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Florida school shooting: Football coach shot, killed while protecting students hailed as hero

UPDATE, 5:19 a.m. EST Thursday: Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach and security guard at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has died after being wounded in a deadly mass shooting Wednesday, the team tweeted early Thursday.

“It is with great sadness that our football family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis,” the team wrote. “He was our assistant football coach and security guard. He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories.”

>> See the tweet here

ORIGINAL STORY: An assistant football coach reportedly was shot while protecting students during a deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Aaron Feis is being celebrated as a hero, according to the Miami Herald, citing tributes to the coach and reports on social media.

>> MORE: Live updatesPhoto gallery | Who is Nikolas Cruz?

Seventeen were killed and many more were injured in Wednesday's shooting. A gunman, whom police identified as 19-year-old former student Nikolas De Jesus Cruz, opened fire on students in the afternoon.

When the shooting started, Feis – a school security guard, as well – reportedly stepped between the shooter and students, taking bullets in the act. He was reportedly hospitalized in critical condition.

Douglas football player Charlie Rothkopf tweeted that his coach “took [several] bullets covering other students at Douglas.”

The Miami Herald reported that Feis is a 1999 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

>> Read more trending news 

“He is a friend to all students that know him,” wrote Angelica Losada, who identified herself as a former student at the school. “Please, take a moment to send healing prayers for him.”

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said “a football coach” had died in the shooting. It is not clear if Israel was referring to Feis.

Just before school shooting, Parkland ranked as one of Florida's safest cities

In a national survey released this week, Parkland, Florida, was ranked as the 15th safest city in America, and one of the safest cities in Florida.

>> Read more trending news 

On Wednesday, a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland left numerous dead and injured. The suspect has been identified as Nikolas Cruz, a former student, The Associated Press reported.

NeighborhoodScout ranked the Top 100 Safest Cities in the U.S. with a population of 25,000 or more based upon property and violent crime data. Parkland ranked 15th on NeighborhoodScout's list due to its low violent-crime rate.

Donald Smith found guilty in 2013 rape, murder of 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle

Jurors took just minutes to find Donald Smith, 61, guilty Wednesday of abducting, raping and killing 8-year-old Cherish Perrywinkle after luring her away from her family at a Florida Walmart in 2013.

>> Read more trending news

Jurors found Smith guilty of murder, kidnapping and sexual battery 14 minutes after the case was sent to jurors.

Cherish was abducted from a Walmart in 2013 after Smith persuaded her mother that he would buy the poor family some clothes with a gift card. Smith had introduced himself as a good Samaritan to the mother, Rayne Perrywinkle, at a discount store earlier in the day, saying his wife would meet them at the Walmart and bring the card.

“He saw that (Perrywinkle’s mother) was down on her luck and money was tight,” prosecutor Mark Caliel said Wednesday during closing arguments. “(Smith) made her feel safe with his lies and deception, and then he preyed upon her.” 

 >> On ActionNewsJax.com: Six things we learned after two days of the Cherish Perrywinkle trial 

The wife never showed, and Smith instead lured Cherish away from her mother and two sisters as they shopped. Surveillance footage showed the girl following Smith out of the store and getting into his white van.

“He looks like a harmless old man. Little did (Rayne Perrywinkle) know what lurked beneath the surface,” Caliel said. “Sometimes in this world, we like to think that there is goodness in man. And that day, Rayne Perrywinkle hoped that his intentions were true and pure.”

Cherish's body was found in a Jacksonville creek, and when police arrested Smith his pants were wet. Also, police say his DNA was found all over her body.

“That little girl had to endure a nightmare no child should have to endure,” Caliel said.

Caliel replayed a recording Wednesday of Smith speaking with a fellow inmate at the Duval County Jail two years after Cherish’s murder in which he could be heard talking about a group of girls who are 12 or 13 years old.

"That's right up my alley, right there, that's my target area," he could be heard saying. "I'd like to run into her at Walmart."

Caliel also reminded the jury about autopsy photos that were shown in the courtroom Tuesday and left some jurors in tears.

>> On ActionNewsJax.com: Graphic testimony details moments before Cherish Perrywinkle's death

“Those images will forever be a part of you. They will forever be a part of your memory, burned into your memory,” Caliel said. “I want you to remember what he did to her. How he strangled the life from her body. Three minutes. … That’s how long it took, at a minimum, to take her life, while she fought.”

The penalty phase will begin Tuesday.

