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'Sorry,' says man, 19, who opened fire at Florida high school

The 19-year-old gunman who caused panic and fear at a Florida high school when he opened fire Friday morning said he was “sorry.”

>> Read more trending news

The gunman, identified as Sky Bouche, brought a shotgun onto campus at Forest High School in Ocala and shot a 17-year-old student in the ankle, deputies said. 

The shooting happened on the day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence.

Bouche was taken into custody by school resource officer Jim Long within three minutes of the gunfire. 

“He did not hesitate. He went right in,” Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said. 

Bouche told a WFTV reporter he didn't see anyone and shot through a door at the school.

"Anything you want to say to (the victim) or his family?” Bouche was asked.

"Sorry," Bouche said. "Doesn't make it better anyway."

He would not answer any questions about why he allegedly shot the student.

Other students were around when the gunfire broke out, but deputies did not say where in the building the shooting happened. 

“Basically, in three minutes, (Long) engaged the shooter and took him into custody,” Woods said. “(Bouche) was not tackled. He didn’t offer any resistance.” 

Woods said Long had heard a "large, loud, banging sound" and immediately responded. Long "recognized what we had at that time," he said.

Bouche was not injured.

Woods could not say if the alleged shooter was a former student or whether Bouche and the victim knew each other. 

It’s also unclear how Bouche managed to get on the campus with a gun. 

The Sheriff's Office has not identified the student who was shot, but reported that the victim said, "I am so glad it was me and not one of my friends."

Students and teachers crouched under their desks and hid as officers went from room to room making sure everyone was OK. 

“We were just under our desks crying,” said a student, who was not identified. 

After the shooting, the school was placed on lockdown, so parents were not able to pick up their children. 

Parents were urged to stay away from the school, which is protocol during a lockdown.

“Well, you’re scared to death, of course. Your heart is beating 90 mph and, you know, you’re just scared for your child,” said a parent, who was not identified. “You don’t know what’s going on.” 

As deputies evacuated the classrooms, the more than 2,300 students were loaded onto buses and brought to the First Baptist Church of Ocala, where they reunited with frantic parents. 

“Just anxious, waiting for her to get on that bus at the school, to text me, ‘I’m here,’ and just waiting for her name to be called,” parent Ashley Shell said. 

Hundreds of anxious parents gathered on the front steps of the church. 

“I’m just glad she is safe. I’m just glad that no one else got hurt,” added parent Otto Brown. 

Woods said he was proud of how first responders and school officials handled the situation. 

“It was the school system, it was law enforcement and it was Fire Rescue that saved lives today,” he said. “Our children are alive because those three things were in place.” 

Long has been with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years, and has spent 10 of those years as a resource officer at the school. 

Schools in the Marion County Public Schools District remained on Code Yellow for the rest of the day and Woods sent extra patrols to campuses throughout the county.

“Marion County does everything to protect their children," Woods said.

He also stressed that any school threats or hoax school threats will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. 

“This is not a joking matter. What happened down south almost came to Marion County,” Woods said.

Ocala police, the Sheriff's Office, the Florida Highway Patrol and the FBI were investigating. They divided into teams that cleared all buildings, vehicles and the parking lot. Once all students were off campus, authorities began conducting a more thorough search of the campus.

The Ocala shooting comes just over two months after a gunman killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nikolas Cruz, 19, faces the death penalty if he is convicted.

2 Louisiana elementary school students arrested over nude Snapchat photos

Police in Louisiana arrested a female elementary school student who took nude pictures of herself, as well as her male classmate who shared the photographs through a social media app, WGNO reported.

>> Read more trending news

The students, who are enrolled at Bonne Ecole Elementary in Slidell, were charged with distribution of child pornography, the Slidell Police Department said.

The nude photographs were sent and shared through the Snapchat app, police said. The male student sent the picture to other students after receiving them, WGNO reported.

“Most kids are not aware, but sending a nude photo of themselves is a crime,” Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said in a Facebook post. “Parents need to have a candid conversation with their kids about the seriousness, and the long term effects, of taking and sending nude photographs.”

Both children were released into the custody of their parents, WGNO reported.

Florida commissioner allegedly fed, housed couple in exchange for sex twice a week

A Florida county commissioner was arrested Thursday on multiple prostitution-related charges after authorities said he housed and fed a couple in exchange for having sex with the man’s wife twice a week, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, 71, was arrested Thursday by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged with one count of operating a location for the purpose of lewdness, assignation or prostitution and two counts of purchasing services from a person engaged in prostitution, according to the Sheriff’s Office. 

The charges are second-degree misdemeanors for a first offense, and each has a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail. Nicholson posted $3,000 bail, records show.

