National News

Governor pardons St. Louis couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters

Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) -- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that he had pardoned Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who were charged with waving guns at a group of Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home last year.

Mark McCloskey was seen holding a semi-automatic rifle while his wife was holding a handgun on their property on June 28, 2020, as a group of protesters passed by their house, prosecutors said. The couple were filmed shouting "Get out" to the crowd, but there was no physical confrontation between them and the protesters.

They contended they were protecting their property during the protests.

Several prominent conservative leaders, including President Donald Trump, defended the couple. The McCloskeys were guest speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

A grand jury indicted the couple in October and Pearson told reporters he would consider pardoning them.

The couple pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and harassment charges in June. They surrendered their weapons and Patricia McCloskey was fined $2,000 while her husband was fined $750.

When Judge David Mason asked Mark McCloskey if he acknowledged that his actions put people at risk of personal injury, McCloskey replied, "I sure did, your honor."

Mark McCloskey, who announced in May he was running for U.S. Senate, told reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing that he'd do it again.

"Any time the mob approaches me, I'll do what I can to put them in imminent threat of physical injury because that's what kept them from destroying my house and my family," he said.

The couple and the governor didn't immediately provide statements about the pardons.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Wildfires in West prompt new evacuations as they spread through region

Eisenlohr/iStock

(NEW YORK) -- Evacuation orders have been issued in several regions in the West due to spreading wildfires.

Thousands of residents in Northern California and Montana were ordered to flee their homes as both new and existing wildfires neared neighborhoods.

Currently, about 90 large wildfires are burning in 12 states in the West -- much of which is suffering from severe drought conditions.

The Dixie Fire, which has been burning near the Feather River Canyon in Northern California for weeks, prompted new evacuation orders in Greenville.

The Dixie Fire -- the largest in the state -- has been through more than 253,000 acres and is just 35% contained. The extreme fire behavior is being exacerbated by hot and dry conditions with gusty winds are persisting in the area, making it difficult for firefighters to battle the blaze.

The McFarland Fire in Wildwood, California, prompted evacuations in the area after it grew to more than 15,000 acres and remains just 5% contained. Critical fire weather is in effect in the region through Wednesday.

Evacuation warnings are in effect for the Monument Fire in Big Bar, California, after scorching through more than 6,000 acres. It is 0% contained.

The Boulder 2700 Fire near Polson, Montana, burned through nearly 1,500 acres by Tuesday afternoon and prompted evacuations over the weekend. Multiple structures have been destroyed by the fire, but cool, wet and humid weather will help to contain it.

The spread of the wildfires had slowed last week but picked back up as the moisture from the monsoons in the Southwest disappeared, with lightning strikes sparking more.

At least 35 new wildfires ignited over the weekend due to lightning strikes. Dozens of wildfires have sparked in Oregon alone over the last 48 hours, while 13 new fires have started in the last 24 hours in Montana.

Six states in the West, from Arizona to Washington, are currently under fire and heat alerts, while red flag warnings have been issued in Oregon and Northern California.

Excessive heat warnings are also in effect this week for the Southwest, including Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

ABC News' Melissa Griffin and Max Golembo contributed to this report.

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COVID-19 live updates: Arkansas sees highest hospitalization increase since start of pandemic

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COVID-19 live updates: Arkansas sees highest hospitalization increase since start of pandemic

(NEW YORK) -- The United States is facing a COVID-19 surge this summer as the more contagious delta variant spreads.

More than 613,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and over 4.2 million people have died worldwide, according to real-time data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

Just 58.1% of Americans ages 12 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC last week, citing new science on the transmissibility of the delta variant, changed its mask guidance to now recommend everyone in areas with substantial or high levels of transmission -- vaccinated or not -- wear a face covering in public, indoor settings.

Here's how the news is developing Tuesday. All times Eastern:

Aug 03, 5:18 pm
Biden calls out governors of Florida, Texas

President Joe Biden is calling out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for rejecting mask mandates in their states.

"I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents," Biden said of the governors at a Tuesday news conference.

Biden said Florida and Texas are accounting for one-third of the new COVID-19 cases in the country.

"We need leadership from everyone. If some governors aren't willing to do the right thing to beat this pandemic, then they should allow businesses and universities who want to do the right thing to be able to do it," Biden said. "I say to these governors, 'Please help. But if you aren't going to help, at least get out of the way.'"

Aug 03, 4:08 pm
Nearly 72,000 kids tested positive in US last week

Nearly 72,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for COVID-19 last week, a massive jump from the approximately 39,000 cases among kids one week earlier, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

Children represented 19% of all COVID-19 cases for the week ending July 29.

Severe illness due to COVID-19 remains "uncommon" among children, the two organizations wrote in the report. According to the nearly two dozen states that reported pediatric hospitalizations, 0.1% to 1.9% of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in hospitalization.

However, the two organizations warned that there is an urgent need to collect more data on long-term impacts of the pandemic on children, "including ways the virus may harm the long-term physical health of infected children, as well as its emotional and mental health effects."

