A defense official told ABC News that the situation is based on a report of a "suspicious person." While nothing has been confirmed, the report is being taken seriously, given a previous shooting at the Navy Yard two years ago.
In September 2013, a lone gunman went on a shooting spree at the Navy Yard, killing 12 people. The suspect was then killed in a firefight with police.
ABCNews.com(BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn.) — A train carrying chemicals partially derailed and caught fire overnight in Blount County, Tennessee, displacing up to 5,000 people, authorities said.
The CSX train was traveling from Cincinnati to Waycross, Georgia when the fire broke out, said Kristin Seay with CSX Corporate Communications. The train was carrying liquefied petroleum gas and acrylonitrile – a product used in the manufacture of plastics.
As many as three cars derailed, Blount County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Marian O’Briant said.
Local fire authorities ordered a one-mile evacuation, and Hazmat crews responded to the scene, O’Briant said.
“Evacuation time could last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, but we'll get word out as soon as we can,” she said.
No serious injuries for first responders or residents have been reported.
The train includes two locomotives, 45 loaded rail cars carrying mixed freight and 12 empty rail cars, Seay said.
Purestock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Transportation Security Administration would like to take this opportunity to remind you fireworks are not permitted on planes this Fourth of July weekend, or any other time of the year for that matter.
"Most fireworks are meant to fly high in the sky, but never via a commercial aircraft," the TSA wrote on its blog. "Fireworks are explosive and incendiary, so in an effort to keep the skies safe, the FAA has prohibited fireworks from being transported in both carry-on and checked bags."
This includes fireworks such as aerial repeater fireworks, aerial shell fireworks, firecrackers, flying spinners, chasers, fountains, bottle rockets, ground spinners, parachute fireworks, poppers, snaps, skyrockets, missiles, roman candles, smoke fireworks, snakes, strobes, sparklers, wheels and any other type of fire work you can think of.
"Remember to check your children’s bags, as they tend to sneak their favorite fireworks into suitcases and backpacks," the TSA said.
Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Brittany “Bree” Newsome says she’s proud after climbing a flagpole and removing the Confederate flag outside the South Carolina statehouse.
“I felt very strongly we needed that moment,” she told ABC News. “We needed that moment to say ‘enough is enough.’ We want an end to the hate.”
Newsome’s act marked a new flashpoint in activist efforts to have the flag permanently removed from the statehouse grounds, a hotly contested issue following a mass shooting in Charleston. After the shooting, photos surfaced of accused gunman Dylann Roof posing with a Confederate flag.
“How much longer do we want to go forward like this isn't it?” she said. “It’s time to reconcile ourselves with the past and move forward into a better future where everyone has equal rights.”
Newsome, 30, quoted scripture while descending the flagpole Saturday. She and a fellow activist were charged with defacing a monument after allegedly removing the flag.
Newsome faces up to a $5,000 fine and three years in prison if convicted.
Supporters expressed solidarity on social media using the hashtag #Freebree, and celebrities such as Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson and Ava DuVernay all lauded Newsome’s efforts. Social media users have raised nearly $125,000 so far for her legal expenses.
In order for the flag to be removed permanently, a two-thirds majority is needed from South Carolina legislators.
The governor has said it should come down.
Newsome, an activist and filmmaker who attended high school in Maryland, is encouraged by the social progress that’s occurred in recent weeks.
“The majority of people in this nation are good,” she said. “The majority of people in this nation want peace. We want to eliminate racism, and we want more equality, and I think the outpouring support reflects that.”
iStock/Thinkstock(OKRACOKE ISLAND, N.C.) -- A 68-year-old man was airlifted to a hospital after he was attacked by a six- to seven-foot shark Wednesday off the coast of Okracoke Island in North Carolina, Hyde County and National Park Service officials said.
The victim was bitten on his left side in his lower leg and hip and on both his hands around 12:13 p.m., Hyde County EMS Director Justin Gibbs told ABC News. He added that the victim was conscious when he got into the helicopter, where he gave a description of the attack that allowed officials to confirm he was bitten by a shark.
The man, whose name has not been released, was en route to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina, Gibbs said.
"He had been swimming in about 25-30 feet offshore in about waist-deep water with his adult son," the National Park Service said in a statement. "There were no other swimmers injured."
The attack is the seventh shark attack off the North Carolina coast since June, including one in Avon Beach last Friday when a 47-year-old man punched the shark that bit his right leg and lower back.
The alarming number of attacks in North Carolina "is an extremely dangerous situation right now," said George Burgess, who directs the Florida Program for Shark Research at Florida International University.
