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Hackers post nearly 26,000 files after Broward school district doesn’t pay ransom

Tue, 2021-04-20 10:25

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla (AP) — Hackers who sought $40 million in ransom from a South Florida school district that refused to pay have now published nearly 26,000 stolen files.

Many of the files, dated from 2012 to March 2021, contain Broward School District accounting and other financial records, which include invoices, purchase orders, and travel and reimbursement forms, the South Florida SunSentinel reported. None of the files reviewed by the newspaper so far contained Social Security numbers.

The international malware group Conti posted the files Monday, the newspaper reported. Last month the hackers posted a transcript of a conversation with an unidentified Broward schools representative which offered to pay $500,000 to retrieve data. The hackers initially demanded $40 million but dropped the price to $10 million.

On March 31, the district announced it had no intention of paying a ransom.

Kathy Kochhe, the district’s chief communications officer, said in a statement that officials are analyzing the content of the posted material do determine next steps, and will notify anyone whose personal information was shared.

“Cybersecurity experts are continuing to investigate the incident and enhance measures system-wide,” the statement said.

The district, which is the nation’s sixth largest with 271,000 students, has published questions and answers about the breach on its website at browardschools.com. The school district has an annual budget of about $4 billion — a fact the hackers kept returning to as they demanded $40 million, to be paid in cryptocurrency.

The published files includes more 750 employee mileage reports, 36 employee travel reimbursement forms, more than 700 invoices for spring water, more than 1,000 invoices for school construction work, about 400 payments to Broward Sheriff’s Office or local police departments for security, dozens of utility bills and several employee phone lists, the newspaper reported.

While the vast majority of the data appeared to be public records, some confidential material was shared, the report said. A March 2020 invoice for $14 from the state health department that includes the name and birthdate of a 9-year-old student who was being examined for a disability. Some invoices name bus drivers who visited urgent care centers. And several documents list employee benefits.

“It doesn’t sound like it was that big,” Jorge Orchilles chief technology officer for the cybersecurity company Scythe, told the SunSentinel. “It looks like they made the right decision not to pay ransom. At this point, there’s no point in paying it because all the information is already out there.”

The hackers said on their website they may have more information.

“If you are a client who declined the deal and did not find your data on cartel’s website or did not find valuable files, this does not mean that we forgot about you,” the website says. “It only means that data was sold and only therefore it did not publish in free access!”

Last week, the school district’s chief information officer warned the Broward School Board that a new cyber-attack could affect the ability to pay employees and keep schools open. Phil Dunn requested $20 million to enhance the district’s cyber-security efforts, and the board plans to make a final decision soon.

In 2021, there have already been at least 21 successful ransomware attacks in the U.S. education sector, disrupting 550 schools, Brett Callow, a threat analyst for the anti-malware company Emsisoft, told the newspaper.

AirTags could give a nice bump to Apple’s growing lineup of smaller stuff

Tue, 2021-04-20 10:09

(CNN) — When people think Apple, they think big ticket items like iPhones, MacBooks and iPads. But the company’s accessories line of iPhone cases, chargers and tablet keyboards is a critical part of its revenue growth strategy.

Now Airtags, its long-rumored Bluetooth tracking device, could be its next big accessory win.

Apple is expected to launch new iPads at a virtual press event on Tuesday, which kicks off at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT. An updated iPad Pro is expected to have a faster processor, 5G support, a Thunderbolt port so it can connect to more external monitors and a Mini-LED display. We could also see AirPods 3, a revamped Apple TV and a software update focused on privacy (and new emojis).

But all eyes are on the potential debut of AirTags, a Tile-like Bluetooth locator that attaches to and helps you find items such as keys, wallets, laptops or even your car. AirTags have been reportedly in the works as far back as 2019, when pictures hidden within iOS 13 suggested small, flat, circular discs with built-in chips could allow someone to locate items when connected to Apple’s Find My app. The rumored cost: $39 each.

“Apple accessories are very important from a business perspective because they tend to be high-margin products,” said Ben Stanton, senior analyst at tech market research firm Canalys. “So while accessories may not make headlines from a revenue perspective, they do have a particularly positive impact on profitability.”

AirTags are expected to include the same U1 ultra-wideband chip as the iPhone 12, which would make location tracking more accurate than competing devices from companies such as Tile, Samsung and Sony, according to MacRumors. It could also help the tiny devices support augmented reality; in iOS 13, a string of code teased AirTag users can “walk around several feet and move your ‌iPhone‌ up and down until a balloon comes into view,” indicating where an item may be hiding, MacRumors reported at the time.

The arrival of AirTags would allow the company to expand its offerings and lock users deeper into its ecosystem as it looks for more ways to take on an expected decline in its hardware revenues. The iPhone continued to dominate Apple’s revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020, accounting for 59% of sales, compared to 12% for its accessories category, which also includes wearables and its Home line. However, the accessories category amounts to more revenue than its Mac line.

