The latest local news

Man killed after an alleged argument and attack on an off-duty officer in Costco was nonverbal, cousin says

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(CNN) — The cousin of a man shot and killed by an off-duty police officer in a California Costco says his relative was nonverbal and couldn’t have started the argument that allegedly led to the shooting, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

Police said the victim, identified by the Corona Police Department as 32-year-old Kenneth French of Riverside, assaulted an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer in an unprovoked attack before the shooting.

The officer, who was reportedly holding a young child while shopping with his family when French allegedly attacked him, shot and killed French and also shot two members of French’s family, police said.

Corona police Lt. Jeff Edwards told reporters just after the incident that police believe the shooting resulted from an argument.

“From my understanding, from some people we talked to, there was apparently an argument inside,” Edwards said. “Some type of argument and ensued into a gun shot.”

But on Sunday, French’s cousin Rick Shureih told the Los Angeles Times that French was nonverbal and had an intellectual disability that would have prevented him from starting an argument.

Shureih also told the newspaper that the family members who were shot were the victim’s parents, Russell and Paola French. The Corona Police Department said in a statement the other shooting victims are in critical condition.

Shureih was not at the Costco at the time of the shooting and did not witness what happened.

Speaking about his cousin, Shureih told the paper, “He was a gentle giant … He’s never been violent in the past. He’s always been very cooperative and kept to himself.”

Shureih said it’s possible his cousin may have bumped into someone but he wouldn’t have been able to communicate that he was sorry, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Read the police statement on the shooting

French was able to drive and cook but was unable to live on his own and hadn’t spoken in recent years, Shureih told the newspaper. He said he wasn’t sure of French’s exact disability.

In a Facebook post Sunday, Shureih shared a photo of the victim and his parents. “Do they look intimidating to you? Did he really have to shoot them all? I’m posting this picture because the stories on social media have made them out to be the suspects, and the off duty cop the victim.”

Shureih asked anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact him. Corona police are also asking any witnesses who have not yet given a statement to step forward.

“This is a family that was unarmed and was just grocery shopping,” Shureih said on Facebook. “I’m sure this was a misunderstanding that got escalated for no reason!”

Police have not named the officer involved and say that the officer’s gun was the only weapon in the case.

The officer suffered minor injuries and has been released from the hospital. His child was not injured, according to Officer Tobias Kouroubacalis of the Corona Police Department.

CNN has reached out to Shureih but has not heard back.

When contacted for additional comment on this story, the Corona Police Department told CNN there was no information other than what is on the department’s news release.

Former Ohio teacher faces sex charges involving at least 28 first graders

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SPRINGBORO, Ohio – A former Ohio teacher is facing sex charges involving at least 28 first-grade girls.

According to WLWT, John Austin Hopkins, 25, was indicted on Monday on 36 counts of gross sexual imposition.

Prosecutors say Hopkins was a gym teacher at Clearcreek Elementary School and Springboro Intermediate.

“The 36 counts of gross sexual imposition relate to 28 different children. All of these students again were female, first graders at Clearcreek Elementary. The elements of gross sexual imposition are that on the specific dates in question and specific dates specifically identified in the indictment, Mr. Hopkins had sexual contact with a person who was under 13 years of age,” said Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.

The potential victims were reportedly identified through security footage beginning in December 2018 after Hopkins was accused of having contact with a first-grader. 

Hopkins allegedly had female students sit on his lap so he could touch them sexually, WHIO reports.

“They loved him as a teacher because of the amount of affection he was showing them,” Fornshell said.  “What these kids didn’t realize was this was completely inappropriate and criminal.”

Authorities arrested Hopkins after one of the children's parents reported the alleged abuse.

According to WLWT, Fornshell said Hopkins would repeatedly inappropriately touch the female first-graders; one of the victims was reportedly convinced she would marry Hopkins when she got older.

Hopkins was booked into the Warren County Jail and remains in police custody.

Mohamed Morsy, ousted Egyptian president, dies in court

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(CNN) — Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy, who was the country’s first democratically elected leader, has died.

Morsy, 67, had been on trial Monday for an espionage case when he suffered a heart attack, Egypt’s state-run Al Ahram online reported.

Egypt’s public prosecution office said in statement that Morsy had been granted a request to speak before the trial ended. After a five-minute statement, the court adjourned and Morsy was brought back inside a cage inside the court, where he fell unconscious, it said.