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Aug 03, 2:05 pm

US sees highest number of hospitalizations since February

According to federal data, nearly 56,000 patients are now hospitalized with COVID-19 across the U.S., marking the highest number of patients receiving care since February.

Ninety-one percent of Americans are now living in high (a seven-day new case rate ≥100) or substantial (a seven-day new case rate between 50-99.99) community transmission in the last week.

Seven states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina -- have high or substantial community transmission in every county.

Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, and Alabama currently have the nation's highest case rates, followed by Mississippi, Texas, and Oklahoma.

-ABC News’ Arielle Mitropoulos

Aug 03, 1:00 pm

Texas sees demand for vaccinations skyrocket

In Texas, the demand for vaccines is skyrocketing. The number of daily doses has jumped from about 44,000 (just after the 4th of July) to 73,000 as of Monday, said Chris Van Duesen, spokespesron for the state’s Department of State Health Services.

Aug 03, 11:25 am

Data ‘tipping’ to show delta more serious for kids than past variants

National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins told CNN Tuesday the data is "tipping" toward showing how the delta variant is more serious for children than past variants.

Collins listed studies from Singapore, Scotland and Canada that "certainly tilts the balance in that direction" but made clear that more data is needed.

Collins also added that part of the reason the U.S. is seeing more children in hospitals is because they're part of the unvaccinated population and he doesn't want to "overstate the confidence."

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Aug 03, 10:23 am
NYC to require proof of vaccination to eat inside

New York City will soon require vaccinations for workers and customers for indoor dining, indoor fitness facilities and indoor entertainment facilities, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

This mandate will be enforced as of Sept. 13.

Aug 03, 8:55 am
US ships more than 100 million vaccine doses abroad

The Biden administration has hit a vaccine-sharing milestone, shipping more than 110 doses to over 60 countries around the world, mostly through COVAX, the World Health Organization's vaccine-sharing initiative. The U.S. has shared more doses than every other country combined, according to United Nations data.

Starting at the end of August, the U.S. will begin shipping another batch of 500 million doses of Pfizer to 100 low-income countries across the globe. Two-hundred million of those 500 million doses are expected to be shipped in 2021.

Aug 03, 8:24 am
Arkansas sees highest increase in hospitalizations since start of pandemic

Another 81 COVID-19 patients were admitted to Arkansas hospitals on Monday, the highest increase in hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic, Gov. Asa Hutchinson tweeted.

The state now has 1,220 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including 250 on ventilators.

"We continue to see nearly all hospitalizations among the unvaccinated," the governor wrote. "Hospitals are full & the only remedy is for more Arkansans to be vaccinated."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Cellphone snapshot of grizzly has Yellowstone tourist facing federal charges

Darcie Addington via US Park Rangers

(CHEYENNE, Wyo.) -- An Illinois woman is facing federal charges for allegedly disturbing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park after a video surfaced of her attempting to get an up-close cellphone photo of a momma grizzly bear and her three cubs.

Bob Murray, the U.S. attorney for the district of Wyoming, announced on Monday that charges have been filed against 25-year-old Samantha R. Dehring of Carol Stream, Illinois.

Dehring is ordered to appear before a magistrate judge in Mammoth Hot Spring, Wyoming, on Aug. 26 to answer to charges of willfully remaining, approaching and photographing wildlife within 100 yards. She is also charged with one count of feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentionally disturbing wildlife.

If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to a year in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, Murray said in a statement.

The allegations marked the latest in a series of incidents of Yellowstone visitors behaving badly, including a man authorities say was arrested for taunting a bison and two men charged with "thermal trespassing" for breaching barriers to take up-close photos of the park's famed Old Faithful geyser.

Attempts by ABC News to reach Dehring for comment were not successful.

With the help of tourists who witnessed and video-recorded Dehring's close encounter with a grizzly bear family, U.S. Park Police managed to identify her and track her down, Murray said.

The incident unfolded on May 10, in the Roaring Mountain area of Yellowstone, Murray said.

"While other visitors slowly backed off and got into their vehicles, Dehring remained," Murray said.

A video shot by a tourist showed Dehring standing roughly 15 feet from a grizzly bear taking a photo of the animal with her cellphone. She backed away only after the bear briefly charged at her and then retreated. Other bears nearby appeared to be startled by the encounter and ran into the forest.

Murray said U.S. Park Rangers from Yellowstone provided the results of their investigation to U.S. Rangers in the area where Dehring lives and they served her in person with the violation notices.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Police officer, suspect killed in shooting, stabbing incident at Pentagon: Sources

Ivan Cholakov/iStock

(WASHINGTON) -- A Pentagon police officer was stabbed in an attack at the Pentagon Transit Center Tuesday morning and later died, two law enforcement sources told ABC News.

The suspect also died as a result of the incident, law enforcement sources said.

