May 9, 2018

High school evacuated after chemistry class explosion injures 17 students, 1 teacher

Google(HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn.) -- A science experiment at a magnet school in the Nashville suburbs turned into a dangerous chemical fire, injuring 17 high school students and their teacher. The fumes were so great, administrators had to evacuate the rest of the school, according to fire officials. The fire happened during a chemistry lab at Merrol Hyde Magnet School in Hendersonville, Tennessee, just after 9 a.m. Wednesday. First responders triaged the students and their teacher at the school. At least six patients suffered chemical burns. None of the injuries were life threatening. Eight students and the teacher were taking to the hospital with chemical burn or splash injuries, officials said Wednesday afternoon. "They evacuated the school just like they should," Bush said. "We relocated the students. I know that’s terrifying to some of the parents at home. Your kids are safe and we’ve got the other ones transported to appropriate care facilities, for them to be taken care of." The fire department used large fans to clear chemical fumes from the school and was testing air quality to make sure the building was safe for re-entry. All classes were cancelled Wednesday, but the school expects to re-open Thursday. Authorities say they believe the fire was an accident. "We do not feel like this was a criminal act," Bush said. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
May 9, 2018

‘Spiritual healer’ charged with sexual assault, abortion after walking on pregnant woman’s stomach

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A man who purported to offer spiritual healing out of his home in the Bronx is now facing multiple charges of sexual abuse and abortion. The abortion charge stems from the allegation that he walked on the stomach and back of a woman who was six months pregnant, resulting in her miscarriage, according to police sources. Christian Robles, 32, is now facing charges of performing sexual actions on at least five people, both male and female, ranging in age from 20 to 39 years old. “The spirits of various saints would inhibit his body and interact with the victims through him. He performed spiritual rituals,” New York Police Department sources told ABC News. Robles, who called himself a “spiritualist,” would make his victims drink an unknown liquid and then take advantage of them, the police sources said. He then allegedly menaced the victims with knives after the assaults, the police said. One of the male victims told police that after drinking an oil provided by the suspect, his body trembled and felt weak. The suspect then allegedly cut the victim’s clothes off with a knife and sexually assaulted him, police said. Robles faces two counts of criminal sex acts, one count of sex abuse, one count of abortion and one count of criminal possession of a weapon. A different male victim told police that he met with Robles three times, and on the first visit they reportedly did a so-called cleansing ritual involving burning a pendant and a grim reaper. On the second visit, the victim claimed he was sexually assaulted. He said he refused to drink the liquid on the third visit. The victim told police that Robles wanted him to drink the liquid so saints could enter his body. The victim would then be able to have sex with these saints via Robles, he told police. Robles is scheduled to be arraigned this evening. His prior arrests include fraud, petty larceny and grand larceny, and police are reportedly investigating whether he could have run a similar scheme in other states. He has three children under the age of 10 years old, who are now in the custody of children's services, police sources said. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
May 9, 2018

Florida widow charged with husband’s murder 17 years later

iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Denise Williams, the widow of a Tallahassee man who went missing for 17 years before his body was found last year, has been arrested and charged with his murder. According to a Leon County grand jury indictment, Denise Williams has been charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory after the fact in the death of Mike Williams. She was arrested Tuesday at her office at Florida State University and was escorted away by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The indictment states that Denise Williams and Brian Winchester, her husband's best friend, plotted for nearly nine months to kill the 31-year-old. Winchester shot and killed Mike Williams in December 2000, according to the indictment, and went on to marry Denise Williams after the murder. Winchester has not been indicted, charged or arrested in connection with Mike's murder. The case was originally classified as a drowning before investigators determined that Mike Williams had been murdered. Mike Williams went missing on Dec. 16, 2000, after leaving home that morning to go duck hunting on Lake Seminole in Jackson County, according to the indictment. Seventeen years later, FDLE received a tip about new information in the case and found his remains in December of 2017. "FDLE agents & analysts logged over 3,000 hours on this case...I also thank the Grand Jury," FDLE Tallahassee Special Agent in Charge Mark Perez tweeted today. Denise Williams' attorney, Ethan Way, told the Tallahassee Democrat that Winchester lied about her role in killing her husband. "My client had absolutely nothing to do with Mike Williams' disappearance and had absolutely nothing to do with any of the crimes that Brian Winchester committed," Way told the paper. "We will fight this until the end. And I'm certain when a jury hears from Denise Williams and the facts come out, the inescapable conclusion is that Brian Winchester killed Mike Williams." Denise Williams first appearance in court is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
May 9, 2018

