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Shots fired outside Albany, New York temple, suspect arrested

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(ALBANY, N.Y.) -- A man was arrested Thursday afternoon after he allegedly fired off a shotgun in the parking vicinity of an Albany, New York synagogue, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

No one was injured during the incident at the Temple Israel around 2:27 p.m. and the suspect, only described as a 28-year-old local man, was quickly arrested the governor said.

"As we've talked about before, after the Oct. 7 attacks I've ordered our state police as well National Guard to be on high alert," Hochul told reporters at a news conference.

The suspect allegedly made "threatening statements," during the incident, Hochul said. The suspect, who has a criminal history, is pending an arraignment, according to the governor.

An early childhood center located on the premises was forced to lockdown but parents were later able to pick up their kids, according to the governor.

Hochul said she spoke with Rabbi Wendy Love Anderson and reassured her that her congregation would be kept safe. The governor said there is no other ongoing threat.

"And I remind everyone, as New Yorkers this is not who we are. This must stop. We reject hate, anti- Semitism [and] Islamophobia. All hate crimes must stop, and all violence in every form must cease," she said.

The governor noted that the temple previously was the target of a bomb threat in September. Hochul noted that the incident also came at a sensitive time for the Jewish community as it was the first night of Hanukkah.

During the news conference, Eva Wyner, the deputy director of Jewish Affairs for the New York State Executive Chamber, lit the first candle of the menorah.

"We can not be intimidated. We can not be threatened in holding these traditions," she said.

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Giuliani's financial woes could compound as he faces mounting legal exposure

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(NEW YORK) -- In 2007, when Rudy Giuliani launched his presidential bid, he seemed both politically and financially at the height of his powers.

His image as "America's mayor" in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks made him an immediate contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And in the half-decade since he left New York's City Hall, lucrative consulting work and speaking fees had boosted his net worth to between $18 and $70 million, according to financial disclosures he filed at the time.

But Giuliani's presidential ambitions fizzled almost immediately, and the former New York City mayor failed to make it though Super Tuesday. It was a humbling political tumble -- and now, some 15 years later, his wallet appears to have taken an equally humbling hit.

A deluge of civil and criminal lawsuits has left Giuliani experiencing what his attorney called "financial difficulties."

The twin threats of potential legal exposure and an apparent depletion of resources could continue to compound in the months and perhaps years ahead, as the onetime attorney to former President Donald Trump battles the fallout from his activities in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.

Next week, a Washington, D.C.-based jury will determine what penalties Giuliani will owe a pair of Georgia election workers he was found to have defamed. He is already on the hook for some $230,000, and the election workers are seeking between $15 million and $43 million at trial.

Giuliani stands to owe millions more if he loses cases brought by two voting machine companies and his own longtime personal attorney, and he faces an unrelated sexual harassment suit for $10 million from a former business associate. In October, President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden also sued Giuliani for unspecified damages, accusing him of mishandling personal data belonging to him.

Giuliani has denied all claims, and "unequivocally denies the allegations" in the sexual harassment suit.

But perhaps more concerning for Giuliani is the criminal racketeering indictment Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis returned in August against him and 18 other co-defendants, including Trump, accusing them of unlawfully seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia. Giuliani -- who, like many of the other defendants, faces potential jail time in the case -- has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Even if Giuliani emerges victorious from his legal tribulations, fighting them will undoubtedly rack up an immense cost.

"He has made it pretty clear that he doesn't have the resources to handle litigation," said one source familiar with Giuliani's legal situation.

To help raise money, Giuliani has turned to a deep-pocketed former client -- Trump himself. The former president reportedly recently hosted a $100,000-a-plate dinner at his Bedminster, New Jersey, estate, with proceeds going to Giuliani.

It was not immediately clear how much money the event raised -- though Giuliani's son has suggested it eclipsed $1 million -- or how much of those funds have made it to Giuliani. But one thing is clear, according to Giuliani himself: He needs the help.

Election lies -- and costs

In court filings over the summer, Giuliani's lawyer wrote a federal judge asking to defer payments Giuliani was ordered to pay to Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, two former election workers, citing "financial difficulties" as a result of fighting a slew of litigation elsewhere.

"Giuliani needs more time to pay the attorneys' fees," an attorney for Giuliani wrote.

Since then, the judge in that case has issued a summary judgment finding Giuliani liable for defamatory remarks he made about the two women during the Georgia presidential election recount. In a December 2020 appearance before a committee of the Georgia state legislature, Giuliani told lawmakers that a video circulating online showed "Ruby Freeman and Shaye Freeman Moss ... quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports, as if they're vials of heroin or cocaine."

The judge initially ordered Giuliani to pay roughly $132,000 to cover Freeman and Moss' attorneys' fees -- but after Giuliani missed a deadline to submit payment earlier this month, the judge tacked on an additional $104,000. The judge ordered Giuliani to appear in person at a trial beginning next week to determine additional damages.

Beyond what Giuliani already owes in that lawsuit, he could lose even more substantial sums in his other suits.

In early 2021, voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems filed a string of lawsuits after Giuliani and others targeted the firm with false accusations that it orchestrated a plot to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Dominion's $1.3 billion lawsuit against Giuliani accuses him of carrying out "defamatory falsehoods" about Dominion, in part to enrich himself through legal fees and his podcast.

Dominion has since won an historic $787 million settlement against Fox News after filing a similar lawsuit against the conservative media giant seeking $1.6 billion dollars. The suit was settled just minutes before opening statements were set to begin in the trial.

Days after the Dominion suit was filed, Smartmatic, a voting technology company, followed suit, claiming that Giuliani, Fox News, and others "engaged in a widespread disinformation campaign" about the company's voting software rigging the election around the country.

Smartmatic is seeking a total of $2.7 billion in damages from Giuliani and the other defendants. Giuliani and other defendants have denied wrongdoing.

Paying his own attorneys

In September, Giuliani faced another potential legal blow from an unlikely source: his own longtime attorney and personal friend, Bob Costello.

Costello and his partners at Davidoff Butcher & Citron LLP accused Giuliani of owing them nearly $1.4 million for work defending him during numerous criminal, civil and congressional investigations. Giuliani has paid $214,000 to the firm since November 2019, when he retained Costello, the lawsuit said.

Costello represented Giuliani during criminal investigations in New York, Georgia and Washington and in 10 civil lawsuits in various state and federal courts, as well as during the House select committee's Jan. 6 investigation, and in disciplinary proceedings involving Giuliani's law license.

Giuliani has denied Costello's claim, but the allegation leveled by Costello is not the first of its kind.

In May, Bruce Castor, a former Trump impeachment attorney who agreed to defend Giuliani in a 2020 election-related civil suit, accused the former New York mayor of bilking him out of his attorneys' fees.

In court papers seeking to withdraw from the case, Castor, who said he had known Giuliani for decades, unloaded on Giuliani for his failure to cooperate with court-ordered documents on time -- telling the court that Giuliani "failed to provide the retainer sum" or "work even in the slightest with [Castor] to advance this case."

"That he promised to send the money and then didn't was a shock to me, and not in keeping with the character of the man I thought I knew when we were both prosecutors and later watching him from afar as mayor," Castor told ABC News. "Something had change in him."

A spokesperson for Giuliani rejected the claims at the time, insisting that Giuliani had indeed paid Castor for his work.

In the Fulton County racketeering case, two attorneys who initially represented Giuliani have since withdrawn, without public explanation.

One of those attorneys, David Wolfe, had previously defended Giuliani's payment record.

"Of course I'm getting paid for my work," Wolfe said in an interview on CNN over the summer. "I'm doing my work, I've been paid to do my work, and it's going to cause some problems for the state to respond to it."

But a source familiar with the matter told ABC News at the time that it remained unclear how long Wolfe would remain on the case. Wolfe resigned weeks later.

In the bank

Despite his entreaties for help and his self-described "financial difficulties," Giuliani's actual financial picture remains opaque, and at times has seemed to contradict his declarations of poverty in court.

Giuliani earns some $400,000 annually from advertisers on his daily WABC radio program, according to the New York Times, and in August, he traveled by private jet from New Jersey's Teterboro Airport to his initial court appearance in Georgia to face the racketeering charges. The longtime New York resident also recently listed his Upper East Side apartment for more than $6.5 million, according to Insider.

The U.S. district judge overseeing Freeman and Moss' defamation case, Beryl Howell, recently cited Giuliani's luxury apartment and private flight in court documents, framing them as evidence that Giuliani's request to defer payments to the election workers was "dubious."

"In short, based on the current record, Giuliani has failed to show that he cannot pay the reimbursement fees he owes," Howell wrote.

Judge Howell had ordered Giuliani to share detailed financial information with attorneys for Freeman and Moss ahead of their upcoming trial to determine damages owed. Giuliani was supposed to submit details about his "assets and net worth," including "savings accounts, money market funds, mutual fund accounts, hedge fund accounts and certificates of deposit ... and financial statements."

