Mar 26

New York Knicks' Joakim Noah suspended for drug violation

Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — New York Knicks center Joakim Noah has been suspended by the NBA for 20 games afer violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

Noah tested positive for selective androgen receptor modulator LGD-4033, an over-the-counter supplement banned by the league.

The 32-year-old center has been out since Feb. 4 because of knee surgery. The NBA said Noah’s suspension would start when he is “eligible and physically able to play” in either a regular season or playoff game, according to ESPN.

The National Basketball Players Association said in a statement neither the union nor Noah would appeal the suspension and he “has offered his deepest apologies for this infraction,” according to ESPN.

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Mar 26

Suns' Booker scores 70 in loss

Purestock/iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) – Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker scored 70 points in a loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the most by an NBA player this season.

Booker becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score 70, joining Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson, David Thompson, Elgin Baylor and Kobe Bryant.

Booker shot 21-of-40 from the floor, hit four three pointers and sank 24 free throws on the night.

“This doesn’t happen very often,” Booker said after the game. “Especially against a really good defensive team like the Boston Celtics. I knew I was going to have to come in, lock in mentally tonight — playing at Boston isn’t easy all the time. They made it tough for me in the first half, and I tried to get it going. I was ultra-aggressive, my teammates started finding me, they started setting really good screens for me and the rest is history.”

The Suns fell to the Celtics 130-120.

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Mar 26

US reviewing airstrike that corresponds to site where 200 Iraqi civilians allegedly died

Main_sail/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. military admitted that an airstrike in Iraq on March 17 corresponds to a site where 200 civilians allegedly died, but said it is still assessing the particulars of the strike and the validity of allegations of civilian casualties.

“An initial review of strike data from March 16-23 indicates that, at the request of the Iraqi Security Forces, the coalition struck ISIS fighters and equipment, March 17, in West Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties,” stated a media release from the task force Saturday. A formal review of the March 17 operation “is underway to determine the facts surrounding this strike and the validity of the allegation of civilian casualties,” the release said.

The military’s release came after it earlier announced a review of whether any of three airstrikes in Syria and Iraq over the past week were linked to reported deaths of hundreds of civilians.

In addition to the March 17 airstrike in western Mosul that reportedly killed 200 civilians, Central Command also said this week it is reviewing a March 16 airstrike near a mosque in al-Jinnah, Syria, that is said to have killed dozens, and an airstrike Monday, March 20, on a school building outside of Raqqa, Syria, that may have also killed dozens of civilians fleeing local fighting.

The March 17 strike targeted three adjoining houses. Local news reports indicate ISIS may have used civilians in the area as human shields in an effort to guard against airstrikes on the buildings. The Iraqi military’s media operations center has claimed that ISIS was responsible for the civilian deaths.

Col. Joseph Scrocca, a spokesman for the operation against ISIS in Iraq, Syria and beyond, noted on Friday that ISIS has previously demonstrated disregard for civilians and civilian facilities by “using human shields, and fighting from protected sites such as schools, hospitals and religious sites.”

Scrocca added there have been instances where ISIS forced families from their homes to booby-trap them with explosives to delay Iraqi forces.

The Central Command’s release on Saturday asserted that the coalition fighting ISIS “respects human life, which is why we are assisting our Iraqi partner forces in their effort to liberate their lands from ISIS brutality. Our goal has always been for zero civilian casualties, but the coalition will not abandon our commitment to our Iraqi partners because of ISIS’s inhuman tactics terrorizing civilians.”

“Coalition forces comply with the Law of Armed Conflict and take all reasonable precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians,” the statement said.

The U.S.-led coalition has conducted more than 19,000 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria since the summer of 2014.

U.S. Central Command has also opened a credibility assessment into an airstrike Monday night, March 20, that targeted a school building near Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital inside Syria.

The activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights alleges that an airstrike on the school killed 33 civilians who had been seeking shelter from local fighting.

And, U.S. Central Command is conducting a full investigation and credibility assessment of an airstrike on March 16 in the village of al-Jinnah in northwestern Syria.

U.S. officials said that airstrike killed dozens of al-Qaeda militants who had gathered for a meeting in a building near a mosque across the street. They emphasized that the mosque was not struck and that the building was not affiliated with the mosque. However, locals said that dozens of worshipers were killed in the airstrike and that the targeted building was, in fact, a mosque.

