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Phone Scams: Why People Keep Falling for the Oldest Scam in the Book


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It was 11 o’clock in the morning when Luann and Betty Ann’s world was shattered with a single phone call.

“He says, ‘Do you have a daughter or a son?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I have a daughter,’” Luann said. “And he said, ‘Oh boy, there’s been a terrible accident. Four cars at an intersection. Everyone is unconscious.’”

“He said, ‘What kind of car does she have?’ And I said, ‘It’s a Kia,’” she continued. “And he said, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a Kia here. She’s unconscious.’”

The two women, who asked that their full names not be used, didn’t know who the man on the phone was but, terrified for their daughter’s life, they jumped into their own car and headed out to look for her, staying on the phone with the stranger.

“I am thinking my daughter is laying on a highway somewhere unconscious,” Betty Ann said. “And the scariest part was we didn’t even know where she was. They wouldn’t say exactly where she was.”

But then, the story took an unexpected, and even more frightening, turn.

“I was like, ‘You have to tell me exactly where you are and what the hell is going on now,’” Luann said. “And then his whole demeanor changed and he was like, ‘Now you wait a minute. ... We have her, at gunpoint, and we are going to shoot her if you don’t give me $1,700.’”

But what Luann and Betty Ann didn't know at the time was that they were on the receiving end of a phone scam, where the latest tactic in an otherwise low-tech crime is for con artists to claim to have kidnapped a loved one and are holding them for ransom.

“I never felt terror before in my life,” Luann said. “This was absolute terror, having your child’s life in your hands.”

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that over 25 million Americans lose in excess of $2.5 billion to fraud each year, and phone scams, which account for a big chunk of that, have been surprisingly successful for decades. Past scams have included asking people to invest in an oil company, gas deal or gold coins. Con artists have also been known to pose as lottery officials or IRS agents calling about taxes owed. Whatever the pitch, phone scammers are like top-notch salespeople, and they are extremely effective.

“These are dangerous people you are on the phone with,” said Jimmy, a convicted con artist. “Make no bones about it. I am a dangerous person. On the telephone if I chose to be fraudulent in my practices there is nothing that is going to stop me taking lots of money from people, period.”

Choosing their next victim, what Jimmy called “the crush” or “the kill,” is emotionally driven. “It’s not logic,” he said. “If you apply logic to this concept it's 'No, I am not going to send you my hard earned money. I don’t even know who you are.'”

Doug Shadel, a former fraud investigator and current Senior State Director for AARP in Washington state, has interviewed Jimmy and more than a dozen con artists like him, trying to understand how they are able to pull off a scam most people think they would never fall for. The AARP runs their own Fraud Watch Network where they track the latest scams.

“We always ask them the same question: ‘What is your central strategy for defrauding people?’” Shadel said. “They all say the same thing, ‘get them under the ether.’ ... a heightened emotional state where you are no longer thinking rationally but you are reacting emotionally.”

A heightened emotional state, such as the con artist claiming he has kidnapped someone’s child.

“This explains why so many people who are doctors, lawyers, professors of chemistry have actually fallen for this stuff,” Shadel said. “How could somebody that smart fall for this? It’s not their intellect that’s engaged when they make that decision. It’s the emotion.”

Shadel said he has received piles of recordings from states attorney general investigations into phone scams, many filled with abusive and demeaning language, even threats.

“Whenever I get tired and need some motivation I listen to tapes like this to remind me that there are thousands of people out there who are suffering in silence. They are afraid ... and people comply out of that fear,” Shadel said. “Part of our goal is to give people an opportunity to come forward, shine a light on these things so that law enforcement can do something about it and we can help each other.”

But for law enforcement, tracking down scammers can be challenging. The New York Attorney General’s office is currently taking on the grandparent phone scam, where a grandparent gets a call from a scammer pretending to be a teenage grandchild in trouble.

The Attorney General’s office is reaching out to the supposed victims -- the grandkids -- to try to get them to warn their families about phony phone calls that could come their way. Investigators say they are up against crooks who have no problem tugging at a person’s heartstrings to rip them off.

Looking back on that day, Luann said she didn’t think there was anything she would have done differently.

“When they do that to you they pull right at your emotions and you are raw. You are terrorized, and you will do anything,” she said.

She and Betty Ann say they were lucky to be together when the supposed kidnapping call came in. While Luann was on the phone with the scammer, Betty Ann frantically tried to call their daughter.