Florida law allows Gov. Rick Scott to suspend an elected official through an executive order, the Times reported.

"Governor Scott expects all elected officials to behave ethically and responsibility. Our office is aware of this and reviewing the details,’’ spokesman McKinley Lewis told the Times.

The charges followed an alleged domestic dispute in February between Kendel Surette, 33, and Valerie Surette, 30, who were living at Nicholson’s home in Spring Hill. Kendel Surette told deputies that Nicholson had housed and fed the couple for six months; in exchange, Surette said, Nicholson had sex with his wife on Tuesdays and Saturdays, according to court records. Nicholson paid the Surettes $100 every Tuesday and $200 every Saturday, the Times reported.

Kendel Surette also told deputies that Nicholson allowed his wife to have sex with other clients on a mattress in the commissioner’s garage or in a car in the driveway, the Times reported.

Nicholson said in February that he met Valerie Surette at Icon Gentlemen’s Club, where she was a stripper. He denied having sex with the woman.

“She keeps me company,’’ he told the Times. “I’m just a nice guy, so they just took advantage of me.’’

New Jersey state trooper indicted for pulling women over to ask for dates

A New Jersey state trooper was indicted Thursday on charges he allegedly pulled over women on traffic stops to ask them out on dates, The Trentonian reported.

>> Read more trending news

Eric Richardson, 32, of Camden, faces charges including official misconduct, criminal coercion and tampering with records, the state attorney’s office announced.

According to the six-count state grand jury indictment, Richardson allegedly conducted improper stops of two female drivers in November and December 2016, then falsified records to hide his actions. 

“Police are given great authority and are rightly held to the highest standards of integrity,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a written statement. “When officers abuse their authority, as alleged in this case, they must be held accountable. Public trust and public safety demand it.”

The probe was initiated by the New Jersey State Police Office of Professional Standards, which uncovered incidents involving two women Richardson allegedly pulled over several times and harassed about initiating an intimate relationship, the Trentonian reported. He deactivated his dashboard camera during some of the stops, prosecutors said.

On May 8, 2017, Richardson illegally accessed the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services database for a male friend to do a driver inquiry on a woman the friend employed, prosecutors said. Richardson allegedly photographed her driver history and texted it to his friend, the Trentonian reported.

Richardson has been suspended by the New Jersey State Police since May 31, 2017, the newspaper reported.

'Scarface' stars, fans reunite to say hello to their little friends

Fans of “Scarface” were more than happy to say hello to their little friends Thursday.

>> Read more trending news

Members from the 1983 movie -- known for its violence and profanity, and a cult classic -- had a reunion at the Tribeca Film Festival, The New York Daily News reported. Al Pacino, who played Cuban immigrant-turned-drug-lord Tony Montana, appeared with co-stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer and director Brian De Palma to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the film.

The role of Montana is one of the iconic acting leads for Pacino, 77, who starred in “The Godfather,” “The Godfather: Part II,” “Serpico,” and “Dog Day Afternoon.” His signature line before spraying bullets at men attempting to break into his office -- “Say hello to my little friend” -- is a pop culture staple.

Pacino told the audience that the line — written by screenwriter Oliver Stone — never gets old.

“What you mean, ‘Say hello to my little friend?’” he repeated to the audience when asked about how the quote still resonates.

Pfeiffer, 59, was coming off her first leading role from 1982’s “Grease 2” when she took the role of Montana’s wife, Elvira Hancock, in “Scarface.” She said Thursday that she learned a great deal from Pacino and still protects her characters “at all costs,” the Daily News reported.

“I have always tried to emulate that, and I tried to be polite about it, but I think that that's what really makes great acting,” Pfeiffer said.

During a question-and-answer session, Pfeiffer was asked what her weight was when she played the Elvira character. During the movie, her drug-addict character gets thinner as the plot deepens. The question was received with boos from the audience, the Daily News reported.

"Well, OK, I don’t know (what my weight was)," Pfeiffer said. "I literally had members of the crew bringing me bagels, because they were all worried about me and how thin I was getting. I think I was living on tomato soup and Marlboros,.”

Pacino told the audience that the movie was his own idea, inspired by watching the 1932 movie of the same name, the Daily News reported.

"Bombast was part of what we were trying to say with the movie," Pacino said. "It was bigger than life."

De Palma said the acting from “Scarface” still blows him away.

"The amazing thing about is seeing this movie again and again is the amazing performances," he said.

Pacino said he had a hunch the movie -- and his role -- would be special.

"I did have a feeling, I must say it's true, because there are certain roles you feel that can challenge you ... there was something about the preparation, there was something about the text and Brian,” Pacino told the crowd.