A military spokesman confirmed that earlier this week Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, ordered a full investigation into the circumstances of the mission.

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Mar 26

US airstrike kills senior al Qaeda leader, Pentagon says

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — An American counter-terrorism airstrike conducted last weekend in eastern Afghanistan killed a senior al Qaeda leader named Qari Yasin, the Pentagon announced Saturday.

Yasin is responsible for plotting a number of high-profile al Qaeda terror attacks, including the 2008 bombing of a Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan, and a 2009 bombing that targeted a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan.

In addition to the dozens of innocent victims killed in these attacks, the 2008 bombing in Islamabad killed two U.S. military personnel: Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez and Navy Cryptologic Technician Third Class Petty Officer Matthew J. O’Bryan.

“The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said in a statement.

Yasin, from Balochistan, Pakistan, had ties to the Pakistan-based terror organization Tehrik-e Taliban.

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Mar 26

UKIP's only MP resigns to become an independent

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — The United Kingdom Independence Party’s (UKIP) only member of parliament has quit the party to become an independent.

Douglas Carswell, who was with the Conservatives until switching to the Brexit-supporting UKIP in 2014, announced the news on his website on Saturday. The 45-year-old said he joined UKIP “because I desperately wanted [Britain] to leave the [European Union. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving UKIP.”

“UKIP might not have managed to win many seats in Parliament, but in a way we are the most successful political party in Britain ever,” Carswell said. “We have achieved what we were established to do – and in doing so we have changed the course of our country’s history for the better.”

Carswell’s news comes ahead of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday, which will begin formal negotiations of the U.K.’s exit from the EU.

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Mar 26

London attacker was in Saudi Arabia 3 times, but not on security officials' radar, says embassy

thitivong/iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — London terror attack suspect Khalid Masood visited Saudi Arabia three times — including two stints teaching English — but he was not on any security watchlist, the kingdom’s London embassy said late Friday.

“The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia wishes to clarify that Khalid Masood was in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and April 2008 to April 2009, when he worked as an English teacher having first obtained a work visa,” the embassy said in a statement. “In 2015, he obtained an Umra visa through an approved travel agent and was in the Kingdom from the 3rd-8th March.”

Masood was also not on the radar of security officials.

“During his time in Saudi Arabia, Khalid Masood did not appear on the security services’ radar and does not have a criminal record in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the statement read.

The embassy expressed its condolences to Britain, writing, “Saudi Arabia continues to stand with the United Kingdom during this difficult time and reaffirms its commitment to continue its work with the United Kingdom in any way to assist in the ongoing investigation.”

The embassy also took the opportunity to stress its commitment to defeating terrorism.

“The attack in London this week has again demonstrated the importance of international efforts to confront and eradicate terrorism,” the embassy said. “At such a time, our ongoing security cooperation is most crucial to the defeat of terrorism and the saving of innocent lives.”

Masood’s reign of terror began Wednesday after a car he was driving struck pedestrians and three police officers on Westminster Bridge.

The car then crashed into the fence around the Houses of Parliament, and armed with a knife, he attacked an officer who was standing guard.

Masood was shot and killed by police.

Four people — including a police officer — were killed, and at least 28 were injured.

Press statement regarding the Westminster terror attack pic.twitter.com/X2YXXarXwH

— Saudi Embassy UK (@SaudiEmbassyUK) March 24, 2017

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Mar 26

Suspect in custody after fatal Las Vegas bus shooting

iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) — The suspect in a shooting that left one person dead and another wounded on a bus in Las Vegas is in custody after a tense standoff in which the suspect barricaded himself inside the, police said.

After a lengthy standoff, the armed suspect surrendered, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said.

Police said it is unknown what provoked the shooting, but there was no evidence to suggest that the incident was related to a robbery overnight at Bellagio Resort & Casino.

According to a tweet from the LVMPD, part of the Las Vegas Strip was shut down after the gunman barricaded himself inside a bus. The area that was shut down, between Flamingo and Harmon streets, is where several large hotels are, including Planet Hollywood, Bellagio and the Cosmopolitan.

