All Stories   |  Hoodline Stories

Man arrested after allegedly making racist death threats against Omar, Tlaib and Booker

A Florida man was arrested and charged Friday with allegedly making a series of threatening phone calls to Democratic officials, in which he ranted in explicitly racist terms about Muslims, black people and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. John Kless, 49, of the Fort Lauderdale area, was charged with making an interstate threat, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Marlene Fernandez-Karavetsos, a spokeswoman for Fajardo Orshan, the U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida, said Kless was expected to be released on a $25,000 bond on Friday afternoon. She said that some weapons owned by him had been seized but declined to give specifics. Officials said that Kless made a series of disturbing phone calls on Tuesday, beginning, at 7 a.m. with a phone call to the office of Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, who recently announced a 2020 presidential campaign. "The day you come after our guns," Kless said a voice mail, "is the day you'll be dead," according to the federal court complaint filed against him. He ranted about 9/11, "illegals coming in," and used the n-word to describe people on welfare, prosecutors said. "You're gonna die," Kless continued, according to the complaint. "You'll be your death bed...along with all the rest of you Democrats." About 10 minutes later he left a message for Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, officials said. She and Omar are the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Prosecutors said he ranted at length about Omar, focusing in particular on the way she had referred to the 9/11 terrorist attacks at a recent event, and using multiple racial epithets to describe both her and Tlaib. Prosecutors said he called Tlaib "Taliban," and Omar a "towel head." "You know what, she's lucky she's just getting death threats," he...

The Latest: Florida mayor not surprised Michael was a Cat 5

MIAMI (AP) - The Latest on Hurricane Michael being upgraded to a Category 5 storm (all times local): 11:55 a.m. The mayor of the Florida city that was ground zero for Hurricane Michael says he's not surprised by news that it's been reclassified as the strongest possible storm. Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey says he and others who rode out the Oct. 10, 2018, storm thought they were dealing with a Category 5 storm all along. And he says the change in status doesn't equate to additional federal funding to help in the vast recovery efforts. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday that the storm's intensity when it hit the Gulf Coast was actually 5 mph (8 kph) faster than originally thought. That puts the storm at just over the 157 mph (252 kph) threshold of a Category 5. The remote city along what's referred to as Florida's Forgotten Coast is struggling to rebuild. Cathey says there were some 2,700 structures before the storm. Today, less than 500 remain, and many of those are severely damaged. He says city needs state, local and federal help to rebuild. ___ 9:55 a.m. Weather forecasters have posthumously upgraded last fall's Hurricane Michael from a Category 4 storm to a Category 5. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the storm's upgraded status Friday, making Michael only the fourth hurricane on record to hit the U.S. as a Category 5. NOAA says National Hurricane Center scientists conducted a detailed post-storm analysis for Hurricane Michael, which made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, on Oct. 10, 2018. They've determined the storm's estimated intensity at landfall was actually 5 mph (8 kph) faster than last year's estimate, putting the storm just barely over the 157 mph (252 kph) threshold. NOAA says the...

Hurricane Michael gets an upgrade to rare Category 5 status

MIAMI (AP) - Hurricane Michael, which devastated the Florida Panhandle last fall, was actually stronger than initially measured, prompting forecasters to posthumously upgrade it from a Category 4 storm to a Category 5, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Friday. The upgraded status means Michael was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a Category 5 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and only the fourth on record. National Hurricane Center scientists conducted a detailed post-storm analysis for Hurricane Michael, which made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, and Tyndall Air Force Base on Oct. 10, 2018. They've determined that its estimated intensity at landfall was 160 mph (257 kph), a 5 mph (8 kph) increase over the operational estimate used last fall, NOAA said in a news release. That puts Michael just barely over the 157 mph (252 kph) threshold for a category 5 hurricane. Just 36 hours before hitting Florida's coast, Michael was making its way through the Gulf of Mexico as a 90 mph (145 kph) Category 1 storm. Category 5 winds were likely experienced over a small area, and the change is of little practical significance, NOAA said. Both categories signify the potential for catastrophic damage. Michael was directly responsible for 16 deaths and about $25 billion in damage in the U.S., and parts of the Florida Panhandle are still recovering from the destruction more than six months later. The new landfall speed was determined by a review of the available aircraft winds, surface winds, surface pressures, satellite intensity estimates and Doppler radar velocities, NOAA said. That includes data and analyses that weren't available during the storm. The increase in the estimated maximum sustained wind speed from the operational estimate is small and well within the normal...

