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School violence: Half of all 2017-18 school shootings, threats happened in these 10 states

Half of all incidents of school violence and threats of violence during the 2017-2018 school year were logged in just 10 states according to a report released Monday from an organization that studies school violence.

The report from the Educator’s School Safety Network found that of 3,654 reported incidents of violence and threats of violence, half came from what the organization calls its top 10 “states of concern.”

The states of concern, ranked by a composite score that included four sub-categories, are California, Florida, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, North Carolina and Virginia. Those 10 states accounted for 1,851 acts of violence in the 2017-18 school year.

The ESSN is a not-for-profit organization “dedicated to empowering educators with education-based school safety training and resources.” 

One of the four sub-categories ESSN used to grade states was the number of threats per school by state population. The top states for violent incidents per million residents are Michigan, Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky, Washington, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and Idaho. 

According to the report, violence in schools has increased in the past year, in some cases pushing states ranked toward the bottom of the list of violent incidents in the 2016-17 school year – such as Mississippi, Idaho and Kentucky -- into the top 10 for incidents in the last school year. 

The number of threats reported from schools increased by 62 percent in the 2017-18 school year, the report noted. The number of violent incidents reported – 279 for the school year – was a 133 percent increase over the 2016-17 school year.  

The report defined “threats of violence” as “bomb threats, threats involving a weapon (such as a gun), threats involving both guns and bombs, generalized threats of violence, and other school-based threats when the specific nature of the threat was not reported (unknown or unspecified threats).”

“Incidents of violence,” per the report, included “events where something actually occurred (not just a threat). These included shootings, shots fired, weapons present, suspicious items, actual explosive devices, detonations, intruders, attacks, suicides on campus etc.”

Other findings from the report:

  1. Washington state was not in the top 10 in any metric for the 2016-2017 school year. This year, however, it is one of the states of concern for incidents both by the numbers and when figured per capita. 
  2. Alabama continues to be a top 10 state of concern for incidents for the second year in a row, both in the number and per capita. It remains third in the nation in incidents per capita for the second year in a row. 
  3. Kentucky went from 40th in threats per million residents in the 2016-2017 school year to eighth, a significant increase. 
  4. Vermont, Montana, Idaho were ranked as a concern in both threats and incidents per capita. These three states were in last place for incidents per million residents in the 2016-2017 school year and moved to second, fourth, and sixth places respectively for the 2017-2018 school year. 
  5. Mississippi, also ranked 51st in incidents last year, ranked in seventh place in both threats and incidents per capita, moving it to the sixth most concerning state overall. 
  6. In threats per capita, Montana moved from 45th in the 2016-2017 school year to fourth this year.

Click here to read the entire report and see where your state ranks. 

 

University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts found dead: reports

Authorities believe they have found the body of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, who vanished last month after going for a run in Brooklyn, Iowa, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Greg Willey of Crime Stoppers of Central Iowa confirmed to The Associated Press that investigators found a body Tuesday morning believed to be that of Tibbetts, 20. Willey told the AP one of Tibbetts’ close family friends told him about the discovery.

Fox News and CBS News also reported Tibbetts' body was found Tuesday, citing unnamed sources.

>> Mollie Tibbetts search: New video surfaces, Iowa man says he saw her jogging

Authorities did not immediately confirm the reports. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation will hold a news conference to discuss the case at 5 p.m. local time Tuesday, KCRG reported.

Tibbetts, 20, was last seen July 18 in Brooklyn, a town with a population of about 1,400 in central Iowa. Investigators said she was last seen on a routine jog through the streets of the city. It’s unclear whether she returned to the home where she was dog-sitting for her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s brother, who have said they were both out of town.

The college sophomore was reported missing the next day, after she didn’t show up for her job at a local day care. 

A massive search was launched after her disappearance. Authorities received thousands of tips.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

Bullied student escorted to school by bikers

Growing up is difficult, especially when kids have to face their bullies every day at school. 

