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Montana Republican cited for misdemeanor assault after alleged run-in with reporter one day before election

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By Suzie Liu

William Campbell/Getty Images(MISSOULA, Mont.) — The Republican candidate for the Montana at-large U.S. House of Representatives special election, Greg Gianforte, has been cited for misdemeanor assault after he allegedly assaulted a reporter Wednesday — less than 24 hours before polls are to open in the state, law enforcement officials said late Wednesday night.

Sheriff Brian Gootkin of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement: “Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault.” The statement added that the “nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault.”

As a result of the citation, Gianforte is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court between now and June 7.

Ben Jacobs, a political reporter for The Guardian, approached former technology executive Gianforte at a meet-and-greet event at the candidate’s office in Bozeman, according to Jacobs; fellow reporter Alexis Levinson of BuzzFeed News, who was nearby and heard the commotion; and journalists with Fox News who witnessed the incident.

As Levinson recounted in a series of posts on Twitter and in audio of the encounter later posted by The Guardian, Jacobs approached Gianforte as he was preparing for a television interview and asked for his opinion on the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the American Health Care Act.

“We’ll talk to you about that later,” said Gianforte. After Jacobs asks again, Gianforte refers him to a spokesman — and then a scuffle ensues.

“I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said on the audio recording. “The last guy who came in here … did the same thing. Get the hell out of here.”

At one point, Gianforte asks, “Are you with The Guardian?”

In April, the outlet reported that Gianforte owns $250,000 in shares in two index funds invested in the Russian economy. Jacobs authored the story that was later seized upon by Democratic candidate Rob Quist to attack the Republican.

In response to the article, Gianforte’s spokesman Shane Scanlon told The Guardian that the GOP candidate did not oversee his portfolio on a day-to-day basis. Instead, he focused on the “overall performance,” Scanlon said.

After the alleged incident Wednesday, Jacobs wrote on Twitter, “Greg Gianforte just body slammed me and broke my glasses.”

In an interview on MSNBC Wednesday evening, Jacobs elaborated, saying that he had “been pressing the campaign for a few days to grab Gianforte one-on-one,” and after being rebuked, attempted to ask about the CBO score “while he was just standing around.”

After detailing the moments on the audio recording, Jacobs said, “And next thing I know, I’m being body slammed.”

“He’s on top of me for a second. My glasses are broken,” Jacobs said. “It’s the strangest … moment in my entire life reporting.” The reporter said he then left and called police before being brought to the hospital where he was to have his elbow X-rayed. He has since been released, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office said during a press conference Wednesday night, adding it was not aware of the specifics of his injuries.

The Guardian‘s U.S. Editor, Lee Glendinning, issued a statement supporting Jacobs. “The Guardian is deeply appalled by how our reporter, Ben Jacobs, was treated in the course of doing his job as a journalist. … We are committed to holding power to account and we stand by Ben and our team of reporters for the questions they ask and the reporting that is produced.”

Scanlon later issued a statement, placing the blame on Jacobs and claiming the candidate’s actions were a response to Jacobs pushing a phone in his face during “a separate interview in a private office” that he entered “without permission.”

“Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined,” read the statement, which was issued before Gianforte was cited for a misdemeanor. “Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

Fallout from the incident was swift. The editorial boards of three state newspapers — the Missoulian, the Billings Gazette and the Independent Record — announced late Wednesday night that they were rescinding their previous endorsement of Gianforte.

The Billings Gazette wrote: “We’re at a loss for words. And as people who wrangle words on a minute-by-minute basis, that doesn’t happen often. What happens even less — hopefully never again — a Montana candidate assaulting a reporter. While there are still questions left unanswered about GOP House hopeful Greg Gianforte’s altercation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, eyewitness accounts, law enforcement investigations and records are all shocking, disturbing and without precedent.”

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Kentucky Gov. decries 'huge cultural problem' after 7-year-old killed by stray bullet

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By Michelle Boncardo

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin spoke out against gun violence in his home state in a Facebook video posted Monday that decries the recent killing of a 7-year-old boy who was struck by a stray bullet while inside his home.