Attorneys accuse police, prosecutors of leaking Kraft video

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Attorneys for two of the women charged in a Florida prostitution sting asked a judge on Thursday to hold police and prosecutors in contempt of court following reports that someone was shopping around undercover video of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The motion was filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court by attorneys for Lei Wang and Hua Zhang, who are accused of working at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter. The attorneys cited a New York Daily News story that reports an unknown person had contacted TheBlast.com with footage of Kraft naked with another person, presumably the massage therapist. The attorneys said only police and prosecutors have access to the footage, which a judge has temporarily barred from release. The attorneys argued that releasing the footage would violate their clients' rights to privacy and fair trials. Jupiter police spokesman O'Neil Anderson told The Associated Press that he doubts the authenticity of the reports. He said his department has taken every precaution to secure the evidence, and he doesn't believe anyone in the police department or State Attorney's Office would leak the video. Anderson also pointed out that no websites or news organizations have actually shown a video. "If anyone had it, they would have released it by now," Anderson said. Kraft was charged in February with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution after being accused of paying for sex. He has pleaded not guilty. A message left with the State Attorney's Office wasn't immediately returned.

‘Infatuated’ with the Columbine shooting, she flew to Colorado and bought a gun

DENVER - When she stepped into Colorado Gun Broker on Monday, Sol Pais knew exactly what she wanted to buy. A 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. The same gun one of the shooters used in the 1999 attack on Columbine High School. The 20th anniversary of that attack was just five days away - and the school was less than two miles down the road. For weeks, the 18-year-old had been planning this trip, a pilgrimage from her home in South Florida to the Denver suburb where the modern era of school shootings had begun. She'd been studying that day and had become "infatuated" with the massacre, authorities said. Now she posed a significant threat to the school, its 1,700 students and the entire community. But instead of hurting others, Pais would end up running from the FBI - and killing herself with the shotgun she purchased. Officials said Pais was found dead in a remote mountain area Wednesday morning after a nearly 20-hour manhunt that shut down the state's largest school districts and left hundreds of thousands of students and parents wondering just how close they had come to another attack on their community. "This was the real deal," said John McDonald, chief of security for the Jefferson County School District, in an interview with The Washington Post. "She was making significant statements to friends and social media. You add in the fact that she goes directly from the airport to the gun store . . . these are the red flags we always talk about." He learned about Pais on Tuesday morning, on a day the school district was already responding to a bomb threat at a middle school and receiving warnings about a potential shooting at another high school, McDonald said. The Columbine community sees a rise in menacing messages and behavior every April, when the date of the 1999 attack approaches, but this year, with such a...

The Latest: Judge bars release of Kraft massage videos

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft's prostitution case (all times local): 7 p.m. Prosecutors can't release undercover video of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others allegedly receiving sex acts at a Florida massage parlor until a Florida judge rules later this month. The Palm Beach Post reports Circuit Judge Joseph Marx barred the release of any video from the Orchids of Asia Day Spa before an April 29 hearing where he will hear from all parties. The Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office had filed a notice Wednesday saying it believes the videos are public records under Florida law and it plans to release pixilated versions. Kraft's attorneys filed an emergency motion Wednesday to block the release. Kraft was charged in February with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution for allegedly paying for sex at a Jupiter, Florida, spa. He has pleaded not guilty. ____ 2:30 p.m. Prosecutors intend to release undercover video of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others allegedly receiving sex acts at a Florida massage parlor, but that won't be soon or perhaps ever. The Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office filed a notice Wednesday saying it believes the videos are public records under Florida law and it plans to release pixilated versions. Spokesman Mike Edmondson said the release is not imminent, as the office is processing numerous public records in the case. Kraft's attorneys filed an emergency motion Wednesday to block the release. The judge has not ruled and that decision could be appealed. Kraft was charged in February with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution for allegedly paying for sex at a Jupiter, Florida, spa. He has pleaded not guilty.