Giuliani missed the Sept. 20 deadline to share all the information the judge requested; attorneys for Freeman and Moss said Giuliani only turned over a 2018 tax return and his divorce settlement from the same year. Judge Howell will instruct the jury to consider their request for additional sanctions against Giuliani at trial.

"It would be difficult to find a clearer example of an informed, sophisticated, and well represented party openly flouting orders of a federal court," attorneys for Freeman and Moss wrote in a recent filing in the case.

"Accordingly," they wrote, "severe sanctions are both warranted and necessary."

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UNLV mass shooting victims: Two professors ID'd

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(LAS VEGAS) -- Three faculty members were killed and one faculty member was injured in a mass shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The suspect -- who had applied for a college professorship at UNLV, but was not hired, according to sources -- died at the scene following a firefight with police.

Here's what we know about the victims:

Cha Jan Chang

Cha Jan Chang, 64, who was known as "Jerry," was a UNLV business professor who lived in Henderson, Nevada, according to the Clark County coroner.

Chang was an assistant professor at UNLV from 2001 to 2007 and had been an associate professor since 2007.

He received both his masters and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh.

"Dr. Chang was a longtime educator of management information systems, spending more than 20 years of his academic career teaching a generation of UNLV Lee Business School students," UNLV President Keith Whitfield said in a statement on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Patricia Navarro Velez

Patricia Navarro Velez, 39, was an assistant professor in accounting at UNLV and lived in Las Vegas, according to the coroner.

She had a Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida.

"Navarro’s current research focuses on cybersecurity disclosures and assurance, internal control weakness disclosure, and data analytics," her UNLV biography said.

"Dr. Navarro-Velez, an assistant professor of accounting, had devoted her career to educating the next generation of accountants," Whitfield said. "She joined UNLV nearly 5 years ago as a professor of accounting, where she focused on teaching accounting information systems."

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Trump fraud trial live updates: As Trump looks on, expert disputes AG's allegations

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(NEW YORK) -- Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York in a $250 million civil lawsuit that could alter the personal fortune and real estate empire that helped propel Trump to the White House.

Trump, his sons Eric Trump and and Donald Trump Jr., and other top Trump Organization executives are accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of engaging in a decade-long scheme in which they used "numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation" to inflate Trump's net worth in order get more favorable loan terms. The trial comes after the judge in the case ruled in a partial summary judgment that Trump had submitted "fraudulent valuations" for his assets, leaving the trial to determine additional actions and what penalty, if any, the defendants should receive.

The former president has denied all wrongdoing and his attorneys have argued that Trump's alleged inflated valuations were a product of his business skill.

Here's how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Dec 07, 5:06 PM EST
'There is no fraud here,' accounting expert testifies

If Donald Trump was a student in Eli Bartov's class, his statements of financial condition would earn him an "A," the New York University professor said on the stand.

"I've never seen a statement that provides so much detail and is so transparent as these statements," Bartov said, praising the "awesome amount of information" in the financial documents that are at the center of the New York attorney general's case against Trump.

"There is no fraud here," Bartov said flatly.

Despite his effusive praise for the statements, the professor attempted to underplay the significance of the documents, emphasizing that lenders would be expected to do their own valuations to decide about lending to Trump. Deutsche Bank's credit memos -- which regularly marked down Trump's asset values by as much as 50% -- proved that the banks used additional information to independently scrutinize Trump's financial statements, according to Bartov.

"It is impossible to argue -- it is really absurd to argue -- that Deutsche Bank or any bank or any lender would make lending decisions based on the SOFC," Bartov said of Trump's statement of financial condition. "This should close the book on this case."

"Everywhere you look, you see this is simply an absurd argument," Bartov said.

Dec 07, 3:07 PM EST
'Gotta lose some weight,' Trump says, examining sketch

During testimony, Donald Trump has been sitting at the defense counsel table with few items other than an unopened, Trump-branded water bottle and a stack of sticky notes.

But during breaks in testimony, he's taken a page from his son Donald Trump Jr., who chatted with court sketch artist Jane Rosenberg when he testified last month.

The former president has done the same, chatted up the court's sketch artists during two breaks in testimony.

Rosenberg said that when Trump surveyed her rendering of him, he offered a simple, "Nice."

Trump also examined a rendering by sketch artist Isabelle Brourman.

"Wow, amazing," Trump said, according to Brourman. "Gotta lose some weight."

Dec 07, 1:52 PM EST
Defense expert tells AG lawyer, 'You ought to be ashamed of yourself'

Donald Trump's accounting expert snapped at a lawyer for the New York attorney general after the lawyer suggested his opinion was bought by the defense team.

As accounting expert Eli Bartov was testifying about Trump's use of disclaimers in his financial statements, state attorney Kevin Wallace interjected, saying, "This is pure speculation from someone they hired to say whatever it is they want."

Still in the witness box, Bartov began yelling at Wallace about the comment as Trump sat watching a few feet away.

"You make up allegations that never existed," Bartov shouted. "I am here to tell the truth. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for talking like that."

Bartov, in his testimony, said that Trump's use of disclaimers functioned "just like the warning from the surgeon general on a box of cigarettes."

The accounting expert said that Trump's disclaimers clearly flagged to his lenders that they should conduct their own due diligence regarding the figures, rather than rely on them at face value. Witnesses from Deutsche Bank -- Trump's primary lender during the 2010s -- previously testified that they conducted due diligence and significantly undercut the valuations Trump provided in his financial statement when deciding to offer him loans.

"I never saw anything that is clearer than that," Bartov said about the language in Trump's disclaimer clause. "Even my nine-year-old granddaughter Emma would understand this language."

In his pretrial summary judgment ruling, Judge Engoron dismissed Trump's argument that disclaimer clauses protect him from allegations of fraud. While multiple defense witnesses have attempted to rebut Engoron's opinion about Trump's use of disclaimer clauses, the judge has signaled he stands by his opinion.

"My summary judgment is the law of the case on the legal effect of this paragraph or these sentences," Engoron said in response to Bartov's testimony, adding that the clauses "would not insulate the client."

Nevertheless, Trump attorney Chris Kise requested that Engoron reconsider his finding.

"I am fairly liberal in reconsidering my opinions," Engoron said before Bartov resumed his testimony.

Dec 07, 12:14 PM EST
Expert 'found absolutely no fraud,' Trump says

During a short break in testimony, Donald Trump applauded the findings of accounting expert Eli Bartov, who testified that he found no evidence of accounting fraud in Trump's statements of financial condition.

"He reviewed fully the documents that this horrendous attorney general has put forward, and he found absolutely no fraud, accounting fraud of any kind," Trump told reporters.

Trump, however, acknowledged that Judge Engoron might not be swayed by Bartov's testimony.

"We will probably go forward and I'm sure nothing will have any bearing on what this judge does," Trump said.

Dec 07, 11:59 AM EST
Trump penthouse misstatement was not fraud, expert says

Donald Trump's overstatement of the value of his Trump Tower penthouse apartment was a mistake, according to accounting expert Eli Bartov -- but not fraud.

"The price was inflated. There is no question about it," Bartov said about Trump more than doubling the value of his triplex apartment on his statement of financial condition, from $80 million to $180 million, between 2011 and 2012.

Bartov chalked up the mistake to the inevitable errors that occur in the process of compiling a statement of financial condition. He said that if Trump meant to commit fraud by inflating the value of his apartment, he would have made some effort to conceal it.

"There is no evidence here of concealment," Bartov said. "It's true this is an error. But it is no fraud."

Bartov instead blamed Trump's external accounting firm for failing to catch the obvious error.

"They submitted to him the supporting documents. Any person that had one year experience in auditing ... will immediately see there is a jump from 80 million to 180 million," he said.

Dec 07, 11:45 AM EST
No merit to NY AG's complaint, defense expert says

The New York attorney general's civil fraud complaint against former President Trump lacks merit, a defense expert in accounting testified.

"My main finding is that there is no evidence whatsoever for any accounting fraud," New York University professor Eli Bartov said. "My analysis shows the statements of financial condition for all the years were not materially misstated."

Bartov's testimony bolstered the defense's contention that non-audited financial statements, like Trump's, are unreliable and represent only a first step in analysis.

"You cannot use the raw numbers in the statements as the basis for making decisions," Bartov said. "If you do that, you are likely to reach the wrong decision."

Judge Engoron asked Bartov whether the attorney general's complaint had no merit.

"This is absolutely my opinion," Bartov replied.

"And why is that?" defense attorney Jesus Suarez jumped in to ask.

"There is not a single reference to a specific provision of GAAP that was violated," Bartov said, referring to the generally accepted accounting principles." "If you allege there was an accounting violation, they have to tell us what provision was violated."

State attorneys objected to the relevance of Bartov's opinion, but Judge Engoron denied the objection.

Dec 07, 10:39 AM EST
Court affirms pausing dissolution of Trump Organization

A panel of five appellate judges has affirmed a judge's Oct. 6 decision that paused the dissolution of the Trump Organization.

Judge Peter Moulton issued a ruling during the first week of the trial pausing the immediate cancellation of Donald Trump's business certificates, as ordered by Judge Arthur Engoron in his partial summary judgment ruling on the eve of the trial.