“At first I called and there was no answer. I called again and said, ‘Where are you?’” Betty Ann recalled. “And then finally I get back a text, ‘I’m in class. What’s wrong?’”

“And then once I knew it was a scam I hung up,” Luann said.

And they weren’t the only one terrorized that day. Their daughter, Maxine, was also panicked.

“It killed me just to hear -- that’s my mom, I love and care for her, she’s my life. ... To hear her voice like that, I got upset and then I got angry,” she said. “I was like who was doing this to my mother? Who are you to do this to my mother. This is my mother, my family. You don’t do that.”

They filed a police report, but doubt the callers will ever be caught, which is why, in addition to not using their full names, they asked that their location not be revealed either.

“I have heard of scams. I’ve never heard of this,” Betty Ann said. “The way they just got the details and got the info and used it against me, that’s exactly what they did, they got the info they needed and used it against me.”

Investigators warn even if you keep your doors locked and passwords secured, crooks want into your life, and sometimes, they’re just a phone call away.

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Military Mom's ‘Pride Packages’ Spread Love and Support Overseas


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One mother’s care packages to her soldier son have now turned into gifts of love for untold numbers in war zones.

Evan Garlick joined the Marines when he was 17. He was eventually deployed to Iraq, a combat zone filled with chaos and pain.

He was injured by a roadside bomb in December 2006, but refused medical attention so a more seriously injured fellow Marine would be taken care of.

“I could feel the shrapnel and I remember taking a piece out,” Garlick, now living in Pelham, Georgia, told ABC News. “They said the lieutenant was down and we ran to him.”

Garlick earned a Purple Heart and both Marines recovered from their injuries. This wasn’t the first time Garlick had displayed such selflessness.

In his first deployment in 2005, his mother, Pat Garlick, would send him letters every single day, along with a weekly care package. His nickname around the base quickly turned into “post office.”

One day, however, Garlick noticed a buddy in his barracks wasn’t getting any mail at all.

“He was disappointed because everyone had received mail,” Garlick said. “You can see the look on his face of disappointment when the mail came. And when it was all gone, he hadn’t received anything yet.”

So he put in a special request with his mom: To send his empty-handed friend a package and “keep it a secret.”

“He goes, ‘Mom, can you send him a package?’” Garlick’s mom recalled. “’But don’t tell him where it came from. I don’t want him to know.’”

The package was received and something magnificent began. Garlick and his mother’s act of kindness has now turned into an assembly line of love. More than 3,000 care packages filled with snacks, goodies and magazines, all packed into personalized boxes they’ve dubbed “Pride Packages.”

Pat Garlick works with AnySoldier.com, a website that helps facilitate sending items to soldiers overseas, to get the names and addresses for where to send her “Pride Packages.”

“My mission is to make sure those in need receive something from back home,” she said.

Garlick and her team of volunteers in Shelbyville, Illinois, have sent more than 3,000 packages since her son’s deployment.

ABC News found one of the recipients of Garlick's care packages, Navy Lt. Cheryl Collins.

Collins, who was stationed in Afghanistan, had a message for Garlick.

"I am so thankful for you and what you mean to so many people," Collins said.

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Ferguson 'On Edge' and Worried, Brown Family Lawyer Says


Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- The city of Ferguson is "nervous, on edge, scared" as they await the grand jury's decision on the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown, a lawyer for the Brown family and protest leaders said on Friday.

"The city is really in a panic at this moment," attorney Anthony Gray said in a press conference Friday afternoon.

Federal, state and county officials have been ramping up their readiness in case there is a fresh wave of angry and at times violent protests over the jury's decision. Protesters have been demanding that Police Officer Darren Wilson be charged with murder for the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown.

Gray said that he has received "numerous calls, emails and text messages expressing concern from members of our community about their safety," including from residents who specifically say they are worried about how they are going to get necessary medication.

Many stores have boarded up their windows for fear of destructive protesters. The manager of Beauty Town Plus, a salon on West Florissant Avenue, where much of the protests centered during the summer, told ABC News that they decided to board up because their windows were broken three times following Brown’s death.

Law enforcement have taken the threat of violence seriously as well as two federal officials confirmed to ABC News that more than 100 FBI personnel are being sent to the St. Louis area to join those already in the area and opened an intelligence center to head up operations.