Bevin said that the 7-year-old’s death — the 49th homicide in Louisville this year — exposes a disregard for human life.

“We’ve got a huge cultural problem here in Kentucky, we truly do. And in America for that matter,” Gov. Bevin said in his Facebook message. “The lack of appreciation for human life, the disregard for human life from beginning to end, is becoming increasingly evident as we see people who use guns as toys, guns as a way of expressing their emotion and their anger at things.”

The governor, who is a supporter of gun-ownership rights, said he will announce a solution next week to combat violence in Kentucky communities.

“It has nothing to do with spending more money,” he said. “It has nothing to do with more police on the streets. It has everything to do about engaging you as members of our communities.”

Dequante Hobbs Jr. was killed Sunday after being shot in the head by a stray bullet fired in a nearby altercation. The boy was struck as he played on his iPad and ate cake at his kitchen table, police said.

Relatives in the home did CPR until police and EMS arrived, according to the Associated Press. No one else was injured in the shooting, but Hobbs was later pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital.

“They call themselves men, but men don’t go around shooting somebody over petty stuff,” the 7-year-old’s grandmother, Tonya Hobbs Gough, told the AP Monday. “You’re not a man,” she added. “You’re a child if you’ve got to use a gun to do anything.”

Louisville Metro Police Department tell ABC News that the case is still under investigation and no arrests have been made.

“We had a 7-year-old who fell victim to the senseless violence that’s going on here in our city,” Louisville Metro Police spokeswoman Lt. Emily McKinley said, according to the AP. “If this doesn’t wake anybody up, then I don’t know what will.”

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Long Island cesspool collapses, trapping man

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By Michelle Boncardo

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A cesspool collapsed on Long Island, New York, this afternoon, leaving a man trapped, according a spokesperson for the town of Huntington.

The cesspool was being built, and dirt collapsed on top of a man who was working inside, according to A.J. Carter, the spokesperson.

Multiple police and fire units are on the scene, fighting to save the man, Carter said.

The man’s condition is not known at this time, but the situation is believed to be serious, according to Carter.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Alaska man charged with murder after a bullet from a failed suicide attempt killed his girlfriend, DA says

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By Michelle Boncardo

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A 21-year-old Alaska man has been charged with murder after the bullet from his failed suicide attempt hit and killed his girlfriend.

In the early morning hours of April 19, the Anchorage Police Department responded to a 911 call from a man who reported that he had shot himself, the Anchorage District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. When officers arrived on the scene, they found Victor Sibson with a gunshot wound to his head and found Sibson’s 22-year-old girlfriend, Brittanymae Haag, lying on the floor with a “significant amount of blood on her chest,” the Anchorage District Attorney’s Office said.

Haag was breathing when officers arrived and first responders transported her to the Providence Alaska Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 2:51 a.m., less than 30 minutes after the initial 911 call was made, according to the district attorney’s office.

Based on the physical evidence, it is a “fair explanation” that it was possible that Sibson attempted to commit suicide, Anchorage District Attorney Clinton Campion told ABC News. The evidence also reflects that the bullet exited Sibson’s head and struck Haag, Campion said.

The couple had been dating for a number of years, Campion said.

Sibson was indicted on a second-degree murder charge in connection with Haag’s death on May 16. He turned himself into police three days later, Campion said. He pleaded not guilty in his arraignment in Alaska superior court Tuesday. He has not yet retained an attorney, and his trial has been set for Aug. 21.

If convicted, Sibson faces a sentence of 15 to 99 years in prison for second-degree murder. He is currently being held at the Anchorage jail on $250,000 bond, Campion added.

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Cesspool collapses on Long Island, trapping man

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By Michelle Boncardo

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A cesspool collapsed in Long Island Wednesday afternoon, leaving a man trapped, according to ABC station WABC in New York.

WABC reported that the incident happened just before 1 p.m. on Beech Place in Huntington. Multiple police and fire units are on the scene.

The man’s condition is not known at this time, the station reported.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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