Trump's attorneys argued in favor of the stay of enforcement action until the end of the trial, and the New York attorney general supported their argument.

Today's ruling formally pushes a decision on the fate of the Trump Organization into the new year, when Engoron issues his final ruling in the case.

Dec 07, 10:17 AM EST
Trump in attendance for accounting expert's testimony

Donald Trump is back in court as a spectator, marking the first time the former president has attended the proceeding in over a month.

Trump entered the courtroom alongside his legal spokesperson Alina Habba and his son Eric Trump, who canceled his testimony that was initially scheduled for yesterday. Notably absent from the courtroom is New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Previewing today's testimony from New York University accounting professor Eli Bartov, Trump said on his way into the courtroom that he has "one of the greatest experts in the country" taking the stand today.

"We did nothing wrong. There were no victims. The bank loves us," Trump said.

Dec 07, 8:34 AM EST
Donald Trump set to attend trial today

Donald Trump is set to return to his civil fraud trial as a spectator today, marking the first time the former president has attended the proceeding in over a month.

Trump has attended eight of the trial's 41 days, including when he testified as the last witness in the state's case on Nov. 6. He is scheduled to return to the stand as the final witness in the defense's case on Monday.

This morning, Trump's lawyers will call New York University professor Eli Bartov as their second-to-last witness.

Trump attorney Chris Kise cited Bartov's testimony in his opening statement as vital to proving that Trump fully complied with all accounting rules and regulations when he submitted his statements of financial condition, which underpin the attorney general's allegations in the case.

"The statements are ... the beginning, not the end, of a highly complex valuation process," Kise said.

Dec 06, 4:42 PM EST
Potential for violence justifies gag order, judge's lawyer argues

Judge Arthur Engoron's attorney argues in a new court filing that the willingness of Donald Trump's followers "to engage in violence to show their support" for Trump justifies the limited gag order in the former president's civil fraud trial.

Trump filed an Article 78 proceeding against Engoron earlier this month to remove the gag orders the judge imposed prohibiting him from commenting on the judge's staff, but a panel of judges vacated a temporary stay of the gag orders last week.

"It is undisputed that Mr. Trump has an inordinate ability to draw attention, fervor, and animosity to those he singles out for attention. Whether he seeks it or not, some of Mr. Trump's followers are willing to engage in violence to show their support," said Engoron's attorney Michael Suidzinski, an assistant deputy counsel with the New York State Office of Court Administration.

Engoron's attorney questioned Trump's need to speak about the judge's staff during the trial or his campaign, adding that the gag order still permits him to criticize Engoron, the attorney general, the case itself, witnesses, and the entire judicial process.

"It is unclear, however, how his ability to talk about Justice Engoron's court staff is necessary for his campaign when this country faces a number of issues more worthy of debate," Suidzinski wrote.

"Given the real and demonstrated likelihood of harm that could come to Justice Engoron's court staff if the gag orders were annulled, Justice Engoron's legitimate and justifiable interest in preventing such harm greatly outweighs the de minimis interference to Mr. Trump's rights," Suidzinski wrote.

Dec 06, 12:07 PM EST
Court is off today after Eric Trump's testimony is called off

Court is not in session today after the defense yesterday called off the testimony of Eric Trump, who was scheduled to be today's lone witness.

Donald Trump's legal spokesperson, Alina Habba, said that testimony from Eric Trump was no longer needed because the court has heard sufficient testimony from defense experts and Deutsche Bank executives.

Eric Trump, who took the stand in the state's case last month, was scheduled to testify for the defense today -- but defense lawyers abruptly called off his testimony yesterday in order to streamline their case, defense attorney Clifford Robert said in court yesterday.

"Although Eric Trump was certainly prepared to testify again, his testimony is no longer necessary. He has already testified fully and well in the case," Habba said.

In a social media post Tuesday night, Donald Trump said he directed Eric not to testify.

"I told my wonderful son, Eric, not to testify tomorrow at the RIGGED TRIAL," Trump wrote.

Dec 06, 11:02 AM EST
Trump confirms he'll testify Monday

Former President Trump has confirmed he plans to testify as a defense witness on Monday.

"I will be testifying on Monday," Trump wrote on his social media platform.

Court is not in session today, but Trump is expected to be in attendance tomorrow.

Trump's plan to testify was thrown into question on Tuesday after Judge Arthur Engoron denied a request from the defense to delay the testimony to accommodate Trump's effort to appeal the limited gag order in the case that prohibits him from commenting on the judge's staff.

"He is not capable of fully testifying because he is subject to the gag order," Kise said, arguing for a delay.

"Absolutely not. No way, no how. It's a nonstarter," Engoron said in response to the defense's request for a delay. "If he is going to testify, it'll be Monday, and that's that."

While Trump's lawyers have attempted to appeal the limited gag order to a higher court, their application to expedite the appeal was denied on Monday, ensuring that the limited gag order will be in place when Trump testifies.

During a campaign stop in Iowa, Trump repeated his claims that his opponents are trying to silence him, describing the gag order as an "honor."

"In many ways, it's an honor because if they wanted to hear me speak, they wouldn't do the gag order," Trump said.

When asked if he's concerned about his scheduled court testimony, Trump said, "No, not at all."

Trump is set to be the final witness for the defense case when he testifies on Monday.

Dec 05, 5:04 PM EST
Defense expert quotes John Lennon, compares Trump to MLK

Prior to his brief cross-examination, real estate valuation expert Lawrence Moens quoted John Lennon's "Imagine" and compared Donald Trump to Martin Luther King Jr. at the conclusion of his direct testimony.

"You may say I am a dreamer, but I'm not the only one," Moens said, quoting the "Imagine" lyrics before comparing Trump to Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr.

"He's a dreamer for sure. If you have a dream and are a great American, I don't think that's a bad thing," Moens said of Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago estate he praised as "something breathtaking" and "amazing to see."

Moens' cellphone went off during his testimony, and he briefly interrupted his direct examination to answer a call.

"I'll call you right back … love you," Moens said in a quiet tone as Judge Engoron watched in disbelief.

Moen apologized to the judge, explaining that the call was from his elderly father.

Court was adjourned for the day after Moens stepped off the witness stand.

Dec 05, 4:45 PM EST
Mar-a-Lago valuation expert is also Mar-a-Lago member

During a short cross-examination of the defense's real estate valuation expert, Lawrence Moens, state attorney Kevin Wallace attempted to highlight flaws in Moens' analysis that valued Mar-a-Lago at $1.2 billion in 2021.

Wallace noted that Moens' analysis added over $100 million in membership dues to the value of the property, while Trump's own statements of financial conduction didn't include the membership fees since they're refundable.

"Some get paid back, and some are nonrefundable," Moens said in response. "I don't know what their methodology is in those numbers."

Wallace also asked if Moens had a membership in the club he had been paid to value.

"Are you a member at the club?" Wallace asked.

"I am," Moens said, adding that he joined in 1995 or 1996.

"I don't go too often. I don't like clubs," he said.

Moens described his process for valuing properties as comparable to a baker making a cake by taste, rather than a recipe. By his own admission, the process was not replicable or scientific.

"You're not running a process that is recreatable ... is that fair?" Wallace asked.

"That's fair," Moens said.

Like during his direct examination, Moens appeared confident and playful on the stand, even taking a job at the profession of a colleague mentioned in an email.

"I think he is still a liar -- I mean a lawyer," Moens said. "Sorry, I apologize, it was really low."

Dec 05, 3:51 PM EST
Eric Trump will not be called as defense witness

Defense attorney Clifford Robert said the defense team was able to "streamline" their case and cut Eric Trump from their witness list.

After being called to the stand by the state last month, Eric Trump had been scheduled to testify for the defense on Wednesday, but now he will not appear.

Trump lawyer Chris Kise also requested that Judge Engoron postpone Donald Trump's testimony until the New York Court of Appeals rules on Trump's appeal of the case's gag order.

"He is not capable of fully testifying because he is subject to the gag order," Kise said.

Engoron flatly denied the request to delay Trump's testimony, which is scheduled for Monday.

"Absolutely not. No way, no how. It's a nonstarter," Engoron said. "If he is going to testify, it'll be Monday, and that's that."

Dec 05, 3:03 PM EST
Defense expert says Mar-a-Lago was worth $1.2 billion

Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club was worth more than $1.2 billion in 2021 -- roughly double the value listed in Trump's statement of financial condition -- according to defense expert Lawrence Moens.

Describing Mar-a-Lago as a castle nestled on 17.6 acres of waterfront property, Moens said he determined the value by considering nearby properties and adding the total value of the club's 500 memberships, which in 2021 cost $350,000 each.

Between 2011 and 2021, Moens' analysis found that Trump undervalued Mar-a-Lago in his statements of financial condition -- but his analysis appeared to be based on Trump being able to sell the property to an individual to use it as a private residence, which the New York attorney general says Trump is prohibited from doing based on a 2002 deed he signed that would "forever extinguish their right to develop or use the Property for any purpose other than club use."