Chief Woodrow Kusse, who leads the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, joined Pentagon spokesman John Kirby at an afternoon press briefing to address the incident, but he would not provide details about casualties, including whether an officer was wounded.

"This morning at about 10:37 a.m., a Pentagon police officer was attacked on the Metro Bus platform. Gunfire was exchanged. And there were -- there were several casualties. The incident is over, the scene is secure and -- most importantly -- there's no continuing threat to our community," he said.

"There were a number of people that fled and there were some erroneous reports," he added.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the attack.

While sources told ABC News there was no known motive, they added that there was no obvious connection to terrorism. Those same sources stressed it's still early in the investigation.

The medical examiner in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Pressed on reports on whether an officer died, Kusse said he couldn't release those details as the investigation is ongoing.

"I don't want to compromise the integrity of that process right now," he said.

"I'm not confirming or denying those particular reports right now the investigation is ongoing. And I do promise to get back as soon as possible, with further details but I can't release those right now," he said.

Pressed for information about the assailant, he added, "We are not actively looking for another suspect."

Across town on the National Mall, Capitol Police officers on motorcycles led a ceremonial procession, passing by saluting law enforcement officers from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and other police departments, to honor the Pentagon police officer reportedly wounded earlier -- though the Pentagon wouldn't confirm his injuries.

The Pentagon was placed on lockdown Tuesday morning after the incident at the Pentagon Transit Center involving a stabbing and a shooting, according to a separate U.S. official earlier.

The lockdown was later lifted and the Pentagon reopened, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency said shortly after noon.

The Pentagon had no details regarding the assailant's motivation Tuesday afternoon, but Kusse said they will review the results of the investigation before making a determination on whether security measures should change.

"Every time an incident occurs, whether it's here or anywhere else across the nation or in the world, we do after actions on those we examine them, we look for things that we can do to improve. But right now, again, it's still pending, we will certainly, as this investigation concludes, take another look at any measures," he said.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley were not in the Pentagon at the time of the incident. They were both at the White House for their weekly meeting with President Joe Biden and they were all aware of the ongoing situation.

Kirby said Tuesday afternoon that Austin was back in the Pentagon and had a chance to visit the Pentagon police operations center to check in and express his gratitude for their work.

ABC News' Libby Cathey contributed to this report.

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Idaho police search for 'endangered' 5-year-old missing since last week

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(New York) — Police in Idaho are continuing to search for a 5-year-old boy who they say may be in danger after he went missing near his home.

Michael Joseph Vaughan was last seen near his home in Fruitland, Idaho, about 50 miles northwest of Boise, on the evening of July 27, according to the Fruitland Police Department.

Authorities described Michael as "missing and endangered" but did not provide any additional descriptions of his possible whereabouts. The boy's family has been "fully cooperative" in the investigation, police said.

Last week, police asked any potential witnesses who may have been in the area of Southwest 9th Street and Arizona Avenue in Fruitland to come forward, even if they do not believe they saw anything.

Investigators also asked that people who live in the immediate area where Michael was last seen to "thoroughly search" their property.

The Fruitland Police Department assured the public Tuesday that the search for Michael was still ongoing.

"Our search efforts are still ongoing and extensive," a post on the department's Facebook page read. "Our main focus is to locate Michael."

Police reminded volunteers engaged in their own personal searches to respect citizens' right to deny entry to their property and to not walk through cultivated fields without the property owner's permission.

The FBI, Idaho State Police and multiple Treasure Valley law enforcement agencies are all involved in the investigation.

Michael is described by authorities as being 3 feet, 7 inches tall, about 50 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a light blue shirt with a Minecraft graphic, dark blue boxer briefs and size 11 blue flip flops. He also answers to the nickname "Monkey," police said.

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Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, NY AG probe finds

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(NEW YORK) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was found to have sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former state employees, New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday morning after a four-month probe into the allegations.

In at least one instance, the investigation determined that the governor sought to retaliate against a woman who leveled accusations against him, identified in a report released by the AG's office as Lindsay Boylan.

According to James, the probe found that Cuomo and his staff fostered a toxic work environment. Cuomo, in a statement released after James' announcement, denied any wrongdoing.

The attorney general's 168-page report, released during her press conference, determined that "the governor engaged in conduct constituting sexual harassment under federal and New York State law."

"Specifically, we find that the Governor sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women," the report said.

At Tuesday's press conference, employment discrimination attorney Anne Clark, one of the investigators assigned to lead the probe, presented a litany of findings from the report, including specific examples of the governor making suggestive comments and engaging in unwanted touching that eleven women -- some named, others anonymous -- found "deeply humiliating and offensive."

In an instance involving one of Cuomo's unnamed executive assistants, the governor was found to have "reached under her blouse and grabbed her breast," according to the report.

The same woman also recounted a circumstance in which "the Governor moved his hand to grab her butt cheek and began to rub it. The rubbing lasted at least five seconds," the report said.

