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Uvalde DA makes rare comments on investigation

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(UVALDE, Texas) -- The district attorney investigating the May 24 massacre that killed two teachers and 19 students in Uvalde, Texas, revealed Friday that she has been meeting with the families of victims to update them on the ongoing investigation.

“We're trying to make sure that they're getting the resources that they need,” District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee, the top prosecutor in Uvalde, said in an interview at her downtown office. “And then I am telling them where I am in the investigation, and so those conversations have been ongoing."

Busbee declined to tell ABC News which families she has spoken with and did not provide an update on the investigation of the shooting. Her comments came the day after some in the public tore into the DA and other leaders for keeping them in the dark about the ongoing probe into the Robb Elementary School shooting.

“I want the Texas Rangers and the FBI to have time to do their job to give me a complete and thorough investigation,” Busbee told ABC News. “This is a very complicated matter and so I’m allowing them time to do their job. And once the investigation is complete it will be submitted to me and then I will do my job.”

Police have said the shooter was killed by law enforcement, but the ongoing investigation is looking at, among other things, any communications the killer might have had prior to the massacre and the bungled response of police who, authorities have said, did not follow proper procedures in waiting over an hour to stop the rampage.

Complaints about Busbee and other agencies were at times impassioned during a special city council meeting Thursday evening.

“Come here, show your face,” said Tina Quintanilla-Taylor, whose daughter survived the shooting. "We're here showing our face because we lost somebody or somebody's suffering. Enough is enough.”

“We have questions,” Quintanilla-Taylor added. “We want answers. We demand answers. We're not here just to sit around, we are demanding answers. Show your face, answer our questions.”

“No one should have much power,” Irma Garcia’s sister, Velma Lisa Duran, said of the district attorney at the meeting.

In response to the accusation by families of victims that she is covering for the police who are currently under investigation for their response to the shooting, Busbee told ABC News that she is going to put out a statement “at some point.”

As she continued during the interview, Busbee said, “I would hope that everybody in this community knows that if…” and then she paused out of concern she was about to say too much.

“I’m going to stop right there because I'm getting into the things that I'm going to put in a written statement at some point,” Busbee added.

The families complained the district attorney has dodged their questions and has refused to release evidence including 911 calls and surveillance footage. During the council meeting, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin showed a letter from Busbee, explaining that the DA formally instructed city officials that “any release of records to that incident at this time would interfere with said ongoing investigation.”

“All questions relating to body cam videos and other Robb Elementary School investigative records should be directed to the Uvalde County District Attorney and the Texas Department of Public Safety/Texas Rangers,” McLaughlin said in a statement released last week.

“Anyone who suggests the City of Uvalde is withholding information without legitimate and legal reasons is wrong and is spreading misinformation,” the statement said. “There are specific legal reasons the City cannot release information at this time.”

Busbee declined to comment on whether McLaughlin has been briefed on the investigation.

Uvalde:365 is a continuing ABC News series reported from Uvalde and focused on the Texas community and how it forges on in the shadow of tragedy.

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Arrest warrant in Emmett Till case found in Mississippi court basement after 67 years

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(NEW YORK) -- Advocates and some relatives of Emmett Till are pushing for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham after finding an unserved arrest warrant for kidnapping, an attached affidavit from Moses Wright, and court minutes from 1955 in the basement of a Leflore County courthouse.

Keith Beauchamp, director of the movie, "Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till," told ABC News that he and a team from the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, including co-founder and Till's cousin Deborah Watts, went to Mississippi to check if the warrant had ever been rescinded, but came across the documents in an unmarked box, seemingly untouched for over sixty years.

Beauchamp said he is looking to state law enforcement for prosecution on the kidnapping charge in an effort to hold Bryant Donham, 88, accountable for her alleged role in the lynching of 14-year-old Till. The Department of Justice first opened an investigation into Till's murder under its Cold Case Initiative in 2004, but stated it lacked jurisdiction to raise federal charges.

"This is only the tip of the iceberg," Beauchamp said. "I want people to understand that this is not a complicated case…I thought it was impossible to get the case reopened in 2004. But it happened."

"Let's follow the law and make sure that justice is done in this case," he added.

In 1955, 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant accused the teenager, who was visiting from Chicago, of whistling at her after leaving a store, Bryant's Grocery & Meat Market. Till was later abducted from his great-uncle Moses Wright's home by Carolyn Bryant's husband Roy Bryant and his half brother J.W. Milam.

Till's brutalized remains were found days later in the Tallahatchie River. Mamie Till Mobley's decision to have photos from her son's open casket funeral published in Jet magazine catalyzed the civil rights movement.

The two men were indicted on kidnapping and murder charges, but later acquitted by an all-white jury. Rev. Wheeler Parker, Till's cousin, was there the night he was kidnapped. He has worked for years to see justice for Till For him, the rediscovery of the warrant "is only a headline, not evidence."

"For nearly 67 years, I have sought justice in the brutal lynching of my cousin and best friend, Emmett Till. We accepted the determination of the government that there was not sufficient evidence to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham," he said in a statement to ABC News.

