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Police forces scramble to fill vacancies as crime rises

ABC News

(PHILADELPHIA) -- Across the country, police forces are scrambling to keep their roll call numbers at full staff, but officials said they've been hit with challenges.

Burnout, low morale, and dejection have caused many cops, both long-time veterans and newcomers, to quit and change careers and recent public backlash against excessive police force has resulted in a drop in new applications, according to police officials.

In Philadelphia, the police force is facing a shortage of 600 officers, roughly 10% of its full force.

"It's critical now," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told ABC News of her force's staffing levels. "It's already critical, was critical a year ago."

Outlaw and other police chiefs said the nation's officer turnover issue is coming at a crucial time with crime on the rise and they're working hard to get officers on the streets.

Several other cities have also reported officer shortages during the last two years.

Los Angeles' police force is down roughly 500 officers and New Orleans' police department has 300 fewer officers this year compared to 2021, according to data from the departments and local media reports.

A survey released two weeks ago by the Police Executive Research Forum found that three out of every four police departments have warned that their number of new applicants have declined over the last five years.

Kevin Davis, the police chief for the Fairfax County Virginia police, told ABC News that exit interviews show officers are leaving because they're not feeling valued and can find better opportunities elsewhere.

"They're going into IT, they're going into sales, they're teaching," he told ABC News. "We've even had a person leave to go be a farmer."

Anthony Carapucci told ABC News that he turned in his badge and gun after about a decade with the Philadelphia police department this year because he felt burned out.

"Yes, it's a good job. It's an honorable job, but it's almost not worth it," Carapucci, the son of two police officers, said.

Outlaw acknowledged the increased toll that her officers are facing, especially since they're needed to take on extra duties to fill the voids.

The retention issue has also created a grave safety concern, she said. While Philadelphia police still respond quickly to 911 calls for shootings, homicides, and other serious crimes, the commissioner said it may take longer for officers to respond to lower-priority calls.

Philadelphia saw a record-breaking 562 homicides last year, according to police statistics. More than 460 people have been murdered in the city so far this year, statistics show.

Some Philly residents have said they've seen a difference in the lower police presence.

Kanitra Scott, who runs Nuvo’s Glam and Glow Hair Salon in Germantown, told ABC News that there have been a number of shootings outside her store since a patrol car stopped coming to patrol.

"All the killings started from the summer until now," she said.

Police officials said that some of their officers have been discouraged by the public criticism following instances of police brutality.

When asked to respond to critics who say law enforcement may have undermined its own credibility and discouraged some potential recruits from pursuing a career in law enforcement, Outlaw rejected that notion adding “the same people who raised their voices against misconduct were the same ones "that will call 911 and will file a complaint if we don't get there quickly enough."

Still the commissioner and other chiefs said that the best way to tackle this issue is to convince communities that policing is still a “trusted profession.”

"Examine your heart, do you want to serve? Do you want to make your community better and your family safer and your neighbor safer and your friends safer?" Fairfax County's Davis said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Suspect in Vanessa Guillen case pleads guilty to multiple federal charges

Bell County Sheriff's Office

(WACO, Texas) -- A woman accused of helping Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen's suspected killer dismember and dispose of her body pleaded guilty to multiple federal charges on Tuesday, weeks before her trial was scheduled to start.

Cecily Aguilar, 24, was indicted last year on 11 federal charges. She pleaded guilty to four of them in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Waco -- one count of accessory to murder after the fact and three counts of false statement or representation.

Aguilar faces a maximum possible penalty of 30 years in prison, plus three years of supervised release and a $1 million fine, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Several of Guillen's family members traveled to Waco to attend the hearing in person.

"Please God. Let justice prevail. Give my self & my parents the strength we need as we face her in court ..." her sister, Mayra Guillen, tweeted beforehand, calling Aguilar a "monster" in another tweet.

Mayra Guillen said she was surprised by the guilty plea and had expected Aguilar to "keep fighting back."

"Still a lot of mixed emotions -- it's both anger and frustration," she told reporters following the hearing. "Now we have to wait for the actual sentencing."

When asked what she was hoping for as far as the sentencing, Mayra Guillen said, "I comfort myself in knowing that she will be locked up for most of the rest of her life."

"I hope she has time to sit down and think about what it is that she did and how she impacted our life," she said. "Not only our life, but a lot of people that know Vanessa's name."

ABC News did not immediately receive a response to an email seeking comment from Aguilar's attorneys.

Aguilar was indicted by a grand jury on the charges a month after a Texas judge denied her attorneys' motion asking that her confession in the crime be thrown out. She previously entered a plea of not guilty during an arraignment in August 2021. A jury trial in the case had been scheduled to start in January 2023.

Vanessa Guillen, 20, was a Fort Hood Army specialist who disappeared in April 2020. Her remains were found two months later near the Leon River in Belton, Texas.

Fellow soldier Aaron David Robinson -- Aguilar's boyfriend at the time -- was one of the last people in touch with Vanessa Guillen based on cellphone records, according to court documents.

The indictment accused Aguilar and Robinson of dismembering, destroying and concealing Vanessa Guillen's body, then making false statements to prevent themselves from being charged with any crime.

Prosecutors said Vanessa Guillen was bludgeoned to death with a hammer by Robinson in the armory of the Killeen, Texas, military base, on April 22, 2020, according to the criminal complaint.

An attorney for Vanessa Guillen's family has said investigators told her that Vanessa Guillen and Robinson had an argument after she discovered his relationship with Aguilar, the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier.

Robinson told Aguilar that he killed Vanessa Guillen with a hammer, transferred her body off the Army base, and then the two of them dismembered, attempted to burn and buried her remains near the Leon River, according to the complaint.

While searching Robinson's phone records, investigators found that Robinson had called Aguilar multiple times on the night Vanessa Guillen vanished. The calls raised suspicion, as Robinson initially told investigators he had been with Aguilar all night. Aguilar later changed her story, claiming that she and Robinson went on a drive to look at the stars that night, according to court documents.

During the investigation into Vanessa Guillen's disappearance, Aguilar ultimately made "four materially false statements to federal investigators," the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas said.

When investigators found Vanessa Guillen's remains near the Leon River on June 30, 2020, they confronted Aguilar, after which they say she confessed.

Robinson died by suicide in July 2020 when confronted by police.

Months before Vanessa Guillen was killed, her family said she told them she was being sexually harassed by a superior.

A U.S. Army investigation determined that Vanessa Guillen was sexually harassed by a supervisor, and that the leaders in her unit did not take appropriate action after she stepped forward.

The family has been seeking to reform the way the military handles sexual assault and harassment cases since her death.

Natalie Khawam, the attorney for the Guillen family, called Aguilar's guilty plea "another step on the long path toward justice for Vanessa, my client and her courageous family."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Virginia Walmart mass shooting: Store to close for the 'foreseeable future'

Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(CHESAPEAKE, Va.) -- A Virginia community is reeling after a man armed with a handgun shot and killed six people and injured several others in a mass shooting at a Walmart in Chesapeake.

