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Slain Officer's Family Calls for 'Peaceful Coexistence' Between Cops and Public

Lucy Ramos, the aunt of slain police officer Rafael Ramos speaks at a news conference, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014. (ABC News)(NEW YORK) — Family and friends of one of the New York police officers who were shot dead in what officials call an "assassination" this weekend spoke out Sunday night for the first time since the attack, praising him and calling for calm.

Officer Rafael Ramos, who was fatally shot while sitting in his patrol car alongside his partner Officer Wenjian Liu, "will always be loved and missed by many," his aunt Lucy Ramos said Sunday.

She, like other community leaders who appeared with her at a press conference, called New Yorkers and police to come together "so that we can move forward and find an amicable path to a peaceful coexistence."

Juan Rodriguez, who was a friend of Officer Ramos' for 20 years and serves as the community council president for the 75th precinct, said he doesn't "want the city of New York to think everyone is against the police department."

Though he didn't go as far as the leader of the city's largest police union -- who has been in an escalating standoff with Mayor Bill de Blasio and who Saturday said that the mayor has "blood on his hands" for the deaths of these officers -- Rodriguez was critical of de Blasio and urged him to "please show your leadership."

Tensions have been rising between police and de Blasio ever since he spoke at length after the Eric Garner grand jury decision about the ways that he taught his biracial son to approach police tentatively.

"What about if that was your son who got shot in the police car? What if it was your son who got shot in the head?" Rodriguez said at Sunday night's press conference.

Rep. Nydia Velasquez, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and other community leaders also spoke at the press conference, which was held in front of Ramos' home.

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Missing College Student Shane Montgomery's Keys Found in Schuylkill River

Courtesy Montgomery Family(PHILADELPHIA) — Keys belonging to a missing college student in Pennsylvania were discovered in the Schuylkill River, his uncle said Sunday.

The family of Shane Montgomery, 21, confirmed to ABC station WPVI-TV that divers found the keys near the river bank -- the first physical clue to emerge in Montgomery’s Nov. 27 disappearance.

“They discovered a set of keys in the water. They brought them to the surface and brought them to us. I identified them as Shane’s,” his uncle Kevin Verbrugghe told WPVI-TV.

The keys were recovered in the river -- not in a nearby canal where earlier searches were concentrated, Verbrugghe said.

The keys were attached to an Eagles lanyard.

“It’s just a piece to the puzzle. The puzzle is definitely not done,” Verbrugghe told WPVI-TV.

Montgomery, a student at West Chester University, hasn’t been seen since leaving a bar in Philadelphia’s Manayunk section early Thanksgiving morning after a night out with friends. The reward in Montgomery’s disappearance is now $65,000.

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Florida Teen Recovering Following Bear Attack

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(EASTPOINT, Fla.) — A Florida teen is recovering Monday morning after being attacked by a bear.

Leah Reeder, 15, sustained injuries to her legs, back, neck and face, her mother Sherry Mann told ABC affiliate WMBB.

“Even as I sit here now, I can’t believe it happened,” Mann said. “The bears are all over the place, and I know how hard I would fight to protect my kids, but a momma bear can do so much more damage than me with just one swipe.”

The attack happened near dusk Sunday in Eastpoint, Franklin County, on Florida’s panhandle. Mann told WMBB that her daughter was walking her dog when the bear attacked, dragging the teen into a ditch.

Her daughter “played dead” and the bear retreated, Mann said. The girl sustained deep wounds across her face, but Mann said her daughter remained upbeat.

“She managed to crack a few smiles at me before she went in for surgery,” Mann told WMBB.

Florida Fish and Wildlife authorities received a report of the encounter and worked to trap the bear Sunday.

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Suspect Accused of Fatally Shooting Florida Police Officer, Then Running Him Over

iStock/Thinkstock(TARPON SPRINGS, Fla.) — Residents of Tarpon Springs, Florida, dropped off bouquets of flowers at their local police station Sunday to memorialize an officer who was shot and killed earlier in the day.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says veteran Tarpon Springs Police Officer Charles Kondek, a father of five, was shot around 2 a.m. while responding to a noise complaint about a man banging on doors at an apartment building complex.

According to investigators, when Kondek arrived and exited his vehicle, the suspect, identified as 23-year-old Marco Antonio Parilla, walked towards the officer and opened fire.

