(NEW YORK) -- Donald Trump on Wednesday indicated he invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against testifying against himself during a scheduled deposition that day as part of the New York attorney general's civil investigation into his family real estate business.
The former president was seen arriving at the attorney general's office in New York City around 9 a.m. local time.
In an emailed statement to reporters about an hour and a half later, Trump said, in part, "Under the advice of my counsel ... I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution." His statement also included lengthy attacks on the state attorney general's investigation.
A source with knowledge of the matter subsequently confirmed to ABC News that Trump was declining to answer questions from investigators.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, Trump remained at the attorney general's office -- across the street from one of the Trump-branded buildings included in the civil investigation.
A spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James declined to comment.
The deposition in the civil case follows an escalation in a separate federal investigation into Trump's handling of classified material. On Monday, the FBI searched Trump's residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
Wednesday's deposition, which had been delayed from July due to the death of Trump's ex-wife Ivana, comes after a months-long court fight during which Trump was held in contempt as he fought the attorney general's subpoena.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has called the investigation politically motivated.
"My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!" he said in a statement on his social media outlet, Truth Social, shortly before Wednesday's deposition.
Two of his grown children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, have already been deposed as part of the civil probe, sources said.
Trump argued unsuccessfully that he should not have to sit for a deposition while the Manhattan District Attorney's Office was conducting a parallel criminal investigation. While the Manhattan DA's case remains active, two senior prosecutors who had been leading it resigned earlier this year over the lack of an indictment.
James has said her office uncovered evidence of potentially fraudulent conduct in the way the Trump Organization valued its real estate holdings when seeking loans and when asking for tax breaks.
Lawyers in her office have said in court that the office is nearing a decision on an enforcement action.
ABC News' Will Steakin contributed to this report.
(CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) -- One manufacturer believes it has a solution to the gun violence plaguing the United States - a personalized smart gun that uses fingerprint technology to make firearms safer.
Ginger Chandler is the co-founder of LodeStar Works in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She said she believes her company’s smart gun can be a solution to the rising gun-related deaths in the country.
Chandler said the smart gun can only be fired by an authenticated user; in this case, verified by his or her fingerprint.
“What we know is if an unauthorized person picks up that firearm in a time of stress or they're going to do something quick, they're not going to be able to do it,” said Chandler.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recently published data, overall firearm-related deaths increased by 15% in 2020, to over 45,000 deaths, the highest number ever recorded by the CDC since it began tracking firearm deaths in 1968.
Daniel Webster is the co-director of Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. He has been researching approaches to reduce gun violence through a public health lens rather than solely a criminal justice approach.
“By thinking about this as a public health problem, you really expand how you think about it and the potential solutions that you have to address it…[For example] reducing unintentional shootings involving young people, teen suicides and juvenile perpetrated homicides,” said Webster.
An analysis from the New England Journal of Medicine labeled the increasing firearm-related mortality rates as a “preventable cause of death.”
Chandler said that the three fail-safes -- an app, a pin-pad and a fingerprint -- manufactured into the smart gun can help combat some of those preventable deaths.
“First, there's an app on the phone… The other way to unlock it is just a pin-pad on the side,” said Chandler. “And then if you put your fingerprint on that pad.”
Not all are convinced. Webster said that, despite “some really big safety gains” from smart guns, it is “not realistic” that the guns will help lower the homicide rate.
In the past, the National Rifle Association has supported smart guns, but raised concerns about the tech becoming mandatory for all firearms sold in the United States.
But many Americans favor gun control laws. An ABC News IPSOS poll found 89% of Americans support background checks for all buyers.
Chandler said that making guns safer is a “net positive” -- without taking away guns from Americans.
“I'm a shooter. I hunt. It is something I am involved in. It's a passion. I enjoy it,” said Chandler. “I absolutely respect the person who says we should not have any more guns… I respect that and I just want the same respect.”
(BRUNSWICK, Ga.) -- The coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia, where Ahmaud Arbery was killed, is honoring the slain 25-year-old with a street sign.
"The hardest part is knowing he is no longer with me," Arbery's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, said at Tuesday's unveiling.
"But I look at the change that Ahmaud has brought since his passing," she said, citing Georgia's new hate crime law and the repeal of the state's 1863 citizen's arrest law.
"I want to say thank you to the city of Brunswick for honoring my family, honoring Ahmaud," she went on. "Because my only prayer is you guys will not forget his name."
The crowd cheered as Honorary Ahmaud Arbery Street was uncovered and people chanted "Say his name! Ahmaud Arbery!"
