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Sister of Alleged Boston Marathon Bombers Arrested for Bomb Threat


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The sister of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly threatening a Harlem woman.

According to the New York Police Department, Aliana Tsarnaeva, who lives in North Bergen, New Jersey, allegedly called the victim on Monday, saying, "I have people that can go over there and put a bomb on you." The NYPD believes that the alleged victim is the mother of Tsarnaeva's boyfriend's child.

Tsarnaeva was charged with aggravated harassment. She will have to appear in court on Sept. 30.

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USC Football Player Admits He Lied About Injury, Pool Rescue


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Southern California cornerback Josh Shaw told school officials that he lied about how he suffered his ankle injuries over the weekend, according to a statement released by the school. He has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities by the university.

Shaw initially claimed he was injured after leaping from the second story of an apartment complex to save his 7-year-old nephew, who was struggling in the pool.

“We are extremely disappointed in Josh,” USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian said in a statement.  “He let us all down. As I have said, nothing in his background led us to doubt him when he told us of his injuries, nor did anything after our initial vetting of his story.

“I appreciate that Josh has now admitted that he lied and has apologized. Although this type of behavior is out of character for Josh, it is unacceptable. Honesty and integrity must be at the center of our program. I believe Josh will learn from this. I hope that he will not be defined by this incident, and that the Trojan Family will accept his apology and support him.”

USC did not release details on how Shaw injured himself.

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One Midwest High School, Two American Terrorists


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- With the news that an American was among those killed recently while fighting on the side of the terror group ISIS in Syria came the revelation that he was classmates and close friends with another U.S. citizen who died in battle alongside a different anti-American extremist group on a different front line five years before.

Douglas McAuthur McCain, a 33-year-old rapper, was identified by the White House Tuesday as having been killed in the bloody conflict in Syria. The Free Syrian Army, an opposition group that fights the government of President Bashar al-Assad as well as competing rebel groups, claimed on social media McCain had been fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a brutal al-Qaeda breakaway organization.

A public records search traced McCain’s youth back to the Twin Cities in Minnesota and to Robbinsdale Cooper High School, which is the same school attended in the same time period by Troy Kastigar. Kastigar’s image appeared in news reports around the world in 2009 after he was killed fighting with a jihadist group in Somalia, this one an al-Qaeda affiliate called al-Shabab.

Prior to both their fatal trips halfway across the world, McCain and Kastigar briefly shared an address after high school, records show, and news reports Wednesday said the two were close friends.

David Brom, who was principal at the high school when the young men attended, told ABC News there was “no indication whatsoever that these two students would eventually end up fighting for al-Shabab or ISIS.”

“We never would’ve guessed that,” he said, after acknowledging that he didn’t personally remember the students after 15 years. “It was a pretty normal high school. We had pretty normal kids….I can only think it was influences beyond the high school, certainly beyond our community.”

Kastigar reportedly traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabab in 2008. After he was killed in fighting, al-Shabab featured their American recruit in a martyrdom video in which Kastigar urges his fellow Americans to join him in his holy war.

“If you guys only knew how much fun we have over here – This is the real Disneyland,” a bearded Kastigar says. “Come here and join us.”

McCain posted Kastigar’s photo on his Facebook page after his death, saying he believes his friend to be in paradise.

Public records and other social media posts do not indicate McCain ever traveled to Somalia, but five years after Kastigar’s death, he did follow in his friend’s doomed footsteps by joining a militant jihadi group. He appears to have traveled to Syria earlier this year after tweeting about being eager to join his brothers. He retweeted another ISIS supporter who said, “It takes a warrior to understand a warrior. Pray for ISIS.”

“It’s remarkable that two terrorists from one high school,” said Richard Clarke, former White House counter-terrorism advisor and ABC News consultant. “The appeal of jihad is it gives them purpose. It gives them a way out of a life that’s going nowhere. It gives them a higher calling.”

News of McCain’s death emerged a day before the mother of an American journalist who's a hostage by ISIS pleaded directly to ISIS’s leader for mercy.

“I want what every mother wants, to live to see their children’s children,” Shirley Sotloff says in the video.

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Military Jet Crashes in Virginia


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(STAUNTON, Va.) -- A military jet en route to Louisiana crashed near Staunton on Wednesday.