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card fetches record  $2.88 million at auction

Mickey Mantle baseball cards are coveted by collectors, and the 1952 Topps card of the New York Yankees’ Hall of Fame outfielder remains the gold standard for post-World War II collectibles.

>> Read more trending news

The bar was raised even higher Thursday night, as a ’52 Mantle in mint condition -- graded PSA 9 by Professional Sports Authenticator -- sold for $2,880,000 in an online event hosted by Heritage Auctions. That price, which includes the buyer’s premium, is the most ever paid for a post-World War II trading card and the second-highest for any trading card, Sports Collectors Daily reported. 

The highest amount was $3.12 million for a T206 Honus Wagner card sold in October 2016 by Goldin Auctions.

“The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle is more than just a baseball card,” PSA President Joe Orlando said in a news release. “It is pop culture art and the symbol of the card collecting hobby itself.”

There were 21 bids cast for the Mantle card, which was part of Heritage Auctions’ Spring Sports Card Catalog Auction. The previous record for a 1952 Mantle graded PSA 9 was set in 2006, when Memory Lane Auction sold one for $282,588, PSA said in its release. The previous record for a Mantle card, regardless of grade, was a PSA 8.5 that sold in 2016 for $1.13 million.

The card that was sold Thursday night was owned by former NFL offensive lineman Evan Mathis, who played for six teams during his professional career. Wednesday night, Mathis spoke with with ESPN’s Bob Ley about the card and his love for collecting. Mathis said he sold the card to finance a new home in Tennessee, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

Mantle’s 1952 card is not the slugger’s true rookie card, but it is the first card that Topps issued. The 1951 Bowman card of the Mick is considered his rookie card, and one graded PSA 9 sold during this week’s Heritage Auctions sale for $750,000.

“The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card captures the attention of baseball fans, serious collectors, and investors alike and this auction made it one of the most valuable sports collectibles in existence,” Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage Auctions, told Sports Collectors Daily. “It’s a phenomenal price, a world record, but it’s also the natural progression of a trend we’ve seen building for years.”

Convicted murderer leaves courthouse before verdict is read

A man convicted of murder Friday left a courthouse in Atlanta, before the verdict could be read.

Verlaine Laguerre, 26, was found guilty in the killing of Matthew Hardeman, who was 19 at the time of his death.

>> Read more trending news

After a long legal battle, Laguerre and Prentice Baker were convicted of Hardeman’s murder Friday and sentenced to life in prison, plus five years. But Laguerre didn't show up to hear the verdict.

“I was just fearful. Just fearful. I just said, ‘Lord have mercy,’” Gloria Hardeman said.

She said that she still has faith that the system will bring complete justice for her and her family. 

“I hope the system continues to work to capture him, that he won’t do no harm to himself or nobody else,” Hardeman said.

The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said Laguerre's whereabouts are unknown at this time and he is considered a fugitive. 

After so many years of waiting, Hardeman said she will have to wait a little longer to see the man who killed her son behind bars where he belongs. 

“It’s been a long time. Praying and crying. Praying and crying, but like I say, we held on,” Hardeman said.

On Oct. 15, 2011, Hardeman and Laguerre got into a physical fistfight outside Hardeman’s Lakewood Terrace home in southeast Atlanta.

Police said it all started because of "dirty looks" between the two. At the end of the fist fight, Laguerre took off, telling Hardeman he was coming back with his "red eye," referring to his gun.

Shortly after the fight, Laguerre came back with his accomplice, Prentice Baker. When Hardeman appeared, Baker opened fire, hitting him multiple times. Laguerre also shot Hardeman with an assault rifle. Police say a third man, who hasn't been identified yet, also fired shots. In total, Hardeman was shot 50 times. His family found him dead in the front yard of their home.

“He wasn’t just but 19, and he hadn’t begun to start his life, and it’s hurting me dearly," Gloria Hardeman said Friday night. 

Matthew Hardeman made a name for himself as a high school football star at Avondale High School in DeKalb County. He then went to Cal State Fullerton on a football scholarship.

After injuring his knee, he was forced to return home to Georgia. At the time of his death, he was taking criminal justice classes at Georgia State University and preparing to play on the football team the next year.

Two days after Barbara Bush's death, a granddaughter gives birth

Just two days after the death of former first lady Barbara Bush, her granddaughter Lauren Bush Lauren and her husband, David, welcomed Max Walker Lauren to the family.