In another instance, the report describes how Cuomo sexually harassed a state trooper assigned to his protective detail, including by "running his hand across her stomach, from her belly button to her right hip, while she held a door open for him at an event" and "running his finger down her back, from the top of her neck down her spine to the middle of her back, saying 'Hey, you,' while she was standing in front of him in an elevator."

In his televised statement issued Tuesday afternoon in response to the report, Cuomo said that "the facts are much different than what has been portrayed" -- and gave no indication that he would heed calls for his resignation.

"I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances," he said.

Without directly undermining the attorney general's report, Cuomo claimed that "politics and bias are interwoven into every aspect of this situation."

Cuomo met with investigators for 11 hours last month and offered "a combination" of denials and admissions, Clark said Tuesday.

"There are some incidents he admitted to but had a different interpretation of, and there were other things that he denied or said he didn't recall," Clark added.

Once considered a leading voice among national Democrats for his aggressive response to the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo has suffered a meteoric fall from grace in recent months under a deluge of negative headlines.

When sexual harassment claims against Cuomo emerged in March, federal investigators were already reportedly probing his administration over concerns that it withheld damning data about nursing home deaths in New York. Cuomo has also faced scrutiny over reports that he prioritized testing for his family in the early days of the pandemic.

At least six women, including several who previously worked for the three-term governor, have accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior and unwanted advances -- claims that he has either dismissed as an exaggeration or outright denied.

"Wait for the facts," Cuomo said in March. "An opinion without facts is irresponsible."

Reports of the alleged misconduct prompted James to launch an independent investigation, tapping two seasoned investigators to lead the probe.

As part of the fallout from the sexual harassment claims, Cuomo faced calls from several high-profile Democrats --- including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. -- to resign. Cuomo has rebuffed those calls.

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Employee allegedly shoots three co-workers at Smile Direct Club in Nashville

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(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- An employee allegedly shot and injured three co-workers at a Smile Direct Club manufacturing facility in the Antioch neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee, early Tuesday, officials said.

One worker was struck in the chest, one in the abdomen and one in the leg, Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said at a news conference. One of the victims was in critical condition, he said.

The shots were fired around 6 a.m. inside and outside the business, officials said.

The suspected gunman left the building as officers responded to the call, but officers spotted him at an intersection and demanded he drop the weapon, police said.

The suspect, armed with a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, instead directed the gun toward officers, according to Aaron.

The suspect, identified by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as 22-year-old Antonio King, was shot by police and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

King started working at Smile Direct Club in June, police said. He also worked there from late 2019 to early 2020.

It appears the suspect acted alone, police said.

Smile Direct Club said in a statement, "The safety of our team members is a top priority for our Company and we maintain strict security protocols and a no weapons policy at all of our facilities. We are working with the local police as they investigate this matter."

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Renters brace for evictions as moratorium expires, virus cases resurge

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(NEW YORK) -- A major lifeline for millions of Americans was precipitously cut off over the weekend, leaving many families that are still reeling from the economic shock wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic now also at risk of losing their homes.

Notwithstanding last-minute scrambles from some lawmakers to extend it, the federal eviction moratorium instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expired at midnight on Saturday.

The lapse in the pandemic-era protection that shielded vulnerable Americans from homelessness during the health crisis also comes as coronavirus cases resurge across the country. Millions of renters are now bracing for what happens next.

"It's more than stress, it's depression -- this is rock bottom," Jim Shock, 53, a West Virginia native who lost his job amid the pandemic and now faces eviction, told ABC News. "I don't see an upside, and I don't mind being humbled, being humbled doesn't bother me. Struggles give you strength, and I'm all about all that. But yeah, this is probably as bad as it's been, and I don't know what I'm going to do."

Terriana Julian Clark, 27, a mother of two from Harvey, Louisiana, said the past year has been marked by sickness, unemployment and homelessness before she moved into a home in February. In April, she became sick and suddenly unable to work at her in-person job. As bills and back-rent have piled up, she said she's now waiting for an eviction notice from her landlord with the moratorium expired.

"He already told me, if I don't have any type of money for him on the first day, he's going to put out a 5 to 10 day eviction notice," Clark said in an interview with ABC News' "Start Here."

"I slept in my car from January 2020 to January 2021," she said, adding that she expects to move back into her Ford Mustang if she loses her home again -- though she said she doesn't want to put her children through that experience again.

"It was really hard," Clark said, "to get gas, food, water. Making sure they have clothes on their back -- because we couldn't wash every day. So, like, having clean clothes is not like a necessity, not an option for us. I literally could feel the weight of the sweat from us in the seats."

"I literally filled out 64 job applications in one month and only heard from two people," the mom said, adding, "I'm trying to do the best that I can to stay up and not ever go back to where I was."

More than 15 million people live in households that are currently behind on their rental payments, which puts them at risk of eviction, according to a report released last week by the nonprofit Aspen Institute think tank. Broken down further, researchers said that figure includes 7.4 million adults -- which is in line with separate census data that says some 7.4 million adults are not caught up on rent payments as of July 5.