Still, Apple accessories remain a massive opportunity for upselling. Because Apple no longer includes a charger and cable in iPhone boxes upon purchase, demand for these items has surged in the past year. “Apple itself has seen supply shortages of charging accessories in some parts of the world, causing many customers and retailers to lean heavily on third-party alternatives,” said Stanton, citing anecdotes he’s heard from several distributors.

In addition, the company’s smart Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil opens up new revenue streams as lower-cost iPad users look for more functionality.

“Although AirTags are probably going to be fairly low priced, they may help to grow revenue, and users may buy multiple tags for different scenarios, such as for a bag, bike or car keys,” said David McQueen, director at tech market advisory firm, ABI Research. “It may also spark a rise in the manufacture of accessories to house the tags, such as a key fob, keychain or wrist strap.”

While accessories for an accessory might sound like a stretch, customers who are delaying costly smartphone and tablet upgrades may be willing to spend more on lower cost items. That said, it’s possible AirTags could emerge as a category unto its own, much like AirPods.

Either way, it would be a smart time for their launch as customers are finally emerging from over a year of lockdown — ready, perhaps, to find things people invariably lose when outside the house.

Crews work to clear roadway following car fire in Tamarac

Tue, 2021-04-20 10:08

Crews are working to clear a roadway after a vehicle fire in Tamarac.

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies and Tamarac Fire Rescue crews responded to the scene of a single-vehicle crash along the 7800 block of North University Drive just before 5 a.m., Tuesday.

BSO officials said at some point the vehicle caught fire.

No occupants were at the scene when first responders arrived.

Deputies continue to investigate.

The northbound lanes of North University Drive along the 8200 block remain shut down to traffic.

Please check back on WSVN.com and 7News for more details on this developing story.

USCG crews search for missing swimmer in Miami Beach

Tue, 2021-04-20 10:02

U.S. Coast Guard crews are currently searching for a swimmer who went missing in Miami Beach.

USCG officials said Miguel Angel Mondragon Raya was reported missing after he was last seen swimming near Seventh Street and Ocean Drive, Tuesday morning.

https://twitter.com/USCGSoutheast/status/1384501069791834116

Anyone with information on this case is urged to call 305-535-4300.

Please check back on WSVN.com and 7News for more details on this developing story.

Out of sight but center stage, jurors weigh Chauvin’s fate

Tue, 2021-04-20 08:15

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The jurors who sat quietly off-camera through three weeks of draining testimony in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial in George Floyd’s death moved into the spotlight Tuesday, still out of sight but now in control of verdicts awaited by a skittish city.

The jury of six white people and six people who are Black or multiracial was set for its first full day of deliberations. The jury, anonymous by order of the judge and sequestered now until they reach a verdict, spent just a few hours on their task Monday after the day was mostly consumed by closing arguments in which prosecutors argued that Chauvin squeezed the life out of Floyd last May in a way that even a child knew was wrong.

The defense contended that the now-fired white officer acted reasonably and that the 46-year-old Floyd died of a heart condition and illegal drug use.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, all of which require the jury to conclude that his actions were a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death and that his use of force was unreasonable.

The most serious charge carries up to 40 years in prison.

“Use your common sense. Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher said in closing arguments, referring to the bystander video of Floyd pinned to the pavement with Chauvin’s knee on or close to his neck for up to 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as onlookers yelled at the officer to get off.

Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson countered by arguing that Chauvin did what any reasonable police officer would have done after finding himself in a “dynamic” and “fluid” situation involving a large man struggling with three officers.

As Nelson began speaking, the now-fired Chauvin removed his COVID-19 mask in front of the jury for one of the very few times during the trial.

With the case drawing to a close, some stores were boarded up in Minneapolis. The courthouse was ringed with concrete barriers and razor wire, and National Guard troops were on patrol. Floyd’s death set off protests last spring in the city and across the U.S. that sometimes turned violent.

The city has also been on edge in recent days over the deadly police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, in a nearby suburb on April 11.

About 300 protesters marched in the streets outside the courthouse shortly after the jury got the case, lining up behind a banner reading, “Justice 4 George Floyd & all stolen lives. The world is watching.”

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell had the final word Monday, offering the state’s rebuttal argument. The prosecutor, who is Black, said the questions about the use of force and cause of death are “so simple that a child can understand it.”

“In fact, a child did understand it, when the 9-year-old girl said, ‘Get off of him,’” Blackwell said, referring to a young witness who objected to what she saw. “That’s how simple it was. `Get off of him.’ Common sense.”

Under the law, police have certain latitude to use force, and their actions are supposed to be judged according to what a “reasonable officer” in the same situation would have done.

