National News

Top DHS official warns of 'absolute threat' to public safety, economy from organized retail crime

The Home Depot

(NEW YORK) -- The surveillance video, from earlier this year, is startling: Four masked men march in a line through a Home Depot store in New York -- two of them looking like menacing bodyguards -- while the two others confidently push carts stacked with almost a hundred boxes of high-value items that they take but never pay for.

When the same crew, allegedly doing the same thing, was approached by a security officer at another Home Depot store nearby, one of the men threatened the guard.

"I'll knock you out. This isn't worth dying for," he said, according to prosecutors.

As Home Depot executives describe it, that New York-area crew is part of a growing threat to Americans across the country: so-called organized retail crime, where groups of criminals steal prized items to sell online or elsewhere.

While this kind of theft has been around for years, retailers say it's reached unprecedented levels, sparking deadly violence at some stores. And federal authorities now warn it's become an "absolute threat" to public safety and public health, declaring that violent gangs, dangerous international crime syndicates, and even groups with suspected ties to terrorism are increasingly dabbling in organized retail crime across the United States.

"These criminal networks, they may be full-time drug traffickers, but they see an opportunity to work with a crew that's already stealing," said Raul Aguilar, who oversees international organized crime cases for Homeland Security Investigations, the primary investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "And because it's hundreds of millions of dollars, [the money they make] can easily be diverted for [other] kinds of activities."

'Theft for greed'

"Organized retail crime is what I call theft for greed, not theft for need," said Scott Glenn, vice president for asset protection at The Home Depot, which has been hit hard by organized retail theft. "[But] they don't just come to a Home Depot and then decide to go home ... they go to Target, they go to Lowe's, they go to CVS, they go anywhere."

The groups behind organized retail theft can be expansive -- "like your traditional organized crime families," as Glenn put it -- or, as Aguilar noted, they can be just two or three people working together.

They target stores big and small, and they take whatever they know they can sell -- from power tools and spools of wire worth $3,000, to designer clothes and even medical supplies, officials told ABC News.

"They do a lot of research about what is profitable," Aguilar said. "They have shopping lists."

Glenn said The Home Depot investigated about 400 cases of suspected organized retail theft in the past year alone -- more than one per day -- and that the numbers are "growing double digits year over year."

The National Retail Federation's most recent survey of retailers across the country reported a 26% jump in organized retail crime between 2000 and 2021, amounting to tens of billions of dollars in losses. Home Depot alone loses "billions of dollars a year" to organized retail crime, according to Glenn.

Asked what's behind the recent spike of organized retail crime, Glenn cited two things in particular: the proliferation of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed people to stay "a little bit more anonymous," as he put it, and the explosion of online marketplaces, where people can be even more anonymous.

According to the National Retail Federation, online sellers like Amazon and eBay have been particularly popular with retail thieves, but criminals are increasingly using peer-to-peer sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, which offer more direct transactions.

'Keeps you up at night'

A Homeland Security Investigations report issued last year said estimates regarding organized retail crime found "the average American family will pay more than $500 annually in additional costs due to the impact."

But there are also much broader -- and potentially more concerning -- implications, according to retailers and law enforcement officials.

"This isn't just shoplifting," noted Aguilar, saying that it impacts the supply chain -- "and that has effect on the economy."

At the stores themselves, according to authorities and retailers, thieves are often armed with guns, knives, bear spray, or even tools taken from store shelves.

"We're starting to see a lot more violent acts taking place," said David Johnston of the National Retail Federation. "It greatly impacts the retailer's ability to keep their environment safe."

At a Home Depot in Pleasanton, California, in April, Blake Mohs, a 26-year-old employee set to be married in August, was fatally shot after he tried to stop a suspected thief. Two people have been arrested on murder charges in the case.

And late last year, 82-year-old Gary Rasor, a retiree working at The Home Depot in Hillsborough, North Carolina, died after being shoved to the ground by an alleged thief, who was then arrested on a murder charge. The case against him is still pending.

"It's unconscionable," Glenn said of the deaths. "That's something that keeps you up at night."

Homeland Security officials are also concerned about who's sometimes behind organized retail theft. Gangs and other dangerous groups, including the Aryan Brotherhood and crime rings from Eastern Europe and South America, have used organized retail theft to raise funds, according to Aguilar. And there are "definitely ties" between certain organized retail thieves and drug-trafficking organizations, including some of the cartels identified by the U.S. government as a global threat, Aguilar said.

In addition, said Aguilar, "some of these networks are tied to the terrorist financing networks around the world."

When pressed for more details, he said, "There's still too many active investigations, so I can't really specifically get into those."

Some media reports and others have questioned whether law enforcement officials and retailers have been exaggerating the scope of organized retail theft and the threat it poses to the U.S. homeland. As far back as 2021, the Los Angeles Times reported that although retail and law enforcement sources cite "eye-popping figures," there is "reason to doubt the problem is anywhere near as large or widespread as they say."

But Aguilar rejected such suggestions, insisting organized retail theft "absolutely is a threat."

'Part of the solution'

Glenn said The Home Depot is looking to stem the tide of organized retail theft by "taking a multifaceted approach": locking up often-targeted items behind cages, launching new forms of technology, and pushing Congress and law enforcement to do more.