>> Read more trending news

According to a Facebook post from Barbara’s Bush son Neil Bush, Max was born on Thursday. Arriving two weeks before his mom’s due date, the baby boy weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

Neil shared the news Friday morning and spoke about his mother’s passing as well as recognizing the moment as part of the circle of life:

“Maria and I were so blessed to spend lots of time with mom and dad during mom's last weeks and we are so grateful for the condolences and the outpouring of love expressed towards her by many, many friends. Barbara Bush was loved by everyone. She lived a remarkable life blessing family, friends, and total strangers around the world. Mom left on her own terms. In the final hours she was comfortable, loving, surrounded by family, holding hands with dad. Maria and I will always be grateful for being able to say a proper goodbye to our wonderful mother. And then two days later, yesterday morning, two weeks before her due date, Lauren Bush Lauren gave birth to a beautiful 7 lb 8 oz baby boy Max Walker Lauren. The circle of life. God is good.”

Bush’s daughter Lauren is married to the son of fashion designer Ralph Lauren. Lauren and David were married in 2011 and had their first son in 2015.

Fight over Facebook post causes Florida woman to lose toe

A Jacksonville, Florida, woman lost part of her toe in a fight that apparently started because of a post on Facebook, according to police. 

>> Read more trending news

On Tuesday at 11:47 p.m., an officer responded to a call about a battery with injuries at a residence in the 1700 block of W. 27th Street. 

The caller said that a woman would not leave her property, but that the woman had left the area by the time the officer arrived.

The caller told 911 that the woman had thrown a brick at her. Once the officer arrived at the scene, the caller said no one had thrown a brick and no one had been injured.

Shortly after the officer left the residence, the woman who was initially accused of throwing a brick flagged down an officer in the 4500 block of Moncrief Road and said she had been battered, the police report said. 

The accused woman, who is identified as the victim in the police report, said she had been in the front yard of the home, talking to her boyfriend. She said 19-year-old Gionet Dennis exited the residence and started yelling for the victim to get off her property. 

The victim told the officer that she had begun yelling back, and the two women had gotten into a fight. 

The victim's boyfriend tried to stop the fight by standing between the women. When the victim tried to get into her car and flee the scene, Dennis threw a brick at the vehicle and the brick landed on the victim's toe, the police report said.

The victim was able to leave the area, police said.

According to the police report, the boyfriend told the officer he had been trying to get the victim to leave the residence because he said Dennis was mad and posting on Facebook

The police report said the victim's toe was severely injured and appeared disfigured. The officer noted the tip of her toe was no longer attached. 

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department responded and treated the victim's injuries. 

Dennis was arrested and taken to a pretrial facility. 

Gift cards expire as Toys R Us store liquidation sales continue

If you haven’t redeemed your Toys R Us gift cards, get to your nearest store ASAP.

The April 21 expiration date also applies to the company’s Endless Earnings eGift Cards for customers who earned rewards from baby registry purchases.

Liquidations sales began at Toys R Us stores nationwide as early as March 23.

At that time, customers who participated in the company’s various rewards programs were no longer able to earn rewards or obtain rewards that had not already been issued. 

Earlier this week, some customers complained that they were not able to redeem Toys R Us gift cards because of computer glitches. A company spokesperson said they were not aware of any widespread issues that prevented customers from cashing in their gift cards. 

On March 29, the company shuttered its website, leaving customers only the option of shopping at the brick-and-mortar stores. 

While the most popular toy items at stores have probably been sold, anyone who has not used up their gift cards is advised to do so. All stores are expected to be fully liquidated by June. All merchandise sold during the liquidation is final sale. 

Customers who have questions about products, warranties or rewards can reach the Customer Service Department at 800-TOYSRUS or 800-869-7787 between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. EDT.

Woman robbed while in line for offering in church

A Memphis woman said that while she was in line to put in her offering in at a South Memphis church, someone stole her wallet out of her purse.

>> Read more trending news

Police are investigating the incident.

Shirley Williams said the church was the last place she thought anything would be stolen from her.

"Because we were in church, I just can't believe anyone would do that,” Williams said.

Williams said someone bumped her from behind while she was in the offering line at a midweek service at the Temple of Deliverance Church on Tuesday night.

Williams said she never really thought anything of it until she noticed that her purse had been unzipped. Then she realized her wallet was gone. Williams said the church allowed her to search in the area in which she was sitting and other areas in the church for her wallet.

"I searched everywhere. We went back to the church and we just couldn't find it anywhere,” Williams said.

Williams said she’s retired and is living on a fixed income. She said all of her insurance cards and things she needed to go about her everyday life were in her wallet. 

"It was just upsetting because it happened in church,” Williams said.

She said she’s certain she didn’t misplace her wallet anywhere and she’s not going to allow this incident to keep her from going to her church.

"I'm praying for forgiveness for them and for them to change their life,” Williams said.

We located several surveillance cameras around the church, but it has not yet been confirmed whether the incident was caught on any of them.

WHBQ did call and leave a message at the church, but our phone call has not been returned.