Judge Engoron only qualified Moens as an expert on the value of residential real estate.

Moens spoke with confidence about his ability to value real estate in Palm Beach, saying that he has sold billions of dollars of real estate since his first sale as a broker in 1982. Asked if any broker has sold more Palm Beach real estate than he has, Moens replied, "They don't exist."

"I am on the front lines everyday of selling properties, and I have a pretty good handle of what is going on currently in the market," Moens said.

He later added, "My numbers are usually right."

Moens also put together a seven-minute promotional video about Mar-a-Lago, which was played during his testimony. Set to relaxing music, the video included high-resolution drone shots and dramatic panning shots of the property's amenities. After the video played, Moens highlighted details such as hand-carved stones, gold decorations that cost millions to construct, and other details that required years of work from tradesmen.

"I invited the attorney general's office to come see it anytime. The offer still stands," Moens said. "I will make sure he is not there when you come," he said of Trump.

Engoron appeared attentive to Moen's testimony -- but once Moens left the courtroom, he indicated that he wasn't as concerned about Mar-a-Lago's specific value as he was about whether it was misrepresented.

"I see this case about the documents -- whether the defendants used false documents when transacting business," Engoron said. "I am not trying to figure out what the value is ... I don't necessarily consider it relevant."

Dec 05, 12:31 PM EST
Mar-a-Lago would be residence if club was abandoned, expert says

Defense expert John Shubin attempted to explain that a 1993 agreement preserved Donald Trump's right to sell his Mar-a-Lago social club as a private residence.

The testimony came after Judge Engoron prevented Shubin from sharing his own conclusion about whether Mar-a-Lago was a residence, leading Shubin to read into the record several documents involving the issue.

Shubin suggested that a 1993 agreement between Trump and the town of Palm Beach included a provision that Trump's property would revert from a social club to Trump's private residence if the club was ever abandoned, despite Trump's 2002 deed restricting the property's use to a social club.

Shubin also read into the record documents related to a 2021 Town of Palm Beach town meeting concerning whether Trump could continue to live at Mar-a-Lago as his residence.

"In sum, it is argued that Mar-a-Lago is either a private residence or a club, but cannot be both," Palm Beach Town Attorney John C. Randolph wrote in a report read by Shubin.

"If he is a bona fide employee of the Club, absent a specific restriction prohibiting former President Trump from residing at the club, it appears the Zoning Code permits him to reside at the Club," Randolph's report concluded.

According to Shubin, no action was taken by the town after the meeting, suggesting Town officials concluded that Trump had the right to use the club as a residence.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has accused Trump of valuing the property as a residence worth upwards of half a billion dollars in Trump's financial statements, while treating it as social club worth between $18 million and $28 million for tax purposes.

Dec 05, 11:03 AM EST
'No prohibition' on using Mar-a-Lago as residence, expert says

Introduced as an expert on land use, planning, entitlements and zoning, a witness for the defense immediately pushed back on New York Attorney General Letitia James' chief argument that Trump's Mar-a-Lago property was restricted to use as a social club -- a claim that Judge Engoron called the "ultimate issue on Mar-a-Lago."

"There is absolutely no prohibition on the use of Mar-a-Lago as a single-family residence," said defense witness John Shubin.

Engoron barred Shubin from testifying about legal conclusions and immediately sustained an objection from the state regarding the testimony.

"It absolutely is a legal conclusion," Engoron said, prompting defense lawyer Clifford Robert to unsuccessfully try to rephrase his question.

"Why don't we just look through the documents and run backwards?" defense lawyer Chris Kise suggested.

Shubin's testimony runs contrary to evidence presented by state lawyers that Trump signed a 2002 deed that surrendered his right to develop the property "for any purpose other than club use."

Dec 05, 9:36 AM EST
Defense focusing on value of Mar-a-Lago

Donald Trump's lawyers plan to call two experts, Lawrence Moens and John Shubin, to testify on Trump's valuation of his Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Florida.

Moens is a well-known real estate broker in Palm Beach, and Shubin is an expert on deeds and land restrictions.

The value of the property has been bitterly contested by Trump's lawyers since the start of the trial, after Judge Arthur Engoron, in his pretrial partial summary judgment determined that Trump overvalued the property by at least 2,300%. When Trump testified in the trial in November, he repeatedly lashed out at Engoron for what he called a "crazy" assessment of the property.

"He said in his statement that Mar-a-Lago is worth $18 million and it's worth 50 times to 100 times more than that, and everybody knows it. And everybody is watching this case. He called me a fraud and he didn't know anything about me," Trump said on the stand.

According to evidence shown at trial, Trump agreed in a 2002 deed to "forever extinguish [his] right to develop or use the Property for any purpose other than club use." While Trump Organization executives were aware of the limited use of the property, they allegedly valued the property as a residence in Trump's financial statements while treating it as a social club for tax purposes, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James.

In Trump's statements of financial condition, he valued the property between $426 million and $612 million, despite a local tax assessor appraising the market value of the property between $18 and $27 million. Engoron, in his summary judgment ruling, wrote that James had proven that Trump was liable for a false valuation of the property.

Trump has repeatedly argued that Engoron misunderstood the purpose of a tax assessment, going as far as to call Engoron's finding "fraud."

"Are you paying taxes on an $18 million valuation of Mar-a-Lago or $1.5 billion?" state attorney Kevin Wallace asked Trump during his direct examination.

"You know that assessments are totally different from the valuation of property," Trump responded.

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Navajo Nation faces possible new threats after decades of uranium mining

ABC News

(GALLUP, N.M.) -- Just miles from the site of the 1979 Church Rock Mill spill, the largest nuclear disaster in American history, uranium extraction operations could resume near the Navajo Nation. Now, Navajo leaders say the health and prosperity of their community could be in even further jeopardy.

A Canadian company is working to move forward with uranium extraction, an industry that has a lengthy history around the Navajo Nation.

“The pursuit of happiness for us is to be able to live in our communities without fear from the impact of radiation and uranium,” said Tericita Keyanna, who grew up near an abandoned uranium mine in New Mexico. "It's been really scary, just being a mom in this area.”

‘You'd probably be angry too, right?’

More than 500 mines across the Navajo Nation once supplied uranium that helped power the U.S. Department of Defense’s nuclear arms development, including the Manhattan Project during World War II, but not a single one has been completely cleaned up in the decades since, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Uranium mining continued in and around the Navajo Nation after the war. In 1979, the Church Rock Mill spill occurred when a United Nuclear Corporation dam failed to hold back 94 million gallons of radioactive waste from entering the nearby Puerco River.

Larry King, a Navajo tribal member and former uranium miner, said that the Three Mile Island nuclear incident, which occurred only three months earlier in Pennsylvania, drew a national attention that they never got.

“Even the president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, made a visit to that community,” King said. “We haven't seen anybody out here.”

King said the contamination from the spill decimated the ancestral grazing lands that provided food for his people, noting that he remembers witnessing the immediate cleanup efforts after the disaster.

“[The] method of cleanup was to hire some laborers, give them a shovel, 5-gallon buckets and start scooping all that slime that was left behind into those buckets,” King added. “It wasn’t enough.”

King said he’s still fighting for compensation.

The effects of the 1979 toxic spill into the Puerco River were detected as recently as 2015, nearly 50 miles downstream, when residents in a town called Sanders, Ariz., learned about the contamination that persisted more than three decades later.

Tommy Rock was a doctoral student when he discovered records going back 10 years that showed levels of uranium almost double the amount deemed safe by the EPA.

Still, residents say they were not notified before Rock shared his research, even though the Safe Drinking Water Act requires states to notify its citizens within 30 days of contamination being discovered.

Although tests by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality showed that the uranium levels were almost double the amount deemed safe by the EPA, the statement ADEQ released shortly after Rock's revelation read that “healthy adults do not need to use an alternate source water supply.”

Remediation efforts began after the state issued a compliance order as a result of Rock's testing.

Administrators at the local elementary school said they were forced to temporarily shut down as a result of Rock’s discovery that water levels were unsafe.

Rock said community members protested, demanding answers for why they were left in the dark for over a decade.

“They're kids. They're not informed, and they're being exposed to that. If it was your kid, you'd probably be angry too, right?” Rock said.

Protecting the next generation

Multiple studies have found that environmental radiation, which emits from uranium, can present an increased risk of respiratory illnesses with elevated risk of cancer and kidney diseases.

While it's not possible to definitively connect one person's illness to radiation exposure, many Navajo community members are deeply concerned about the risk.

Keyanna was a volunteer for the University of New Mexico’s Birth Cohort Study, which found that some pregnant mothers living in the area gave birth to newborns with elevated levels of uranium in their urine.

She says her two children struggle with their health, something she suspects is a result of early radiation exposure.

“As a mom, it is something that causes a lot of fear for me,” Keyanna told ABC News. “There's that constant worry of whether the impacts that you've had to deal with all your life are impacting your children now.”

That fear is also one of the main reasons that Davona Blackhorse, who studies cancer in Native American communities, moved off the reservation with her three children.

Blackhorse says leaving her homeland was difficult because it keeps her family further away from their cultural traditions.