Thank you to everyone who came out to the very special and historic unveiling of the Honorary Ahmaud Arbery Street Sign today. The City of Brunswick is proud to honor Ahmaud Arbery and his family with this street sign in his name. pic.twitter.com/uiEjQhlOUP
The ceremony took place one day after the three white men convicted of federal hate crimes in connection to Arbery's death received their sentences.
Gregory McMichael, 66, who chased Arbery, and his son, Travis McMichael, 36, who fired the fatal shot two years ago, were sentenced Monday to life in prison. The McMichaels' neighbor, William "Roddie" Bryan, 52, who joined the chase and recorded video, was sentenced to 35 years.
Arbery was killed in Brunswick on Feb. 23, 2020. When the McMichaels saw Arbery jogging in their neighborhood, they chased him, falsely believing the Black man had been responsible for several break-ins. Bryan joined the chase in his own truck, blocking Arbery from escaping, and recorded video of Travis McMichael shooting Arbery after a brief struggle.
Prosecutors released text messages and social media posts in which Travis McMichael and Bryan repeatedly used racist slurs. Witnesses also testified to hearing Greg and Travis McMichaels make racist comments.
Bryan and the McMichaels were already serving life in prison after being found guilty of state murder charges last fall. The McMichaels were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole while Bryan was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
ABC News' Kiara Alfonseca contributed to this report.
(NEW YORK) -- Three towns on Maryland’s Eastern Shore will pay $5 million to the family of a Black teenager who was killed in an encounter with police officers almost four years ago, according to the attorneys for the family.
Anton Black, a 19-year-old former star high school athlete, died on Sept. 15, 2018, after being restrained by three officers from the Centreville, Greensboro and Ridgley police departments who held him face down for about six minutes, pinning his shoulders, legs and arms, according to a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Baltimore in late 2020.
"I had to watch those police officers kill my son, while he pleaded for his life and called out to me. There are no words to describe the immense hurt that I will always feel when I think back on that tragic day, when I think of my son," Black's mother, Janell Black, said in a statement Monday.
Under the settlement, the three towns have also agreed to make changes in their police departments' training of officers in order to avoid future deaths of this nature, according to the family's lawyers.
The changes include an overhaul in "use of force" policies for the three Eastern Shore municipalities, more resources for police confronting mental health emergencies and mandated officer training in de-escalation, intervention and implicit bias, the lawyers say. The policy changes also strengthen hiring transparency and public complaint reporting.
The federal lawsuit was filed after local prosecutors declined to pursue charges over Black's death. The police officers involved argued that they did not use excessive force and that drug use or Black's mental illness instead contributed to the cardiac arrest that ended his life.
On the night of his killing, a woman called 911 claiming that Black was fighting with another boy, according to the lawsuit. Another witness said the boys were engaged in "ordinary roughhousing," according to the lawsuit.
Black had been diagnosed with severe bipolar disorder just months before the incident, the lawsuit said. At the time of the 911 call and police response, Black was enduring a mental health crisis, according to the lawsuit.
Black ran when confronted by a responding police officer, the lawsuit said. The other officers and a bystander then chased him, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit said that the officers used a taser to get him on the ground, where he was pinned face-down until he went unconscious.
One of the officers wrote in a court affidavit that he and another officer had to struggle with Black in order to keep him restrained and handcuffed.
That lawsuit argued that the officers involved used excessive force and then tried to cover up the killing by using false claims that Black was under the influence of marijuana that was laced with another drug, leading to the officers accusing Black of demonstrating "superhuman" strength.
A toxicology report released months after Black's death showed no drugs in his system, according to the lawsuit.
David Fowler, the state medical examiner at the time, released an autopsy four months after the incident that instead blamed congenital heart abnormalities for Black's death, classifying the death as an accident. Fowler said there was no evidence that the police officer's actions had caused the death.
Black's family is still pursuing litigation against the medical examiner's office and Fowler, who have been linked to the cover-up of Black's killing, according to the family's lawyers.
Lawyers representing Fowler and the medical examiner's office have not yet responded to ABC News' request for comment. A response from Fowler to the family's lawsuit said that his and his office's actions were "reasonable and legally justified." The response stated that Fowler is not liable for Black's death and neither are the officers involved.
"No one deserves to be killed like this," Black's sister, LaToya Holley, said in a statement Monday. "Anton Black did not deserve this. He will never be forgotten. He was such a sweet, nice, and loving person. There will always be a part of him in my heart."