Retailers expect the newly-passed INFORM Act, which requires online retailers to verify certain information about their sellers, to help combat the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods -- but they say they also want Congress to allocate funds for a federal task force specifically targeting organized retail crime. The Combating Organized Retail Crime Act, which would establish a coordinated multi-agency response and create new tools to tackle evolving trends in organized retail theft, was introduced by the House of Representatives in February.

"The feds ... actually have some really, really good data-sharing and intelligence-sharing capabilities," Glenn said.

Meanwhile, as local and state authorities try to tackle the issue in their communities with nearly a dozen state task forces, Homeland Security Investigations is "using all of its investigative authorities" to do what it can, Aguilar said.

Over the past three years, the agency has tripled the number of cases it's investigating, often using fraud-related and money laundering laws to open cases, he said.

But Aguilar said that to really help stop organized retail crime, consumers need to be "part of the solution."

"I think the first thing they could do is pay attention to what they're buying online," he said, advising consumers to be skeptical of items being sold as new with deep discounts.

"Pay attention to who's selling them, make sure to read the reviews," he said.

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Three teens charged after village's swan killed, then eaten: Police

James Warwick/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A beloved swan was reported missing from a New York state village's pond on Monday. Three teenagers are now accused of killing the mother swan, who was then eaten, authorities said.

The three teens face felony charges in connection with the death of Faye, as well as the theft of her four cygnets -- fixtures at the Manlius Swan Pond in Manlius, a southeast suburb of Syracuse, police said Wednesday.

The teens -- friends from Syracuse -- were arrested and charged with grand larceny and criminal mischief, both felonies, as well as conspiracy and criminal trespass, both misdemeanors, Manlius police said.

An 18-year-old suspect was arraigned and released on his own recognizance, police said. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 15. The other two suspects -- a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old -- were released to their parents because they are juveniles and will appear in court at a later date, according to police.

The teens allegedly hopped a fence overnight over the Memorial Day holiday weekend and captured Faye, who was nesting with her cygnets, and killed her at the pond, according to Manlius Police Sgt. Ken Hatter.

"Family and friends did consume the adult swan," Hatter said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

The teens reportedly believed the swan was "just a very large duck," and did not realize she was not a wild animal but property of the village of Manlius, Hatter said.

"They were hunting, is what they told us," Hatter said.

Tips from citizens led investigators to a business at Shop City Plaza in the town of Salina, where they found two of the cygnets, police said Tuesday. The other two cygnets were subsequently found at a residence in Syracuse, police said.

The juveniles reportedly told police they wanted to raise the cygnets, which have since been turned over to a biologist, Hatter said.

Swans have been a fixture of the village since 1905, according to Manlius Mayor Paul Whorrall.

A male swan named Manny, who was Faye's mate, was unharmed in the incident. He will be removed from the pond because he could become combative due to the loss of Faye, Whorrall said, while noting that swans mate for life.

The town is looking into increasing security measures at the pond in the wake of the incident.

"We've had swans for over 100 years, we're going to continue to have swans as part of this village," Whorrall said during Wednesday's briefing.

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Elderly man, passerby help save sleeping family from New Jersey house fire


(NEW YORK) -- A father and his four children were saved from an early morning house fire by a neighbor and a passerby who saw smoke coming from the home's garage and were able to alert the sleeping family, police said.

The fire was reported around 5:35 a.m. Wednesday at a home in South Brunswick Township, New Jersey, local police said.

A man who lives on the block told police he looked out his window at about 5:30 a.m. and "noticed puffs of smoke that looked like fog" over the corner of his neighbor's garage, the South Brunswick Township Police Department said in a statement.

When the man -- identified by police as 85-year-old Santo Livio -- went outside to further check, he saw a woman who regularly walks in the neighborhood coming down the street as well.

"I yell to her, I said, 'Is that a fire, you think, that smoke is?' And she says yes," Livio told ABC News.

The woman ran up the driveway and started banging on the front door to the house, while Livio started banging on a window, he said.

Livio said he banged on the window for about a minute or two before running back home to call 911 while the woman continued knocking on the door.

"When I got back to my door, I saw the people that lived in the house come out and she told them their house was on fire. And the man said, 'What fire?' And she says, 'Look,'" Livio said. "He looked up and he said, 'Oh my God.'"

The family was sleeping at the time and were woken up by Livio and the woman banging on their front door and bedroom windows before evacuating uninjured, police said.

Three fire departments responded to the scene and were able to extinguish the fire in about 20 minutes, police said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The blaze appears to have originated in the garage, but the source and official point of origin are pending further investigation, police said.

South Brunswick Fire Chief Chris Perez told ABC New York station WABC-TV that there were smoke detectors in the home but they were not operational.

The children's mother works overnight as a nurse and wasn't home at the time of the fire, according to Livio, who said the family came by afterward to thank him.

The father told WABC his family is safe and that they are grateful to first responders, Livio and the mystery woman. He told ABC News in a brief phone call that he was working on finding them a place to stay Wednesday night.

A police spokesperson told ABC News the woman who helped left amid the fire response and they are working to identify her so they can give her recognition.

"I credit Mr. Livio, along with the unidentified woman, and their quick thinking and heroic actions, with saving the family," South Brunswick Township Police Chief Raymond Hayducka said in a statement.

Livio said wouldn't call himself a hero, but a "good neighbor."

"I hope that what I did for somebody they would do the same for me," he said.