The Associated Press and the Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Teen stabbed and dumped on roadside uses last breath to ID killers, police say

A California teen stabbed and left for dead on the side of a road before dawn Monday crawled nearly 100 yards to find help and used her final moments to point police toward her alleged killers, investigators said.

Four UPS delivery drivers carpooling to work around 2 a.m. spotted the victim, identified by Alameda County Sheriff’s Office officials as Lizette Andrea Cuesta, 19, of Tracy, on the side of a road near unincorporated Livermore, located about 50 miles east of San Francisco. 

Cuesta was soaked in blood, with injuries so severe that the UPS workers initially thought she was missing an arm, Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office told the San Francisco Chronicle. She was airlifted to Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, where she died about two hours after being found. 

She gave police officers a “compelling account” of the brutal attack in that short time, Kelly said. 

Cuesta’s account led investigators to Modesto, where they arrested Daniel Lee Benjamin Gross, 19, and Melissa Jill Leonardo, 25, on murder charges. Both are being held in the Santa Rita Jail. 

Kelly told the Modesto Bee that a “tremendous” amount of evidence was found at the couple’s home. He credited Cuesta’s statements to officers with moving the case forward so rapidly. 

“From the time we discovered Lizette to the time we got to Modesto was critical in the preservation of the crime scene,” Kelly told the Bee

“Her internal fortitude to stay alive and to fight (was) pretty remarkable,” Kelly told the Chronicle. “This young woman clung to life when she was left for dead and was able to live for another couple hours and get us that information.”

Kelly said he can recall only a handful of times that his agency has been able to get a “dying declaration” from a victim. According to Cornell Law School, a dying declaration is a statement made by a witness -- later unavailable at trial -- who made the statement under the belief that their death was imminent, and the statement concerns the cause or circumstances of that impending death. 

A dying declaration is admissible in court as an exception to the hearsay rule of evidence.

“A dying declaration is a very compelling piece of evidence that’s recognized in the court to be very credible and reliable information,” Kelly said.  

>> Read more trending news

Investigators said that Cuesta was stabbed repeatedly and thrown from a car, according to the Washington Post. She dragged herself the length of a football field so passing motorists could see her lying there.

Officers could tell how far she dragged herself because of the blood trail she left behind, the Post reported. 

Richard Loadholt was one of the delivery drivers who found Cuesta. He told Fox 40 in Sacramento that there was so much blood that he couldn’t tell what color the girl’s hair was. 

“You could tell it was so bad to where you just had to give her comfort,” Loadholt told the news station. “Anything else was gonna be painful.”

While another driver who happened upon the scene went to find a location with better cellphone reception for a 911 call, Loadholt and his colleagues urged Cuesta to stay awake and keep talking to them.

“She laid down for almost three minutes at one period, and we told her to get up,” Loadholt said. “She knew she had to get up, and I commend that.

“She fought like a soldier. Like a warrior.”

Roberto Cuesta, the victim’s uncle, told CBS Sacramento that his niece’s death “goes beyond words.” Lizette, who was originally from San Jose, was living in Tracy with her father when she was killed.

A vigil was held Tuesday night at a San Jose skate park where the teen was a fixture. 

Her father, Ray Cuesta, said he last saw his daughter on Sunday. He said he is proud of his daughter for the strength she showed even in death.

“I love her,” Ray Cuesta told the news station. “She was always a fighter, she was always brave, strong, a leader. If she wanted to do something, she would get it done.”

Investigators believe that Cuesta got into the car with Gross and Leonardo willingly. Kelly described her as a friend of the couple, whose Facebook pages indicate they are engaged. 

The motive for the attack was not clear.

Ray Cuesta said that, despite her death, he feels like his daughter won the battle against her killers.

“I mean, I know she passed away, but when they did this to her, they figured, you know, they got away with it,” Cuesta said. “And she didn’t let them get away with it. She brought peace to herself, and she brought peace to me and my family.”

Pastor found with naked, bound man in car charged with lewdness, indecent exposure, police say

Parishioners say Pastor George Gregory was behind the pulpit of his West Homestead, Pennsylvania, church Sunday, just days after police say they found him in a car with a naked man.

>> Watch the news report here

Gregory, the pastor Waterfront Christian Community Church, is facing criminal charges after police said he and another man were found in a car parked on a quiet residential street in Lincoln Place on Friday night.

A neighbor who didn’t want to go on camera told WPXI that his 3-year-old daughter’s bedroom overlooks that part of the road. While he was calling 911, his wife saw one of the men get out of the car completely naked, police said.