Nelson noted that officers who first went to the corner store where Floyd allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill were struggling with Floyd when Chauvin arrived as backup. The defense attorney also pointed out that the first two officers on the scene were rookies and that police had been told that Floyd might be on drugs.

“A reasonable police officer understands the intensity of the struggle,” Nelson said, noting that Chauvin’s body camera and badge were knocked off his chest.

Nelson also showed the jury pictures of pills found in Floyd’s SUV and pill remnants discovered in the squad car. Fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in Floyd’s system.

The defense attorney said the failure of the prosecution to acknowledge that medical problems or drugs played a role “defies medical science and it defies common sense and reason.”

During the prosecution’s argument, Schleicher replayed portions of the bystander video and other footage as he dismissed certain defense theories about Floyd’s death as “nonsense.” He said Chauvin killed Floyd by constricting his breathing.

Schleicher rejected the drug overdose argument, as well as the contention that police were distracted by hostile onlookers, that Floyd had “superhuman” strength from a state of agitation known as excited delirium, and that he suffered possible carbon monoxide poisoning from auto exhaust.

The prosecutor sarcastically referred to the idea that it was heart disease that killed Floyd as an “amazing coincidence.”

“Is that common sense or is that nonsense?” Schleicher asked the jury.

Blackwell, his fellow prosecutor, likewise rejected the defense theory that Floyd died because of an enlarged heart: “The truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”

Earlier, Schleicher described how Chauvin ignored Floyd’s cries and continued to kneel on him well after he stopped breathing and had no pulse. Chauvin was “on top of him for 9 minutes and 29 seconds and he had to know,” Schleicher said. “He had to know.”

He said Chauvin heard Floyd, “but he just didn’t listen.”

The prosecutor said Floyd was “not a threat to anyone” and was not trying to escape when he struggled with officers but instead was terrified of being put into the tiny backseat of the squad car.

He said a reasonable officer with Chauvin’s training and experience — he was a 19-year Minneapolis police veteran — should have sized up the situation accurately.

Chauvin showed little expression as he watched himself and the other officers pinning Floyd to the ground on bodycam video played by his attorney. He cocked his head to the side and occasionally leaned forward to write on a notepad.

An unidentified woman occupied the single seat set aside in the pandemic-spaced courtroom for a Chauvin supporter.

Floyd’s brother Philonise represented the family in court in the morning, followed later by a nephew, Brandon Williams.

Schleicher also noted that Chauvin was required to use his training to provide medical care to Floyd but ignored bystanders, rebuffed help from an off-duty paramedic and rejected a suggestion from another officer to roll Floyd onto his side.

“He could have listened to the bystanders. He could have listened to fellow officers. He could have listened to his own training,” Schleicher said. “He knew better. He just didn’t do better.”

After closing arguments were done, Judge Peter Cahill rejected a defense request for a mistrial based in part on comments from California Rep. Maxine Waters, who said “we’ve got to get more confrontational” if Chauvin isn’t convicted of murder.

The judge told Chauvin’s attorney: “Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.” He called her comments “abhorrent” and “disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch.”

FEMA-supported sites to resume administering Pfizer shots on Tuesday after J&J shots paused

Tue, 2021-04-20 07:41

In response to the Johnson & Johnson shots being put on pause, vaccination sites that were set to give them out are now making some changes starting Tuesday.

The four federally-supported sites in the state of Florida will resume administering first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, including Miami-Dade College’s North Campus.

“It’s better to be safe than to be sorry, you know what I’m saying?” said one woman getting vaccinated at the site. “I thank God for it. I got my second shot.”

A few weeks ago, the site announced they were only administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The changes came after the CDC and the FDA recommended putting a pause on the vaccine after reports of several severe blood clots were linked to the vaccine.

Officials said they may green light its use as soon as Friday, but it may only be allowed back on the market with new restrictions or warnings.

Top Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Anthony Fauci is trying to counter vaccine skepticism in light of recent concerns.

At the White House COVID-19 briefing, he reiterated the message about the push for protection.

“What we say to anyone who has doubts about getting a vaccine, we leave it up to you,” he said. “Look at the data. The data speak for themselves. We all want normalcy in America. The highway to that normalcy is vaccination.”

Anyone 16 years and older can receive their vaccine at MDC’s North Campus.

The site will be administering up to 3,000 doses per day.

For more information about vaccination sites in Florida, click here. To pre-register for the Hard Rock Stadium site, click here.

Anyone with questions and concerns about the coronavirus can call the Florida Department of Health’s 24-hour hotline at 1-866-779-6121.

Boy, Girl Scout trailer stolen from camp grounds as scouts slept

Tue, 2021-04-20 07:40

A Boy and Girl Scout Troop was left heartbroken when their shared trailer was stolen.

The trailer was taken from the campground along Southwest 264th Street, early Saturday morning.

The scouts were asleep on the side of the grounds at the time. The scoutmaster said the trailer was filled with necessities and mementos, some of them nearly 50 years old.