A U.S. Department of Defense official confirmed that the plane, an F-15, had originated from the Massachusetts National Guard. No injuries were reported on the ground, though the condition of the pilot was not immediately clear.

Virginia State Police worked Wednesday morning to reach the crash site, which they said was near the side of a mountain. Smoke coming from the side of the mountain was what tipped off officials to the crash site.

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"Cops" Crew Member Killed in Police Shootout with Robbery Suspect


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) -- A crew member working on the television show Cops was killed on Tuesday night when Omaha police fired at a robbery suspect.

Police say the shooting occurred after officers responded to a robbery at a fast food restaurant. The crew member was identified by Langley Productions as Bryce Dion.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Wednesday that Dion "paid the ultimate price for his service to provide the footage of the real-life dangers that law enforcement officers face on a daily basis."

Both Dion and the suspect were taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Center on Tuesday night, where they were later pronounced dead.

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Man Found Not Guilty in Shooting Death of Drunk Driver Who Killed Two Sons


iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A jury returned a verdict of not guilty Wednesday for a Texas father accused of the shooting death of a drunk driver who killed his two sons.

David Barajas was accused of fatally shooting 20-year-old Jose Banda in December 2012 after Banda plowed into a vehicle that Barajas and his two sons had been pushing on a rural road in Alvin, about 30 miles southeast of Houston.

The Barajas family broke into tears in the courtroom while Jose Banda's family sat in stunned belief.

"I am relieved but still in pain. My two boys are dead and nothing will bring them back," Barajas said afterward.

David Jr., 12, and Caleb, 11, were killed in the accident.

If Barajas had been convicted, he faced a potential life sentence.

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Surfing 'The Wedge,' California's Monster Waves


iStock/Thinkstock(NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.) -- Thousands of spectators lined the beach as surfers, bodyboarders, and other brave athletes went headlong into 20-foot waves at California's "The Wedge" wave break Wednesday.

The waves, which were categorized by Surfline.com as "Good to Epic" in size, were delivered by Hurricane Marie, swirling off the coast of California.

Surfing legend Laird Hamilton, who was at the beach Wednesday morning, helped rescue a stranded surfer who lost his board and his leash as the monstrous waves slammed into shore, according to ABC station KABC. Hamilton, who was on a paddle board when the surfer got into trouble, came to shore to put on fins and swam out to help rescue the surfer, who was injured but stable.

Newport Beach's The Wedge is known as one of the more difficult breaks on the West Coast for its power and shape: the wave breaks right on the beach, posing a danger to surfers who fall off their boards.

Tara Finnigan, spokeswoman for the city, said the waves had attracted about 3,000 to 4,000 spectators at The Wedge and another 500 at another break in town called The Point.

"There is no parking left at the beach at this point," Finnigan said.

The town is also experiencing beach flooding, with high tide expected at 11 a.m. Spectators have been getting soaked by waves come up over the berm, Finnigan said.

Extra lifeguards are on hand at The Wedge to try and educate surfers and swimmers and prevent less experienced swimmers from going in.

Emergency personnel lined the beach, and local news station KTLA reported that two swimmers had to be rescued after becoming stranded in the water.

One Twitter user described The Wedge as "shallow as a bathtub" because the waves crash right onto the shallow sand bottom of the ocean there.

The lifeguards have made three minor rescues, including a stand up paddle-boarder who got pulled beneath a pier by a strong current and lost his board on a piling, becoming trapped when his leash got caught.

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Two Rescued from Disabled Boat Nearing Niagara Falls


iStock/Thinkstock(NIAGARA FALLS, NY) -- Two people were rescued from a disabled boat that was drifting dangerously close to Niagara Falls, authorities said.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the boaters weren’t in “dire” danger but had floated into the “exclusion zone,” about a mile from the brink of the falls, in the Niagara River.

A Coast Guard helicopter hoisted them to safety late Monday, around midnight. There were no injuries.

The boaters, who did not want to be identified, were in a 19-foot motor boat and had dropped anchor.

Earlier, a commercial rescuer tried to help but got caught on the rocks in the shallow water.

The boat was salvaged by a local company.

