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Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 3:25 PM
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. — When then-Air Force Staff Sgt. Mike Maroney received a tight hug and brilliant smile from a 3-year-old Hurricane Katrina survivor whom he plucked from a rooftop with her family, he expected that he would never see her again.
Nearly 12 years after the sweltering September 2005 day that he said goodbye to the grateful child, they have forged a bond so strong that the girl, LaShay Brown, plans to follow Maroney’s footsteps into the military.
LaShay, 14, of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, also had Maroney escort her to her JROTC ball Saturday night at Bay High School.
“It would be nobody else that could bring me here, and it would be more special to him,” LaShay told WLOX in Biloxi.
Maroney credits that long-ago hug from LaShay with “rescuing him.” The para-rescuer, who was battling PTSD at the time, was a week into his rescue mission in New Orleans when he was lowered from a helicopter onto a roof where two parents and five children, including LaShay, had been stranded for days.
Maroney, now a staff sergeant, recalled the rescue in 2015 for the Air Force Times, which was among dozens of publications that helped him find the little girl whose grin had stayed with him for a decade. The girl, whose name he never got, seemed fearless that day, he told the Times.
As her mother cried on the helicopter, LaShay rubbed her back to comfort her.
“It’s OK,” Maroney recalled her telling her mother. “We’re safe. Don’t worry.”
When the helicopter dropped off the family at the airport, which was being used as a staging area for evacuees to be moved out of the broken city, LaShay wrapped her arms around Maroney’s neck and hugged him in a moment captured by an Air Force photographer.
That photo, which ended up on everything from military coins to Burger King place mats, represented for many the strength and resilience of Katrina survivors. It made its way into Mahoney’s heart, and it accompanied him on subsequent tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he said it gave him hope during difficult moments.
“If not for her hug and smile that day, my life would probably be a lot different,” Mahoney told WLOX.
As the 10th anniversary of the deadly storm approached in 2015, Mahoney, who had since become a master sergeant in the Air Force Reserve, began trying to find the little girl. Thanks to a viral campaign people called #FindKatrinaGirl, he and LaShay were reunited on an episode of the television show “The Real.”
Since then, Mahoney has become close to LaShay and her family. His encouragement led her to join the JROTC at school, so it was natural for her to ask him to escort her to the ball.
“I’m going because I would do anything to repay the hug to LaShay and her family,” Mahoney told People last week. “They mean as much to me as my own.”
His guidance also led to LaShay’s decision to join the military after graduation. Maroney supports that decision, he told People.
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 11:05 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 11:05 PM
Update Apr 19, 2018 11:00 p.m. EDT: U.S. marshals caught the woman dubbed ‘Losing Streak Lois’ in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday after a multi-state crime spree, according to ABC News.
Lois Riess was alone when she was captured in a restaurant on South Padre Island around 8:30 p.m. local time, U.S. Marshal John Kinsey told ABC News.
Reiss was wanted in connection with as many as three murders in three different states, including the murder of her husband in Minnesota.
U.S. marshals have erected billboards in multiple states as they continue to search for a Minnesota grandmother, gambling addict and alleged killer who is suspected in two homicides, including that of a woman she allegedly killed to assume her identity.
Lois Riess, 56, was last seen April 8 in the area of Corpus Christi, Texas, following what is believed to be a multistate homicide case. She is sought on murder and theft charges in the slaying of Pamela Hutchinson, of Bradenton, who was found shot to death April 9 in a condominium in which she was staying in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.
Riess, who Minnesota law enforcement officers dubbed “Losing Streak Lois” for her penchant for gambling, is also a person of interest in the killing of her husband, David Riess, who was found shot to death March 23 on the couple’s worm farm in Blooming Prairie.
In each shooting, the victim had been dead for several days when the body was found. Authorities also believe Lois Riess used the same weapon in both cases.
The U.S. Marshals Service on Tuesday updated the search for Riess to major status and announced a $5,000 reward for her capture. Another $1,000 in reward money is being made available by Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers.
John Kinsey, a deputy U.S. marshal in Florida, told the Star Tribune in Minneapolis that the billboards are going up in Texas, New Mexico, California and Arizona.