In the next two months alone, approximately 3.6 million American reported that they will likely face eviction, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Aspen researchers also said the threat of eviction disproportionately impacts communities of color. Some 22% of Black renters and 17% of Latino renters are in debt to their landlords, compared to 11% of white renters and 15% overall, the report said.

Shock lamented how the moratorium is ending despite the pandemic not being over in the U.S., saying, "the COVID compassion disappeared so quickly."

"It's not over," he added of the health crisis. "It's probably going to get worse if people don't get vaccinated because of the delta strain."

Data suggests the nation is grappling with a new summer surge in cases. The seven-day moving average of daily new cases in the U.S. shot up more than 64% compared with the previous week’s, the CDC said in data released last Friday. Presently, the U.S. is averaging some 66,606 new cases of COVID-19 per day.

Moreover, citing new science on the transmissibility of the delta variant, the CDC last week reversed course on its indoor mask guidance -- recommending everyone in areas with substantial or high levels of transmission wear a face covering in public indoor settings whether they are vaccinated or not.

Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), told ABC News via email that a vast majority -- an estimated 80% -- of families currently behind on rent live in communities where the delta variant is surging.

"Having millions of families lose their homes would be tragic and consequential at any time," Yentel said. "It will be especially so as COVID surges and with abundant resources to pay the rent that may not reach them in time."

"This urgent situation demands immediate action by policy makers and stakeholders at all levels," she added, calling on Congress and the Biden administration to extend the moratorium and local governments to improve and expedite getting assistance to tenants who need it to stay housed.

Moreover, Yentel called on the Department of Justice to direct courts to stop evictions for renters who are applying for emergency rental assistance, and on the Treasury Department to eliminate barriers that prevent emergency rental assistance from flowing where it needs to go. Finally, Yentel said the CDC should require landlords provide 30-days notice to renters before beginning eviction actions.

The NLIHC implored the Biden administration to "prevent a historic wave of evictions" in a June letter, arguing that with COVID-19 still present the expiration could lead to a rise in cases and virus deaths.

Research released from Princeton University's Eviction Lab similarly argued in a June report that neighborhoods with the highest eviction filing rates have had the lowest levels of COVID-19 vaccinations. The researchers said their findings suggest "those most at risk of being evicted are still at high risk of contracting and passing the virus."

Shock said another major concern about the eviction ban lifting is that, "Once you're homeless, it's going to be a lot harder for you to get a home."

Aspen Institute policy researchers stated in their report that rental housing debt is "uniquely toxic" due to its lingering consequences in addition to eviction.

"People evicted on the basis of rental debt are likely to face a series of cascading consequences," the report stated. "These may include civil legal actions or debt collection to recover outstanding balances, negative credit reporting that makes it difficult or impossible to rent a new home, short-term or extended homelessness, and a significant decline in physical and mental health."

Researchers added that these long-term consequences can be particularly acute for children.

A majority (57%) of Americans say the eviction and foreclosure moratorium is still needed, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, though support divides sharply based on partisan lines as 75% of Democrats say this compared to 34% of Republicans.

Some Republican lawmakers have argued the moratorium unfairly punishes landlords, and could have unintended consequences such as higher rents if landlords account for the possibility of these moratoriums occurring again in the future. Others, including the Biden administration, have argued that the rental assistance meant to go toward landlords needs to be more efficiently dispersed by state and local governments.

Still, local authorities and renters are now bracing for the fallout of the protections expiring.

Shock said that many Americans who weathered the pandemic and financial downturn may be acting like everything is now going back to normal, but he predicts the nation is now on the precipice of a new housing crisis. The unemployment rate in the U.S. was 5.9% as of the most-recent Labor Department report, still well above the pre-pandemic 3.5% seen in February 2020.

"I think that the worst is yet to come. I think you're going to see a homeless problem spike, you're going to see food banks strained beyond anything that they can imagine," he told ABC News. "After the COVID compassion wears off, then people are going to start bickering about homelessness: 'Where are we going to put them? Where are we going to send them?'"

"It's just the beginning," he added. "I think we're going to see just a surge of homelessness, and all the things that come with that."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


One of the five people shot on Bourbon Street in New Orleans is an alleged gunman: Chief

(NEW YORK) -- One of five people shot over the weekend on Bourbon Street in the heart of New Orleans' French Quarter was identified on Monday as one of two suspects in a gunfight that sparked panic in the popular tourist destination, police said.

New Orleans Police Chief Shaun Ferguson made the announcement at a news conference Monday in which he called an eruption of weekend gun violence "very disturbing, very alarming."

He said police are searching for a second man suspected of being involved in the shooting. He released a grainy security camera image of the suspect and asked anyone with information about his identity to contact the police immediately.

The shooting broke out just after 2 p.m. Sunday on Bourbon Street and Orleans Avenue about two blocks from Jackson Square and around the corner from the famed Preservation Hall, according to police.