>> Read more trending news 

When police arrived, they say Gregory was in the back seat adjusting his clothing while another man was in the front passenger seat naked and bound with rope.

When questioned, Gregory allegedly told police, “We were just playing.” It was consensual and he told police “we meet up from time to time," authorities said.

WPXI went to Gregory’s house for his side of the story, but no one answered Monday. WPXI reached out to church officials for comment but have not yet gotten a response.

Gregory and the other man will be charged with lewdness and indecent exposure.

6-year-old killed by father in murder-suicide, police say

Investigators announced Tuesday that a 39-year-old man killed his son and took his own life at a house in Derry, New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire Attorney General began the investigation Monday morning after calling the deaths of Matthew Edmunds and 6-year-old Preston Connor Edmunds untimely. 

>> Read more trending news 

Police were called to the home Monday to check on the welfare of the pair.

Officers had to force their way into the mobile home where they discovered the bodies in a locked bedroom. 

According to police, the room had been sealed from the inside using duct tape and a blanket. Police say they found two charcoal grills in the room containing burned charcoal and ash. 

A sign hanging from the ceiling fan warned officers that they would find the man and his son in the bedroom of the home. It also warned of carbon monoxide levels.

The Attorney General’s Office said autopsies determined both died from carbon monoxide poisoning and the manner of death was murder-suicide. 

Derry officials said Tuesday that Preston lived with his father per a custody arrangement, but the boy was not enrolled in school. 

Edmunds had also deleted his Facebook account shortly before the murder-suicide. 

The family’s 6-year-old son, Connor Matthew Edmunds, died in a pool accident in March 2009. Family friends say Preston’s middle name is in honor of his older brother.

Investigators say they are looking into whether the deaths are connected. 

Accused killer claims victim ‘put hit out on herself’ in Craigslist ad, police say

A Colorado man accused of killing a 19-year-old woman and leaving her body in a wooded area told investigators he did so at her behest -- after she posted a Craigslist ad seeking a hit man for herself, police said. 

Joseph Michael Lopez, 22, of Northglenn, was charged early Friday morning with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Natalie Marie Bollinger, according to officials with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. Bollinger, of Broomfield, was found dead Dec. 29 in an unincorporated area of Adams County. 

Bollinger was reported missing by her boyfriend the day before her body was found. Her Jan. 2 autopsy showed that she died of a bullet wound to the head, Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh said during a Friday news conference. 

The victim’s autopsy report, obtained by 7News in Denver, also stated that she had a “potentially lethal level of heroin” in her system at her time of death. The report noted that Bollinger had a history of heroin and methamphetamine use. 

Lopez was arrested Thursday after a months-long investigation, during which Adams County Sheriff’s Office detectives interviewed scores of people and, at one point, described a man named Shawn Schwartz as a “person of interest” in the case. Schwartz popped onto law enforcement’s radar because he posted on Facebook regularly about Bollinger’s case, and investigators had concern over his mental health, 7News reported

Bollinger also posted about Schwartz on Facebook about two weeks before her death, accusing him of stalking her and harassing and threatening her friends and family. It was the last public post on her profile. 

McIntosh said Schwartz, who was arrested Friday in Boulder County on unrelated charges, is no longer though to be involved in Bollinger’s death. 

Investigators also pored over Bollinger’s social media accounts and her cellphone. Reviewing all the data took time, McIntosh said. 

“As you could imagine, a 19-year-old’s social media or phone, there’s a lot of data there,” McIntosh said during the news conference. “So, looking through all of that data, conducting numerous interviews, we were able to develop and identify Joseph Lopez.”

An arrest affidavit obtained by multiple media outlets, including Investigation Discovery’s CrimeFeed, stated that investigators found more than 100 text messages between Bollinger and Lopez on the day she was reported missing. Investigators tied the conversation to Lopez and reached out to him on Thursday. 

“When we contacted him, he did make the comment that he thought that he might know why we wanted to speak,” McIntosh said Friday.

Lopez went to the Sheriff’s Office willingly and sat for an interview with detectives, after which point he was charged with Bollinger’s murder.

The arrest affidavit stated that before questioning even began, Lopez told the investigators he “was sure it had to do with the girl he talked to on Craigslist.” 

According to the affidavit, Lopez told investigators he was browsing the “Women Seeking Men” section of Craigslist sometime after Christmas when he spotted an ad titled, “I Want to Put a Hit on Myself.”