"There is clearly a continuing threat situation here," he told ABC News.
Burgess, along with some law enforcement officials along the coast, are calling for many of the waterfront communities to consider closing the beaches. Burgess added that considering the trend the past couple of weeks, it's almost a given there will be more victims this Fourth of July weekend.
There are many inherent dangers while swimming in ocean or sound waters. Swimmers are advised to be aware of conditions and their surroundings.
Darrin Klimek/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(DANNEMORA, N.Y.) -- New York State corrections officials instituted a set of stricter regulations in the wake of the historic escape of two inmates from a maximum security prison, including eliminating the "honor block," which gave inmates special privileges and checking cells and the catwalks behind them every week, officials said.
They also named a new head of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, Michael Kirkpatrick, after three of the top executives, Superintendent Steven Racette and deputy superintendents Stephen Brown and Donald Quinn were placed on paid leave along with nine others.
Richard Matt and David Sweat pulled off a dramatic escape from the prison -- the first in its history -- on June 6, escaping via the catwalk and through walls and pipes reminiscent of Shawshank Redemption.
Matt was killed by border patrol and Sweat shot and captured after a three-week manhunt that involved more than 1,000 officers.
The men were housed in the so-called honor block, a special section of the prison for well-behaved inmates that let prisoners remain out of their cells for most of the day and have special jobs like assisting plumbers and electricians, according to a source and former inmate Erik Jensen.
Honor block inmates are also allowed to cook in the cell block, have phone use and get recreation as well as wear plain clothes, according to regulations and Jensen. They only have to wear uniforms to the mess hall and work assignments, according to Jensen.
The honor block was "eliminated pending further review and all inmates are subject to the same security restrictions," the corrections department said.
Corrections officials also announced that a senior member of the security staff will be inspecting each cell's "integrity" and the catwalk behind it every week. Every cell was checked in the wake of the June 6 escape, corrections officials said.
Sweat was allegedly allowed to access his cell's electrical boxes via the catwalk by Corrections Officer Gene Palmer. Palmer -- who has been charged with promoting prison contraband, but insists he did not know about the escape plan -- said that he allowed Sweat to access the boxes in order to "enhance their ability to cook in their cells," according to a statement that he allegedly gave police.
In the wake of the escape, all of the panels in the honor block, were inspected to see if the appropriate amperage was being used. The rest of the cells in the prison were in the process of being inspected, corrections officials said.
Among the other security enhancements were:
Installing security gates in the tunnels and making inspections monthly instead of biannual.
Creating new rules for contractors including securing "job boxes" in a gated area and not storing them in tunnels.
Using a heartbeat detection monitor to bolster searches.
Tripling the number of cells searched for contraband each day and searching every cell "at least once every two months."
Conducting bed checks at random intervals.
Keeping a member of the executive team on the overnight shift.
Requiring executive staff to visually inspect head counts and other security procedures.
Sweat claimed that he was able to conduct a dry run of the escape the night before and may have been planning their escape for six months, according to an interview with Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie.
Sweat and Matt allegedly used tools to cut through the back wall of their adjacent cells and access the catwalk behind them. The also broke through a brick wall, cut into a steam pipe slithered through it and finally emerged at a manhole outside the prison.
Some of the tools that they used to escape were in a toolbox left behind by contractors.
A prison worker, Joyce Mitchell, was charged with promoting contraband for allegedly passing Matt hacksaw blades and other tools in frozen hamburger meat.
She pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Palmer then said that he gave the package of meat to Matt, not knowing what was inside, according to a statement given to police.
He waived a right to a preliminary hearing Monday and did not enter a plea.
People meet near the burned ruins of the Mt. Zion AME Church July 1, 2015 in Greeleyville, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)(GREELEYVILLE, S.C.) -- Fires break out at churches and other "religious and funeral properties" in the US an average of 1,780 times in recent years -- about 34 a week -- and 16 percent of those were found to have been intentionally set, according to statistics from a non-profit fire protection group.
The scrutiny of church fires comes as federal investigators look into the cause of a fire at a historic black church in South Carolina that was previously burned down by a hate group.
Though the investigation into the fire that started at the Mt. Zion AME Church in Greeleyville on Tuesday night is only in its initial stages, sources close to the investigation have told ABC News that it does not appear to have been a criminal act.
According to statistics collected by the National Fire Protection Association, a non-profit "devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards," about 16 percent of fires at places of worship and funeral homes between 2007 and 2011 were intentionally set.
It was not clear what percentage of these fires, an average of 280 a year, were considered hate crimes.
