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The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Two middle school students were arrested Thursday after making threats to the Tuskawilla Middle School campus., according to school officials. Deputies with the Seminole County Sheriff's Office investigated the incident and arrested the two students.  SCPS Superintendent Walt Griffin sent a recorded message to parents about the arrests.  “Our law enforcement partners at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office immediately investigated and addressed the situation. At no time was there any concern for the safety and security of our faculty, staff, and/or students. Our Tuskawilla Middle School Campus is completely safe for learning,” he said.  Superintendent Griffin also urged students and parents to report suspicious activity or behavior. According to school officials, at no time was there any concern for the safety of faculty, staff or students.  The school will have an extra law enforcement presence on Friday as a precaution.
  • Three Indiana circuit judges who were involved in a drunken fight outside an Indianapolis White Castle restaurant in April -- which ended with two of the judges being shot -- have been suspended by the Indiana Supreme Court. Two Clark County Circuit Court judges, Andrew Adams and Bradley Jacobs, and Crawford County Circuit Judge Sabrina Bell were disciplined in the ruling handed down Tuesday. Adams was suspended without pay for 60 days, while Jacobs and Bell were each suspended without pay for 30 days. The judges engaged in judicial misconduct that was “not merely embarrassing on a personal level; they discredited the entire Indiana judiciary,” the unanimous ruling states. “All three respondents joined in a profane verbal altercation that quickly turned into physical violence and ended in gunfire, and in doing so, gravely undermined public trust in the dignity and decency of Indiana’s judiciary,” the justices ruled. The suspensions are serious black marks on the judges’ records. “A suspension from office without pay, regardless of duration, is not a minor sanction,” the ruling states. “Even more than a public reprimand, any such suspension is a significant blemish on a sitting judge’s reputation.” >> Read more trending news  The near-deadly incident took place on the night of April 30 after all three judges traveled to Indianapolis to attend the Spring Judicial College the next day, the high court’s opinion states. The Spring Judicial College, initiated in 2000, is a professional development conference for judicial officers from across the state. After checking into their hotel rooms, Adams, Jacobs and Bell spent the evening socializing and drinking with others attending the conference. Around 12:30 a.m. on May 1, the trio met up with Clark Circuit Court Magistrate William Dawkins at a local bar, where they kept drinking, the opinion states. They attempted to go to a strip club, identified in charging documents as the Red Garter Gentleman’s Club, around 3 a.m. but found it to be closed, the document says. That’s when the four judges walked to a nearby White Castle. As Dawkins went inside the restaurant, Adams, Jacobs and Bell remained in the parking lot, where two strangers, Alfredo Vazquez and Brandon Kaiser, drove by, the ruling says. The men, both of Indianapolis, shouted something out the car window at the group. “Judge Bell extended her middle finger to Vazquez and Kaiser, who pulled into the White Castle parking lot and exited the vehicle,” the opinion states. “Judge Bell, who was intoxicated, has no memory of the incident but concedes that the security camera video shows her making this gesture.” The two groups began a heated argument, “making dismissive, mocking, or insolent gestures” toward one another, the document says. At no time did the judges try to leave to avoid the confrontation or de-escalate the situation. That’s when the fight turned violent, authorities said. Charging documents indicate the judges moved toward Kaiser and Vazquez prior to the fight turning physical. Adams and Vazquez began punching and kicking one another, while Jacobs and Kaiser wrestled one another on the ground, according to the charging documents. “At one point, Judge Jacobs had Kaiser contained on the ground. With his fist raised back, Judge Jacobs said, ‘Okay, okay, we’re done, we’re done,’ or ‘This is over. Tell me this is over,’ or words to that effect,” the court ruling states. Vazquez tried to get Jacobs off of Kaiser, at which point he and Jacobs began tussling, the charging documents say. As Kaiser began to sit up, Adams kicked him in the back. Kaiser pulled out a gun and opened fire, shooting Adams once in the abdomen and Jacobs twice in the chest, the ruling states. Bell immediately called 911, the document says. It states she also attempted to stop the fight prior to the gunfire and sought help from people inside the White Castle by banging on the door. Adams and Jacobs were rushed to different hospitals, where Adams underwent two emergency surgeries, including a colon resection, the ruling says. Jacobs also underwent two surgeries and remained hospitalized for two weeks. Adams’ serum blood alcohol level upon admission to the hospital