Ferguson said a city security camera captured the shooting giving police clear images of the two men involved.

Meanwhile, an EarthCam video camera mounted on Cat's Meow Karaoke Bar, which normally provides a live feed of the party scene on Bourbon Street, captured the sound of multiple gunshots followed by chaos with panicked people running for cover in all directions. Several people narrowly avoided being hit by cars crossing Bourbon Street.

“One of the victims we do believe was a shooter in this incident," Ferguson said. "We do believe there was an exchange of gunfire between two individuals."

The chief did not release the wounded suspect's name.

"His involvement is still under investigation. That is why we have not made a formal arrest," Ferguson said.

He described the second suspect as a heavyset Black man, in his 30s, 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-7, with short dreadlocks or curly long twists.

Ferguson said a motive for the shooting remains under investigation.

About two-and-a-half hours after the Bourbon Street shooting, four people were shot in the adjacent Iberville neighborhood just northeast of the French Quarter. Ferguson said a 15-year-old boy was killed in the incident and another 15-year-old boy was arrested in the homicide after his mother turned him in, police said.

''It was the parent of this 15-year-old suspect that turned him in to ensure that that family has closure," Ferguson said. "I have spoken to the mother of this 15-year-old suspect and, understandably so, she is very shaken up. She’s upset, she was very emotional. She had to make a difficult but courageous and the right decision."

He said a motive for the shooting is under investigation, but that the suspect's mother told him her son and the victim were once friends.

Ferguson said Sunday's gun violence came after the city saw homicides fall to 23 in July compared to 25 in June.

New Orleans has recorded more than 250 shootings and more than 100 homicides already this year. In 2020, New Orleans police investigated 195 homicides, a 63% increase from 2019, according to police department crime statistics.

"Overall crime was down last week compared to the previous week," Ferguson said. “This weekend just put a black eye and dampened the spirit of what we’ve been actually accomplishing over the last few weeks."

 

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Obama to host hundreds at 60th birthday party amid COVID concerns

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(BOSTON) — Former President Barack Obama will host hundreds of guests at his 60th birthday party this coming weekend on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts amid concerns about spreading the delta variant of COVID-19, according to a source familiar with the plans.

A COVID coordinator will ensure all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local guidelines are followed at the party, the source said about the affair, which will be held outdoors.

Guests will be required to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test to the coordinator before attending the party, the source said.

Martha's Vineyard, an island in Dukes County, Massachusetts, is currently considered at a "moderate" level of transmission risk, according to CDC data.

Axios first reported on details of the party.

Despite the planned effort to ensure a safe event, the party comes after a major breakout of COVID-19 cases abut 100 miles away in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which left more than 800 people infected, resulting in at least 7 hospitalizations.

Officials said 74% of those in the infected Provincetown cluster were vaccinated.

President Joe Biden is not planning to attend the gathering, according to a White House official.

"While President Biden is unable to attend this weekend, he looks forward to catching up with former President Obama soon and properly welcoming him into the over sixty club," the administration official said. Biden is scheduled to spend the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

President Joe Biden is not planning to attend the gathering, according to a White House official.

"While President Biden is unable to attend this weekend, he looks forward to catching up with former President Obama soon and properly welcoming him into the over 60 club," the administration official said. Biden is scheduled to spend the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

"I would note first that former President Obama has been a huge advocate of individuals getting vaccinated," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

She noted the CDC's current guidance on masking pertains only to indoor settings in high or substantial transmission risk zones.

"In addition, there is testing requirements and other steps they're taking," Psaki added.

The Obamas have identified various charities for guests to consider supporting, rather than giving birthday gifts, including My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, the Girls Opportunity Alliance, and the Obama Foundation’s Global Leadership programs.

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Mollie Tibbetts' convicted killer loses bid for new trial

(NEW YORK) -- An Iowa judge has rejected a motion for a new trial for the man convicted of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts.

Poweshiek County District Court Judge Joel Yates issued a written ruling on Monday denying Cristhian Bahena Rivera's bid for a new trial after he and his attorney's claimed he was framed for Tibbetts' 2018 slaying by the real killers.

In his ruling, Yates noted the Bahena Rivera's "trial strategy included casting doubt onto other individuals," including Tibbetts' boyfriend, Dalton Jack.

"It is doubtful that adding another possible suspect, one with no apparent ties besides being in the same county as Mollie, would have a reasonable probability [to] change the result of [the] trial," Yates wrote, adding that Bahena Rivera led law enforcement investigators to a cornfield where he admitted hiding Tibbetts' body and that her blood was found in the trunk of his car.

"Providing an alternative suspect is only a useful strategy when it is believable that the alternative suspect could have committed the offense," Yates said.

Yates had delayed Bahena Rivera's sentencing to give his attorneys an opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence to support their last-ditch claim that the 27-year-old did not kill the 20-year-old student.