Morsy was dead when he arrived to the hospital at 4:50 pm (10:50 a.m. ET). No apparent injuries were found on his body, according to the statement.

Morsy’s lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, who is also the lead lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood, told CNN on Monday that Morsy had closed his statement by quoting a verse of a poem that read: “My country is dear even if it oppressed me and my people are honorable even if they were unjust to me.”

Abdel Maqsoud added that Morsy had not been allowed to see his lawyers or communicate with the outside world or his family and that he was detained in solitary confinement.

On Monday evening, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reacted to the news, calling Morsy a “brother” and a “martyr,” according to state-run news agency Anadolu.

Erdgoan also tweeted about Morsy’s death, saying he had “conducted one of the biggest democratic struggles of the history.”

A polarizing figure

A strict Islamist who was educated in southern California, Morsy was voted into power in June 2012 following the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s longstanding rule.

A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsy had campaigned on appealing to the broadest possible audience.

But, during his year in power, critics say he became an authoritarian leader who forced through a conservative agenda.

In 2013, Morsy and the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood movement were ousted in a coup, with the Muslim Brotherhood banned by the government after the military seized power and declared it a terrorist organization.

Roughly 1,000 Egyptians — many of them Morsy supporters — were killed during protests against the military government.

Following his ouster, Morsy was tried en masse with Mohamed Badie — the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood — as well as more than 100 alleged members of the outlawed group, according to state media.

In 2015, he was sentenced to death over a jailbreak during the 2011 uprising and to life in prison on espionage charges after being convicted of conspiring with Palestinian group Hamas, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and other foreign organizations.

Both of those sentences were widely criticized as political grandstanding.

Morsy was also handed a 25-year prison sentence for leaking state secrets to Qatar, and had received an additional 15-year sentence for other, lesser, charges.

In 2016, Morsy’s death sentence and life sentence were overturned.

Last year, in a report from a panel commissioned by Morsy’s family and made up of British Parliamentarians said that the conditions of his detention “would constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” and “could meet the threshold for torture in accordance (with) Egyptian and International law.” The panel wrote that Morsy is receiving inadequate medical care “which is likely to lead to premature death.”

On Monday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called Morsy’s death “entirely predictable” accusing the government of failing to allow him adequate medical care while he was in prison.

In a statement on Monday, the Muslim Brotherhood said it held Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his regime “accountable for the killing of the elected legitimate president, politically and criminally,” and demanded an independent review into the circumstances of Morsy’s death.

The group has called for demonstrations outside Egyptian embassies around the world at 10 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET).

Egyptian state media Al-Ahram reported Monday that Morsy was regularly examined by doctors and “was treated in accordance with the law while in detention.”

Woman found dead in Costco parking lot was likely killed by dogs, authorities say

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Police say a woman whose body was found in a California Costco parking lot Sunday morning may have been attacked by one or more dogs, according to KERO.

Around 6 a.m. Sunday morning BPD was called out the Costco parking lot off of Rosedale Highway in Bakersfield, where a woman’s body was found with what officers say were obvious signs of trauma. The exact cause of death is still being determined by the Kern County Coroner’s Office but BPD is saying that she was likely attacked by one or more dogs before her death.

Animal control officers have located and apprehended all of the dogs.

“Officers are still looking for any evidence, witnesses and the investigation is ongoing,” said Sgt. Sean Morphis of the Bakersfield Police Department.

The identity of the victim will be released at a later time.

Woman arrested after she allegedly pushed her dog into a lake and watched it drown

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A New Hampshire woman faces an animal cruelty charge after pushing her 11-year-old dog into a lake and watching it drown.

Nancy Bucciarelli was arrested Friday. She is accused of taking her golden Labrador Retriever to Wasserman Park in Merrimack, about 29 miles south of Concord, on June 8 and then pushing it from a dock where it struggled to swim and eventually drowned, police said in a news release.

An investigation by the department’s animal control officer found the 66-year-old Bucciarelli made no attempt to rescue the dog, police said.

Witnesses told investigators the dog appeared “old and easily winded,” the release said. “Witnesses further advised that when they could see the dog struggling, they tried to render aid; however, it was too late.”

The dog drowned in 3 1/2 feet of water, police said.

Bucciarelli surrendered to Merrimack police. She was released on personal recognizance bail and is scheduled to appear in Merrimack Circuit Court on June 27 to answer to the charge of misdemeanor cruelty to animals.

