Scott Olson/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- President Obama declared Texas to have a "major disaster" on Saturday after the state was hit by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding.
According to the White House, the President has signed a disaster declaration and has ordered federal aid to the Lone Star State. The aid will assist recovery efforts in areas affected by severe weather that started on May 4. Federal funding will be available to the Harris, Hays, and Van Zandt counties.
On Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration as a result of the damage in his state.
“Communities across the State of Texas have experienced devastating destruction, injury and – most tragically – loss of life due to the major and unceasing severe weather system that has been impacting our state for weeks,” said the governor. “I am extremely proud of the way that our first responders, local officials, law enforcement and Texas citizens have come together to protect and support one another in this time of crisis. I am requesting disaster assistance from the federal government to ensure that families, businesses and communities who have experienced hardship as a result of these severe storms have access to all possible resources as they recover and rebuild.”
Up to three inches of rain is likely on Saturday and Sunday for eastern Texas, with some isolated spots getting up to five inches of rain. A total of 70 counties are under a state of disaster but the governor said Friday that number would likely rise.
Oregon State Police(WOODBURN, Ore.) -- Several people were injured after a rollover bus crash in Oregon on Saturday morning.
The commercial bus was heading south on Interstate 5 in Marion County when it lost control, went through the median and into a northbound lane, the Oregon State Police said. The bus then came to rest on its side.
State police would not confirm how many people were on the bus and how many were injured, but the state police tweeted that several passengers were hospitalized. Marion County Fire officials also posted on Facebook that multiple people were taken to the hospital.
Prince George's County State's Attorney(WASHINGTON) -- A lawyer who plans to meet with the suspect in the D.C. mansion murders in jail on Saturday or Sunday told ABC News he believes the police have "blinders on" when it comes to the 34-year-old accused of quadruple homicide and arson.
“They believe, perhaps honestly,” Robin Ficker said, “that they have the man, but as a result of that they're not looking elsewhere. They’ve closed their eyes.”
More than two weeks into the investigation of the D.C. mansion murders, in which four people were killed, there is still just one suspect, Daron Wint, who is in custody and being held without bail. He was arrested after authorities found his DNA on the remains of pizza left behind at the crime scene.
There's just one problem with that, according to Ficker.
“He doesn't eat pizza," Ficker said. "If he was hungry, he wouldn't order pizza.”
Wint is accused of terrorizing and killing American Iron Works CEO Savvas Savopoulos, his wife, Amy Savopoulos, their 10-year-old son, Philip Savopoulos, and the family's housekeeper, Vera Figueroa.
The three Savopoulos family members killed will be laid to rest Monday. Two daughters in the family were away at boarding school at the time of the killings and survived.
Though Ficker plans to meet with Wint at jail and has represented the former Marine recruit in past, unrelated cases, he has not yet been fully hired and has not signed a contract with the family.
He told ABC News that Wint's mother is devastated and in disbelief.
“She's distraught," said Ficker. "She can't believe he would have done anything like this at all.”
“He is not capable of lifting his hand with a knife and sticking it repeatedly in another person,” he added.
Investigators are now pouring over massive amounts of evidence, which includes two vehicles removed from the Savopoulos home Friday.
There are also unresolved questions about the $40,000 in cash delivered to the Savopoulos home before it was set ablaze.
According to a criminal complaint, an employee referred to as "W-1," Savopoulos' driver tasked with handling "daily assignments" for him, made the money drop.
W-1 initially told police Savopoulos called him to deliver a package the day of the fire, but later said Savopoulos sent him those instructions by text the day before.
Police say W-1 "admitted that [he] lied" when he told police the car where the money was to be dropped was locked.
W-1 has not been arrested and has not been charged with any crime.
Wint, who is due in court on June 22, remains the only named suspect, despite police saying they believe the killings "required the presence and assistance of more than one person."
iStock/Thinkstock(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- Sharks struck beach goers twice in Florida on Friday.
One attack happened to a 19-year-old woman in waist-deep water in New Smyrna when a shark bit her foot, according to Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue. ABC News affiliate WFTV-TV reported that the injury was minor and that the woman was treated on site.
Also on Friday, a 14-year-old girl’s foot was bitten by a shark near International Palms Resort in Cocoa Beach, officials said. She was treated at a local hospital.
The two attacks are raising concerns as beach goers hit the water this summer. There have been sightings on both coasts, from Washington state to Florida.
Last year there were 52 shark attacks, according to the University of Florida International Shark Attack File. This year, even before summer's start, there have been eight attacks. One of them in Maui, Hawaii, was fatal and the first shark-related death in the U.S. since 2013.
iStock/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) -- The body of Andrew McComb, 6, whose family was in a house washed away by floodwaters in Wimberley, Texas, has been found, a Hays County, Texas, official said Friday.
