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Epic 3,700-mile nature trail will one day allow you to hike coast-to-coast

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Gene Townsend & Scott Stark via Rails-to-Trails Conservatory(WASHINGTON) — Outdoor enthusiasts rejoice. An ambitious, historic new plan will one day allow you to run, bike or even rollerblade coast-to-coast.

Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC) unveiled its 3,700-mile off-road trail this week. When fully completed, the “Great American Rail Trail” will become the nation’s first cross-country multi-use trail.

The trail will travel from Washington D.C. through 12 states: Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington.

RTC settled on the entirely bikeable and walkable route after a 12-month analysis of more than 34,000 miles of existing multi-use trails.

More than half of the trail — 1,900 miles — is already complete, with much of it consisting of old railroad track.

RTC president Ryan Chao told ABC News that “the route consists of 125 truly beautiful existing trails. Some of the most iconic rail trails in our country.”

New segments are expected to be finished every year and, when complete, the trail will serve an estimated 50 million Americans.

“We believe that trails connect people with the outdoors, each other and our communities in very powerful ways,” Chao said.

RTC wants 90 percent of the trail to be located away from roads — and therefore cars — with the eventual goal of 100 percent.

Right now, RTC says it may take decades to fully complete the trail, but that could change.

The beginning of the route is the only fully complete section. The nearly 208-mile stretch starts on the steps of the United States capitol in Washington D.C. and heads through Maryland.

For a map of the rest of trail, and more information click on the above video.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Flash flooding concerns grow in Texas, Louisiana as rainfall mounts

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — A powerful storm moving through the Plains and Deep South brought a second day of severe weather on Wednesday.

There were four more reported tornadoes on Wednesday, bringing the count from this outbreak to 20 in four states — Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

The threat for severe weather will continue across parts of the Mississippi River Valley Thursday morning, and some of the strong storms will reach the East Coast by Friday. However, a multi-day flash flood threat is also about to get underway in parts of the hard-hit South, including Texas and Louisiana.

The radar is showing a large storm system in the central U.S. on Thursday morning, with colder air bringing some snow in parts of Minnesota. Duluth had received 9.1 inches through 4:15 a.m. — and it was still snowing.

However, in the Deep South, trailing thunderstorms are causing major flash flooding in parts of the region — especially in Shreveport, Louisiana. Radar estimates of 4 to 5 inches of rain is causing significant flash flooding in the region as storms continue to fire up during the morning. Rainfall rates over 2 inches per hour could mean rainfall totals over 6 inches through the morning in parts of the region.

The storm system will drag severe storms across the Mississippi River Valley through the day Thursday, with damaging winds, large hail and brief tornadoes possible from Louisiana to Kentucky.

Then, another disturbance will bring a round of severe weather to southeast Texas and Louisiana at night, with damaging winds, large hail and brief tornadoes possible.

However, the biggest concern for this next disturbance is torrential rain. Rainfall rates in parts of southeast Texas could exceed 2 inches per hour Thursday evening, which could cause flash flooding on saturated grounds.

On Friday, strong storms with locally gusty winds will move into the Appalachians and impact parts of the Northeast. At this time, the severe threat looks to be marginal, but the forecast could change as the system evolves Thursday.

Meanwhile, yet another blast of heavy rain will move into southeast Texas and southern Louisiana Friday and bring more rainfall rates that could exceed 2 inches per hour.

Locally, 6 to 10 inches of rain is forecast through the end of the week and into the weekend across parts of southeast Texas and Louisiana. Given that some of this area — especially near Houston — already saw 6 to 10 inches of rain this week, there is growing concern for major flash flooding through the end of the week.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Suspect in grisly Miami murder confesses to six other killings

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Florida Department of Law Enforcement(MIAMI) — A convicted sex offender arrested Sunday in the brutal killing of a 77-year-old man in Miami Beach, Florida, has confessed to six more murders during a police interview this week.

Nicholas Gibson, 32, was tracked to and later arrested in New York City while exiting a subway train after getting into a fight with officers, according to the Miami Beach Police Department. One New York Police Department officer was injured in the struggle, police said.

Gibson allegedly killed 77-year-old Erik Stocker in South Florida on April 20, but his body wasn’t found until 10 days later when neighbors noticed a foul smell from his apartment. Authorities have not said how Stocker died, but the Miami Herald reported the man was mutilated with a sword.

The suspect was also wanted by U.S. Marshals for failing to register as a sex offender, police said.

Gibson is expected to be returned to Miami to face charges for the murder of Stocker, while Miami Beach police said he also could face charges for assaulting a New York police officer and resisting arrest.

During the course of an interview this week with Miami Beach police, who traveled to New York to speak with Gibson, the 32-year-old confessed to six more murders in Florida, Georgia and California, police said.

