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Westlake Legal Group > fnc/us (Page 150)

Maryland couple found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room

A Maryland couple has been found dead in their hotel room in the Dominican Republic.

The news of the death of Edward Holmes and Cynthia Day, who were engaged and had posted numerous photos on social media showing how much they were enjoying their vacation, comes just days after a Delaware woman said that that she was assaulted while vacationing in the Dominican Republic earlier this year. It also comes weeks after the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for Americans traveling there, citing a rise in crime.

The bodies of Holmes, 63, and Day, 49, were found Thursday by an employee of the Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana who went to their room after they failed to check out, according to multiple published reports. The couple were scheduled to return to the U.S. that day.

CNN reported that a spokesman for the Dominican Republic National Police, Frank Felix Duran Mejia, said there was no evidence of violence.

BODIES OF AMERICAN COUPLE MISSING IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC BELIEVED FOUND

Friends of the couple posted on Facebook that conversations with them over the phone recently indicated they were happy and excited to return home and to their future as a married couple. They arrived at the hotel on May 25.

Westlake Legal Group Holmes-Day-FB Maryland couple found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6e976224-76c2-5930-8a61-b4b322b3df10

Edward Holmes and Cynthia Day

The Dominican newspaper Diario Libre said that a hotel employee mentioned that Holmes contacted the front desk about feeling ill, but that the couple turned down treatment.

The Delaware woman, Tammy Lawrence-Daley, said she was attacked in Punta Cana, which is a popular tourist area. She said that her attacker wore a uniform that indicated he was an employee of the all-inclusive resort in which she was saying.

Lawrence-Daley, who said she was vacationing in the Dominican Republic with her husband and some friends, posted photos of her bruised and swollen face on Facebook. She suffered a broken nose, other facial fractures and bites on her body, among other things, she said.

WOMAN SHARES HORRIFYING STORY, PICTURES AFTER ALLEGED ATTACK

She told the Associated Press that she went public about the attack, which she said occurred in January, to heighten awareness about the dangers of visiting the country, even for tourists staying at an all-inclusive resort.

Westlake Legal Group Holmes-Day-FB2 Maryland couple found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6e976224-76c2-5930-8a61-b4b322b3df10

Edward Holmes and Cynthia Day

Lawrence-Daley said the attack happened when she was walking on the property at about 10:30 p.m. to buy a snack. She said the man who attacked her came at her from behind and forced her into a maintenance room. She said the hotel employees were slow to act when her husband and friends reported that she had not returned to the room. Security workers eventually found her in the maintenance room, she said.

In March, a New York couple visiting the Dominican Republican was reported missing after they did not get on their flight home even though they checked out of their hotel at the scheduled time. Weeks later, National Police commander Frank Félix Duran Mejía said that the couple apparently had gotten into an accident, possibly due to a mix of speeding, alcohol and dark roads. Orlando Moore, 43, and Portia Ravenelle, 32, had planned a four-day getaway and also had posted photos of their vacation on social media, praising the trip. The couple’s car was retrieved from the sea, and Moore’s decomposed body was recovered from the water. Ravenelle reportedly had ended up at a hospital, where she died.

Westlake Legal Group AP19152582089244 Maryland couple found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6e976224-76c2-5930-8a61-b4b322b3df10

Tammy Lawrence-Daley after an attack at a resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in January 2019. Lawrence-Daley made the attack public on social media, detailing a vicious hours-long assault by a man she said was wearing the uniform of an all-inclusive resort. (Chris Daley via AP)

New York Reps. Adriano Espaillat and Eliot Engel wrote FBI Director Christopher Wray, indicating they wanted more evidence that the tragedy was an accident, and asking that the agency “work quickly to conduct a thorough investigation regarding details of their reported deaths that raise questions for us,” according to the New York Daily News.

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The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for the Dominican Republic in April, urging those visiting there to “exercise increased caution…due to crime.”

“Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,” the advisory said. “The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Holmes-Day-FB Maryland couple found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6e976224-76c2-5930-8a61-b4b322b3df10   Westlake Legal Group Holmes-Day-FB Maryland couple found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6e976224-76c2-5930-8a61-b4b322b3df10

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Oklahoma driver goes around roadblocks set up for flooding, ends up crashing into sinkhole

A driver in Oklahoma who ignored barricades set up amid ongoing flooding ended up needing to be rescued on Wednesday after crashing into a sinkhole, according to officials.