“All of our belongings are in there,” said scoutmaster Jennifer Graham. “The most precious thing to us that we really hope somebody sees this, finds it somewhere, is our troop flag. Like I said, it dates back to 1972. There are ribbons on there from over the years, and that’s something that insurance can’t replace and no fundraising can replace.”

The troop spent more than a year raising $5,000 to buy the trailer.

If you have any information on the stolen trailer, call police.

Firefighters extinguish fire at Pompano Beach storage unit

Tue, 2021-04-20 07:38

A storage unit was left scorched in Pompano Beach.

The fire broke out in one of the enclosures along South Dixie Highway and Southwest Eighth Street, Monday.

Cellphone video showed heavy smoke coming from the roof.

Firefighters quickly responded to the scene and prevented the flames from spreading.

No injuries were reported.

Man charged in connection with drive-by shooting of Minnesota National Guard and police team

Tue, 2021-04-20 06:56

(CNN) — A Minneapolis man has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in connection with a drive-by shooting of a team of Minnesota National Guard soldiers and a local police officer over the weekend, according to a criminal complaint and a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Minnesota.

Officials say Andrew Thomas, 28, was spotted by law enforcement late Sunday night driving a light-colored Ford Explorer that matched the description of a vehicle from which multiple shots were fired at law enforcement early Sunday morning in Minneapolis.

The shooting took place at about 4:20 a.m. when multiple shots were fired from a light-colored SUV at the team, the criminal complaint said. One bullet went through the windshield of a team vehicle that held four soldiers.

One soldier was transported to a local hospital for injuries from shattered glass and another was treated at the scene for “superficial wounds,” according to the complaint.

That night, Minneapolis officers spotted a Ford Explorer that matched the description of the vehicle that had been involved in the shooting, the complaint says.

The driver of the vehicle was later identified as Thomas, according to the complaint.

In the Ford Explorer they found a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, a .22 caliber revolver, ammunition and two discharged cartridge casings.

Minneapolis police test-fired the 9mm pistol and a preliminary analysis found that the discharged cartridge casings from the weapon found in Thomas’ SUV had “similar tool markings” to those from the early morning shooting, the complaint says.

Thomas is prohibited from possessing firearms due to a third-degree assault conviction in 2017, according to the complaint.

Thomas will make his initial court appearance on Tuesday, according to release. It is unclear whether he has legal representation.

A year before the Indianapolis FedEx mass shooting, the gunman browsed White supremacist websites, police say

Tue, 2021-04-20 06:53

(CNN) — The gunman in an Indianapolis shooting that left eight people dead at a FedEx facility browsed White supremacist websites a little over a year before the attack, police said.

In March 2020, the mother of gunman Brandon Hole contacted police because she was worried about his behavior after he purchased a gun, according to recently released details from Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD). She told police he told her “he was going to point a recently purchased shotgun at police officers so they would shoot him.” And when police went to their home, they observed he had visited White supremacist websites, the report said.

Investigators are still trying to determine the motive behind the shooting.

In an attack that lasted only a matter of minutes, Hole opened fired at the facility near Indianapolis’ main airport before taking his own life Thursday night. Of the eight people killed in the violence, four were members of the area’s Sikh community, Maninder Singh Walia, a member of the Sikh community in Indianapolis, told CNN on Friday.

The attack marks at least the 50th mass shooting — defined as four or more casualties excluding the shooter — since the Atlanta-area spa shootings March 16. It was the US’s deadliest shooting since 10 people were killed March 22 at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

The case has also raised concerns over access to guns, as Hole had his gun seized in the 2020 incident.

After his mother told officers on March 3 that she feared for her safety after her son purchased a gun a day earlier, the IMPD detained Hole, seized the gun, put him on an immediate mental health temporary hold and then transported him to a local hospital for evaluation, the police report said.

As Hole was being placed in handcuffs, he became anxious and said, “Please just turn the power strip off on my computer” and “I don’t want anyone to see what’s on it,” according to the report. One officer, who was described as clearing the upstairs and securing the shotgun, “observed what through his training and experience” were White supremacist websites, the report said.

 

Limitations of red flag laws

 

Despite the temporary mental health hold in March, Hole was able to legally purchase assault rifles in July and September 2020, Indianapolis police said.

The case “illustrates the limitations” of state law, The Marion County, Indiana, Prosecutor Ryan Mears said Monday.

Mears said the state’s Jake Laird Red Flag gun law allows police to seize and hold firearms from individuals undergoing mental health issues, but the state only has 14 days to file a petition requesting a person be designated as having a violent propensity or mental instability.

Because the shotgun taken from Hole’s home had been secured and the family didn’t want it back, prosecutors felt they “achieved” the objective of the law, Mears said. If the state had filed a petition, the court might have determined prosecutors didn’t have legal authority to keep the weapon.