The settlement reached with the towns also covered the family's claims against individuals involved in Black's death, including Thomas Webster IV, a former Greensboro police officer; Michael Petyo, the former chief of the Greensboro Police Department; Gary Manos, the former chief of the Ridgely Police Department; and Dennis Lannon, a former Centreville police officer.
Lawyers representing the defendants, and the three towns, did not immediately respond to ABC News' requests for comment.
"Today, we are hopeful that by reforming these local police departments, we will start to move a little closer in the right direction, away from white supremacy and closer to a nation of true equality and justice," Richard Potter, a member of the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black which joined the lawsuit against the three towns, said in a statement Monday.
(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- Muslim communities are reeling after the fourth killing in a potential string of murders of Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
All the deaths have taken place in just a nine-month period, stoking fear among local faith groups and garnering attention from Muslim leaders nationwide.
The Albuquerque Police Department chief of police announced Tuesday that the Volkswagen sedan believed to be involved in the most recent murder of 25-year-old Pakistan native Naeem Hussain has been tracked down and the driver has been detained.
He is the primary suspect in the murders, according to the APD.
The news comes just after the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, announced a $10,000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the deaths.
"The lives of Albuquerque Muslims are in danger. Whoever is responsible for this horrific, hateful shooting spree must be identified and stopped -- now," CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement.
Police are investigating whether the killing is connected to the Aug. 1 shooting death of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, as well as the July 26 murder of Aftab Hussein, 41 -- both of whom are also from Pakistan.
The November 2021 murder of Mohammad Ahmadi, a Muslim man from Afghanistan who was killed outside a business he ran with his brother, may also be connected, police say.
The Islamic Center of New Mexico held a memorial Tuesday evening for the four men.
"Our local and national officials continue to work hard in their investigation, and we will continue to remain vigilant," a press release for the event read. "We are still early in the process of grieving, but we would like to announce a memorial that will take place to raise prayers in remembrance of our four Muslim Brothers, whose lives were violently taken away."
During a Saturday press conference, Mayor Tim Keller, alongside the group's president, Ahmad Assed, told reporters that the tragic murders have impacted Muslims throughout the city.
"We have members of our Muslim community who are afraid to participate in everyday activities. They should never be afraid to do things like shopping, things like praying, things like going to school," Keller said.
Assed told reporters that his group, alongside local officials, is working to combat these fears.
"We're hopeful that our state will emerge again as the state we all know, as the warm and diverse [state], the diverse cultures, the welcoming of diverse cultures," Assed said. "We will defeat hate."
Local Muslim leaders are looking to law enforcement for safety in response to the murders, as officials increase their presence near Muslim institutions.
Locals say they fear for their safety and are urging one another to take extra precautions, such as traveling in groups, being aware of one's surroundings and avoiding walking alone at night.
Tahir Gauba, the spokesperson at the Islamic Center of New Mexico, asked police in a University of New Mexico safety forum to sit down with Pakistani students and speak with them about their fears and concerns.
"There were at least four or five students -- international Pakistani students -- who have left our town because they were concerned for their safety," Gauba told police during the call.
The APD asked the Muslim community on Saturday to "be vigilant" and report anything suspicious to law enforcement officials.
"This tragedy is impacting not only the Muslim community -- but all Americans," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. "We must be united against hate and violence regardless of the race, faith or background of the victims or the perpetrators. We urge anyone with information about these crimes to come forward by contacting law enforcement."
(IRVINE, Calif.) -- A Southern California dermatologist was arrested last week for allegedly poisoning her husband, authorities said.
Jack Chen, 53, has accused his wife Yue "Emily" Yu, 45, of poisoning him with Drano, a brand of drain cleaner, on three separate occasions in July, even catching the alleged act on tape and handing it over to the Irvine Police Department, according to court documents.
Yu's defense attorney David Wohl told ABC News that the allegations against his client are "absolutely and unequivocally" false.
Chen had reportedly gotten sick for over a month when he suspected Yu of putting drain cleaner in his tea and lemonade, according to police and court documents.
Police said Chen "captured video evidence supporting his suspicion" and turned it over to authorities. Following a search warrant, Yu was arrested.
Yu was booked at Orange County Jail, but charges have yet to be filed. Jail records show that Yu posted bond and was released from jail on Aug. 5.
Police said Chen "sustained significant internal injuries but is expected to recover" after being allegedly poisoned.
Chen, who's a radiologist, filed a domestic violence temporary restraining order on Aug. 5 against his wife of 10 years for himself and on behalf of the couple's two children. He alleged that Yu was physically, mentally and emotionally abusive toward their children and him.
He also alleged that Yu's mother, Yuojng "Amy" Gu, was abusive toward him and the children.