Andrew, his sister, Leighton, 4, and his mother, Laura McComb, 34, remain missing after the home where they were staying washed away over the weekend in Wimberley, a river town between Austin and San Antonio, Texas. The house was swept away by raging waters of the Blanco River, The Associated Press reported.
The family had been celebrating Memorial Day weekend with a bigger group of friends from Corpus Christi, Texas.
The body was found Thursday evening near the border of Hays and Blanco counties, according to Trey Hatt, spokesman for the Hays County Emergency Operations Center, The Associated Press reported.
Authorities earlier this week reported recovering the body of a child from the Blanco River in Hays County, but did not identify the child.
Andrew McComb's identity was confirmed using dental records, an official said Friday.
At least 23 people have been confirmed dead during a week of heavy rains and flooding in Texas.
Andrew's father, Jonathan McComb, suffered a collapsed lung, broken rib and shattered sternum as the floodwaters smashed the house over last weekend, but he survived.
Jonathan McComb's father, Joe McComb, earlier this week described his grandson, Andrew, as a young boy who enjoyed playing baseball and was “full of energy, a lovable kid.”
At the time, he said he was grasping at pieces of hope for the survival Andrew and the rest of the family.
“Jonathan said [that] as they were going down the river, the house hit a bridge and it took the top part of the house off, and with the bottom gone and the top gone, the house just basically splintered,” Joe McComb said.
One bright spot came Tuesday, when a helicopter search crew spotted a dog hung up on some tree branches -- Maggie, the family’s golden lab. Joe McComb wasn’t sure how the dog survived but called it "a boost of hope.”
The family knew it was going to rain, but not so consistently and powerfully. As the water poured down, Laura McComb made a frantic phone call to her sister, Julia Shields.
"She called me, she said 'I'm in a house. I'm floating down the river. Tell mom and dad I love you and pray,'" Shields told ABC News affiliate KVUE-TV.
Photo by George Frey/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A review of operations at the U.S. Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah has found that another batch of live anthrax that was shipped to Australia in 2008, U.S. officials said Friday.
Like the previously reported batch, mistakenly sent over the past year to 18 laboratories in nine states and a U.S. military laboratory in South Korea, it appears that the 2008 batch of anthrax had not been fully irradiated to render it inactivated, officials said.
New testing of anthrax samples irradiated at Dugway in past years has found that a batch irradiated in 2008 still contained live spores, a U.S. official told ABC News. Most of that batch was shipped to Australia for research in that country.
Officials are trying to determine what institutions in Australia received the possibly live anthrax and its whereabouts.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon acknowledged the mistaken shipment of live anthrax possibly sent to private companies and academic institutions for research.
Last Friday, a private laboratory in Maryland informed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it had received a live sample of anthrax. Further investigation determined that the batch of anthrax that had been the source of the shipment had not been fully irradiated in March 2014 and contained both live and inactivated anthrax spores, according to a Department of Defense official.
The other laboratories have located their samples and sent them to the CDC for testing to determine if they too received live anthrax.
No workers who came into contact with the samples have exhibited any symptoms of anthrax infection, according to the Pentagon and the CDC.
However, as a protective measure, three lab workers in the United States and 22 military lab workers in South Korea are receiving antibiotic treatments, officials said.
The Department of Defense on Friday said it had ordered a comprehensive review of lab procedures, processes and protocols related to inactivating spore-forming anthrax. The review, ordered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, comes after 24 labs in 11 states and two foreign countries -- South Korea and Australia -- are believed to have received potentially live samples of anthrax.
Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – The man who created and operated the “Silk Road” website that was used to traffic more than $200 million in illegal drugs and other goods and services was sentenced to life in prison Friday in New York.
Ross Ulbricht, known to some as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was sentenced to life for owning and operating what was known as Silk Road, a hidden website for anonymously buying and selling illegal goods. Ulbricht was found guilty on all seven charges filed against him, including distributing narcotics by means of the internet.
“Ulbricht was a drug dealer and criminal profiteer who exploited people’s addictions and contributed to the deaths of at least six young people,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “Ulbricht went from hiding his cybercrime identity to becoming the face of cybercrime”
According to court documents, Ulbricht, 31, created Silk Road in January 2011 and operated the site until it was shut down in October 2013. During that time, Silk Road was used by over 100,000 people to buy drugs and other illegal goods.
The identities and computer locations of Silk Road users were hidden -- routed through computers around the world using a system called ‘Tor’ that hides IP addresses. Categories for goods and services on the site included “cannabis,” “opioids,” “psychedelics” and “dissociatives.” Purchases were paid for with bitcoins, which are untraceable.
Narcotics sales on the site contributed to at least six overdose deaths, charging documents said.