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Inside the movement to ban caste discrimination across the US

ABC News

(LOS ANGELES) -- Some South Asians, many miles away from their homes, say they are suffering from experiences with discrimination that dates back to thousands of years.

From job rejections to unsupported marriages, they claim that severe harassment from the caste system crossed over into America and has gone unchecked.

"When we talk about our personal experience, people don't believe me," Prem Paariyar, a Nepalese immigrant who said he was discriminated against because of his caste both back home and in the U.S., told ABC News Live. "Not just my experience, our experience."

But state and local leaders on the West Coast are seeking to address the issue with legislation that anti-caste advocates say could help curb this inequality.

The caste system started as a social construct created over 3,000 years ago in South Asia. People are born into distinct groups, that came with their own social hierarchy and political and economic status, according to Anupama Rao, a history professor at Columbia University.

Brahmins, or ritual specialists on top are considered the top caste, followed by the Kshatriyas, the warrior caste, then the Waishyas, which was the caste that represented farmers, traders or merchants, and finally the Shudras, who are also known as the "untouchables."

Rao told ABC News that members of Shudras were forced to do the worst kind of jobs including hauling caucuses and excrement. She said they are sometimes referred to as Dalit, which is a term of militant self-identification, that means ground down, broken, crushed.

"Caste operates as an engine of social hierarchy and as a form of political and economic inequality," she said.

Although the Indian government banned caste discrimination in 1948, it has still existed culturally, according to Rao.

"The ways in which caste operates is subtle and not so subtle," she said. "People trying to figure out what your caste is through your last name, people being very interested in knowing about your cultural and social practices, all trying to get a sense of ways in which you can cut into somebody's caste identity."

Alok Kumbhare said he has faced discrimination all of his life because of his name and caste. He remembered a music teacher in India discouraged him from learning music after learning his name as a child.

Kumbhare held back tears recalling a former landlord in India who harassed him over his caste and told him, " You stink up the toilet too much, I should’ve made you clean and that's what you're good for."

"This implicit notion of superiority and inferiority creeps in all the time," the married father of one told ABC News Live.

Paariyar said his family was brutally attacked in Nepal by members of a dominant caste and he fled to the U.S. seeking political asylum.

When he arrived in America, however, Paariyar said that his harassment didn't go away.

After getting a job at a restaurant, Paariyar said he was denied housing that those workers typically used because they were all part of the dominant caste.

"After a month, I was homeless…I was in a van," he said.

Pariyar would eventually graduate from California State University with a degree in social work, and spearheaded efforts to end caste discrimination on campus.

Some South Asian Americans said that the discrimination is strong even in bigger organizations and groups.

Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a South Asian-American activist, and the executive director of Equality Labs, told ABC News that she was originally invited to speak at Google about caste bias but her invitation was rescinded after some employees complained.

"I had a Google V.P. news manager tell me, 'Well, you know, caste is not a protected category,' and that's just me as a speaker imagining what they're telling to workers," Soundararajan said.

She said that after the incident, she had to live in a safe house because of threats.

Google claimed in a statement to ABC News, "In this instance, there was specific conduct, and internal posts, that made employees feel targeted and retaliated against for raising concerns about a proposed talk. We made the decision not to move forward."

"Caste discrimination has no place in our workplace and it’s prohibited in our policies. We have long hosted a variety of constructive conversations with external guests on these sorts of topics," the company said in a statement.

Soundararajan and other anti-caste advocates have long been calling on the government to address the issue and recently local leaders have been pushing legislation that bans caste discrimination.

In February, Seattle became the first major city outside of South Asia to ban caste discrimination.

On May 11, the California state Senate passed SB 403 which would make caste a protected category in California's anti-discrimination laws. The law is working its way through the state Assembly.

"As our state becomes more diverse, our laws need to go further and deeper in communities and tackle the issues that matter to them," State Sen. Aisha Wahab, the lead sponsor of the bill, told ABC News Live.

The bill, however, was met with resistance from some South Asians who contend that caste discrimination isn't as prevalent as some others claim.

Puspita Prasad, a member of the group The Coalition of Hindus of North America which has opposed SB 403 and Seattle's law, told ABC News Live, the nature of the legislation is discriminatory

"We object to this word caste. The word caste is in the Western lexicon. It's a Hindu phobic term. It is not a neutral term," Prasad said.

Rao acknowledged that most people associate the term caste with the Hindu religion but said "caste and caste-like differences and exclusions are also in evidence in Muslim and Christian communities across South Asia."

Alok and other anti-caste advocates say the Seattle and California movements are positive signs that people are becoming cognizant of the issue and are willing to make change to end the cycle of discrimination.

"This ordinance is all about hope," he said of the Seattle legislation. "It will create this ripple effect [that] can create a more inclusive environment," he said.

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Man with weapons arrested after allegedly spotted with gun near a California movie theater: Police

Placer County Sheriff's Office

(TAHOE CITY, Calif.) -- A man found with an arsenal of weapons was arrested after a person near a local California movie theater spotted him with a gun and called 911, authorities said.

Police arrested 42-year-old Thomas Alexander of Oregon after conducting a traffic stop near the Cobblestone Movie Theater on May 19. Authorities discovered multiple weapons in his vehicle, including a loaded handgun holstered on his hip, a loaded rifle with four high-capacity magazines, two additional loaded handguns and prescription pills, the Placer County Sheriff's Office said.

