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Florida school shooting: Family says missing girl Meadow Pollack has died

Update 1:21 p.m. Feb. 15, 2018: Meadow Pollack, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who went missing after Wednesday’s shooting, has died, her father, Andrew Pollack, said Thursday morning.

Original report: Andrew Pollack stood outside the hospital Wednesday afternoon with a firm grip on his cellphone, anxiously waiting to hear the words “we found her.”

>> Live updates: 17 dead, more than a dozen injured in shooting rampage at Parkland, Florida high school

Pollack and his wife were searching for their daughter Meadow, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They called her phone so many times Wednesday only to hear it ring and ring and ring.

“We can’t locate her. I keep looking at my phone,” Pollack said outside Broward Health North hospital. “I don’t know where to go from here.”

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: Parents, students describe mayhem, aftermath

Pollack rattled off details about his 18-year-old — she plans to go to Lynn University for college. He showed a Palm Beach Post reporter a photo of her wearing a dark, strapless dress and a smile while standing next to her cousin.

As of 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, he still hadn’t heard.

About a couple hundred feet from where Pollack stood, two doctors gave an update to reporters on the nine patients brought to the hospital after a gunman opened fire at the high school. The doctors said Wednesday marked the biggest mass casualty incident the hospital has seen.

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

One of the hospitals’ nine patients was suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19. The doctors — Evan Boyar and Igor Nichiporenko — said he was released to police custody and did not detail his injuries. They said authorities took him to Broward North because it was the closest trauma facility.

“Every patient that comes in gets treated as a patient,” said Boyar, director of the emergency medicine department.

Another shooting victim was taken to Broward Health Coral Springs and seven others were taken to Broward Health Medical Center. Doctors at Broward North couldn’t give updates on those patients’ conditions.

>> PHOTOS: Shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida

Of the eight at Broward North, two died, three were in stable condition and three were in critical, the doctors said. At the time of the news conference, three were in operating rooms.

Nichiporenko said none of the six at Broward North were expected to be released from the hospital Wednesday evening, but gave a positive outlook on their conditions: “They’re going to have successful surgeries. They’re going to recover. They’re going to go home.”

The doctors declined to give details about the patients, including their names, ages or exact injuries, but said they all received gunshot wounds.

“I prefer not to comment on specific patients’ demeanor, but you know as a human being you can imagine that they would be in shock or you know be emotional about the whole situation,” Boyar said.

>> Read more trending news 

The doctors said they send their sympathy and condolences to all involved in the shooting. They said the hospital was ready for a day like this and often runs drills to make sure if a day like this does come the patients receive “calm, collected care.”

“We do this every day. So what we saw today, we have penetrating trauma, non-penetrating trauma. We’re a Level 2 trauma center and that’s what we do everyday,” said Nichiporenko, the trauma medical director. “So fortunately for everybody we are located very close to the high school where the shooting happened, so fortunately for everybody they brought these patients to our hospital and we were able to do a great job to do the right thing.”

Florida school shooting: Probe focuses on gunman's motives, victims' lives

Law enforcement officials are scheduled to give an update of their investigation into a deadly school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

The update is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday near the school in Parkland, Florida, an affluent town in northwest Broward County, about 15 miles from Boca Raton.

>> LIVE UPDATES: Florida school shooting suspect charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder

The suspected gunman, Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 19, had been a student there recently “but was expelled from the school the previous year,” the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said.

Cruz was booked into the Broward County jail and is facing 17 counts of premeditated murder. 

At 5-foot-7 and 131 pounds, he was expected to make his first appearance before a judge later Thursday morning in Broward County court.

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

Police said Cruz concealed himself in the crowd and was among those running out of the school after the shooting. He was captured about 2 miles away near a swimming pool in the Wyndham Lakes community across the Sawgrass Expressway from the school.

Individuals with information are encouraged to call the FBI tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI or visit www.FBI.gov/ParklandShooting.

>> PHOTOS: Shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida

A day after 17 people lost their lives in a storm of bullets at a South Florida high school, police are still trying to piece together what happened. 

The investigation of the high school massacre on Valentine’s Day stretches throughout the state, including one city in Palm Beach County. 

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office; the Broward County Sheriff’s Office; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and FBI are investigating a mobile home south of Lantana Road and off Congress Avenue. 

>> Read more trending news 

Irving Beck, who lives in Lantana Cascade Mobile Home Park, said he got home around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and law enforcement was already at the scene. 

He said authorities told him it was some kind of explosive at one of the residences.

Florida school shooting: Students describe terror, panic during rampage

Flashing lights and police tape still blocked the area surrounding Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, hours after investigators said a gunman opened fire, killing 17 people.

>> LIVE UPDATES: 17 dead, more than a dozen injured in shooting rampage at Parkland, Florida, high school

In a student’s Snapchat video, the sound of gunfire can be heard inside a classroom as students cried and crouched under their desks.

“I was just praying. Praying to God it was not me,” said Trayvon Telfair, a sophomore at the school.

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

Telfair said he was in the freshman building and was feet away from the gunfire.

"One of the bullets came through the window and I just looked and everybody was in the room screaming. The teacher was telling them to be quiet," he said.

He was one of the dozens of students led out of the building by armed officers as they walked out with their hands above their heads.

Panic ensued as the school was put on lockdown.

Some students were led to safety, but other students had to remain barricaded in classrooms until police could reach them.

>> PHOTOS: Shooting at high school in Parkland, Florida

One student described waiting near the body of a teacher who had been shot.

“We saw his body for like 30 minutes. We were just praying and crying, and then the police came and we just got out,” said student Bruna Oliveda.

As students ran from the school, they described the chaos inside.

“We heard the pops and we were in the building at the back of the school,” said a student, who was not identified.

As students were led out of the school, some were told to keep their hands on the shoulders of the students in front of them and not to look to the side.

They were told to put their backpacks in a pile and move away.

Student Christina Vega said she never wants to step on campus again.

“I can’t go up the stairs. There were just trails of blood,” she said. “Our teacher, right in the corner, you can just see the bullet and like, blood on the wall. And then this kid on the other side."

The Broward County Sheriff's Office said the 17 victims include students and adults.

Investigators said the suspected gunman is former student 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz.

He was taken into custody about 2 miles from the school.

>> On WFTV.com: WATCH: Takedown of Stoneman Douglas HS suspect

School officials said Cruz had been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons.

Investigators said Cruz had at least one rifle and numerous magazines of ammunition.

There is no known motive for the shooting.

School was canceled for the remainder of the week and multiple grief counselors will be available, officials said.

>> Read more trending news 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott told reporters Wednesday evening he can't imagine what the families of the victims are going through. He also said he would be visiting hospitalized survivors.

Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County also said at the news conference that families of the dead are being notified. He said 12 of the dead have been identified. He says not all victims were carrying identification and thus couldn't be quickly identified.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says the state will cover funeral expenses for the victims and counseling for survivors.

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. 

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