“Unfortunately, there have been no further sightings,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune. “She blends in real well. She is an average, 56-year-old white female walking around, and that is part of the problem.”
Florida investigators have said Riess killed Hutchinson, 59, for her identity. The women, who were strangers before Riess befriended Hutchinson, bore a striking resemblance to one another.
Surveillance footage from the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery, located two blocks from Hutchinson’ condo at the Marina Village at Snug Harbor, shows Riess smiling and chatting with a blonde woman in a hat who Lee County Sheriff’s Office detectives have identified as Hutchinson.
Hutchinson’s cousin on Monday posted an image from the surveillance footage to Facebook, side by side with an undated image of Hutchinson wearing that same hat as in the footage.
Officials with the U.S. Marshals Service said investigators believe Hutchinson was killed on or around April 5, when the surveillance footage at the bar was shot.
Lee County officials also on Tuesday released several snippets of surveillance video, including one piece that shows Riess, wearing the same blue shirt seen in the bar video, calmly walking away from Marina Village toward the parking lot. She is seen on another video driving away in Hutchinson’s white 2005 Acura TL.
Hutchinson’s keys, identification, cash and credit cards were also missing when her body was found.
The News-Press in Fort Myers reported Tuesday that sometime after Hutchinson’s death, Riess went to a Wells Fargo branch there and used Hutchinson’s identification to withdraw $5,000 from the slain woman’s account.
See the original footage of Riess chatting with Pamela Hutchinson, obtained by the News-Press, below.
Riess was next spotted in Ocala, about 215 miles north of Fort Myers, where more surveillance footage released Tuesday shows her driving up to a Hilton hotel in Hutchinson’s stolen car and checking in as a guest. Again, she is wearing the blue top seen in previous videos, as well as a light-colored fedora-style hat with a black band.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office officials told the News-Press that Riess stayed in the hotel the nights of April 6 and 7.
Riess used Hutchinson’s identity to check into the hotel around 8 p.m. on April 6. She also used the victim’s identification to withdraw another $500 from Hutchinson’s bank account at an Ocala bank.
“She’s confident, doesn’t look over her shoulder, like she’s not hiding anything,” Kinsey told the Star Tribune of Riess’ demeanor in the videos. “She was very nonchalant.”
The fugitive was next spotted in the stolen Acura in Louisiana, where an attempt to get $200 at a gas station failed, the News-Press said.
Kinsey said Riess was also spotted on surveillance images April 7 and 8 in casinos in Louisiana.
“She went from casino to casino to make money, or because she is addicted to it,” Kinsey said. “She is consumed by it.”
The final definite sighting of Riess was the following day, April 8 in Refugio, Texas, about 40 miles north of Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi is about 150 miles from the Mexico border.
Mexican authorities are aware of the search for Riess and are keeping an eye out for her, or anyone using Hutchinson’s identification, at the border, the News-Press reported. A Lee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said she would have to show identification to cross, but there is no guarantee she would not be able to slip through.
The last confirmed sighting of Riess or the stolen car was the day before Hutchinson’s body was found -- and before she was even linked to that homicide.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which has been searching for Riess since late last month, describes her as a white woman with brown eyes and pale blonde hair. She is about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs about 165 pounds.
The white Acura she is accused of stealing from Hutchinson has Florida license plate number Y37TAA.
Riess has been on the run since mid-March, when she is suspected of gunning down her husband, David Riess, on their rural worm farm before stealing $11,000 from his personal and business accounts. Deputies with the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office found him after his business partner reported that he had not been seen or heard from in several weeks.
Lois Riess was nowhere to be found, but investigators learned she visited a casino in Iowa on her way out of the Midwest, investigators said. She is charged with grand theft in connection with her husband’s slaying.
Dodge County investigators are also anticipated to file murder charges against her sometime this week.
Riess was initially linked to Hutchinson’s slaying, in part, because her family’s white Cadillac Escalade, which she was believed to be driving after her husband’s murder, was found abandoned in a county park in Fort Myers Beach, the News-Press reported.
Court records in Minnesota also show that Riess, who was named guardian of her disabled sister in 2012, stole more than $78,000 from her before being caught three years later.
Lee County Undersheriff Carmine Marceno described Riess to NBC News earlier this week as a “stone-cold killer” who authorities fear might kill again when she runs out of resources.
