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Sirhan Sirhan back in prison after surviving stabbing: Attorney

No Comments National News

MivPiv/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — Sirhan Sirhan has returned to prison after being treated at a California hospital following a stabbing on Friday, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as well as Sirhan’s attorney.

“There was an assault on an inmate on Friday, August 30 at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility at 2:21 p.m,” said a statement released to ABC News by the state corrections department on Sunday. “Officers responded quickly, and found an inmate with stab wound injuries. He was transported to an outside hospital for medical care.”

“The victim of the attack has since been released from the hospital and is back at the institution,” the statement continued. “The suspect in the attack has been identified, and has been placed in the prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit, pending an investigation.”

The statement did not name the inmate, but Sirhan’s attorney Laurie Dusek confirmed to ABC News that her client was the victim of the stabbing.

Dusek and Sirhan’s brother, Munir Sirhan, 72, said they were unable to reach him for two days after the incident. Sirhan was convicted of of 1968 assassination of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

“There’s been a lot of anguish and fear in not knowing where he is or how he’s doing,” Munir Sirhan, 72, told ABC News in a phone interview.

Both Munir Sirhan and Dusek said they had suspicions about what may have happened, but declined to elaborate until they’d spoken directly with the wounded inmate.

Sirhan said that he corresponds by letter with his incarcerated sibling weekly.

Asked whether his brother had expressed any concerns about his safety in recent weeks, Munir Sirhan said he had, but declined to offer details.

“He has, but I’d rather not elaborate because I’m not certain,” Sirhan’s brother said. “Maybe I could shed a little bit of light: the prison took him out of his two or three-year job assignment. He was on a kitchen detail and I have no idea why. I don’t know if that’s any indication” of a threat to the inmate’s safety, Munir Sirhan said. “My main concern is not being able to get ahold of him.”

Dusek issued a statement to ABC News late Sunday evening.

“I finally met with our client today and can report he is recovering from the brutal assault that occurred while in the custody of the California Department of Corrections,” she said in the statement. “According to Mr. Sirhan, the medical care he received was swift and good. However, this assault underscores how dangerous our prison system is and the immediate and urgent need for safety reform. This kind of attack never should have happened.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

New images released of married murder suspects who allegedly escaped from transport van

No Comments National News

U.S. Marshals(NEW YORK) —  Federal authorities have released new images of a pair of murder suspects who overpowered security guards and escaped from a prison transport van last week.

The photos were taken at San Juan County Jail where Blane Barksdale, 56, and his wife Susan Barksdale, 59, were housed the night before they escaped last Monday, U.S. Marshals said Saturday.

“These updated photos of Blane and Susan Barksdale were taken shortly before overpowering the transport team outside of Blanding, Utah,” U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said in a release Saturday. “We are asking anyone who knows of their whereabouts or sees them to call the U.S. Marshals Service or 9-1-1 immediately.”

The couple was being extradited from New York to Pima County, Arizona, when they allegedly rushed two unarmed security guards in Utah, tied them up and took control of the transport van, U.S. Marshals said.

The Barksdales then allegedly drove the van to northeast Arizona, where they abandoned it, with the guards still “tied up in the van,” according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

The guards needed time to get free from the van, which gave the Barksdales “a six or seven hour head start,” the service said in a statement.

The couple is wanted in connection to the murder of Frank Bligh, who vanished when his Arizona home burned down on April 16.

They allegedly fled to upstate New York in May, where U.S. Marshals and a SWAT team surrounded their RV and took them into custody. They are wanted on charges first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, arson of an occupied structure, theft of means of transportation, criminal damage and prohibited possession.

Federal authorities are offering up to $20,000 for information leading to their arrests.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

IBM introduces new tennis tool to make the next Sloane Stephens at the US Open

No Comments Sports News

IBM(NEW YORK) — With its lights and retractable roofs, the U.S. Open is a beacon of technological progress in the tennis world, and IBM is looking to push that further with its newest innovation.

This week, in the midst of the two-week tournament in Queens, New York, IBM, in partnership with the United States Tennis Association (USTA), introduced Coach Advisor, which they hope to be a game-changer for American athletes.

“This is a brand new thing that is built on all the work we’ve been doing with the U.S. Open for almost 30 years,” Elizabeth O’Brien, program director for sports and entertainment partnerships at IBM, told ABC News at the company’s hub underneath Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main court for the tournament.

Essentially, IBM takes videos of matches, indexes them — marking start points and stop times and traditional tennis statistics like scores — and then looks at player movement, like changing direction and bursts of speed.

From there, O’Brien explained, “We were able to develop two metrics that have never been used before around what we call player energy systems.”

Those metrics are mechanical intensity — how much a player accelerates and decelerates and the demand that puts on a body — and physiological load; that is, how much effort a player put in during a match, determined using their height, weight, average speed and moved distance at different speeds.