Bahena Rivera, an undocumented farmworker from Mexico, now faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Yates scheduled Bahena River's sentencing hearing for Aug. 30.

On May 28, a jury convicted Bahena Rivera of first-degree murder after seven hours of deliberations over two days.

The case made national headlines as Tibbetts' disappearance sparked a month-long search. Her badly decomposed body was recovered from a Poweshiek County cornfield that Bahena Rivera directed investigators to on Aug. 21, 2018.

During the trial, the jury heard two wildly contrasting theories of what happened to Tibbetts.

Iowa police investigators testified that they questioned Bahena Rivera after his car, a black Chevrolet Malibu, was captured on surveillance video circling the neighborhood in Brooklyn, Iowa, at the time Tibbetts was last seen alive jogging in the area.

During a lengthy interview, investigators testified that Bahena Rivera allegedly told them he saw Tibbetts jogging and thought she was "hot." They said he claimed to have followed Tibbetts, got out of his car and jogged alongside her but she rejected his advance and threatened to call the police.

Investigators said Tibbetts was stabbed repeatedly but that Rivera told them he blacked out and did not recall attacking her. He said he later remembered putting Tibbetts' body in the trunk of his car when he noticed her earbuds in his lap while he was driving. He claimed, according to investigators, that he drove to the cornfield and buried Tibbetts body under leaves.

In a stunning twist, Bahena Rivera, who speaks little English, testified in his own defense at his trial, claiming he was kidnapped by two masked and armed men, who forced him to drive to where Tibbetts was jogging and one of them killed her and put her body in his car's trunk. He claimed he put Tibbetts' body in the cornfield, but did not go to the police because the kidnappers threatened to harm his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his young daughter, if he spoke to authorities.

Following Bahena Rivera's conviction, his attorneys received word from prosecutors that two independent witnesses came forward at the end of the trial claiming the same man told them that he killed Tibbetts after she had been abducted and taken to a sex-trafficking "trap house" in Sharon, Iowa.

The witnesses, including a prison inmate, claimed the man told them he killed Tibbetts on orders from a sex trafficker who feared police searching for Tibbetts were getting too close after they interviewed a resident next door to his trap house.

During Bahena Rivera's hearing for a new trial on July 27, prosecutors said the man the witnesses spoke of was in a rehab facility under court supervision at the time Tibbetts disappeared.

"The addition of evidence of an unrelated investigation alongside a dubious and divergent alleged confession would likely have confused the issues for the jury," Yates wrote. "The Court finds there is no reasonable probability of a different outcome at trial had the information been disclosed to the defense."

Last month, Yates rejected the motion to allow Bahena Rivera's attorneys an opportunity to review evidence in ongoing sex trafficking investigations in Poweshiek County and in the case of a missing 11-year-old boy, Xavior Harrelson, who vanished in May from his home in Poweshiek County. The defense attorneys suggested that the man who they allege operated the sex trafficking trap house once had been the boyfriend of Harrelson's mother.

 

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Families of Dayton mass shooting victims sue maker of 100-round magazine used by gunman

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(DAYTON, Ohio) -- Loved ones of those killed in a 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, have filed a lawsuit against the maker of a 100-round, double-drum ammunition magazine the gunman used in the massacre.

The lawsuit was filed in Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County, Nevada, where the bullet magazine manufacturer, Kyung Chang Industry USA, INC., is located.

"I want to make sure that the actions of all those that were responsible for that day don't go unanswered for my grandchildren," Lashandra James, whose daughter, Lois Oglesby, was killed in the rampage, said at a virtual news conference on Monday.

James is now the guardian of her daughter's two young children.

The lawsuit accuses Kyung Chang Industry USA of "reckless conduct" for continuing to manufacture the high-capacity magazine, which the lawsuit says allowed 24-year-old Connor Betts to kill nine people and wound 17 in just 32 seconds on Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton's Oregon District, an area filled with bars and restaurants.

"If the Dayton shooter did not have such a large capacity magazine, he would not have been able to inflict the damage that he did," said Ben Cooper, the attorney representing the families of five of the nine people killed. "No civilian needs a 100-round magazine. It's only useful for the military or mass shootings."

A spokesman for Kyung Chang Industry USA did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News on the litigation.

Cooper said high-capacity magazines have been used in nearly 60% of mass shootings in recent history, including the July 20, 2012, rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, that left 12 people dead; the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 14, 2012, that killed 20 children and six adults; the Oct. 1, 2017, massacre at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas that killed 60 people; and the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17.

Jonathan E. Lowy, the chief counsel for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said he believes this is the first lawsuit "focused solely on the contribution of large-capacity ammunition magazines for gun violence."

"Until you have companies that supply instruments of mass slaughter change the way they do business, they will continue to supply their weapons of war, and we will see more and more places in this country turned into war zones," Lowy, a co-counsel in the lawsuit, said at Monday's news conference.