The incident happened in the town Blackburn, located northwest along the Arkansas River where flooding has inundated communities for more than a week.

In a Facebook post, city officials said the man with a dog in the back of his truck drove around barricades and ended up crashed into a sinkhole.

OKLAHOMA BRACES FOR THE WORST: MORE RAIN, ERODING LEVEES AND LOOTERS

Officials posted photos of the crash, which showed the truck almost completely submerged, with a broken windshield and crumpled hood.

Westlake Legal Group Blackburn-Car-4 Oklahoma driver goes around roadblocks set up for flooding, ends up crashing into sinkhole Travis Fedschun fox-news/weather fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/oklahoma fox-news/us/disasters/floods fox-news/us/disasters fox news fnc/us fnc article 9c8d98b5-2c4a-5d59-98bb-f2b249b6afc0

A driver in Oklahoma escaped without major injuries after going around roadblocks and crashing into a sinkhole, authorities said. (City of Blackburn)

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol told FOX23 the driver went around two sets of roadblocks before striking the sinkhole.

Westlake Legal Group Blackburn-Car-3 Oklahoma driver goes around roadblocks set up for flooding, ends up crashing into sinkhole Travis Fedschun fox-news/weather fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/oklahoma fox-news/us/disasters/floods fox-news/us/disasters fox news fnc/us fnc article 9c8d98b5-2c4a-5d59-98bb-f2b249b6afc0

Damage to the vehicle can be seen after the driver went through roadblocks set up for flooding. (City of Blackburn)

The driver and the dog were rescued and not injured, city officials said.

Westlake Legal Group Blackburn-Car-2 Oklahoma driver goes around roadblocks set up for flooding, ends up crashing into sinkhole Travis Fedschun fox-news/weather fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/oklahoma fox-news/us/disasters/floods fox-news/us/disasters fox news fnc/us fnc article 9c8d98b5-2c4a-5d59-98bb-f2b249b6afc0

The driver ended up in the sinkhole after driving through two sets of roadblocks. (City of Blackburn)

Northeastern Oklahoma has been besieged by floodwaters along the turbulent Arkansas River amid record rainfall. Emergency management officials in Tulsa said Saturday they are seeking volunteers wearing boots and heavy leather work gloves to help residents remove debris and clean up their flooded homes.

ARKANSAS CITY TRYING TO SAVE HOMES IN EFFORT TO STEM FLOW OF MASSIVE FLOODING

The National Weather Service said Friday the river’s level at Tulsa has dropped almost 4 feet from Wednesday’s crest and will continue to recede through the weekend.

River levels were also dropping in Muskogee, Okla., about 45 miles southeast of Tulsa, according to forecasters.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said a hydroelectric dam at a reservoir northwest of Tulsa has reduced flow as the reservoir drains floodwaters from recent heavy rainfall, aiding the river’s decline.

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But officials are saying that they are not out of the woods yet. More rain is expected to begin Monday, adding more strain to a levee system that’s already been tested by floodwaters.

“The real challenge is that, presented to us, we have levee system that is now weakened, having experienced an unprecedented rain on it which it has had over the past two weeks now,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum told Fox News on Friday. “And our lake that protects Tulsa from floodwaters is still about a foot above the flood pool it; doesn’t have the kind of storage capacity that it needs to protect our community from floodwaters.”

Fox News’ Hollie McKay in Tulsa, Oklahoma and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group Blackburn-Car-4 Oklahoma driver goes around roadblocks set up for flooding, ends up crashing into sinkhole Travis Fedschun fox-news/weather fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/oklahoma fox-news/us/disasters/floods fox-news/us/disasters fox news fnc/us fnc article 9c8d98b5-2c4a-5d59-98bb-f2b249b6afc0   Westlake Legal Group Blackburn-Car-4 Oklahoma driver goes around roadblocks set up for flooding, ends up crashing into sinkhole Travis Fedschun fox-news/weather fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/oklahoma fox-news/us/disasters/floods fox-news/us/disasters fox news fnc/us fnc article 9c8d98b5-2c4a-5d59-98bb-f2b249b6afc0

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Former charity director who made racist remark about Michelle Obama jailed for embezzling FEMA funds

A former West Virginia official who made headlines in 2016 for calling then-First Lady Michelle Obama an “ape in heels” has been sentenced to jail for embezzlement.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, 57, admitted in court to falsifying a claim that her home was damaged during severe flooding in West Virginia in 2016, for which she was given more than $18,000 in FEMA relief funds. As previously reported, Taylor was facing up to 30 years in prison if convicted. On Friday, however, she was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

She was also required to pay $18,149.04 in restitution, according to prosecutors.