Basically, it helps athletes and their training teams to see when they’re using the most energy and, potentially, how they can play more efficiently and to their endurance strengths.

“Then we’re going to be able to work backwards and make changes in their training plan. Were they fit enough, are they fit enough to play the way their coach wants them to play? Are they fit enough to come back after a really tough match and play another one?” Martin Blackman, general manager of USTA player development, told reporters at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

IBM is already working with American stars Sloane Stephens and Frances Tiafoe — neither of whom advanced to the third round of this year’s U.S. Open — to test out Coach Advisor, using them to understand how best to introduce the program to players to the best effect.

The plan is to roll it out to more players, largely through the USTA’s player development work. Otherwise, for non-American players and those outside of the USTA’s purview, high-level scouting and analysis of any kind on both your own playing and that of other players can be pricey, stretching up from five to six figures for those who can afford it.

With that, the program stresses a long-held issue in the sport: unless you’re a highly ranked player, tennis — and the newest assets to improve your game — can be financially inaccessible without institutional support.

And in an age where the top players are older and matches can get longer even with new tiebreak rules — consider July’s Wimbledon final between Novak Djokovic, 32, and Roger Federer, 38, which stretched on for five hours — the strategic use of energy can be a game-changer.

As David Ramos, manager of coaching education and performance at USTA, explained to reporters: The player and their team can use Coach Advisor to evaluate “are they taking enough time between points, are they managing changeovers, how are they doing in between matches in terms of basically getting themselves ready to play?”

It’s one more example of the ways technology has the potential to change sports, all in a time when athletes don’t just have new technology and advanced statistics in front of them, but actively utilize those tools to improve their game.

“It’s going to contribute directly to the level of coaching in this country,” Blackman said. “It’s going to contribute directly to the way we’re able to optimize training for our players, and it’s going to contribute to the next generation of American champions. We really believe that.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DC football coach opens up about losing most of his team to gun violence

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Christen Hill/ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Steve Zanders, head coach of the Woodland Tigers youth football team in southeast Washington, D.C., has seen a lot in 35 years of coaching.

The thing he’s probably most tired of seeing is gun violence — and how it’s destroyed the futures of so many of his players.

In 2001, Zanders had 19 players on his Pop Warner community football team. Today, only nine remain. Seven are dead, and three in prison.

The championship-level success they earned as youths earned community fame but also put targets on their backs.

“We end up winning the D.C. championship. It was a brotherhood,” said Adam Madden, a player in 2001. “My friends were getting killed. So many people was getting killed at a young age. That it was so unreal …14 years old getting killed, 15 year old get killed, 16 years old.”

Youth in the community still face the threat of gun violence daily, and even with the national push for background checks, Zanders wonders if that will be enough.

As of Aug. 30, there have been 114 homicides in Washington. And D.C. has strict gun laws. Police there estimate they’ve recovered 6,000 illegal firearms in just the past three years. D.C. does not honor concealed carry reciprocity laws from other states, nor does the city allow open carry.

Just last month, Zanders attended more funerals — 11-year-old Karon Brown was killed at a local McDonald’s, and the following week his assistant coach also died in a drive-by — and the coach has had enough.

“I’m just tired of going to them,” he added.

By day, Zanders is a federal government employee. He volunteers his time to keep the football program going.

“Back in the 80s, when I started, I had funding from the District government. I was able to keep the kids doing something positive,” he recalled.

Now the coach said he has just enough money to run a modest summer program at best. The Woodland Tigers have boys ranging in age from 5 to 15 from surrounding communities.

“Why are 11-, 12-, 13-year-olds carrying guns? And you’re supposed to be 21 with a background check to buy them?” he said.

Many of the guns that end up in Washington are from parts of Virginia and North Carolina.

Zanders wants the illegal gun off the street.

“14-year-olds with AK-47s? Assault rifles? How are these guns getting in our community?” he said.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., proposed a bipartisan bill that would require universal background checks for gun owners and merchants, beginning in September. Amid the national conversation on gun reform, Zanders fears his community will go unnoticed — even just miles from where those laws are made.

“Gun violence is in their backyard but not at their doorstep,” Zanders added.

Parents in the neighborhood said they appreciate what Zanders has accomplished — that he’s been a pillar in the community, personally recruiting all of his players.

Alalim Musawwir’s three sons have been playing for the Woodland Tigers for the past four years. She said the team gives local families the chance to bond and face common threats together.

“Everything,” she added, “starts with being a parent first, to be proactive in the child’s life.”

“Being a part of Woodland helps me outside of school because it teaches me discipline,” said her son Larry, 13. “Like how to listen to grown-ups or school.”

Despite the losses the team has endured, the team stands strong. It’s still an outlet for children who may not clearly see all of the dangers around them.