Alexander is facing multiple charges, including carrying a loaded firearm in public, illegal possession of a rifle, transporting a rifle and possession of a controlled substance, according to the sheriff's office.

Law enforcement officials responded to an emergency call from a concerned citizen at the Tahoe City-area movie theater inquiring about California's gun law on open carry, after the citizen allegedly saw Alexander with a weapon, according to the Placer County Sheriff's Office.

Prior to his arrest, Alexander allegedly inquired about the arrival time of theatergoers, according to police.

According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, California is home to the strictest gun laws in the U.S.-- some of which were enacted in response to several violent mass shootings in recent years, including a bill from February that expanded the state's gun licensing system and strengthened gun training requirements.

Despite its tough laws on firearms, California has been the site of a handful of mass shootings so far this year.

Eleven people were killed and nine injured at a dance studio in Monterey Park, a suburb of Los Angeles, on Jan. 21 during a Lunar New Year celebration.

On Jan. 23, seven people were fatally shot in Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, after a suspect open fired on two farms in the rural town, according to officials.

California voters passed Proposition 63 in 2016, which requires background checks for purchasing ammunition and prohibits possession of large-capacity magazines. A red flag law also went into effect that year, which prevents certain people from acquiring firearms.

Alexander's attorney did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

His next hearing is on June 7, according to court records.

ABC News' Julia Jacobo contributed to this report.

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South Carolina teen falsely accused of shoplifting fatally shot by store owner: Police


(SOUTH CAROLINA) -- A South Carolina gas station owner was charged with murder on Monday after allegedly shooting and killing a 14-year-old boy he wrongly believed had shoplifted several bottles of water, according to police.

Rick Chow, 58, was arrested and charged in connection to the fatal shooting of Cyrus Carmack-Belton in Columbia, South Carolina, the Richland County Sheriff's Office said.

In a news conference on Monday, Sheriff Leon Lott said the teenager did not shoplift from the Shell gas station, despite Chow's belief that he did.

"He did not shoplift anything. We have no evidence that he stole anything whatsoever," Lott said.

ABC News reached out to Chow's attorney, James Snell, Jr., on Wednesday, but his office declined to comment.

According to a sheriff's office incident report obtained by ABC News, the shooting was "not a bias motivated incident."

Police said there was a verbal confrontation inside the store before Cyrus left and took off running.

Lott said the convenience store owner, who police said was armed with a pistol, and his son chased after the teenager toward an apartment complex.

Cyrus fell during the chase, got up and was allegedly shot in the back by Chow, police said.

"Even if he had shoplifted four bottles of water, which is what he initially took out the cooler and then he put them back, even if he had done that, that's not something you shoot anybody over, much less a 14-year-old," Lott said. "You just don't do that."

Richland County coroner Naida Rutherford told reporters at the press conference on Monday that Cyrus died from "a single gunshot wound to his right lower back" that caused "significant damage to his heart and hemorrhaging."

She added that his injury was consistent with "someone who was running away from the assailants."

Attorney Todd Rutherford, who is representing Cyrus' family, told ABC News in a statement on Wednesday that the teenager's fatal shooting is "something that the Black community has experienced for generations."

"What happened to [Cyrus] wasn't an accident. It's something that the Black community has experienced for generations: being racially profiled, then shot down in the street like a dog. Words can't describe the pain I feel having known this family for decades," Rutherford said.

"One beacon of hope is seeing the resilience of the Black community as they wrap their arms around this family that has joined the club that no Black family ever wants to be a part of," he added.

Lott said that "at some point" during the chase, the son said that the teen had a gun.

"At that point the father shot the young man in the back," Lott said. According to law enforcement, a gun was found close to the teen's body.

"Right now we don't have anything that says that he did not have that gun on him," Lott said during the press conference Monday when asked if Cyrus was in possession of a gun during the incident.

But Lott added that the investigation found that Chow "did not have that gun pointed" at him and he did not fear for his life when he shot Cyrus.

"You don't shoot somebody in the back who's not a threat to you," Lott said, adding that Cyrus was "running away" when he was shot.

Naida Rutherford added that "there's no indication" that Cyrus was physically fighting with the store owner before he ran out of the store.

Following a peaceful protest at the gas station Monday, there was alleged vandalism and looting, which Lott condemned during a second press conference Tuesday, saying those who took part would be held responsible.

According to a police report, protesters shattered the business' window, vandalized gas pumps, spray-painted outside the store and left the scene carrying beer and other food items.

Chow is being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center, according to police.

Veronica Hill, a public information officer for the Richland County Sheriff's Department, confirmed in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday that over the past five years the sheriff's department has received "hundreds of calls for service" at the gas station owned by Chow related to cases of "assaults, larceny, shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, vandalism, robbery and burglary."

She also said that Chow was involved in two incidents -- one in 2018 and another in 2015 -- where Chow confronted shoplifters and fired a weapon, but his conduct in those incidents "did not meet the requirements under South Carolina law to support criminal charges."

According to Hill, in 2018 Chow confronted a shoplifter who then assaulted Chow, leading Chow to fire twice, and striking the assailant in the leg.

"That individual was treated at a local hospital and later pled guilty to charges stemming from this incident," she said.

"In 2015, Mr. Chow attempted to stop an individual stealing items, that individual then entered a vehicle and threatened to shoot Mr. Chow. Mr. Chow fired approximately six shots at the vehicle. No one was injured," she added.