Taylor previously worked as the director of Clay County Development Corp., a nonprofit which provides services to elderly and low-income residents in the central West Virginia area. She was let go in 2016 after she penned a Facebook post about Michelle Obama following President Trump’s election.

“It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a [sic] Ape in heels,” she wrote.

A few months later, West Virginia was struck by catastrophic flooding that destroyed at least 500 homes and left six people dead.

WEST VIRGINIA PRINCIPAL ACCUSED OF PLAGIARIZING ASHTON KUTCHER SPEECH

Westlake Legal Group WV-Floods-2015-RT Former charity director who made racist remark about Michelle Obama jailed for embezzling FEMA funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/west-virginia fox-news/us/crime fox-news/person/michelle-obama fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 32050090-0997-55f7-926b-c6746e17e313

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, 57, admitted in court to falsifying a claim that her home was damaged during severe flooding in West Virginia in 2016, for which she was given more than $18,000 in FEMA relief funds (West Virginia Department of Transportation/Handout via Reuters)

ONE-ARMED FORMER WEST VIRGINIA STATE SENATOR SUES OVER BEING HANDCUFFED WRIST-TO-ANKLE: REPORT

Taylor reportedly claimed that her home in Procious, W. Va., along the Elk River, was damaged by the flooding, but that her primary address was on Main Street.

It was later revealed that Taylor and her husband actually live in the town of Bickmore, and were not impacted by the floods, Daily Mail reports.  The couple does, in fact, own a Procious property but no one was living there at the time of the flooding.

“There’s no such thing as a little bit of FEMA fraud,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said in a statement.

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“Taylor’s fraudulent scheme took FEMA dollars away from those who needed it the most.”

Fox News’ Lucia Suarez Sang contributed to the reporting of this story. 

Westlake Legal Group michelle-obama-MICHELLE0519 Former charity director who made racist remark about Michelle Obama jailed for embezzling FEMA funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/west-virginia fox-news/us/crime fox-news/person/michelle-obama fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 32050090-0997-55f7-926b-c6746e17e313   Westlake Legal Group michelle-obama-MICHELLE0519 Former charity director who made racist remark about Michelle Obama jailed for embezzling FEMA funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/west-virginia fox-news/us/crime fox-news/person/michelle-obama fox news fnc/us fnc article Anna Hopkins 32050090-0997-55f7-926b-c6746e17e313

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Chattanooga police officer, at least two others wounded in separate shootings: reports

Westlake Legal Group c65b811b-crime-scene-iStock Chattanooga police officer, at least two others wounded in separate shootings: reports fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 63fa46a4-3860-5795-854d-7224c33f567f

A police officer was shot in Chattanooga, Tenn., early Sunday during a confrontation outside a Waffle House restaurant, according to reports.

The officer was transported to a hospital but his medical condition was not immediately known.

“Police and investigators are actively working the scene,” a police spokesperson told Chattanooga’s WTVC-TV.

VIRGINIA BEACH SHINES LIGHT ON VICTIMS, NOT MASS SHOOTER

The circumstances surrounding the shooting were not immediately clear.

Hours earlier, Chattanooga police detained one person after two people were reportedly shot near the entrance to the city’s Riverbend music festival, outside the Tennessee Aquarium.

Both victims were shot in a parking lot, then were taken away for medical treatment but their conditions were unknown, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

Police initially barred festival-goers from accessing their cars after the evening’s performances because investigators were still working in the parking area, which was considered an active crime scene, reports said.

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Later police posted a Twitter message saying drivers were being allowed to retrieve their vehicles.

Performers at the event included rapper Macklemore. It was the final night of the festival, the Times Free Press reported.

Westlake Legal Group c65b811b-crime-scene-iStock Chattanooga police officer, at least two others wounded in separate shootings: reports fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 63fa46a4-3860-5795-854d-7224c33f567f   Westlake Legal Group c65b811b-crime-scene-iStock Chattanooga police officer, at least two others wounded in separate shootings: reports fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/tennessee fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio article 63fa46a4-3860-5795-854d-7224c33f567f

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Televangelist Kenneth Copeland defends use of private jets in TV interview, denies calling people ‘demons’

A Texas-based televangelist is facing scrutiny following a recent TV interview in which he defended his use of three private jets and referred to the public as “a bunch of demons” that he needed to avoid while preparing his sermons.