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 11:01 PM
TULSA, Okla. — The U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine as NASA’s new chief in a narrow 50-49 vote Thursday afternoon after a lengthy six-month nomination process.
While that may not be a resounding mandate, Bridenstine told KRMG in an exclusive interview that he’ll focus on doing the best job he can - and he’s confident that even those who voted “no” will support him in his new role.
KRMG spoke with him by phone about an hour after the Senate’s narrow confirmation vote.
“We are in a very exciting time when it comes to space in the United States of America,” he said, “and I am just tickled, I’m thrilled, I’m grateful that I have this opportunity to lead the world’s best space agency.”
Asked about the narrow margin of victory, he admitted he was a bit nervous at times, but now he’s ready to get to work.
“While I didn’t earn all the votes in the Senate, my number one objective is to serve this country in a way that makes all of them proud,” Bridenstine told KRMG. “and certainly to get to know all of those senators very well, and to convince them that while some of them may not have voted for me, I want them to understand my passion, my desire for our country, and earn their support. And I think that’s going to happen. I think people are going to say OK, now that he’s in there, we’re going to support him and we’re going to get this country headed in the right direction as it comes to space.’”
He did get a little emotional toward the end of the discussion, talking about the people of the 1st Congressional District who sent him to office in 2012.
“This opportunity’s available to me because the constituents in the 1st District of Oklahoma trusted me with an office in Congress,” he said, “and I did the absolute best I could to be as effective as possible on behalf of our entire country. And I want to express - just, just ultimate gratitude for having that opportunity, which ultimately resulted in this opportunity. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart, to all of my constituents.”
As soon as President Donald Trump signs what’s called a “warrant” confirming the Senate vote, Bridenstine will officially end his term in Congress.
His office will remain open, however, and his staff will continue to be available to constituents who have issues with which they need help or have concerns.
His successor will be chosen during the general election in November, and will take office immediately upon being elected.
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:31 PM
BOSTON — A new report says Boston is one of the top two finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters.
Twenty cities have been competing to become the location for the company’s second headquarters, and one study predicts two cities are better suited than the rest – and Boston is one of them.
The new study was conducted by an organization called The Conference Board.
It believes Washington, D.C., and Boston are most likely to beat out the competition.
The company analyzed the 20 cities vying to land HQ2.
The group studied the four job types most common in Amazon’s existing headquarters in Seattle, then looked at “real-time labor demand” and “online job vacancies” in all 20 cities vying for the headquarters.
It found Boston and Washington, D.C. were most compatible.
Something else that was in the report but needs to be considered – Amazon already likes Boston.
The company is seeking up to 1 million square feet of office space in the Seaport. Amazon could hire up to 4,000 workers for two future offices separate from the second headquarters.
Landing HQ2 could mean 50,000 jobs and a $5 billion investment in the city, but that doesn’t appear to have people in Boston too excited.
According to a recent poll by Elon University, only 34 percent of Bostonians strongly support the bid for the new headquarters. That’s the lowest among the finalist cities.
Amazon expects to make a decision sometime this year.
Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 10:36 PM
Bowing to demands from Republicans in the House, the Justice Department on Thursday night gave lawmakers memos written by former FBI Director James Comey after meetings and phone calls with President Donald Trump, with the resulting leaks only amplifying Comey’s story that Mr. Trump had pressed him repeatedly about the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
And in classic Washington fashion – the memos were leaked almost immediately to news organizations.
There had been concerns that sharing the memos with Congress might cause problems for the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller – but press reports on Thursday night indicated otherwise, and a reading of the materials did not reveal a new treasure trove of information.
And more than anything, they only seemed to bring the focus more on President Trump.
Here are ten things we learned from the memos written by the former FBI Director.
1. Trump praises Comey at first meeting at Trump Tower. Before the former FBI Director could get to the subject of the Steele Dossier, the two men had some chit chat one-on-one. Comey said the President-Elect complimented the FBI chief on how he had handled the difficult situation involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation. “He said I was repeatedly put in impossible positions,” Comey recounted, quoting Trump as saying, “they hated you for what you did later, but what choice did you have?” Comey said the President-Elect said ‘he hoped I planned to stay on.’