The court found that Ulbricht raked in roughly $13 million in commissions running site. In addition to his life sentence, Ulbricht has been ordered to pay over $183 million.
An undated booking photo of Otis Byrd, 54. Mississippi Parole Board(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice said Friday that it would not pursue federal criminal civil rights charges in the death of Otis Byrd, a Mississippi man who was discovered hanging from a tree in March.
The body of Byrd, 54, was found in Port Gibson, Mississippi on March 19. Justice Department investigators, along with state and local officials, conducted an investigation into the circumstances of Byrd's death in the hopes of determining whether it was the result of homicide.
"Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual willfully caused bodily injury because of the victim's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity or disability," the DOJ explains in a statement.
"After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that there was no evidence to prove that Byrd's death was a homicide," the DOJ added, saying that it had closed its investigation into Byrd's death.
Kuzma/iStock/Thinkstock(PAINESVILLE, Ohio) -- A judge from an Ohio town named "Painesville" ordered a woman to be "pepper sprayed" in court Thursday by a man she attacked with the tear-inducing substance in order to give the victim a "feeling of vengeance."
Judge Michael Cicconetti meted out the unusual punishment, captured on video, after giving Diamond Gaston a choice between that and jail time. But unbeknownst to her, the liquid sprayed at her was just saline -- the judge's attempt to scare her straight without harming her.
"It was a family-feud type situation at a Burger King and the victim ended up losing five hours of work that day he got pepper-sprayed,” Cicconetti told ABC News Friday. “I like to give the victims a feeling of vengeance.”
Surveillance footage of the courtroom shows the man aiming for her face and spraying the substance, Cicconetti said.
Half the punishment was just intimidation since Cicconetti said it wasn’t real pepper spray. The judge had his bailiff spray him in the eyes three separate times before court to make sure the saline mixture, which the police department uses for training, didn’t hurt like real pepper spray.
“I don’t want people coming back to my courtroom so I’m not afraid to scare them straight,” he said.
Gaston told Cicconetti she learned her lesson.
This wasn't Cicconetti's first time dealing out an unusual sentence. In his 22 years as a judge, he told ABC News his most memorable punishment was forcing a woman to spend the night in the woods after she tried to abandon 35 kittens.
“It’s not necessarily only about an eye for an eye,” he said. “I want everyone in my courtroom, including the victims, to feel like justice was served."
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Not even one month after two gunmen opened fire outside of an event in Texas celebrating artists’ portrayals of the Prophet Mohammad, the FBI is warning authorities across the country to be vigilant as a similar event gets underway in Arizona.
A demonstration dubbed the “Freedom of Speech Rally II” is scheduled for Friday outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.
The FBI, Phoenix Police Department and other law enforcement partners will have a stepped-up presence at the event, authorities told ABC News.
And while authorities have found no specific, credible threats to the Phoenix event, the FBI issued an intelligence bulletin ahead of the demonstration noting the "anti-Islam" event "may trigger some U.S.-based violent extremists to mobilize to violence."
Extremists inside the United States “remain largely unconnected to each other, and their behaviors are often highly individualized, impeding our ability to predict their reactions with a great deal of confidence,” the FBI warned in its bulletin.
The FBI pointed out that Tweets or texts can escalate into something far more dangerous, citing one Twitter user who posted a message online saying, “May Allah send one of his soldiers to Phoenix ameen.”
“Although the most frequent reaction among U.S.-based violent extremists is discussion and verbal disapproval via online communication platforms, the [May 3] shooting in Garland [Texas] illustrates the unpredictable nature of violent extremists and the potential for a single event to generate violence,” the FBI noted in its bulletin.
In addition, the bulletin raises the possibility that technologically savvy extremists could launch cyber-attacks against people or organizations perceived to be defaming Islam.
Like the Texas incident -- during which two alleged extremists were killed by police providing security at that event -- the Phoenix event is set to feature what it calls a “Muhammad Cartoon Contest.”
About 3,700 people were invited online to the Phoenix event, and at least 315 had confirmed their attendance by the time the FBI issued its bulletin Thursday.
Adding to the volatility surrounding Friday’s event, the FBI document noted that a Facebook page associated with the Phoenix demonstration encourages individuals to “utilize their second amendment rights should their first amendment rights be violated” during the event, referring to the right to bear arms and the right to free speech, respectively.
New York State Police(ORANGE COUNTY, N.Y.) -- Angelika Graswald pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that she intentionally killed her fiance, Vincent Viafore, on a kayaking trip on New York’s Hudson River last month.
Graswald, 35, did not speak during her arraignment in Orange County Court in Goshen, New York; her attorney made the plea. She appeared attentive but did not portray her emotions, with her hair up, glasses on and cuffed hands in front of her.