By contrast, 30 percent were from cooking (most of which were "minor"), the top cause and another 16 percent were electrical. Candles and smoking accounted for smaller percentages, the statistics from the report, date June 2013, say.
Arson accounted for 25 percent of the property damage from fires, compared to 4 percent from cooking. The study defines a structure fire as "any fire that occurs in or on a structure...even if the fire was limited to contents and the building itself was not damaged."
Overall fires at churches declined from 3,500 in 1980 to 1,660 in 2011, the latest year for which statistics were available, a drop of about 53 percent.
Initial witness reports from the Mt. Zion fire suggested that the blaze may have been started as a result of lightning hitting the roof, but local and federal authorities involved in the investigation were careful not to reveal any details at a press conference this morning.
"We haven't ruled anything in or anything out at this point,” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms special agent in charge Craig Chillcott said. “We're going to let the case dictate.”
The ATF released a statement on Tuesday saying that they are investigating five fires that were reported in as many states in the past two weeks though they say they have no reason to believe the series of church fires were racially motivated or related.
The fires came amid heightened tensions caused by the racially charged massacre at a Charleston, SC church that left nine people, including a pastor dead and an uproar over the Confederate flag flying at the South Carolina statehouse.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images(OAKWOOD, Ga.) -- A troubling video by an Iraq War veteran posted to YouTube Tuesday has led the Department of Veterans Affairs to issue an statement acknowledging what appears to be mistreatment of a man seeking help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The veteran, identified by the nonprofit North Georgia Veteran’s Outreach Center as Chris Dorsey, is shown in the video approaching a counter at the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Oakwood, Ga.
After waiting for more than five minutes, Dorsey tells a man at the counter he was previously receiving care at a clinic in Athens, Ga., but had lost his job and needed to switch clinics.
In the video, the man at the counter can be heard saying, “We’re not accepting any new patients.”
Dorsey replies, “The VA is not accepting any new patients?”
The man then says, “Not this clinic.”
Dorsey then walks away from the counter, saying, “Wonder why 22 veterans kill themselves every day.”
In a statement to ABC News, the Department of Veterans Affairs said the message Dorsey was given “is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
“It is inconsistent with our ICARE values, which include commitment and advocacy to and for our nation’s veterans, our patients,” the statement reads. “VA staff should have established a full understanding of Mr. Dorsey’s medical situation and determined if an appointment was available for him at another location or if he was eligible for the Choice Program and could be seen outside of VA.”
The VA’s statement said leadership at Atlanta’s medical center is reaching out to Dorsey to try and give him help, and facility officials “are implementing a plan to re-train front line staff in the appropriate way to inform veterans about the options they have available to them.”
The video surfaced at a time of increased scrutiny for the department, following a series of scandals involving extensive wait times and falsified records in several VA hospitals. As the VA has attempted reforms, a recent New York Times report suggests the number of veterans on waiting lists of one month or more is 50 percent higher than when the scandal first broke more than a year ago.
ABC News has reached out to Dorsey for comment, but has not yet received a response.
A drone helped rescue two boys from the Little Androscoggin River in Mechanic Falls, Maine on June 30, 2015. (Frank Roma)(MECHANIC FALLS, Maine) -- A drone became an integral part of a river rescue team on Tuesday.
Two boys were stranded on a rock in the middle of the Little Androscoggin River in Mechanic Falls, Maine and a drone helped get a life jacket to one of them before rescue teams went in the water, officials told ABC News on Wednesday.
A teen and a young boy were tubing down the river when current was so intense they were knocked off the tube and got stranded, Poland Fire Chief Mark Bosse said.
“I guess they didn’t realize how strong the current was but they were able to get to a safe place on a rock,” he said.
Dramatic video footage from the drone shows the pair surrounded by quick-moving water and only the younger boy had a life jacket on.
As the rescue team set up to go in the water, Auburn Fire Chief Frank Roma flew his personal drone – with a rope line attached – to the teen in the water. He was then able to pull a blue life jacket to himself on the rock.
“The drone just happened to be in my vehicle and it was one of those times where the application fit the moment. Our first priority was getting the older boy a life jacket in case he slipped into the water,” Roma said.
Firefighters went out in a rescue boat and brought the younger boy to shore before going back for the teen. Roma said the duo was cold from the two-hour rescue, but had no injuries.
“The firefighters in the water did a tremendous job,” Roma said. “They were the real heroes.”
Crews exterminated a 15-20 foot long bee hive on a farm in Lozano, Texas on June 28, 2015, after a farmer died from a bee attack. (Raul R. Zuniga Jr.)(LOZANO, Texas) -- A third-generation Texas farmer was killed by a bee attack after he disturbed an enormous hive.