Madden now has a son of his own, and he knows what that boy is up against.

“I’m so tough on my child,” he said. “Like my mother she was on me.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

'If it's in your heart, you got to do it': LA deputy reserves risk life and limb in free time

No Comments National News

Alex Stone/ABC News(LOS ANGELES) — It was the day before Thanksgiving in 1991 when Cindy Moyneur England, known at the time as Moyneur, faced what felt like certain death.

She went with her friend’s family on a hike that was expected to last the day. The weather forecast was good, and Moyneur was wearing clothes for warm weather. Most of the group decided to head back down the mountain after having lunch, but Moyneur and her friend’s 11-year-old nephew decided to keep hiking toward the top of Southern California’s Mt. Baldy, she said. At more than 10,000 feet high, the peak of Mt. Baldy is the highest point in Los Angeles County.

But the weather forecast proved wrong. At the summit, winds whipped up to 100 miles per hour, snow was falling and the windchill neared 40 degrees below zero. Trying to retreat, Moyneur and the boy took a wrong turn and found themselves lost, she said.

Hours went by and they couldn’t be found. Eventually, the sun set.

“We had 8 inches of snow that first night,” Moyneur said. “They couldn’t locate us.”

This report is part of a three-hour ABC Radio special, “America Works.”

With their bodies freezing and little food or water left, the two built a shelter and expected to be rescued any moment. But the hours dragged on.

The conditions were so bad that rescue teams looking for the pair thought they’d only find their bodies, Moyneur recalled.

Moyneur said she heard noises about 43 hours later. It was a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s search and rescue team, composed of volunteer deputies.

“At the point they found us, I was no longer walking,” Moyneur said. “So we were very weak.”

Both had severe frostbite that required surgery, and a long and painful recovery followed.

The rescue had stuck in Moyneur’s mind. Her rescuers were reserve deputies for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Along with their counterparts at the Los Angeles Police Department, these volunteers, who often have full-time jobs outside of law enforcement, donate their free time to serving in uniform. Some are doctors, teachers or electricians, but they’re police officers during their spare time.

They volunteer their time to attend the police academy — on nights and weekends — and then after years of training they’re given a badge, a gun and the same uniform worn by their full-time, paid colleagues.

Moyneur herself has now been a sworn deputy of the sheriff’s department’s Montrose Search and Rescue team for 26 years.

Responding to the call

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has 570 reserve deputies who do search and rescue, patrol the streets and perform a long list of other duties such as working in the Homicide Bureau. The LAPD has around 400 reserve officers. By appearance only, citizens have no way of knowing who’s a volunteer deputy or a full-time, paid officer. Their uniforms, training and duties are identical to full-time law enforcement officers. When someone dials 911 for help, the person who responds may be a volunteer.

On a beautiful Sunday morning in August, ABC News rode along with Moyneur. She and her law enforcement partner, Deputy Robert Sheedy, patrol the mountains above La Crescenta, northeast of Los Angeles.

For their day jobs, Moyneur works as a physical therapist while Sheedy is in the biotech industry, where he develops pet foods infused with omega supplements. During their off hours, both put on the uniform and respond to search and rescue calls.

La Crescenta is in the shadow of Angeles National Forest. On summer weekends, Southern Californians go to the mountains to recreate and escape the heat.

After a completing a brief check of their truck to make sure they had their supplies, the two set out, ready to respond to anyone who’s lost or needs medical attention.

It didn’t take long for the first call to come in. A motorcyclist had gone down and needed help on one of the park’s windy mountain roads. The pair rolled what’s called a Code 3 in California and turned on their emergency lights and siren, the sound of which bounced off the mountainsides as they sped toward the victim.

On scene, Moyneur and Sheedy were a welcome sight for highway patrol officers and firefighters already there. The two deputies were the first Emergency Medical Technicians EMT to arrive. EMT training is in addition to what they’ve learned at the academy, and it’s critical for search and rescue deputies.

Moyneur and Sheedy immediately took over medical care as the motorcyclist laid on the pavement screaming in pain. They managed to stabilize him and prepared him for transport in a helicopter.

“You’re going to do fine,” Moyneur assured the motorcyclist, who told her he had gotten knocked out in the crash. As he complained of severe pain, the years in which Moyneur and Sheedy had worked together began to show as they worked in unison, putting their EMT skills to use.

Hours later, the pair would respond to a much more severe motorcycle crash. The driver was unconscious and not breathing very well, and again, Moyneur and Sheedy were the first EMT’s on the scene. Their presence was again a clear relief to the other responders on scene. They calmly and deliberately worked to save the man’s life, orchestrating the process that would give him a chance at survival.

“I just need to know do we need to do compressions? Do we have a pulse,” Moyenur asked Sheedy.

