday morning, law enforcement is fully deployed.
Authorities have cited no specific plot or threat but are concerned about ISIS and supporters possibly lurking inside the United States.
“Obviously, a lone wolf is our worst nightmare,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday, “but there's nothing to indicate we have any of that going on.”
It was in Boston where the marathon bombers originally planned to target Independence Day. They struck early, authorities say, because the bombs were ready sooner.
That attack -- and others in Tunisia and France recently -- were on the minds of tourists hitting the National Mall in Washington, as they navigate a security maze.
“You just pray that it doesn't happen,” Dan Hagan of Columbia, South Carolina, said.
Added Shola Sutton of Houston: “I've seen police all over the place.”
In Chicago, police are working 12-hour shifts.
Elsewhere, an extra 7,000 officers were deployed this weekend in New York City: on the ground, in the air, and on the water around Ground Zero.
But despite all the security, it's always important to say something if you see something, authorities say, because the best defense is what they call people’s "sixth sense."
"If you believe something is wrong,” U.S. Park Police Chief Robert MacLean said Friday, “or that the hair stands up on the back of your neck, don't feel ashamed or embarrassed to reach out to a member of law enforcement that is in the area to let them know, ‘Hey, please check this.’”
That's what a 911 caller did earlier this week at the Washington Navy Yard when she thought she heard gunfire. It turned out to be a false alarm but, police say, that's exactly what they want people to do.
Joey Chestnut wins the Men's Division with 61 Hot Dogs at the 2014 Nathan's Famous 4th July International Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island on July 4, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)(CONEY ISLAND, N.Y.) -- In New York City, the 4th of July means one thing: Nathan's annual hot dog-eating contest on Coney Island.
The men's competition, now in its 99th year, took place Saturday afternoon, when contestants gather on stage to eat as many hot dogs and buns as they can.
Joey Chestnut, who had won the contest for eight consecutive years, lost to rival Matt "Megatoad" Stonie by two hot dogs, 62 to 60.
Miki Sudo won women's division, wolfing down 38 hot dogs in 10 minutes.
Photo: Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue(FRISCO, Colo.) -- A medical helicopter crashed near a Colorado hospital on Friday, killing the pilot and injuring two other crew members.
Flight for Life Colorado posted a message to their Facebook page, saying that the crash occurred "immediately following take off" from St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco. The helicopter's pilot was "fatally injured," the organization said, and a flight paramedic and a flight nurse both suffered injuries.
There was no patient on board the helicopter at the time of the crash.
Flight for Life says it is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to determine the cause of the crash.
Tracy Fox/iStock/Thinkstock(AVON, Colo.) -- About nine people suffered minor injuries during a fireworks mishap in a Colorado town late Friday evening, officials said.
The incident occurred in Avon, where the town was having its annual Salute to the U.S.A. fireworks show. A shell appeared to have exploded in its tube instead of properly firing into the sky, according to a news release issued by the town manager.
“The misfired shell caused the rack of 5” shells to tip in two directions causing two to three shells to cross into the crowd,” the statement said.
Nine people experienced minor abrasion burns from the accident, the town said. They were treated by medical staff at the scene and released.
Deputy Chief Greg Daly said the show, which is in its 29th year and draws about 20,000, had never experienced a production failure, and that authorities responded to the scene in less than a minute. “It is wonderful news that the injuries were very minor,” he said.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- They’re some of the military’s most loyal and dedicated assets -- and they also happen to be the furriest.
Military working dogs can help patrol bases, detect explosives and narcotics, and even take down hostile threats, all at the direction of their trainers.
“I would say it is the best military job there is. If I could do it forever, I would do it forever,” said Staff Sgt. Krystle Draper, a K-9 Handler stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Her “partner” at work is military working dog Jop, who patrols the base to keep it safe.
Every day, Draper and Jop go through hours of rigorous training to keep the pup's skills sharp. Jop can be unleashed on suspicious persons, incapacitating them with a fierce bite to the arm or leg. But Jop is also playful, often jumping into Draper’s arms.
Jop’s job can be a dangerous one. Many military dogs who experience trauma in war zones can show signs of post-traumatic stress, just like humans.
“If they have a traumatic experience and it could affect them for the rest of their lives.,” Draper said. “Dogs are similar to people in many ways. They’re very emotionally connected.”