Rogerio Zuniga was on his tractor in Lozano, Texas on Sunday when he hit an 18-inch diameter pipe enraging the bees inside.
The bees swarmed from the abandoned irrigation pipe and killed him, an official told ABC News on Wednesday.
“He jumped off the tractor and ran about 100 yards away from the swarm before he collapsed in the field,” said San Benito Fire Department Chief Raul R. Zuniga Jr., who is Rogerio’s cousin.
Rogerio’s family noticed the tractor was abandoned in the field and discovered his body, which was covered in bees, Raul said.
“He had gaping wounds, the bees shredded him basically. It was horrible,” Rogerio’s sister Lisa Zuniga told CBS affiliate KGBT-TV.
The fire department found 15 to 20 feet of honeycomb inside the pipe that Rogerio hit.
“We got help from the county and an exterminator, but we broke the concrete pipe to get into it. The thing was just filled with bees,” Raul said. “They were extremely aggressive, too. One of the guys on my team got stung through his veil.”
The process took about four hours to clean up as crews continued to be swarmed by the bees.
The exterminator noticed the bees swarming towards another location — where Rogerio’s mother lives — and found more honeycomb inside four tires.
“In our area bees have always been a problem, but not to this extent,” Raul said. “I was told the weather has been causing them to swarm and that most colonies are infected with Africanized bees that seem to be more aggressive."
AK_Forestry/Twitter(JUNEAU, Alaska) -- The number of Alaska's active wildfires is literally off the charts, according to a map recently released by the state's Division of Forestry.
Over 700 fires have burned so far this summer, the most in the state's history, and that number is only expected to get bigger as the state is experiencing higher temperatures, lower humidity and more lightning storms than usual, said Kale Casey, a public information officer for the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, which serves as a focal point for state agencies involved in wildland fire management and suppression.
"Exactly around 1.88 million acres of land have been burned so far, which is at pace with the 2004 season when 6.59 million acres burned," Casey told ABC News Wednesday. "In addition to the dry season we're having, we've had a huge amount of lightning -- about 6,000 to 10,000 bolts per day. There was three-day period in June where we had over 31,000 lightning strikes."
The state's most devastating fire destroyed 55 homes and left 44 other buildings with major damage in Sockeye, Alaska, two weeks ago, Casey said.
The fire not only received attention for its colossal size but also for burning down eight to nine sled dog racers' houses, Casey said.
"The fire in Sockeye affected a community containing the largest concentration of mushers, including some Iditarod muhshers," he said. "That area is like Mecca for sled dog racers."
Though data sets show that fires seem to be on the rise in recent years, Casey said this may result from incomplete data in previous decades when it was harder to record fire histories without the technology available today. He added that though Alaska is the busiest region battling fires in the United States this year, it had a lot of moisture last year, making for a very short fire season.
"We've had really dry and really wet seasons in the past," he said. "It just goes to show you never know what you're going to get."
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Parts of the west will be sizzling while others will be dodging storms this July 4th weekend.
For most of the Midwest and Northeast, the weather is shaping up pretty nicely. Anywhere from Minneapolis and Chicago to New York and Boston can expect a good amount of sunshine with mild to warm temperatures for much of the weekend. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are on tap for the center of the country, stretching from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, parts of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Ohio and Tennessee Valleys should be on the lookout for pop-up thunderstorms, especially during the afternoon hours. It won't be a washout, but some of these storms could put a damper on outdoor activities like cookouts and firework displays.
No surprise for July, the southeast will be hot and humid with temperatures in the 90s inland and mid to upper 80s along the beaches.
The Northern Plains should stay mostly dry, but the Central Plains to Rockies and desert Southwest will be in the path for scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly in the afternoon hours. Again, these will be hit or miss. Dry lightning could also occur with some of these storms -- meaning lightning with little to no rain.
Out West, it will continue to bake, especially in the Pacific Northwest. The region has been dealing with a record-breaking heat wave since last weekend.
Washington State, Oregon and Montana have seen some of the highest June temperatures on record soaring into the 100s and even 110s. Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho have had their hottest June on record. In Las Vegas, it's the longest stretch ever with temperatures of 105 degrees or higher.
With no relief in sight, temperatures remain in the 90s and 100s with slightly cooler temperatures along the coast.
As a warning, people participating in firework displays out West will need to be extra cautious due to the dry conditions, wildfire threat and ongoing drought.