Juez prohíbe divulgar por ahora video de dueño de Patriots

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida, EE.UU. (AP) - Los fiscales dijeron el miércoles a una corte que prevén divulgar el video grabado por cámaras ocultas, en el que aparecerían varias personas, incluido el dueño de los Patriots Robert Kraft, teniendo relaciones sexuales en un salón de masajes en la Florida. Sin embargo, dependerá de un juez la decisión de mostrar o no el video. Mediante una notificación en un caso relacionado con el de Kraft, los fiscales del condado de Palm Beach consideraron que los videos constituyen registros públicos bajo la ley de Florida. Por lo tanto, planean mostrar versiones de los mismos, aunque con parte de las imágenes difuminadas por medios digitales. Los abogados de Kraft actuaron de inmediato en busca de impedirlo, y acusaron a los fiscales de una "evidente conducta procesal indebida". Kraft fue acusado en febrero de dos cargos menores de solicitar servicios de prostitución, por haber presuntamente pagado a cambio de relaciones sexuales en el spa Orchids of Asia de Jupiter, Florida. Se ha declarado inocente. Otros 24 presuntos clientes del local enfrentan cargos similares. David Aronberg, fiscal estatal en Palm Beach, escribió a la corte y señaló en el caso relacionado que no existen bases para impedir la revelación de los videos. The Associated Press y otros medios informativos han solicitado los videos. "Sin una orden de la corte, el estado divulgará los registros públicos solicitados", después de que se hagan las ediciones digitales pertinentes, escribió Aronberg. Su vocero Mike Edmonson dijo que la divulgación no es inminente, dado que la corte procesa numerosas solicitudes de registros públicos relacionados con el caso. El abogado defensor Jack Goldberger envió con celeridad una carta al juez que supervisa...

Quintana goes 7 innings, Cubs beat Marlins 4-0

MIAMI (AP) - Jose Quintana gave up six hits in seven innings to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 4-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night. Quintana (2-1) struck out seven and extended his scoreless innings streak to 14. The left-hander didn't allow a runner to reach second until Austin Dean's two-out double in the seventh. Javier Baez went 3 for 4 and hit his fifth homer, a solo shot to the opposite field off Adam Conley in the eighth. Baez has three hits in each of his last three games. Brandon Kintzler relieved Quintana and surrendered a two-out single to Brian Anderson and walked Starlin Castro. Jorge Alfaro drove Kintzler's 1-1 fastball to the warning track in center before Albert Almora tracked it down for the third out. Chicago scored its fourth run on Ben Zobrist's sacrifice fly in the ninth. Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless ninth for the Cubs, who have won five of six. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead on Daniel Descalso's single in the third and pushed across another run in the fourth on David Bote's RBI groundout. Miami starter Pablo Lopez (1-3) allowed two runs, five hits, struck out six and walked one in five innings. Before the game, the Marlins optioned shortstop JT Riddle to Triple-A New Orleans and recalled outfielder Isaac Galloway. Galloway started in right field and went 1 for 4. He also threw out Descalso at third as he attempted to advance from second on a flyout. TRAINER'S ROOM: Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said there is no date set for LHP Jon Lester (left hamstring strain) to resume throwing while he continues non-baseball rehabilitation. LHP Mike Montgomery (left lat) postponed his rehabilitation stint Tuesday at Single A South Bend after his wife gave birth to the couple's first child. Marlins: RHP Austin Brice (gastroenteritis) was placed on the...