CNN has reached out to Bucciarelli for comment.

Woman arrested for allegedly stomping on sea turtle nest in Florida

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A woman has been arrested in Miami Beach, Florida, after she was seen stomping on a sea turtle nest, according to police.

Yaqun Lu, 41, was seen by witnesses and Miami Beach police officers on Saturday “jabbing at the sea turtle nest” with a wooden stake and “stomping all over the nest with her bare feet,” an arrest affidavit says.

The area had been closed off to the public with yellow tape and a sign that said, “Do not disturb sea turtle nest,” the affidavit says.

Lu, a Chinese citizen who gave police a home address in Michigan, faces a charge of marine turtle or egg molestation or harassment, per online court records.

Court records indicate Lu is represented by a public defender. CNN was unable to reach the public defender’s office for comment.

A number of sea turtle species are protected under both the 1973 US Endangered Species Act and Florida law, according to Miami Beach’s website, and it’s illegal to touch or harm them or their eggs.

Miami Beach serves as a nesting habitat for three species of sea turtles — Loggerhead, Green and Leatherback — between April and early November, its website says.

“Thankfully,” Miami Beach police said, “it appears the eggs were not damaged.”

Trump campaign fires pollsters over poor numbers

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President Donald Trump is charging into his re-election launch week by warning his supporters that polls, including by his own campaign, showing him trailing Democratic front-runner Joe Biden are not real.

Trump hit back Monday after his team fired several pollsters whose early swing state surveys angered the President when they showed him lagging behind in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that paved his way to the White House.

The controversy threatened to detract from Trump’s big launch rally in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday night meant to make a big splash for a re-election campaign that in reality has been in full gear ever since he took office.

In a Monday morning tweet, the President warned his followers not to believe any polling that showed him trailing Democrats.

“Only Fake Polls show us behind the Motley Crew. We are looking really good, but it is far too early to be focused on that. Much work to do! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump wrote.

The tweet was reminiscent of the President’s instruction to his supporters last year to “stick with us” and not to believe any news that reflects badly on him: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” he said in July 2018.

For reasons of personal vanity and political necessity, the President cannot afford the impression that his re-election bid is in trouble, since his fate in November 2020 rests on whipping up huge enthusiasm among his political base.

But his characteristic technique of sketching an alternative political reality will face its ultimate test in the coming 17 months, especially since the ceiling of his approval ratings that has remained stubbornly stuck in the low 40s would typically spell trouble for a President seeking re-election.

Sources told CNN that the President has been angry for days about the internal polls leaked to the media last week that showed him losing to Democrats, including Joe Biden, in states like Michigan and Wisconsin.

Trump’s campaign has publicly pushed back against data that it says is weeks old and doesn’t reflect the current situation, especially after the conclusion of the Mueller investigation.

But privately, a person familiar with the situation told CNN that the dismissals were less to do with the quality of the pollsters’ work than about pacifying the President.

Trump typically fulminates against polls that show him doing badly while cherry picking others, that however dubiously, appear to show him in a more favorable political position.

In a Monday morning tweet, the President warned his followers not to believe any polling that showed him trailing Democrats.

“Only Fake Polls show us behind the Motley Crew. We are looking really good, but it is far too early to be focused on that. Much work to do! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump wrote.

Going after Biden

But the latest campaign intrigue may offer a window into some of the uncertainties and potential weaknesses that surround Trump’s re-election campaign at the moment he plans to amp it up.

Any softening of the President’s popularity in the blue-collar Midwestern heartland would set warning signals flashing inside his camp given his relatively narrow path to re-election.

Whomever comes out of the 20-plus field of Democrats to face the President will have to be prepared for a man who is adept at attacking his rivals, as evidenced during the 2016 campaign and throughout his presidency.

Trump accused Biden of flip-flopping — most recently on abortion — under pressure from more radical Democrats in an interview clip released over the weekend.

“He has recalibrated on everything,” Trump told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “Everything he’s said he’s taken back two weeks later because he’s getting slammed by the left.”

Signs that Biden — the Democratic frontrunner — is a serious threat would further play on Trump’s mind on a topic over which he has spent considerable time agonizing, sources say.

The President even attacked Biden during a recent trip to Japan — using assaults on the former vice president’s mental capacity by North Korea’s official media — to back up his case.