Chow appeared in court on Tuesday, according to ABC affiliate in WOLO in Columbia, South Carolina, but a bond hearing has not been scheduled yet, the sheriff's office told ABC News on Wednesday afternoon.

ABC News' Brittany Gaddy and Ahmad Hemingway contributed to this report.

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Lawyer arrested in over decade-old rapes after being identified by genetic genealogy

urbazon/Getty Images

(BOSTON) -- Police have arrested 35-year-old Matthew J. Nilo, a former Boston attorney, in connection with several decades-old rapes that took place in Boston. Officials said they were able to identify the suspect using forensic genetic genealogy.

Nilo has been charged with three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with intent to rape and one count of indecent assault and battery, according to Boston police.

The sexual assaults were allegedly committed on Aug. 18, 2007; Nov. 22, 2007; Aug. 5, 2008; and Dec. 23, 2008, in the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown, according to police.

"This arrest cumulates the investigation that employed the use of genetic genealogy from recovered evidence. All four cases are DNA connected," Boston Police Commissioner Michael Cox said at a press conference.

Nilo was arrested in New Jersey following an investigation between the Boston Police Department, the New Jersey Police Department and Boston's FBI office.

"These investigations utilized sexual assault evidence collection kits with the assistance of detectives in identifying the suspect as the investigations continued," Cox said.

Additional resources for the investigation came from the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Grant, which helps the city investigate unsolved sexual assault crimes, according to Cox.

Efforts were launched in May 2022 to review unsolved sexual assault cases that posed the most threat to public safety, Cox said.

Authorities announced in 2008 that the cases were connected through DNA evidence, but had no suspect at the time. Through genetic genealogy, detectives can search for relatives of an unknown suspect through DNA voluntarily submitted to public databases and then narrow the family members down to a likely perpetrator.

"While we know today's arrest of Mr. Nilo cannot erase the harm he allegedly inflicted upon his survivors, we believe we have removed a dangerous threat from our community," FBI Boston Division Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said at the press conference.

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Man arrested in slaying of New Jersey councilwoman apparently knew victim from church

Borough of Sayreville

(VIRGINIA) -- A Virginia man has been arrested for the murder of New Jersey councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour, who was gunned down outside her home in February.

Rashid Ali Bynum, 28, who apparently knew Dwumfour from church, was taken into custody Tuesday morning on charges including first-degree murder, Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced at a news conference Tuesday.

On Feb. 1, Dwumfour, a 30-year-old mom and church leader, was shot multiple times while she was in her SUV outside her townhouse.

According to Ciccone, Bynum was a contact in Dwomfour's phone under the acronym "FCF," which authorities believe stands for "Fire Congress Fellowship," a church that the congresswoman was previously affiliated with, "which was also associated with the Champion Royal Assembly, the victim's church at the time of her death."

On the day of the shooting, Bynum allegedly searched online for information on the Champion Royal Assembly church and the Sayreville area, according to Ciccone.

In the days before the murder, Bynum allegedly searched online for what magazines were compatible with a specific handgun, she said.

Bynum's phone traveled from Virginia to New Jersey at the time of the murder, and Bynum's physical description matched a witness description of the suspect at the scene, Ciccone said.

Officials did not discuss a possible motive and did not take questions from reporters.

Ciccone called it a "complex, extensive case."

For Dwumfour's family, the last few months have "been a rollercoaster of emotions," family lawyer John Wisniewski told ABC News on Wednesday.

And while the family is glad a suspect was arrested, Wisniewski said they're also left with more questions.

Bynum "is not a name or a face that they're familiar with," Wisniewski said, and the family is "struggling for understanding what this man's connection to their daughter was, what was his thinking."

Dwumfour, a business analyst and a part-time emergency medical technician, was elected as a Republican to the Sayreville Borough Council in 2021, defeating an incumbent Democrat.

"There are no words that can be said to you to make you whole," New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said to Dwumfour's family, who attended the press conference. "I did not know Eunice. I wish I had. But I know that she was a public servant."

"I hope that today is the beginning of a healing process, and also the beginning of a sense of justice," he added.

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Man missing after falling overboard on Carnival cruise ship near Florida

David Sacks/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A 35-year-old man is missing after falling from a cruise ship off the coast of Florida, authorities said.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it is searching for a passenger who went overboard from the Carnival Magic cruise ship traveling 186 miles east of Jacksonville on Monday.

The man's companion reported him missing late Monday afternoon and "an initial review of closed circuit security footage confirms that he leaned over the railing of his stateroom balcony and dropped into the water at approximately 4:10 a.m. Monday," Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement to ABC News.

The man -- identified by his family as Ronnie Peale Jr. from New Hope, Virginia -- was on his first cruise, his mother told Richmond ABC affiliate WRIC.

His mother, Linda Peale, told WRIC that her son was on a cruise with his partner, Jennilyn Blosser, and her family for Blosser's birthday.

He would call at least three times a day to check on his dogs, and when he didn't call Monday morning and afternoon, Linda Peale knew something was wrong. She said she called Blosser to check in and learned they couldn't find him.

"I just woke up 11:30 in the morning [on Monday] and he wasn't there," Blosser told WRIC. "So I spent my whole day trying to find him."

Twelve hours had passed between when he went over his balcony railing and they found the security footage, Linda Peale said. Blosser said the footage showed him leaning over and that it looks like he accidentally fell.