“In this particular case, the petition was not filed because the family in this particular case had agreed to forfeit the firearm that was in question and they were not going to pursue the return of that firearm,” Mears said.

Mears said the state didn’t have access “to anything to indicate that (Hole) had had a history or documented diagnosis of mental illness.”

“We have 14 days under the statute and because we have 14 days our ability to have access to meaningful medical history, meaningful mental health records, is severely limited.” Indiana law allows a person 30 days to respond to a subpoena, Mears said.

“The sad reality is that during the pendency of these matters there’s nothing prohibiting someone from purchasing a firearm, that’s just the sad truth,” Mears said.

 

8 killed and 4 people still hospitalized

 

On Friday night, Indianapolis police released the names of the eight deceased victims. They were Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.

Four individuals remained hospitalized Monday with injuries sustained in the attack, FedEx said.

While the shooter’s motive isn’t yet known, “he targeted a facility known to be heavily populated by Sikh employees, and the attack is traumatic for our community as we continue to face senseless violence,” said Satjeet Kaur, executive director of the Sikh Coalition.

That sentiment was echoed in a letter to the Biden administration Saturday, in which the Sikh Coalition wrote, “It was no accident that the shooter targeted this particular FedEx facility where he had worked and knew was overwhelmingly staffed by Sikhs.”

Two of the victims, Sekhon and Kaur, were relatively new to Indianapolis and were working the overnight shift at the FedEx facility when they were killed, said Rimpi Girn, an Indianapolis resident who knew them.

Sekhon, after immigrating to the US in 2004, moved to Indiana in 2019 from Ohio to be closer to family and relatives, said Girn, a close family friend. Sekhon leaves a husband and two sons, ages 13 and 19, Girn said.

Kaur, who immigrated to the US in 2018, was the breadwinner for her family, according to Girn. Sekhon drove Kaur to work because Kaur didn’t have a driver’s license, Girn said.

As of late Sunday night, a verified GoFundMe campaign for the families of the victims set up by the National Compassion Fund has raised more than $1 million, with FedEx donating $1 million.

The fund said 100% of the donations “will go to the families and those affected by the tragedy.”

Feds weighing how to respond after verdict in Chauvin trial

Tue, 2021-04-20 06:22

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is privately weighing how to handle the upcoming verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, including considering whether President Joe Biden should address the nation and dispatching specially trained community facilitators from the Justice Department, aides and officials told The Associated Press.

Closing arguments began Monday in Chauvin’s trial with a prosecutor telling jurors that the officer “had to know” he was squeezing the life out of George Floyd as he cried over and over that he couldn’t breathe and finally fell silent. Chauvin faces murder and manslaughter charges.

The plans for possible presidential remarks are still fluid, with the timing, venue and nature of the remarks still being considered, in part depending on the timing of the verdict, according to two White House aides who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The White House has been warily watching the trial proceed in Minneapolis — and then another shooting of a Black man by a white police officer last week — and are preparing for the possibility of unrest if a guilty verdict is not reached in the trial. Biden may also speak after a guilty verdict, the White House aides said.

The verdict — and the aftermath — will be a test for Biden, who has pledged to help combat racism in policing, helping African Americans who supported him in large numbers last year in the wake of protests that swept the nation after Floyd’s death and restarted a national conversation about race. But he also has long projected himself as an ally of police, who are struggling with criticism about long-used tactics and training methods and difficulties in recruitment.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the White House has had a “range of conversations” about preparations for the upcoming verdict and added, “Our objective is to ensure there is space for peaceful protest.”

“Of course we’ll let the jury deliberate and we’ll wait for the verdict to come out before we say more about our engagements,” Psaki said.

Psaki said administration officials have been in contact with leaders in Minnesota and in other cities and states that saw unrest after Floyd’s death last year.

She declined to answer if Biden would be “disappointed” if a not guilty verdict was reached.

Meanwhile, the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota have been working with local officials to support law enforcement as they prepare for the possibility of unrest after the verdict, officials said.

And the Justice Department has also dispatched specially trained community facilitators ahead of a verdict, according to a senior Justice Department official. The official could not discuss the plans publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The officials, part of the Justice Department’s Community Relations Service, tout themselves as “America’s Peacemaker” by mediating disputes in communities and holding listening sessions to help prevent future conflicts.

A federal civil rights investigation, separate from the trial, remains ongoing. Several witnesses were subpoenaed earlier this year to appear before a federal grand jury considering charges against Chauvin.

The Justice Department’s civil rights investigation has been focused on Chauvin and some of the witnesses, including other officers who worked with Chauvin, people familiar with the matter have told the AP.

Chauvin was prepared to plead guilty to third-degree murder in George Floyd’s death before then-Attorney General William Barr personally blocked the plea deal last year. Barr rejected the deal in part because he felt it was too soon, as the investigation into Floyd’s death was still in its relative infancy, law enforcement officials said.