Memphis police said they have no suspect information at this time.

Boy's wallet lost behind lockers at pool found 46 years later

A wallet lost in 1972 has been found by a work crew in Wenatchee who is updating part of the Wentachee, Washington, pool facility.

>> Read more trending news

Wenatchee World says the wallet, owned by Harry LaRue, contains some family pictures, and a Boy Scout Card. The World says it estimates that LaRue was about 10 when he lost the wallet and that he lived in East Wenatchee.

The wallet was found behind the boys’ lockers at the city pool by a city crew who was updating the changing room.

A reporter from the World tried to find LaRue, but has been unable to.

After seeing the World's Facebook post, someone who knows a man by the same name said she contacted him and he was calling the city, who has the wallet. 

KIRO 7 is asking the Wenatchee World to verify if the man is the same person who lost the wallet years ago.

Who was Avicii, the electronic dance musician?

Avicii, one of the biggest names in dance music was found dead Friday in Oman, a Middle Eastern country.

>> Read more trending news 

“It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii,” a statement from his publicist said. “He was found dead in Muscat, Oman this Friday afternoon local time, April 20th. The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time. No further statements will be given.”

Related: Swedish musician Avicii dead at 28

The DJ made hits collaborating with Rita Ora, Aloe Blacc, Madonna and others. Here are some things to know about the late artist.

He was born in Stockholm

Avicii was born in 1989 to Anki Liden, a Swedish actress, and Klas Bergling. According to a 2013 GQ profile, he got his start remixing songs and posting them on music blogs. His first DJ job was for a school prom.

“It’s been a very crazy journey.” Avicii told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016. “I started producing when I was 16. I started touring when I was 18. From that point on, I just jumped into it 100 percent.”

His DJ name was inspired by a friend

A GQ profile on Avicii revealed that a friend told him Avici was a level of Buddhist hell. From there, he took on the name but added an extra “i” because Avici was already taken on MySpace.

He became mainstream with a song that sampled Etta James

Avicii’s 2011 song “Levels” samples Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” The song was nominated for a Grammy and reached No. 2 on Billboard's hot dance/electronic songs and dance/mix show airplay chart.

His biggest hit set records

Avicii’s 2013 single “Wake Me Up”, which has vocals from  Aloe Blacc, spent 26 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s hot dance/electronic songs chart. It held the record for the longest weeks at the top spot until 2014, when The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” stayed No. 1 for 27 weeks. The song also topped the alternative songs, pop songs, adult pop songs and adult alternative songs charts. The music video for the song has more than 1 billion views on YouTube.

He retired from touring in 2016 due to health problems

“To me it was something I had to do for my health,” Avicii told The Hollywood Reporter. “The scene was not for me. It was not the shows and not the music. It was always the other stuff surrounding it that never came naturally to me. All the other parts of being an artist.”

His health problems included acute pancreatitis, which later led him to cancel shows in 2014 when he had his gallbladder and appendix removed.

Avicii still made music in the studio, releasing the EP “Avīci” in 2017.

E. coli outbreak: CDC warns to ‘avoid all types of romaine lettuce’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its warning to include all types of romaine lettuce. The warning now includes whole heads and hearts of romaine lettuce, in addition to chopped romaine and salads and salad mixes containing romaine.

The CDC also asks consumers to “not buy or eat romaine lettuce at a grocery store or restaurant unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region.”

Additionally, the CDC suggests that consumers throw away any romaine lettuce in the home, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick.

>> Read more trending news 

At least 31 people have been hospitalized, including three who developed a type of kidney failure, according to the CDC.

The affected states include

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia
  • Washington

No deaths related to the outbreak have been reported.

The CDC has not yet identified the grower or a common brand, and is urging people not to eat chopped lettuce from the Yuma area.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection vary, but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Most people get better in five to seven days. Infections can be mild, but can also be severe and even life-threatening.

If you think you have E. coli, the CDC says to talk to your health care provider or public health department and write down what you ate in the week before you got sick.

People started reporting illnesses that are part of the outbreak between March 22 and March 31.

DNA fingerprinting is being used to identify illnesses that are part of the same outbreak. Some people might not be included in the CDC’s case count if officials weren’t able to get bacteria strains needed for DNA fingerprinting to link them to the outbreak.

To reduce your risk of an E. coli infection, you can:

  • Wash your hands. Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food and after contact with animals.
  • Cook meats thoroughly to kill harmful germs.
  • Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards and utensils after they touch raw meat.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Avoid raw milk, other unpasteurized dairy products and unpasteurized juices.
  • Don’t prepare food or drink for others when you are sick.