Survivors said the gunman walked into a break room and opened fire on Nov. 22.

The suspect, a current employee, died at the scene from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

Two victims remain in the hospital and two have been released, Walmart said Tuesday.

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

Nov 29, 7:29 PM EST
Employee complained about suspect's behavior months before shooting: Lawsuit

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, a Walmart employee accused the company of being negligent by continuing to employ suspected shooter Andre Bing despite a written complaint the employee submitted about Bing's alleged disturbing behavior more than two months before the shooting.

Donya Prioleau, an employee who had worked at Walmart for more than a year and was in the room during the shooting, alleged Walmart knew or should have known about Bing's "violent propensities" and accused the company of failing to "enact any preventative measures to keep Walmart customers and employees safe," according to the suit.

Prioleau is seeking $50 million in damages.

Walmart said that it's reviewing the complaint and "will be responding as appropriate with the court."

-ABC News' Nadine El-Bawab and Luke Barr

Nov 29, 6:47 PM EST
Walmart to close store for the 'foreseeable future'

Walmart has announced plans to close the Chesapeake store for the "foreseeable future."

"All associates will continue being paid regardless of planned schedules," CEO John Furner wrote in an email to staff on Tuesday.

The company is supporting the victims' families with funeral, travel and other expenses, and the Walmart Foundation intends to contribute $1 million to the United Way of South Hampton Roads' Hope & Healing Fund, "which will support those impacted by the shooting and the broader Chesapeake community," Furner added.

-ABC News' Beatrice Peterson

Nov 25, 12:18 PM EST
Identity of 16-year-old killed in shooting revealed

The 16-year-old victim killed in the Walmart shooting is Fernando Chavez-Barron, according to the City of Chesapeake. His identity had been previously withheld due to his age.

"We are saddened to announce the names of those we lost on Tuesday evening at the shooting at Walmart on Sam’s Circle but hope that with this information we can honor their lives in our community," city officials said in a statement Friday.

"The City of Chesapeake has always been known as the 'City That Cares' and now, more than ever, we know our City will show up and care for those who need it most. Please join us in praying for the family and friends of these community members who we have lost," the statement continued.

Nov 25, 10:32 AM EST
Gunman purchased gun day of shooting, left note on his phone

The city of Chesapeake, Virginia, released messages found on the gunman's phone and the 9 mm handgun that Andre Bing legally purchased on Tuesday, just hours before the shooting.

In the note, Bing complained about his colleagues, referred to murder and asked for forgiveness. Bing claimed his coworkers made fun of him and compared him to Jeffrey Dahmer, even naming some he said would mock and laugh at him.

-ABC News' Jay O'Brien, Beatrice Peterson and Arthur Jones II

Nov 24, 3:35 PM EST
Walmart employee spends Thanksgiving traumatized at home

There are those in Chesapeake, Virginia, who haven't celebrated a moment of Thanksgiving. Jessie Wilczewski, who'd only been on the job at Walmart for five days, told ABC News she is still haunted by images of the shooting.

"When I sleep like it still plays, bits and pieces, so I can’t run away from it, like I had to sit there on the floor and in front of me watch my coworker have her last moments," she said, with tears in her eyes.

The shooter spared Wilczewski's life, she said. Wilczewski believes the attack was targeted and she was let go because she had not worked with the shooter long.

"I looked at him after I got up from under the table and he saw it was me. And he had the gun pointed at me [gesturing] and he went like this and put the gun up. And then he just looked at me and said, ‘Jessie go home,'" Wilczewski said.

A mom of a 15-month-old boy, Wilczewski spent her Thanksgiving traumatized at home. The shades are drawn. Too many cars on the street can terrify her. Her biggest goal since the shooting was going to 7/11, which she accomplished on Thursday.

There are countless families in Chesapeake now facing this reality, reeling from tragedy on this holiday and preparing for a holiday season that won't feel the same.

-ABC News' Jay O'Brien, Beatrice Peterson and Arthur Jones II

Nov 24, 3:29 PM EST
Walmart hosts Thanksgiving for store employees, families at Delta Hotel

Walmart hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for shaken store employees and their families at a Delta Hotel in Chesapeake, Virginia. Counselors and faith leaders were on hand to talk people through the shooting's immediate aftermath.

Whole families were seen going into counseling sessions together.

Six families in Chesapeake are without loved ones this Thanksgiving. Seven others have relatives in the hospital. And, countless people in the Chesapeake community are celebrating a holiday that will never be the same, after a store manager at a local Walmart opened fire on staff during a meeting Tuesday night.

-ABC News' Jay O'Brien, Beatrice Peterson and Arthur Jones II

Nov 24, 12:09 PM EST
2 victims remain hospitalized in critical condition

Two of the injured victims from Tuesday night's mass shooting at a Chesapeake Walmart remain hospitalized in critical condition, officials said.

Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, just north of Chesapeake, is continuing "to treat two patients who remain in critical condition," a spokesperson told ABC News on Thursday.

-ABC News' Beatrice Peterson

Nov 24, 6:48 AM EST
Governor orders flags to fly at half-staff through Sunday

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff over the state Capitol and all local, state and federal buildings and grounds across the commonwealth "in respect and memory of the victims of the Chesapeake shooting, their families, and the entire Chesapeake community."

"I hereby order that the flags shall be lowered immediately on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 and remain at half-staff until Sunday, November 27, 2022 at sunset," Youngkin said in a statement.

Nov 23, 7:25 PM EST
Victims of shooting identified

Five of the victims of the shooting have been publicly identified by Chesapeake officials as Lorenzo Gamble, Brian Pendleton, Kellie Pyle, Randall Blevins and Tyneka Johnson.

The name of the sixth victim -- a 16-year-old boy -- has not been released due to his age.

Nov 23, 7:14 PM EST
'He had a real big heart': Mother of victim Brian Pendleton

Brian Pendleton, one of the six people killed in the shooting, would have turned 39 next week, his mother said in an emotional phone interview Wednesday.

"He had a real big heart," his mother, Michelle Johnson, said. "Anybody that wanted to laugh, or just want company, he'd buy you lunch. He'd buy you anything in a minute."

Pendleton worked at the Walmart for nearly 11 years as a custodian and "loved his job," she said.

"He was just a hard worker and a good kid," she said.

When a family friend called and told her there had been a shooting at his Walmart, Johnson's husband went to where families had been told to convene for reunification. He was told Brian had been transferred to Norfolk General Hospital, so Johnson and her husband drove there, she said.

"We waited, and then the police came out with a nurse and they took us to a side room and that's when they told us that he didn't make it," Johnson said, choking up.

"That's when they said that he didn't make it," Johnson said, sobbing. "I just wondered, was he afraid at that time? I know my son. I didn't want him to be afraid, and I didn't want him to hurt."