Chinese woman who entered Mar-a-Lago denied bail

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A Chinese woman charged with lying to illegally enter President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club while carrying computer malware could be granted bail Monday, though she likely would not be released as her visa has been revoked. Federal Magistrate Judge William Matthewman will decide whether to grant bail to Yujing Zhang, 32, on charges of lying to Secret Service agents and illegally entering a restricted area. If he does, immigration officials would likely detain her if she posts it because without a visa she has no authorization to be in the country. Zhang faces up to five years if convicted. Zhang was arrested March 30 after Secret Service agents say she lied to gain access to the president's exclusive club. She carried two passports, four cellphones, a laptop, an external hard drive and a thumb drive carrying computer malware, agents said. In a later check of her hotel room, agents say, they found a device for detecting hidden cameras, more computer gear, $8,000 in cash and numerous debit and credit cards. She is not charged with espionage, but the FBI is still investigating. Her bail hearing began last week, but was adjourned to give her public defenders additional time to make a case for her release. The Secret Service says Zhang gained access by telling an agent outside Mar-a-Lago that she was a member arriving for a swim. Agents say she wasn't on the membership list, but a club manager thought Zhang might be a member's daughter -- about 7% of Chinese nationals are named Zhang, that country's third-most common surname. Agents then asked Zhang if the member was her father, but they say she did not answer definitively. They still admitted her. Zhang's story changed when she got inside, agents say, telling a front desk receptionist she was there to attend the United Nations Chinese...

'Mr. Key West' quietly donated his private island

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) - The southernmost private island in the United States, owned since the 1970s by the late Key West philanthropist and visionary David Wolkowsky, will be preserved as part of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge under an agreement struck after decades of negotiations. Wolkowsky, who died in September at 99, agreed last summer to donate the tiny gem of an island through a complicated two-part transaction that gave it initially to The Nature Conservancy and then to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The two groups will co-manage the island for marine and coastal research and education, while preserving its natural resources, including critical habitat for sea turtles, birds, butterflies and fish. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working to rename the island, from Ballast Key to "David Wolkowsky Key," a five-year process. The 14-acre property eight miles west of Key West - deep in the heart of the wildlife refuge - was known among locals as "David's island," a recognition of the man they called Mr. Key West for his far-reaching influence in shaping Key West as a tourist destination while preserving the character that drew artists and writers. It was much sought-after because it was the last remaining privately held island in the wildlife refuge, the "final piece" of the 375-square-mile expanse of crystalline blue waters that includes the Marquesas and 13 other keys. The refuge was established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as a preserve and breeding ground for nesting wading birds and other wildlife. The donation is a mammoth one. A few years ago, Wolkowsky decided to test the market by putting the solar-powered, subtropical refuge - which includes a modern stilt house, a guest house and a workshop - up for sale. He set the price at $15.8 million. It likely would have...

Principals from schools with shootings form support network

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - In the days after a teenager shot and killed three fellow students at Ohio's Chardon High School in 2012, then-Principal Andy Fetchik remembers getting a call from someone who knew just what he was experiencing. It was Frank DeAngelis, the principal of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, during the deadly 1999 shooting. DeAngelis told him: It's going to be OK. You'll get through this. If you have questions, feel free to call me. Fetchik called, and he found DeAngelis to be a comfort and a resource as Chardon began its recovery. Now both men are part of a new network of current and former principals who hope to offer support to other school leaders in the aftermath of violence. "This is the network each of us wishes we had when the shooting occurred in our school," DeAngelis said in a written statement. The Principals Recovery Network will also advocate for educational resources and policies to help schools prevent violence. It convened this month ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. The group, organized by the National Association of Secondary School Principals, includes 17 current and former principals from schools in 11 states, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the site of a shooting in 2018. Collectively, the participants have lost more than 40 students and staff and seen scores more wounded in shootings over the past two decades. "We're not experts in recovery, but we're experts in the fact that we lived through it," Fetchik said, "and I think that it will provide a resource that kind of confirms to the school leader that there's others out there and they're not alone." Some members said they already reach out to offer support if a shooting occurs, but the network gives their...