Kenneth Copeland, head of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, was confronted by reporter Lisa Guerrero of “Inside Edition” in May while in his car outside an event in Branson, Mo.

Asked why he needs the private jets, Copeland responds: “If I flew commercial, I’d have to stop 65 percent of what I’m doing.”

PASTOR AND FOUNDER OF CHICAGO MEGACHURCH FIRED AFTER MORE THAN 30 YEARS OF LEADERSHIP

Westlake Legal Group cce939b0-GettyImages-50423710 Televangelist Kenneth Copeland defends use of private jets in TV interview, denies calling people 'demons' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/religion fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio b89d43ab-eaec-5268-9013-0efe178dfe01 article

TV evangelist Kenneth Copeland. (Getty Images)

Guerrero then asks Copeland about a past statement attributed to him, in which he allegedly said he doesn’t use commercial airlines because he doesn’t “want to get into a tube with a bunch of demons.”

Copeland appears to become angered by the question and denies comparing people to demons.

“Don’t you ever say I did!,” the preacher snarls at the reporter.

Copeland normally declines to address questions about his purchases, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. The preacher’s organization operates 22 churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and runs a 1,500-acre campus that includes an airstrip and a hangar for its planes, the report said.

According to the newspaper, Copeland’s third jet, a Gulfstream V, was purchased in January 2018 from Hollywood star Tyler Perry. But the preacher tells Guerrero in the interview that he got a good price on the aircraft and didn’t overspend.

TYLER PERRY COMPLAINS ABOUT PRICEY BOTTLED WATER: ‘WHAT THE HELL THIS WATER DO, CURE CANCER?’

Westlake Legal Group 3ef86c1e-Texas-Megachurch Televangelist Kenneth Copeland defends use of private jets in TV interview, denies calling people 'demons' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/religion fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio b89d43ab-eaec-5268-9013-0efe178dfe01 article

A sign marks the entrance of the Kenneth Copeland Ministries Eagle Mountain Church, Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, in Newark, Texas.

When asked to disclose a specific price, Copeland declines.

“That’s really none of your business,” he tells Guerrero.

Neither Copeland nor his ministry responded when the Star-Telegram sought their reaction to the Inside Edition interview, the newspaper reported.

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Copeland is far from the only religious leader linked to expensive purchases.

In December, a South Carolina pastor spent $200,000 on a Lamborghini as an anniversary gift for his wife.

Pastor John Gray, leader of the Relentless Church in Greenville, was widely criticized on social media but still defended the purchase.

“Pastor buys his wife this expensive car,” Gray said. “First of all it wasn’t a pastor who bought the car, it was a husband that bought the car. Get that in your spirit.”

He also addressed the speculation that he used some money from the church to pay for the Lamborghini.

“Did this man use any money from the church to do this?” Gray asked. “And the answer is no. Absolutely not. And God, take my life on this live feed if I did.”

Last May, Louisiana-based preacher Jesse Duplantis announced he was seeking donations so he could purchase a $54 million private jet.

“I really believe that if Jesus was physically on the Earth today, he wouldn’t be riding a donkey,” Duplantis said at the time. “He’d be in an airplane preaching the gospel all over the world.”

Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce and Bradford Betz contributed to this report.

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-50423710 Televangelist Kenneth Copeland defends use of private jets in TV interview, denies calling people 'demons' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/religion fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio b89d43ab-eaec-5268-9013-0efe178dfe01 article   Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-50423710 Televangelist Kenneth Copeland defends use of private jets in TV interview, denies calling people 'demons' fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/religion fox-news/entertainment/media fox news fnc/us fnc Dom Calicchio b89d43ab-eaec-5268-9013-0efe178dfe01 article

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China blames US for trade dispute, asserts desire for talks

Westlake Legal Group og-fox-news China blames US for trade dispute, asserts desire for talks fox-news/us fnc/us fnc ec1cf40d-168d-5144-abd1-e939fd80749e BEIJING Associated Press article

China has issued a report blaming the United States for a trade dispute but asserts it will honor its commitments if a trade agreement is reached.

The statement from the Cabinet spokesman’s Office on Sunday says China has kept its word throughout 11 rounds of talks, but it would not back down “on major issues of principle.”

It says Beijing has engaged in the consultations with the utmost credibility and the greatest sincerity.