Mother says preschool banned daughter, other students from using term ‘best friend’

A Georgetown, Massachusetts, preschool is causing controversy by banning students from using the term “best friend.”

WFTXT reported that mother Christine Hartwell said she is outraged after a teacher at Pentucket Workshop Preschool told her 4-year-old daughter she couldn’t call one of her classmates her “best friend.”

The preschool defends its stance, saying banning the term promotes inclusion in the classroom, while Hartwell said it can end up having a negative affect on her daughter.

“How do you police a 4-year-old from expressing their feelings?” Hartwell told WFXT. “It’s outrageous. It’s silly (and) it hurts.”

>> Read more trending news 

Hartwell said she first learned of the ban after her daughter Julia came home from school one day acting differently. Julia told her mother she was upset because her teacher told her she couldn't call one of her classmates her best friend.

“When I asked her what was wrong, she said she was really sad about what her teacher did that day,” Hartwell said.

Hartwell said her daughter is now hesitant to call anyone her best friend, adding that she and her husband went to the director at Pentucket Workshop to find out more about the policy. Hartwell said it’s not spelled out in the school handbook.

The preschool sent a letter to the Hartwell family in response to the issue, saying they’ve done research on the pros and cons of using the term best friend, and that they’ll continue to discourage children from using it in group settings.

“It has been our experience (which spans decades) that the use of the term ‘best friend,’ even when used in a loving way, can lead other children to feel excluded (...) which can ultimately lead to the formation of ‘cliques’ and ‘outsiders,’” the letter said in part.

Hartwell said having a best friend allow a child to feel more secure at school, and she is removing Julia from the preschool to find a new one where her daughter can still call someone her best friend.

“I want her to be able to express her thoughts and feelings in a healthy way, as children should,” said Hartwell.

The school said it has no comment on the issue.

Woman steals identity via social media to land job with 6-figure salary

A Louisiana woman with a history of identity theft faces 10 years in prison after she was convicted Wednesday of stealing another woman’s background to land an executive position with a six-figure salary.

Cindy T. White, 41, of Slidell, was found guilty of identity theft over $1,000, according to a news release from the office of 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery. It took jurors just 15 minutes to find White guilty of the charges. 

Montgomery said in the news release that White used information stolen from another woman’s LinkedIn profile to beef up her resume in September 2015, when she applied for an executive-level position with Diversified Foods & Seasonings. NOLA.com reported that the company, based in Covington, was founded by the late entrepreneur Al Copeland.

White also used the other woman’s Social Security number and driver’s license number when applying for the job, the news release said

She was initially hired as a human resources manager, a position with a $95,000 annual salary, Montgomery said. Five months later, she was promoted to senior human resources director, a job with a $105,000 salary. 

>> Read more trending news

Company officials became suspicious a few months later when they noticed that White had trouble with duties that she should have been able to perform based on her alleged educational background. Her resume listed a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and a master’s degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“That’s not this person,” prosecutor Casey Dieck said in court, pointing at White. “This person stole the victim’s hard work and used it to get a six-figure salary and benefits to boot.”

Officials at Diversified Foods & Seasonings also noticed that White delegated a large number of tasks assigned to her, Montgomery said in the news release. They took a closer look at her personnel file and found discrepancies in it. 

Company officials called the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office in April 2016. 

Investigators determined that White lifted her educational background directly from the LinkedIn profile of a woman with a similar name, Montgomery said. They also discovered that she obtained the woman’s driver’s license and Social Security numbers from an unnamed online site. 

A look at White’s real background revealed that this was not the first time she had stolen someone’s identity, the news release said

White, a former Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office employee, was arrested in New Orleans in 1997 on suspicion of theft, forgery and malfeasance in office after she was accused of stealing a co-worker’s identity and emptying the woman’s bank account.

She was caught when she was spotted in surveillance photos and identified, the news release said. She pleaded guilty that September to two counts of forgery and received probation. 

Her probation was terminated in 1999 when the court was sent information that White had died, Montgomery said

White also had a 1998 conviction in Jefferson Parish for attempted theft of goods. 

Prosecutors argued that White, who admitted to St. Tammany Parish investigators that she used the victim’s identity to get the job, fraudulently collected $56,209 during the seven months she worked at Diversified Foods & Seasonings. Her defense attorney argued that she earned the salary she received. 

Dieck denied the defense claim, Montgomery said in the news release

“We have here a defendant who admits to stealing to cover up the fact that she’s a convicted thief,” the prosecutor said. 

Immunotherapy plus chemo doubles lung cancer survival, study says

Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for lung cancer. However, immunotherapy may be able to help double a patient’s survival, according to a new report.

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Researchers from New York University’s Perlmutter Cancer Center recently conducted a study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, to determine which treatments were most effective for those newly diagnosed with lung cancer.