According to court documents, Chen is asking for sole custody of their two children.
"She has never, in any way, shape or form, tried to harm her husband or her children," Wohl added in a statement.
Wohl said that he and Yu believe that Chen accused her of poisoning him so he could gain an advantage in their divorce and custody cases.
"There is absolutely nothing done in those videos that were in any way illegal," Wohl told ABC News. "The videos do not depict her trying to poison her husband or harm anyone in her family."
Yu is the director of dermatology with Mission Heritage Medical Group.
"This incident is a domestic matter which occurred in Irvine, and we want to reassure our community that there has been no impact on our patients," Mission Heritage Medical Group said in a statement to ABC News.
(NEW YORK) -- In an effort to combat a surge in gun violence, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner implemented the One Safe Houston initiative that he said has made significant progress.
Turner spoke to ABC News’ GMA3 about engaging his community to join the fight against gun violence and how his city’s gun buyback program was able to voluntarily collect more than 845 guns in just one day.
GMA3: What can you point to in the [gun buyback program] that works to actually, not just collect some guns, but to actually bring down the gun violence problem?
TURNER: Look, it's not just one initiative. We put forth, in February of this year, an initiative called One Safe Houston. And it's a part of supporting our police department, adding 125 police officers more a day through our overtime initiative.
So it's adding more police, it's providing more technology, it's dealing with crisis prevention, intervention and diversion. It's our reentry program for people coming out of our criminal justice system, and then it's about a community initiative.
The gun buyback program is one of several. There's $1 million that I've allocated out of $53 million to the One Safe Houston initiative. So you have to look at it collectively. In terms of the response that we had a few weeks ago.
I would tell you it was overwhelming. It was supposed to have been from 8 to 12. We end up having to cut it off at about 7 p.m., more than 845 guns were turned in and we gave priority vouchers to 150 other cars that we had to turn away because we couldn't get to it.
So I think that if we took one gun off the street that could have been used in seriously injuring or killing someone, then the program, the initiative was worth it.
GMA3:And Mayor, I want to ask specifically about if you have any sort of way to gauge the effectiveness. I know you just launched this earlier in the year, but have you seen a change in the crime rate? What do you want to see?
TURNER: Well, let me just tell you, we had people who came, mothers, for example, who came and said, “Look, I have too many guns in this house and I don't want them stolen and then used by someone else or I don't want any of my children or their friends to come and act and get a hold of these guns and then seriously injuring themselves.”
We had people who came and turned in automatics, who said, “Look, because of inflation and everything else, I need the money more so than this gun right now.” Two or three months down the road, he said it might be different. [But] those guns were removed.
In the state of Texas what we know, there are way, way too many guns and people can access these guns better than they can access going to vote.
And so [we are doing] anything that we can do to draw attention to the fact that there are way too many guns and guns are the leading cause of death of our children in this country.
And if we can remove 845-plus guns, as we did two weekends ago on that Saturday morning, then this program is worth it.
And I will tell you, it was one way that the community could participate and in doing something to address public safety. And we plan on doing at least two others in this city over the next 2 to 3 months.
GMA3: Is this a matter of community engagement [and] that the citizens can actually feel like they are contributing in some way to a problem in Houston and other major cities?
TURNER:It's about all of that and more. It's important for people to recognize that creating a safe city is not just about police. Law enforcement cannot do it alone. And even though we are provided $10.7 million in overtime for additional police, they can't do it alone. It's not just about the technology.
The community has to be an active participant in terms of creating a very safe city and people are willing to participate and you have to give them an opportunity to participate.
And then bear in mind, in the state of Texas, the legislature last year implemented what we call House Bill 1927, where people can carry guns. There is no permit license permitted, I mean, required, no training. And so it has created this environment that really glorifies guns and people want to fill it. They want to be a part of the solution.
And so the gun buyback program… was a voluntary relinquishment initiative. And let me underscore this. This is where the people themselves voluntarily brought their guns to us. And they were working in collaboration with the police, with our faith-based community, with our community activists and leaders and then the people themselves.
So it was a very collaborative initiative and we didn't know what to expect. But what I can tell you, the line was 2 miles long all day.
GMA3: Houston's recorded the hottest July on record there. How are you holding up? How is the city's power grid? What more needs to be done to make sure that the people in your community can stay cool and stay safe?
TURNER: Well, I would tell you that the Texas power grid, it's still unreliable. This has been a very, very hot summer.
But as chair of Climate and U.S. Climate Mayors, I would tell you climate change is real. The bill that was just passed by the Senate, the Inflation Reduction Act, will go a long way. That's historic funding for climate initiative. And so these storms are coming with greater frequency and greater intensity.