Graswald's being held on $3 million bail. Her next court appearance is scheduled for June 22.
Graswald has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of her fiance, whose body was found last weekend in the Hudson River after he disappeared on their kayaking trip last month.
The Orange County, New York, District Attorney's office alleges Graswald tampered with Viafore's paddle and removed a plug from his kayak so it would fill with water.
"It is also alleged that she moved the paddle away from him as he was struggling to stay afloat with water temperatures in the 40-degree range, and failed to render him assistance including timely calls for help," the District Attorney's office said in a news release Tuesday.
But Graswald's attorney, Richard Portale, said the plug wasn't in Viafore's kayak in the first place.
"Vince knew that it wasn't in the kayak. He had taken several kayaking trips without it," Portale told ABC News Tuesday.
Portale said Graswald is looking forward to clearing her name.
"This is a terrible rush to judgment, and now I think that... the government's trying to backfill the evidence," Portale added.
Brandon Burchett(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.) -- A civil lawsuit filed against Fort Lauderdale, Florida claims that one of the three children injured in the Memorial Day beach bounce house incident suffered physical and mental trauma due to the city's negligence.
Brian Greenwald, the attorney representing the injured 5-year-old, claims when she fell out of the bounce house, she hurt her wrist and suffered emotional distress, according to ABC News affiliate WPLG-TV.
Greenwald's notice says the city acted with gross negligence by allowing the girl to enter the bounce house, according to WPLG.
Greenwald did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
After a waterspout came ashore on the Florida beach on Monday, it hit an inflated bouncy castle, tossing it into the air and injuring three children.
Video provided to ABC News by Brandon Burchett shows the swirling column of wind and ocean water head straight towards the amusement ride. The bouncy castle then got caught in the wind and flipped over repeatedly before it was swept even further up in the air.
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department said three children were injured. One was held overnight for observation and two were treated for minor fractures and released, police said.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor John Seiler called the incident "a freak act of nature that no one could have prepared for or predicted."
Seiler said in a statement: "The change in weather was sudden and severe. An intense waterspout came ashore rapidly and without warning, bringing forceful winds that meteorologists have estimated were between 65 and 85 miles per hour. Its powerful unpredictable path knocked down street lights and destroyed a cement basketball support structure."
The city said it has already put the bounce house vendor, All Star Events, on notice of their responsibility as "we continue to investigate the incident."
All Star Events may also face legal action on behalf of an 11-year-old boy injured in the bounce house. According to WPLG, a notice sent Tuesday from the law firm of Cohen and Cohen said the city and the event company acted in a negligent manner.
The city and the event company are expected to respond within 30 days or face legal action, WPLG reports.
All Star Events said in a statement: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected by this freak occurrence. We are glad to learn that there were no serious injuries and that the three children affected have already been released from the hospital. We were as surprised as anyone by the events occurring yesterday during Memorial Day festivities on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. It still seems difficult to comprehend how merely yards away blankets and tables were left undisturbed. With safety as our top priority we are cooperating with the City and law enforcement to see what, if anything, might be done to prevent such an incident in the future."
Cohen and Cohen did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The skies have been less than friendly to several commercial flights traveling over New York recently.
The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that it was investigating a report of an unmanned aircraft being operated illegally near LaGuardia Airport around 11 a.m. Friday as a plane prepared to land. The crew of Shuttle America Flight 2708 said it had to climb 200 feet to "avoid" the aircraft as the plane traveled over Brooklyn at an altitude of 2,700 feet, officials said.
In addition, pilots on four commercial flights reported being targeted by green lasers during flights over New York on Thursday night, the FAA said.
According to the FAA, the flights -- American 185, Shuttle America 4213, Delta 2292 and Delta 2634 -- were flying at an altitude of 8,000 feet about 4 miles northwest of Farmingdale on Long Island when the pilots reported that lasers were illuminating their aircraft, a federal crime.
"In addition, Sun Country Airlines Flight 249 reported a green laser illuminated the aircraft when it was 14 miles southwest of John F. Kennedy International Airport at around 11:30 p.m. There were no injuries reported. The FAA notified the New Jersey State Police last night," the FAA said in a statement.
The planes were flying out of John F. Kennedy international Airport.
No injuries were reported, and the flights all continued without further incident.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Friday, "Green laser pointers have been a repeated danger to pilots across the metropolitan area and country. Their use is on the rise and we must do something soon -- not after a plane crashes. The [Food and Drug Administration] should use its authority to do what I asked months ago: ban green, long-range, high-powered laser pointers once and for all. They're quickly becoming the weapon of choice for those who want to harass our pilots and should be abolished."
Authorities said they are investigating, but at this point no one has been taken into custody.
Pointing a laser into the cockpit of a plane carries a maximum of five years in federal prison and a quarter of a million dollars fine.