"It’s not like he was like jumping, like you know, it wasn’t like that at all," Blosser told the station.

After the Coast Guard released the ship from search and rescue efforts, the 1,004-foot Carnival Magic continued its return trip to Norfolk, Virginia, where it was scheduled to arrive as planned on Tuesday.

The Coast Guard said it is using both air and water assets to conduct the search for the passenger. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Coast Guard said its crews have searched 5,000 square miles over more than 40 hours as the search for Peale continues.

Linda Peale described her son as "full of life" and someone who loves old cars, gardening and cooking.

"We're still praying that he's somewhere out there somewhere," she told WRIC.

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The challenges to US security posed by 'salad bar' extremism

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- A Hispanic man accused of shooting and killing eight people at an outlet mall in Texas earlier this month held a mix of views consistent with neo-Nazism and involuntary celibate extremist ideologies, authorities said.

Though a motive for the suspect, who was shot and killed by a police officer, remains under investigation, the mass shooting appears among recent examples that highlight a "persistent and lethal threat" to U.S. security posed by "lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and personal grievances," the Department of Homeland Security said in a recent bulletin.

This type of threat is what's often referred to by FBI director Christopher Wray as "salad bar" extremism. In the U.K., it's known by the acronym MUU -- mixed, unstable or unclear. Security firm Valens Global calls the phenomenon "composite violent extremism."

The terms broadly refer to "idiosyncratic patterns of radicalization," according to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, the CEO of Valens Global who leads a project on domestic extremism for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

"Traditionally, terrorism is thought of as being largely nested within a single ideology," Gartenstein-Ross told ABC News. "What we're seeing is violent extremists who display an amalgamation of different disparate beliefs, interests and grievances."

This pattern of radicalization has "taken on increasing salience in recent years," with an uptick within the last decade, Gartenstein-Ross said.

Examples of this, he cited, include Frank James, who pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges for a 2022 shooting in the New York City subway; Nikolas Cruz, who was sentenced to life in prison for the 2018 mass shooting at South Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; and Zale Thompson, who was shot and killed by NYC police officers after attacking them with an ax in 2014.

John Cohen, a former U.S. Department of Homeland Security acting undersecretary for intelligence and ABC News contributor, points to several factors that are contributing to this phenomenon in the U.S., including a highly-polarized society in which some people feel that violence is acceptable, and an online and media environment that is "saturated" with extremist content.

"You spend time online, you not only can find the justification for the conduct of that attack, but you can find content that will provide you detailed instructions on how to do it," Cohen said.

Gartenstein-Ross said he feels that the idiosyncratic ideologies reflect people, in general, taking on very disparate ideas in today's information and social media environment.

"We as a people are becoming more incoherent," he said. "Extremists are becoming more incoherent as well."

Such extremists may pop up on law enforcement's radar prior to attacks -- such as a concerned call from a family member -- but the U.S. lacks a "cohesive strategy" in the investigation and prevention of this threat, according to Cohen.

"This is the most complex, dynamic and dangerous threat environment I've experienced -- and I include in that the months following Sept. 11," Cohen said. "The reason I say that is because we're not adapting to address this [type of] threat, and it's a threat that potentially impacts every city and town across the United States."

Composite violent extremism poses several challenges to law enforcement, Gartenstein-Ross noted, from determining when someone who is ideologically idiosyncratic becomes a threat to how to best intervene, to how to define their community.

"We understand where jihadist groups exist, we can see very concretely what the neo-Nazi white supremacist sphere is," Gartenstein-Ross said. "For idiosyncratic, violent extremism, what's the digital or real-world community that forms a part of the extremist's familia?"

There is also an "unsettled" methodology in determining this type of extremist's core beliefs, Gartenstein-Ross said.

"I firmly believe these are things we can crack," he continued. "A lot of these are new questions based on the increased prominence of idiosyncratic radicalization patterns."

Cohen said addressing the threat will entail strategies from the local to federal level.

"We have to employ not just traditional law enforcement strategies to address it, but also community-based threat management strategies that involve collaborative efforts involving mental health professionals, law enforcement, community groups, faith leaders," he said.

Educating both the public on the behaviors of these types of extremists so they know when to alert authorities, and front-line responders on how to respond, is also key, he said.

Common behaviors often exhibited by violent extremists, who tend to be people "who exist on the fringe of the community," include publicly expressing anger and grievances; spending significant time online consuming violent and extremist content; acquiring firearms, ammunition and tactical gear; posting photos with that gear; and "making statements that represent an articulation of an intent to engage in violence," Cohen said.

"We need to make sure that those calls are answered and that local authorities have a process in place to evaluate those behaviors -- not just from the perspective of, has a crime been committed, but from the perspective of, is this person exhibiting behaviors that we know to be associated with somebody who may be preparing to conduct a mass casualty attack?" Cohen said.

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Son desperate for answers in wake of Iowa apartment collapse: 'My dad's in there and there's nothing I can do'

Branden Colvin, one of the residents still missing after a building collapsed in Davenport, Iowa, is shown in this undated photo. -- Obtained by ABC News

(DAVENPORT, Iowa) -- It's been nearly 72 hours since a Davenport, Iowa, apartment building partially collapsed, possibly trapping two men inside, including resident Branden Colvin.

Colvin's son, Branden Colvin Jr., said he feels helpless as he waits for answers.