Sheriff Gualtieri said Officer Kondek was wearing a bullet-resistant vest but “the round went in high above the bullet-resistant vest in his neck area, hit his spine and that was it.”

Police say Parilla got behind the wheel of a car and ran over Kondek as he fled the scene.  Officer Kondek, 45, died from his injuries at a local hospital.

Parilla, who has a lengthy criminal record, was caught after a brief police chase and charged with first-degree murder.

The Tarpon Springs Police Department said Kondek was a 17-year veteran of law enforcement who had previously served five years with the New York Police Department before moving to Florida.

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Lightning Strike Injures 11 at NFL Game

Cliff McBride/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) — Eleven people were hurt Sunday afternoon by a lightning strike in the parking lot of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa at the conclusion of an NFL game between the Buccaneers and the Green Bay Packers.

Authorities say it wasn’t a direct hit but was close enough to people leaving the stadium to knock several down.

A spokesman for Tampa Fire-Rescue said four of the injured drove themselves to the hospital while the other seven were transported by ambulance.

The injured ranged in age from 20 to 70.

Green Bay won the game.

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Surge in Cop Killings in 2014

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The killing of two NYPD officers and a Florida police officer this past weekend appears to be part of a grim increase of officers killed in the line of duty.

Craig Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, says there's been a 23-percent increase in officers killed in the line of duty compared to last year.

Floyd says 123 officers have been killed nationwide as of Sunday, compared to 100 at the same time last year.

Floyd says the number of officers killed by gunfire has increased by 58-percent over last year's figure.  Forty-nine officers have been killed by gunfire in 2014.

The NYPD says the two officers killed in Brooklyn were ambushed as they sat in their parked patrol car.  Floyd says 12 police officers have been killed this year in ambush-style attacks.

The 2014 surge in cop killings comes after two years of decline in the number of deaths. Last year’s total of 100 officers killed nationwide was the lowest fatality figure since 1944.

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Cop-Killer Told Bystanders 'Watch What I'm Going to Do'

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A man who fatally shot two New York police officers before killing himself told bystanders to "watch what I'm going to do" moments before the attack, according to police investigators.

The man, identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, approached two strangers in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on Saturday afternoon, asked them about their gang affiliation, told them to follow him on Instagram, and then told them to watch his actions, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Sunday.

He then approached a parked police patrol car and fired four shots, fatally hitting officers Wenjain Liu and Rafael Ramos.

A clearer picture of Brinsley started to emerge as Boyce released details about the shooter's troubled history and his attack on his ex-girlfriend in Maryland that started the violent day, which ended with his suicide on a subway platform.

Boyce said that Brinsley gained access to his ex-girlfriend's apartment in the early hours of Saturday morning using a key "he's not supposed to have."

The ex-girlfriend, who Baltimore County Police identified as Shaneka Thompson, called her mother during the confrontation with Brinsley and she overheared part of the argument, but the call ended before Brinsley shot Thompson in the abdomen, Boyce said.

Brinsley fled the scene with Thompson's phone and proceeded to call Thompson's mother multiple times in the coming hours. Investigators have since spoken to Thompson's mother who says that he told her "he shot her by accident and that he hopes she lives," Boyce said.

The young woman's mother contacted Baltimore police and they were able to track his journey based on the route of her phone as he took a BoltBus to Manhattan, the chief of detectives said.

Boyce said Brinsley discarded the phone at 12:07 p.m., a little over an hour after arriving in New York. That left police with a less than three-hour gap in his activity between the time he ditched the phone and the moments before he shot the police officers.

In addition to finding records of 19 arrests in two states -- Georgia and Ohio -- investigators have spoken to a number of Brinsley's relatives, many of whom said they were estranged from the 28-year-old.

Brinsley's mother lives in Brooklyn and said that he had a troubled childhood and was often violent, Boyce said.

His mother said that he had attempted suicide in the past and she had not spoken to him in the past month. She also indicated to police that she believes he has undiagnosed mental problems and she did not know whether he was on medication.

According to Boyce, she told police that she was afraid of him.

Boyce said that while Brinsley's social media accounts showed posts expressing anger at the government, flag burning and explicitly mentioning the names Michael Brown and Eric Garner, police do not believe that he had any gang affiliation. He was raised in a Muslim family but his mother told police that he did not show any extremist inclinations.

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New York Police Shooting Suspect Promised Attack Ahead of Time

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The man accused of killing two New York City police officers execution-style as they sat in their patrol vehicle promised his attack ahead of time, indicating on social media that he was doing so because the police-involved deaths of two African-American men earlier this year.