In the last seven years, the city of Houston has faced seven federally declared disasters. So the storms are coming with greater frequency. We are addressing that. We're learning to adapt. We're putting in place climate mitigation initiatives. We're planting 4.6 million trees this decade, using cooling pavement, a lot of redundancy in generators to really make sure that, especially communities that are underserved and under-resourced, that they are not left out and left behind.
(NEW YORK) -- One person is dead and five others seriously injured after a bus overturned on the New Jersey Turnpike Tuesday, according to state police.
The fatal accident took place around 6:53 p.m. on the southbound Turnpike just before the Grover Cleveland Service Area, when a double-decker bus overturned and came to a stop on the entrance ramp to the service area, New Jersey State Police Sgt. Lawrence Peele told reporters Tuesday night.
During the collision, the bus hit a Ford F-150 pickup truck, Peele said. No one in the truck was injured.
The bus in the accident is a Megabus. The company told ABC News New York station WABC-TV there were 19 passengers and a driver on board from New York to Philadelphia. It did not provide additional details.
The entrance ramp near the crash is still shut down, N.J. State Police told ABC News.
The service area is located in Woodbridge, about 22 miles outside of New York City.
(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- Police have arrested a suspect in connection with the murders of four Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Investigators tracked down the Volkswagen sedan with tinted windows allegedly driven by the suspect in the most recent homicide, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina announced during a tweet Tuesday afternoon news conference.
The car was stopped by New Mexico State Police near Santa Rosa, New Mexico -- about 115 miles east of Albuquerque -- after a tip from a community member following the release of the description of the car, Albuquerque Deputy Cmdr. Kyle Hartsock told reporters at Tuesday's news conference.
The driver of the car, identified as 51-year-old Muhammad Syed, was then detained at a traffic stop, Medina said.
The most recent murder occurred on Friday, when Naeem Hussain, a 25-year-old native of Pakistan, was found dead from a gunshot wound near Truman Street and Grand Avenue in Albuquerque's Highland Business neighborhood, police said.
Syed has been charged with murder in the deaths of Naeem Hussain and Aftab Hussein, Medina said, adding that investigators are working with the district attorney's office on potential charges for the murders of the other two men.
Investigators do not have any indications yet that the murders present a serial killer case or are the result of a hate crime, authorities said.
Syed moved to the U.S. from Afghanistan several years ago and has since been arrested multiple times for domestic violence, police said, adding that those charges were dismissed. His son was also questioned but was later released, police said.
The Albuquerque Police Department's homicide unit began noticing similarities between the murders that occurred on Friday and July 26, such as related shell casings found at both scenes that were likely fired from the same gun, Hartsock said.
After Syed was arrested, police executed a search warrant at his home, where multiple firearms were recovered and are now being tested, Hartsock said, adding that one gun found inside the home and another found inside the car match two from the crime scenes and are the basis for the charges that have been brought so far.
Police are compiling more evidence to build a case with the prosecutor's office for the murders of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain and Ahmadi, Hartsock said.
"We think there might be involvement in two other homicide cases," he said. "Those are still considered open and active."
The pattern matches the murder of Ahmadi in November, police said, adding that there is a possible personal connection between Ahmadi and Syed.
Investigators are also looking into whether there are other cases that could be similar, in order to identify whether there may be a "really active public threat" from someone targeting the community, Hartsock said.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has sent additional state police to provide support to the Albuquerque Police Department and FBI, she announced on Saturday.
The community has "never gone through anything like this before," Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico, said during a press conference Saturday, Albuquerque ABC affiliate KOAT reported.
"This is really a surreal time for us. We're in fear of the safety of our children, our families," Assed said.
In a statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, commended the Albuquerque Police Department for apprehending the suspect.
"We welcome the arrest of a suspect in this horrific shooting spree and we commend law enforcement for their efforts at the local, state and federal levels," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said. "We hope the news that this violence has been brought to an end will provide the New Mexico Muslim community some sense of relief and security."
CAIR had offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the murders.
(WASHINGTON) — Police in Washington, D.C., are investigating a suspected hate crime after two men were punched by assailants who hurled a gay slur at them while referencing monkeypox, according to a police report.
The incident occurred Sunday afternoon in Northwest D.C., according to a public incident report from the Metropolitan Police Department.
The two men were walking on Seventh Street NW when the suspects approached them and called them "monkeypox f-----s," according to the report. The suspects "punched them several times" before fleeing, according to the report. One of the victim's sunglasses were damaged in the attack, according to police.