“It has completely stripped a lot of us from that connection that people had to the land. We're already dealing with complex trauma,” Blackhorse said.

More extraction on the horizon?

Part of the Navajo Reservation has small plots of land on a grid that are a mix of tribal, government and private property, making up what is known as the checkerboard system.

Near one of those private properties, some residents have shifted their focus from abandoned uranium mines to the potential for future uranium extraction.

They have focused on a New Mexico property that is owned by a subsidiary of Toronto-based Laramide Resources, but surrounded by the Navajo Nation.

The company, which started exploratory drilling in February, is currently under review for state and federal permits they need to move forward with uranium production.

One requirement they face is the ability to prove that they can restore the quality of the groundwater they plan to utilize during the course of their extraction. Navajo leaders are concerned given that many in the scientific community say that water used for extraction has never been successfully restored to pre-mining conditions.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that the “primary restoration goal” for any company is to return groundwater to “pre…injection levels,” but they will accept the standard set by the Safe Drinking Water Act, which allows for up to 30 micrograms of uranium per liter of water.

Laramide’s proposed operations involve a technique called in situ recovery, which, unlike traditional underground or open-pit mining, drills into an underground water source and injects solvents to strip surrounding rock of radionuclides.

The NRC defines this technique as a "primary extraction method… currently used to obtain uranium from underground."

In an email, Laramide CEO Marc Henderson told ABC News that the technique they hope to use is "more akin to [a] water treatment plant than what most people would think of as 'mining.'”

They currently plan to tap into the Westwater Canyon Aquifer, which serves as a fresh water source for at least 15,000 people.

Residents fear any potential contamination would exacerbate an already existing water shortage — 30% of Navajo Nation homes already do not have access to clean running water.

"You run the risk of committing a portion of your groundwater to long-term contamination," says Chris Shuey of the Southwest Research and Information Center. “It’s too risky.”

“Laramide is a mining company,” Shuey said. “Its goal is to get uranium out of the ground, sell it to utilities to make profit.”

‘We’re ready to have a safe place to live’

To many in the Navajo Nation, the topic of uranium extraction brings up concerns about needing to relocate from their land.

James Benally, an elected Navajo community leader, says the deep mistrust in relocation comes from a long history of the U.S. government policies of forced assimilation.

“We will lose our cultural traditional teaching. We will lose our Navajo language. And we will lose our old history here,” Benally told ABC News regarding what he believes would happen if future relocations due to uranium issues are needed. “To me, we would let down our ancestors. That's what I think.”

Benally was instrumental in organizing remediation efforts of mines for his constituents, with 88 abandoned mines near his community under a collective consideration for Superfund designation from the EPA. This designation, if granted, would bring additional funding for cleanup efforts.

“We hear a lot of times in these communities that the process is just taking too long,” Jacob Phipps of the EPA told ABC News, explaining that they have to determine the location and extent of contamination. “Our process does take a long time.”

The EPA has been the primary authority responsible for cleaning up abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation since efforts began in 2008 and has since committed to cleaning up 240 mines of the over 500 that remain as part of a 10-year plan.

Keyanna’s aunt, Berth Nez, said her family has been relocated from their home near the Church Rock Mill spill site by the EPA three times since 2007.

"Relocation is losing part of yourself," Keyanna said. "I feel very tied to this land."

“We lost a lot of people that worked at the uranium mines,” Nez told ABC News. “They had problems, respiratory problems, cancer and all kinds of stuff. We're ready to have a safe place to live.”

With the potential of more uranium extraction so close to the Navajo Nation, Keyanna and Nez say they want to make sure their community is protected.

“We want our future kids and grandkids all to be safe. That's what we want,” Nez said.

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UNLV senior recounts barricading in classroom, saying goodbye to his dad during mass shooting

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(LAS VEGAS) -- University of Nevada, Las Vegas senior Mike Henderson had just left his classroom in Beam Hall and was in a hallway when he heard about eight gunshots on Wednesday.

"An alert came to my phone from UNLV [saying], 'Shots fired -- run, hide, fight,'" Henderson said, and that's when he knew "it was real."

"I immediately went into a neighboring classroom on the second floor and we began the shelter in place. Lights went off, everybody got quiet. Everyone was nervous," he said.

The students and professor barricaded the door with desks and tried to stay quiet, he said.

"We wanted to make sure if the shooter was coming down the hall, he didn't think anybody was in the class," he said.

Henderson said he called his dad. He said other students, panicked and crying, also called their parents.

"If you're not gonna make it out of a situation, you want to talk to your loved ones," he said.

"I said, 'Dad, I have to go, if this is the last time we talk, I love you,'" Henderson recalled. "I lost my mom a few years ago, so my dad is like my lifeline. Just saying goodbye to him was tough."

Three faculty members were killed and one faculty member was injured in the Wednesday mass shooting at UNLV. Two of the victims' have been identified as 64-year-old Cha Jan Chang, a professor, and 39-year-old Patricia Navarro Velez, an assistant professor, the Clark County coroner said.

The victims were killed on different floors of the business school building, law enforcement in Las Vegas told ABC News. The suspect's movements through the building would suggest he may have been targeting his victims as he carried out his rampage, law enforcement said.

The first officer was on scene 1 minute and 18 seconds after receiving the call, according to UNLV police.

After the shootings, it appears the suspect encountered two UNLV police detectives outside the business building, near the student union. The suspect died at the scene following a gunfight with police.

Henderson said, after about 25 minutes barricaded in the classroom, police arrived at their door and escorted them out of the building.

As they were led out, Henderson said he heard more shots coming from the student union next door. Once outside, Henderson said he saw a bloody body, face-down on the ground.

First-year UNLV student Brayden McDermott, who was also on the second floor of Beam Hall, said he first heard an alarm go off.

"We were confused what was going on because a lot of us were first-years, we didn't know that this is what it sounded like, this is what this was," said McDermott. "Then all of us just heard somebody scream ... there's a gun."

"And everybody starts running in the opposite direction," said McDermott. "I nearly got trampled, like some girl fell over herself going down the stairs. And I, we don't know everything that happens. It's awful."

McDermott clarified he did not hear any gunshots but sprinted out of the building once he heard someone say there was a gun.

"I'm panicking. My lungs are burning," said McDermott. "I was terrified."

McDermott said he and hundreds of other students waited for nearly eight hours at the Thomas and Mack Center during the aftermath of the shooting, until the dorms opened up again.

He also said he wasn't surprised by the shooting given the frequency of mass shootings in the U.S.

"I don't mean this to sound callous or harsh but like, this has happened so much. People don't care anymore and that is a shame," said McDermott.

"No one is untouchable," said McDermott. "And if anywhere was untouchable, we'd all be living there."

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Court grants Texas woman's request for emergency abortion in historic ruling

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(AUSTIN) -- A judge granted a Texas woman's request for an abortion for a pregnancy with a severe anomaly on Thursday.

The woman, Kate Cox, had filed a lawsuit against the state over its restrictive abortion bans, asking a judge to grant her a temporary restraining order that would allow her to get an abortion.

"The idea that Miss Cox wants desperately to be a parent, and this law might actually cause her to lose that ability is shocking, and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice," Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, a Democrat elected to the bench, said Thursday.

Cox could be seen wiping away tears as Gamble issued her decision. Guerra Gamble's order has been processed. A temporary restraining order prohibiting the implementation of any of Texas' abortion bans, including SB8 which allows private citizens to sue anyone who aids in providing an abortion, will remain in effect until Dec. 20.

The ruling came in the first publicized case of a woman suing for an emergency abortion since Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Cox is currently carrying a pregnancy with virtually no chance the baby -- who has trisomy 18 -- will survive to birth or long afterward. She's said she has been denied the safest form of abortion care for her -- a dilation and evacuation procedure. The CRR would not disclose when or where Cox plans to obtain her abortion care due to safety concerns.

In an interview the night before the ruling, Cox told ABC News' Rachel Scott that she was shocked to hear from her doctor that she could not get the care she wanted in Texas.

"We're grieving the loss of a child. There's no outcome here that results in us taking home a healthy baby girl. So it's hard. It's overwhelming," Cox said.

"I asked my doctor, you know, best case, how much time she thinks we would have with her. And she said, 'Could be an hour. Could be a week,' but that we needed to prepare ourselves to be placing this baby onto hospice. There's no treatment. So that was very, very hard," Cox said.

Cox said she "desperately" wants a chance to have another baby and grow her family.

"I'm a Texan. I love Texas. I'm raising my children here. I was raised here. I've built my academic career, my professional career here. You know, I plan to stay. And so I want to be able to get access to the medical care that I need, and my daughter to have it as well," Cox said.

Johnathan Stone, with the Texas Attorney General's Office, argued in court that Cox hadn't proved she would suffer "immediate and irreparable injury" and suggested that a subsequent hearing be allowed with more evidence.

He said under state law doctors can use "reasonable medical judgement" in providing an emergency abortion to protect a woman's life at risk, but that it didn't appear Cox met that definition.