To do so, they examined 616 people with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer from 118 international sites. The participants did not have genetic changes in the EGFR or ALK genes, which have both been linked to the rapid reproduction of cells. 

>> Related: Healing process after breast cancer surgery could cause cancer to spread in mice, study says

About 400 of the subjects underwent pembrolizumab, a form of immunotherapy that helps destroy cancer cells; platinum therapy, a procedure that uses cell damaging agents; and pemetrexed, a chemotherapy drug that targets the lungs. The other 200 only received platinum therapy and pemetrexed with a saline placebo. 

After analyzing the results, they found the risk of death was reduced by 51 percent for those treated with pembrolizumab, platinum therapy and pemetrexed, compared with those who only got chemo. Furthermore, those with the combined therapy also had a 48 percent decreased chance of progression or death. 

>> Related: Groundbreaking 'cancer vaccine' set for human trials by the end of the year

Suresh Ramalingam, deputy director at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the finding is “very important” as “it moves the milestone forward.”

“This study shows that by combining the two treatments, you can maximize or even improve patient outcomes. From that standpoint, it does shift the treatment approach to lung cancer in a positive way,” said Ramalingam, who was not a part of the trial.

By using both approaches together, doctors can create a multiplying effect. During chemotherapy, cells die and leave behind protein. Immunotherapy activates the immune system, aiding its ability to kill any remaining cancer cells.

>> Related: New cancer 'vaccine' completely wipes out tumors in mice -- human trials are on way

The NYU researchers did note there are severe side effects to the combination treatment, including nausea, anemia, fatigue and an increased risk of acute kidney injury. 

However, Ramalingam believes the trial gives experts the ammunition to test the approach in many other cancers. He also said there are several ways to treat different types of the disease, and people should understand that some tumors may need to be tackled differently.

For example, he recently led a separate, large clinical trial that targeted lung cancer patients with the EGFR mutation, unlike the NYU analysts. As a result of his findings, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the use of a lung cancer pill called Tagrisso to those with the EGFR gene.

>> Related: Pharmaceutical company touts 'breakthrough' cancer treatment

While it was initially only used for individuals whose lung cancer worsened after treatment with other EGFR therapies, Ramalingam and his team proved the medication almost doubled the survival outcome for newly diagnosed lung cancer patients with the EGFR mutation. In fact, it resulted in better outcomes than chemotherapy and immunotherapy. 

“Given all these exciting advances that there are in lung cancer, patients should not settle for what’s been told,” Ramlingam recommended. “Basically get a second option or go to a major center that specializes in lung cancer to make sure they’re getting the cutting-edge treatment options that are out there.”

Tips for celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Disney's Animal Kingdom

On Earth Day, April 22, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will celebrate its 20th anniversary with entertainment, parties, and educational experiences for a limited time.

Party for the Planet

It wouldn’t be a milestone celebration without a party, and all 500 acres of Disney’s Animal Kingdom will come alive with a wild party that includes animal encounters, activities, and special desserts the Party for the Planet celebration that will take place from April 22 until May 5.

During the two-week celebration, guests can attend conservation talks by animal-care experts and participate in enhanced interactions with some of the more than 2,000 animals at thepark.

Take a Peek Backstage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Rafiki’s Planet Watch has long been a favorite of guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and during the 20th anniversary it will take center stage. 

After boarding the antique train you will make your way to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to find educational exhibits and activities that help create awareness of animal issues, and for the rest of the year you will also get a ‘backstage experience’ with animal experts around animal nutrition, visit the veterinary hospital, and hear how Disney promotes global wildlife conservation.

A New Show Debuts

On April 22 a new show, UP! A Great Bird Adventure featuring Russell and Dug from the Disney•Pixar animated comedy-adventure film, will make its debut.

Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his fuzzy friend Dug and park guests will encounter exotic birds from around the world in a free-flying show, multiple times a day.

Special Anniversary Photo Opportunities

Disney Photopass photographers will have a specially branded oversized picture frame to celebrate the park’s 20th anniversary, as well as ones that will help the “Reverse the Decline” initiative to help protect 10 threatened animal species. Recently the program has been credited with the birth of two critically endangered Sumatran tiger cubs at the park.

The Wilderness Must be Explored…Caw, Caw, Roar

The popular park scavenger hunt centered around “Up”’s Wilderness Explorer will have a new, limited-edition badge to earn through fact-finding challenges.

The Wilderness Explorer Program is one of the free experiences available at Walt Disney World.

Dine with Animal Experts

If learning about animals is your passion, six different Tiffins Talks offer intimate dining experiences with specialty food and beverages that complement the topics shared by animal and conservation experts.

