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16-Year-Old’s Kidnapping in Front of Mother Was a Hoax, Police Sources Say

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  • On Monday night, 16-year-old Karol Sanchez was snatched from her mother in dramatic fashion when four men reportedly forced her into a car and drove away.
  • After an Amber alert was issued Tuesday, Sanchez appeared back at the scene of her kidnapping.
  • In an interview with police, Sanchez said she staged the kidnapping to get away from her overprotective mother who was considering moving her family back to Honduras. 
  • Police are now considering whether or not to charge Sanchez and the men with real crimes.

New York Girl Is Kidnapped

Police sources in New York City are now calling a 16-year-old’s kidnapping a hoax staged to help her run away from her family. 

The teen, Karol Sanchez, and her mother were out walking in the Bronx Monday night when four men in a Sedan pulled up next to them on the street at around 11:20 p.m.

In a grainy surveillance video released by police, two of the men grab Sanchez and pull her inside the car. After struggling with her daughter’s apparent kidnappers, Sanchez’s mother is pushed to the ground and the car drives off.

Sanchez’s mother briefly chases after the car, but according to witnesses in the area, she then began screaming. One woman, who heard Sanchez’s mother from her apartment, said she went outside to see what was happening. That’s when she found Sanchez’s mother sobbing and screaming, continuing for nearly 10 minutes.

The woman and her neighbor then helped Sanchez’s mother and called 911.

Amber Alert Issued

About 12 hours later, New York authorities issued an Amber alert.

According to that alert, authorities feared Sanchez might be in “imminent danger of serious bodily harm and/or death.” 

That alert wasn’t without controversy, with some criticizing the prolonged amount of time it took for the police to issue the alert.

“Across our country and across the Bronx, across the city, black girls in particular are disappearing and no one seems to care,” New York City’s public advocate Jumaane Williams told reporters. “We do want to know why the Amber Alert took so long.”

“I know for a fact, the type of response that often comes too often depends on what that person looks like,” he added. “No more. We love our children. It shouldn’t take 11-12 hours for an Amber alert.” 

Regarding the criticism, police have not said for certain why it took so long for the alert to be issued; however, Beau Duffy, a director of public information with the New York State Police, did mention need for authorities to first determine whether an abducted child is in any physical danger before issuing an alert.

Following the alert, missing poster signs were plastered throughout the neighborhood where Sanchez had disappeared.

Sanchez Reappears

On Tuesday, in another surprising fashion, Sanchez suddenly appeared alive, unharmed, and free.

She was reportedly first seen being dropped off at a park near the area she was kidnapped. She then walked up to police at the crime scene and they reunited her with family.

Meanwhile, a crowd gathered to watch the event unfold, with many stunned that Sanchez had suddenly re-appeared.

“She was bending over, grabbing her knees, and discussing with the police. And that’s when they took her into the parking garage for questioning,” one man, who described Sanchez as “shaken up,” told WCBS.

It Was All a Hoax

During that interview, Sanchez reportedly told police that the entire kidnapping had been staged, Saying that the idea for it stemmed from a difficult relationship with her overprotective mother.

She also reportedly told police that she had been trying to run away.

According to police sources, authorities believe Sanchez pulled the stunt because her family was considering moving back to Honduras. Sanchez, however, had wanted to stay in the United States.

The New York Post also reports that Sanchez had reportedly wanted to stay with her 23-year-old boyfriend who is allegedly a Crips gang member that was once arrested for murder. Police also believe that he might have been one of the “kidnappers,” according to the Post’s police source.

Police are currently still looking for the four men who abducted Sanchez. While no charges have been yet, police said they are determining whether or not to charge those men as well as potentially Sanchez herself. 

See what others are saying: (WCBS) (USA Today) (NBC News)

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New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns

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  • The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
  • The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
  • The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.

CDC Issues Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.

While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus. 

The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.

Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.

Mitigating Spread of Variant

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.

“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.

“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)

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Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
  • Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

Rick Snyder Charges

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.

His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.

8 Others Charged

Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.

Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
  • Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
  • Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.

Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.

At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)

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Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack

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  • At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive

At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 

Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus. 

On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one. 

Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested. 

More Cases Follow

Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions. 

Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote. 

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added. 

“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown. 

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.

Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks. 

Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC Chicago)

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