Ismaayil Brinsley shot officers Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos with "no warning, no provocation" shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, said NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.

Police believe Brinsley, 28, shot his ex-girlfriend in a suburb of Baltimore earlier in the day and then posted "anti-police postings" on her Instagram account, said Bratton.

"I'm Putting Wings On Pigs Today," read the post, which included a picture of a handgun. "They Take 1 Of Ours...... Let's Take 2 Of Theirs."

The post also mentioned Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two men whose deaths have led to heavy criticism against police nationwide. In New York, Garner died after an officer put him in a chokehold while stopping him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, while Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, over the summer.

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Police in Baltimore alerted the NYPD about Brinsley after finding the post and seeing that his phone pinged from Brooklyn, but their message arrived about the same time the shootings occurred, Bratton said.

The last Facebook post made by Brinsley seemingly foreshadowed a violent ending, reading: "I Always Wanted To Be Known For Doing Something Right....... But My Past Is Stalking Me And My Present Is Haunting Me."

After shooting the two NYPD officers, Brinsley went down into the subway and ran onto the platform, where he shot himself in the head, killing himself, Bratton said.

Records show Brinsley has been arrested several times in New York, Georgia, and Ohio, with charges including robbery and assault.

Brinsley's mother was distraught after learning of the shooting, according to Tony Lindsey, her property manager.

"She's very upset and actually she's pretty much finding out about this whole thing on social media, which is horrible," Lindsey said. "The family is grieving and they're still trying to cope with what's happening."

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Teen Saves 4-Year-Old Sister From Alleged Kidnap Attempt in Southern California

iStock/Thinkstock(LANCASTER, Calif.) -- Police say a 13-year-old Southern California boy is their "hero for today" after he stepped in to save his 4-year-old sister from a would-be kidnapper.

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, deputies were patrolling a street in Lancaster, Calif., Saturday when they were flagged down to investigate a reported possible kidnap attempt.

Sgt. Eric Metten said the suspect, who was seen pacing near a home, asked a 4-year-old girl her name, reached down and grabbed her, then started to walk away. But the girl's 13-year-old brother intervened quickly, grabbing her arm and yelling for someone to dial 911.

Police caught the suspect, Earl Williams, 61, of Lancaster, while he was still in the neighborhood. He was arrested and charged with kidnapping. He was being held Sunday on $100,000 bail, and is scheduled for a court appearance Tuesday.

"It's a kidnapping charge -- not attempted -- because he actually picked her up and walked away with her," Metten said.

Police say the girl was not injured.

"Just startled, very scared," Deputy Amber Leist said, adding that she was a "smart little girl"

Police also praised her brother for his quick response.

"He was definitely quick on his feet," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Mighuel Ruiz told ABC's Los Angeles station KABC-TV. "He's very responsible for his family and obviously his 4-year-old sister. So at this point, he is our hero for today."

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New York Police Officer Shooting Denounced by Families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown

Michael Graae/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The families of both Eric Garner and Michael Brown condemned the fatal shooting of two New York City police officers in what is believed to be retribution for their deaths, which have sparked national protests.

"I'm standing here in sorrow about losing those two police officers. That was definitely not our agenda. We are going in peace," Garner's mother Gwen Carr said at a news conference Sunday.

Carr stood alongside Rev. Al Sharpton and her son's widow, each reiterating that while they want protesters to make a point, they must do so peacefully.

"My husband was not a violent man, so we do not want any violence connected to his name," Esaw Garner said Sunday.

Michael Brown's family issued a statement through their lawyers just hours after the shooting in Brooklyn, sending their thoughts and prayers to the families of officers Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos, who police say were shot and killed by Ismaayil Brinsley.

"We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities," the statement said.

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Garner died after an officer put him in a chokehold while stopping him for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, while Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, over the summer.

Sharpton has been in touch with both families and revealed that now he has become a target himself.

Sharpton said that he began receiving threatening phone calls Saturday evening, and he played one of the messages at the news conference, saying that he has notified the FBI.

The recording accused Sharpton of being responsible for the deaths of "innocent people."

"We are now under intense threat from those who are misguided ... from [targeting] civil rights leaders to the mayor, rather than dealing with an ugly spirit that all of us need to fight," Sharpton said.