There were protests in the area both Wednesday and Thursday, though with less than half a dozen arrests at each, they were far smaller than those held this summer.

“It’s a dicey situation right now,” Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told ABC News.

“We’re preparing for the worst, but we’re really hoping that the leadership… understands the property rights of others and the value of human life,” he said.

County Executive Charlie Dooley was more optimistic.

"I do not expect the worst and I said it then and I say it now. I expect the best in people. I am encouraged by conversations between law enforcement and protest groups," Dooley said.

Both Attorney General Eric Holder and Michael Brown Sr., the slain teenager’s father, have released videos urging protesters to remain peaceful when the grand jury’s decision is handed down.

"It’s hard to sleep when you've got this looming," Jackson said.

One business owner, Charles Davis, has remained optimistic about the possible protests and refused to take any extra precautions to fend off looters.

Davis, who bought Ferguson Burger Bar & More the day before Brown was killed, said that he has received support from both locals and people across the country who have heard about his decision to stay open through any protests that come with the verdict.

“I had a gentleman yesterday who drove from Memphis just to get a burger,” Davis told ABC News.

“I’ve heard some things but that one brought me to tears,” he said.

Davis said his restaurant will be open on Saturday but closed Sunday, as always.

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FBI Sends 100 Agents to Ferguson Ahead of Grand Jury Decision


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- The FBI has sent about 100 agents to the St. Louis area to help deal with any problems that could arise from the grand jury decision in the police shooting of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown.

In addition to the FBI, other federal agencies have also mobilized staffers to get to St. Louis on Friday, sources told ABC News.

A decision by the grand jury is expected soon, but St. Louis authorities said on Friday that the grand jury is still meeting. The panel will decide whether or not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown, who was unarmed, on Aug. 9.

Authorities are braced for a recurrence of angry protests that turned violent at times during the summer.

The FBI has ordered its Ferguson contingent to mobilize and arrive in the St. Louis area on Friday. In addition to FBI personnel already in the St. Louis area, about 100 more are being dispatched, law enforcement sources said. Additional FBI personnel have been put on alert so that they could be called in as part of a second emergency wave if necessary, ABC News has learned.

The FBI is opening up its special St. Louis intelligence center on Friday. This facility will be in constant contact with the Missouri and St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center.

The FBI declined to comment.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency earlier this week and activated the Missouri National Guard to help keep order if necessary.

Michael Brown Sr., the father of the slain teen, issued a videotaped appeal this week for protesters to remain peaceful whatever the verdict.

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Report Details Missed Opportunities to Treat Adam Lanza's Mental Illness


Kateleen Foy/Getty Images(HARTFORD, Conn.) -- Two years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Connecticut's Office of the Child Advocate has released a report detailing the mental health profile of gunman Adam Lanza, noting potential missed opportunities.

The Office of the Child Advocate, which investigates all child deaths in Connecticut for prevention lessons, released the 114-page report on Friday.

Lanza was 20 on Dec. 14, 2012 when he shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where he massacred 20 first-graders and six educators before taking his own life.

The report's authors say they "looked for any warning signs, red flags, or other lessons that could be learned from a review of AL's life," referring to Lanza.

"This report cannot and does not answer the question of 'why' AL committed murder," the authors wrote.

Here are some of the things we learned about Lanza:

1. Lanza had a falling out with his one and only friend months before.

Among the factors that may have caused Lanza stress were the possibility of moving with his mother and a "falling out" with a friend.

"AL was acquainted with another adolescent that he played [video game Dance Dance Revolution] with on a regular basis," the report said. "They would meet a few times per month to either play the video game or go to the movies. AL and his friend talked about multiple topics, including computers, chimp society, human nature, morality, prejudice, and sometimes about his family. AL told his friend that he had a strained relationship with his mother."

"AL would sometimes talk with this friend about the topic of mental health or depression, though he never indicated that he was diagnosed with anything. He did tell his friend that mental health issues were not a reflection of the character of a person, but were symptoms of something else going on inside a person," the report said.

"AL and the friend also talked about their interest in mass murderers or serial killers, but this was just considered to be a mutual morbid interest," the report said. "Both he and his acquaintance liked horror movies."

But in June 2012, Lanza "and his primary acquaintance had a falling out and stopped spending time together," the report said, "after a dispute over a movie."