was 0.213, or about 0.157 using whole blood, the justices wrote. Jacob’s serum blood alcohol level was 0.177, or 0.13 using whole blood. Blood serum is the fluid left behind after blood coagulates, or clots. The legal limit for intoxication in Indiana, like most states, is 0.08. Bell’s blood alcohol level was not tested, but she was “intoxicated enough that she lacks any memory of the incident,” the ruling states. The judge, who was taken to the police station to give a statement, told investigators she did not remember what she said to Kaiser and Vazquez, or what started the physical fight. “However, while on the scene, the media videotaped Judge Bell telling police detectives, in an excited state, ‘I feel like this is all my fault’ or words to that effect. Judge Bell does not remember making this statement,” the ruling states. Footage from RTV6 in Indianapolis appears to show a tearful, obviously distraught Bell telling an investigator, “I feel like this is my fault.” The video shows her pacing and repeatedly running her hands through her hair. After being told that detectives had video of the incident, Bell told them in a recorded statement that she was afraid she instigated the incident that left her fellow judges seriously injured. “We’re all very good friends, and they’re very protective of me,” Bell told detectives. “And I don’t know, and I’m afraid that I said something to those two strange men at first, and then they said something back to me. And then I said something and then (Adams and Jacobs) went to defend me.” She acknowledged getting “mouthy” when she drinks, the documents says. “I mean, I fully acknowledge that I drink and get mouthy, and I’m fiery and I’m feisty but, if I would have ever thought for a second that they were gonna fight or that that guy had a gun on him, I would never, never,” she said, according to the court. On May 3, two days after the shooting, police released surveillance footage of the two then-unidentified men with whom the judges had brawled. The footage, broadcast by multiple news stations, shows Bell, Adams and Jacobs standing outside the White Castle as Kaiser and Vazquez pull up in an SUV. As the two men walk toward the door of the burger restaurant, they appear to stop and turn toward the judges as the verbal sparring begins. Kaiser, 41, and Vazquez, 23, were arrested four days later, according to The Associated Press. Kaiser initially faced charges of attempted murder, battery, aggravated battery and carrying a handgun without a license. Vazquez initially faced a charge of assisting a criminal, the AP reported. A special grand jury on June 28 indicted Adams on two counts of felony battery resulting in moderate injury, four counts of misdemeanor battery and one count of disorderly conduct. Jacobs was also targeted by the grand jury investigation but ultimately faced no charges. Bell was not under investigation. Adams was suspended from the bench the day the indictment was handed down. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 9 to a single count of misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury, for kicking Kaiser. The rest of the charges were dismissed, and he was sentenced to a year in jail, with all but two of those days  suspended, the ruling states. He was given credit for two days served and spent no time behind bars following the sentencing. The Indianapolis Star reported at the time that Adams showed remorse during his sentencing hearing, apologizing to his wife and children, as well as to the court, the state judiciary and the State Bar Association. “This was a regretful situation and an incident that will not happen again,” Adams said in court, according to the Star. See a video on the case by the Star below. Marion County Judge William Nelson, who presided over Adams’ criminal case, said it was not an easy task, the newspaper said. Nelson was at the judicial conference in Indianapolis when he learned that Adams and Jacobs had been shot. “Little did I know I would be sitting here (judging) you,” Nelson said. Marion County court records show that Kaiser, who is scheduled for trial in January, faces a total of 14 charges, including eight felony charges. The charges include aggravated battery, battery by means of a deadly weapon and carrying a handgun without a license. Vazquez, who was ultimately charged with seven felony and misdemeanor crimes, took a plea deal and was sentenced Nov. 1 to 180 days of home confinement and a year of probation on one misdemeanor battery count and a probation violation, the Star reported. He was on probation at the time of the fight for a drunken driving conviction. “I am remorseful. I feel bad,” Vazquez said in court, according to the newspaper. The state Supreme Court took into account several things when handing down the judges’ suspensions, which were agreed upon by all three judges, according to the ruling. It states that none of the judges had prior disciplinary history, and they accepted responsibility and showed remorse. All three have seen counselors since the incident and have cooperated fully with the probe into their actions, the ruling states. Bell’s attempts to stop the fight and her immediate actions after the shooting were also taken into account, according to the