Miami: Fijan nueva fianza para actor mexicano Pablo Lyle

MIAMI (AP) - El actor mexicano Pablo Lyle, investigado por el deceso de un hombre al que golpeó en el rostro, tendrá que permanecer bajo arresto domiciliario, ordenó el lunes un juez en la Florida que le fijó una fianza en 50.000 dólares. En una audiencia judicial realizada el lunes en los tribunales del condado de Miami-Dade, el juez Alan Fine determinó también que Lyle no debe viajar a México. Un funcionario del tribunal esposó a Lyle, de 32 años, al finalizar la audiencia. El actor no efectuó declaraciones, sólo respondió algunas preguntas de su abogado frente al juez. Dijo que no tenía propiedades y que su salario anual era de 27.000 dólares, entre otras cosas. La fiscalía por ahora sólo ha acusado al actor de agresión, pero la fiscal estatal adjunta Genevieve Valle pidió inicialmente una fianza de 1 millón de dólares, mientras su equipo explora presentar cargos de homicidio involuntario o asesinato de segundo grado. El juez fijó una nueva audiencia para el 1 de mayo en la que se harán públicas las acusaciones. Las nuevas condiciones fueron establecidas porque la víctima falleció días después del incidente. "Necesitamos proteger a la comunidad", dijo Valle al juez. "El acusado dejó a la víctima tirada en el piso", manifestó. La defensa de Lyle dijo que el actor pagaría su fianza el lunes para evitar quedar en una prisión, y permanecería en una casa del área de Miami con un brazalete electrónico en el tobillo que le permitirá a las autoridades localizarlo las 24 horas del día. El abogado defensor Philip Reizenstein dijo que su cliente intentaba proteger a su familia cuando golpeó a Juan Ricardo Hernández, de 63 años. La esposa de Lyle, sus dos hijos y otro menor de edad se encontraban en el auto en el momento del...

Florida abortion bill would require minors to obtain consent

MIAMI (AP) - Stephanie Loraine Piñeiro was 17 when she discovered she was pregnant for the second time. She says her parents were livid about her first pregnancy a year earlier, though she never dared tell them she was raped. Her father took her to a clinic for an abortion. On the way home, she says, he threw birth control pills from the clinic out of the car window and ordered her to abstain. A year later, the circumstances were different. She said she became pregnant after having sex with a boyfriend, and was afraid her parents would force her to continue an unwanted pregnancy if she told them. She sought but was denied emergency contraception from a pharmacy. "I felt like I was being forced into parenthood," she said. She still had options for an abortion, but situations like hers might become more difficult under several bills before the Florida Legislature that could restrict access to the procedure, including a measure to require minors to get consent from a guardian before terminating a pregnancy. Sensing a shift in the U.S. Supreme Court, conservative lawmakers across the country have introduced hundreds of anti-abortion measures into state legislatures this year that could spark challenges that eventually may prompt the top court to revisit Roe v. Wade. More than half of U.S. states require consent from at least one parent or legal guardian for a minor to obtain an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. Florida, a state that provided 1,472 abortions to minors in 2017, is one of the few states that require a parent or guardian to be informed 48 hours before the procedure in person, over the phone, or within 72 hours by certified mail. Many clinics allow parents to sign a notification waiver in order to bypass the...

Correction: Florida Train Service-Branson story

MIAMI (AP) - Billionaire businessman Richard Branson got a rock star's welcome at Wednesday's public rollout of his Virgin Group's partnership with Florida's privately owned, higher-speed passenger rail service that backers hope will soon stretch from Miami to Orlando. People cheered, news photographers jostled like paparazzi and passengers onboard a soon-to-be rebranded Brightline train grabbed the British magnate for selfies as they zipped between Miami and West Palm Beach in just over an hour. A year after beginning operations, the newly christened Virgin Trains USA hopes the Branson boost rubs off on the company's ridership and financing. Virgin's partnership with what was then Brightline was announced in November, but Brightline's downtown Miami station became "Virgin MiamiCentral" on Wednesday. Brightline's trains and other stations should be rebranded by year's end. Branson said Virgin hopes to "sprinkle some of its magic dust" on the operation by delivering an experience with some panache. As Brightline, the system was the first private U.S. train service founded in a century. Branson called Americans' reputation for disdaining rail travel outside the Boston-Washington corridor unfounded. They just haven't taken to trains because "the rail service was not great." "Brightline has already proven that wrong with its first offering," Branson told The Associated Press, pointing to its 100,000 monthly riders. He said train travel is more convenient than in the past. "In the old days, you didn't have Wi-Fi. Now you have almost seamless Wi-Fi on this train almost the whole way," he said. "Students can work, business people can work, lawyers can work, accountants can work on the train. And it is much safer and more environmentally friendly." This is a crucial period...