Across the country, police departments are also preparing for the possibility of rioting or other unrest, with some canceling vacation time and increasing the number of officers available for shifts. The federal government hasn’t detailed its plan in the event of widespread or sustained civil unrest.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Monday that there has been a request from officials in Washington, D.C., for D.C. National Guard forces in the event there is civil unrest in the nation’s capital, and it is currently being reviewed by the Army. He said the Army secretary has the authority to approve any request for D.C. National Guard but did not have details on the request.

Line of strong thunderstorms moving across parts of Miami-Dade

Mon, 2021-04-19 22:15

Parts of South Florida will likely see inclement weather overnight as a line of strong thunderstorms moves across the region, meteorologists said.

The National Weather Service is tracking the storms along a line that extends from the Everglades to the Redlands and near Florida City, Monday night.

https://twitter.com/PhilFerro7/status/1384343498896429057?s=20

The storms are moving northeast at 25 miles per hour.

Meteorologists said small hail, funnel clouds, and wind gusts of up to 50 mph are possible.

The municipalities impacted include:

  • Miami
  • Hialeah
  • Homestead
  • Coral Gables
  • Key Biscayne
  • South Miami
  • Homestead
  • Kendall
  • Doral
  • Pinecrest
  • Miami Springs
  • Sweetwater
  • Florida City
  • West Miami
  • Medley
  • Westchester

Boy dies after being struck by car in Hollywood

Mon, 2021-04-19 21:59

A 6-year-old boy has died after, police said, he was hit by a car in a Hollywood neighborhood.

Broward Sheriff’s Office and Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue units responded to the scene of the crash along the 2300 block of Freedom Street, bordering Dania Beach, at around 7 p.m., Monday.

Hollywood Police were called to the scene when first responders realized the crash took place on Hollywood’s side of the street.

Police said the driver remained at the scene and rendered aid to the victim.

Paramedics transported the child to Memorial Regional Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

No charges have been filed, as police continue to investigate.

Memorial for victims of West Miami-Dade crash vandalized for 2nd time; teen suspect to be tried as adult

Mon, 2021-04-19 20:48

Authorities are investigating after a memorial for the four victims of a New Year’s Day crash in West Miami-Dade was torn down for a second time in less than a month.

The act of vandalism happened as the 16-year-old driver charged in the crash learned he will be tried as an adult.

Cellphone video captured someone using a pink bat to bash photos, candles and mementos at the roadside memorial, located in the area of West Flagler Street and Northwest 79th Avenue.

Investigators said this is the second time the memorial has been defaced since the Jan. 1 crash that claimed the lives of 21-year-old Yulia Barzaga, 22-year-old Christian Mohip, 21-year-old Andres Zacarias and 21-year-old Jenser Salazar.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 16-year-old Alex Garcia was the driver responsible.

The teen suspect had a hearing Monday morning in juvenile court.

“I’m being informed by the state that the state has made the decision to file these charges in adult court,” said Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Orlando Prescott. “You’ll be transferred from the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center to the Dade County Jail.”

Garcia is being charged as an adult on nine felony counts.

“It’s going to be one, two, three, four counts of vehicular homicide in reckless manner,” said a prosecutor.

He also faces four counts of manslaughter while driving under the influence and one count of driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury.

FHP officials said Garcia had marijuana and alcohol in his system when his vehicle slammed into the victims’ car at West Flagler Street and 79th Avenue.

All four occupants inside were killed.

Family and friends set up a memorial at the scene of the crash. It was first destroyed in late March, with video of the act posted on social media.

The memorial was rebuilt, but on early Monday morning, another video of its destruction was posted on social media.

The accounts used and the videos have since been deleted.

The victims’ families sent 7News a statement that reads, “We as the family and friends are not being allowed to grieve. This is a constant slap in the face.”

Family members and friends of the victims were expected to repair the memorial Monday evening.

Garcia will make his first appearance in adult court Tuesday morning.

Cuba’s Communist Party chooses Miguel Díaz-Canel as leader

Mon, 2021-04-19 19:54

HAVANA (AP) — In many ways, Cuba’s new maximum leader is nothing like those who have governed the island for the past six decades.

Miguel Díaz-Canel was never a guerrilla fighter and was for only a few years, like all Cubans of his generation, a soldier. He rose peacefully and diligently through the approved channels. And he isn’t named Castro.

On Monday, Cuba’s Communist Party congress — as expected — chose Díaz-Canel to be its leader, adding that crucial post to the title of president he assumed in 2018. In both cases, he replaces his mentor Raul Castro, 89, sealing a political dynasty that had held power since the 1959 revolution.

Díaz-Canel, who turns 61 on Tuesday, is a relative youngster compared to members of the generation that accompanied Fidel Castro in his battle against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and then stayed on in power for decade after decade while cementing a Soviet-style political system.

