Among the hardest hit was Tennessee, where officials believe hundreds of buildings have been damaged or destroyed as fires burned in Sevier County, just outside Knoxville. The county is home to the popular tourist destinations of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Arkansas police officers attempting to notify a woman of her husband’s suicide earlier this month found her body stuffed into a freezer at their home. Lori Jean Bruick, 55, of West Fork, died of blunt force trauma, according to a news release from the West Fork Police Department. Her obituary puts the day she died as June 7. West Fork police officers learned of Lawrence “Larry” Bruick’s apparent suicide June 10 from Logan County sheriff’s deputies, who reported that the 56-year-old took his life about 100 miles away from home near Mount Magazine, police officials said. Officers began trying to contact Lori Bruick at the couple’s home that day to deliver the news. The officers were unable to make contact with Lori Bruick the following day, either. “Officers could see items in the home that led them to believe that Mrs. Bruick was still at home,” the West Fork police’s news release said. The officers forced entry into the home, at which time they found men’s clothing that appeared to have blood on them, the news release said. They also found letters that indicated Larry Bruick was contemplating suicide. Evidence of a struggle was found in the couple’s garage, the news release said. Lori Bruick’s body was found in a chest freezer inside the garage, officials said. Police officials said investigators do not know what caused the fight that precipitated the slaying. Larry Bruick, whose obituary indicated that he died the day before he was found, was the sole suspect in the homicide, officials said. >> Read more trending news The couple is survived by two grown children, four grandchildren and a host of other relatives, according to Lori Bruick’s obituary. A joint funeral was held Monday morning, and Lori Bruick is scheduled to be buried Tuesday in her native Texarkana. It was not clear if Larry Bruick would be buried alongside her. A statement said to be from the family was posted on the Arkansas High School Class of ’81 alumni Facebook page. “The Bruick family has suffered a tragedy and that resulted in loss of life for Larry and Lori Bruick. Many details remain unclear and likely will for some time,” the statement said. “We thank you for and covet your prayers, messages of support, and actions of kindness. As we move forward, we ask that you respect the family's privacy concerning the details of this tragedy as we move through the grieving process.” One former classmate called the pair a “match made in heaven.” “Now they get to dance with angels,” Chuck Phillips wrote. “Prayers for the family.” A memorial video on the funeral home’s website shows photos of the couple with their family in happier times. In lieu of flowers, the family asked for donations in Lori Bruick’s name to the Washington Regional Medical Center’s patient benevolence fund. According to a LinkedIn profile in her name, Lori Bruick was a respiratory therapist there. The family asked for donations in Larry Bruick’s name to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
White House officials pushed back Monday against critics of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The policy has led to the separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. >> Read more trending news Update 4:30 p.m. EDT June 18: The Department of Health and Human Services has released photos of the “tent city” in the Texas border outpost of Tornillo, just outside of El Paso, where the U.S. government is sending children separated from their parents at the border. There are already dozens of children at the facility, according to news reports. Update 3:10 p.m. EDT June 18: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, called Monday for the resignation of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen amid the ongoing debate over the Trump administration’s immigration policy. The demand came one day after Nielsen said in a tweet that, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Nielsen echoed President Donald Trump’s claims that a law is behind the recent spike in separations of migrant children and their parents at the border. “We will not apologize for enforcing the laws passed by Congress,” Nielsen said. “We are a nation of laws. We are asking Congress to change the laws.” However, as Harris and numerous fact checkers have noted, there is no law that mandates the separation of children and parents at the border. Harris said in a statement Monday that Nielsen’s “misleading statements ... are disqualifying.” “We must speak the truth,” Harris said. “There is no law that says the Administration has to rip children from their families. This Administration can and must reverse course now and it can and must find new leadership for the Department of Homeland Security.” Update 2:30 p.m. June 18: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that President Donald Trump is telling an “outright lie” when he claims that Democrats are behind the recent surge in separations of children from their parents on the border. “This is not happening because of the 'Democrats' law,' as the White House has claimed,” Clinton said. “Separating families is not mandated by law at all.” Clinton, who ran as a Democrat against Trump during the 2016 presidential election, also appeared to chastise U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who cited a Bible verse last week while justifying the Trump administration’s immigration policy. “Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenant of Christianity,” Clinton said. “Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little children unto me.’ He did not say, ‘Let the children suffer.’” Update 2 p.m. EDT June 18: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush urged President Donald Trump to end the policy that’s allowed authorities to separate migrant children from their parents on the border, writing Monday on Twitter that 'children shouldn't be used as a negotiating tool.” “(Trump) should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers,” he wrote. The president has repeatedly called for Democrats to negotiate with Republicans to address illegal immigration after falsely claiming that the party is behind laws that mandate the separation of child from parent at the border. No such law exists. Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, ran against Trump in 2016 for the Republican presidential nomination. >> Laura Bush, Melania Trump speak out on separation of immigrant children, parents at border In an op-ed published Sunday by the Washington Post, former first lady Laura Bush called the Trump administration policy “cruel.” 'I live in a border state,' Bush wrote. 'I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.' First lady Melania Trump has also criticized the policy, telling CNN in a statement through her spokeswoman that “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.” Update 12:46 p.m. EDT June 18: President Donald Trump again accused Democrats of obstructing efforts to deal with illegal immigration and the separation of children and parents at the border, telling reporters Monday that “we’re stuck with these horrible laws” because Democrats refuse to sit down with Republicans. There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border. “We have the worst immigration laws in the entire world,” Trump said. “Nobody has such sad, such bad – and in many cases, such horrible and tough – you see about child separation. You see what’s going on there.” “The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” Trump said. Update 12 p.m. EDT June 18: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said authorities don’t want to separate children from their families but that officials have a duty to prosecute people who illegally cross the border. “When we ignore our laws at the border we obviously encourage hundreds of thousands of people a year to likewise ignore our laws and illegally enter our country, creating an enormous burden on our law enforcement, our schools, our hospitals and (our) social programs,” Sessions said Monday during the National Sheriffs’ Association Annual Conference in New Orleans. He framed the issue as a debate over “whether we want to be a country of laws or whether we want to be a country without borders.” “President Trump has said this cannot continue,” Sessions said. “We do not want to separate parents from their children. If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices. We will have a system where those who need to apply for asylum can do so and those who want to come to this country will apply legally.” Sessions’ arguments echoed those of President Donald Trump, who has blamed Democrats for passing laws that he said led to the separations. There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said earlier Monday that officials will not apologize for enforcing immigration laws. 'We have to do our job,' she said. Original report: President Donald Trump defended his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy on Monday, writing in a series of tweets that children are being used “by the worst criminals on earth” to get into America as critics slammed the policy for separating children from their parents. “Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country,” Trump wrote. “Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.” The president pointed to a rise in crime in Germany as an example of the chaos caused by illegal immigration, writing in a tweet that it was a “big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture.” However, Germany’s internal ministry reported last month that criminal offenses in the country were at their lowest since 1992, according to Reuters. This spring, the Trump administration ordered prosecutors to charge every person illegally crossing the border. Children traveling with the adults have been separated and placed in detention centers, prompting protests nationwide. The president has blamed Democrats for not fixing the law that allows for the separations. “Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration,” the president wrote. “Change the laws!” Despite his claim that Democrats are at fault for the situation, The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration “put the policy in place and could easily end it.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
A Bexar County Sheriff's Department deputy was arrested on a felony charge of super aggravated sexual assault Sunday after a 4-year-old girl’s mother was blackmailed to stay silent about the abuse, according to police. The victim’s mother is an undocumented immigrant and was threatened with deportation if she spoke out. >> Read more trending news KENS reported that department officials arrested detention Deputy Jose Nunez, 47, after the victim told her mother about the abuse Saturday night in San Antonio, Texas. Sheriff Javier Salazar said at a news conference Sunday that the mother went to a local fire station and Nunez was arrested. 'The details of the case are quite frankly heartbreaking, disturbing, disgusting and infuriating all at the same time,' Salazar said, adding that Nunez had physical contact with the victim and there was 'at least some indication of minor injury.' 'We have reason to believe that this goes back at least several months, possibly a couple of several years,' Salazar said. Nunez, a 10-year veteran of the department, is on administrative leave pending an investigation.