One middle school student in Streamwood, Illinois, said she was badly bullied last school year, but this year may be different for Megan Kuntz after her official escort for the first day of school Monday, WLS reported

Her story was shared on social media, where it got noticed by a group of bikers who took Kuntz to class and warned bullies that the mean treatment will end. 

She said that she had to eat her lunch in the school’s office to avoid her meal from being thrown in the trash by classmates, The Chicago Daily Herald reported.

More than two dozen riders showed up on their motorcycles Monday to escort Kuntz to school and send her bullies a message, WLS reported

>> Read more trending news 

The bikers didn’t know each other, but said they just wanted to help her.

The school officials told WLS that they take bullying allegations seriously and were notified about Kuntz’s claims and are working on curbing bullying.

World's most livable cities ranked: Did your hometown make the list? 

What’s the most livable city in the United StatesThe results may surprise you.

The Economist Intelligence Unit's annual Livability Survey, which ranks 140 cities worldwide on factors like stability, health care, culture, education and infrastructure on a scale of 1-100, was released this week.

>> Read more trending news 

The top U.S. city was Honolulu, which ranked 23rd worldwide. Pittsburgh was the next highest-ranking American city, coming in at No. 32 overall.

Washington (No. 37), Minneapolis (No. 39), Boston (No. 42), Chicago (tied for No. 44), Miami (tied for No. 44), Seattle (No. 46), San Francisco (No. 49) and Atlanta (No. 50) were the only other U.S. cities to rank in the top 50 globally, CNBC reported.

>> On WPXI.com: Pittsburgh ranked as most livable city in continental United States

The No. 1 city worldwide was Vienna, Austria, with an overall livability rating of 99.1 out of a possible 100. Pittsburgh, by comparison, had a 92.1.

While no U.S. city cracked the top 10, Canada had three cities rank high, with Calgary (No. 4), Vancouver (No. 6) and Toronto (No. 7) all among the best in the world

The ranking offers a limited look at the list for free. The full report with updates twice a year can be purchased here.

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Barnum’s Animal crackers are now cage free

Nabisco has made a big change to its iconic Barnum’s Animals crackers. The animals are now cage-free.

The change came after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals penned a letter in 2016 to Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, to redesign the packaging, ABC News reported

In the letter, PETA told the company, “Given the egregious cruelty inherent in circuses that use animals and public’s swelling opposition to the exploitation of animals used for entertainment, we urge Nabisco to update its packaging in order to show animals who are free to roam in their natural habitats,” according to ABC News.

Mondelez started designing the packaging after the letter. 

>> Read more trending news 

The cookies namesake, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus was also a target of PETA, first removing elephants from the shows in 2016, then finally closing in May 2017 after slow ticket sales.

The new design removed the animals from caged boxcars destined for a circus performance, and instead has the animals -- a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla -- existing side-by-side in a grassland, USA Today reported.

The Barnum’s Animals name is prominently displayed above the animals.

PETA leaders are happy for the change.

“The new box for Barnum’s Animals crackers perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates the caging and chaining of wild animals for circus shows,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman told ABC News.

Mondelez told USA Today, “It’s probably one of, if not the oldest, (product) in our portfolio. We’re always looking to see how to keep it modern, to keep it contemporary with customers.”

Nabisco has made Barnum’s Animals crackers since 1902. 

Woman accused of punching police officer in face, yelling racial slurs at him

A Tennessee woman is accused of punching a police officer in the face and yelling racial slurs at him after being arrested Sunday. 

Police said Dana Vela, 33, of Cordova, was involved in a car crash at the intersection of Cordova Road and North Germantown Parkway about 3:30 p.m.

>> Read more trending news 

Vela was “visibly hysterical,” according to a police affidavit. Officers said no one involved complained of any injuries, but one man told police that Vela assaulted him after the crash. 

Vela was detained under suspicion of DUI, but she “managed to escape her handcuffs and attempted to escape from the squad car,” police said. 

As an officer opened the door to get her back inside, police said Vela punched the officer in the face with the metal handcuff still on her wrist while yelling racial slurs and profane language.

Police charged Vela with DUI, public intoxication, assault, reckless driving and resisting arrest.