The Department of Justice closed its 2017 re-investigation of Till's murder in December 2021. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division declined ABC News' request for comment on this recent development.

"I would be overjoyed if that woman could be held accountable for this horrible crime. If she can be compelled merely to tell the truth, I would even support that," Parker said. "To me, there is a measure of justice in that, too."

"We need to send a message that it doesn't matter how long you live, if you commit a hate crime, eventually the law will catch up to you. But we don't want to keep raising our hopes just to have them dashed again—if it's not going to lead to justice."

ABC News' Fatima Curry contributed to this report.

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How three states are moving to protect abortion rights after the fall of Roe v. Wade

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(NEW YORK) -- A week after the U.S. Supreme Court voted to strike down Roe v. Wade, ending a nearly 50-year precedent, several governors are moving to protect abortion rights in their states.

On Friday, New York is expected to pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to abortion during a special session initially called to rewrite state gun permit laws in the wake of another Supreme Court decision that rolled back the state's concealed carry restrictions.

The measure, which has been supported by Gov. Kathy Hochul, would codify the right to an abortion and the right to contraception in the state's constitution. It would also update the existing Equal Rights Amendment to extend protections to several new classes, including on the basis of sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, reproductive healthcare and autonomy), disability, national origin, ethnicity and age.

The state Senate passed the measure Friday afternoon, sending it to the Assembly, which is also expected to pass it. An amendment to the state's constitution would ultimately be decided by voters in a referendum after passing two separately elected state legislatures.

"We refuse to stand idly by while the Supreme Court attacks the rights of New Yorkers," Hochul said on Twitter while sharing a proclamation to add the equal rights resolution to the state legislature's session agenda on Friday.

In neighboring New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law Friday afternoon abortion bills that protect health care providers and out-of-state patients. One bill bans the extradition of people who get or perform abortions in New Jersey to states that criminalize the procedure, and the second prohibits state agencies from assisting in investigations that release their information to other states.

The bills swiftly passed the state legislature in the wake of the Supreme Court decision impacting Roe.

"While others throughout the country are revoking a woman’s right to reproductive freedom, New Jersey will continue to defend this fundamental right in our state," Murphy said in a statement Friday.

The laws follow other actions by the state to protect abortion rights in anticipation of Roe falling. In January, Murphy signed a bill that codified the right to an abortion into state law.

In Connecticut, a new law strengthening abortion rights goes into effect on Friday. The law, which was signed by the governor in May, protects medical providers and patients seeking abortion care who may be traveling to Connecticut from states that have outlawed abortion. It also expands abortion access in Connecticut by expanding the type of practitioners eligible to perform certain abortion-related care.

As the state becomes a "safe harbor" state for abortion care, Lamont also issued an open letter Friday urging out-of-state businesses to relocate to Connecticut, "a state that supports the rights of women and whose actions and laws are unwavering in support of tolerance and inclusivity."

"With the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, there are many states across the country outlawing a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices. Not here in Connecticut. Not as long as I'm governor," Lamont said in a video message, asking businesses to consider the state as a place where their employees and customers may better identify with its values.

Lamont also touted the state's policies around paid family leave, child care and education for those seeking to start a family.

Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion with the fall of Roe, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health policy research organization.

In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision, President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet virtually on Friday with nearly a dozen governors, including Lamont and Hochul, to discuss the administration's efforts to protect access to reproductive care, according to a White House official.

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Trump PAC paid nearly half a million to law firms representing allies subpoenaed by Jan. 6 committee

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(NEW YORK) -- Former President Donald Trump's political action committee has paid nearly half a million dollars to multiple law firms that employ attorneys representing close allies of Trump who have been targeted by the Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack, according to a review of financial records by ABC News -- an arrangement that committee members say raises concerns about the possible coercion of witnesses.

Trump's Save America PAC began paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to multiple law firms and lawyers connected to his allies in the committee's crosshairs after the panel was first formed last summer, and continued the payments as the committee's investigation began issuing subpoenas throughout the year, according to multiple sources and a review of Federal Election Commission filings.

ABC News has identified payments to at least five law firms that are connected to lawyers representing Trump allies subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee, totaling $471,000. None of the firms were paid by the PAC prior to the committee's formation last summer, according to FEC reports. The payments continued until as recently as May of this year.

While the disclosure reports show Save America's payments to these firms, the documents don't show which specific lawyers the payments are intended for, or who the firms are representing.

Key allies of the former president whose attorney's firms have received payments by Trump's PAC include former White House aides Stephen Bannon and Peter Navarro, as well as his former special assistant Dan Scavino -- all of whom have engaged in fierce legal battles with the committee in an effort to block their cooperation.

This week, a member of the Jan. 6 committee suggested that allies of Trump could be attempting to coerce committee witnesses by paying for their lawyers using money raised off of false election claims.