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Computer Glitch Costs Student Full Scholarship?


iStock/Thinkstock(SAN MATEO, Calif.) -- A student from northern California says a computer glitch at his high school cost him a full ride to Stanford University.

Lincoln To, 17, finished in the top five of his class at Serra High School in San Mateo and was a finalist for a full scholarship to the university, he told San Diego 6.

But he was disqualified when his school failed to send his transcripts before the deadline, To said.

The school has since admitted it was a technical error that led to the delayed transcripts.

“We have to do what’s right by our students, and we made a mistake,” San Diego Unified School District spokesperson Ursula Kroemer told ABC affiliate KGTV.

Cindy Marten, the school district’s superintendent even sent an official letter to universities explaining that a new computer system led to problems sending the transcripts, and asking for an extension.

In To’s case, it was already too late. He was disqualified, and lost out on his chance for a scholarship to Stanford.

Stanford University has not yet responded to ABC News' request for comment.

The school district says it is looking into the computer system so the same error doesn’t happen again.

As for To, he moved into the dorms this week at UCLA, where has a full scholarship.

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Girl, 9, Accidentally Kills Instructor While Firing an Uzi


iStock/Thinkstock(MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz.) -- An Arizona gun instructor was shot and killed Monday while showing a nine-year-old girl how to use an automatic Uzi.

Charles Vacca, 39, of Lake Havasu City was pronounced dead shortly after being airlifted to a hospital from the Bullets and Burgers outdoor gun range in White Hills, Arizona, about 25 miles south of Las Vegas,

Mohave County Sheriff Jim McCabe said that after demonstrating single shots, Vacca let the girl fire the Uzi as fully automatic. However, the gun recoiled, lifting the girl's shoulder, which resulted in Vacca suffering a fatal bullet wound to the head.

Neither the girl nor her parents, who were also at the firing range were injured. The family is from New Jersey.

Calling it a tragic accident, McCabe remarked, "The child is of course in everybody's thoughts because she's only nine years old and the parents have got to have some terrible feelings as well. But the truth of the matter is it was a tragic accident and our heart goes out to everyone."

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Two Men Abducted, Drowned in Philadelphia River, Third Man Escapes, Police Say


iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- The bodies of two men, who had been bound, were found Wednesday dumped in a Philadelphia river and a third man was repeatedly stabbed but narrowly escaped the abductors believed to be responsible for the double homicide, police said.

The survivor, a 20-year-old man, was taken off the street by four or five men early Wednesday morning and thrown into the back of a van, police said.

He was then stabbed about nine times, in the torso and legs, Philadelphia police said, and his hands were tied behind his back with duct tape while his ankles were bound as well. Duct tape was also placed over his mouth, and once in the van, he realized there were two other people in the van who had also been bound, police said.

All three were taken to the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park, where they were thrown into the water, police said, noting that the two other people were tethered to some kind of weight and drowned in five to 10 feet of water.

The 20-year-old was able to get out of the water, even though his legs and arms were still partially bound, and made it to a nearby road where he screamed at passing cars, triggering some drivers to call 911, police said.

The bodies were found just before 4 a.m., police said.

The victim told police he did not know the other two people in the van, nor did he know his kidnappers.

The man is in stable condition at Hahnemann University Hospital, police said.

Police declined to give the location where the man was abducted, but noted there are security cameras in the area and that they hope the abduction was captured on video.


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Freed American Thanks 'Brave, Determined' People Who Fought for His Release


ABC News (BOSTON) -- Freed writer Peter Theo Curtis has spoken out for the first time Wednesday since being released by Syrian militants, thanking the "brave determined and big-hearted people" who helped save him.

In a brief news conference held down the road from his mother's home in Massachusetts, Curtis said how "total strangers" have been coming up to him and telling him how grateful they are for his release.

"I suddenly remember how good the American people are and what kindness they have in their hearts," he said.

"I had no idea that so much effort was being expended on my behalf," he added. "I am overwhelmed by emotion."

Curtis, 45, was held for nearly two years and his release came just days after militant group ISIS executed fellow American journalist James Foley. Al-Nusra's decision to release Curtis was seen by many as a move to distance themselves from ISIS as no ransom money was reportedly handed over as part of the deal.