document. Read the Indiana Supreme Court decision in its entirety below. Indiana Supreme Court Ruling by National Content Desk on Scribd “The purpose of judicial discipline is not primarily to punish a judge, but rather to preserve the integrity of and public confidence in the judicial system and, when necessary, safeguard the bench and public from those who are unfit,” the ruling states. The News and Tribune in Clark County reported that Adams admitted in a written statement that he had failed to live up to the standards of his position. “I am fully aware of the embarrassment I have brought to the Indiana judiciary, my family and specifically my community,” Adams said in the statement obtained by the newspaper. “There is not a minute in the day that I don’t think about the significant repercussions my actions have caused. “I take full responsibility for my actions as they neither met my expectations or the expectations placed upon me as a judicial officer.” He apologized to both his family and the community. “I am thankful this matter has come to a resolution and for all the prayers and support as I continue to recover from this incident,” he said. “With God’s grace, I look forward to returning to work and continuing to serve our community. I hope that the community can accept my sincere apology and remorse for my actions.” Jacobs’ attorney, Larry Wilder, expressed similar sentiments on behalf of his client, stating in a news conference that Jacobs nearly lost everything on May 1. “Today I submit myself to my family and my community and ask forgiveness for my choices on that day,” Jacobs said in a statement read by Wilder. “I wholeheartedly apologize for my behavior that evening that has embarrassed the Indiana Supreme Court, my fellow judges and all the members of my chosen profession. I cannot offer any excuse for the events of that evening nor do I attempt to offer any excuses for those choices.” Bell, who the News and Tribune reported represented herself in the proceedings, could not be reached for comment by the newspaper. Bell, who has served as a circuit judge since 2017, will begin her suspension on Nov. 22 and return to the bench on Dec. 23, the ruling says. Adams, who took the bench in 2015, has been on interim suspension since his criminal charges were filed. He will return to his position Jan. 13. Jacobs, who was sworn in on the same day as Adams in 2015, will, like Bell, begin his suspension on Nov. 22 and return to the bench on Dec. 23.
  • Officials closed all public schools in Roanoke, Virginia, Thursday as police searched for a former U.S. Marine accused of killing his mother's boyfriend in nearby Franklin County. >> Read more trending news  Sheriff's deputies said Michael Alexander Brown, 22, is wanted on suspicion of shooting and killing Rodney Wilfred Brown, 54, last week at the home his mother and Brown shared in Hardy. Here are the latest updates: Update 3:20 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Roanoke City Public Schools officials said the shelter in place order was lifted Thursday afternoon after a search for Michael Alexander Brown, 22, turned up no sign of the man. Authorities said Brown is wanted on a second-degree murder charge following the shooting death last week of his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Wilfred Brown, 54. He remained at large Thursday afternoon. Update 9:30 a.m. EST Nov. 14: Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Michael Alexander Brown, 22. Franklin County sheriff's deputies said Brown is wanted on a charge of second-degree murder after his mother's boyfriend, 54-year-old Rodney Wilfred Brown, was found shot dead last week at his home in Hardy. Deputies said Brown deserted his post last month at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he served as a combat engineer. Thursday's search was prompted by the discovery of his car on a road in Roanoke, officials said. 'It was unknown where Michael may be headed or where he has been staying since leaving his post,' deputies said Sunday in a news release. 'He has been known to live in the woods and frequent National Parks and National Forests. He is believed to be armed with a high-powered rifle and may have access to other weapons.' Deputies urged anyone with information on Brown's whereabouts to contact authorities at 540-483-6662. Update 8:17 a.m. EST Nov. 14: According to WSET, Roanoke police believe Michael Alexander Brown, who is wanted on a murder charge, was 'in the Roanoke area' and may be armed. According to NBC News, Brown, 22, is facing a second-degree murder charge in the Saturday shooting death of 54-year-old Rodney Brown. Police said Michael Brown, who had been a combat engineer at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune before he deserted last month, 'is most likely on foot and possibly looking for transportation,' WSET reported. The suspect, who is white with brown hair and blue eyes, stands 6 feet tall and weighs 145 pounds, WDBJ reported.  Original report: Police in Virginia are 'actively investigating a situation' near a Roanoke's Patrick Henry High School, authorities said early Thursday. As a result, all of the district's public schools are closed, WFXR and WDBJ are reporting. Please return for updates.
  • Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin conceded the gubernatorial race to Democrat Andy Beshear on Thursday amid a recanvass of vote totals. >> Read more trending news  Beshear declared victory last week over Bevin after election results showed the governor closely trailing him. According to The New York Times, Beshear led Bevin by 5,300 votes. Beshear received 49.2% of votes to Bevin's 48.8%, the outlet reported. >> Read the latest from our Washington Insider, Jamie Dupree Update 2:25 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Bevin announced Thursday that he wouldn't contest the results of the election as recanvass totals appeared to affirm the results of last week's election, according to the Courier Journal. He wished Beshear luck during a news conference Thursday, according to Kentucky Public Radio. Beshear, who is the state attorney general and the son of former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, will be sworn in next month, Politico reported. Update 3:45 p.m. EST Nov. 6: Bevin formally requested a recanvass of the vote Wednesday afternoon, according to Kentucky's Secretary of State Alison L. Grimes. A recanvass is not a recount, but rather a check of the vote count to ensure the results were added up correctly. Bevin could also seek a recount in court. Grimes said the recanvass was scheduled to take place Nov. 14 at 9 a.m. Original report: 'Tonight, voters in Kentucky sent a message loud and clear for everyone to hear,' Beshear, currently Kentucky's attorney general, said in a victory speech late Tuesday. 'It's a message that says our elections don't have to be about right versus left; they are still about right versus wrong.' Beshear, whose father, Steve Beshear, served as governor from 2007 to 2015, added that he hoped Bevin 'will honor the election that was held tonight,' the AP reported. >> Watch Beshear's speech here But Bevin was not ready to give in. 'Would it be a Bevin race if it wasn't a squeaker? I mean, come on,' he said. 'I mean, really and truly, this is a close, close race. We are not conceding this race by any stretch.' He added that 'we truly don't know' who the next governor will be. 'Whoever it is will be the one determined by the process being followed, by the law being followed, by the process being truly sound,' Bevin said, claiming that there may have been unspecified 'irregularities.' >> See Bevin's speech here Democrats hailed the results as a win against President Donald Trump, who supported Bevin and appeared with him at a rally in Kentucky on Monday. Meanwhile, Brad Parscale, Trump's campaign manager, released a statement saying the president 'just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line.'  Trump echoed the sentiment in a series of tweets early Wednesday and pointed out that Republicans won five of six statewide races. Read more here or here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • AAA is out with its travel forecast for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, predicting close to 2.9 million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more, which would make it the second busiest Thanksgiving travel period since AAA began tracking in 2000, second only to 2005. Nationally, AAA reports 55 million Americans will take a trip for the holiday. By the numbers: 2019 Thanksgiving travel forecast Automobiles:  U.S. – 49.3 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8% more than last year. Florida – 2.6 million Floridians are forecast to drive, 3% more than last year. The second-most since 2005. Planes:  U.S. – 4.45 million Americans expected to fly. With 4.6% growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the Thanksgiving holiday. Florida – 210,456 Floridians are forecast to fly; 4.3% more than last year. Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships:  U.S. – Travel by other modes will reach 1.49 million, a slight increase of 1.4% from 2018. Florida – 52,629 Florida air passengers are an increase of 1-percent from last year. Wednesday is expected to be the busiest travel day of the holiday period with most people hitting the road between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Washington Insider

  • After hearing testimony earlier this week from two State Department officials about an 'irregular' diplomatic channel in Ukraine led by President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, the House Intelligence Committee will hear from the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, who was the target of a campaign led by Giuliani in March of 2018, which led to her replacement. In her closed door testimony to impeachment investigators, veteran U.S. diplomat Marie Yovanovitch joined in pointing a finger of blame at Giuliani for leading what one State Department official called a 'campaign of slander' against the Ambassador. 'I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me,' Yovanovitch said in her deposition. Not a household name by any stretch of the imagination, the veteran diplomat suddenly found herself the subject of attacks on Fox News and in conservative media circles starting on March 20, 2019. An article by John Solomon was quickly followed by a tweet by President Trump, segments on Fox News, questions about Hunter Biden, George Soros and more - all in a short four day rush. All of it came just a few days after Yovanovitch had agreed to a State Department request for her to stay on as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine through 2020. As Ambassador Yovanovitch repeatedly told investigators last month, she still has no idea why President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani had targeted her, accusing her of corruption, and working against President Trump - what colleagues called a 'campaign of slander' against her which had no truth. 'That allegation is false,' she testified of charges that she told U.S. embassy personnel to ignore orders from President Trump. 'Honestly, it's a mystery to me,” Yovanovitch said of why Rudy Giuliani was drumming up opposition to her inside Ukraine - and back at the White House. 'Well, clearly, they didn't want me in Ukraine anymore,' Yovanovitch told impeachment investigators, as she was removed by President Trump soon after. What did Yovanovitch do wrong? There is no clear answer. In reviewing press releases, news stories, and social media posts from 2017 and 2018, absolutely nothing jumps out about the Ambassador's actions under President Trump. In Ukraine, she spoke at events with dry titles like 'Economic Opportunities for people affected by Conflict in Ukraine,' made visits and speeches to places like the Ukrainian Catholic University, and spoke about innovation by businesses in Ukraine. But starting in March 2019, everything changed once the John Solomon article was published. She gets her chance on Friday in the impeachment hearings to speak in public for the first time about what happened.