Pendleton had a condition called congenital hydrocephalus. Johnson has it too, she said, but they had both been "blessed" not to have a severe case.

"We're fighters, and we trust the Lord," she said.

This was Pendleton's favorite time of year, with Thanksgiving and his birthday on Dec. 2, said Johnson.

"I don't understand why, what happened, happened," she said.

"I will never go near that Walmart again," she added.

-ABC News' Sasha Pezenik

Nov 23, 6:21 PM EST
'We will get through this together': Chesapeake mayor

Chesapeake Mayor Rick West offered words of support in a brief video statement Wednesday evening.

"I know this community, and I know it well, and I know that we will come together and lend a helping hand to the victims' families," West said. "We'll share this burden together and we'll be stronger for it."

The mayor promised to share more information on the incident.

"Until then, please know that we will get through this, and we will get through this together, and we will never forget those that we have lost," he said.

Nov 23, 9:28 AM EST
Employee recounts hiding during shooting

Walmart employee Kevin Harper told ABC News he arrived to work early Tuesday night. He was sitting in the break room when he said something didn’t feel right -- so he left.

Moments later, Harper said he heard around three or four muffled gunshots and he ran into a clothes hanger to hide.

“I couldn’t tell you how long I hid in there. Time just stopped at that moment,” he said.

He said he then ran as fast as he could out of the employee entrance. On his way out, he said he saw two people on the floor, including one woman covered in blood.

“I’m just praying for my Walmart family,” Harper said.

Nov 23, 9:15 AM EST
'Very, very proud of the response,' city manager says

Chesapeake City Manager Chris Price said Wednesday that he was "very, very proud of the response of our public safety team" after the mass shooting at a Walmart.

"You hope a day like this never comes, but you train for it," Price said during a press conference. "We practice, we talk about it, we discuss, we learn lessons from other places, we try to put those lessons to good use, hoping those lessons will never have to be put to good use."

Price described Chesapeake as a "wonderful place" where the community comes together "when times are good" and "when times are difficult."

"I know it pains all of us to be together today on this day of incredible tragedy and unimaginable sadness," he added.

Price then read a statement from Chesapeake Mayor Rick West, who tested positive for COVID-19 and could not attend the press conference.

"I am devastated by the senseless act of violence that took place late last night in our city," Price said, quoting West’s statement. "My prayers are with all those affected -- the victims, their family, their friends and their coworkers. I am grateful for the quick actions taken by our first responders who rushed to the scene. Chespeake is a tighknit community and we are all shaken by this news. Together, we will support each other throughout this time. Please keep us in your prayers."

The mayor as well as the city council have all been fully briefed on the shooting and the response, according to Price.

Nov 23, 8:52 AM EST
Seven people dead, four others injured, police say

In addition to the seven fatalities, four people were wounded in Tuesday night's shooting at a Chesapeake Walmart, according to police.

"While our investigation continues we can tell you the following: six victims have died, four victims are in area hospitals with conditions unknown at this time and the suspect is dead from what we believe is a self-inflicted gunshot wound," Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky said during a press conference on Wednesday morning.

While police believe the suspect was a current employee of the store, Solesky would not confirm whether the victims were all employees as well. He told reporters that it’s unclear whether the shooting was a targeted or random attack.

Nov 23, 8:42 AM EST
Gunman may have been a store manager, sources say

Preliminary information indicates a gunman walked into the break room of a Chesapeake Walmart and opened fire at people before shooting himself, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

The suspect was an employee of that store and, possibly, a manager, according to the sources.

Law enforcement sources also told ABC News that authorities are investigating whether the shooting was a case of workplace violence.

Nov 23, 8:24 AM EST
Police confirm deceased suspect was an employee

The suspect in Tuesday night's mass shooting at the Walmart on Sam's Circle in Chesapeake is believed to be a current employee and appears to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Chesapeake Police Chief Mark Solesky.

"We have reason to believe that there's no risk to the public at this time," Soleksy said during a press conference on Wednesday morning. "We cannot tell you the identity of the shooter because his next of kin has not been notified."

Police received the initial 911 call at 10:12 p.m. local time. Officers responded to the scene within two minutes and entered the store at 10:16 p.m. local time, where they found the deceased suspect and multiple victims. The scene was declared safe by 11:20 p.m. local time, according to Soleksy, who described the shooting as "senseless violence."

"This investigation is still ongoing, so there's no clear motive at this time," he told reporters. "We'll be processing that scene for days."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Jury convicts Oath Keepers leader, 1 other of seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 trial

Catherine McQueen/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- A jury on Tuesday convicted Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and associate Kelly Meggs of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol while also convicting three others of various crimes in the insurrection -- but jurors acquitted the five defendants of other charges brought against them by the federal government.

The jury reached its determination on the third day of deliberations following a trial in federal court in Washington that spanned nearly two months.

Along with Rhodes and Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Thomas Caldwell and Jessica Watkins – all fellow Oath Keeper members and associates – were on trial on various charges, including and beyond seditious conspiracy.

Rhodes and the other defendants were charged with disrupting the peaceful transfer of power by conspiring to oppose by force the certification of President Joe Biden's electoral college victory on Jan. 6, 2021, among multiple other felonies.

Rhodes and Meggs were found guilty of seditious conspiracy, the first such convictions by a jury since 1995. They could each face a maximum of 20 years in prison for that charge alone.

Caldwell, Harrelson and Watkins were found not guilty of seditious conspiracy.

The rarely-used seditious conspiracy statute was signed into law following the Civil War with the aim of prosecuting Southerners who may still want to fight against the government.

The Justice Department hasn’t brought seditious conspiracy charges since 2010, when prosecutors indicted several Michigan residents and members of the Hutaree militia with conspiring to oppose by force the authority of the U.S. government. But the defendants were all acquitted after a judge determined that prosecutors had hinged too much of their case on statements that were First Amendment protected speech.

Breaking down the verdicts in Oath Keepers trial

Rhodes was also found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding and of tampering with documents/aiding and abetting. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties.

Meggs was also found guilty of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, of obstructing an official proceeding, of conspiring to prevent an officer from discharging duties and of tampering with documents. Meggs was found not guilty of destruction of government property/aiding and abetting.

Harrelson was also found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding, of conspiring to prevent an officer from discharging duties and of tampering with documents. In addition to the seditious conspiracy charge, Harrelson was found not guilty of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and destruction of government property.

Watkins was also found guilty of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiring to prevent an officer from discharging duties and civil disorder. In addition to the seditious conspiracy charge, Watkins was found not guilty of destruction of government property/aiding and abetting.

Caldwell was found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding and of tampering with documents but not guilty of seditious conspiracy, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiring to prevent an officer from discharging duties.