 

S. Las Vegas Blvd. between Flamingo & Harmon remains closed due to a barricade subject on bus. Please avoid the area. #LVMPDnews

— LVMPD (@LVMPD) March 25, 2017

 

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Mar 26

Masked robbers at Las Vegas' Bellagio Hotel broke into store's jewelry cases with sledgehammers

f11photo/iStock/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) — Masked robbers who struck a high-end jewelry and watch store at a luxury hotel in Las Vegas appear to have used sledgehammers to break into the shop’s jewelry cases, authorities said.

One suspect is in custody and the investigation is continuing following the robbery of the store at Bellagio Resort & Casino overnight on Friday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detectives said Saturday.

Detectives also said earlier reports of shooting during the burglary were unfounded, and they now believe the sound of sledgehammers striking the jewelry cases were mistaken for gunfire.

When police descended upon the resort and casino in response to the burglary, guests fled in panic from the property, flooding surrounding streets, amid false reports of an “active shooter.”

“Currently investigating burglary at @bellagio,” the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department tweeted at 2:13 a.m. “Initial reports indicated there was an ‘active shooter’ which was false. NO injuries.”

Currently investigating burglary at @bellagio. Initial reports indicated there was an “active shooter” which was false. NO injuries.

— LVMPD (@LVMPD) March 25, 2017

Although there was no shooting during the incident, the robbers were armed, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Lt. Carlos Hank told ABC News.

The Bellagio was on lockdown after the incident for about 30 minutes.

The store was not open at the time of the incident.

The suspects wore character masks, but Lt. Hank could not confirm the specifics of the mask. One eyewitness, though — a woman named Kira, who did not want her surname used — told ABC News she saw a man wearing a pig mask.

Lt. Hank said early Saturday morning that some people were detained, but it is unclear if the detained individuals are burglary suspects.

#bellagio pic.twitter.com/dlniE3cCie

— Zuleyka Veronica (@Zuleyka_Alvarez) March 25, 2017

 

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Mar 26

NY officer's body camera reveals horrific crime scene in murder-for-hire plot aftermath

Courtesy Collene Rose(NEW YORK) — Two police officers in Steuben County, New York, responded to a frantic 911 call just after midnight in September 2015 and ended up walking through a grisly crime scene.

One of the officers wearing a body camera captured something that seemed too horrific to be real. The victim was 35-year-old Kelley Clayton, a beautiful wife and loving mother of two small children. She had been bludgeoned to death in her own home.

“She’s been beat to death,” Deputy Dean Swan said. “I got a body cam on to show where we went … it is extremely bloody.”

Kelley Clayton’s husband, Thomas Clayton, was the one who had called 911 after he said he had returned home from a poker game and found her body on the kitchen floor.

Investigators began piecing together what happened and trying to make sense of a seemingly senseless murder that rocked the small town in upstate New York.

Kelley Clayton was born and raised in Elmira, New York, and was always under the watchful eye of her older sister, Kim Bourgeois.

“We are 10 years apart. So she was kind of my baby. I am protective of her,” Bourgeois said. “[Kelley was] very brave to me, bold, sassy. … She liked to dance, she was pretty. … She could model, and I just think that’s what she wanted to do.”

Kelley Clayton’s big personality and dreams took her to Las Vegas, where she traded in a teaching job to work as a cocktail waitress for a time.

“She absolutely loved it,” Bourgeois said. “One time, she had worn a big, 30-pound feather headdress and she just loved it.”

But it was Kelley Clayton’s attraction to an Elmira sports star that brought her back home. Thomas Clayton was a hockey player for the semi-pro Elmira Jackals and seemed to have a reputation for fighting on the ice and flirting off it.

“People were very much in awe of him because he was cute and he was an instigator and he would start fights,” Bourgeois added. “People got very caught up in that.”

Kelley Clayton moved back home and she and Tom Clayton got married. They had two children, a girl named Charlie, now 8, and a boy named Cullen, now 5.

On the night she was killed, Bourgeois and her mother arrived at the Clayton house less than an hour after police.

“My mother and I were wailing,” Bourgeois said. “I was throwing up on the side of the road. I can’t even explain to you that feeling.”

Back inside the house, authorities started collecting evidence. The police officer’s body camera captured the savage brutality that shocked even the first responders.

“This was an extremely brutal attack, a very gruesome situation,” said Donald Lewis, an investigator for the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office who was on the scene that night.