2. His "social-emotional" challenges increased after fourth grade.

Lanza was referred for special education preschool services at age 2.

"Adam Lanza was presented with significant developmental challenges from earliest childhood, including communication and sensory difficulties, socialization delays, and repetitive behaviors," the report states. "He was seen by the New Hampshire 'Birth to Three' intervention program when he was almost three years old and referred for special education preschool services."

Early in the fourth grade, Lanza left the special education program because he had "met all speech goals," the report states.

During Lanza's early elementary school years, his parents still lived together in the family home in Sandy Hook, but they separated in 2002 when Lanza was in the fifth grade.

"[Lanza] was described by some as seeming happy, smiling, and participating in community and school activities," the report states. "At the same time, however, more red flags for developmental and mental health concerns remained or emerged. AL began perseverative hand washing, avoiding contact with other people, and becoming increasingly fearful. By fifth grade, AL had written and submitted “The Big Book of Granny” — a significant and violent text — and following that school year, his struggles began to escalate."

3. His preoccupation with violence may have been "largely unaddressed."

The report raises questions about how there may have been missed opportunities with Lanza, including whether his family's wealth and race were factors.

"Would [Lanza's] caregivers’ reluctance to maintain him in school or a treatment program have gone under the radar if he were a child of color?" the report asks.

Lanza's mother transferred him to a Catholic school for the fourth quarter of seventh grade.

"A teacher at the school later reported that he presented very differently from the other children," the report states.

According to the teacher's account in the report, he had "very distinct anti-social issues."

"AL would write ten pages obsessing about battles, destruction and war. I have known 7th grade boys to talk about things like this, but AL’s level of violence was disturbing. I remember showing the writings to the principal at the time, AL’s creative writing was so graphic that it could not be shared," the teacher's account in the report states.

"It was not the primary purpose of this investigation to explicitly examine the role of guns in the Sandy Hook shootings," the report said. "However, the conclusion cannot be avoided that access to guns is relevant to an examination of ways to improve the public health. Access to assault weapons with high capacity magazines did play a major role in this and other mass shootings in recent history."

The report states, "[Lanza] and his parents did not appear to seek or participate in any mental health treatment after 2008."

4. While he may have been described as "gifted," his cognitive abilities may have been just "average."

On Oct. 24, 2006, almost a year after a community psychiatrist first evaluated Lanza, he was seen at the Yale Child Study Center by a clinical psychiatrist, the report states.

"The evaluation was purportedly to determine if AL had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the context of a putative diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome," it says.

The report details how his parents said that their son was "angry" about having to go to Yale and he refused treatment.

"The Yale APRN [Advanced Practice Registered Nurse], in a present day interview, offered her view that AL may not, in fact, have had an Autism Spectrum Disorder, but rather that he suffered from disabling anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder," the report states.

Meanwhile, the report indicates his parents may have had difficulty accepting his disabilities.

"While it is not uncommon for parents to struggle to identify and accept their child as suffering a disabling impairment, the Yale Child Study Center clinicians who evaluated and treated AL felt that his parents, and certainly his mother, may have had greater than average difficulty with accepting the extent of AL’s disabilities," the report states. "Yale did not think that AL was gifted and unique, pointing to the average cognitive abilities captured by the school’s psychological testing."

"Adam Lanza's parents (and the school) appeared to conceptualize him as intellectually gifted, and much of [his] high school experience catered to his curricular needs," the report says. "In actuality, psychological testing performed by the school district in high school indicated AL’s cognitive abilities were average."

5. Why Lanza and his father had a "falling out."

Lanza stopped responding to his father's emails around 2010, the report states.

"After AL began declining to spend time with Mr. Lanza, Mr. Lanza would regularly send emails to him asking him how he was doing," the report states. "He asked AL to join him at events or other activities they had previously enjoyed, including arcades, shooting ranges, or coin shows."

The "falling out" may have had to do with Lanza's desire to take college courses at Norwalk Community College, the report states.

"AL wanted to carry a full course load but Mr. Lanza said he couldn’t handle that and wasn’t being realistic," the report states. "This may have been the last time that AL and Mr. Lanza actually spoke or emailed reciprocally. Mr. Lanza continued to let AL know that he wanted to see him."