The assault was first reported by D.C. LGBTQ publication Metro Weekly. The victims, a gay couple, were transported by police to the hospital following the attack, according to Metro Weekly.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she was "extremely disturbed by the reported hate crime."
"We must stand up for our friends and neighbors, especially right now when there's too much anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric sweeping our nation," she said in a statement Tuesday. "We must call out the people in our circles if they promote hateful or ignorant ideology, especially right now when the people are using public health to stigmatize and discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community."
The police department's LGBT Liason Unit is involved in the investigation, the mayor said.
The Biden administration last week declared the current monkeypox outbreak to be a public health emergency in the U.S.
Most cases so far in the U.S. have been reported among men who have sex with men, a group that includes people who identify as gay, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary. However, health officials have repeatedly stressed that anyone can contract the virus.
Stigma against the illness has prompted concern from LGBTQ activists, who say they have seen a rise in homophobic or transphobic messages about monkeypox online.
(UVALDE, Texas) — The frustrations of a community still reeling from a mass shooting were on full display Monday night as a procession of Uvalde residents confronted school district leaders over their response to the massacre that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.
Trustees of the Uvalde CISD School Board convened the special session to present plans for the upcoming school year, including upgrading security measures and an announcement that all students K-12 would be offered the opportunity to attend classes virtually.
But during the open forum portion of the evening, attention returned to the fallout from the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School.
"We want results," one man said. "Has anybody lost their job? Has anyone been terminated?"
"We still need answers," a woman added.
"This is not going to be swept under the rug," said another.
More than two-and-a-half months since the shooting, several of the roughly 100 attendees sought basic answers about the law enforcement response, including chain-of-command communication.
When board trustee JJ Suarez, a former police officer who responded to Robb Elementary, told one questioner that he did not remember who told him the shooting was "a barricade situation" and claimed not to have heard gunshots from inside the school, members of the audience heckled him.
"I heard the shots," one woman shouted before imitating the sound of gun shots. "I still hear that sound."
Suarez replied that his failure to ask if children were still inside the classrooms will "haunt [him] every day."
Trustees also faced questions about school district police chief Pete Arredondo and why a decision whether to fire him has not yet been made. The board responded that it is following "due process," adding that it is considering multiple new dates for a hearing on Arredondo's future.
Arredondo remains on leave while an investigation into the conduct of law enforcement during the shooting on May 24 marches forward. Last month, the Uvalde school district postponed a closed hearing to consider whether to terminate Arredondo as its police chief and has not yet set a new date.
A special committee in the Texas legislature issued a report last month that found Arredondo had "failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander." Arredondo previously told the Texas Tribune he did not consider himself the on-scene commander during the shooting.
After multiple media outlets, including ABC News, reported on a demotion Arredondo received in 2014 at a prior job, Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell acknowledged that he made the decision to hire Arredondo and said he contacted previous employers but was not told about the demotion.
Harrell also laid out several new initiatives taken by the board to shore up security across the school district in the coming year. Those updates include:
33 Texas DPS officers being assigned to UCISD
500 cameras being installed across the district
Campus monitor role to be created -- this person will walk school grounds throughout the day, noting lock, gate and door statuses on an iPad that the district will then be able to review
Each school will have a single point of entry all students, faculty and guests must utilize
An audit on the district's Wi-Fi set to be completed Wednesday
Other notable speakers at Monday's session included a woman who said her daughter with special needs cannot reasonably attend class virtually, and a rising fourth grader in the school district who requested upgrades to school lighting, automatic door locks and the installation of ballistic glass. (Harrell had said earlier in the meeting they were still looking for funds for ballistic glass.)
After fielding concern about the conduct of school administrators and law enforcement moving forward, Harrell said "it's going to take a while to regain that trust."
"The trust has been damaged. The trust has been broken," Harrell said. "It's going to take all of us to fix it."
(DALLAS) -- Yaser Said was convicted of capital murder Tuesday in the 2008 fatal shootings of his two teenage daughters, 18-year-old Amina Said and 17-year-old Sarah Said.
After hearing closing arguments and deliberating for three hours, the Dallas County jury reached the guilty verdict. Judge Chika Anyiam sentenced Said to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in the case.
Patricia Owens, the mother of Amina and Sarah, addressed her ex-husband on the stand after the verdict.
"You deserve to die now, not in prison," Owens said. "You took my life. You took my family all in one night."