The trial so far

The Oath Keepers had discussed the possibility of “civil war” and violent revolution in the months after the November 2020 election. Using a massive cache of phone records, messages and recordings as evidence, prosecutors had attempted to tie their far-right political beliefs with a desire to forcibly oppose the certification of Biden’s election victory.

The defense argued that no plot to disrupt government proceedings ever materialized among the group and their discussions of violence were largely rhetorical and were not taken seriously.

At the same time, the defendants said they came to Washington to provide security because they feared violence from far-left groups at the pro-Donald Trump events held on Jan. 6, 2021. Three of the defendants -- Caldwell, Watkins and Rhodes -- all opted to take the witness stand.

During cross-examination and throughout the trial, prosecutors displayed evidence to undermine their credibility and used messages and social media posts that appeared to contradict their innocent explanations. At one point, Meggs said he wanted to “go on a killing spree” and first target House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following the 2020 election.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Walmart employee complained about suspect's behavior months before mass shooting: Lawsuit

Chesapeake Police Department Handout

(CHESAPEAKE, Va.) -- A victim of the mass shooting at a Walmart store in Chesapeake, Virginia, filed a lawsuit against the company on Tuesday. The suit accused Walmart of being negligent by hiring and continuing to employ the suspected shooter despite its knowledge of his alleged disturbing interactions with staff and a written complaint the victim submitted to the company about the suspect's behavior more than two months before the shooting.

The victim alleged Walmart knew or should have known about the gunman's "violent propensities," according to the suit. The suit also accuses Walmart of failing to "enact any preventative measures to keep Walmart customers and employees safe."

Andre Bing, who had been an employee at Walmart since 2010 allegedly opened fire on a staff break room, on Nov. 22, killing six people and injuring several others. The suspect died on the scene from a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

Donya Prioleau, an employee who had worked at Walmart for over a year and was in the room during the shooting, is now seeking $50 million in damages from the company.

"The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of the valued members of our team. Our deepest sympathies go out to our associates and everyone impacted, including those who were injured. We are focused on supporting all our associates with significant resources, including counseling. We are reviewing the Complaint and will be responding as appropriate with the court," Walmart said in a statement to ABC News on Tuesday about Prioleau's lawsuit.

Prioleau claims in the suit Bing had made disturbing comments to other employees leading up to the shooting, in one instance allegedly asking Prioleau if she liked guns.

The suit alleged Bing had asked coworkers if they had received active shooter training. It also alleged Bing had a "personal vendetta against several Walmart employees and kept a 'kill list' of potential targets prior to the shooting," citing evidence gathered by law enforcement.

Before the shooting, the gunman had allegedly told store employees, including managers, that if he were ever fired, he would retaliate and "people will remember my name," according to the lawsuit.

After seeing Bing's "bizarre and threatening behavior" Prioleau said she submitted a formal written complaint to Walmart on Sept. 10. She claimed that the suspect had harassed her for "being poor and being short," commented on her age and called her a "b****" under his breath as she walked past.

"Bing's behavior prior to the shooting put Walmart on notice that Mr. Bing was violent and could harm others," according to the lawsuit.

Prioleau alleged Walmart acknowledged the complaint but then continued to employ the suspect as a shift lead, according to the suit.

Prioleau's mother allegedly came to the store to speak with the store manager, Alysia Mixon, because she was concerned for her daughter's safety, but Mixon told her "there was nothing that could be done about Mr. Bing because he was liked by management," according to the lawsuit.

Bing had been previously disciplined "on several occasions" and demoted by management for his cruel and inappropriate behavior "making his violent outburst predictable," the lawsuit alleged.

"Walmart knew or should have known about Mr. Bing's disturbing and threatening behavior, but failed to terminate Mr. Bing, restrict his access to common areas, conduct a thorough background investigation, or subject him to a mental health examination," the lawsuit alleged.

On the day of the shooting, Prioleau alleges she witnessed several of her coworkers being shot and tripped as she ran out of the room to escape, injuring her knee and elbow. Prioleau alleged she was severely traumatized by being shot at and witnessing the deaths of her coworkers, according to the lawsuit.

She now suffers, among other things, sleeplessness, flashbacks, severe anxiety and nightmares, according to the lawsuit.

"While the cruelty of murdering six defenseless people is truly unimaginable, Ms. Prioleau alleges that she and her coworkers had been concerned for months that such an incident could occur at any time. Our client alleges Walmart acknowledged her written complaint alleging harassment, but continued to employ the perpetrator. As workplace shootings and violence become horrifyingly common, employers have a responsibility to understand the warning signs and take threats seriously in order to protect their employees and customers," Morgan and Morgan, the law firm representing Prioleau, said in a statement.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Timothy Olson, Wisconsin man accused of victimizing women he meets on dating apps, taken into custody

In this photo released by the Racine Police Department, Timothy Olson is shown. - Racine Police Department

(RACINE, Wisc.) -- A Wisconsin man accused of financially preying on women he met on dating apps, and is wanted for questioning in connection with the death of a woman he was with when she collapsed at a bar, has been taken into custody, police said.

Police had warned the public to be on the lookout for Timothy Olson, 52, for several weeks. He was being sought by multiple police departments in the Milwaukee area, including one with a warrant out for his arrest for alleged personal ID theft. Another warned that Olson "has met women on dating apps and victimizes them, resulting in financial loss."

Amid attempts to locate him, Olson was spotted in Franklin, a city in Milwaukee County, Monday night at a business on South 27th Street, police said.

"Please be on the look out for TIMOTHY OLSON," the Franklin Police Department said on Facebook Tuesday while sharing two photos of Olson. "Do not attempt to contact or apprehend him. Call 911 immediately to report his location."

An "observant" officer spotted a man believed to be Olson on the street Tuesday morning around 10:15 a.m., Franklin Police Chief Rick Oliva told reporters during a press briefing. As officers approached, he fled into a nearby condominium complex and after a "brief struggle" was tased and taken into custody, Oliva said.

Olson faces charges of kidnapping, burglary and identity theft in connection with an incident in Franklin involving a 79-year-old woman on Nov. 23, Oliva said.

After a woman declined his offer for a drink at a local bar, Olson later allegedly approached her in the parking lot with a gun and forced her into her car and "held her for a number of hours," including forcing her to drive to at least one ATM, Oliva said. He allegedly took one of her credit cards and withdrew cash, Oliva said. The suspect also was allegedly involved in at least two burglaries in Franklin before his arrest, Oliva said. She was unharmed but "very shook up," he said.

Olson was in the custody of the Franklin Police Department Tuesday afternoon being interviewed by detectives from the police departments in Franklin, Racine and South Milwaukee, Oliva said. It's unclear if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

"We're glad he's off the street," Oliva said. "There's no doubt this person would continue to do what he did until caught."

