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Attorney general: Alleged predator used ‘Fortnite’ to contact victim

Florida authorities say a man used the video game "Fortnite" to solicit a child for pornographic images.

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Anthony Gene Thomas, 41, of Broward County, Florida, faces several charges, including 22 counts of child pornography and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, according to a statement from Florida Attorney General Ashley Mason,which says, in part:

“This case is disturbing not only because it involves child pornography, but also because a popular online game was used to communicate with the victim,” Mason said. “We have reason to believe there could be additional victims, and I am asking anyone with information about the recruiting of minors for child pornography, or any other type of sexual exploitation, to call law enforcement immediately.”

An investigation found that a co-conspirator contacted the victim, who lives in Brevard County, Florida, through the online video game "Fortnite," the statement said. The co-conspirator allegedly connected the victim to Thomas. Authorities said the victim confided in Thomas about hardships that were happening at home, and Thomas responded by manipulating the victim with gifts, including credit cards and a cellphone so they could be in direct contact with each other.

On Aug. 25, 2018, Thomas and the co-conspirator allegedly picked up the victim and brought them to Thomas’s Broward County home. The victim’s parents called the police, who found the victim and brought them back home Aug. 26. Thomas and the victim remained in contact, the statement said.

Law enforcementofficers served a search warrant Oct. 11 and allegedly found pornographic images and video of the victim on Thomas’s phone. He was arrested and charged with soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct using computers, traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual activity, possession with intention to promote sexual performance of a child, 22 counts of child pornography and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

Authorities believe Thomas could have as many as 20 additional victims, the statement said.

Mason stressed in the statement that parents should monitor who their child talks to online, and should talk with their child about sexual predators.

Trump expected to announce offer to end shutdown in Saturday speech

President Donald Trump is expected announce a deal with Democrats in a televised speech at 3 p.m. EST Saturday that may end the 29-day partial government shutdown.

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A senior administration official told CNN that Trump won’t back down from his demand for a border wall, but will try to entice Democrats by “offering other concessions.” The official also told CNN that discussions about declaring a national emergency are ongoing, and that Trump is not expected to announce a decision on that during Saturday's speech.

Trump tweeted Friday, “I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse.”

The shutdown began Dec. 22 over a stalemate between Trump and congressional leaders over his demand for more than $5 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

Trump announcement: What time, what channel, how to watch; what will he say?

President Donald Trump is expected to announce Saturday a new plan that will fund a wall along the U.S. southern border and end a partial government shutdown that has gone on for four weeks.

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Trump will make the announcement from the White House, and according to The Associated Press, he is not expected to declare a national emergency to fund a border wall as he has said he might.

>> Trump sets ‘major announcement’ Saturday on border wall fight

While the administration would not confirm what the president will announce, according to The Associated Press, Trump will lay out a new deal that would both fund the wall and end the government shutdown.

The New York Times is reporting that House Democrats have added more than $1 billion in border-related spending to funding bills that have been passed in recent weeks. 

Democrats had proposed $563 million to hire 75 more immigration judges and $524 million to improve ports of entry in Calexico, California, and San Luis, Arizona, the AP reported.

Trump has asked for $5.7 billion in funding to build the border wall.The showdown over funding the wall led to the partial government shutdown that  sent 800,000 federal workers home without pay for the past month.

Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s announcement:

What time: The announcement will come at 3 p.m. ET, according to the White House

Where is he making the announcement: Trump will be speaking from the White House

What channel: Cable news channels will carry the announcement live. The four major networks are also expected to carry the announcement live.

What will he say: It’s not believed Trump will declare a national emergency, but instead will propose a new deal to end the partial government shutdown and fund the wall, according to reporting from The Associated Press.

 

Houston man fatally shoots 3 during home invasion, police say

Three men were fatally shot and a fourth man was hospitalized after a home invasion early Saturday in Houston, KPRC reported.

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According to police, four men forced their way into an east Houston home around 1 a.m. The homeowner grabbed his gun and shot all four men, KHOU reported. 

One man died in front of the house, while one wounded man fled on foot, KPRC reported. The other two men fled in an SUV but crashed into a pole, the television station reported.

One man was found dead in the vehicle, while the other man left the SUV but collapsed. He later died at the hospital, KPRC reported.

The surviving suspect was shot in the leg, police said. He is expected to survive, the television station reported.

The homeowner was not injured and was being questioned by police, KHOU reported.

California teen presumed dead after being swept into Pacific Ocean

An 18-year-old California man is presumed dead after he was swept into the ocean at a state park near Carmel, KPIX reported.

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Braxton Cooper Stuntz, of Carmel, was hiking along the trails at Garrapata State Park Beach on Jan. 12 when he slipped and fell through a blowhole near the cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean, the television station reported.

The hole filled up with 14-foot waves that crashed into the area nine seconds apart, sweeping Stuntz out into the ocean, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said.

Coast Guard spokeswoman Emily Rowan told KSBW that two friends hiking with Stuntz said they saw him give a thumbs-up after he fell, "but after a few crashes of the waves they were unable to locate him."