Dad severely beat baby daughter for falling while learning to walk, police say

A Texas dad is behind bars after police say he severely beat his baby girl, leaving her with life-threatening injuries.

According to KFOX-TV, Anthony Williams, 27, of El Paso, was arrested Friday and charged with injury to a child after police received a report of possible family violence. When officers arrived, they found Williams' 1-year-old daughter unresponsive and critically injured, police said. She was taken to a nearby hospital.

>> Read more trending news 

Investigators believe that "Williams struck the victim several times after she kept falling while he was 'teaching' her to walk," El Paso police said in a news release Monday.

He is being held on a $750,000 bond at the El Paso County Detention Facility, the release said.

Read more here or here.

Former Nazi labor camp guard arrested, deported by ICE, officials say

A former guard for a labor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II has been arrested and deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officials said early Tuesday.

Jakiw Palij, 95, of Queens, New York, was believed to be "the last known Nazi collaborator living in the U.S." before he was deported to Germany, ABC News reported.

According to an overnight White House news release, Palij worked as an armed guard at the Trawniki labor camp, where 6,000 Jewish prisoners were killed in November 1943.

Palij, who came to the U.S. in 1949 and gained citizenship eight years later, lied to immigration officials during the naturalization process, hiding his Nazi service by saying he had been a factory and farm worker during the war, the news release said.

>> Read more trending news 

Decades later, U.S. authorities discovered Palij's past and revoked his citizenship in 2003, the release said

"Despite a court ordering his deportation in 2004, past administrations were unsuccessful in removing Palij," the press release said. "To protect the promise of freedom for Holocaust survivors and their families, President Trump prioritized the removal of Palij. Through extensive negotiations, President Trump and his team secured Palij’s deportation to Germany and advanced the United States’ collaborative efforts with a key European ally."

Read more here or here.

Man accused of robbing thrift store smiles in mugshot after arrest

A Texas man apparently was all smiles after he was arrested in connection with a thrift store robbery.

According to KWES, police arrested Shawn Paul Melonakos, 36, of Odessa, on Saturday after he was accused of trying to steal items from the Door of Hope Thrift Store.

>> Teacher accused of improper relationship with student smiles in mugshot

"Investigation revealed that a male subject, later identified as Melonakos, took merchandise and exited the store without making any attempt to pay," Odessa police said in a news release. "When the complainant confronted Melonakos about the stolen merchandise, Melonakos picked up a large rock and threatened him with it."

The complainant then pulled out a gun and fired a round, police said. Melonakos fled, but the complainant and another man caught and detained him until police arrived, the news release said. Nobody was hurt in the incident, authorities said.

>> Read more trending news 

Melonakos had methamphetamine on him when officers arrested him, the news release said. He also gave police a fake name, but officers were able to identify him and found that he was wanted on a parole violation warrant, the release said. He was charged with robbery, methamphetamine possession, providing false identification and violating parole.

Melonakos' unusual mugshot, which featured a big, toothy smile, quickly sparked hundreds of comments and shares on social media.

"Well, ain't he proud of himself," quipped one commenter on KWES's Facebook page

"Priceless," another Facebook user wrote

Read more here or here.

Don't vacuum while wildfire smoke is in the air, health officials say

Poor air quality will be common across parts of the Pacific Northwest this week as winds push smoke from surrounding wildfires into the region, forecasters and regulators said.

Air quality alerts are in effect for much of Washington state through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

>> On KIRO7.com: How to protect yourself during smoke days

Officials with the Washington State Department of Health shared tips on how to stay healthy during smoky wildfire air. 

"Don’t add to indoor pollution," officials with the department wrote. "Don’t use food boilers, candles, incense, fireplaces or gas stoves."

"Don’t vacuum unless your vacuum has a HEPA filter, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home," said Washington health officials.

>> Read more trending news 

Read the entire list of smoky air tips from Washington health officials here.

Find a map here with real-time air quality conditions by city.

On Monday, conditions around Washington state ranged from moderate to hazardous. 

Smoky, hazy conditions are making a return to the Puget Sound region because of wildfires in British Columbia and the Cascade Mountains, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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