Link to woman's death in South Milwaukee

South Milwaukee police were seeking to speak with Olson amid an investigation into the death of 55-year-old Kim Mikulance. The two were at Powers on 10th in South Milwaukee on Nov. 17 when Mikulance had an "unknown medical emergency," police said. She was transported to a local hospital where she died five days later, police said.

Surveillance video showed Mikulance and Olson sitting together at the bar before she collapsed, police said.

The South Milwaukee Police Department said it is investigating the incident at Powers on 10th and is awaiting the autopsy results.

"At this time, the investigation is ongoing and it is not known if any crime has occurred, or if this incident is related to any other investigations by other jurisdictions," the department said in an update on Nov. 22.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Mikulance died on Nov. 22, and that the South Milwaukee Police Department has placed a non-disclosure order on her case, meaning no further details can be released at this time.

Sam Anderson told ABC Milwaukee affiliate WISN she was bartending at Powers on 10th when she saw Mikulance, a Cudahy resident who was a regular at the bar, collapse.

"I saw the look on her face and I saw she was holding a drink and she kind of started leaning back," Anderson told the station. "She was in here for maybe five minutes until she hit the ground."

For now, friends of Mikulance -- a mother of four who went by Raina -- are left searching for answers.

"There's a lot of conversation going on as to what went down. And we really don't know," her friend, Marc Gaidish, told WISN.

Racine police also seeking suspect for 'similar incident'

The incident at Powers on 10th marked the third time a woman has fallen unconscious while in Olson's presence, according to police in Racine, about 15 miles south of South Milwaukee, who said they are also seeking Olson for questioning in a "similar incident."

Police in Racine have been warning women in the area about Olson for several weeks.

On Nov. 9, the Racine Police Department issued a safety alert to "caution the women in Racine County and get the public's help in locating a male subject who has met women on dating apps and victimizes them, resulting in financial loss."

Olson has a warrant out for his arrest for five counts of felony personal ID theft for financial gain issued by police in nearby Mt. Pleasant, according to the Racine Police Department. The warrant stems from a Sept. 2 incident, court records show.

"The Racine Police Department is looking to speak to Olson regarding a similar incident out of our jurisdiction," the department said.

No further details can be released at this time on the incident in their jurisdiction amid a "very ongoing and active" investigation, Sgt. Kristi Wilcox, a spokesperson for the Racine Police Department, told ABC News.

The Racine Police Department issued another warning on Nov. 21, updating that Olson had been linked to "another woman in a bar who fell unconscious while in his presence" on Nov. 17. That incident was the one that occurred at Powers on 10th, Wilcox confirmed.

That incident marked the third woman Racine police are aware of to have "ended up unconscious" while in Olson's presence, the department said.

Other victims likely, chief says

Oliva said police are working to determine where Olson was living and if he had any association to Franklin. He has relatives in the area, the chief said.

Olson has given a statement to Franklin police, though Oliva said could not provide any additional details at this time.

Police across the jurisdictions are continuing to work through evidence, he said.

"These are active investigations," he said. "There's a lot of evidence to be processed."

Oliva said it's "likely" there are there other alleged victims of Olson, including some who may have been "embarrassed" to come forward.

Now that he's in custody, he said it's possible some will contact their local police.

"Hopefully that will be the case," Oliva said.

Asked why the suspect was still in the area while businesses and residents were advised to be on the lookout for him, Olson said, "We're interested in finding that out, too."

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DOJ reaches agreement, files new complaint against Jackson, Mississippi, over water crisis

Jason Marz/Getty Images

(JACKSON, Miss.) -- The U.S. Department of Justice has reached an agreement and filed a new complaint with Jackson, Mississippi, over the city's alleged mismanagement of its water system.

Through its agreement with the City of Jackson, the DOJ will establish a third-party monitor to ensure that water in the city is safe to drink.

Historic flooding in Mississippi in August damaged a major pump at the O.B. Curtis Water Plant, Jackson's main water treatment facility, which left around 150,000 of the city's mostly Black residents without drinkable water.

The water shortage forced residents to line up on streets and highways throughout Jackson to pick up water at distribution sites.

In a separate complaint, the Justice Department alleges the city mismanaged the water system, arguing the city has failed to provide drinking water that is reliably compliant with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to the system's customers.

"Today, the Justice Department is taking action in federal court to address long-standing failures in the city of Jackson's public drinking water system," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement. "The Department of Justice takes seriously its responsibility to keep the American people safe and to protect their civil rights.

The most recent water crisis highlighted residents' years-long plight with the city's ongoing water issues and raised questions about how Jackson came to be in this situation.

Following the crisis, the Environmental Protection Agency, the DOJ and city officials have been working on reaching a "judicially enforceable solution" to "deliver safe and reliable drinking water for the people of Jackson," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said during an update earlier this month.

"We are moving with a sense of urgency," Regan said.

On Nov. 17, the Jackson City Council approved an interim agreement with the EPA outlining actions the city must take to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Mississippi is set to receive more than $26 million in State Revolving Funds (SRF) this year, which is on top of the $30 million it received in 2021 for Jackson, Eagan said during a Sept. 7 press conference.

The state funds help public water systems bankroll the costs of infrastructure projects needed to reach or maintain compliance set under the SDWA.

Last year, the EPA announced that Mississippi would get nearly $75 million for water infrastructure projects, as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which President Joe Biden signed in November 2021.

Over the next five years, Mississippi is expected to receive $400 million through the law, Eagan said.

ABC News' Meredith Deliso contributed to this report

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University of California reaches agreement on wages with 2 of 3 worker groups on strike

Jill Connelly/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(LOS ANGELES) -- Fifteen days into a strike across University of California system campuses, academic researchers and postdoctoral scholars have reached tentative agreements which include wage increases that reflect the cost of living, the United Auto Workers announced Tuesday.

Postdocs and academic researchers said they would continue the strike in solidarity with academic student workers and student workers who have not yet voted to ratify proposed agreements, according to UAW.

The system-wide strike began on Nov. 14 and was organized by 48,000 UAW-represented workers. Graduate students employed as researchers, instructors, teaching assistants, tutors and readers, as well as academic researchers and postdoctoral scholars' went on strike demanding higher wages, improved leave for parents and caregivers, childcare support and full funding for public transit.

Workers going on strike accuse the university system of failing to support a diverse workforce, which they say undermines the quality of research and education. Workers say the university's compensation does not match the cost of living and claim the inequitable working conditions are pushing scholars out of academia, according to their website.

The agreement will be on new five-year contracts effective through Sept. 20, 2027, according to the University of California system.

Most postdoc workers will receive salary increases of 20% to 23% by October 2023. The current lowest paid postdoc worker will receive a 57% salary increase, according to UAW.

There will also be annual pay increases from 2024 to 2027 that vary based on experience, according to UAW.

Postdocs will also now receive eight weeks of paid parental and family leave, double the 4 weeks they had prior to the agreement, according to UAW.

The university system also said it would agree to negotiate reduced fee or no-fee access to regional transit systems.