Military working dogs serve tours of duty just like servicemembers and usually work until they’re 8 or 9 years old, after which they can be adopted by their handlers, other military personnel or even civilians.
“They do all the same things we do minus getting paid, minus getting benefits, minus getting leave. They never truly have a day off if you think about it,” Draper points out. “They do all of this for a pat on the back, a ‘good boy,’ and a toy.”
But it’s clear that the love shared between handler and dog is the most important benefit -- and an unconditional one.
A sign on the inside of a Baltimore's police van. (Obtained by ABC News)(BALTIMORE) -- A sign inside a Baltimore police van that says "Enjoy your ride, cuz we sure will!" has sparked criticism in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray -- and the department has launched an internal investigation, according to officials.
The department was put in the national spotlight after six officers were charged in the death of Gray, who was fatally injured in police custody in April. An autopsy report leaked to the Baltimore Sun said that Gray died of a high-impact injury as a result of not being secured properly during transport.
"This sign is yet more proof that the Baltimore City Police Department is in need of serious investigation, oversight and reform," Gray's family layer, William "Billy" Murphy, Jr. told ABC News in a statement Friday. "While we wait on the Department of Justice to do this very thing, our response as a united community should be patience and calm."
The sign's authenticity has been confirmed by the city's police, which told ABC News in a statement that the department has launched an internal investigation.
"The nature and the posting of wording in one of our transport vehicles is both concerning and unacceptable," Baltimore Police Department Ret. Rashawn Strong said. "We have recently become aware of the wording and have begun an internal investigation to determine all the circumstances surrounding its placement and to identify the person or persons responsible for its posting. This is an incident that is being taken very seriously."
The photographer, who lives in Baltimore, told ABC News they wished to remain anonymous.
The "story is about the photo's message and not me," the photographer said.
The State’s Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the sign.
The DOJ has launched a federal civil rights probe of the Baltimore Police Department. The results of the probe were not clear.
A man pulled a shark out of the water in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, on July 3, 2015. (Anna Korman) (KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C.) -- Amid a string of shark attacks in North Carolina, two beach-goers turned the tables on one shark that got a little bit too close for comfort on Friday.
Two men were fishing in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, this morning when they caught a shark, witness Chloe Finlay told ABC News.
These photos, provided by witness Anna Korman, show one of the men grabbing the shark by its tail and pulling it right out of the water.
Stunned vacationers gathered on the sand, snapping photos of the shark up-close. Seven shark attacks have been reported in North Carolina in June, according to authorities.
A California woman was shot and killed in an apparent random act of violence. (Courtesy of Steinle family)(SAN FRANCISCO) -- A San Francisco woman was recently shot and killed in a seemingly "random shooting" while she was strolling and taking photos with her father in a tourist-heavy area of the city, according to the authorities and the victim's family.
Kathryn Steinle, 31 -- a medical sales rep was on her way to see her sister-in-law, who was expecting a baby -- was shot in her upper torso at Pier 14 in San Francisco on Wednesday around 6:30 p.m., police said.
Despite a Good Samaritan helping officers attend to Steinle before paramedics arrived, she later died at San Francisco General Hospital.
The alleged shooter, Francisco Sanchez, 45, fled the scene, but officers found him in front of a restaurant in the area about an hour after Steinle was shot. Sanchez was on probation in Texas at the time of the shooting, and he has been formally charged with Steinle's murder, according to authorities.
It was not clear what he was on probation for.
"There does not appear to be any connection between the victim and the suspect," San Francisco Police Sgt. Mike Andraychak told ABC News affiliate KGO-TV. "At this point, it appears to be a random shooting incident."
Sanchez has been previously deported five times and his criminal history includes seven prior felony convictions, four of which involve narcotics charges, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
It was not clear what the other convictions were for.
ICE said in a statement that Sanchez was turned over to the San Francisco Police Department this past March on an outstanding drug warrant and that the department requested that police keep Sanchez in custody based on his criminal background and a new case against him.
However, police did not honor the request, ICE said, adding that the case "illustrates the importance of jurisdictions working with ICE in order to avoid needless tragedy in their communities."
San Francisco PD did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the allegations from ICE.
In the meantime, Steinle's family is in shock and mourning, KGO-TV reported.