"We talked about the hundreds of millions of dollars that the former president raised, some of that money is being used to pay for lawyers for witnesses," Rep. Zoe Lofgren said on CNN. "And it's not clear that that arrangement is one that is without coercion, potentially, for some of those witnesses."

In a statement to ABC News, Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington pushed back on the committee's suggestion, calling the panel "illegal and illegitimate" and saying the committee "does not have the facts, so instead they traffic in dishonest suggestions knowing the truth is not relevant to the Fake News Media."

Bannon and Navarro, two of the former president's fiercest supporters who have both been indicted by a federal grand jury on contempt of Congress charges, have both been represented by firms that have received money from Save America PAC.

The Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed Bannon in September 2021, citing "reason to believe" that the former Trump adviser had information regarding the Capitol attack. Bannon defied the subpoena and was ultimately indicted on contempt of Congress charges in November..

That same month, an attorney named Matthew Evan Corcoran from the firm Silverman Thompson filed a notice of appearance on behalf of Bannon to defend against contempt of Congress charges alongside David Schoen, who represented Trump during his second impeachment trial, according to court records reviewed by ABC News. Months later, campaign disclosure records show Trump's PAC made a $50,000 payment to Corcoran's law firm, Silverman Thompson, in May 2022. It was Save America's first time paying the firm.

Then in June, former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was arrested after being indicted for his refusal to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 panel. Navarro, who's been identified as a key player in the former president's efforts to overturn the election, represented himself when he was first subpoenaed in February -- but at least since mid-June, he's has been represented by attorney John Rowley, whose firm JPRowley Law has received thousands of dollars in payments from Trump's PAC since the committee was created.

Cleta Mitchell, a conservative lawyer who also played a key role in Trump's efforts to hold onto power, was also represented by Rowley as she worked to defy the committee's requests for cooperation.

In December 2021, Rowley, on Mitchell's behalf, filed to block the committee from obtaining her phone and text records, according to court documents reviewed by ABC News. Mitchell later withdrew the motion and testified before the committee.

Rowley's firm has received a total of $125,000 dollars from Trump's PAC since November of last year. The firm was first paid $50,000 on November 29, 2021, which came two weeks before Mitchell filed to block the committee, then in May received two more payments totaling $75,000.

Other law firms representing close Trump allies facing Jan. 6 subpoenas, including his former deputy chief of staff for communications Dan Scavino, current spokesperson Taylor Budowich, and former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, have also been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars from Trump's PAC, financial disclosure records show. Both Budowich and Scavino still work for Trump.

Scavino, one of Trump's closest aides, was held in contempt by the committee after he offered limited cooperation with its subpoena. The Department of Justice earlier this month declined to pursue charges against him.

"This illegitimate committee is trying to drown innocent Americans in legal fees and assassinate their character with doctored evidence and dishonest innuendos -- that's the only coercion happening and the media is ignoring it," Budowich said in a statement to ABC News. "I will not be intimidated by corrupt politicians who are trying to destroy our country."

Budowich's attorney, Michael Abel, cofounder of Abel Bean Law, said in a statement, "Our Firm's representation of Mr. Budowich is a matter of public record. ... We categorically reject any contention regarding the alleged coercion of witnesses. Never happened. Never would happen. Ever. Nor has something so outrageous or unethical ever been mentioned or suggested to us."

Kerik's attorney, Timothy Parlatore -- whose firm, Parlatore Law Group LLP, received $25,000 from Save America PAC for "legal consulting" on April 22, 2022 -- told ABC News that the Save America payment was unrelated to Kerik. A representative for Scavino did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Separately, former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson was initially represented by former Trump White House lawyer Stefan Passantino, with her legal bills covered by Trump's Save America PAC, according to a source familiar with the arrangement. But Hutchinson switched attorneys just before delivering her bombshell testimony to the committee earlier this week, and is now represented by a firm not paid by the former president's political arm.

Since July 2021 when the Jan. 6 committee was formed, Passantino's firm, Elections LLC -- which has long received payments from Trump's PAC -- has been paid a total of $280,548 by Save America. It's unclear how much of that amount was for Hutchinson's legal bills.

Cofounded by Passantino and Trump's former deputy campaign manager, Justin Clark, Elections LLC has been one of the law firms paid not only by Save America but also by Trump's former presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee.

The former Trump campaign, in particular, paid the firm tens of thousands of dollars every month from April 2019 through March of this year, totaling $1.3 million, as both Passantino and Clark aided Trump's team in various legal matters, including contesting votes in states following the 2020 election.

Trump's team has also been directing others to a legal defense fund set up by American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, sources tell ABC News.

Schlapp, who set up the "America First Fund" and has worked with Trump's team to determine who would receive assistance from the fund, has said that the fund is "not going to assist anyone who agrees with the mission of the committee and is aiding and abetting the committee."

At the close of Tuesday's hearing, Jan. 6 committee leaders said they believe that some Trump allies who they did not name have attempted to intimidate witnesses who are cooperating with the special House panel. Sources have told ABC News that Hutchinson was one of the witnesses who told the Jan. 6 committee she was pressured by Trump allies to protect the former president.