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Michael Brown's Father Issues Plea for Calm in Wake of Grand Jury Decision


Scott Olson/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) — With the grand jury in the Michael Brown shooting case set to deliver a verdict at any time, the father of the slain teenager released a public service video Thursday urging supporters to protest peacefully regardless of the decision.

In anticipation that the grand jury might not indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the racially charged case, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has already issued a state of emergency, with law enforcement authorities ready in anticipation of civil unrest that could turn violent.

Michael Brown Sr.’s statement begins by thanking supporters “for lifting your voices to end racial profiling and police intimidation -- but hurting others or destroying property is not the answer.”

Saying that he doesn’t want his son’s death to have been in vain, Brown asks that it instead leads “to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”

Brown concludes his statement by asking everyone in the community and the nation at large to “work together to heal and to create lasting change for all people regardless of race.”

Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with ABC News, Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson said, “There's a time and place for civil unrest, and this apparently is the time and this is the place, but we do -- we do hope that people understand the property rights of others and the value of human life.”


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FSU Gunman Myron May Sent Packages to Eight Friends


Myron May is seen in this undated handout photo. Courtesy Daunton Family(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Eight acquaintances of Myron May are said to be expecting packages in the mail sent before police say May opened fire on Florida State University’s campus.

Joe Paul said he was a former student at the university with May, and the two reconnected while living in Houston. May sent a message alerting the acquaintances -- who evidently don’t know one another -- that they would receive packages, Paul told ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Paul contacted police, and has been advised to call local authorities when the package arrives.

“What did he send everyone? Was it a manifesto? Was it a message? I don’t know. I think I’m just as curious as everyone else,” Paul said in the interview.

May, 31, was identified by police as the shooter who opened fire at the Florida State University library early Thursday morning, wounding three people before police shot him to death. Authorities said they have no motive for May's rampage, other than to say that May was "in a state of crisis."

May was a foster child who succeeded in becoming a lawyer, but he recently deteriorated to the point where his ex-girlfriend called police saying he was acting erratically and she feared for his life.

His foster mother, Abigail Taunton, said she is shocked by May’s inexplicable actions.

"It has to be some mental illness going on that we were not aware," Taunton said.

One of the students in the shooting was listed in critical condition Thursday, with two others suffering non-life-threatening injuries.


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Former Sheriff's Deputy Accused in Wife's 2012 Shooting Death


KMGH(DENVER) -- A former sheriff’s deputy in Colorado is in custody, accused of killing his wife nearly three years ago, a death that was originally ruled a suicide.

Tom Fallis, 34, who now lives in Bloomington, Indiana, appeared in court Thursday for an extradition hearing. He will soon be moved to Colorado to formally face charges for the New Year’s 2012 murder of his wife Ashley Fallis, 28.

According to a grand jury indictment, the husband “became irate” at the end of a New Year’s party, stormed into their master bedroom, grabbed a handgun and shot his wife. He is charged with two felony charges of murder.

Tom Fallis’ attorney said the man is innocent.

The husband called 911 to report his wife’s death. “My wife just shot herself in the head. Please help me! Please help me!” he told dispatchers at the time.

Four different agencies initially agreed it was a suicide, police said.

Dan Recht, an attorney for Ashley Fallis’ family, said her relatives could never accept that analysis.

“They just knew their daughter, she was very happy, a young mother with three young children. And the idea that she would somehow decide to commit suicide, they would never accept it,” Recht said.

As new witness testimony came to light, police reopened the investigation, leading to the grand jury that brought charges against Tom Fallis.

Jenna Fox, Ashley’s mother, said she’s stunned by the arrest.

“Shock, elation, sadnes …it encompasses every emotion you could have,” Fox said.

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Why Adrian Peterson Says He 'WonÂ’t Ever Use a Switch Again'


Bob Levey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Running back Adrian Peterson says he has changed his perspective on child discipline after facing child abuse charges and an ongoing suspension from the NFL.

“I won’t ever use a switch again,” he said in an interview published Thursday by USA Today, his first extensive comments since being charged with felony child abuse in September in Texas.

“There’s different situations where a child needs to be disciplined as far as timeout, taking their toys away, making them take a nap. There’s so many different ways to discipline your child.”

The six-time All-Pro was charged for using a wooden switch to discipline his 4-year-old son, leaving bruises and welts. He agreed to a plea deal with no jail time earlier this month, pleading no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault.