The lawsuit accuses Kyung Chang Industry USA, a subsidiary of the South Korean company Kyung Change Industry Company, of knowingly providing "this instrument of slaughter to the general public, and sold it in a way that made it easy for the Shooter to obtain it."

Investigators said Ethan Kollie, a friend of Betts, purchased the 100-round magazine Betts used with an AR-15-style pistol to commit the mass shooting. Investigators also said Kollie also told them he purchased the body armor Betts was wearing when he committed the shooting. In February 2020, Kollie was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to lying on a federal firearms form and to possessing a gun while using illegal drugs.

Betts was killed by a police officer in front of the bar that he was trying to get into during the rampage.

The shooting occurred a day after a gunman killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and a week after a shooter killed three people and injured 17 others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California.

 

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More wildfires possible in the West as fire conditions worsen

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(SAN FRANCISCO) — Fire conditions in the West are worsening this week, increasing the possibility of more blazes.

Currently, 90 large wildfires are burning in 12 states in the West -- at least 35 of which ignited over the weekend due to lightning strikes.

Another heat wave is blanketing the region as moisture from the monsoons in the Southwest move away, leaving behind a dry atmosphere and tinderbox conditions. Heat advisories and excessive heat watches have been issued from Oregon to Arizona, with temperatures expected to surpass 100 degrees again.

The McFarland Fire in Wildwood, California, has prompted evacuations in the area after it grew to more than 2,100 acres and remains just 5% contained.

The Dixie Fire near the Feather River Canyon in Northern California, the largest in the state so far this year, is now at 248,000 acres. Firefighters were able to halt the blaze's progression, which is now 33% contained, but some evacuation orders remain in place.

Firefighters in Oregon have made progress against the Bootleg Fire, the largest in the country, with 84% containment after it grew to nearly 414,000 acres, the third-largest wildfire in state history.

However, red flag warnings have been issued in Southern Oregon over the possibility that more fires will spark due to dry lightning. Hot, breezy conditions are expected to persist this week.

Above-normal significant fire potential is expected to continue in the Northwest, northern Rockies and northern portions of the Great Basin, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center's National Fire Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for August through November.

Despite monsoon conditions in the Southwest last week, "exceptional drought" conditions are persisting across Northern California and the Northwest, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

ABC News' Melissa Griffin and Max Golembo contributed to this report.

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Anti-gun violence group pledges $25 million to stop shootings

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(NEW YORK) -- The nation’s largest gun violence prevention organization is stepping up efforts to address the scourge of recent shootings across the country as part of a new initiative unveiled exclusively by ABC News on Monday.

Everytown for Gun Safety is delivering millions of dollars in grants and providing support to local organizations that aim to reduce gun crimes by tapping into communities most impacted by firearms. The new initiative, known as the Everytown Community Safety Fund, is dedicating $25 million over five years to gun violence prevention programs. The first million is set to be distributed across organizations next month.

"It's an urgent moment," said Michael-Sean Spence, Everytown's director of community safety initiatives who is leading the rollout of the new initiative. "We're in the middle of a public health crisis -- one that has been brewing for a number of years and has really taken off over the last year, year and a half.”

The rate of homicides with a firearm is nearly 25 times higher in the U.S. compared to similar economically developed countries, according to a 2015 study published in the journal of Preventive Medicine. More recently, 2020 marked the highest number of firearm deaths in at least 20 years, according to Britannica, the group behind the famed encyclopedia, and the Gun Violence Archive.

On a recent week in July, a joint analysis by GVA and ABC News found that 2.4 people were killed and 5.5 people were wounded every hour.

"The trends we're seeing today don't approach the '90s levels of gun homicides that we fortunately were able to reverse,” Spence told ABC News. “But they are some of the highest numbers we have seen since the early 2000s, and we've also seen a prolonged, persistent spike."

The funds from Everytown will support 100 local intervention programs, building on its original list of 60 programs funded by the organization over the past two years.

"There are a number of factors that drive gun violence. One is the lack of opportunity,” Spence said. “Many of these programs, once they've identified individuals, can put them into workforce development programs and connect them with other opportunities to change their life."

One of the groups set to receive funding is No More Red Dots, which runs a handful of gun violence prevention programs in Louisville, Kentucky. The organization maintains a database of high-risk individuals in the area and works to prevent them from engaging in future shootings.

Led by Dr. Eddie Woods, who has more than 20 years of experience in community safety, No More Red Dots has deep roots in Louisville. Some of the organization's programs include an artist’s workshop and basketball league that are designed to build the skills and interests of at-risk youth and provide them with mentorship opportunities.

“We've been around forever, so a lot of the young people's parents, and maybe in some cases grandparents, were in our group sessions back in the day,” Woods told ABC News. “So we kind of got a feel for the culture in some families -- the personalities of some families.”

The hyper-local formula appears to be moving the community in a positive direction. Thousands of kids have gone through the program, Woods said, and more than 115 have gone from engaging in dangerous activity in the streets to obtaining a college education.

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