TTR News Center

New York man hit with hate crime charges in serial theft of LGBT rainbow flags from church

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Courtesy Rev. Ray Bagnuolo(NEW YORK) — A 21-year-old New York man was arrested on hate crime charges tied to the repeated theft of LGBT rainbow flags from in front of a church, a series of crimes that the openly gay pastor called “unnerving” for him and his congregation.

The suspected thief, Ronald Tyler Witt, was arrested around 8:05 p.m. Tuesday at his home in Sayville, New York, less than four blocks from the Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.

Witt was arrested on suspicion of six counts of petit larceny as a hate crime and is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at the First District Court in Central Islip, on New York’s Long Island, police said.

It was not immediately clear if Witt had hired an attorney.

Rev. Ray Bagnuolo, the openly gay pastor of the Sayville Congregational United Church of Christ, said the first theft occurred in July and that he contacted police when subsequent flags were stolen.

“Amazon has me on speed order for rainbow flags. I just kept ordering them and putting them up,” Bagnuolo told ABC News on Wednesday. “It wasn’t for any reason other than you can’t let people stop.”

Suffolk police said the rainbow flags, measuring 12 by 18 inches, were stolen on July 29, Sept. 23, Oct. 7, Oct. 15, Oct. 20 and on the Tuesday just before Witt was arrested.

“I’m happy they found out who he is and that it can stop because it was unnerving,” Bagnuolo said. “These types of things are meant often to send a message. Sometimes there just a dumb thing that people do, but repeated over and over it begins to feel like there’s a targeting going on here and there’s a message.”

He said the stolen flags were displayed on the church lawn next to an American flag and a prisoner of war flag, which were not touched.

The pastor said that after the second flag was stolen, he put up a sign in front of the church reading, “You destroyed our welcoming Rainbow Flag twice. It WAS an act of fear. It IS an act of hate. Do you realize that? IT WAS NOT KIND. IT IS HURTFUL. Instead of doing it again, talk with us. We will talk with you. You, too, are welcome here.”

Bagnuolo said he did not know Witt.

“You forgive the guy. That’s easy in a lot of ways, but as far as accountability … you know, you’re accountable for your actions,” Bagnoulo said.

He said his congregation is also relieved an arrest was made.

“It’s a very welcoming group of folks. So, there’s always this sort of sense of why are people doing this? What’s going on?”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News


Midland's set to stop by "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on the way to the 52nd CMA Awards

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By Music News Group

ABC/Randy HolmesMidland has a late-night date with Jimmy Kimmel lined up in the days leading up the 52nd Annual CMA Awards.

The Texas-based trio will play Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Monday night. You can watch for Mark Wystrach, Cameron Duddy and Jess Carson starting at 11:35 p.m. ET on ABC.

Then on Wednesday, Midland’s not only up for Vocal Group, New Artist, and Single of the Year for “Drinkin’ Problem,” they’re set to perform on the CMA Awards as well.

You can catch all the action, live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, starting at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: Country Music News


Leah Remini apologizes to Jada Pinkett Smith for Scientology claims

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By Music News Group

ABC/Lou Rocco(LOS ANGELES) — In her 2015 memoir, Troublemaker, Leah Remini claimed Will and Jada Pinkett Smith were hard-core Scientologists, which both actors have denied. Now, in an emotional interview with Jada Pinkett Smith, Remini is apologizing for the false accusation.

“I didn’t even consider Jada and Will, while I was going in hard on my rightness,” a tearful Remini said to Smith on her Facebook Watch show, Red Table Talk. “Andd then I looked at it and I said, ‘What responsibility do I have here for upsetting somebody that I really care about?’ And I’m sorry that I didn’t consider you. Because I didn’t. I was just so caught up in that pain, and also the pain of others and the effects that it had.”

Remini, who was a devout member of the church, eventually split from the organization in 2013. Since then, she has been extremely critical of the religion and went on to create the critically acclaimed docuseries, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

“It upset me, because I didn’t understand why we had to be in your book, because you know, we really didn’t have anything to do with this,” Smith told Remini during their interview.

Smith also took time to clear up her relationship with the controversial religious group.

“I always took the position that I’m here at the Scientology Center to learn what I want to learn, and I have no interest in being a Scientologist,” she said.