"Most people know that attempting to influence witnesses to testify untruthfully presents very serious concerns," Rep. Liz Cheney said. "We will be discussing these issues as a committee and carefully considering our next steps."

A lightly regulated political action committee, Save America PAC can spend its funds freely as long as its expenditures are property reported to the FEC, said Brendan Fischer, a campaign finance expert and the deputy executive director of the watchdog journalism project Documented.

But the PAC selectively covering witnesses' legal fees raises ethical concerns, he said, especially when the PAC's funds are controlled by a person who "arguably has the most at stake in the Jan. investigation."

"The biggest ethical concern is that Trump's PAC will cover legal fees strategically, in order to deter witnesses from cooperating with the Jan. 6 committee or to encourage favorable testimony," Fischer said. "In other words, the worry is that there'll be an implicit understanding that Trump's PAC will only cover the legal fees of those who decline to fully cooperate with the committee, or that the PAC will withhold support to witnesses who provide testimony that Trump deems harmful."

ABC News' Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

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New York City launches program to offer free COVID medications at testing sites

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(NEW YORK) -- New York City became the first to launch a "Test to Treat" program that provides COVID-19 antiviral treatments, including Paxlovid, for people who test positive for the novel coronavirus, according to city health officials and White House response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha.

The treatments, which are provided free of cost, are available at three sites. The program will expand to a total of 30 sites by the end of July. The select testing sites are managed by the New York City Test & Trace Corps.

Clinicians will provide the treatment at the sites, which are currently located outside of local pharmacies to allow for the distribution of the medication.

The program launch comes as the city's COVID test positivity rate is above 10% for the first time since January. The number of positive cases has also risen 10% from just two weeks ago, according to data from the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Experts previously suggested the true test positivity rate could even be higher due to the number of people testing positive with at-home rapid tests.

This is a trend seen on the national level as well. According to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, as of June 26, the seven-day average for the COVID test positivity rate in the United States was 15.65%, the highest figure recorded since Feb. 3.

The average number of daily COVID-19 related deaths has risen to over 300. The U.S. was reporting just over 2,700 deaths every day at one point in February.

"COVID is a formidable opponent," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference Thursday. "It pivots and shifts and we are clear that we are going to pivot and shift with it and we are leading the way in the country on how we utilize all of our assets to address this serious crisis that we have faced and that we cycle out of."

The city has already been offering home delivery for city residents who receive a prescription for antiviral medication.

"We were the epicenter of the COVID pandemic at the start, but we're leading the way [with] prevention and mitigation," Adams said. "We are now leading the way again by having this mobile unit. This new public health service will help all New York to get access to life saving treatments."

Equitable access to Paxlovid remains a significant issue across the country, noted Jha.

"This is about equity, this is about making sure that everybody who ... can benefit from treatments gets it," Jha told reporters. "This is about meeting people where they are. Literally going into neighborhoods, going into communities and making sure that we're not asking people to come to us. That we are going to them and that is the ultimate public health."

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Two Kentucky officers killed, several hurt by gunman who opened fire at his home

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(ALLEN, Ky.) -- A 49-year-old man is in custody after he allegedly gunned down two police officers and wounded several others in a mass shooting at his Kentucky home.

The shooting unfolded in Floyd County at about 6:44 p.m. local time Thursday, Kentucky State Police said. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called it a "barricade situation."

According to an arrest report, Lance Storz, who was armed with a rifle, fired multiple rounds at police officers around his home, killing two officers and a police K9.

Five other officers and an emergency management director were injured, the arrest report said.

The slain officers were identified by the sheriff's office as Deputy William Petry and City Police Captain Ralph Frasure.

"Floyd County and our brave first responders suffered a tragic loss last night," the governor tweeted Friday. "I want to ask all of Kentucky to join me in praying for this community. This is a tough morning for our commonwealth."

Storz is in custody on multiple charges including murder of a police officer and attempted murder of a police officer. He entered a plea of not guilty and is being held on $10 million bond. Storz returns to court on July 11.

ABC News' Jason Volack contributed to this report.

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New York lawmakers introduce bill to ban guns from Times Square, mass transit

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(NEW YORK) -- New York lawmakers introduced legislation Friday that would ban the concealed carry of guns in a "sensitive location," including Times Square and all mass public transportation, according to a draft of the bill.

The bill comes after a Supreme Court ruling overturned a state law that limited who could get concealed carry permits to people who had "proper cause."

Sensitive places where guns cannot be carried include the subway, trains, buses and ferries, as well as government buildings, houses of worship, schools, libraries, public playgrounds, public parks, zoos, homeless shelters and polling places, according to the legislation.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced lawmakers' intent to establish "sensitive places" legislation on Wednesday. The legislation was introduced in the state Senate during a special session called by Hochul that began Thursday.

The bill also seeks to ban the carry of guns on all private property by default, unless the owner of the property has signage permitting guns or has otherwise expressed consent to guns being permitted.