The leaked polls could have a double electoral consequence in that they appear to bolster Biden’s central campaign argument that he is the Democrat most likely to dispatch Trump in 2020.

But more fundamentally, a candidate that cannot bear to learn the truth about his own campaign is not one who can be considered in a strong position on the eve of its formal launch, or who can easily make tactical adjustments all successful re-election bids require.

The campaign that never ended

Early state polling is not always predictive of how a race ends. And other first-term presidents have often looked more vulnerable than they turned out to be after months on the trail.

Incumbent presidents — especially those steering a strong economy like Trump — have historically had a clear advantage when seeking a second term in office.

And few politicians are as good at defining and eviscerating a campaign trail foe than Trump. So in many ways, the 2020 race will not begin until there is a Democratic nominee.

Yet the President cannot offer as an excuse for worrying poll numbers the usual incumbent’s argument that he has been so consumed with governing that he has had no time for politics.

In fact, his kickoff rally in Orlando on Tuesday night expected to feature an overflow crowd and include Vice President Mike Pence and first lady Melania Trump, may be the most superfluous campaign launch in US political history.

Not only did Trump never stop running after his staggering 2016 election win, he has devoted almost every day since to defending the legitimacy of his presidency and positioning for re-election.

Crafting his message

In thousands of tweets, scores of rallies, multiple speeches, and friendly TV interviews, Trump has celebrated his 2016 triumph and obsessively cultivated his political base.

He spent the weekend setting the tone for his re-election push, blasting Democrats, the Russia probe, the media, touting his border wall and warning of a national disaster if he loses.

In a tweet, the President boasted that the economy was setting records “and has a long way up to go…” typically augmenting reality in leveraging his best argument for re-election.

“If anyone but me takes over in 2020 (I know the competition very well), there will be a Market Crash the likes of which has not been seen before! KEEP AMERICA GREAT,” he wrote.

Trump has generally sought refuge in friendly interviews inside the conservative media machine in recent months. The ABC interview appeared to be an attempt to engage a wider audience. But the plan may have backfired because it delivered days of unflattering headlines for the President as individual excerpts were released.

Trump’s tweets offer a nutshell introduction to his re-election strategy that will likely be fleshed out on Tuesday: Make exaggerated claims for his own success, tear at cultural and social fault lines that helped him win power, and whip up anger against those he defines as political enemies.

His rhetoric in recent weeks also suggests Trump will make a case to Republicans who backed him in 2016 that he’s worked tirelessly to honor his campaign vows and proven to be a great deal maker — despite debatable evidence.

He will highlight the lowest unemployment rate in half a century, gutted government regulations, the travel ban his aides say kept Americans safe, the elimination of a key Obamacare mandate and increased defense spending by NATO members.

He’s already raised nearly $100 million for the “Keep America Great” campaign and has crushed dissent within the GOP to ensure the best possible chance at a unified party in the re-election effort.

Rallying the base in the battleground states

Washington buzz about turmoil in his campaign polling machine is unlikely to penetrate the crowds drawn from Trump’s uber-loyal political base — especially in Florida where he racked up huge turnout in 2016, particularly in the northwestern panhandle area.

But the decision to begin there rather than in his midwestern bastion is a reminder that the Sunshine State will be vital if 2020 is even closer than 2016 should some of his heartland battlegrounds return to Democratic control.

Trump’s entire presidency so far has been a bet that the fiercely loyal grass roots voters who helped him win in 2016 will do so again against a Democrat not named Hillary Clinton.

The theory of Trump/Pence 2020, initiated in unusual campaign rallies during the presidential transition, has disdained broadening his base in favor of keeping voters who idolize him motivated and sufficiently angry to return to polling places in huge numbers.

The 17-month race to Election Day that Trump will preview in Florida on Tuesday night will test whether that strategy is a shrewd bet on a nation that is more polarized than in previous decades.

Or it could reveal that Trump’s tumultuous presidency did not just succeed in electrifying his base — but sparked a Democratic backlash that could ultimately send him home to New York.

That’s why the leaked polling data from inside Trump’s campaign — whether it reflects the current state of the race on the ground or not — could be an early danger sign for Trump in 2020.

Fashion icon and artist Gloria Vanderbilt dies at 95

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Gloria Vanderbilt died Monday morning, according to her son, CNN’s Anderson Cooper. The fashion designer and socialite was 95.