Born a year after the revolution in the west-central city of Santa Clara, he reportedly dabbled as a youth in minor unconformities — wearing long hair and following The Beatles in a communist nation tightly aligned with the Soviet Union that then frowned upon them as an instrument of cultural imperialism.

He earned and engineering degree and dedicated himself to official politics, rising to a senior post in the Union of Young Communists and then through a series of bureaucratic positions in Cuba’s provinces, where he gained a reputation as a pragmatic administrator with an amiable, informal manner in dealing with the public.

In 2009, a year after Raul Castro formally replaced Fidel as Cuba’s president, Díaz-Canel became minister of higher education. In 2012 he rose to one of Cuba’s vice presidencies and soon thereafter was named first vice president.

A string of other promising young officials over the years had been seen as heirs apparent to the Castros, only to fall because they pretended to too much power too quickly, dabbled in questionable deals or were caught in unguarded moments making indiscreet comments about the leadership.

But Díaz-Canel did not appear to push, and he did not stumble. He steadfastly defended the system against dissidents and U.S. hostility while appearing open to pushes for limited reforms bubbling up from the populace — and at a pace that didn’t alarm his bosses.

Taking over from Raul as president in 2018, he nudged the accelerator forward on some reforms that the government had already begun to open the once-wholly state-dominated economy- Cuba allowed more small private businesses and made life a little easier for some small-scale entrepreneurs.

In recent months, he has overseen the end of a clumsy system of dual currencies and a further opening to small business. The new party congress was expected to go further. Crucially for many, Cuba has finally allowed widespread use of the internet.

But there’s been no opening at all to dissident political movements, even if control — as in recent years — has leaned toward harassment, surveillance and short-term jail spells rather than sending people to prison for decades.

Ex-Texas deputy accused of killing 3 found after manhunt

Mon, 2021-04-19 19:10

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A former Texas sheriff’s deputy was booked on a capital murder charge Monday after police say he shot and killed his ex-wife, teenage stepdaughter and another man during a weekend shooting that shut down a busy Austin shopping area and set off an overnight manhunt.

Officers found Stephen Broderick, 41, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the scene of Sunday’s shooting, which prompted active shooter alerts and unnerved residents in the Texas capital at a time when the U.S. has been wracked in recent weeks by mass killings.

Broderick was taken into custody without incident just before sunrise Monday, on the outskirts of Austin, after officers received reports of a person matching the shooter’s description, Manor Police Chief Ryan Phipps said. He said Broderick was walking down a rural road and carrying a loaded pistol in his waistband.

“I’m truly heartbroken that a former Travis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy is the suspect in such a horrific incident,” Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said.

Broderick was being held without bail in Travis County jail. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney.

Authorities identified the victims as Amanda Broderick, 34, his former wife; Alyssa Marie Broderick, 17, his stepdaughter; and Willie Simmons III, 18, the teenager’s boyfriend. Austin police said they were found lying near two vehicles following a collision at an apartment complex where Amanda Broderick and her former husband were meeting for a scheduled visit with their son, who they said was unharmed during the shooting.

Prosecutors say Stephen Broderick lost his job as a sheriff’s deputy last year after being arrested on charges of sexual assault of a child. Court records show that a protective order on behalf of his ex-wife and two children had been filed against Broderick following that arrest in June.

That order had required Broderick to surrender his firearms and wear an ankle monitor to track his whereabouts, according to Travis County prosecutors. Police did not say where Broderick got the weapon used in Sunday’s shooting.

The shooting happened around noon Sunday in a popular shopping area known as the Arboretum. Authorities sent active shooter alerts on social media as a heavy presence of police swarmed the area and a busy Austin highway was closed in both directions.

Nearby residents were urged to shelter in place as the search began for the suspected shooter. Hours after the manhunt began, police said they did not believe the suspect was targeting random people but urged residents to remain vigilant.

School officials in nearby Elgin, where Alyssa Broderick and Simmons had attended school, described them both as standout students and athletes. Broderick had been a member of the Elgin High School basketball team and enrolled in an early college program before she withdrew from the school district last October, said Jodi Duron, the school superintendent.

Simmons was a senior and football team captain who had been recently recruited to play at the University of North Texas next year.

Omasha Brantley, who coached both teenagers in Elgin, said they excelled both in and out of the classroom.

“She was an early college student, Willie was an A-B student,” Brantley said. “Those were kids you would just go look for every day.”

Pickup truck charred after catching fire outside Dania Beach home

Mon, 2021-04-19 19:04

A Dania Beach resident got a rude awakening after, officials said, his pickup truck caught fire in his driveway.

Flames swept through the vehicle parked outside Andre Boisclair’s home along the 4400 block of Treasure Cove Drive, in the Treasure Cove neighborhood, Monday afternoon.