“[It was] some sort of attack in the upstairs area down the hallways,” he continued. “Down the stairs, there was a hole in the sheetrock at the bottom of the stairs and a blood trail that ended at Mrs. Clayton’s body in the kitchen area.”

Lewis said Kelley Clayton had died of blunt force trauma after being beaten with a fiberglass maul handle. Investigators’ suspicion quickly turned toward her husband.

“There was a lot of things that kind of raised some flags,” Lewis said.

One major flag: There were no signs of forced entry or robbery. Despite witnesses seeing Tom Clayton at his friend’s poker game that night, and his GPS placing him there, police took him into custody.

While looking into Tom Clayton’s alibi, police learned that a woman at the poker game said he asked to borrow her cellphone to make a call just 90 minutes before he got home to find his wife’s body.

Then, a new person of interest emerged: a man named Michael Beard, a former employee at one of Tom Clayton’s companies who had recently been fired.

Police said the two had been in contact. Phone records showed there were frequent phone calls and texts between them, including the call Tom Clayton made to Beard from the poker game. It was a smoking gun revealing what investigators believed was a sinister murder-for-hire plot.

Beard confessed to being hired by Tom Clayton to murder Kelley Clayton,” Lewis said. “From what we were able to gather was [for] $10,000 cash.”

Questions arose as to why Tom Clayton would want to murder his wife. Kelley Clayton’s sister said she believes he wanted his freedom.

Other red flags for investigators were that a year earlier Tom Clayton had doubled his wife’s life insurance policy. Authorities also alleged that Tom Clayton was romantically involved with other women and wanted out of the marriage, but he didn’t think divorce was an option.

“He had made comments to some of these women … that if he was to divorce Kelley, ‘she would take everything from me,’” Lewis said.

Tom Clayton and Beard were each charged with first-degree murder and tried separately.

Beard, who had confessed to the crime, then changed his story and pleaded not guilty, claiming Tom Clayton hired him to burn down his house for insurance money. He said he never went through with it. Beard was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Tom Clayton also pleaded not guilty. His defense said all of the evidence is circumstantial.

“This is probably by far the most interesting and the most complicated case that I’ve ever been part of,” Lewis said. “Everything was circumstantial when it came to Thomas Clayton… You could explain away a lot of them calls and a lot of the circumstances but you couldn’t explain all of it away.”

Tom Clayton was also found guilty. His lawyers told ABC News they plan to appeal after sentencing.

Kelley Clayton’s family is trying to move forward the best they can. Since her murder, the children have been living with Bourgeois and her husband.

“I thank God that I have Charlie and Cullen,” Bourgeois said. “Those kids, that’s what gets me up every day. … I have got to keep going.”

Earlier this month, Tom Clayton’s former team the Elmira Jackals hosted a Domestic Violence Awareness Night in memory of Kelley Clayton. All ticket proceeds went to support her children, who were there to drop the first puck.

Bourgeois said she’s grateful to have her sister’s children because they help her stay present, but if there was one thing she could say to their father, it would be that she will make sure Kelley Clayton’s memory lives on.

“I also would say, “You took her life, not her light, and her light will shine forever, through Charlie, through Cullen, through me, through my brother, through my mother, forever, and we’ll be OK.’”

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Mar 26

Infant and toddler found stabbed to death in North Carolina; father arrested

artolympic/iStock/Thinkstock(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) — A toddler and an infant who were reported missing and endangered in North Carolina have been found stabbed to death, authorities said.

Serenity Freeman, 2, and her 4-day old baby sister Genesis Freeman went missing in Fayetteville on Friday.

On Saturday morning, detectives located the bodies of the two girls in the Raeford area in the woods about 200 yards from the road. The children had been stabbed multiple times, according to the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office.

The children were at the center of a domestic-related incident between their father, Tillman Freeman, and his wife, who was at the hospital at the time the young girls are believed to have gone missing, according to the Fayetteville Police Department.

Before the girls were found, Freeman was arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse and two counts of child endangerment on Friday, according to the Fayetteville Police Department. Police said he refused to provide any information on the whereabouts of his children.

We continue to look for the children & ask that anyone with info call 911, Detectives at 910-322-4101, or #Crimestoppers at 910-483-TIPS pic.twitter.com/wF2RwVRf3W

— Fayetteville Police (@FayettevillePD) March 25, 2017

After the girls were found, authorities said Tillman was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree murder.

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