He did not go into any details about his time in captivity, but appeared eager to move forward.

"I have to bond with my mother and my family now," he said before adding that he will not be giving any further statements in the near future.

The writer was released by Syrian jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra this past Sunday. He arrived back in the United States on Tuesday night.

His flight from Tel Aviv, Israel arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on Tuesday evening but he was reunited with relatives -- including his mother Nancy -- when he flew from there home to Boston.


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Mystery Surrounds USC Football Player's Dramatic Pool Rescue


David Buchan/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The University of Southern California has received several calls questioning the authenticity of football player Josh Shaw’s story about saving his nephew from potentially drowning and is investigating the matter, coach Steve Sarkisian said.

Shaw, 22, a cornerback on the Trojans football team, said he suffered a pair of ankle sprains Saturday night after jumping from the second story of an apartment complex to save his 7-year-old nephew, Carter, who was struggling in the pool.

The fifth-year senior said he landed on concrete before crawling into the pool and steering his nephew to dry land before grabbing a ladder and lifting himself out of the water using just his arms.

As story of the rescue gained attention, other accounts emerged conflicting with Shaw’s story.

"We've gotten a few phone calls contradicting what Josh said occurred Saturday night, so we're going to continue to vet it," Sarkisian said.

At this point, it's unclear who made those calls or what part of the story is being challenged. Shaw did suffer sprains in both ankles, and he remains sidelined indefinitely.

"The X-Rays and MRIs we have taken on him have come back negative," Sarkisian said. "So far, we don't see anything structurally wrong with him, but he is very sore."

Shaw was noticeably absent from practice Tuesday.

Over the weekend, he was voted a team captain. He was expected to be a major contributor for USC this season.

Shaw's sister Asia -- Carter’s mother -- said she didn't witness the incident but was quick to defend her brother.

"My child is safe, and it's because of Josh," she told ABC News. "I really do praise God and I just hope that he has a speedy recovery."

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WATCH: Drama at 3,000 Feet When Parachutist Dangles in Air


File photo. (Hemera/Thinkstock)(NEW YORK) -- A video posted to YouTube shows parachutists jumping out of a plane in quick succession before one of them becomes stuck in his lines and gets towed by the plane.

The jumpers are in military-type uniforms and a Mexican flag sticker is taped to the back of one helmet. The men appear to be practicing jumps out of the back of a plane from 3,000 feet.

At least seven jumpers successfully launch before one becomes stuck -- his parachute chords becoming wrapped around something on the outside of the plane. The snag leaves him dangling.

The frightening scene ends when the man is pulled back into the plane.

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Hurricanes on Both Coasts Bring Dangerous Surf


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hurricanes in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are primed to make their closest approaches to the continental United States this week, and while they aren't expected to make landfall, they could still bring choppy surf and dangerous waters.

Hurricane Marie is currently a category 2 hurricane with max sustained winds at 100 mph, and will be no direct threat to land as it moves out to sea in the Eastern Pacific. However, the storm will likely bring large waves and rip currents to the Southern California coast from 800 miles offshore.

Breakers could reach 10 to over 15 feet for south/southeast-facing beaches in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, with high surf also possible for the Santa Barbara south coast. Swells are expected to peak Tuesday and Wednesday, with some subsiding Thursday into Friday. Minor coastal flooding, beach erosion, and structural damage are all possible as well.

On the other side of the country, Hurricane Cristobal is making its way across the open Atlantic Ocean. It will directly impact the United States, but will bring another type of danger this week – strong and frequent rip currents.

Cristobal is projected to travel north and then make a northeasterly turn, gaining some strength. Bermuda is under a Tropical Storm Watch, and although it will not get a direct hit, it could see Tropical Storm conditions this week, with winds over 40 mph and rainfall up to 6 inches.

Swells generated by Cristobal will reach the East Coast in the form of breakers and cause rough surf and dangerous rip currents from Florida to Maine. From Florida to the Carolinas surfers and beach-goers need to be aware of life-threatening conditions in the water through Wednesday. Then, from Virginia to NJ and up into the New England coast, people should take caution through Friday.

Luckily, waters on both coasts should calm down just in time for Labor Day weekend.


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