The law makes exceptions for law enforcement, peace officers, active duty military personnel and security, who would be allowed to carry guns in sensitive places. Those engaging in lawful hunting are also allowed to carry guns in sensitive locations.

The law would make carrying guns in the banned areas a felony offense.

A state-wide license and record database created and maintained by police will be checked on a monthly basis to determine continued accuracy and whether a person is no longer a valid license holder. The records are to be checked against records for criminal convictions, criminal indictments, mental health, extreme risk protection orders and orders of protections.

Another database would be created and maintained by police for ammunition sales.

Gun and ammunition sellers and dealers will also have to keep a record of all their transactions involving guns and ammunition.

The bill will also add a vehicle requirement to existing safe storage laws, requiring gun owners to lock up their guns in an appropriate safe storage depository out of sight from outside the vehicle and remove ammunition from the gun. Otherwise, gun owners would not be allowed to leave their firearm out of their immediate possession or in a car.

Hochul, in introducing the legislation on Wednesday, said this measure is meant to cut down on gun thefts from cars.

Currently, New York law requires gun owners to get safe storage for their guns, keeping them locked up, if they have children at home aged 16 or younger. The new legislation lifts that age requirement to 18 years old.

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Genetic genealogy identifies suspect in 1990 murder of 17-year-old girl

Snohomish County Sheriff's Office

(NEW YORK) -- A suspect has been identified in the 1990 cold case murder of a Seattle teenager through the investigative tool of genetic genealogy, Washington state officials announced.

But the suspect, Robert Brooks, won't stand trial, because he died in 2016 from natural causes, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

Brooks has now been linked to the sexual assault and murder of 17-year-old Michelle Koski, who was found dead on Aug. 25, 1990 in Snohomish, the sheriff's office said.

Brooks, then 22, had been released from prison four months before the killing, the sheriff's office said. He was staying with family just a few blocks from where Koski lived, the sheriff's office said.

Koski's case had already been unsolved for 15 years when it was picked up by the cold case team in 2005, the sheriff's office said. There wasn't a DNA match from the crime scene to anyone in the CODIS law enforcement database, officials said, and over the next 10 years, several suspects were ruled by testing their DNA.

The case finally identified Brooks as a suspect by using genetic genealogy, which takes an unknown suspect's DNA left at a crime scene and identifies it using his or her family members who voluntarily submit their DNA samples to a DNA database. This allows police to create a much larger family tree compared with using only databases like CODIS.

A forensic genealogist spent about one year building family trees using the unknown suspect's DNA, which she eventually narrowed down to two brothers, officials said. Brooks' DNA was then matched to DNA at the crime scene, officials said.

"After more than 30 years of searching for answers following this terrible murder, we can finally provide Michelle’s family with some answers," Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney said in a statement.

"I have been praying for this day for a very long time," Koski's friend, Melissa Johnson, said at a news conference Thursday, as she thanked the officers and genealogists who worked on the case.

"Michelle and I met when we were just 10 years old," Johnson said.

"I often wonder what she would've been like had she still been alive, and how different my life would be, as well. ... I now pray that Michelle can finally rest in peace," Johnson said.

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Fourth of July weekend weather: What to expect

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Rain, heat and fire are all in the forecast this 4th of July weekend.

Here's what to know:

South

Heavy rain is pounding the Texas coast and western Louisiana on Friday.

The heaviest rain will be from Beaumont, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where up to 6 inches of rain is possible.

Rainfall rates could reach 2 to 4 inches per hour on Friday.

A flood watch has been issued for Houston, Galveston, Texas, and Lake Charles through Friday evening.

Northeast

In the Northeast, it'll be a scorcher on Friday. Temperatures are forecast to reach 91 degrees in Boston; 92 in New York City; 94 in Philadelphia and 93 in Washington, D.C.

Factoring in humidity, the heat index (what temperature it feels like) could be close to 100 degrees from New Jersey to Virginia.

Then a cold front will move into the Northeast on Saturday, bringing severe weather threat for the Interstate 95 corridor from D.C. to Boston. Damaging winds and some hail are possible.

In the West, fire danger will be high Saturday through Monday due to dry and windy conditions expected in Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

The strongest wind gusts will be on Sunday when they could approach 45 mph.

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Shark attack at Florida beach leaves teenage girl seriously injured

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(KEATON BEACH, Fla.) -- A teenage girl was seriously injured in a shark attack at a Florida beach on Thursday, authorities said.

The attack happened at Keaton Beach in northwestern Florida's Taylor County. The unidentified girl was scalloping in water approximately 5 feet deep near Grassy Island, just of Keaton Beach, when she was bitten by a shark, according to the Taylor County Sheriff's Office.

"A family member reportedly jumped in the water and beat the shark until the juvenile was free," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

The girl suffered "serious injuries" and had to be airlifted to a hospital in Tallahassee, about 80 miles northwest of Keaton Beach, according to the sheriff's office.

Tallahassee Memorial Hospital listed the patient in critical condition.