Peterson’s bail terms prohibit him from having face-to-face contact with the boy, but Peterson said they recently spoke over the phone, their first conversation in five months.

“I was like, ‘Hey buddy, how you doing?’” Peterson, 29, said, recounting the conversation to USA Today.

“I’m doing OK,” the boy said.

“I was like, ‘I love you.’”

“He was like, ‘I love you too, Dad. Can I come over to your house?’”

Peterson’s latest comments mark a departure from his statements days after he was indicted. At the time, he said, “I disciplined my son the way I was disciplined as a child.” Without that discipline, “I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets,” he said.

Peterson acknowledged that leaving the Minnesota Vikings might be the best for both him and the team.

"I would love to go back and play in Minnesota to get a feel and just see if my family still feels comfortable there," he told USA Today. "But if there's word out that, hey, they might release me, then so be it. I would feel good knowing that I've given everything I had in me."

The former NFL MVP is suspended by the league without pay, a punishment the NFL Players Association has appealed.

Peterson disagrees with the sentiments of Commissioner Roger Goodell, who stated that Peterson failed to show “meaningful remorse” for his conduct.

"Ultimately, I know I'll have my opportunity to sit down with Roger face to face, and I'll be able to say a lot of the same things that I've said to you," Peterson told USA Today. "Don't say that I'm not remorseful, because in my statement, I showed that I was remorseful. I regretted everything that took place. I love my child, more than anyone could ever imagine."

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Secret Service Arrests Woman with Handgun Outside White House


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Secret Service agents arrested a woman with a holstered 9-millimeter handgun outside the White House Thursday night shortly after President Obama finished his announcement on immigration reform, according to federal law enforcement sources.

Plainclothes agents noticed April Lenhart carrying the holstered weapon as she was on the north side of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue about 8:30 p.m., sources told ABC News. Uniformed agents who were alerted then arrested her and charged the woman with possession of an unregistered firearm, possession of unregistered ammunition and carrying a pistol without a license.

Lenhart, 23, of Michigan, was with a man who wasn't arrested, according to sources. Secret Service agents hoped to get a search warrant to look through her car, which was nearby.

The incident came a day after R.J. Kapheim was arrested one block from the White House after a search of his car uncovered a rifle and ammunition.

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One Killed, 3 Injured in Oil Rig Explosion in Gulf of Mexico


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- One person was killed and three others were injured in an explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

The explosion happened about 4 p.m. on board the rig stationed roughly 12 miles off the coast of New Orleans.

The three injured workers were undergoing treatment in a medical facility on the rig, said the BSEE. Their conditions weren't immediately released.

The oil rig is owned by Houston-based Fieldwood Energy, which reported the explosion. The rig wasn't in production at the time of the explosion, said the BSEE.

The damage was limited to the explosion area and no pollution was reported.

It was unclear what caused the explosion. The BSEE was investigating.

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Florida State University Gunman Was Lawyer and Former Student


Brendan Sonnone/ Orlando Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- The gunman who wounded three people at the Florida State University school library early on Thursday was a lawyer who had graduated from FSU, law enforcement said on Thursday.

The alleged gunman was identified as Myron May, sources said.

The gunman opened fire in FSU's Strozier Library, which was packed with students studying for end of term finals.

An officer responding to the scene fatally wounded the suspected gunman after he fired at police, Tallahassee Police Department public information officer David Northway said at an early morning press conference.

Two of the victims were taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, with one listed in critical condition, the other in stable condition. The third victim received a graze wound, police said.

The university said on its Twitter account that it would remain open on Thursday, but it would not hold classes.

The university sent an emergency alert to students, classifying the incident as a "dangerous situation" and telling students to seek shelter.

University President John Thrasher released a statement following Thursday morning's shooting.

"The Florida State University community is extremely saddened by the shootings that took place early this morning at Strozier Library, in the very heart of campus, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those who have been affected," Thrasher said in the statement.

"The three students who have been injured are our highest priority followed by the needs of our greater university community. We will do everything possible to assist with their recovery," he added.

The shooting was an "isolated incident," Thrasher said.

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Why Cases Like Ferguson Are Hard for Feds to Prosecute


iStock/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- As soon as the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, announces its decision over whether to charge Police Officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting teenager Michael Brown, the public will almost certainly turn to the Justice Department and say: Your move, Mr. Attorney General.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has vowed a "fair" and "thorough" investigation into the matter. But when pressed by ABC News in August, Holder seemed to acknowledge federal charges against Wilson are hardly guaranteed.