The victim's brother, Brad Steinle, told KGO-TV his sister, who loved to make people laugh and smile, was supposed to see him the night she died to learn if he and his wife were expecting a boy or girl.
"She won't get to meet my daughter," Brad said through tears. "Cherish the people in your life, and who you love, and tell them you love them, cause I'll never get to tell my sister that I love her again,"
Kathryn Steinle, who was went by "Kate," lived in San Francisco, but grew up in the small town of Pleasanton, California. She graduated from Amador Valley High School in 2001, KGO-TV reported. She eventually made her way to the city, working as a medical device sales representative for Medtronic, the station added.
"We are saddened and shocked by this senseless act," Medtronic said in a statement on Thursday. "Our thoughts and condolences are with Kate's family and friends."
On Thursday evening, flowers were left on Pier 14 to honor and remember Kate Steinle.
"She was amazing," her friend, Heather Childress told KGO-TV. "She was a very compassionate person, her smile was infectious."
Childress and other friends also told KGO-TV that Steinle was the kind of friend who was always there. When friends organized a charity bike ride for multiple sclerosis, Kate threw a fundraising dinner to help without being asked, they said.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As beach season hits high gear this holiday weekend, some people in North Carolina are calling for beach closures amid a surge in shark attacks over the past month.
There have been 11 shark attacks off the shores of the Carolinas this year, most in just the last three weeks.
On Wednesday, a 68-year-old man was bitten by a shark off the coast of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. The victim, identified by the hospital as Andrew Costello, was bitten on his left side in his lower leg and hip, and on both his hands, Hyde County EMS Director Justin Gibbs told ABC News.
Experts say the increase in attacks this year could be based on four factors: First, due to drought conditions limiting fresh water along the coast, the ocean water is saltier, which sharks like. Throw in warmer water than usual, add in a surge of fish for food and factor in more people than usual at the beach and it's a recipe for disaster.
“They do like the clear ocean water,” said Capt. Steve Wilson of Dream Girl Sport Fishing, “but you also have a booming sea turtle population and they love sea turtles.”
Though some are calling for beach closures, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is offering a warning instead.
“Recognize that there are certain areas where we are having these bites,” he said. “So use your common sense -- especially if you are in and around a fishing area.”
Shark encounters haven’t just been limited to the Carolina coast.
An aggressive shark capsized a man's kayak in Florida in a terrifying moment caught on video last Thursday.
Ben Chancey, a U.S. Coast Guard captain for fishing charters, was off the coast of Stuart, Florida, trying to catch a goliath grouper when several bull sharks started swimming around his kayak, he said.
Fuse/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water went to waste in California at a time when water conservation efforts are more serious than ever for the drought-stricken state.
The mayor of Poway, a city in San Diego County, defended the decision to dump 550,000 gallons of drinking water into a nearby canyon, according to ABC News affiliate KGTV.
“It was a perfect storm of conservation and heat,” Poway Mayor Steve Vaus told KGTV.
In an ironic twist, the reason so much water was lost was because of conservation efforts. The water sat in the Blue Crystal Reservoir for too long, according to KGTV. Heat created a chemical imbalance of chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia used to disinfect drinking water, making the water, according to state regulations, unsafe to drink.
“I think it’s a shame, the city should have prepared better for it,” said resident Helen Shelden.
More than 500,000 gallons of water can reportedly supply four households for a year.
Vaus said the water was dumped rather than being put back in the lake where it came from, because it would be too expensive.
“This was just an unfortunate consequence that pains us, but we want to keep our people healthy,” Vaus said.
The mayor said the water wasted is a small amount compared to what residents use annually, according to KGTV.
The City of Poway did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An estimated 35 million Americans will be on the roads this holiday weekend, and this year could be one of the deadliest due to drunk drivers, according to AAA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The National Safety Council, a nonprofit group, estimates that about 400 Americans will die on the roads this weekend, with drunk driving being the leading cause of fatalities.
"The combination of low gas prices and an improving economy is resulting in more miles being driven on our roads, unfortunately resulting in an increase in the number of deaths," said Ken Kolosh of the National Safety Council.
The Ford Motor Company has a kit using weights and goggles that mimics the effect of drunk driving, and ABC News' David Kerley tried the devices to get a feel for how much control a motorist loses when driving drunk. The sensation is similar to vertigo.
