TIME Nevada

4-Year-Old Boy Found Dead in Hot Pickup Truck

The boy may have been in the truck for up to 3 hours in the heat, police say

(LAS VEGAS) — Police in Las Vegas now say a 4-year-old boy who died in a stifling hot pickup truck might have been in the vehicle for up to three hours on a sunny 100-degree day.

Officer Laura Meltzer said Friday that police were called just before 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and the boy was pronounced dead at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center.

No arrests have been made.

Police say investigators found the child’s grandfather returned home with the boy earlier than 5 p.m., as originally reported.

A woman who spoke through the closed door of the family home about 5 miles east of downtown declined to identify herself or talk with a reporter.

The nonprofit Kids and Cars says the death was the 16th of its kind in the nation this year.

TIME College football

University of Illinois Fires Coach Tim Beckman Over Allegations of Player Mistreatment

illinois football coach tim beckman
Joe Robbins—Getty Images Illinois University football head coach Tim Beckman looks on during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on November 1, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio.

Beckman is accused of player mistreatment and inappropriate behavior

(CHAMPAIGN, Ill.) — Illinois fired coach Tim Beckman one week before the start of the season Friday, saying preliminary results of an investigation found some truth to allegations of player mistreatment and inappropriate behavior.

Athletic director Mike Thomas said the timing is unfortunate, but “it was in the best interests of student-athletes to act now.” Thomas said the final report would not be publicly released until during the season.

The Illini face Kent State at home Sept. 4 to start the season. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has been named interim coach.

Thomas said during a preliminary briefing from the external reviewers handling the investigation, he learned of efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment and continue playing despite injuries. Thomas also said in some instances student-athletes were treated inappropriately with respect to whether they could remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year if they weren’t on the team.

Former starting lineman Simon Cvijanovic complained first on Twitter on May 9 and in numerous interviews that Beckman and his staff had tried to shame him into playing hurt misled him about medical procedures following a knee injury.

“All I can say right now is I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he told The Associated Press by phone after learning Beckman had been fired. “It seems like there’s more than just Beckman that needs to be held accountable.”

Beckman was 12-25 at Illinois, improving the team’s record each season. The Illini went 6-7 last year.

___

AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.

TIME Crime

Former Prep School Student Acquitted of Rape

Owen Labrie
Cheryl Senter—AP Looking in the direction of the victim's family, former St. Paul's School student Owen Labrie, right, enters the courtroom with his defense attorney J.W. Carney for closing remarks in Labrie's rape trial at Merrimack Superior Court on Aug. 27, 2015, in Concord, N.H.

He was found guilty of misdemeanor sex offenses

(CONCORD, N.H.) — A graduate of an exclusive New England prep school was cleared of felony rape but convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses Friday against a 15-year-old freshman girl in a case that exposed a campus tradition in which seniors competed to see how many younger students they could have sex with.

A jury of nine men and three women took eight hours to reach its verdict in the case against 19-year-old Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, who was accused of forcing himself on the girl in a dark and noisy mechanical room at St. Paul’s School in Concord two days before he graduated in 2014.

He wept upon hearing the verdict, and his mother sobbed into a tissue.

Labrie, who was bound for Harvard and planned to take divinity classes before his arrest put everything on hold, was acquitted of the most serious charges against him — three counts of felony rape, each punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison — but was found guilty of three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault and other offenses. Each count carries up to a year behind bars.

The scandal cast a harsh light on the 159-year-old boarding school that has long been a training ground for politicians, Nobel laureates, corporate executives and other members of the country’s elite.

Prosecutors said the rape was part of Senior Salute, which Labrie described to detectives as a competition in which graduating seniors tried to have sex with underclassmen and kept score on a wall behind a set of washing machines.

Labrie, an aspiring minister, testified that he and the girl made out, but he said he stopped short of intercourse because he suddenly decided “it wouldn’t have been a good choice for me.” A detective quoted him as saying he had a moment of “divine inspiration” as he was about to put on a condom.