What are the hurdles to bring civil rights charges against a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teenager? Here are the top four challenges facing federal prosecutors, according to many of those who've prosecuted such cases:

1. "The law"

Under federal law, prosecutors need to prove two things: (1) it was "unreasonable" for Wilson to believe Brown posed a threat to him or the public, and (2) Wilson "willfully" deprived Brown of his constitutional rights.

"It's hard enough to prove willfulness to a jury when an officer beats a handcuffed suspect," said Rachel Harmon, a former Justice Department official who prosecuted several cases of excessive force by police. "It is much more difficult still when an officer uses force in an ongoing encounter with an unrestrained … suspect, even if that person is unarmed."

Reasonableness comes "from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight," a federal judge told jurors in a 2010 case in New Orleans that ultimately acquitted an officer who fatally shot an unarmed man.

That analysis must also consider "that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving," U.S. District Judge Lance Africk said then.

Federal investigators will also be taking a close look at Wilson's background and any personal views that could have impacted his decision-making when he encountered Brown.

In Ferguson, "even if [Wilson] was wrong about the amount of force that was necessary, if it was reasonable given all of what he was confronting at the time, then he can't be charged," said William Yeomans, who spent 26 years prosecuting civil rights cases at the Justice Department.

2. "Issues of proof"

In cases of excessive force, "You may have issues of proof," and there are "certain limitations," the current federal prosecutor nominated to replace Holder said more than a decade ago.

"The real problem, from my perspective and the Justice Department's perspective, is that you are coming into an event after it has already occurred," Loretta Lynch said at a Fordham Law School roundtable in 2000, during her first stint as U.S. Attorney out of Brooklyn, N.Y.

So prosecutors must often rely on eyewitness accounts. But such testimony "can be particularly problematic," Yeomans said, because eyewitnesses regularly have "very different" and inaccurate "pictures of what went on" during a chaotic incident.

It's "absolutely" an issue in the Ferguson case, he said.

In fact, at least one witness in Ferguson said Brown was shot "with his arms up in the air." But police claimed Brown was shot in the wake of a struggle for Wilson's gun and only after Brown started advancing toward Wilson.

Because the police claim is "a plausible scenario," it's "hard for a jury to think about sending Officer Wilson to jail," Yeomans said.

Brown family attorney Ben Crump, however, said, "People get arrested with far less evidence," insisting eyewitness testimony and "physical evidence" in the Ferguson case support charges against Wilson.

3. "Strong presumption in favor of law enforcement"

"There is a strong presumption in favor of law enforcement" when deciding whether to charge a police officer, Yeomans said. "And it is a risky business to be too proactive in second-guessing their instantaneous choices."

Both the law and juries give officers a lot of so-called "leeway" in that regard.

"Juries will give the police officers a significant benefit of the doubt," said Michael Magner, a former assistant U.S. attorney who helped prosecute the 2010 case in New Orleans.

The lawyer for the Brown family, Benjamim Crump, said the high bar for indicting cops is even more pronounced at the local grand jury level.

"When you got the local prosecutor sitting in judgment of the local police, they normally don't indict," Crump told ABC News. The justice system "gives all the favor to the police officers and does nothing for the citizens."

4. "Selective leaking" and "public opinion"

Holder has condemned the "selective leak" of certain information in the case, saying it is "harmful to the process."

Yeomans said the release of case information outside a grand jury room can have an impact on what happens inside the room.

Yeomans took particular issue with the official release of a video showing someone identified as Brown allegedly stealing cigars from a convenience store minutes before the fatal encounter with Wilson.

At the time, police insisted they "had to release" the video in the interest of transparency and because they received too many "freedom of information requests" from news outlets.

Still, many leaks – such as details of secret witness interviews and autopsy reports – have been favorable to Wilson, and that "tends to affect the way that grand jurors approach the situation," Yeomans said.

So what's next if federal charges don't happen?

In addition to its criminal investigation of Wilson, the Justice Department has launched a separate civil probe into the entire Ferguson police department, trying to determine whether officers routinely engage in a "pattern or practice" of unlawful and discriminatory policing.

Officers there allegedly have been more likely to stop and arrest a black driver than a white driver.