The sheriff's office said the type of shark that attacked was unclear but it was described as approximately 9 feet long.

"Swimmers and scallopers are cautioned to be alert, vigilant, and practice shark safety," the sheriff's office added. "Some rules to follow are: never swim alone, do not enter the water near fishermen, avoid areas such as sandbars (where sharks like to congregate), do not swim near large schools of fish, and avoid erratic movements while in the water."

Shark attacks increased worldwide in 2021 after three consecutive years of decline, though the previous year's significantly low numbers were attributed to lockdowns and restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to yearly research conducted by the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.

Florida has topped the global charts in the number of shark bites for decades, and the trend continued in 2021, researchers said. Out of 73 unprovoked incidents recorded around the world last year, 28 were in Florida, representing 60% of the total cases in the United States and 38% of cases worldwide. That number was consistent with Florida's most recent five-year annual average of 25 shark attacks, according to researchers.

ABC News' Alondra Valle contributed to this report.

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Chicago Alderwoman waits 29 years for housing assistance, takes legislative action for change

Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor is pictured with Chicago youth attending the 20th ward's annual youth forum. - Courtesy Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor

(CHICAGO) -- As a 19-year-old, Jeanette Taylor was a single mother raising three children inside a one-bedroom apartment she shared with her mother, brother, sister and her niece. She knew they needed their own space, and fast, so she turned to the Chicago Housing Authority for housing assistance.

She was left on the waiting list for 29 years.

Taylor, now a Chicago alderwoman, said her story is indicative of the housing crisis people continue to face, so she's taking legislative action to address the housing crisis and the system that keeps change from happening.

"I paid taxes, I worked, I volunteered at the kids' school," Taylor told ABC News. "I was doing what they say you're supposed to do and when I reached out to the institutions, and my city that was supposed to help me, I didn't get the help that I needed."

Accessibility to affordable housing for low-income households is an issue plaguing the nation, Taylor said.

In Chicago, before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chicago Coalition for Homelessness reported that "an estimated 58,273 people" were experiencing homelessness in 2019. In one night alone, over 326,000 people experienced sheltered homelessness in the United States, according to the 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress.

Having struggled with navigating the housing system in her own city, she made it her priority to reach out to the Chicago Housing Authority upon taking office in 2019 to address the city's high rates of homelessness.

With decadeslong waitlists and the livelihoods of thousands of families hanging in the balance of housing voucher rotations, Taylor knew the city lacked a substantial commitment to change.

"We know sending them into shelters, and transitional housing is horrible," Taylor said. "We got a real opportunity to talk about how do we help the homeless population in the city."

The director of public affairs of the Chicago Department of housing, Eugenia Orr, told ABC News the city is taking steps to combat the issue.

Orr said the City Lots for Working Families (CL4WF) program is an effort to promote the development of affordable housing on vacant lots throughout the Chicago area. In addition, the program works to "incentivize home builders" and provide vacant lots to affordable housing developers.

"Homes must be made available to qualified buyers with incomes up to 140% of area median income," Orr said.

Although the program repurposes the land, the link between the vacant buildings and accessibility for low-income households is part of Taylor's proposed Accountable Housing and Transparency ordinance.

Taylor introduced the ordinance in April this year to centralize efforts in housing the homeless and those in need. Other key features of the ordinance include prioritizing the displaced and disabled, centralizing leasing, a single waitlist, "interagency coordination" among all Chicago-based public health and housing institutions, and a requirement for each affordable housing unit to "achieve and maintain 97% occupancy rate."

By consolidating the separate platforms of applying to affordable housing created by different agencies, Taylor said the ordinance aims to simplify the process so that more people and families can obtain safe housing in a reasonable amount of time.

Taylor, who shared her story last month about finally being added to the top of the housing waitlist, said she did so to open a larger discussion on the national issue of accessibility to affordable housing.

"The system should be ashamed, not me," Taylor said.

Soon after Taylor's post went viral, the CHA released a statement addressing news reports highlighting their long wait times.

"CHA's public housing and project-based voucher waitlists are always open and have wait times that range from as little as six months, to as much as 25 years," the CHA said in a statement going on to explain its system of recycling the 47,000 vouchers that the federal government grants to the CHA.

"The number allotted has not increased in years," the CHA said. "A voucher only becomes available to a new family on the waitlist after it is no longer being used by an existing voucher holder."

Taylor said she knows of the wait pains families go through. When she finally got a call saying they had found her an apartment, they said her son could not live there because he had just graduated and turned 18.

"After completing my application, the young lady told me that I wasn't gonna be able to put him on my lease," Taylor said. "She was like, 'if we find him in your unit, you will lose your CHA housing.'"

Taylor had to either rejoin the waitlist, or move without her son.

"I'll be homeless before I put my 18-year-old son out," Taylor said.

As years passed, Taylor said she'd received a letter assuring her that her number was getting closer to the point of selection. Finally, after meeting with the head of the Chicago Housing Authority 2019 Taylor said she received a letter on May 20 notifying her that she made it to the top of the waitlist and could begin the application process.