Molly Duane, Cox's attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that standard is impossible to meet without harming a woman.

"The state attempts to second guess Miss Cox's positions and say that she is still not sick enough," Duane said. "They have moved the goalposts once again. Now a patient must be about to die before a doctor can rely on the exception. This position is not only cruel and dangerous, but it flies in the face of the Texas Constitution, medical ethics and the laws themselves."

In a conference call after the ruling, Duane said they were "relieved" that the judge ruled in Cox's favor.

"Every day of this ordeal has been agonizing for her and today she finally got recognition that she has a right to the health care she needs," Duane said.

Cox did not consider traveling to another state because she was in the middle of a health crisis and was worried about her condition, according to Duane. When she got a diagnosis for her baby, the CRR had just been in court defending its lawsuit over the Texas bans, so she reached out to them, according to Duane.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded to Cox's win in court by warning that the doctors who perform her abortion could still get sued by private citizens.

Under Texas' bans, it is a second-degree felony to perform or attempt an abortion, punishable by up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The law also allows private citizens to sue anyone who "aids or abets" an abortion.

Paxton also threatened to come after the hospitals' licenses.

In a letter to the hospitals, he said the restraining order "won't insulate you or anyone else."

The hearing was held in Travis County's 459th District Court in Austin, and lasted about a half hour before the ruling was delivered.

Cox's lawsuit stands separate from a suit filed by 20 women who say their lives were put in danger due to Texas' abortion bans.

That suit is before the Texas state Supreme Court for a ruling on whether the challenge can continue and if a temporary hold on implementation of the bans in cases of fatal fetal anomalies and medical emergencies can go into effect.

The CRR declined to comment on whether Cox has plans to further pursue a case legally or if she is considering joining the other lawsuit as a plaintiff.

Texas has multiple overlapping abortion bans in effect with severe punishments for violations of the bans.

Texas' bans include exceptions that allow abortions in cases of medical emergencies and fatal fetal diagnoses, but doctors and patients claim, in another lawsuit filed in March, that they are unable to provide care or have been denied care, respectively, under the laws.

ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.


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UNLV suspected shooter identified: Sources

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(LAS VEGAS) -- The deceased suspect in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas shooting has been identified as Anthony Polito, 67, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Polito had applied for a college professorship at UNLV, but was not hired, sources said.

Polito was armed with a handgun during Wednesday's on-campus attack in which three people were killed, authorities said.

Sources said investigators have now determined that the victims killed were faculty or staff, not students. That suggests to detectives that the rampage may not have been random, but may have been an attack that targeted certain people because of some sort of previous relationship or interactions, according to a source.

The suspect was killed in a shootout with police detectives who responded to the scene, authorities said. The gunman fired on police, which is what led them to shoot him, according to preliminary investigative information.

Polito earned a master of business administration at Duke University in 1991, and he received a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Georgia in 2002, according to the universities.

In 2001, Polito started working as an assistant professor at East Carolina University in the College of Business' Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, according to the university. He resigned from ECU in 2017 as a tenured associate professor.

A law enforcement official briefed on the probe said an apartment in Henderson, Nevada -- believed to be the shooter’s home -- was being searched Wednesday night.

Detectives have also retrieved the suspect’s phone and are now feverishly examining its contents for clues about what motivated the killer to mount his alleged attack.

Police are also combing his professional writings to determine whether something in those texts could shed light on the events that occurred on the UNLV campus.

ABC News' Jenny Wagnon Courts and Kate Holland contributed to this report.

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Suspect ID'd in Texas shooting spree that left 6 dead, including his parents

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(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A 34-year-old former Army infantry officer was identified Wednesday morning as the suspect in a central Texas shooting rampage that unfolded over hours in two large cities and left his parents and four other people dead, and three people injured, including two police officers, authorities said.

Austin police investigators "strongly believe" the suspect, Shane James, is connected to the violent string of incidents in Austin that unfolded over a span of eight hours on Tuesday. James was being held Wednesday without bail on a charge of capital murder, authorities said, adding that more charges were pending.

Interim Police Chief Robin Henderson said the chain of events occurred at four different locations in the state capital on Tuesday and one near San Antonio. She said the deadly crime spree began in Austin Tuesday morning with the shooting of an Austin Independent School District police officer near Northeast Early College High School, prompting a lockdown of the school.

"Based on the information obtained over the course of these investigations, we strongly believe one suspect is responsible for all of the incidents," Henderson said at a news conference Tuesday night.

Investigators are working to determine any relationship James may have had with the people who were shot in Austin and what prompted the violence.

The two victims found dead at a home near San Antonio Tuesday night were James' parents, 56-year-old Shane James Sr. and 55-year-old Phyllis James, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Henderson said investigators didn't connect the series of episodes until the final one occurred around 7 p.m. Tuesday, when an Austin police officer was wounded in a gunfight with the suspect in the backyard of a home, where two people were later found dead inside.

Henderson said the wounded officer, a 12-year veteran of the Austin Police Department, responded to the residence in southwest Austin after a 911 caller reported a burglary in progress at the location.

The officer went to the backyard of the home on Austral Loop and encountered the suspect, who immediately opened fire, hitting the officer multiple times, Henderson said. She said the officer, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, returned fire but missed the assailant, who ran to a vehicle and fled the scene.

Other officers chased the suspect, who crashed at an intersection and was taken into custody, Henderson said.

The names of the two victims killed in the Austral Loop shooting have not been released.

Following James' arrest, Austin police contacted the Bexar County Sheriff's Office and informed them the suspect had a connection to a residence near San Antonio, about 80 miles southwest of Austin, Sheriff Salazar said.

Salazar said deputies who were sent to the house to do a welfare check on the occupants found a "grisly" scene and the bodies of the suspect's parents, who were shot multiple times with a large-caliber weapon and "wedged inside a very small room."

Salazar said investigators believe the parents were killed sometime between 10 p.m. on Monday and 9 a.m. on Tuesday, before the suspect went to Austin to continue his alleged killing rampage. He said James' parents were last heard from around 10 p.m. on Monday.

Salazar also said James was involved in several previous incidents where deputies were called to the family's house to intervene. He said James, whom he described as a former member of the military, struggled with mental health issues for years.

Army spokesman Bryce Dubee confirmed to ABC News that James served as an infantry officer from February 2013 to August 2015. His records, according to Dubee, showed James had no deployments and separated from the service on Aug. 17, 2015, with the rank of first lieutenant.

Salazar said that on Jan. 6, 2022, James was arrested on three misdemeanor counts stemming from an alleged assault on his parents and a sibling.

"The family stated that James does not belong in jail, that he has mental health issues," Salazar said.

He said James was released from jail on March 7, 2022, after a judge reduced his bond from $500 on each misdemeanor count to $100 on each account and relaxed restrictions on him from having no contact with his parents or siblings to having no threatening or harmful contact with them.

Salazar said that as part of James' release, he was required to wear an ankle monitoring device. He said a day after James was released from jail, he cut off his ankle monitoring device, prompting misdemeanor warrants to be issued for his arrest.

Salazar said the last time his deputies had contact with James was in August when they were called to the family's home again. He said James' father asked deputies to intervene, claiming his "son was naked, he was acting out, had a mental health episode and was upstairs in his bedroom."

He said deputies tried to talk James into coming out of his room but were limited by law in what they could do because James was only wanted at the time on misdemeanor warrants.

"They were making every effort to avoid a violent confrontation," Salazar said of his deputies, adding that at the time, James was unarmed and yelling derogatory comments at the deputies.

Salazar said that as deputies stood by, James' father partially forced open his son's bedroom door, which was blocked by a bed, and deputies could see James lying naked on a bed.

Unable to get James to come out of the room, the deputies left the house and asked the father to call them if he came out of the room, Salazar said. He said the father never called back.

"I wish we could have been able to get him into custody," Salazar said.

Salazar said James is expected to be charged in Bexar County with either murder or capital murder.

The series of shootings in Austin began at about 10:43 a.m. on Tuesday, when the school resource officer was shot in the leg, Austin Independent School District Police Chief Wayne Sneed said.

About two hours later, a man and a woman were found shot inside a home near Shadywood Drive on Austin's south side, said Austin police Sgt. Destiny Silva. She said officers responded to the home after multiple 911 callers reported gunshots coming from the residence. Austin police identified the victims found at the house as 32-year-old Emmanuel Pop Ba, who was pronounced dead at the scene, and 24-year-old Sabrina Rahman, who died after being taken to a hospital.

Silva said one of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene and the other died after being taken to a hospital.

At about 5 p.m. Tuesday, a 39-year-old cyclist called 911 and reported he'd been shot and injured near the 5700 block of West Slaughter Lane in Austin, police said.

Roughly two hours later, the gunfight between the veteran police officer and the suspect erupted on Austral Loop that preceded the suspect's arrest.

Henderson said the gunfight between the suspect and the veteran police officer was captured on the cop's body camera, and the footage will be made public within 10 business days in keeping with Austin Police Department policy.