The good news is there are no major storm systems affecting any particular part of the country. But whether you are battling the heat out West or the scattered storms in the East, always stay updated on your local weather to be safe outdoors this holiday weekend.
Clarendon County Fire Department(GREELEYVILLE, S.C.) — A historically black church in South Carolina with a history of being targeted caught fire Tuesday night and investigators were trying to determine the cause, according to officials and reports.
Officials said investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were on scene at Mt. Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, but the cause was not clear. State and federal authorities are involved with the investigation.
The church was burned to the ground by the KKK in 1995 and President Clinton spoke at the dedication of the newly rebuilt church the next year.
The fire comes amid heightened fears about church burnings in the wake of the massacre of nine people at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
Sources familiar with the investiation say a preliminary assessment so far does not point to a criminal act as the cause of the fire. A more conclusive assessment and analysis will be provided once forensic examiners are able to complete their investigation.
At this point, said one senior federal official briefed on the investigation, it is “not arson at this point.”
But as the fire continued to smolder overnight, the cause remained a mystery. It was unclear if there were injuries or how much damage was done.
On Tuesday, federal officials said a string of five church fires in the South appeared not to be racially motivated or related, although some were deemed to be arson.
The ATF, which issued the statement, said that the investigation was in the preliminary stages.
"We are in the early stages of these investigations, but at this time we have no reason to believe these fires are racially motivated or related," the statement said of the fires, which have occurred in the past nine days.
U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin by Andy Wolfe/Released(NEW YORK) -- The makers of one of the most expensive weapons programs in history went on the defensive Wednesday, saying a recent report on the F-35 fighter jet’s failures in old-school dogfighting against a decades-old, much cheaper legacy fighter “does not tell the whole story.”
The report in question, posted on the national security news website War Is Boring, was based on an internal five-page brief in which an F-35 test pilot wrote a scathing criticism of the next-generation jet’s abilities in a January dogfight with an F-16, one of the planes the F-35 is designed to replace. Essentially, the pilot reportedly wrote, the F-35 was no match for the F-16 in close-up, high maneuvering fighting -- whether the F-35 was trying to get the F-16 in its sights or trying to evade the F-16’s mock weapons.
“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” the test pilot reportedly wrote. “There were not compelling reasons to fight in this region.”
Wednesday morning, the Pentagon’s F-35 Program Office did what the actual $138 million jet apparently couldn't: fight back.
In an email to reporters, Joe DellaVedova, a spokesperson for the F-35 office, attempted to provide context in defense of the fighter jets. First, DellaVedova wrote, the F-35 in the demonstration was only designed for “flight sciences” and was “not equipped with a number of items” that the jets currently coming off the production line have. For instance, it didn’t have the sensors that “allow the F-35 to see its enemy long before it knows the F-35 is in the area.”
He said that the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 didn’t have the stealth coating that regular F-35s have, making them “virtually invisible to radar,” and the test jet wasn’t equipped with “the weapons or software that allow the F-35 to turn, aim a weapon with the helmet, and fire at an enemy without having to point the airplane at its target.” (According to War Is Boring, the test pilot complained the size of the helmet made it too hard to see behind the plane.)
But none of DellaVedova’s comments directly address the central claim in the War Is Boring report -- that the plane isn’t good at maneuvering in close-up dogfighting -- likely because DellaVedova said it isn’t really designed to be.
“The F-35’s technology is designed to engage, shoot and kill its enemy from long distances, not necessarily in visual ‘dogfighting’ situations,” he said.
The F-35 is also primarily designed to attack targets on the ground. It’s the duty of the F-35’s next-generation counterpart, the F-22 Raptor -- which had its own share of dogfighting difficulties -- to take on other fighter jets in the air.
Still, DellaVedova said in a follow-up email to ABC News that the test pilot’s report is “the beginning of what engineers and software designers may need to address in the future.”
“As the F-35 is still in the midst of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, much work is on-going to improve the capabilities and deliver them to the warfighter,” DellaVedova said. “The F-35 of today is not what the F-35 will be in the coming years.”
The F-35 is the most expensive weapons program in history, with each jet costing around $138 million and the entire program running up to $339 billion -- well over an estimated $1 trillion in operational costs over the next 50 years. It’s also woefully behind schedule; the first planes were supposed to have gone operational three years ago.
Despite DellaVedova’s comment about intense testing still being done, the Marine Corps, one of the F-35’s customers, expects to field its first aircraft this summer.
ABC News requested additional context about the F-35’s dogfighting capabilities in the form of the For Official Use Only (FOUO) report on which the War Is Boring report was based. DellaVedova declined.