In his testimony, Labrie acknowledged bragging to friends that he had intercourse with the girl, but he said that was a lie told to impress them. He also admitted deleting 119 Facebook messages, including one in which he boasted that he “pulled every trick in the book” to have sex with her.

In graphic and sometimes tearful testimony, the girl, now 16, said she willingly went with Labrie to the rooftop of an academic building after he invited her to take part in Senior Salute, a tradition she said she knew about. But she said she was prepared for kissing at most.

She said Labrie soon become aggressive and she told him, “No, no, no” as he moved his face toward her crotch. She said he eventually penetrated her, and she felt “frozen” — incapable of moving or reacting.

“I tried to block out the feeling as much as I could,” she said. “I didn’t want to believe this was happening to me.”

Under cross-examination, she said she helped Labrie remove her shirt and pants. When questioned about breezy email and Facebook exchanges that she had with Labrie in the hours afterward, she explained that she kept the conversation light because she was trying to find out whether he had worn a condom.

Traces of sperm were found on the girl’s underwear but could not be conclusively linked to Labrie.

Alumni of St. Paul’s include Secretary of State John Kerry, who graduated in 1962 alongside former FBI Director Robert Mueller. “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau also attended the school, as did at least 13 U.S. ambassadors, three Pulitzer Prize winners, actor Judd Nelson and sons of the Astor and Kennedy families. Students pay $53,810 a year in tuition, room and board.

After Labrie’s arrest, school officials said they would expel anyone participating “in any game, ‘tradition,’ or practice of sexual solicitation or sexual conquest under any name” and throw out those possessing keys or access cards they aren’t entitled to. Labrie was said to have used a key that was shared among seniors to get to restricted areas.

The school, which first admitted girls in 1971 and has about 530 students, also brought in experts to discuss topics including substance abuse, harassment and building healthy relationships.

Labrie was captain of the soccer team and said he attended the school on full scholarship. Defense attorney J.W. Carney told the jury that St. Paul’s treated Labrie “shabbily” by taking away an award he received for character and devotion to the school and not adding his name to the wall of all graduates.

TIME Louisiana

George W. Bush Returns to New Orleans for 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Former President and his wife paid a visit to the oldest public school in the city

(NEW ORLEANS) — Former President George W. Bush returned Friday to New Orleans — the scene of one of his presidency’s lowest points — to tout the region’s recovery from the nation’s costliest natural disaster on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

He and Laura Bush visited the oldest public school in the city — Warren Easton Charter High School, which was closed for a year because of storm damage and then reopened as a charter school. Bush visited the same school on the storm’s first anniversary, and the library foundation of his wife helped rebuild it.

The Bushes met with students and were greeted by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco, who fought hard to get federal aid during Katrina. Laura Bush wore a purple dress to honor the school’s colors.

The school’s success is a rare bright spot from what was an extremely trying time for Bush, who was vilified for his administration’s lackluster response to the catastrophic storm.

His record was marred by initially flying over New Orleans in Air Force One without touching down to show his support in the flooded city, to his “Heckuva job, Brownie” praise for his Federal Emergency Management Agency director, Michael Brown.

The monster storm set off a “confluence of blunders” that Bush’s approval ratings never recovered from, said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University and author of “The Great Deluge,” a detailed account of the first days after Katrina. “That’s when I think his presidency started on a downward trend.”

Bush and his team were so deeply resented and mocked in New Orleans that Carnival paraders displayed him in effigy for years afterward.

At Warren Easton, at least, Bush could point to a success story.

“We have fond memories of his last visit,” said Arthur Hardy, a celebrity in New Orleans for his expertise in all things Mardi Gras and Carnival, the city’s signature festivity. Hardy graduated from the high school in 1965.

After New Orleans, the Bush family will visit Gulfport, Mississippi, to attend an event with state officials, including Gov. Phil Bryant and former Gov. Haley Barbour, a staunch Bush ally who was governor when Katrina hit.

The event in Mississippi will serve to thank first responders who helped after the hurricane.

Bush has deep ties to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans — both as an eastern Texan and as president. His administration oversaw more than $140 billion in spending to help the region recover from the disaster, his office said.