Vanderbilt died at home with friends and family at her side.

“Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms,” Cooper said in a statement. “She was a painter, a writer, and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend. She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they’d tell you, she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest, and most modern.”

Watch @AndersonCooper's obituary for his mother Gloria Vanderbilt. "What an extraordinary life. What an extraordinary mom. And what an incredible woman."

— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 17, 2019

Another American tourist died in her hotel room in the Dominican Republic

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Another US tourist has died in the Dominican Republic, bringing to eight the number of Americans to die in the country over the past year.

Leyla Cox, 53, died June 10 in her hotel room, Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana confirmed to CNN on Sunday.

Officials in the Dominican Republic have called the deaths isolated events as they work to reassure travelers their country is safe.

“In the last five years, over 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic, but this is the first time the international media report such an alarming situation,” Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia said earlier this month. “These are isolated incidents and the Dominican Republic is a safe destination.”

Previously, the hotel told CNN that Cox had felt unwell and had to be taken to the hospital. But in a Sunday statement the resort said Cox, of Staten Island, New York, died in her hotel room.

The hotel gave the cause of death as heart attack, citing a forensics report. CNN has not independently confirmed the contents of the report.

“We are deeply saddened by the recent incidents in the Dominican Republic,” the hotel’s statement said. “We understand that safety is a paramount concern for all travelers and we have always taken extensive measures to make safety a priority of all of our Excellence Punta Cana guests.”

Excellence Resorts says it is providing its full cooperation and support to both local and US authorities and expressed “sincere condolences to all of those affected by the recent incidents.”

“We will strive to continue to provide outstanding services to our customers, with their safety and security top of mind.”

Officials say Dominican Republic still safe

Dominican Republic leaders maintain the country is one of the region’s top tourism destinations — with more than 6 million tourists last year — 2.2 million of them Americans, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Government spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Marchena put out a video calling it the “largest, fastest growing, tourism destination of the Insular Caribbean.”

“Cheerful, welcoming and hospitable, our Dominican Republic, the economy that grows the most in America, with its beautiful beaches and mountains, its tasty gastronomy and hardworking people invites you to know and love it,” he said in a tweet last week.

The spokesman said 14 million Americans have visited since 2012.

From 2012 to December 2018, 128 Americans have died there, according to statistics available on the US Department of State website. The statistics, which do not cover deaths from natural causes, include drownings, homicides, suicides, vehicle and other accidents.

The department has not issued a travel warning and American officials have not said the deaths were connected.

“The safety and security of U.S. citizens that live in, work in, and visit the Dominican Republic remains our highest priority. These incidents are tragic and we offer our deepest condolences to those personally impacted,” the State Department said.

Matthew Bradley, regional security director for the risk management firm International SOS, said in a statement this month that the Dominican Republic is still a safe destination.

“These incidents, while recent, in my mind don’t indicate Dominican Republic is any less safe than it was before,” Bradley said. “I would tell people to continue with trips.”

Seven other Americans died in three resorts

On May 30, staff at the Bahia Principe La Romana found Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, dead. The couple had internal bleeding, including in their pancreases, Dominican authorities said. Holmes had an enlarged heart and cirrhosis of the liver — both signs of significant pre-existing disease, the Dominican authorities said, and Day also had fluid in her brain.

The couple also had fluid in their lungs, Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez Sanchez’s office said in a statement. Authorities wouldn’t provide more details on the cause of death until toxicology results are completed.

Miranda Schaup-Werner checked into the same resort on May 25, where she shared a room with her husband, Dan Werner. She had a drink from the minibar and suddenly felt ill, family spokesman Jay McDonald told CNN affiliate WFMZ. Shortly afterward, she collapsed and died.

Schaup-Werner suffered from a heart attack, pulmonary edema and respiratory failure, according to a preliminary autopsy cited by the Attorney General’s Office of the Dominican Republic.

Businesswoman and “Shark Tank” TV star Barbara Corcoran said her brother died in his hotel room in the Dominican Republic in late April. John Corcoran “passed away from what is believed to be natural causes,” she said in a statement.

On April 12, 67-year-old Robert Wallace died after becoming ill at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, relatives told CNN affiliate KTXL-TV.

“While we are deeply saddened by these incidents, and our thoughts go out to all of those affected, we, along with the general public, will be monitoring the facts as they unfold surrounding these events,” the hotel said in a statement.