Said was placed on the FBI’s most-wanted list after the murders and evaded arrest for more than 12 years. Said, who had worked as a cab driver, was arrested in August 2020 in Justin, Texas. He denied killing his daughters when he took the stand Monday, entering a not guilty plea,
Prosecutors claim Said, who is Muslim, murdered his daughters because he was upset that the girls were dating.
"He wouldn't even let these girls go to a movie. He wouldn't let them date,” a prosecutor said during closing statements Tuesday.
ABC News local affiliate WFAA-TV reported that police have described the murders as “honor killings” -- defined as the killing of a relative, especially a girl or woman, who is perceived to have brought dishonor on the family in certain cultures.
During the trial, prosecutors read a Dec. 21, 2007, email Amina wrote to her history teacher 10 days before she and her sister were killed, saying their father “made our lives a nightmare” and that she and her sister wanted to run away.
“I am so scared right now,” Amina wrote, according to prosecutors. “OK, well as you know we’re not allowed to date and my dad is arranging my marriage. My dad said I cannot put it off any more and I have to get married this year."
“He will, without any drama nor doubt, kill us,” she also wrote.
The girls, along with their mother and their boyfriends, fled their Texas home to Oklahoma on Christmas Day 2007, four days after Amina sent the email. Witnesses said the girls returned to the Dallas area on New Year's Eve when their mother said Said convinced her to return home.
The girls' bodies were found on New Year’s Day 2008 in a taxi cab prosecutors said Said drove.
Last Wednesday, the prosecution played the 911 call Sarah allegedly made the night of her death. During the call, a woman can be heard frantically screaming that her father had shot her and that she was dying.
During her testimony in court last Thursday Owens pointed to her ex-husband, calling him “that devil.” She testified that Said was controlling and abusive throughout their relationship, adding that she and her daughters left him several times over the years, but they always returned out of fear.
Owens declined to comment on the case until her ex-husband is convicted, she told ABC News.
In a letter written to the judge overseeing the case, Said said while he disapproved of his daughters’ “dating activity,” he denied killing the girls.
“I was upset because in my culture it’s something to get upset about,” said Said through a translator.
He testified that he immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt in 1983 and later became a U.S. citizen.
Said told jurors that the evening his daughters were killed, he was taking them to dinner because he wanted to smooth things over and “solve the problem."
However, Said claims he left the vehicle, fleeing into a wooded area before the girls were killed because he thought someone wanted to murder him, testifying that he spotted an unknown person in a car stalking them while they were driving to dinner.
Said said he did not turn himself in after the murders because he didn't think he would get a fair trial.
The defense team claims that Said was targeted by law enforcement because of his Muslim faith and cultural beliefs.
"Everybody has a preference in how they discipline their kids, just like they have a preference for what kind of food they eat, what kind of people they date, what religion they want to practice," Baharan Muse, Said's defense attorney, said in closing arguments Tuesday. "Discipline does not mean you murdered your children. Your culture does not mean you murdered your children."
Said's defense team alleged prosecutors sought to "generalize" and "criminalize an entire culture, to fit their narrative."
The prosecution rejected the claim that Said was unjustly accused for his religious beliefs.
"If you intentionally or knowingly cause the death of another in Dallas County, we are coming for you. Period. You will be prosecuted. Period. It has nothing to do with your race or religion," prosecutor Lauren Black said in her closing argument.
(NEW YORK) — The New York City Council held a special hearing on Tuesday after buses of asylum seekers recently arrived in the city after being sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
The hearing focused on the conditions of the city's homeless shelters and how it can deal with the influx of asylum seekers, who have strained many of city's systems and services.
"What is new now, is the systematic diversion of asylum seekers and immigrants to New York City by external forces, including by the disgusting, cruel and cowardly actions of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott," Immigration Commissioner Manuel Castro told the city council on Tuesday.
Adrienne Adams, chair of the Committee on General Welfare, said there needs to be more transparency and accountability to better serve incoming migrants.
"While there may be a rise in those seeking asylum in New York City, this does not mean they are to blame for issues that have historically plagued our system," Adrienne Adams said at the hearing.
According to New York City's Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, 68 asylum seekers arrived from Texas between Friday and Sunday.
Another bus is set to arrive Tuesday, with three more expected Wednesday, according to the council.
There is currently a 1% vacancy rate in the city's shelter system, and 11 emergency hotel rooms are expected to be opened to handle the influx, city officials said.
"Our goal is to immediately find out each family's needs and give them the assistance they want,” Mayor Adams said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Mayor Adams said some migrants have relatives in other cities and therefore want help leaving New York.
Mayor Adams added that he has asked for federal funding to support the influx of migrants.
The buses arrived in New York after Abbott said in a statement on Friday he was taking "unprecedented action to keep our communities safe."