"I know my dad's in there and there's nothing I can do ... wishing I could just run in there," Colvin Jr. told ABC News on Wednesday.

Colvin Jr. said he's not an emotional person, but when he was alone, he said he broke down crying.

"I just want to talk to him, give him a hug, hear his voice, anything," he said.

The six-story building partially collapsed on Sunday afternoon for unknown reasons.

More than a dozen people evacuated the building at the time and eight people were rescued in the 24 hours that followed.

On Monday, officials said there was no credible information that anyone was missing and the city was moving forward with plans for staging a demolition beginning Tuesday.

Then, on Monday night, a ninth victim, Lisa Brooks, was found alive inside and pulled out of a fourth-story window.

On Tuesday, demolition plans were put on hold as officials announced that five people were unaccounted for, including two men, Branden Colvin and Ryan Hitchcock, who may be inside.

Colvin Jr. said Brooks' rescue "gave me hope."

"I'm just trying to stick it out and keep having hope," he said.

But Colvin Jr. is frustrated with city officials, saying he wants responders to "just go in there and look for these people."

Officials said Tuesday they were working to determine the best ways to search as the building's condition worsens.

In a Tuesday afternoon search, several animals were rescued, but no human activity was detected, city officials said.

"The stability of the building continues to degrade," the city of Davenport said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "The recovery of any unaccounted for individuals remains the priority of the City as operational planning progresses."

The owner and property manager said in a statement, "Our thoughts and prayers are with our tenants and families during this difficult time. We would like to thank the brave men and women of Davenport fire, Davenport police department, and all other first responders for their tireless efforts to ensure everyone’s safety. We have been working closely with the American Red Cross and other agencies to assist the displaced tenants."

They're also working to refund deposits to tenants, a property manager told ABC News.

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Wildfires in eastern Canada affecting air quality in major US cities

Gary Hershorn / Getty Images, FILE

(NEW YORK) -- Wildfires burning in Canada continue to create hazardous air quality conditions in several states in the northern U.S.

Plumes of smoke from the fires blazing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, began drifting over New York City and the tri-state area on Tuesday, leading to a decrease in air quality, according to the National Weather Service.

Patchy low-level smoke is expected to linger and expand through the region on Wednesday, creating a cloudy haze that will block much of the sunlight, the NWS announced. The smell of smoke will also be present in some areas.

The jet stream, a high-speed, constantly shifting river of air about 30,000 feet into the atmosphere, is carrying the smoke from Nova Scotia through New England and further south in the U.S.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has issued a "code orange" air quality alert through Wednesday night for several counties, signifying unhealthy air pollution concentrations.

At-risk populations, such as young children, the elderly or those with lung and heart disease, should avoid the outdoors through Wednesday, according to the advisory.

The smoke is also affecting northern states such as Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont and Connecticut and is expected to travel as far south as Washington, D.C.

The weather is expected to remain hot and dry on Wednesday, with no rain forecast until Friday at the earliest.

Travel and activity in wooded areas have been banned to prevent the chances of reburn in some of the evacuated neighborhoods due to heavy winds.

Air quality alerts are in effect in the Northeast until midnight Thursday.

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Limo company operator sentenced to 5 to 15 years for manslaughter in crash that killed 20

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(ALBANY, N.Y.) -- A limousine company operator was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison Wednesday in connection to a 2018 crash in upstate New York that left 20 people dead.

Nauman Hussain was found guilty of 20 counts of second-degree manslaughter earlier this month.

Hussain was sentenced to five to 15 years in prison for each count of second-degree manslaughter, however, the terms will run concurrently for a maximum of 15 years in prison.

Hussain pleaded guilty to 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide in 2021, but the case went to trial after a judge threw out a plea deal reached with Schoharie County prosecutors last fall that would have spared him a prison sentence.

The limousine was driving down a stretch of road when it barreled through an intersection and crashed into a parked Toyota Highlander in the town of Schoharie, about 40 miles west of Albany. All 17 passengers, the driver and two pedestrians were killed in the crash.

Hussain was in charge of day-to-day operations for the company, Prestige Limousine, when a group celebrating a 30th birthday party rented a stretch Ford Excursion SUV on Oct. 6, 2018.

The limo had failed an inspection by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles one month before the deadly crash and the driver did not have the appropriate driver's license to be operating the vehicle, officials said at the time.

A report by National Transportation Safety Board investigators in 2020 found that one of the brakes was not operational.

After he was found guilty, Hussain's lawyer said they plan to appeal the verdict.

"He chose profit over people," prosecutors said at the sentencing hearing. Before sentencing, his lawyer said Hussain would not speak due to the pending appeal.

Prosecutors said Hussain made the conscious decision not to repair the car ahead of the crash and failed to get a second inspection before putting it back on the road.

The defense asked for the mercy of the court ahead of the sentencing.

The incident was the deadliest transportation crash in the U.S. since 2009.

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Boy speaks out after being shot by police; suit says he was shot without warning

Courtesy Nakala Murry

(INDIANOLA, Miss.) -- The family of Aderrien Murry, the 11-year-old boy who was shot by police on May 20 after calling 911, claimed the boy was shot without warning after he and his family members were ordered to leave their house, according to a lawsuit.

The suit, filed in Mississippi federal court on behalf of Aderrien and his mother, Nakala Murry, claims the officer who fired the gun, Greg Capers, was "reckless." It was filed after Aderrien spoke to ABC News about the incident.