Last July, David Harrison, 45, died at the same hotel, according to his wife, Dawn McCoy. She said her husband returned from a snorkeling excursion one day earlier and he said he wasn’t feeling well. Early the next morning, she said, he was sweating and unable to get up before he died. The cause of death was listed as a heart attack and pulmonary edema by local authorities.

And in June 2018, Yvette Monique Sport died at the Bahia Principe in Punta Cana, her sister, Felecia Nieves, told CNN. She had traveled there with a group of friends, her first vacation in eight years, Nieves said.

Sport took a shower and went to bed after having drinks with her fiance, Nieves said. Sport also had a drink from the minibar, she said. Her fiance heard her make “a gurgling sound” in her sleep, Nieves said. The next morning, Nieves said he discovered that she was dead. The family is still awaiting toxicology reports.

Maggots found under patient’s bandage at facility where incapacitated woman sexually assaulted, impregnated

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Who is in charge at Hacienda HealthCare? It’s the question on many people’s mind after the healthcare facility is back in the spotlight after a new disturbing incident involving a patient.

A report that several maggots were found around the surgical incision of a 28-year-old male resident has sparked a new investigation and swift action by the Arizona Department of Health Services. On Friday, the department issued an “intent to revoke” Hacienda’s state license that was recently issued to the facility.

The incident also has several Arizona lawmakers demanding answers and accountability. Hacienda is the same facility where a 29-year-old incapacitated woman was sexually assaulted last year. Police have arrested and charged Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old nurse, from the facility alleging he raped and impregnated the woman.

As Hacienda was making changes and trying to rebuild trust within the community, the new investigation has several lawmakers concerned and outraged.

State Senator Heather Carter co-sponsored Senate Bill 1211. The bill gives the state direct authority to go in and take action themselves, instead of just being an agent of the federal government.

Carter said she was “floored” when she heard about the incident involving the maggots.

“Absolutely floored. I have no words. It is unacceptable. We have to do something and that is what we’re doing,” said Carter.

Carter is also questioning who is really “calling the shots” at the facility.

“The oversight for this facility in terms of day to day operations – yes you have the staff – but ultimately the Board of Directors oversees it. All roads in both these cases lead straight to the board. All roads lead to the board,” said Carter.

Carter said she echoes a statement made by Governor Doug Ducey in February, referring to the incident at Hacienda. In an interview with ABC15’s news partner KTAR, Ducey said the system meant to protect vulnerable members in our community was not working.

“It’s inherently broken and that’s why I want to fire the senior management and remove the board. I think we’ve got good, hard-working employees in there that want to do the right thing, but this has just been terrible leadership, terrible management, and terrible oversight” said Ducey.

Since those strong words from the Governor, ABC15 has reported on several resignations and job terminations from Hacienda. From then CEO Bill Timmons, to chief operating officers, department directors, and several members of the non-profit organization’s board of directors, some of them said they were stepping down because they felt “ineffective” as a board.

In an interview with ABC15, former board member Dr. Kevin Berger said he hoped other board members would follow suit and step down as well.

“Especially now with all the resignations, I think there is no other choice but to have everybody resign, to re-structure, and to start again. We have to hit a reset,” said Berger.

A spokesman for Hacienda has confirmed that three original board members remain at Hacienda today.

Senator Carter is questioning why they are still there and why so many other seats remain empty months after the resignations of other board members.

“I think there’s a tremendous concern with the board. The same board that was in place when the horrific rape of a vulnerable patient occurred is still in place now, when we have this second horrific situation. Something has got to be done,” said Carter. “Right now there are so many vacancies on the board, I don’t understand why they’re not moving swiftly to fill those vacancies,” she added.

Arizona State Senator Victoria Steele (D) from Tucson said she does not believe patients at Hacienda are safe.

“This is inexcusable, this is dangerous and we have to do something. It is our responsibility at the state level to do something,” said Steele.

Governor Doug Ducey’s office issued a statement Friday, saying in part: “The care and safety of patients is a top priority. Our state agencies, including the Department of Health Services, the Department of Economic Security, and AHCCCS, are on-site to investigate. We are getting all the facts on this deeply disturbing allegation and we will take appropriate action to ensure accountability and the highest level of care for patients.”