Postdocs will also receive childcare subsidies starting at $2,500 annually, which will eventually reach $2,800 annually, the first time they have received childcare subsidies after 12 years of asking for it, according to UAW.

Most academic researchers will receive 29% salary increases, which will vary by scale and merit, over the life of their contract. They will now receive full parental and family leave for eight weeks, compared to 70% pay which they currently receive, according to UAW.

Student researchers last made a compensation proposal to UC 12 days ago but the system has not yet responded, according to UAW.

"We are proud to have reached agreements that address the soaring cost of living, and reflect the value of our contributions at UC," said Neal Sweeney, president of UAW Local 5810.

"These agreements represent a new, best-in-class model that will improve quality of life - and the quality of research - for scientists across the US. It is now time for UC to make serious proposals to Academic Student Employees and Student Researchers and to reach fair agreements that recognize the contributions these workers make," Sweeney added.

The university system also applauded the agreement reached.

"Our dedicated colleagues are vital to UC’s research activities and we are very pleased to have reached agreements that honor their many important contributions," said Letitia Silas, executive director of systemwide labor relations. "These agreements also uphold our tradition of supporting these employees with compensation and benefits packages that are among the best in the country."

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Randy Cox's family, attorneys react to misdemeanor charges against police officers over incident that left him paralyzed

Oliver Helbig/Getty Images

(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- LaToya Boomer said it was “a slap in the face” when the five New Haven police officers allegedly involved in an incident resulting in her brother Randy Cox’s paralysis while in police custody, were only charged with two misdemeanors.

Officers Oscar Diaz, Jocelyn Lavandier, Ronald Pressley, Luis Rivera and Sgt. Betsy Segui were charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree and cruelty to persons, New Haven's state attorney John P. Doyle, Jr. announced Monday. The officers were each released on a $25,000 bond.

Cox’s family and legal team, including civil rights attorney Ben Crump, spoke out at a press conference Tuesday responding to the charges.

“They got a misdemeanor slap on the wrist, where they'll probably see little to no jail time,” Crump said at the press conference. “And Randy Cox has a life sentence.”

The charges arose from a June 19 incident when New Haven officers arrested Cox for criminal possession of a firearm and breach of peace. Surveillance video shows the officers then placed Cox in the back of a police van without seatbelts. During an abrupt stop, Cox was thrown head-first into the back wall of the van.

Though Cox repeatedly asked for help, saying he couldn’t move, the officers did not immediately render him medical aid and allegedly assumed he was drunk when they arrived at the police station.

The video footage also shows the officers dragging Cox by his feet and throwing him into a wheelchair, which his lawyers said could have exacerbated his already life-threatening injuries.

Cox filed a $100 million federal lawsuit against the city of New Haven and New Haven Police Department officers in September.

The officers’ attorneys did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

Cox’s family and lawyers said his doctors determined he will never walk again and will continue to require assistance with eating, drinking, bathing, and other basic needs.

Cox’s mother Doreen Coleman said at the press conference that she visits him at Apple Rehab West Haven every day.

“I catch the city bus from one side of town to the other. It takes about an hour … But I sit there all day,” she said. “He needs somebody to help him get something to drink. He needs somebody to help him get some food to eat.”

However, Cox’s lawyers noted that the rehabilitation center does not have the equipment and resources necessary to tend to someone like Cox who requires 24-hour attention. They called on the city to assist Cox in moving to a facility that can provide him around-the-clock care.

“The life care expert that flew in last week to do an evaluation on Randy assesses that it's going to be about $20 million … just to give Randy the care that he needs for the rest of his life,” attorney Lou Rubano said. “Time is of the essence here. And if Randy doesn't get the care, the doctors have concluded that his condition will continue to deteriorate.”

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, who also spoke at the press conference, reiterated that the city wants to ensure what Cox experienced "never happens again" but that the process will take time.

“It will be frustrating, because it always takes more time than any of us would like it to take, but we have to follow the process,” he said. “We have to follow it for justice. We have to follow it for the right outcome.”

New Haven Chief of Police Karl Jacobson said the police department had paused their Internal Affairs investigation when the state police took over the case, but that they are now resuming their interviews to determine whether they will recommend that the Board of Police Commissioners fire the arrested officers.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in July that it’s also closely watching the investigation into the incident with Cox.

The case has prompted reform promises from Elicker and Jacobson, including new policies aimed at enhancing safety protocols during the transportation and detention of individuals, particularly those in need of medical attention.

At the press conference, Boomer read a statement from Cox, who expressed optimism about the charges against the officers and the reforms.

“I know it's only an arrest, but it's a start. It's a nice start to getting justice. It's time for a change. This ain't about me. It's about the people that come after me so no one else has to go through this,” she read. “I have faith that all things will work out. I just have to trust the process and wait and see.’”

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Rescue operations paused for several pilot whales stranded on Massachusetts beach

International Fund for Animal Welfare

(EASTHAM, Mass.) -- Five pilot whales that were stranded on a Massachusetts beach have been returned to the ocean, but they may still be in peril, according to experts.

Conservationists from the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Marine Mammal Rescue and Research team were sent to Sunken Meadow Beach in Eastham, Massachusetts, Monday night after six live pilot whales were spotted swimming close to shore around 4:45 p.m. ET, just after dark, Stacey Hedman, communications director for the research center, told ABC News.

All of the whales were briefly examined, and two were given satellite tags, Hedman said.

By Tuesday morning, the whales had become stranded on the beach, and one -- a calf -- had died, Hedman said.

Some of the animals are "very large," with the largest estimated to weigh about 4,000 pounds, Brian Sharp, director of the research center, said in a recorded statement.

Teams of rescuers were responding in phases Tuesday to provide supportive care until the tides were more favorable, Hedman said.

The conservationists hoped that higher tides after 3:30 p.m. would help push the whales back out to sea, and all five were re-floated and released shortly after, according to the IFAW.

However, four of the whales turned back to shore, and by 6 p.m., rescue efforts were put temporarily on hold, the organization said.

"The five pilot whales swam off well in one direction together, but the reality is that we cannot celebrate a success yet this evening," Misty Niemeyer, stranding coordinator at IFAW, said in a statement. "One animal is now offshore, but the others did not follow."

The team will evaluate the next steps on Wednesday, Niemeyer said, describing the rescuers as "exhausted" after their strenuous efforts on Tuesday.

"Large animals can be quite dangerous to work around, and it's for our health as well as tomorrow's continued efforts that we need to call it a day today," she said.

Video taken on the scene showed crews digging up sand around the whales, some of which were covered in wet blankets to help them retain moisture. Some of the whales were also administered fluids via IV to help combat the stress and shock of stranding, Sharp said.

Dolphins and small whales can indeed live out of water for many hours when receiving proper supportive care and hydration, Hedman said.

While Cape Cod is considered a global hotspot for live cetacean stranding, historically, pilot whales do not strand there, Hedman added.