"I just sat on the bed," Taylor said. "The kid that handed me the mail, is the kid that I just had when I applied for this, who will be 29."

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that there are over 970,000 households residing in public housing units across the nation, a number that fluctuates daily.

For many families like Taylor's, she said many feel like "there's no choice" except just to continue fighting.

According to a 2021 point-in-time count conducted by HUD, 122,849 African Americans experienced sheltered homelessness compared to 3,055 Asians, 6,460 American Indian/Alaska Natives, 3,785 Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islanders, and 113,294 white people.

By taking the opportunity to fix a persistent housing issue in her ward, she hopes the housing crisis and racial housing disparities can be transparently addressed by the federal government.

"Black women, you figure it out, and I had to," Taylor said.

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Uvalde families demand answers from City Council during heated hearing

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(UVALDE, Texas) -- More than one month since the massacre at Robb Elementary School that killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, families of victims demanded answers from city leaders during a special council meeting on Thursday.

Frustrated by the lack of information from the ongoing state investigation, families turned to the council for answers -- but they got none.

“We’re not trying to hide anything from you,” said Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin on Thursday. “We don’t have anything.”

After returning from discussing the shooting behind closed doors, McLaughlin told the assembled family members and media that they had no more information to share than they did two hours earlier when they went behind closed doors.

But families pressed the mayor for details and complained about the lack of transparency.

“We’re looking for some answers that nobody seems to be getting and it’s just making Uvalde PD and everybody else look even more guilty,” said Berlinda Arreola, grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, one of the students who died.

“Look at this as a dad, as a parent,” said Garza’s dad who was also at the meeting. “What if it was your kid?”

“You’re in charge of this city,” one parent yelled.

During the meeting, the sister of Irma Garcia, one of the fourth-grade teachers who died, demanded answers from the mayor and blamed the Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee for how the investigation has been handled.

The families complained the district attorney has dodged their questions and has refused to release evidence including 911 calls and surveillance footage.

“No one should have much power,” Irma Garcia’s sister, Velma Lisa Duran, said of the district attorney.

“My sister was obliterated,” Duran added before breaking down in tears. “I couldn’t hug her. I couldn’t say my last goodbye.”

In response to the family's complains and demands for more information, McLaughlin showed the room two letters he says he received in response to his requests for information. One, from Busbee, said, “any release of records to that incident at this time would interfere with said ongoing investigation” referring to the school shooting.

The other letter McLaughlin showed during the meeting was from the Texas Department of Public Safety saying, “release of records related to that incident at this time would interfere with the ongoing investigation.”

The anger in the room was met with frustration from the mayor as well. He told the parents that the issue was beyond his reach, and that he has tried to get answers.

McLaughlin added that if they didn’t have confidence in him, he would step down.

Notably, embattled Police Chief Pete Arredondo was a no-show -- his third absence at a meeting since he was sworn in as councilman last month.

Last week, Arredondo was placed on administrative leave by the school district.

Uvalde:365 is a continuing ABC News series reported from Uvalde and focused on the Texas community and how it forges on in the shadow of tragedy.

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Woman attacked by Yellowstone bison

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(NEW YORK) -- A 71-year-old woman was gored by a bull bison at Yellowstone National Park, making her the third person attacked by a bison at the park this year.

A park official said that the Pennsylvania woman and her daughter were headed back to their vehicle at Storm Point at Yellowstone Lake on Wednesday when they inadvertently approached the bison, causing it to charge at them.

The woman sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was sent to West Park Hospital in Cody, Wyoming.

Earlier this week, a 34-year-old Colorado man was walking with his family near Giant Geyser at Old Faithful in Yellowstone when a bull bison attacked him.

On May 30, a 25-year-old woman was gored by a bison after approaching the animal near a boardwalk at Black Sand Basin.

Yellowstone officials warned that people should stay over 25 yards away from bison and other large animals at the park and give them space near campsites, trails and boardwalks.

"Though bison are generally more intent on grazing, mother bison are extremely protective of their calves in spring and bulls can be more aggressive in July and August during the rut when they are competing for the attention of females," Dennis Jorgensen, the bison program manager at World Wildlife Fund, told ABC News in a statement.

Bison are threatened when approached and may issue warnings, such as head bobbing, pawing and snorting, when you're too close. Officials add that people should not hold their ground and should run away from bison immediately.

"Bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other animal," the park says on its website. "Bison are unpredictable and can run three times faster than humans."

Yellowstone National Park is reopening part of its north loop on Saturday, weeks after severe flooding forced people to flee, left some stranded and damaged roads and bridges, forcing the park to shut down.

"We're pleased to reopen the north loop of Yellowstone to the visiting public less than three weeks after this major flood event," Cam Sholly, the park's superintendent, said in a press release Thursday.

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Texas sheriff pens letter to Biden about the migrant crisis

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(SAN ANTONIO) -- Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar has written a letter to President Joe Biden, asking to meet with him to address migration issues “as the humanitarian crisis it truly is.”