You can find more information on the Tiffins Talks here.

Merchandise & Treats

It wouldn’t be a celebration at Walt Disney World without commemorative merchandise, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom 20th anniversary is no exception!

The merchandise offered will include t-shirts, hats, pins, Alex and Ani bangles, 2 styles of Disney Dooney & Bourke purses, a limited edition banshee for adoption in Pandora, and more.

In addition the merchandise there is also a special-edition print that was created by renowned Walt Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde, and he will be available on April 22 from 1-4 p.m. to sign prints at Discovery Trading Company. Quantities are limited. 

There are going to be two celebratory cupcakes, a Tree of Life Cupcake will be available at Creature Comforts and Flame Tree Barbecue, and an Earth Day Cupcake will be available at Pizzafari and Restaurantosaurus.

On the savory side, there are delicious plant-based burger offerings at Nomad Lounge and Restaurantosaurus. Nomad Lounge will offer Impossible Burger Sliders with tomato chutney and smoked onion on a brioche bun and served with yucca fries. At Restaurantosaurus, you’ll find an Impossible Burger with avocado and tomato on a brioche bun.

Tiffins will offer a limited-time 20th Anniversary Chef’s Lunch Tasting Menu. Served daily from 11:30am to 3:30pm, this 3-course tasting menu celebrates the cuisines of Africa, Asia, and South America. Walk-ups are welcome!

All of these offerings will be available during Party for the Planet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom through May 5.

Can't make the celebration in person?

If you want to experience the 20th Anniversary moment during Sunday's Celebration, the Disney Parks Blog will be live streaming the #DisneyAnimalKingdom20 ceremony starting at 10:15 am EST!

Wild Adventures Before an Incredible Summer

All of these wild adventures help kick off an ‘Incredible Summer’ at Walt Disney World that includes a new celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! 

Donald and his friends from Ducktales will premiere a ‘dino-tastic’ celebration Memorial Day weekend in DinoLand, U.S.A. as Donald celebrates his discovery that bird ancestors were actually dinosaurs. DinoLand U.S.A. will feature colorful new décor and playful character greetings with rarely seen pals like Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack and more.

Make sure to follow @icFloridaEvents on Instagram and Twitter for the latest news and fun that Central Florida has to offer. And to use the #icFloridaInsider when you post for a chance to be featured!

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Watch live: Corpse flower ready to bloom

A rose by any other name, in this case Rosie, would smell as sweet. That’s the saying right? Well when it comes to the flower about to open at the Cox Butterfly and Orchid Pavilion of the Tucson Botanical Gardens it won’t be a sweet smell that Rosie’s visitors will notice when it blossoms. It will be a pungent one. 

Rosie is a corpse flower that could open at any moment. 

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Corpse flowers are known for the massive, beautiful flower that gives off a not so beautiful smell -- but that of a rotting corpse.

YurView.com is offering live, up-to-the moment updates of Rosie’s bloom and is even offering a livestream of the waiting game.

Technically, a corpse flower is called Amorphophallus titanum, and is one of the world’s largest and rarest flowers. 

The entire process of a bloom can take a decade, with the flower lasting only 24-36 hours. 

Because of how rare of an event of a corpse flower blooming, people are booking flights to see the big reveal in person, according to Yurview.com. The Cox Butterfly and Orchid Pavilion of the Tucson Botanical Gardens is also getting a hand with the crush of people expected to pay her a visit with the Chicago Botanic Garden lending the garden in Tucson educational interpretive signs for visitors. Botanists from Chicago’s garden also sent pollen from its corpse flowers, Sumatra and Sunshine, to help pollinate Rosie. Michael Madsen is in charge of tracking Rosie’s progression, by taking temperature measurements and then will help spread the pollen at the perfect time. Then it will be a waiting game to see if it was successful.

Rosie’s about 9 years old, about 3 feet tall and came from the University of California Fullerton. It is her first time to flower.

 

When is Barbara Bush’s funeral?

Barbara Bush’s funeral arrangements are set for this weekend in Houston.

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The public is invited to pay their respects at a public viewing for the former first lady from noon until midnight on Friday at St. Martin’s  Church.

The private funeral service for Bush is set for Saturday at the Second Baptist Church in Houston. Attendance at the service is by invitation only.

Related: Former first lady Barbara Bush dead at 92

President Donald Trump has ordered flags at the White House and on public and federal property around the United States flown at half staff this weekend in honor of Barbara Bush.

Related: Condolences pouring in for Barbara Bush, ‘she had grit and grace, brains and beauty’

She’ll be laid to rest in College Station, Texas, next to her daughter, Robin, who died at the age of 4, according to an interview the Bushes did with CNN”s Larry King in 2004.

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