Bush largely took a hands-off approach, frequently saying that rebuilding was best left to locals. Much of the work was overseen by his appointees, however, and he’s made frequent trips to the region since Katrina, his office said.

In 2006, Bush picked Warren Easton as an example of the city’s comeback spirit.

The school had been badly flooded and had been facing closure before Bush’s visit back then. Nearly every student who attended was considered homeless, living in FEMA trailers or sleeping on couches, school officials said.

Back then, Bush advocated for school reforms, supporting the city’s efforts to expand charter schools and break up what was widely seen as a failing neighborhood school model. The old public school system was riddled with broken buildings, failing grades and pervasive corruption.

Since Katrina, New Orleans has become a living experiment for a city-wide charter system, with many schools reporting greater diversity and steady academic gains.

Read next: New Orleans, Here & Now

TIME Crime

Virginia Teenager Sentenced to More Than 11 Years in Prison for Helping ISIS

ali amin
Joseph Flood Ali Shukri Amin on his 17th birthday, Sept. 30, 2014.

"I have not attempted to deny or explain away anything I have done"

(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — A northern Virginia teenager was sentenced Friday to more than 11 years in prison for helping another teen travel to Syria to join the Islamic State and for providing other aid to the militant group.

The judge said he considered 17-year-old Ali Shukri Amin’s age and lack of a criminal record during sentencing in federal court in Alexandria. Amin told the judge he didn’t “expect sympathy.” Amin pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. The Manassas teen would have otherwise been graduating from high school with honors around the time of his plea. Juveniles rarely face charges in the federal system.

“I have not attempted to deny or explain away anything I have done,” Amin said. He said he has “resolved to not blindly become more radical.”

Defense attorney Joseph Flood had argued that a sentence of about six years was appropriate. He said in court that Amin’s Twitter account may have had some 4,000 followers but that “his influence was actually very small.”

In June, Flood said Amin was motivated by sincere religious beliefs and outrage at the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. He said Friday that Amin had been manipulated by older radicals and Amin has “repudiated ISIS” in conversations with family and religious leaders.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ben’Ary said in court Friday that Amin “wasn’t being radicalized. He was radicalizing” others. He said Amin knew what he was doing was illegal.

“Today’s sentencing demonstrates that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to ISIL will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms with ISIL,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said in a press release. “The Department of Justice will continue to pursue those that travel to fight against the United States and our allies, as well as those individuals that recruit others on behalf of ISIL in the homeland.”

Amin admitted that he helped 18-year-old Reza Niknejad to travel to Syria to join the group in January. FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe said that after taking Niknejad to the airport, Amin delivered a letter and thumb drive to Niknejad’s family informing them that they would likely never see him again.

“Today marks a personal tragedy for the Amin family and the community as we have lost yet another young person to the allure of extremist ideology focused on hatred,” McCabe said in a news release. “Amin’s case serves as a reminder of how persistent and pervasive online radicalization has become.”

Charges against Niknejad were unsealed in June, alleging he conspired to provide material support to terrorists and conspired to kill and injure people abroad. Boente said at the time that Niknejad made it to Syria.

As part of his plea, Amin also admitted to using Twitter to provide advice and encouragement to the Islamic State and its supporters. Through his Twitter handle Amreekiwitness — Amreeki translates to “American” — Amin provided instruction on how to use Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to mask funds going to the group and helped supporters seeking to travel to Syria to fight with the group, court documents said.

TIME North Carolina

North Carolina Cop Will Not Face Retrial for Fatal Shooting of Black Man

Police Shooting Charlotte randall kerrick
Davie Hinshaw—AP Police officer Randall Kerrick, left, and defense attorney Michael Greene listen during opening arguments at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte. N.C., on Aug. 3, 2015.

Randall Kerrick had been accused of voluntary manslaughter but was acquitted

(RALEIGH, N.C.) — North Carolina state attorneys have decided against retrying a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man after his trial ended last week in a deadlock.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Robert Montgomery told the Mecklenburg County district attorney Friday of the state’s decision in the case of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Randall Kerrick. He had been accused of voluntary manslaughter in the September 2013 death of Jonathan Ferrell, a former college football player.