Boisclair woke up to find the truck charred and the interior destroyed.

“Two o’clock, I take my nap. She woke me up, and said, ‘There’s a fire outside,’ so I got up, and that’s what I found,” he said. “That thing was full of flame, and then it was bursting, the tire here, the gas tank. No, it was bad.”

Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue crews managed to keep the blaze from spreading to the house.

Authorities say no one was driving Tesla before deadly crash

Mon, 2021-04-19 18:59

HOUSTON (AP) — Two people were killed in Texas in the fiery crash of a Tesla and authorities say there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash, although it’s not clear whether the car’s driver-assist system was being used.

A Harris County constable told television stations in Houston that there was a person in the front passenger seat and another in a rear passenger seat after the wreck Saturday night in the Houston suburb of Spring.

Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said authorities are certain that no one was driving the car at the time of the crash.

“They feel very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no one driving that vehicle,” Herman told KHOU-TV.

Deputies said the car was traveling fast and failed to navigate a turn before running off the road, hitting a tree, and bursting into flames. The identity of the victims had not been released by Sunday afternoon. KHOU reported that one was 69 and the other was 59.

Tesla did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Federal traffic-safety officials are investigating several Tesla crashes in which the vehicle’s Autopilot function may have been used, including crashes in which cars drove under tractor-trailers.

The company warns customers that its driver-assist system, called Autopilot, is not an autonomous-driving program, and that they must pay attention and be ready to take control of the vehicle. However, the National Transportation Safety Board said last year that the design of the system allows drivers to avoid paying attention and fails to limit where Autopilot can be used.

KPRC-TV reported that a brother-in-law of one of the victims said it took four hours to extinguish the blaze. Authorities said the vehicle’s batteries repeatedly reignited, and Herman said that deputies called Tesla to ask how to put out the fire. Tesla publishes information for first responders, including the location of high-voltage lines.

Man with polio, subject of Netflix doc, aspires to go into space — and a Fort Lauderdale clinic is helping

Mon, 2021-04-19 18:27

A man who was never expected to walk again due to polio and later became the subject of a Netflix documentary now has his sights set on outer space, and a South Florida clinic is helping turn that dream into a reality.

Jean Maggi showed off his Knee Ankle Foot Orthosis, or KAFO braces, outside of the Hanger Clinic in Fort Lauderdale, Monday.

“These are constructed out of a carbon fiber material, so it’s very, very lightweight,” said Matthew Klein, a licensed prosthetist and orthotist.

They need to be lightweight, because as Maggi puts it, “I’m going to go to space.”

The 58-year-old wants to be the first man with a disability to travel to space.

Maggi is already training at NASTAR, the National Aerospace Training and Research Center in Pennsylvania.

“About a year or so ago, Juan called me and said, ‘I want to go to space, and I need a set of braces that will allow me to go to space that are lightweight'” said Klein, “‘ that will give me a framework with some structure in my lower extremities, to make sure that I could take the G-forces.'”

Maggi contracted polio when he was a 1 year old. He lost all ability to walk without crutches or a wheelchair.

He said he lived that way until he had a heart attack at 37.

“I felt like I was going to die,” he said in Spanish.

Speaking in English outside the Hanger Clinic, he said the medical emergency caused a massive change in perspective.

“When I had the heart attack, my head changed. I started to change my life,” he said.

In 2013, Maggi traveled from his home in Argentina to the Hanger Clinic, where he was fit with leg braces that allowed him to finally walk.

“All my life, I dreamt of walking, and the day I stood up, I felt like I had been on my feet my whole life,” he said.

Since then, Maggi has gone skydiving, crossed the Andes on horseback, completed the Iron Man competition and several marathons.

“One day I said, ‘I want to go on top of the world,” he said.

He even hand-cycled through the Himalayas and competed in the Vancouver Paralympics.

His life story caught the attention of filmmaker Juan José Campanella, who made a Netflix documentary about him called “El Límite Infinito” (“The Infinite Limit”).

Now he’s got his mind and heart set on space.

When asked whether he’s afraid, Maggi replied, “Yes, but I’m not paralyzed by it.”

Nor was he paralyzed by polio or circumstances. For him, the sky is literally the limit.

“The word ‘no’ is not in his vocabulary, so if there was going to be the first person — civilian, disabled — who’s going to be going to space, no doubt it would be this guy right here,” said Klein.

If someone sees his story and is motivated to get up, get moving and get living, Maggi said, then he has done his job.

Car slams into house after truck collision in SW Miami-Dade

Mon, 2021-04-19 18:21

A homeowner has some unexpected house work to deal with after a car slammed into their home in Southwest Miami-Dade.

The collision happened near Southwest 10th Street and 74th Avenue over the weekend.

The car crashed into a pickup truck and then the house, leaving a large hole in the wall at the front of the home.

Debris was scattered throughout the yard and into a bedroom.