As police were investigating the Texas rampage, an unrelated shooting broke out at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in which three staff and faculty members at the school were killed. The suspect, who law enforcement sources identified to ABC News as 67-year-old Anthony Polito, died in a gunfight with police. Polito had applied for a college professorship at UNLV, but was not hired, sources said.

President Joe Biden released a statement responding to the Texas and Nevada shootings, saying he and first lady, Jill Biden, "join citizens across our nation in praying for the families of our fallen, and for those who were injured during these latest acts of senseless violence."

"Federal law enforcement officials are on the ground working with state and local law enforcement in both states and I have directed that all necessary support be provided to assist in the investigations and support these communities," Biden said. "This year alone, our nation has experienced more than 600 mass shootings, and approximately 40,000 deaths due to gun violence. This is not normal, and we can never let it become normal. For all the action we have taken since I’ve been president, the epidemic of gun violence we face demands that we do even more."

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.


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Off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot Joseph David Emerson pleads not guilty in attempted mid-flight sabotage

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(NEW YORK) -- An off-duty pilot who admitted to taking psychedelic mushrooms two days before he was accused of trying to shut down the engines of an Alaska Airlines jet in mid-flight from a cockpit jumpseat pleaded not guilty Thursday to 84 charges stemming from the attempted sabotage.

Joseph David Emerson was arraigned in Multnomah County Court in Portland, Oregon, on 83 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of endangering aircraft in the first degree -- charges connected to the Oct. 22 emergency that unfolded aboard Flight 2059 from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco.

A not-guilty plea to all of the charges was entered on Emerson's behalf by his attorney, Levi Horst.

A judge approved Emerson's release from custody after Horst and prosecutors informed the court that Emerson agreed to abide by seven conditions of his release, including having no contact within 30 feet of any operable aircraft.

Emerson also agreed to post a $50,000 security bond and is required to engage in mental health services and avoid taking any intoxicants, including alcohol.

Emerson of Pleasant Hill, California, was initially arrested on 83 counts of attempted murder based on the number of people aboard the plane, but a Multnomah County grand jury that heard evidence in the case indicted him on lesser charges, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.

The 44-year-old pilot was charged in Oregon because the flight was diverted to Portland, where he was arrested.

Emerson was seated in a flight deck jumpseat in the cockpit of the 737 jet, hitching a ride to San Francisco, when he allegedly tried to shut down the engines by attempting to pull the fire extinguisher handles on the engines, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case. He was allegedly overheard saying, "I'm not okay," before attempting to sabotage the flight, according to the complaint.

The two pilots flying the plane stopped Emerson before he could fully activate the engine fire extinguishers, grabbing his wrists and wresting with him in the cockpit for 25 to 30 seconds before subduing him, the complaint alleges.

Emerson's attorneys previously said he "suffered a panic attack" while on the flight and was in a dream-like state during the incident. They also said he had taken "a small amount of psilocybin," which is found in mushrooms, two days prior to the flight.

The pilot told investigators he had not slept for 40 hours prior to the incident and believed he was having a “nervous breakdown," according to the criminal complaint.

In a statement on the grand jury indictment, the defense attorneys said Emerson "never intended to hurt another person or put anyone at risk -- he just wanted to return home to his wife and children."

"Simply put: Captain Emerson thought he was in a dream; his actions were taken in a single-minded effort to wake up from that dream and return home to his family," the statement said.

Emerson's attorneys said they were "disappointed" that the grand jury indicted the pilot on 84 counts.

"Captain Emerson had no criminal intent, and we look forward to being able to present a fulsome defense at trial and bring forth all the facts and circumstances to a jury," his attorneys said in the statement.


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Lori Vallow to be arraigned on murder charge in fatal shooting of her fourth husband

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

(NEW YORK) -- Lori Vallow, the mother convicted of murdering two of her children in a so-called doomsday plot, was arraigned in Arizona Thursday morning on charges alleging she killed her fourth husband and plotted to kill the ex-husband of her niece.

Lori Vallow, 50, was extradited from Idaho to Arizona last week and booked in Maricopa County on first-degree murder and first-degree premeditated murder. She has been held without bond since her initial court appearance on Nov. 30.

The court entered a not guilty plea on her behalf for both counts.

Her trial has been scheduled to start on April 4, 2024.

Prosecutors asked for more time before the trial, arguing that the date wasn't scheduled properly for a first-degree murder case, which is "automatically complex." Lori Vallow's attorney objected. The judge kept the date as is and said the matter will need to be discussed at the next court appearance, scheduled for Jan. 18, 2024.

The court proceedings come after she was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury in 2021 in connection with the killing of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, who was fatally shot by her brother in 2019 during a confrontation at her Arizona home.

She was subsequently indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury in 2022 for allegedly scheming with her brother to kill Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of her niece.

Lori Vallow, also known as Lori Vallow Daybell, is currently serving life in prison without parole at the Pocatello Women's Correctional Center in Pocatello, Idaho, after a jury found her guilty of two counts of first-degree murder for the 2019 deaths of her children, Joshua "J.J." Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16.

Lori Vallow denied murdering her children, saying in court at her sentencing in July: "Jesus Christ knows the truth of what happened here. … No one was murdered in this case. Accidental deaths happen. Suicides happen. Fatal side effects from medications happen."

Her attorney filed a notice of appeal in October in the case.

J.J. and Tylee were last seen in September 2019 and, following a monthslong search, their remains were found on an Idaho property belonging to her fifth husband, Chad Daybell, in June 2020.

Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell, the author of religious fiction books, both reportedly adhered to a doomsday ideology. She once claimed she was "a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ's second coming in July 2020" and didn't want anything to do with her family "because she had a more important mission to carry out," according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

Friends have said Lori Vallow's 13-year marriage to Charles Vallow started to deteriorate after she became a fan of Daybell's books, with the two separating in 2019. Their blended family had included Tylee from Lori Vallow's third marriage, and Charles Vallow's nephew J.J., whom they adopted.

While at his estranged wife's home in Chandler, Arizona, to take J.J. to school in July 2019, Charles Vallow was fatally shot by her brother, Alex Cox. Her brother told police he shot his brother-in-law in self-defense. Police were investigating the claims when Cox himself died from natural causes months later.

Following a yearslong investigation, prosecutors alleged that Lori Vallow conspired with Cox to murder Charles Vallow, calling the case "complex" and "difficult."

Three months after the shooting of Charles Vallow, Boudreaux called 911 in October 2019 to report that someone driving by in a Jeep shot his vehicle outside his home in Gilbert, Arizona. He told police at the time he thought Cox was behind the wheel.

The indictment against Lori Vallow in the shooting alleges that she and Cox planned to murder Boudreaux. The Maricopa County Attorney's Office released the indictment in May with no further comment due to the pending case.


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'Concerned and afraid': Jews celebrate Hanukkah amid rise in hate

The Good Brigade/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Hanukkah has taken on a new meaning this year for many in the Jewish community after Israel was attacked by terrorist group Hamas on Oct. 7.

More than 1,200 people in Israel were killed, and 6,900 others injured, according to Israeli officials. An estimated 236 people are said to have been taken hostage in the attack.

Israel has retaliated in a siege on Gaza, killing more than 15,900 people in Gaza and injuring 42,000 more, according to Gaza's Hamas-run Ministry of Health and the Hamas government media office.

Hanukkah, which translates to "dedication," is about a recommitment to the ideals of Judaism, according to New York City rabbi Diana Fersko. It honors the Jewish fighters who fought against Syrian armies to defend their religious beliefs in 164 BCE.

"Hanukkah is a story of survival against great odds," said Fersko, author of We Need to Talk About Antisemitism. "It's about the Jewish people persevering even when our detractors seem overwhelming.

This year, Hanukkah will be celebrated amid a backdrop of growing tensions in the U.S. related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Communities whose identities are tied to the conflict overseas -- Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Arabs -- have become targets of hate here in the United States.

Federal and local authorities are sounding the alarm about a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Jewish leaders say the holiday's history is an apt reminder of the ongoing effort to combat antisemitism and stand proud of their Jewish identity.

While members of the community may feel cautious about putting menorahs in their windows or publicly celebrating this Hanukkah, Jewish Federations of North America President Eric Fingerhut says that embracing their Jewish heritage is "an act of strength and determination" in the face of hate.

"Our hope is that the Hanukkah lights will do for us what they've done in ancient times, that they will bring some light into this darkness and point us towards an end to this period and towards a brighter period," said Fingerhut.

JFNA is an umbrella group of Jewish communal organizations around the United States.

The threat of hate

The Jewish community has seen an increase in vandalism, threats, violence and other crimes across the country.

The growing number of incidents come with a backdrop of the longstanding warning from officials in recent years about a rise in antisemitic sentiment in the mainstream.

The Department of Homeland Security earlier urged Jewish leaders to be cautious of individuals who have been "incited to violence by an ideology of hate."

Authorities have not identified any specific plots linked to Hanukkah, but have also warned of "renewed calls for attacks against Jewish individuals and targets" by foreign terror groups and domestic violent extremists, according to a recent threat assessment obtained by ABC News.