Depending on what federal investigators conclude and how city officials respond, a federal court could demand Ferguson police make sweeping changes.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch his city has "nothing to hide" and will cooperate with the federal investigation, hoping to restore confidence in the police force.

"The real goal" of such probes "is to effect some sort of systemic change that will prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place," Lynch said in 2000 – long before much of the nation had even heard of Ferguson.

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Behavior of Florida State University Shooter Had Alarmed Ex-GirlFriend


iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- The man who shot three people at a Florida college early Thursday morning had been a success story -- a foster child who succeeded in becoming a lawyer -- but had recently deteriorated to the point where his ex-girlfriend called police saying he was acting erratically and she feared for his life.

Myron May, 31, has been identified as the shooter who opened fire at the Florida State University library in Tallahassee before he was shot and killed by police.

Police have no motive for May's rampage at the library, other than to say that May was "in a state of crisis."

May was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1983 and moved to Florida as a teen, Tallahassee Police Department Police Chief Michael DeLeo said Thursday.

Abigail and David Taunton told ABC News that he stayed with them in their foster home from the age of 13. They described him as being smart, friendly with their children and a cross country runner.

He was awarded scholarships to school, they said, and he graduated from FSU in 2005. He went on to study law at Texas Tech Law School in 2009 and practiced law in both Texas and New Mexico.

The Las Cruces District Attorney's office in Las Cruces, New Mexico, confirmed to ABC News that he had recently resigned from the office.

There were signs of trouble in Las Cruces in two police reports this fall, one for suspicious circumstances and another for harassment.

"He advised me that over the past two weeks he was almost certain that there was [a] camera somewhere located in the interior of his residence," a September police report stated. "He believes he was being watched and observed. He stated that he can constantly hear voices coming through the walls specifically talking about actions he was doing."

In October, police were called to his the home of his ex-girlfriend Danielle Nixon and she reported an incident where he had handed her a piece of his car that he claimed was a camera that police had put in his vehicle.

"According to [the woman], Myron has recently developed a severe mental disorder. Myron believes that the police are after him and are bugging his phone and car as well as placing cameras in his home and car," the police report stated.

The woman said that she did not feel she needed a protective order against him, and she said that their 15 month relationship had ended as his mental disorder -- which she said was ADHD and was treated with medication -- had been worsening in recent weeks, leading to him quitting his job at the district attorney's office.

She also told police that May had been taken to the Mesilla Valley Hospital for a mental health evaluation in late September.

May's foster parents told ABC News that he returned to their home, two hours' drive from Tallahassee, unannounced three weeks ago and asked to stay with them. He even joined them on their annual fishing trip.

David Taunton said that May did not appear to have any mental issues, saying that he was a happy, helpful person who wanted to come back to his hometown.

In spite of that description, the last time the Taunton's heard from him was on Friday. When Abigail Taunton texted him at some point in the last two days and he responded: "I'm alright - having spiritual warfare."

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What Will Happen to Snow Across US After Warmer Weekend


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many parts of the country have been pounded with snow and frigid cold this week, but don't worry: warmer weather is on the way.

So what happens to all that snow? After another snowfall forecast for Thursday afternoon, some places near Buffalo, New York, could see up to nine feet of snow in total. That could lead to minor flooding when the snow starts to melt, made worse because of snow covering drains, according to ABC News weather experts.

Ten inches of snow converts to about one inch of liquid water when it all melts. But what's slamming Buffalo isn't regular snow -- it's lake-effect snow, which is lighter and fluffier, and contains less water. So it would take between 20 and 30 inches of lake-effect snow for about one inch of liquid water.

That's only if all of the snow melts, which experts don't expect will happen. By Sunday, the country warms up: afternoon temperatures will hit 51 degrees in New York, 81 degrees in Orlando, Florida, 50 degrees in Chicago and 67 degrees in Atlanta.

But colder weather returns on Tuesday, and only part of the snow will have melted by then.

Rain is also expected in the Buffalo area early next week, which could add to any flooding and also put extra pressure on rooftops already covered in snow.

Some residents in upstate New York have been snowed in at home for more than two days -- or, even worse, stuck in their cars or at work. A 132-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway remains closed on Thursday as emergency workers furiously try to clear the snow.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said on Wednesday that more than 5,000 tons of snow has already been removed from south Buffalo.

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