“In that interview, he admitted to his involvement in the murder of Mr. Stocker,” Ernesto Rodriguez, Miami Beach Police Department public information officer, said in a release. “We also recovered physical evidence to support the murder charges that will be filed against him once he is returned to Miami.”

Rodriguez added, “Mr. Gibson also made additional statements about his involvement in six other murders during earlier times in his life.”

Miami Beach police said it will be “working with law enforcement in these locations in an attempt to determine the credibility of his statements.”

Officials said it will be a “lengthy process” and they cannot corroborate Gibson’s claims.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Police seize over a thousand guns, ammunition from Los Angeles home

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Los Angeles Police Department(LOS ANGELES) — A man in Los Angeles’ posh Holmby Hills neighborhood was hiding a stash of weapons large enough to outfit an army.

The Los Angeles Police Department busted Girard Damien Saenz, 57, with as many as 1,000 weapons piled up in his home. Authorities also found massive stockpiles of ammunition.

Saenz, who was living in the home alone, was booked for unlawful transportation and giving, lending or selling assault weapons. Additional charges may be added later, including federal charges, authorities said. He is being held on $50,000 bond.

“I had never seen so many weapons in my career of 31 years,” said LAPD Lt. Chris Ramirez. “That’s such a big arsenal in a residence like this, in this type of neighborhood. It’s astounding.”

Holmby Hills is bordered by the Beverly Hills and Bel Air neighborhoods and is home to the late Aaron Spelling’s massive $85 million mansion and the Playboy Mansion.

Officials removed all of the guns — hundreds of rifles, semiautomatics, handguns and even antique Civil War-era guns — and piled them up outside the man’s home. Officials spent the entire afternoon cataloging the humongous stash of firearms.

Ramirez called the cache of weapons “beyond comprehension” in a press conference Wednesday. He said the large house was cluttered with piles of guns and ammunition spread throughout different rooms.

Saenz apparently was licensed to own weapons — and there is no prohibition on the number of guns a person can own — but the person was selling the guns illegally, according to police.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) assisted in the operation.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sheriff, officers accused of jailing innocent man for not following orders during manhunt

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imegastocker/iStock(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — A sheriff in South Carolina and two other officers have been indicted on federal charges that they allegedly jailed an innocent man for three days in retaliation for him not following their orders as they looked for a suspect after a car accident.

On Nov. 20, 2018, Chester County Sheriff George Alexander Underwood, Lt. Johnny Ricardo Neal Jr. and Chief Deputy Robert Andrew Sprouse were among the authorities responding to a car accident and searching for a “fleeing” suspect when they encountered a resident, identified in court papers as K.S., recording the situation on his cellphone.

K.S. lived on the highway where the accident had occurred and began recording the scene on Facebook Live. He did not “enter the roadway or interfere with law enforcement activities,” court papers said.

When Underwood told K.S. to stay on the porch, the man opted to remain in the yard.

“I’m telling you to get on the porch,” an officer could be heard telling K.S., according to WSOC-TV in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Twenty-five minutes later, as K.S. continued to record on Facebook Live, the sheriff told him to go his porch and when K.S. did, Underwood followed him and demanded that he turn over his phone, according to court papers.

Underwood then restrained K.S., telling him that he was under arrest.

Court papers said K.S. suffered injuries to his head and elbow after Neal allegedly knocked him to the ground while he was handcuffed.

K.S. was taken to a jail and held there for three nights after Neal placed a “hold” on him, causing a delay in the processing of his arrest.

Court papers said that after learning of K.S.’ Facebook Live post, Sprouse entered the man’s house and removed his cellphone without his consent or knowledge — all without a search warrant.

On Jan. 3, 2019, Underwood and Sprouse allegedly lied to the FBI about K.S.’ arrest, after having created a false police report, as well as the whereabouts of his cellphone.

The three officers were charged Tuesday with several counts including conspiracy, tampering and falsification of records in a federal investigation. They are now suspended pending the investigation.

In a Facebook post on April 29, Underwood said the sheriff’s office was “cooperating fully” with the investigation.

“Unfortunately, I cannot comment on this investigation. However, I do plan to make an on air interview to address the citizens of Chester County as soon as I am able to do so. I ask that you be patient until then, as I am looking forward to that day,” he said.

In a statement, a lawyer for K.S. — identified by his lawyer as Kevin Simpson — thanked law enforcement.

“We are appreciative of law enforcement in general and particularly for those law enforcement agencies that refuse to allow the bad apples to survive in the greatest justice system in the world. The FBI and the US Attorney’s office here in South Carolina have acted like true professionals, and we feel confident that the wheels of justice will continue to turn for Mr. Simpson and his family,” Everett B. Stubbs said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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