Stuntz’s body has not been found.

Stuntz’s family started a GoFundMe page to begin a charitable foundation in his name. As of Saturday morning, more than $41,000 had been pledged.

The money will go toward the Children's Surgical Center and the tutoring of children in math and science, KION reported.

Teen in cancer remission practices with Nashville Predators 

A Michigan teen battling cancer realized a dream Friday when he practiced in goal with the NHL’s Nashville Predators, fending off shots while meeting his favorite player, The Tennessean reported.

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Jacob Piros is visiting Nashville to participate in the Make-A-WIsh Foundation’s program. The 17-year-old played in goal during the Predators’ practice Friday and then had lunch with his favorite player, goalie Pekka Rinne, the newspaper reported.

Piros’ cancer is in remission, and he was given special treatment while he visited the Music City. The high school goalie was introduced before the Predators’ game Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets, led the team onto the ice and stood with Rinne during the playing of the national anthem, The Tennessean reported.

Friday morning, Piros worked in net as Predators players Roman Josi, Anthony Bitetto, Ryan Ellis, Yannick Weber, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Hartman, Matt Irwin and RInne took shots at the teen. Piros stopped most the shots fired his way, the newspaper reported.

"I can't score on you," Rinne said after Piros made a save.

Rinne told The Tennessean that Piros’ handling of his cancer through the years was “awesome.”

"It’s a humbling feeling. It’s pretty surreal," Rinne said. "Last night I was upset about the game, but all of a sudden you realize how selfish it is. It’s just a hockey game. There’s a lot of other things going on in life.

"Great guy. He’s funny. Good sense of humor,” Rinne said. “It’s a great experience for me, too."

Piros was given five hockey sticks by Rinne, and he will attend Nashville’s game Saturday against the Florida Panthers with his parents, The Tennessean reported.

"It was fantastic," Piros’ mother, Ronda Klein, told the newspaper. "He was in his glory. He was like, 'Wow, dream come true.'"

Tennessee store clerk accused of tampering with lottery tickets

A Tennessee woman is accused of “slightly scratching” lottery tickets at the convenience store when she worked and then selling them to unsuspecting customers, WATE reported.

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Delany Ann Schaffer, 27, allegedly tampered with the bonus box on lottery tickets at the Ken Jo Market in Powell and then placed them back into the display case, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. She kept the winning tickets, the newspaper reported, citing an arrest warrant.

Schaffer was arrested Thursday and is being held at the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility in lieu of $10,000 bond, the newspaper reported.

A Tennessee Lottery inspector said he received a tip from a customer who bought tickets and noticed they had been tampered with, WATE reported.

Surveillance video from the store confirmed Schaffer tampered with tickets several times, WATE reported. The ticket scratching took place from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3, the News Sentinel reported.

Tampering with lottery tickets is a Class C felony in Tennessee. If convicted, Schaffer could be sent to prison up to 15 years and could be fined up to $100,000, the newspaper reported.

Police: Man arrested after demanding drugs at North Carolina CVS store

North Carolina police are investigating at the scene of an alleged armed robbery at a CVS store in Catawba County that ended with a chase to another county.

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The robbery happened just before 9 p.m. Friday when a man demanded drugs at the drugstore, located south of Hickory. 

Police said the man threatened the employees, saying that he had a gun. 

Deputies spotted the getaway car and chased the suspect into Cleveland County, where one man was taken into custody. 

Officials said there were no injuries.

Texas day care center probed after video shows worker pulling child's hair

A Texas day care center is under investigation after a video showing a worker pulling a toddler’s hair went viral, KCBD reported.

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The video was posted to social media Thursday and involved a worker and a child at My Little Playhouse Learning Center in Lubbock, the television station reported. 

Police investigators, who are referring the case to prosecutors on possible assault charges, said the video was recorded Dec. 26. However, the child’s parents were unaware of the recording until it hit social media, KCBD reported.

The video shows an employee at the day care center grabbing a young child by the hair as the girl tried to stand up, the television station reported.

The person recording the video can be heard laughing and making fun of another child, KCBD reported.

"They had no apology," the child’s mother told KTRK. "They had no reason they did not call me. Like I said, everything hit the fan and it's like they just had nothing to say."

The two employees involved in the incident were fired, day care officials told the television station.

Wisconsin woman accused of embezzling lunch money from school district

A Wisconsin woman is accused of embezzling more than $10,000 from school lunch accounts -- and possibly more -- over a five-year period, WISN reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday charged Jennifer Dettmann, 48, of Kewaskum, of taking money while employed with Taher Inc., a food service vendor. Dettmann served as the Brown Deer School District's food service director from April 2008 to January 2016, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

During a police interview, the criminal complaint states Dettmann admitted to taking money, WISN reported. Prosecutors said Dettmann was not sure of the exact amount but believed it to be approximately $50,000, the television station reported.

According to the criminal complaint, Dettmann would input e-funds, checks, and a portion of the cash received into the proper system, and then would take the second batch of cash for herself, WISN reported.

Dettmann is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 30, the Journal Sentinel reported.

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