"This is a claim for negligence and excessive force," said the complaint, which also named the city of Indianola, Police Chief Ronald Sampson and John Does.

"The injuries endured by all plaintiffs could have been avoided if defendants would have acquired the adequate training on how to provide proper assistance and care," the lawsuit, which was reviewed by ABC News, said. "However, as a result of the defendants, deliberate indifference, reckless disregard and gross negligence, plaintiffs sustained injuries and damages."

The complaint alleges that Capers arrived at the home with his firearm drawn and that he fired at Aderrien without warning as the boy emerged from the room.

Indianola Mayor Ken Featherstone and the Indianola Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

ABC News has also attempted to reach the officers directly.

Before his family announced the suit, Aderrien spoke out about the harrowing experience in an exclusive interview that aired on Good Morning America and GMA3 on Tuesday.

"I came out of the room like this," Aderrien said with his hands above his head as he reflected on the incident in an interview with GMA3 co-anchor DeMarco Morgan.

“It felt like a Taser, like a big punch to the chest,” he added.

Aderrien said that he ran to his mother, who was standing outside, after he got shot.

"I was bleeding -- bleeding from my mouth. Then I would just remember singing a song," he said.

Asked what song he was singing, Aderrien said, "No weapon formed against me -- prosper shall."

The line is a reference to a Bible verse, Isaiah 54:17: "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper."

Murry previously told GMA3 in an interview that aired on Thursday that her son was shot in the chest by a police officer who responded to their home in Indianola, Mississippi in the early morning hours of May 20 after her son called 911. Murry is now calling for the officer to be fired.

Murry told ABC News she gave Aderrien the phone and asked him to call his grandmother after she said she woke up around 4 a.m., heard a knock on the window and saw her ex-boyfriend standing outside.

"I noticed he was kind of irate. And from dealing with him in the past, I know the irate version of him, what it could lead to," she told GMA3.

ABC News has reached out to the ex-boyfriend but a request for comment was not immediately returned.

According to Murry, Aderrien first called the police and then he called his grandmother, who also called 911.

She explained that two officers responded to their home in Indianola, and her daughter’s father asked her not to open the door as police tried to break in.

“I heard a shot and I saw my son run out toward where we were," she said recalling the shooting.

“[Aderrien] fell, bleeding," Murry added.

Featherstone told ABC News that officer Capers fired the shot that hit Aderrien. Capers was later suspended, Featherstone said.

The Indianola Police Department declined to comment.

Aderrien was rushed to the hospital where doctors discovered a bullet had collapsed his lung and cut his liver, according to the family.

According to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the incident, officers responded to a domestic disturbance at the home and a minor was significantly hurt from an "officer-involved shooting."

The results of the investigation will be shared with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, the agency said.

Asked about the status of the investigation, the Mississippi District Attorney’s Office referred all inquiries to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.

"The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office is tasked with reviewing and prosecuting all office- involved shootings. That being the case, we do not have any comment nor involvement in this investigation nor prosecution," the DA’s office told ABC News.

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office did not respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Murry family attorney Carlos Moore told ABC News this incident is an example of excessive force.

"With living in the South, Mississippi, especially, sometimes you feel that you can trust the police a little more when they [are] your own color, your own race," Moore said, referring to the fact that Capers is Black. "But now this man, this young boy, would never trust law enforcement again."

Aderrien said he now wants to be a doctor. When asked if it was because of his life-saving care, Aderrien replied, "Well, not only them. As I said, it was God that saved my life and I truly truly believe that."

Although she's calling for the officer who shot her son to be fired, Murry said she does not "hate him."

"You know, I'm not angry," she told ABC News. "I'm so much over filled with joy at the fact that my son is alive that I don't -- I don't have room for anger right now. I want justice to be served."

ABC News' Katie O'Brien, Kimberly Ruiz and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.

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Police searching for three suspects after nine injured in shooting at Florida beach

Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images

(HOLLYWOOD, Fla.) -- Police are searching for suspects after nine people, including children, were shot and injured along the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk on Florida's east coast.

Four children between the ages of 1 and 17 were shot Monday night, including a baby between 15 and 18 months old, according to Hollywood police spokesperson Deanna Bettineschi.

The other five victims were adults ages 25 to 65.

The four children remain hospitalized on Wednesday, all in stable condition, according to hospital officials. The injured adults have been treated and released.

The shooting apparently stemmed from an altercation between two groups, and multiple people were detained in the aftermath, Bettineschi said Tuesday.

Two men believed to be involved in the shooting have been arrested on weapons charges, Bettineschi said. Morgan Deslouches, 18, and Keshawn Paul Stewart, 18, both face a concealed carry weapon charge in connection with the incident. Deslouches also has been charged with larceny-grand theft of a firearm and removing the serial number from a firearm, court records show.

Authorities said they're looking to identify these three people they believe were also involved in the shooting:

"No stone will be left unturned in bringing the perpetrators to justice," Hollywood Beach Mayor Josh Levy said in a statement Tuesday. "We will utilize every available resource to apprehend those responsible."

"It is completely unacceptable that innocent people spending time with family on a holiday weekend have been affected by a shooting altercation between two groups who came into our city with guns and no regard for the safety of the law abiding public around them," Levy added.

ABC News' Darren Reynolds, Peter Charalambous and Okelo Pena contributed to this report.

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