According to the report, “China has kept its word during the consultations. China has emphasized repeatedly that if a trade agreement is reached, it will honor its commitments sincerely and faithfully.”

It says a country’s sovereignty and dignity must be respected, and any agreement reached by the two sides must be based on equality and mutual benefit.

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Virginia Beach shooter’s kin offer condolences in note taped up outside home

The family of the Virginia Beach shooter taped a handwritten note to their home on Saturday expressing “heartfelt condolences” to the victims of Friday’s carnage.

DeWayne Craddock, an engineer with the city’s public utilities department for 15 years, opened fire at the Virginia Beach municipal complex on Friday, killing 12 people and injuring several others. Police killed him in the aftermath.

VIRGINIA BEACH POLICE ZERO IN ON SHOOTER’S WEAPONS CACHE AND JOB BACKGROUND

The suspect’s family wrote in the note, “The family of DeWayne Craddock wishes to send our heart felt condolences to the victims. We are grieving the loss of our loved one,” The Washington Post reported. 

The note, as written, continued: “At this time we wish to focus on the victims and the lives loss during yesterdays tragic event. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who loss their lives, and those recovering in the hospital.”

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The community united on Saturday night to pay tribute to each of the victims of the shooting, by way of a prayer service. Roughly 100 people, including Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, attended the service, where each of the victim’s names was read aloud, followed by a moment of silence.

Westlake Legal Group Bible Virginia Beach shooter's kin offer condolences in note taped up outside home Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/us fox-news/great-outdoors/shooting fox news fnc/us fnc article 2563bee4-a703-5c86-be57-d5666389d694

Mike Harris, of Virginia Beach, Va., holds a Bible as he prays during a vigil in response to a shooting at a municipal building. A longtime city employee opened fire at the building Friday before police shot and killed him, authorities said. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Fairfax described the victims as “wonderful people who didn’t deserve what happened to them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group AP19152724057526 Virginia Beach shooter's kin offer condolences in note taped up outside home Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/us fox-news/great-outdoors/shooting fox news fnc/us fnc article 2563bee4-a703-5c86-be57-d5666389d694   Westlake Legal Group AP19152724057526 Virginia Beach shooter's kin offer condolences in note taped up outside home Vandana Rambaran fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/us fox-news/great-outdoors/shooting fox news fnc/us fnc article 2563bee4-a703-5c86-be57-d5666389d694

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Police: Former Delaware city councilman arrested after striking gay pride parade organizer with truck

A former Delaware councilman was arrested Saturday after police said he struck an organizer of a gay pride parade in Dover with his truck.

Reuben Salters, 90, was charged with third-degree vehicular assault and related offenses and released on his own recognizance, Dover Police Cpl. Mark Hoffman said in a statement.

Salters was driving a Ford Ranger around 8:15 a.m. when he approached Forrest and West Streets, which were blocked off for the Delaware Pride Festival parade. He got out of the truck, got back in and drove to an area with a large group of paradegoers blocked off by cones, police said.

Westlake Legal Group RS Police: Former Delaware city councilman arrested after striking gay pride parade organizer with truck Louis Casiano fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc fe834e2d-becb-5366-8c83-907705d9457b article

Police said Reuben Salters, 90, struck the organizer of Dover’s gay pride parade Saturday with his truck. (Dover Police Department )

Salters exited the truck again and began moving the cones. The parade’s 43-year-old organizer approached Salters and advised him that he couldn’t pass through, Hoffman said. Slaters got in the truck and allegedly “proceeded to accelerate” and struck the man.

The organizer was knocked to the ground and suffered injuries to his legs. Salters than tried driving through a large crowd until he was stopped, Hoffman said. The man was not hospitalized, WBOC-TV reported. There no evidence to suggest the incident was a hate crime told the outlet, according to Hoffman.

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Salters stepped down from the Dover City Council in 2011, where he served for more than two decades.

“It’s time to pass the torch to a new generation,” he told the Dover Post at the time. “It’s time get out of the politics and get into some other community service.”

Westlake Legal Group RS Police: Former Delaware city councilman arrested after striking gay pride parade organizer with truck Louis Casiano fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc fe834e2d-becb-5366-8c83-907705d9457b article   Westlake Legal Group RS Police: Former Delaware city councilman arrested after striking gay pride parade organizer with truck Louis Casiano fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc fe834e2d-becb-5366-8c83-907705d9457b article

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The ‘village’ of law enforcement agencies battling human trafficking

When people fall prey to sex traffickers, it can take a village of law enforcement agencies and advocacy organizations to pull them from the sex work they’re forced to endure. Detectives, officers and FBI agents often coordinate efforts to rescue those who are trapped and put their abusers behind bars.