The jury in the case deadlocked with an 8-4 vote in favor of acquittal, leading the judge to declare a mistrial.

Montgomery wrote to District Attorney Andrew Murray that state attorneys will submit dismissal papers to end the case. Montgomery says it’s the prosecutors’ “unanimous belief a retrial will not yield a different result.”

TIME Courts

Federal Court Ruling Supports NSA’s Phone Data Collection

NSA headquarters Fort Meade maryland
NSA/Getty Images The NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md.

The court reversed a ruling that found the NSA program unconstitutional

(WASHINGTON) — A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Obama administration in a dispute over the bulk collection of phone data on millions of Americans.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday reversed a lower court ruling that said the program likely violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches.

But the impact of the ruling is uncertain, now that Congress has passed legislation designed to replace the program over the next few months.

The court sent the case back for a judge to determine what further details about the program the government must provide.

The uproar over the surveillance program began in 2013 when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details to news organizations.

TIME Florida

Florida Declares State of Emergency As Tropical Storm Erika Nears

The storm could hit Florida on Monday

(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Gov. Rick Scott is declaring a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Erika nears Florida.

The storm could hit the peninsula Monday. Scott made his declaration shortly after forecasters adjusted the trajectory of the storm to show that it’s predicted to go through the middle of the state.

Scott’s emergency order says Erika “poses a severe threat to the entire state.”

The order calls for the activation of the National Guard and gives authorities the ability to waive tolls and rules to allow emergency crews and vehicles to move throughout the state.

A hurricane hasn’t hit Florida in 10 years. The latest forecasts show that Erika will remain a tropical storm when it makes landfall.

On Friday, Erika lashed Puerto Rico with wind and rain and had killed at least four people. The storm was about 90 miles east-southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republican, and was moving west at 17 mph with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

Read next: Tropical Storm Erika Kills 4 People in Dominica

Listen to the most important stories of the day

TIME animals

National Zoo’s Surviving Newborn Panda Is a Boy

Twin Giant Pandas Born At Smithsonian's National Zoo
Handout—Getty Images In this handout provided by the Smithsonian's National Zoo, one of two newborn Giant Pandas born August 22 is cared for by a member of the panda team at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute August 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.

The male cub is doing well and growing, zookeepers say

(WASHINGTON) — The National Zoo’s panda parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, have another son.

The zoo announced Friday morning that the surviving panda cub is male and the son of the zoo’s male panda Tian Tian.

Mei Xiang gave birth to twins Saturday, but the smaller cub died Wednesday. Officials say that smaller cub was also a male fathered by Tian Tian.

The cub’s cause of death hasn’t been determined. Keepers say the larger cub is doing well and growing.

Tian Tian is the father of Mei Xiang’s other cubs, daughter Bao Bao and son Tai Shan. During this year’s panda breeding, Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated with semen from Tian Tian and a panda in China that was deemed a good genetic match.

TIME Crime

Gunman in on-air Deaths Remembered as a ‘Professional Victim’

Vester Flanagan's hair-trigger temper became evident at least 15 years ago

(ROANOKE, Va.)—The man who was news director during Vester Flanagan’s rocky tenure at Virginia station WDBJ-TV described him as someone who constantly saw himself being victimized by others.

Dan Dennison described Flanagan, who shot and killed a reporter and a cameraman on live television Wednesday, as a “professional victim” during his time at the station before being fired in 2013.

“He was victimized by everything and everyone and could never quite grasp the fact that he was the common denominator in all of these really sometimes serious interpersonal conflicts that he had with people,” Dennison said.

Flanagan, 41, interpreted efforts by the station to improve his performance and persuade him to work more cooperatively with colleagues as discrimination, said Dennison, who now works as a communications manager at the Hawaii state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

On the day he was fired, Flanagan pressed a wooden cross into Dennison’s hand and said, “You’ll need this,” as two police officers escorted him out. Flanagan’s departure then was filmed by Adam Ward, the cameraman who was killed along with reporter Alison Parker during an on-air interview Wednesday morning.