2. Comey moves into the Steele Dossier. With other top officials out of the room at Trump Tower, Comey then described briefing the President-Elect on the contents of the Steele Dossier, expressing concerns that it could soon leak in the media. “I said, the Russians allegedly had tapes of him and prostitutes,” Comey wrote, saying that Mr. Trump said, “there were no prostitutes.” Comey said he told the President-Elect that the FBI was not investigating these stories, but that “our job was to protect the President from efforts to coerce him.”
3. The late January “loyalty” dinner. After President Trump had been sworn into office, he invited Comey to the White House for dinner – just the two of them – telling Comey that even Chief of Staff Reince Priebus did not know of their sit down. Comey said he told Trump, “I was not on anybody’s side politically.” After a detailed discussion of the impact of the Clinton email investigation on the campaign – in which they disagreed on whether there was a case against Hillary Clinton, Comey said the President made a clear point. “He replied that he needed loyalty and expected loyalty.”
4. Comey relates Trump displeasure with Flynn. One interesting side story from the late January dinner was when Comey related how the President had been angry with his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, for evidently not informing the President that another world leader had called after the inauguration. “In telling the story, the President pointed his fingers at his head and said “the guy has serious judgment issues.”” Comey then notes that he never gave Mr. Trump any indication of the FBI interest in Flynn – or the fact that agents had interviewed Flynn just a day before about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States.
5. A meeting with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. One memo from Comey detailed a meeting with the President’s Chief of Staff, who asked the FBI Director if there was an investigation going on into the President’s National Security Adviser. “Do you have a FISA order on Mike Flynn?” Comey quoted Priebus as asking. Later, their conversation went over the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and Comey’s late announcement which roiled the campaign. “At some point I added that it also wasn’t my fault that Huma Abedin forwarded emails to Anthony Weiner.”
6. Golden showers, hookers, and Putin. After meeting with Priebus, Comey was taken by the Oval Office for a quick visit with the President. There, Mr. Trump complained about leaks of his phone calls with foreign leaders, and again vented his frustration about details from the Steele Dossier. “The President brought up the “Golden Showers thing” and said it really bothered him,” Comey recounted. “The President said ‘the hookers thing’ is nonsense but that Putin had told ‘we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.'”
7. Trump presses Comey on Michael Flynn. In portions of the memos which had already been leaked, Comey describes how a broader meeting on homeland security ended, and then others left him one-on-one with Mr. Trump. “He began by saying he wanted to ‘talk about Mike Flynn,'” Comey recounts, adding later that the President said he had ‘other concerns’ about Flynn, but was aggravated about the leaks concerning his former National Security Adviser. But the President then returned to Flynn. “I hope you can let this go,” was how Comey remembered what the President had said in this February 14, 2017 meeting.
8. Trump urges Comey to ‘lift the cloud.’ Again, these details had been leaked previously, as Comey recounted a phone conversation in which the President complained about the Russia investigation, saying at one point that he would have won a health care vote in the House if not for the controversy over the Trump-Russia probe about the 2016 elections. Comey noted the President again returned to an issue that clearly aggravated him – “can you imagine me, hookers?” Comey’s memo also seems to say that the President was going to file a lawsuit against former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who had assembled the dossier. No such suit was ever filed.
9. More about loyalty to the President. In an April 2017 phone call, Comey says the President pressed him to publicly confirm that he (Mr. Trump) is not under investigation related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. “He spoke for a bit about why it was so important,” Comey recounted, saying the President feared it was overshadowing the work of his new administration. “They keep bringing up the Russia thing as an excuse for losing the election,” Comey wrote. Then Comey said the President pressed him again. “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing you know,” Comey quoted Mr. Trump. In a footnote to his own memo, Comey seems perplexed as to what the President was referring to.
10. The release may on spur more questions. Republicans in the House had been pressing for the release of these memos from Comey for months, convinced that they would show wrongdoing by the former FBI Director. Instead, the full memos added more context to what was going on during the first few months of the Trump Administration with regards to the Russia investigation, and seemed to give more hints about what the FBI knew of the Steele Dossier, and how Trump officials were worried about who was being investigated.