While Kerley strapped on the kit, U.S. Park Police Sgt. Adam Zielinski put him through the paces of a DUI stop, and Kerley was staggering, unable to walk even nine steps in a straight line.
"Do you think that you were able to operate a vehicle safely?" Zielinski asked.
The answer was a clear no when Kerley couldn't even get one foot in front of the other.
And it's not just gas prices that this officer is worried about, it's the calendar, too, because Friday is a legal holiday and Saturday is the Fourth of July.
"So you have the possibility of people attending two different events, on a Friday and a Saturday," Zielinski said. "There's just a culmination of different effects that could really be an integral part on how highway safety is this weekend."
iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A cellphone video that’s burning up the Internet Friday morning has led to the suspensions of three security guards seen repeatedly punching a shirtless 15-year-old boy outside the Stonecrest Mall south of Atlanta.
Witnesses say the guards were trying to get a group of underage kids to leave. Mall policy says someone has to be 18 to remain on the property without a parent. But the girl who shot the video, who’s avoiding cameras, told police that one of the guards swung first.
The boy's mother, Chavella Hamm, 45, and her lawyer are furious.
"I was horrified, I was scared," Hamm said. "I was at another store ... across the street from the mall, and I got a phone call on my phone, and it was my son, hysterical, screaming, 'Ma, come help me.'"
They went to court Thursday and filed documents demanding that police arrest the security guards for "battery and visible harm." They were granted a hearing next month, where they plan to show a judge the video.
"They should not be allowed to continuing working as security officers," said Hamm’s lawyer, Mawuli Mel Davis. "But even more importantly, they should be arrested and prosecuted as criminals."
In a statement, the mall said that guards work for Securitas USA, a "third-party company" that "is currently working with the DeKalb Police Department while this incident is under investigation."
"The security officers have been suspended without pay and will no longer work on site at the shopping center," the Mall at Stonecrest said in its statement. "With this being an ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide any additional information at this time."
Securitas USA did not respond to a request for comment.
The boy's mother said he’s recovering from a gash near his eye and wounds to his back and arms.
"What those three men did, it could have turned out even worse," Hamm said. "But my baby came home. What's to say someone else's baby won’t come home. ... And I want something done about this. This will be dealt with."
Massachusetts State Police(BOSTON) -- Massachusetts authorities have released new photos in hopes of identifying a young girl who was discovered dead inside a trash bag.
On June 25, a dog walker found the girl's body on the western shore of Deer Island in Winthrop, a peninsula in Boston Harbor opposite Logan Airport, Massachusetts State Police said. The girl was found with a fleece blanket and wrapped in a trash bag.
There were no signs of trauma, said Dave Procopio, director of media relations for the state police.
On Thursday, police released a computer-generated composite image of the girl, who was approximately 4 years old. The photo, prepared by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, depicts what she may have looked like, police said.
The girl was described as having brown eyes and brown hair. She weighed about 30 pounds and stood about 3 feet 6 inches tall, police said.
Police also released images of the leggings she was wearing when discovered as well as the zebra-striped blanket found with her body.
Police have received several dozen tips, Procopio told ABC News Friday, adding that he was surprised no family members have come forward.
The cause of death has not been determined, police said.
State police, local police and the district attorney's office are investigating. Anyone with any information can call Massachusetts State Police at 508-820-2121.
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(MT. JULIET, Tenn.) -- A father and his two sons managed to survive a scary car crash with a tractor trailer.
A Nissan Maxima and a commercial tractor trailer -- carrying milk -- collided on a Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, highway on Thursday morning, wedging the smaller car underneath the tanker, police told ABC News Friday.
The 33-year-old father lost control of the car in the heavy rain as he switched from the far left lane to the right, ABC News affiliate WKRN-TV reported.
The truck driver drove on top of the car, wedging it, and didn’t realize there was a car underneath the trailer until it had been dragged a short distance, according to WKRN.
“Initially, it was thought that the tanker was leaking milk, but it was only leaking diesel from its gas tank,” Mt. Juliet Police Lt. Tyler Chandler told ABC News Friday.
The fire department stopped the leak and Chandler called the accident a “terrifying, mangled mess.”
The father and his two sons were transported to the Vanderbilt Emergency Room with non-life threatening injuries, according to police.