At the end of the interview the two hugged it out agreeing that “it’s never too late to heal.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: Entertainment News


North Dakota reservations see record voter turnout amid fears of suppression

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Janice McDonald/ABC News(NEW YORK) — Despite concerns of voter suppression, election turnout in North Dakota’s two most populous Native American counties spiked to its highest levels since at least 2010 and some precincts reported record turnout, according to local election officials and data from North Dakota’s Secretary of State.

In Rolette County, a precinct at the heart of the Turtle Mountain Reservation, 2,136 people voted. Local officials say it is the highest election turnout ever. Data from the Secretary of State’s office showed turnout rose 50 percent higher than 2016 levels. Similar numbers were reported in Sioux County, home of the Standing Rock Reservation.

On Election Day, a group of 70 young Native American voters in Belcourt, the largest city on Turtle Mountain, marched to the polls while carrying signs reading “don’t disenfranchise us” and chanting “North Dakota, you can’t do that.”

Across the state, there was little to no issue with new tribal IDs being accepted at the polls or voters being turned away at precincts on or near reservations.

Jamie Azure, tribal chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, told ABC News that he believed the voter ID court fight and the ensuing response would motivate Native American voters about the importance of voting.

“They have woken a sleeping giant,” he said.

Native American tribal leaders and voting rights activists had raised concerns about elections after the Supreme Court allowed North Dakota to proceed with its strict voter identification law. It requires voters show proof of a residential street address but many voters on the mostly rural reservations only had post office box addresses.

Tribal leaders accused the state of trying to suppress Native American votes, with all four tribes banding together after the Supreme Court’s action to put out a statement condemning the “suppressive” voter ID law. Activists said the push for tighter voter ID laws came from a desire to block Native Americans, who largely back Democrats, from casting ballots.

In the weeks following the court’s decision, tribes rushed to print new IDs and create addresses for voters. Since the Supreme Court’s action on Oct. 9th, North Dakota’s four largest tribes printed more than 3,500 new IDs.

The Spirit Lake Tribe sued the Secretary of State’s office for emergency court action to block the law’s implementation on and near reservations after the office repeatedly offered varied and often non-committal answers about whether the new IDs would be accepted at the polls. The tribe lost in federal court.

Courtney Yellow Fat, a tribal council member for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, told ABC News before the election, that the law represented a clear effort at blocking Native Americans from helping Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp win re-election.

“After the election of Senator Heitkamp is when a lot of this came up through the legislature. And to us it’s clearly suppression of our votes,” Yellow Fat said.

On Tuesday, Heitkamp ultimately lost her re-election bid to Republican Kevin Cramer by more than 10 points, but the high Native American turnout still helped her gain votes. She won both Rolette and Sioux counties with more than 80 percent of the vote and won with more Democratic votes and higher margins in both counties than in her first victory in 2012.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News


Florida man jumps into crocodile pit, suffers bite, escapes, gets arrested: Police

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WJXX-TV(ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.) — A Florida man broke into an animal farm, jumped into a pool with a trio of 12-foot crocodiles, suffered a bite, escaped, and was arrested after being spotted at dawn crawling in his underwear across an area resident’s lawn, according to authorities in St. Augustine.

Brandon Keith Hatfield, 23, allegedly navigated several barriers at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, and suffered a bite to his leg and foot, according to a statement from the St. Augustine Police Department officials, who reviewed surveillance video from the animal farm.

“Hatfield is seen climbing a structure at the Nile Crocodile enclosure and jumping into a pool occupied by crocodiles,” St. Augustine police officials said in a statement. “Hatfield was attacked by a crocodile and sustained non-life threatening injuries to his feet and leg.”

Hatfield can be seen on the video entering the alligator farm at around 7:45 p.m, where officials said he caused more than $5,000-worth of damage to the farm, according to police.

At first light on Tuesday, a resident called 911 to report a man crawling in just boxers shorts on the lawn outside. Police responded and took Hatfield into custody, authorities said.

While he was being transported to a nearby hospital, another 911 call came in, reporting the alligator farm break-in the previous evening, and authorities realized the two incidents were related.

“According to Alligator Farm staff, they were prompted to review video surveillance when they found a “Croc”-style shoe in the crocodile pit and damage to the property,” police said in a statement.

Hatfield, who remains hospitalized, was charged with burglary, criminal mischief and violation of probation. Officials said he will be transported to the St. John’s County jail after he is released.

Hatfield did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment, and police officials said they were not aware of any attorney retained by him.

It was not clear on Wednesday evening whether Hatfield had retained an attorney, and attempts to reach Hatfield were unsuccessful.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Source:: National News


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