“We just don't see it slowing down,” Salazar told ABC News' Linsey Davis Wednesday during an interview for "ABC News Live Prime."

“I attribute that to what I would call a perceived lack of action on the part of the federal government that's allowing the state of Texas to do what they're doing, which is quite frankly, causing a whole lot of heartache for other agencies, and I don't see a whole lot of benefit from it… we’re dealing with big rescues of groups of undocumented immigrants every day.”

Salazar has called for action from the federal government in his most recent letter to Biden stating how “angry he is.”

“I'm angry that I could not stop this massive loss of life in my county. I'm angry that despite my best efforts to appeal to your administration, I have not received a response. I'm disappointed that a perceived lack of action on the part of the US government has allowed the governor of my state to use this issue as one big campaigns done," Salazar wrote and also alleged that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott used the situation "as some sort of enemy invasion."

This comes after 53 people lost their lives during a suspected migrant smuggling operation Monday, and and increasing migration at the border.

This is, however, not the first time he has reached out to Biden asking for assistance as a spokesperson for Salazar told ABC News he has written three letters to Biden and has also reached out to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

While he is hoping to have resources from the federal government and meet with Biden, Salazar who is a Democrat, also puts blame on Abbott’s migrant arrest program. Under this program, state law enforcement agencies are authorized to arrest migrants on criminal charges. This is something Salazar said he is not going to enforce, that he has not seen to be beneficial, and referred to as a “campaign stunt.”

“We have not experienced any change. In fact, it seems to be picking up steam. To me, it just seems like a big campaigns stunt, that billions of billions of dollars are being poured into it, And for what?...We're sleeping out here in the in the desert, watching for this enemy invasion that never truly seems to come,” Salazar said.

Abbott's program has faced severe backlash including from members of the Texas National Guard who have been tasked with enforcing the measure.

Salazar’s most recent letter, he said, has received “some response” from the White House, but he still hopes to meet to discuss solutions.

“I'm not just going to come to the table and present problems. I'm hoping to present some solutions. I've been in talks with other urban county sheriff's in the state of Texas…so we're prepared to come present some possible solutions as we see it. But we just need the audience,” Salazar said.

And is hopeful of a solution.

“We may not have all the answers, but I think between those of us that are here, with eyes on the problem every day, and those in D.C. that are the top decision makers, I think we can reach some sort of an understanding to try to truly make a difference in this issue,” Salazar said.

ABC News Victoria Moll-Ramirez contributed to this report

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 93-year-old man shoots home intruder, fends off others near Los Angeles

KABC

(LOS ANGELES) -- A 93-year-old suburban Los Angeles homeowner, who a relative said was frustrated over being the victim of numerous home break-ins, shot and critically wounded a burglar and scared off the would-be thief's accomplices, according to authorities.

The retired plumber, identified as Joe Howard Teague by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, turned the tables on the group of home invaders early Wednesday when he grabbed his gun and confronted them inside his house in Moreno Valley, the sheriff's office said.

"I approached them to put them under citizen's arrest. They wouldn't adhere to that and then one of them came at me with a fishing pole," Teague told reporters outside his home Thursday.

He said the suspects, who entered his home after kicking open his door, began throwing things at him as he tried to hold them at gunpoint.

"It was just like somebody comes to a gunfight with a pocketknife, you know," Teague said.

Teague called 911 at about 12:30 p.m. and reported a burglary in progress at his home, the sheriff's office said in a statement. As deputies responded, Teague told a dispatcher he was holding several suspects, according to the sheriff's department.

Teague said the suspects included at least one woman.

When deputies arrived at Teague's home, they found one of the suspected burglars suffering from a gunshot wound.

A witness told deputies that several people were seen fleeing Teague's home on foot prior to the arrival of deputies.

The wounded suspect, identified as Joseph A. Ortega, 33, of Moreno Valley, was hospitalized in critical condition, according to the sheriff's department.

"Investigators have established that several individuals, including Ortega, were inside Teague’s property when a shooting occurred," the sheriff's department said.

Teague was not injured. He was taken to a sheriff's department station, questioned and released, authorities said.

Sheriff's department officials said it appears the shooting was justified, but added that the investigation is ongoing.

"Based on the severity of Ortega’s medical condition, the Central Homicide Unit responded to the scene and assumed the investigation," the sheriff's department said.

Investigators are working to identify the other assailants. No arrests have been announced.

Oscar Malma, whose wife is related to Teague, told ABC station KABC in Los Angeles that Teague had been the victim of a string of recent break-ins, including one that occurred on Friday.

Malma said the elderly man had grown increasingly frustrated over his home being targeted by thieves and the response from local police.

"He was tired because every time he calls the police, the police were taking forever to come and assist him," Malma said.

He said a burglary Friday at the man's home occurred in broad daylight.

"And now this happened in the middle of the night," Malma said. "He was defending his property. That happened inside of his home. So, I don't think there would be any reason for him to be arrested."

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