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Slain Officers 'Brought Back Horrible Memories,' Says Former NYPD Commissioner

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The shooting deaths of two city police officers "brought back horrible memories" for former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, he told ABC News Sunday.

Kelly said that Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been criticized in the wake of the deaths of officers Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos, "set off this latest firestorm" of anti-police sentiment after talking about how he trained his biracial son to deal with authorities.

"Quite frankly the mayor ran an anti-police campaign ... at a time when police had a 70 percent approval rating," said Kelly, who was the police commissioner when de Blasio was running for mayor.

While it has been three years since an NYPD officer was killed on the job, Kelly said police shootings were far more frequent decades ago.

"We have a history in this city, in the 70's, of these sorts of assassinations of teams of police officers and we saw more coming down the pike," said Kelly, an ABC News consultant. "Actually, in 1972, there were 12 police officers killed."

Kelly said that "we don't know" if Saturday's shooting will lead to copycat attacks.

While the NYPD announced that at least two police vehicles will respond to every call as a security precaution, Kelly suspects that will not stay in place for long.

"I think cooler heads will prevail. As I said, there was a lot of emotion last night," Kelly said. "You may see a little of that early on here ... but I think that will cool down pretty quickly."

The former police commissioner also pushed back against the presumption that police may recoil after the shooting.

"I've never seen officers back off from their sworn duty," he said.

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Texas Meteorologist Shooting: Witness Grabbed Paper Towels to Help Stop Bleeding

iStock/Thinkstock(WACO, Texas) -- An eyewitness recounted how he rushed to his truck to get paper towels to help stop the bleeding for a Texas meteorologist who was shot outside his television station earlier this week.

"He said 'I've been shot. I've been shot. I'm in terrible pain. Help me please!'" Richard Dieter told ABC News of the moment he saw Patrick Crawford early Wednesday.

"[I] went and got some paper towels out of my truck and we held those on his wounds and five to six minutes later, the state trooper showed up," Deiter said.

Deiter's account comes shortly after the reward was increased to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest in the shooting. Crawford, a meteorologist at KCEN-TV in Waco, Texas is still recovering, as law enforcement officials search for his attacker.

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The Falls County Sheriff's Office announced Saturday that an anonymous donor had donated $5,000 in addition to the $5,000 that had already been offered by authorities for information leading to an arrest in the case.

"We're going to do everything we can to find this person," said KCEN producer Crystal Pratt. "Someone knows who this person is."

KCEN News Director Jim Hice described the sound of the shooting, saying he "never thought it would happen here."

"I heard the 'pop, pop, pop, pop,'" he added.

Crawford was able to drive away and flag down help even though he had been shot twice. He remained at an area hospital Sunday, where he was recovering from his injuries.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said they hope the reward and sketch will help them track down the gunman.

"It's a good thing because we can get information out there quicker than we could 15, 20, 30 years ago," D.L Wilson, a trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety, told ABC News affiliate KXXV-TV in Waco, Texas. "We still want people to keep calling in because this is what's going to help us solve the case."

Law enforcement is asking that anyone with information related to the shooting call Falls County Crime Stoppers at (254) 883-3105.

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NYC Mayor de Blasio Criticized After Cop Killings

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for RFK Ripple Of Hope(NEW YORK) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was criticized by New York Police Department union leaders Saturday night, after two officers wree killed as they sat in their car in Brooklyn.

Officers Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos were sitting in their vehicle in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn shortly before 3 p.m. when a man approached the car on the passenger side and opened fire. Both officers later died.

"The blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio. May God bless their families and may they rest in peace," the Sergeants Benevolent Association tweeted.


The blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio. May God bless their families and may they rest in peace.

— SBA (@SBANYPD) December 21, 2014


De Blasio created controversy with his response to demonstrations about police relations with minorities, after a grand jury declined to indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died after he was put in a chokehold during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes.

The mayor, whose wife is black, said he has spoken to his mixed race teen son about how he should act if he is stopped by police.

In speaking about protesters who were arrested and charged with assaulting police during a demonstration in New York, de Blasio used the word "allegedly," which some in the NYPD seemed to take as a slight.

Patrolmens Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch and de Blasio have been locked in a public battle over treatment of officers following the grand jury's decision.

Earlier this week, Lynch suggested police officers sign a petition demanding that the mayor not attend their funerals should they die on the job.

Some officers turned their backs on de Blasio tonight as he walked into the hospital where the two officers were taken after the shooting.