Sheriff’s Office officials would not confirm for NBC News Monday whether that ad existed.

Click here to read the arrest affidavit in its entirety.

Lopez told investigators he responded to the ad because he, too, had suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide before and thought he might be able to help the person who posted the ad, the affidavit said. Investigators said Lopez told them he created a fake “hit man” persona through which he contacted Bollinger and, in a text conversation, agreed to meet her and help her commit suicide.

He said he hoped to talk her out of killing herself once they met, the affidavit said. 

According to the document, Lopez told investigators that he picked Bollinger up at her apartment complex, at which time she told him she wanted to be shot execution-style from behind, so she would not see the gun. When he told her he didn’t have a gun, she offered to let him use the one she had at her apartment and said that he could keep it afterward and sell it, the affidavit stated.

Investigators said that when Bollinger’s boyfriend reported her missing, he reported that his 9mm Glock was also gone. The affidavit stated that Bollinger’s autopsy showed she had been killed with a bullet from a 9mm handgun.

Lopez initially told detectives that when they could not find a location Bollinger thought suitable for her death, he took her home and never saw her again. 

Following a break and a snack of cookies and Mountain Dew, the investigators told Lopez that his cellphone records, including GPS and cell tower pings, showed that he had been at the exact location where Bollinger’s body was later found, the affidavit said

At that point, Lopez told them he was present when Bollinger died, but claimed that he was unable to talk her out of suicide and that she shot herself in the temple. He said he panicked and grabbed her gun and purse and fled the scene. 

Investigators told Lopez that he still was not being 100 percent truthful, according to the affidavit. They told him that Bollinger’s autopsy findings showed she could not have killed herself because the gun was between 1 and 3 feet away from her head when it was fired.

>> Read more trending news

The document stated that Lopez again changed his story, telling the detectives that Bollinger had convinced him to help her commit suicide. He said that Bollinger knelt on the ground where she was later found, and he knelt with her.

“Joseph Lopez said he and Natalie Bollinger said a prayer together and then he held the gun with both of his hands,” the affidavit read. “He said he was shaking so he decided to turn his head to the right, away from Natalie Bollinger, and he closed his eyes.”

Lopez said he fired a single shot, which struck Bollinger in the head. He said he then took the gun and her purse, both of which he later hid under the spare tire in the trunk of his car, and fled, the affidavit said. 

He did not tell anyone, not even his fiancée, what he had done. 

“Joseph Lopez did tell us that it was eating away at him and that several times, he felt like just calling the police himself and confessing to shooting Natalie Bollinger,” the affidavit said

The affidavit stated that no suicide notes from Bollinger were found, and that family members told investigators she seemed upbeat, both looking forward to acceptance to school and applying to a variety of jobs.

Family and friends did say, however, that she had suffered from suicidal thoughts in the past. 

Lopez is being held without bond in the Adams County Jail. 

Missing Florida teen Kyleigh Kosters found safe after mom's Facebook post goes viral

UPDATE, 3:40 p.m. EST Feb. 12: Missing Florida teen Kyleigh Kosters' family said she has been found safe.

>> Watch the news report here

>> On ActionNewsJax.com: Jacksonville mom's missing teen Facebook post goes viral

ORIGINAL STORY: Kyleigh Kosters, 13, hasn’t been seen since late Saturday, when she reportedly left through the window of her home in the Mandarin neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrived at the family's home at 8 a.m. Sunday and began an investigation

Here are five things to know about her disappearance

1. Kyleigh apparently stuffed pillows under bedsheets to imitate her body. 

JSO said there were clothes on the bed and pillows under the sheets. The window to her room was open, but the blinds were left closed. The screen on the window was pushed out slightly. 

>> Read more trending news 

2. Her family said this is the first time she's run away. 

The family’s home on Lake Fern Drive in Mandarin has security cameras, but Kyleigh was not seen walking away from the house or leaving in a car. 

3. Kyleigh’s dad said Kyleigh had been asking about 'prostitutes.' 

According to JSO, Kyleigh asked her father if prostitutes led a good life. Her laptop had Google searches including “How to find a John” and “what is a pimp.” Her father told JSO that Kyleigh’s biological mother has been referred by Kyleigh as being a prostitute before. 

4. Kyleigh is adopted and has been living with the Kosters for two years. She has no known social media accounts. 

Kyleigh’s father said that he tracks her online activity. Kyleigh’s father added that her social life is “very limited.” 