ABC15 reached out to Hacienda officials to get answers on the vacant board positions, and to request interviews with current board members who remain. All of our requests have been denied. A spokesman said, “I will let you know if my client chooses to offer answers.”

Carter says at the end of the day, no matter what happened at Hacienda, all responsibility for patient safety lies with these three board members who are still in charge of overseeing the facility.

“Something has got to be done to add people to the board to make sure there is proper oversight of the day-to-day quality measures that need to be in place for the facility to be functioning,” said Carter.

She added that she would like to see patient safety advocates, family members with loved ones inside the facility, healthcare experts, and those with first-hand knowledge of patient care included in the new board to oversee Hacienda.

Many in the community have been asking why this facility remains open. State officials say the answer is complicated. Many of the patients housed there are some of the most vulnerable and “medically fragile” people in our community. Moving them would be very difficult because there are not many places that offer the kind of care that Hacienda is equipped to handle. However, they say patient safety will be their number one focus as they determine how to proceed in light of the new investigation.

Carter tells ABC15 that if there are any families who wish to remove their loved one from Hacienda, the state will provide the necessary support to make it happen.

The tree thought to have inspired Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’ has fallen

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The Lorax would be devastated to hear that the tree that inspired Dr. Seuss’ 1971 children’s book has fallen.

The Monterey Cypress tree was at Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla, California, the seaside community where author Theodor Seuss Geisel lived from 1948 until his death in 1991.

Geisel could see the tree from his mountaintop home, according to the city’s website.

The tree was estimated to be about 80 to 100 years old, said Tim Graham, a spokesman for the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department.

He said there is “no definitive cause on why it fell.”

The city plans to salvage the large trunk section in hopes of repurposing it, Graham said.

Most of the tree was removed Friday and the remaining large trunk is expected to be removed later this week. The city will be looking at planting a replacement in the area, Graham said.

“The Lorax” follows the titular character who attempts to defend the fictional, precious Truffula trees and the creatures that depend on them for survival from corporate greed.

The book was made into an animated film in 2012.

Motorcyclist dies after crashing into highway guardrail near Savanna-Sabula

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A motorcyclist died after crashing into a highway guardrail, northeast of the Quad Cities.

The crash happened on the Savanna-Sabula river bridge causeway, Highway 52/64, around 2:45 p.m. on Friday, June 14, according to a statement from Deputy Russ Long with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.  The driver was northbound on a 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle when he approached a curve to the right and hit a guardrail on the other side of the roadway.

The motorcyclist, 51-year-old Lee J.W. Fersch from Davenport, was taken to a Clinton, Iowa hospital where he was pronounced dead from his injuries.

Deputy Long said Fersch was thrown from the motorcycle during the incident.  The bike itself went further than 530 feet.

Two people were bitten by sharks in the last 2 weeks. Both of them lived to tell their story

WQAD News -

Two people have been bitten by sharks off the coast of North Carolina in the past 14 days, and a third person was bitten by an unknown animal during that time period, officials said.

On Sunday, an 8-year-old boy was bitten by an animal “believed to be a shark,” according to Village Manager of Bald Head Island Chris McCall.

McCall says the child suffered non-life threatening injuries in the incident off Bald Head Island’s South Beach.

The boy had puncture wounds on his leg and was transported off the island to receive medical treatment, McCall said.

McCall said authorities don’t know what type of shark was involved in the attack.

This is the second attack in the state in the last two weeks.

A 17-year-old girl lost her left leg and two fingers on her left hand in a shark attack at Fort Macon State Park near Atlantic Beach on June 2.

Paige Winter was rescued by her father Charlie Winter, who punched the shark as it pulled his daughter underwater.

In a news conference Friday, Paige told reporters she hoped to turn the attack into a positive thing, saying “Sharks are still good people.”

“I’m going to be able to walk, I’m going to be able to write,” Winter said of her prognosis.

Winter’s father was beaming with pride when he talked about his daughter. “Paige is going to do great things. Paige is destined for great things.”

Winter said the shark took Paige’s leg, “but it didn’t take her spirit.”

Another person was bitten off the coast of North Carolina by an unknown animal June 10, according to CNN affiliate WWAY.

The family of 19-year-old Austin Reed told WWAY that he was out in the surf at Ocean Isle Beach when he was bitten by what he believed to be a shark.

Reed suffered a “deep tooth bite” on his foot and was taken to a hospital for treatment, WWAY reported.


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