The ease with which traffickers transport their victims makes the work of investigators and law enforcement agencies even more complicated. The women are often sold online — and raped in person. Much of the police work is done on the Internet, a task that can weigh on investigators enduring long hours and reviewing endless streams of disturbing content.

As part of an ongoing investigation into the practice of human trafficking, in which someone is sold into sexual exploitation or forced labor, Fox News interviewed law enforcement officials at state and federal levels to better understand efforts to stop the shocking practice.

Those corridors are so hot with human trafficking activity that, at times, we put together a task force just to attack those corridors.

— Pasco County Sheriff’s Corporal Alan Wilkett

“They’re hiding in plain sight,” said Cpl. Alan Wilkett, a veteran of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. “The trafficker is comfortable in that there’s such high transit [on the highways] that it becomes difficult to spot the activity.”

Wilkett, who spearheads a human trafficking task force for Pasco County, told Fox that highways are often used to transport trafficking victims from city to city, where they are forced to “work” by their captors.

“If a trafficker is getting his victim from one place to another, for instance, a high-end or high-populace activity that’s happening in Tampa … he’s going to use the I-4 corridor,” Wilkett said. “In fact, those corridors are so hot with human trafficking activity that, at times, we put together a task force just to attack those corridors,” he explained. 

Westlake Legal Group Wilkett The 'village' of law enforcement agencies battling human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 02e946b1-6874-519f-b715-3a93dd1726cc

Pasco County Sheriff’s Cpl. Alan Wilkett uses his laptop from his service vehicle.

Law enforcement task forces, often coordinated between different agencies, are a common tactic to combat a variety of crimes – including human trafficking. Often, the FBI will partner with a local police department to conduct sting operations on traffickers. Such is the case in Toledo, Ohio, where Det. Peter Swartz leads the department’s efforts in the fight.

Swartz, who focuses full time on human trafficking, pulls double duty as a detective for the Toledo Police Department and a field agent for the FBI. He said he sees victims from across the country who have been trafficked through Toledo.

“They were on their way to Florida, Atlanta, Georgia. You know, Orlando, Tampa,” he said. “We know some victims end up there and some of our traffickers end up there,” Swartz told Fox.

A lot of the cases that we work with, the predators, the pimps, the trafficker are getting substantial sentences for turning out our kids.

— Toledo Police Department Detective Peter Swartz

Swartz said he gets fulfillment from the work, even though he’s often dealing with minors who have been trafficked against their will. More importantly, he said the people coercing them into forced sex work are facing consequences.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIMS MOSTLY UNDERAGE CHILDREN FROM WITHIN THE US

“I think we’ve made a significant difference as far as sex trafficking,” Swartz said. “A lot of the cases that we work with, the predators, the pimps, the trafficker are getting substantial sentences for turning out our kids,” he added.

Having investigators focusing specifically on sex trafficking, like Swartz, has become increasingly important as sex trafficking continues to become more commonplace. In Ohio, the attorney general’s human trafficking commission reported that law enforcement agencies across the state investigated 242 instances of human trafficking in 2017. It made 80 arrests and secured 61 convictions.

Westlake Legal Group Swartz The 'village' of law enforcement agencies battling human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 02e946b1-6874-519f-b715-3a93dd1726cc

Toledo Police Department Det. Peter Swartz in an interview with Fox News.

Swartz said a large portion of his day consists of following up on tips he’s given by different organizations like Crime Stoppers, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the local Missing Persons Bureau.

“Basically, we use an undercover officer to call an ad that may be advertising for escorting, but we know it’s an ad for prostitution,” Swartz said. “Then we’ll try to recover them and find out what’s going on with them and what led [them] to this work,” he told Fox.

Most of the victims are folks that are in such vulnerable positions they are not able to make their own decisions.

— FBI Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney

The enforcement tactics use by Swartz and the Toledo police are much the same as those used by the FBI. William Sweeney, the assistant director in charge of the New York field office, said the agency has increased its focuses and resources to fight human trafficking.

“Most of the victims are folks that are in such vulnerable positions they are not able to make their own decisions,” Sweeney said, adding that “they are exploited by perpetrators all across the region.”