Jewish organizations and institutions say they will heed these warnings, but that security precautions have long been in place to protect their communities. Antisemitism has been a constant threat that's been appearing to grow in the mainstream in recent years, according to federal officials.

The ongoing conflict has only led groups to further escalate their security needs.

Experts at the Jewish security organization Secure Community Network said in a Dec. 5 hearing that people are "concerned and afraid."

In an online briefing, they urged community leaders to coordinate with local law enforcement for large events and public gatherings, as well as create plans in anticipation of any potential problems that may arise.

This can look like limiting access to events through ticketing, conducting pre-event surveys of the location regarding best exit procedures, radio dispatches with private security guards, and more.

Tough conversations this holiday season

As families gather to celebrate, conversations about the conflict, Israel's response to the Hamas attack, and its impact on antisemitism in the U.S. may arise. But community leaders say Jewish institutions are no stranger to difficult conversations.

Some groups like the Jewish Federations of North America say they stand with Israel's actions "to restore the safety and security of its boundaries, of its borders" following the attack, Fingerhut said.

"Of course, there are disagreements as there always are, but I've actually never seen the Jewish community more united," Fingerhut said, pointing to the March for Israel that he says garnered almost 300,000 attendees.

Others, like Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow, are calling for a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian territories and an end to what they say are oppressive Israeli policies against Palestinian people that have caused a humanitarian crisis.

Stefanie Fox, executive director of the progressive anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace, said that when she lights her candles on the menorah with her family, she too is aware of the increase in violence against the many groups connected to the conflict.

"As I do that with my son, I'm going to be talking about how we are both proudly displaying our Jewish heritage and also proudly displaying our commitment to fighting for a world where everybody is safe in their home," said Fox.

Community leaders say that communities have been having many tough conversations about the conflict and the aftermath since it began.

Fox urges community members to connect with others across lines of disagreements and differences, and to "start from a place of shared values and see if you can build toward a vision of a very different future than the bloodshed we're seeing today."

Fersko calls synagogues "a place of urgent moral conversation," a reputation expected to hold up amid Hanukkah celebrations.

"I think the Jewish community is actually very strong in having open dialogue with each other and being there for each other and strategizing together," Fersko said.

She continued, "There is this sense that we're celebrating Hanukkah with a spirit of defiance."

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Harvard's president answers backlash over response to calls for 'genocide of Jews'

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(WASHINGTON) -- In the face of bipartisan backlash, Harvard University's president on Wednesday tried to clarify answers she gave during a congressional hearing on Tuesday when asked how she would respond to calls for the "genocide of Jews."

Claudine Gay, one of three university presidents grilled before the House Education Committee over how they handled antisemitism on campus, issued a statement through the Harvard X account about an exchange that has drawn online ire: a tense back-and-fourth between Gay and New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik.

Stefanik had asked Gay the hypothetical question: "Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard's rules on bullying and harassment?"

Gay responded, "The rules around bullying and harassment are quite specific and if the context in which that language is used amounts to bullying and harassment, then we take, we take action against it."

Stefanik said that kind of answer fostered antisemitism.

"I asked a very specific question: Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate their schools' bullying and harassment policies? Not a single university president could say 'yes,'" Stefanik said afterward to ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Selina Wang.

Stefanik called for Gay and the other presidents -- of MIT and the University of Pennsylvania -- who gave similar responses -- to resign.

In her statement Wednesday, Gay said, "There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students."

"Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard," she said, adding, "Those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account."

Harvard is among the schools being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobic discrimination on campus.

During Tuesday's hearing, Stefanik -- a Harvard alumna -- also pressed Gay on whether admissions offers would be rescinded or any disciplinary action would be taken against students or applicants who say "from the river to the sea" or "intifada" -- both terms that have been identified as antisemitic rhetoric by Jewish advocacy groups.

Such language has been used in campus protests, which have ramped up since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas that killed more than 1,200 people. More than 16,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Gay would not directly answer Stefanik's specific questions and said generally that "actions have been taken" against students who have used those terms, but also defended Harvard's free-speech policy.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise joined the call for the presidents to resign, posting to X Wednesday morning that "their hypocrisy is stunning."

"Disgusting that the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and UPenn refused to say that 'calling for the genocide of Jews' is considered harassment and bullying. Let's be clear: It is," Scalise wrote. "This shouldn't be hard for college presidents to say."

Former U.N. Ambassador and Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said in a post on X that the "equivocation from these college presidents is disgusting."

"Calling for genocide of Jews is no different than calling for genocide of any other ethnic, racial, or religious group. The equivocation from these college presidents is disgusting," she said. "As POTUS, this will end or we'll pull their tax exempt status."

White House spokesman Andrew Bates blasted the university presidents for their responses as well.

"It's unbelievable that this needs to be said: calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country," Bates said in a statement.

"Any statements that advocate for the systematic murder of Jews are dangerous and revolting – and we should all stand firmly against them, on the side of human dignity and the most basic values that unite us as Americans," he said.

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US military grounds all of its V-22 Ospreys following last week's deadly crash

NurPhoto via Getty Images, FILE

(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. military is grounding all of its Osprey V-22 aircraft in the wake of last week’s deadly U.S. Air Force crash off the coast of Japan that left eight airmen dead.

The coordinated announcement means that all versions of the Osprey flown by the Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy are being grounded as part of an operational standdown.

“Out of an abundance of caution, following the AFSOC operational stand down, NAVAIR is instituting a grounding bulletin for all V-22 Osprey variants Dec. 6. This decision comes after the V-22 Osprey mishap on Nov. 29, off the shore of Yakushima, Japan,” read statements from the Marines and Navy.

The Air Force and Marines also said in separate statements that the cause of last week’s crash is “unknown at this time,” but "preliminary investigation information indicates a potential materiel failure caused the mishap.”

“While the mishap remains under investigation, we are implementing additional risk mitigation controls to ensure the safety of our service members,” read a statement from the armed forces.

The Osprey aircraft carrying eight airmen crashed off the Japanese coast at about 3 p.m. last Wednesday, U.S. officials previously said.

The crash took place during a "routine training mission," the U.S. Air Force said last week.

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'You either lie or you seek help': Pilots and officials speak out at mental health summit

Greg Bajor/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Pilots, flight attendants and experts met on Wednesday to discuss challenges and barriers that aviation professionals face to receiving care for mental health issues -- a gathering held in the wake of a serious incident in which an off-duty pilot allegedly attempted to crash a commercial plane in October.

"There is a culture right now, which is not surprising to me, that you either lie or you seek help," National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy said during the meeting. "We can't have that. That's not safety."

The session follows the arrest of pilot Joseph Emerson, who is accused of attempting to turn off engines on an Alaska Airlines plane in the middle of a flight.

Emerson said he suffered from mental health issues, according to court documents. He gave a lengthy interview to The New York Times from behind bars in which he discussed his psychological state and what he said was his use of psychedelic mushrooms days before the flight.

Pilots are required to disclose to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) any physical and psychological conditions, as well as any medications they may be taking. Many pilots and air traffic controllers have expressed concern about revealing mental health information for fear of it adversely affecting their careers.

"We hear from the FAA only about 0.1% of medical certificate applicants who disclose a health issue are denied," Homendy said on Wednesday, referring to the agency's health screening process.

But that number likely doesn't tell the full story, she said: "First of all, we know mental health issues are underreported. And by the way -- that statistic accounts for all health issues combined."

Troy Merritt, a first officer for United Airlines, said he voluntarily grounded himself months ago after deciding to seek treatment for his mental health.

"In three months of starting medication, I've become a person who is no longer depressed and my anxiety has entirely subsided," Merritt said during a panel discussion. "I knew I made the right decision for myself."

Merritt said he's now working to get himself back in the cockpit but the process has proved lengthy and expensive. He said that since September, he's undergone "extensive computer testing" of his neuropsychological abilities and a two-hour assessment with an FAA-trained psychiatrist -- costing him more than $8,000.

He's waiting for the FAA to review his application for a special issuance medical certificate and was told to expect that process to take between six and 12 months, he said.

"I have no regrets for taking care of my mental health," Merritt said. "I'm confident that when I do return to work, I will be a happier, healthier and better pilot than I was before."

Merritt acknowledged, however, that if there were fewer barriers to seeking mental health care in aviation, he would have sought treatment earlier and "avoided some of the most painful moments in [his] life."

The FAA announced Tuesday it will examine its rules for pilots and air traffic controllers on mental health. The agency will establish a rulemaking committee to "identify and break down any remaining barriers that discourage pilots from reporting and seeking care for mental health issues."

The committee must submit its recommendations to the FAA by March 2024.

Homendy said Wednesday that she'd like to see an amnesty provision in new regulations, allowing pilots to come forward and be honest about their mental health struggles.

She also said she'd like to see the FAA cut down on the amount of time it takes to process medical certifications, calling it a "very cumbersome, federal bureaucratic nightmare."

"I hear from so many pilots and others that they are waiting for, sometimes, years," she said, "and meanwhile, they are spending upwards of $10,000 for testing, more advanced psychological testing, which, again, is often not covered by insurance."

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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