Three black Airbnb guests who were questioned by cops plan to take legal action

Carl Court/Getty Images(RIALTO, Calif.) -- Three black Airbnb guests are planning to take legal action against the Rialto Police Department in California after police responded to a 911 caller who wrongly reported a burglary at the location of their Airbnb stay. A neighbor of the Airbnb reported a burglary to police, and she claimed she saw four unfamiliar people loading luggage into a vehicle in the driveway across the street. The police dispatched six officers and a patrol helicopter, securing the perimeter while the people in question drove away. After making contact with the occupants of the vehicle, officers determined they were, in fact, Airbnb guests by contacting the homeowner. The four Airbnb guests who were detained by police were then released without incident and the April 30 encounter, according to police, lasted for a total of 22 minutes. While responding to the call, officers state they refrained from using any form of restraints and allowed the people involved to exit the vehicle while attempting to contact the Airbnb owner. This was the first time this particular home was rented out on Airbnb, Lt. Dean Hardin of the Rialto Police Department told ABC News. Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, one of the four Airbnb renters, posted on Facebook after the incident, writing that “a neighbor across the street saw three black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house.” Fyffe-Marshall disputed the police statement, saying they were detained for 45 minutes and were surrounded by seven police cars. She went on to claim in the post that officers demanded they put their hands up, locked down the neighborhood and accused them of lying about staying in the Airbnb. Jasmine Rand, one of the lawyers representing the three renters who plan to sue, told ABC News that a lawsuit has not yet been filed but that legal action against the police department is imminent. Rand wouldn't elaborate on the details of the legal actions they're planning to take at this point. Rand confirmed that the three people involved in the lawsuit are black, including two females and one male. “You want to laugh about this but it’s not funny. The trauma is real. I’ve been angry, frustrated and sad,” Fyffe-Marshall wrote in her Facebook post about the incident. She could not be reached for further comments on the case. Fyffe-Marshall along with Donisha Prendergast and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan are the three individuals from the incident who will be involved in the forthcoming litigation. Hardin cannot confirm if the individuals were targeted based on their race because he “can’t get into the reporting party’s head,” but he did confirm with ABC News that the call was made from a white woman who did not recognize the people in the driveway across the street. In regards to the conflicting timeline provided by Fyffe-Marshall, Hardin explained that the times provided in the department’s statement are based on their computerized dispatch system where all times are logged. The dispatch of the patrol helicopter and securing a perimeter is standard procedure for any in-progress felony, Hardin told ABC News. The Rialto Police Department said in a statement that they're “confident officers treated the involved individuals with dignity, respect, and professionalism.” The four people in question were cooperative throughout the encounter, Hardin said. The department is preparing for legal action by preserving all evidence of the call, including the recordings from the responding officers' body cameras. An Airbnb spokesperson told ABC News in a statement that what happened “is unconscionable and a reminder of how far we still have to go as a society,” and believes that this was an issue with a neighbor who's not a member of the Airbnb community. In a letter to Rialto’s mayor and interim police chief, Airbnb’s senior advisor and director of national partnerships state that they're "deeply disturbed by the public reports suggesting that the police department’s response was dictated by the guests' race," and called for a meeting to "ensure that these kinds of incidents do not happen again." Airbnb has also reached out to the victims to express their sympathy and full support, the statement said. This all comes at a time of heightened tensions between minority communities and law enforcement agencies across America. Just last month the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks sparked a firestorm after they were accused of trespassing because they had not purchased anything. Rand will be co-counseling the case with Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney known for his work representing Trayvon Martin’s family and most recently the family of Stephon Clark. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.