The man had a pulse but he wasn’t breathing very well.

Sheedy helped clear the man’s airway and helped him breathe using a resuscitator bag. Then they loaded the crash victim onto a backboard on a Forest Service truck and raced him to a waiting helicopter.

The pair of reserve deputies don’t usually find out if their patients go on to live or die, and this was one of those cases. The man flew off aboard a chopper, and they never saw him again.

It’s about the passion

Reserve deputies and police officers often say they do it for one reason: passion. LA Sheriff’s reserves are paid just $1 per year. LAPD reserves are paid nothing.

Mike Sellars, who’s spent his life in film financing, has been an LAPD reserve officer for 26 years, spending his off hours donning the iconic blue LAPD uniform and patrolling the streets of Hollywood.

“If it’s in your heart, you got to do it. You really got to do it,” Sellars said of anyone considering reserve duties.

Reserves have to be accepted into and pass the academy on their own time. Then once on board, they must promise to work at least 20 hours a month, often on Saturdays and Sundays. Many reserves do more than 20 hours a month.

“It’s a gigantic commitment. You just can’t do it without being the best of the best,” Sellars said. “The statistics are for every one person who graduates from the academy, about a hundred [have gone] through.”

At the academy, LAPD Officer Johnny Gil is one of the drill instructors, and he said he doesn’t go easy on reserve recruits.

“It’s a lot of work on the candidate side that, at the end of the day, is very rewarding,” Gil said. “They get a unique experience that they never even knew. All they have is the heart and soul to come in and do this — the volunteering spirit that they have, and they come into it with two feet.”

Sellars said he’s seen life and death in the 26 years that he’s been an LAPD reserve officer. On the same day he met with ABC News, he had just turned in his retirement paperwork.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said.

Sellars said he will now focus his time on a foundation that advocates for LAPD reserve officers.
Family pressures

Across town, reserve deputy Hector Montenegro of the LA County Sheriff’s Department, is also on patrol.

Like all patrol deputies, Montenegro roams the streets of Pico Rivera, a city east of downtown LA, where he searches for crimes, responds to 911 calls and pulls over vehicles.

On the day ABC News rode with Montenegro, he received a call of gunshots fired at a mourner in a cemetery. Units raced to the cemetery to find shell casings but no suspect and no victim. After a short search for a suspect, Montenegro went back on patrol responding to routine calls, such as a complaint of transients hanging out behind a business.

On weekdays, Montenegro works as a manager at a utility company. During his evenings and weekends, he’s in a sheriff’s department tan and green uniform, riding in a black and white patrol car, working for no money.

“I think it’s the best of both worlds. You are still able to give back to the community, do your part in law enforcement,” Montenegro said. “Giving back to the community, serving, volunteering. But I also have full-time employment to provide for my family.”

Because Montenegro is on patrol many evenings after his day job, he has missed life events at home, he said, adding that he and his wife have to work together on their calendars.

“She’s very understanding so as long as we schedule everything on the calendar with the kids’ schedules. Communication is good in a happy relationship,” he said.

Beyond family, it takes an understanding workplace. Montenegro sometimes has to modify his work schedule to appear in court for drivers who contest tickets he writes or to testify in cases.

Montenegro has been a reserve in law enforcement for 23 years. Most of his coworkers at the utility company have no idea he’s also a cop. He keeps it mostly to himself.

“I think it’s exciting. You get different calls. You get to meet different people,” he said.

Always Looking For Recruits

Reserve recruiters in Los Angeles are always on the lookout for professionals who might want to moonlight as law enforcement for free, often holding recruiting events. But it’s not as hard as you might think to find people willing to give up relaxing weekends to instead put their lives on the line.

“Some do it for the excitement,” said Lieutenant David Buckner who leads the reserve program at the LA County Sheriff’s Department. “Being a police officer and facing what the citizenry will throw at you is very exciting. They get to do everything that regular deputies do. They drive patrol cars. They wear the badge, the uniform, carry a gun, get involved in shooting, weapons training, self defense.”

With strict requirements for passing the academy, subpar candidates are often weeded out long before they’re given a badge. Those who end up completing the process are usually prime candidates for both departments.

“I don’t know if we find them or they find us,” said Lieutenant Curtis McIntyre, who runs the LAPD’s Reserve Corps. “I think they almost find us. Then we have that relationship and a discussion and try to make the path easier for them to be hired.”

The LAPD and LA County Sheriff’s Department are enthusiastic about their reserve programs because they boost officer and deputy numbers in the field. Both agencies have long fought for funding to hire more sworn personnel and reserve programs allow them to add officers without paying them salaries. An added benefit is the programs also work as outreach into Los Angeles communities that might not have close connections to law enforcement.

“For someone to don this uniform and go out there and protect and serve,” McIntyre said, “it’s a commendable thing.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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