Lynch said at a news conference tonight that there is "blood on many hands," explicitly blaming the mayor and protesters.

"We tried to warn it must not go on. It cannot be tolerated," he said. "That blood on the hands starts on the step of City Hall in the office of the mayor.

"When these funerals are over, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable," Lynch said.

At the news conference, de Blasio, appearing with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, wiped tears away as he spoke, and said the city is "in mourning."

"I don't think it's the time for politics or political analysis," he said. "It's a time to think about families that just lost their father, their husband, their son."

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Two NYPD Cops 'Assassinated' in Brooklyn Ambush

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two New York City police officers were "assassinated," shot "execution-style" as they sat in their patrol vehicle in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, city officials said.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said the two officers were shot with "no warning, no provocation."

"Two of New York's finest were shot and killed, with no warning, no provocation," Bratton said. "They were quite simply assassinated -- targeted for their uniform."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio described the shooting of the two as they sat in a critical response vehicle in a Broklyn housing project as being carried out "execution style."

Officers Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos were sitting in their vehicle shortly before 3 p.m. when a man approached the car on the passenger side, took a "shooter's stance" and opened fire, Bratton said.

Liu and Ramos may have not even seen the gunman before they were shot, Bratton said.

"Officer Liu and Officer Ramos never had the opportunity to draw their weapons," he said. "They may never have actually seen their assailant, their murderer."

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"It is an attack on all of us, it is an attack on everything we hold dear," de Blasio said.

The suspect -- identified by police as Ismaayil Brinsley, 28 -- then ran to a nearby subway entrance, with police in pursuit, the commissioner said.

Brinsley went down into the subway and ran onto the platform, where he shot himself in the head, killing himself, Bratton said.

Police believe Brinsley shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore earlier in the day, and then posted "anti-police postings" on her Instagram account, the police commissioner said.

Baltimore police investigating the shooting there found the posts, which included threats against New York police, and sent a message alerting the NYPD about Brinsley, but it arrived just about the time the shootings occurred, Bratton said.

Liu had gotten married just two months ago. Ramos, who had just turned 40, was a police officer for two years, fulfilling what Bratton said was a lifelong dream of being a cop. Before joining the NYPD he had been a school safety officer.

"Our city is in mourning. Our hearts are heavy," de Blasio said. "We lost two good men who devoted their lives to protecting all of us."

Hours after the shooting, dozens of police in tactical gear were still gathering evidence and had cordoned off a roughly three-block area around the site of the shooting, while other officers watched over the scene from rooftops in the area.

The shooting comes at a time when police nationwide are being heavily criticized for the deaths of unarmed black men. In New York City, Eric Garner, a black man who was stopped by police for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, died after an officer put him in a chokehold.

"I can't breathe" -- words Garner could be heard gasping during his arrest, which was captured on an amateur video -- have become a rallying cry for demonstrators across the country.

One city councilman told ABC station WABC-TV in New York that the shooting in Brooklyn was "the worst thing that could have happened."

Until this shooting, no NYPD officer had been fatally shot since December 2011, when Peter Figoski, a 22-year veteran, responded to a report of a break-in at a Brooklyn apartment and was shot in the face by one of the suspects hiding in a side room. The shooter, Lamont Pride, was convicted of murder and sentenced in 2013 to 45 years to life in prison.

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Rare White Lion Euthanized at Ohio Zoo

iStock/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- A rare white lion was euthanized this week after zoo keepers found he had age-related health issues.

The lion named Future, was one of two male African white lions at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. The two were loaned permanently to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden by Siegfried and Roy in 1998.

At age 17, the rare lion's ability to move had been compromised according to zoo officials.

"Future's ambulatory condition had deteriorated and his quality of life was a significant concern. Euthanasia was the most humane course of action," said Mark Campbell, Cincinnati Zoo's director of animal health, in a statement.

The average life span for a white lion is 16.8 years, when living in a zoo, according to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.

"Future was a wonderful cat," said Future's zoo keeper, Michael, Land. "He was easy going as lions go and let (his brother) Sunshine do all the worrying. We will miss him."

"Future was our Brother; he will be sorely missed, especially since we are in the midst of the Holiday Season. We wish him a Magical Journey -- SARMOTI -- Siegfried & Roy," the two performers wrote.

White African lions are rare in the wild and in October the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the African lion, including the white lions, as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

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