Westlake Legal Group pkg3cover2 The 'village' of law enforcement agencies battling human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 02e946b1-6874-519f-b715-3a93dd1726cc

Jon Scott talks with Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney and FBI Special Agent Brian Gander.

Sweeney and his agents participate in the FBI’s flagship human trafficking enforcement action, Operation Cross Country. In 2017, the agency conducted its 11th iteration of the sting operation. According to a report released by the bureau, the operation took place “in 55 FBI field offices and involved 78 state and local task forces, consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners.”

Operation Cross Country XI recovered 84 minors and arrested 120 traffickers. The focus of the operation was specifically on underage victims. Some critics of the effort have complained that the operation needlessly sweeps up willing sex workers, charging them with felonies and further perpetuating a lifestyle of crime. Still, few argue with the necessity of pulling teens from a life of rape and abuse. 

“That renewed focus, I think, has also led to increased reporting and then increased prosecutions and increased attention,” Sweeney said. “So it really seems to feed upon itself – which is good in the fact that we’re helping victims, [and] obviously bad in the fact that you realize how pervasive it actually is.” 

If you are being trafficked or suspect that someone you know is being trafficked contact The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or CYBERTIPLINE.ORG.

Westlake Legal Group pkg3cover2 The 'village' of law enforcement agencies battling human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 02e946b1-6874-519f-b715-3a93dd1726cc   Westlake Legal Group pkg3cover2 The 'village' of law enforcement agencies battling human trafficking Perry Chiaramonte fox-news/news-events/fox-news-investigates fox news fnc/us fnc article Andrew Keiper 02e946b1-6874-519f-b715-3a93dd1726cc

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‘Picture perfect neighbor’ among the slain in mass shooting

Joshua Hardy was a neighbor who would mow the lawn next door as a favor. One of his grieving neighbors returned that favor Saturday as a posthumous tribute after Hardy became one of the 12 people killed in a mass shooting at a city building in Virginia Beach.

“In the Josh fashion, I dropped my mower down a little extra lower because that’s what he would have done today,” said Clay Rosser, 44. “He cut his grass kinda like clockwork. He was a very meticulous guy.”

Rosser also fashioned a wooden cross and planted it in the front yard of Hardy’s home, where the 52-year-old city engineer lived alone. Neighbors described Hardy as a deeply religious man.

“He was the picture perfect neighbor,” said Damion Houston, 48. “God fearing man. Always trying to keep people’s heads in the right place and give you hope.”

Houston said Hardy’s brother stopped by the house Friday night, looking for him, when he got a call to go over to a school where people were learning the fate of loved ones. Neighbors’ worst fears were confirmed when the names were released Saturday morning.

During a Saturday news conference, city officials identified the 12 killed in the shooting Friday at a Virginia Beach municipal building, showing their photos, and giving details of their lives. Eleven of the twelve were city employees; one was a contractor.

The other victims are:

Laquita C. Brown of Chesapeake: A right of way agent with more than four years in public works.

Tara Welch Gallagher of Virginia Beach: An engineer with six years in public works.

Mary Louise Gayle of Virginia Beach: A right of way agent with 24 years in public works.

Alexander Mikhail Gusev of Virginia Beach: A right of way agent with nine years in public works.

Katherine A. Nixon of Virginia Beach: An engineer with 10 years in public utilities.

Richard H. Nettleton of Norfolk: An engineer with 28 years in public utilities.

Christopher Kelly Rapp of Powhatan: An engineer with 11 months in public works.

Ryan Keith Cox of Virginia Beach: An account clerk with more than 12 years in public utilities.

Michelle “Missy” Langer of Virginia Beach: An administrative assistant with 12 years in public utilities.

Robert “Bobby” Williams of Chesapeake: Special projects coordinator with 41 years in public utilities.

Herbert “Bert” Snelling of Virginia Beach: A contractor there to fill a permit.

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Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-079445ec696d40bd83a1f215b391533b 'Picture perfect neighbor' among the slain in mass shooting MICHAEL KUNZELMAN fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc b3c56374-6c8d-547e-a20e-4e9643a62e19 Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-079445ec696d40bd83a1f215b391533b 'Picture perfect neighbor' among the slain in mass shooting MICHAEL KUNZELMAN fox-news/us/crime fnc/us fnc b3c56374-6c8d-547e-a20e-4e9643a62e19 Associated Press article

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