IFAW typically transports dolphins to deeper water using a custom-built rescue vehicle, but the whales are too big to transport, according to the organization.

"[We're] doing everything we can right now to give these animals the best shot at the best outcome," Sharp said.

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Delphi murders: Suspect's gun matched bullet found by girls, according to newly released document

Indiana State Police

(DELPHI, Ind.) -- A judge presiding over the Delphi, Indiana, double murder case issued an order on Tuesday unsealing the probable cause affidavit related to suspect Richard Allen's arrest.

Judge Frances Gull found that "public interest is not served by prohibiting access" to the evidence in the murders of Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14. The judge added that witness safety is ensured by redacting their names.

The newly released probable cause affidavit said one of the girls mentioned "gun" as a man approached, according to video recovered from one of the victim's phones.

A man is seen and heard telling the girls, "Guys, down the hill," and Abby and Libby go down the hill, according to the probable cause affidavit.

A .40-caliber unspent round was found less than 2 feet away from one of the bodies, and that unspent round went through a gun that Allen owns, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Clothes belonging to the girls were found in Deer Creek, south of where their bodies were discovered, the document revealed.

Police still have not released how Abby and Libby died.

Allen, a 50-year-old Delphi man, was arrested last month and charged with two counts of murder for the Feb. 2017 killings. Abby and Libby, best friends in the eighth grade, were on a hiking trail in rural Delphi when they were killed. Allen has entered a not guilty plea.

When interviewed by police in 2017, Allen said he was on the trail that afternoon, according to the affidavit.

On Oct. 13, 2022, Allen told police he saw juvenile girls on the trails east of Freedom Bridge and said he went onto the Monon High Bridge.

Allen confirmed to the police he owns guns, the document said.

A search warrant was executed at Allen's home on Oct. 13, 2022, the document said. Officers found knives and guns, including a Sig Sauer, Model P226 and .40-caliber pistol, the document said.

Indiana State Police's lab analysis of Allen's gun "determined the unspent round located within two feet" of one of the girl's bodies "had been cycled through Richard M. Allen's Sig Sauer Model P226," the probable cause affidavit said.

Allen voluntarily spoke to police on Oct. 26, 2022, and said he never allowed anyone to borrow that gun, the document said.

"When asked about the unspent bullet, he did not have an explanation of why the bullet was found between" the girls’ bodies, the probable cause affidavit said.

"He again admitted that he was on the trail but denied knowing Victim 1 or Victim 2 and denied any involvement in their murders," according to the probable cause affidavit.

Video from one of the girl's phones shows a man wearing dark jacket and jeans. Allen told investigators on Oct. 13, 2022, that he wore jeans and a blue or black Carhartt jacket that day, according to the probable cause affidavit. Allen's wife confirmed to police that he owns a blue Carhartt jacket, the document said.

Investigators believe Allen is the man seen on the cellphone video. Investigators also claim he forced Abby and Libby down the hill to the spot where they were killed, according to the document.

Investigators believe Allen was seen walking back to his car with "clothes that were muddy and bloody," according to the probable cause affidavit.

Prosecutors wanted to keep the probable cause affidavit sealed.

The document was released in response to a motion filed by news organizations, including ABC News.

Allen is set to return to court on Feb. 17 for a bond hearing and pretrial hearing.

The defense submitted a change of venue motion on Tuesday requesting that the trial take place at least 150 miles from Carroll County (where Delphi is located).

Police still ask anyone with information about the case to submit a tip at or 765-822-3535.

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Scientists observe 2 new lava flows on Mauna Loa, the world's largest active volcano

Steve Prorak / EyeEm/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Scientists have observed two new lava flows out of the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii's Big Island -- the largest active volcano in the world.

The lava is flowing north out of Fissure 3 in the northeast rift zone, crossing the road outside the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's observatory overnight, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday morning.

Ash and lava began spewing out of the volcano on Sunday around 11:30 p.m. and continued into Monday, is the first eruption from Mauna Loa in nearly 40 years.

The lava was contained to the summit, and there are currently no threats to populated areas, according to the USGS.

However, the eruption has migrated from the summit to the northeast rift zone, where fissures are feeding several lava flows, according to the USGS, which advised residents at possible risk from Mauna Loa lava flows to review preparedness and refer to Hawaii County Civil Defense information for further guidance.

Lava flows are significant enough to be visible from Kona, dozens of miles away.

Mauna Loa is so large it takes up more than half of the Big Island. The last time it erupted was in March and April 1984.

The volcano has erupted dozens of times since the 1880s, allowing volcanologists to get to know its "personality," Michael Poland, research geophysicist for the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory, told ABC News. This means that scientists are predicting that the flow will likely abate now because the initial eruptions are typically the heaviest.

Since the eruption is occurring to the northeast, where the peak's slope seaward is more gentle, it would take weeks of a continuous eruption for it to reach Hilo, Poland said.

Gov. David Ige told ABC News Live that he was not yet worried about any impact on Hawaiians.

"I think right now we're not that concerned," Ige said. "The eruptions and the fissures are very high up. ... In fact, there really is no communities or no structures anywhere close to the fissures that are erupting right now."

"It will take weeks, if not longer, of eruptions occurring in order for the Northeast Rift Zone eruption to reach any kind of community or get close to any infrastructure," the governor added.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has closed the Mauna Loa Summit Area to visitors as a precaution

Video posted to Twitter by the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory shows thermal footage of the lava flowing out of the volcano's summit.

In conjunction with the lava flow, there were more than a dozen earthquakes in the region of more than 2.5 magnitude early Monday morning, according to the USGS.

Lava was still erupting from the summit and was overflowing from the caldera Monday, according to USGS Volcanoes. The National Weather Service issued an ashfall advisory for depositing ash and debris, as well as light accumulation of ash on vessels, until 6 a.m. along the Alenuihaha Channel, Big Island windward waters, Big Island leeward waters and Big Island southeast waters.

The NWS advised that vessels should remain at port or avoid advisory areas, and those with respiratory sensitivities should take extra precautions to minimize exposure.

Falling volcanic ash and debris can also render engines or electronics inoperative, according to the NWS.

Hawaii is home to several active volcanos, including the Kīlauea volcano on the Big Island, one of the most active in the world.

Volcano activity has been recorded all around the globe over the past year.

Major eruptions could be underway from two volcanoes on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula after clouds of ash and lava began spewing on Nov. 20.

In July, an eruption at the Sakurajima volcano in Japan prompted evacuation orders for residents nearby in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima.

And last week, marine geologists announced that the underwater volcano eruption that occurred on Jan. 15 in the Tongan archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean is the largest ever recorded.

ABC News' Max Golembo, Matt Gutman and Bonnie Mclean contributed to this report.