Dennison said the station had no idea of his shortcomings before he was hired there and he had received positive recommendations.

Flanagan’s hair-trigger temper became evident at least 15 years ago at WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Florida, said Don Shafer, who hired him there in 1999. Shafer recalled Flanagan as a good reporter and a “clever, funny guy” — but said he also had conflicts with co-workers “to the point where he was threatening people.”

“Had some physical confrontations with a couple of people, and at one point became such a distraction that we finally had to terminate him,” said Shafer, now news director with XETV in San Diego.

After stints in California, Florida and North Carolina, Flanagan’s last television job was at WDBJ in Roanoke.

Others who ran across Flanagan after he lost his job at WDBJ described a man increasingly irked by slights more often imagined than real.

A former co-worker at a UnitedHealthcare call center where Flanagan worked until late 2014 said he tried to grab her shoulder and told her never to speak to him again after she offhandedly said he was unusually quiet.

The manager of a bar in Roanoke said Flanagan was so incensed when no one thanked him for his business as he left the tavern that he sent a nearly 20-page letter, lambasting employees’ behavior.

Flanagan described himself in a court document as an aggrieved and unappreciated victim.

“How heartless can you be? My entire life was disrupted after moving clear across the country for a job only to have my dream turn into a nightmare,” Flanagan wrote in a letter to a judge filed as part of his 2013 lawsuit against WDBJ-TV. “Your Honor, I am not the monster here.”

The lawsuit was dismissed in July 2014. But in recent weeks, Flanagan laid careful plans for retribution. He contacted ABC News about what he claimed was a story tip and filled his Facebook page with photos and video montages seemingly designed to introduce himself to a larger audience.

On Wednesday, after killing Parker, 24, and Ward, 27, he went online to claim they had wronged him in the past.

He also texted a friend suggesting he had “done something stupid,” investigators wrote in a search warrant. He turned the gun on himself when police caught up to him a few hours later. Inside his rental car, investigators found extra license plates, a wig, shawl, sunglasses and a hat as well as some stamped letters and a “to do” list.

On Thursday, the station’s general manager, Jeffrey Marks, recalled a series of problems with Flanagan while he worked at WDBJ from March 2012 to February 2013. Flanagan accused a news photographer of trespassing on private property. He confronted an anchor over a story and attempted to reach the company’s CEO to complain. He filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, as well as the lawsuit.

Flanagan’s joking and smiling one minute could turn to anger in the next, former colleague Justin McLeod said.

Once, for no apparent reason, Flanagan told a photographer he knew the man didn’t like him because he was gay. The photographer told Flanagan he hadn’t known about his sexual orientation, McLeod said.

Former co-workers, surprised that Flanagan had stayed in town after losing his job, passed him from time to time. They called them “Bryce sightings,” referring to Flanagan’s on-air name, Bryce Williams, McLeod said.

Others who crossed paths with Flanagan during that time, said he took offense easily.

Heather Fay, general manager of Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint in downtown Roanoke, said she threw out a lengthy letter Flanagan had sent, criticizing the staff for telling customers to “have a nice day” instead of “thank you.”

“It was bizarre, for sure,” she said.

Fay said there was no indication the author was contemplating a crime.

Flanagan’s interpersonal conflicts were at odds with the outgoing student some recalled in Oakland, California, where he was chosen junior prince at Skyline High School’s homecoming. At San Francisco State University, Flanagan relished being in the spotlight during group presentations.

“He was such a nice guy, just a soft-spoken, well-dressed, good-looking guy. He never had any problems, no fights, nothing like that,” said a high school classmate, Chris Dobbins, now an Oakland attorney.

A cousin, Guynell Smith, 69, who had stopped by Flanagan’s father’s home in Vallejo, California, told reporters the family was unaware of any troubles. “He was just a normal kid,” she said. “We knew Vester a different way.”

Read next: What We Know About Virginia Shooting Victims Alison Parker and Adam Ward

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