5. JSO canvassed the neighborhood and found nothing.

Her mother said in a viral Facebook post that she is concerned that Kyleigh “may have taken a bus somewhere.” The post was shared more than 1 million times.

Police: Women beat up store employee over Facebook post

An employee at Family Dollar in Ohio was assaulted after two women became upset that a video of them allegedly shoplifting earlier in the day had been posted on Facebook by the store’s manager, according to a police report.

>> Read more trending news

Springfield police officers were called to the store about 4:30 p.m. Saturday. An employee told authorities a group of women came into the store asking for the manager, but she wasn’t there at the time.

The group then began to follow the employee around the store. The employee asked them to leave, but they refused and allegedly followed her to the stock room, the report says.

One of the women allegedly punched the employee in the back of the head, grabbed her by the hair and flung her into the stock room, the report says. The woman began punching the victim in the face, while the other kicked her in the face, according to the police report. The employee tried to call police, but the phone she was holding was knocked out of her hands.

The women told the victim the incident was about a surveillance video of them allegedly shoplifting a few hours earlier that was posted on a crime monitor page on Facebook, the report says. The women then left the store.

The victim had visible swelling to her cheek under her eye and one of her front teeth was knocked flat inside her mouth, the police report says.

A manager arrived at the scene and provided video of some of the incident. The manager later received a message on Facebook that read: “(Expletive) take the photo down or you getting beat (expletive) up. Your manager just got her (expletive) beat and you can to. We will come back there every day.”

No charges have been filed at this time due to a lack of suspect information, the report says.

Woman missing for more than 36 hours after car crash found alive in woods

An Alabama woman who was missing for more than 36 hours after crashing her car into a wooded area was found alive Sunday following a massive search by multiple agencies.

Lisa Michelle Holman, 45, of Chelsea, went missing following a crash overnight Friday in a heavily wooded area of Shelby County near Pelham. CBS 42 in Birmingham reported that Holman’s car went down a 20-foot embankment before stopping. 

Pelham police officials reported that when Holman’s vehicle was spotted early Saturday morning, she was nowhere to be found. Police officers, sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and hundreds of volunteers spread out over the rough terrain.

The search was fruitless throughout the cold, rainy day Saturday, despite efforts that included searching by air with a drone provided by a local rotary club, Vestavia Hills Fire Department officials said. Central Alabama was under a flood watch throughout the day as storms moved through the area. 

The search crews suspended their efforts overnight but started fresh Sunday morning. Holman was found around 8:30 a.m.

Amy Miller, who described herself to the CBS affiliate as Holman’s best friend, told the station that Holman described what happened after the crash.

“She thinks she lost consciousness after the crash, and then she got her purse and shoes and placed them outside the car (and) climbed out through the back,” Miller said. “Once she got out the car, she knelt down to find her purse and searched around and couldn’t find it; it was so dark. Once that happened, she continued to look for her purse and the car was gone.”

Holman told her friend that she found a rock overhang and used it for shelter until search crews found her Sunday morning, the news station reported. 

>> Read more trending news

Holman’s family said in a statement that she suffered only a few broken bones and other minor injuries in the ordeal. A cameraman from Birmingham’s WBRC captured the moment she was brought out of the woods and loaded onto an ambulance to be taken to a hospital for treatment. 

Holman appeared wet and cold, but otherwise healthy. 

The family said that her rescue was “definitely an answered prayer.”

“Her ability to withstand these injuries, the weather conditions, and the length of time in the woods is a testament to her resiliency,” read the statement, which was released through police officials. 

The family also thanked the emergency responders and multitude of volunteers who helped search for Holman and, ultimately, brought her home alive. 

“We are grateful to be part of a close-knit community that never hesitated when their assistance was needed,” the statement read

One volunteer, Brian Nethery, shared a photo of a young man named Ryan who was walking from the scene barefoot. Nethery wrote on Facebook that the young man walked that way through the woods because he gave his coat, socks and shoes to Holman to help warm her up after she was found. 

Nethery wrote on Facebook that the photo echoed the hearts of all the people who volunteered to find Holman. 

“Hundreds of people selflessly and without hesitation put their lives on hold for one, but to us, that one was our daughter, our mom, our wife and our friend,” Nethery wrote. 

Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer also issued a statement thanking all involved in the rescue, calling the operation a “true community effort.”

“We are thankful to serve a community where help and support is offered at a moment’s notice,” Palmer said. “We are so happy this situation had a good ending.”

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