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Tornadoes threaten multiple states in the South: Latest forecast

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Numerous, intense tornadoes are possible as severe weather takes aim on the Gulf Coast and the Tennessee River Valley.

A tornado watch has been issued for parts of southeast Arkansas, northern and central Louisiana, and central Mississippi. The National Weather Service is calling it a "particularly dangerous situation."

The tornadoes are expected to hit from Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday night. People who live in weaker homes are encouraged to go to storm shelters.

The severe storms could also bring damaging winds and large hail.

Cities in the bullseye are: Jackson, Mississippi; Alexandria, Louisiana; and Memphis, Tennessee. Impacts could also reach New Orleans, Mobile and Birmingham, Alabama; Nashville, Tennessee and eastern Kentucky.

Flash flooding is possible in southern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

On Wednesday, the storm system is forecast to move east.

Strong thunderstorms are possible from the Florida Panhandle to the Carolinas. In addition, heavy rain and gusty winds are expected from Washington, D.C., to Boston.

ABC News' Melissa Griffin contributed to this report.

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Former police officer allegedly catfishes teen girl online, kills her family


(RIVERSIDE, Calif.) -- A former Virginia police officer allegedly "catfished" a teenage girl online before traveling to Riverside, California, and killing her family, according to police.

The murders were discovered on Friday after authorities received a report of a girl "who appeared distressed" while getting into a car with a man, Riverside police said.

As officers responded to that report, they received calls of a fire at a nearby house.

Police said three family members were found dead in the house from apparent homicides: 69-year-old Mark Winek; his wife, 65-year-old Sharie Winek; and their daughter, 38-year-old Brooke Winek.

The Wineks "were loving people who didn’t deserve this," the family said in a statement.

The fire appears to have been intentionally set, police said, adding that the causes of death were still pending.

Authorities said the teenage girl lived at that house and the victims killed were her mother and grandparents.

The man getting in the car with the teen was identified as 28-year-old Austin Lee Edwards of Virginia, according to police.

The girl is 15, according to Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback.

Several hours after the three bodies were found, authorities said they spotted Edwards driving with the girl.

Edwards -- who had worked for the Virginia State Police -- allegedly led deputies on a chase and fired shots at them, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office said. Edwards lost control of his car and drove off the road, pointing a gun at a sheriff's helicopter, according to the sheriff's office.

Deputies then fired at Edwards who was declared dead at the scene, the sheriff's office said.

The teen was rescued and wasn't hurt, according to police.

Riverside police said they determined Edwards met the teen online through "'catfishing,' where someone pretends to be a different person than they actually are."

Police believe the 28-year-old suspect was pretending to be a teenager, according to Railsback.

After Edwards developed a relationship with the girl online, police said they believe he drove from Virginia to California, parked in a neighbor's driveway, went to the girl's home and killed her family. Edwards then allegedly took the teen and drove away, according to police.

Edwards was hired by the Virginia State Police in July 2021 and quit on Oct. 28, 2022, the agency said.

Edwards passed the state’s background check, state police said.

"As a probationary employee, Edwards was also given monthly performance evaluations, in accordance with department policy. During Edwards' short tenure with the department, he never exhibited any behaviors to trigger any internal administrative or criminal investigations," the state police said in a statement.

Edwards was hired by the Washington County, Virginia, Sheriff's Office on Nov. 16, 2022, and had started orientation with the department, according to the sheriff's office.

"Past employers and the Virginia State Police were contacted during the hiring processing; however, no employers disclosed any troubles, reprimands, or internal investigations pertaining to Edwards," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis added in a statement: "It is shocking and sad to the entire law enforcement community that such an evil and wicked person could infiltrate law enforcement while concealing his true identity as a computer predator and murderer. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Winek family, their friends, officers, and all of those affected by this heinous crime."

ABC News' Beatrice Peterson, Jenna Harrison and DeMarco Morgan contributed to this report.

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Dad of slain Idaho student pleads with public for help: 'I have to have my justice'

Heather Roberts/ABC News

(MOSCOW, Idaho) -- The father of Kaylee Goncalves, one of the four University of Idaho students mysteriously stabbed to death in an off-campus house, said he's feeling "a little defeated" and frustrated by the lack of transparency from police.

But Steve Goncalves said he supports and trusts the law enforcement officers who are diligently working on the investigation.

"I have to assume and hope that this is all part of their plan and ... they've got this all figured out," he told ABC News. "I know that there's some really good, hard-working guys and girls that are on this case that I've met. And they looked me in the eyes and they told me straight-out that they're working and they're doing everything in their power."

Goncalves added, "My wife's biggest fear, part of the reason we didn't have a funeral, is because she couldn't be guaranteed that that monster was going to not be there."

Goncalves, 21, her lifelong best friend, Madison Mogen, 21, another roommate Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kernodle's boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, were killed in the girls' off-campus house in the early hours of Nov. 13. No suspects have been identified.

Two other roommates were in the house at the time and survived, appearing to have slept through the crimes, according to police. The surviving roommates are not considered suspects, police said.

"You can't imagine sending your girl to college and they come back ... in an urn," Goncalves said. "You're numb ... you can't absorb that amount of pain and agony."

Kaylee, the Goncalves' middle child, was planning to move to Texas. She had mentioned going to Chicago, but her parents said it wasn't safe enough.

"She was going places. She was highly motivated," her dad said. "I hope people understand how all these kids ... were doing everything right and they were going to be the type of people that you want to be your neighbor."

The Goncalves considered Mogen their "bonus child."

"When you're sick and you're down and you're out, you want to have that one great friend that's always there for you -- and that's what they had," Goncalves said. "There is no Kaylee without Maddie."

It's believed the four students were killed between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Nov. 13, according to Moscow Mayor Art Bettge. On the morning of Nov. 13, the two surviving roommates called friends over because they thought one of the victims had passed out and wasn't waking up, police said.

At 11:58 a.m., a 911 call from one of the roommate's phones requested help for an unconscious person, police said. "Multiple people talked with the 911 dispatcher," police said, adding that they do not believe anyone at the house at the time of the 911 call was involved in the murders. Responding officers found the four victims on the second and third floors, police said.

Goncalves said the students died quickly and did not bleed for hours, so an earlier 911 call would not have saved their lives.

"Nobody suffered and nobody felt like that kind of pain," Goncalves said.

The murder weapon -- which police believe to be a fix-blade knife -- has not been found.

Goncalves said the victims suffered "large punctures" from a "brutal weapon."

"The detective said this weapon is probably something [the killer] paid money for and something that they're proud of," he said.

Goncalves said the only thing worse than losing his child is knowing that her killer is "having a great life out there -- and you're just left in shambles."

"I have to have my justice. These families deserve that," Goncalves said. "We just have to come together as a community. Submit all those pieces of evidence ... and get this guy off the streets."

Anyone with information can upload digital media to or contact the tip line at or 208-883-7180.

ABC News' Timmy Truong contributed to this report.

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