Abbott said New York is the "ideal destination" for the migrants, as they can find the "abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city."
Abbott added that he hopes Mayor Adams follows through on "his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief."
Adams said in Tuesday's press conference that what Abbott has done is "unbelievable."
Mayor Adams said in a June 21 press conference that the state's "right to shelter" law means that the city will find more spaces, whether that means acquiring hotel rooms or finding other spaces in the area.
"There's no such thing as the state saying we're turning you away," he said.
However, even prior to the buses arriving in New York, the city reported that at least four families did not receive lawful care under the city's legislature.
Commissioner of the Dept. of Social Services, Gary Jenkins, said on June 21 that the city failed to find shelter for at least four families, with several more reported to have slept in a Bronx intake center while they awaited care.
Officials said Texas authorities have not coordinated with New York officials, meaning that officials are not aware of when buses will be arriving, or how many individuals will be on the buses.
"They're not letting us know what are the needs of the people on the bus. They're not giving us any information, so we're unable to really provide service to the people en route," Mayor Adams told ABC affiliate WABC.
The New York City Council's Committee on General Welfare's report has found that charity representatives are also dealing with the influx of migrants.
According to the report, a 20-year employee of Catholic Charities immigration services said he had "never seen a situation like the one today," and said the move was "a forcible transfer of people from the U.S. - Mexico border to the city … disregarding their needs, preferences and plans."
Commissioner Jenkins announced a Declaration of Emergency for Asylum Services and Shelter on Aug. 1 in order to gain more resources to address the crisis.
Since then, the expectation of incoming migrants from Texas has increased worries about the resources that the city has to offer them, officials said.
(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Two months after the California Reparations Task Force released its initial report detailing the state’s history of slavery and the ongoing impact of race-based discrimination, the state has launched a series of listening sessions in order to receive community feedback on the legislation.
On Friday, California residents who might be eligible to receive reparations from the state met at the offices of Black Women for Wellness in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Leimert Park to share their opinions on what reparations were needed.
“In my family we have been affected by eminent domain,” said Hawthorne, California, resident Ashley Lambey, 33, during the meeting Friday. “We haven’t been able to get anything in terms of what our parents left for us,” she said, referring to the right of the government to seize private property for public use.
“A lot of young kids don’t know about Jim Crow,” said Kathy Clark, 71, a resident of the Paramount/East Compton area who also attended the meeting. “I had to sit on the sidewalk; I couldn’t sit at the counter to eat my hot dog,” said Clark, recalling the days when state and local laws enforced racial segregation in the United States.
“There are so many tables that need to be overturned and reset,” said Donyell Smith, 53, a resident of San Diego who attended the meeting virtually. “Reparations is due in every single area.”
The meeting, one of dozens of sessions that will be held across the state this month, is part of a community engagement initiative run by the Bunche Center at UCLA and overseen by the state’s Reparations Task Force.
In 2020, state Assemblyman James Gallagher, who was one of twelve legislators to vote against the bill creating the California Reparations Task Force, told California Public Radio that “it’s like almost assuredly designed to be people from one party and probably from more of one perspective than the legislative process, which would include everybody.”
Gallagher also told California Public Radio that the issue of reparations for slavery should be determined by the federal government, echoing a common argument against municipal reparations programs.
The 11 legislators who voted against the bill and who remain in office were unavailable for comment when contacted by ABC News. Another legislator who voted against the task force was voted out of office in March 2020.
The purpose of these sessions is to educate the public, increase community buy-in, and record residents’ testimonies in a report the task force can use when making recommendations to the state in its final report due July 2023. The task force released a nearly 500-page interim report in June.
At the community listening session on Friday, 20 attendees spoke about their families’ migration stories, the harm they suffered from the legacy of slavery and anti-Black racism, and what sorts of reparations programs they would like to see. They discussed how reparations could take the form of financial literacy training, mental health resources and political reform.
“The community has to lead,” Kamilah Moore, chair of the California Reparations Task Force, told ABC News. “Under international human rights law… the victim group or the community of eligibility should be leading the process for what reparations should look like.”
More than a dozen community listening sessions have already been held up and down the state, from Sacramento to San Diego, and they will continue to be held until September. “The point is to meet the community where they are at,” said Moore.
“I feel like we are making history, we are literally writing the script,” Chris Lodgson, an organizer with Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, one of the seven community organizations chosen to moderate the community listening sessions, told ABC News.
“I feel lucky, I feel blessed, I feel fortunate, I feel proud just to be a part of this history,” said Lodgson.