A new immigration policy implemented by the administration of President Donald Trump in May has led to an significant increase in migrant children being separated from their families. The “no tolerance policy” attempts to crack down on illegal boarder crossings and allows border security agents in the Southwest to separate children of immigrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally, according to CBS News. >> Read more trending news The Associated Press reported that, according to government statistics, the police has separated nearly 2,000 children from their families, placing them in detention centers and shelters. Protest Organizations like National Domestic Workers Alliance and Families Belong Together have hosted events across the country to raise awareness and call for aid to families who have been separated. Contact elected representatives Advocates on this issue can find out who represents your state and contact them to express disapproval of the separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border. A sample script is at the American Civil Liberties Union website. Find the contact information for Congress at Senate.gov and House.gov. Related: Immigration: Trump administration defends 'zero tolerance' policy (live updates) Write to media outlets Vicki Gaubeca, the director of Southern Border Communities Coalition, told The Cut that writing op-ed pieces and letters to the editor at media outlets can raise awareness. “If you think about what the Republican Party has stood for, it’s family values and protecting children, so it seems contradictory that they’re engaging in this enforcement activity of ripping kids from their families,” she said. “It’s really troubling to see that an administration can be so callous. It’s beyond the pale.” Sign petitions Organizations like the ACLU and National Domestic Workers Alliance have petitions on their websites that call on the Trump administration to stop separating immigrant children from their families. Volunteer and donate According to the website of U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., the detention centers and shelters holding the unaccompanied children do not allow volunteers, but services can be provided in the form of pro bono legal services, as a foster care parent and in monetary donations. Some organizations that take donations and volunteers in support of the children are below. The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights: Works to have children in immigration proceedings seen as children, keeping their best interests in the process. RAICES: The Refugee Aid Project by community activists in South Texas works to provide free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children, families and refugees in Texas. Volunteer areas include outreach, sanctuary, advocacy and legal clinics. Catholic Charities: Catholic Charities’ St. Frances Cabrini Center for Immigration Legal Assistance provides services to those who are not able to get legal representation. pro bono attorneys sought for litigation and administrative cases. Other volunteer opportunities include translating and working on administrative office tasks. The organization also provides foster care services and counseling. The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project: Works to prevent wrongful deportations for those fleeing violence. Opportunities include fundraisers, volunteering, internships and careers. Kids In Need Of Defense: KIND works to provide legal representation for children in immigration court. Donations support training and outreach efforts. Volunteers include pro bono attorneys.
Police in Alabama have charged two men with the slaying of a 13-year-old girl and anticipate charges in the death of the girl’s grandmother, whose remains may have been found Friday near a rural cemetery. Yoni Martinez Aguilar, 26, and Israel Gonzalez Palomino, 34, have been charged with capital murder in the death of Mariah Feit Lopez. WAFF in Huntsville reported that the teen and her grandmother, Oralia Mendoza, had been missing from the city since the weekend of June 2. Mendoza was reported missing June 6 by worried relatives, the news station reported. Lopez, whose body was found the following day in a wooded area in nearby Owens Cross Roads, was identified last week through dental records, Madison County Sheriff’s Office officials said in a news release. Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Donny Shaw described Lopez’s cause of death as “heinous” but declined to say how she was killed, WAFF reported. “It’s a very brutal means of death and whenever the public learns of it, it’s going to be shocking and it’s going to be upsetting a lot of people,” Shaw told the news station. “We want to deliver that information so that we don’t harm the upcoming cases and trials that will be had.” Investigators believe that the teen was killed where her body was found. Bethel Lemley, the owner of the property where Lopez was found, said her son-in-law spotted the girl’s body in some weeds near her driveway. “My daughter said, ‘Mama, you can see her foot and see her leg,’” Lemley told WAFF. “I couldn’t see it, but they did.” The homeowner said she could not understand who would commit such a crime. “Who could have done such a cruel thing?” Lemley said. “Kill somebody and throw them off like a dog; like an animal.” The homicide case began as a death investigation when Lopez’s body was found. At that time, detectives were asking the public for help identifying the person found. The teen was described as wearing red pajama pants with gingerbread men on them, as well as a pink undershirt and black tank top. A news release indicated that she also had a cerebral shunt. >> Read more trending news Gina Long, a substitute teacher who taught Lopez at Challenger Middle School, in Huntsville, described the girl as quiet and sweet in an interview with WAFF. “She got along well with everyone in the class,” Long said. “Everyone liked her.” She said her heart broke when she learned that the 13-year-old was the victim found dead in the county earlier this month. “She didn’t deserve anything that could have happened,” Long said. A Huntsville City Schools spokesman told WAFF that school administrators and officials were saddened to learn of Lopez’s death. “We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family and will keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” Keith Ward said. The case was first described as a homicide investigation a week after the discovery of the body, when the honor roll student was positively identified. Mendoza, who was Lopez’s legal guardian, was still missing and believed to be in danger, Sheriff’s Office officials said. The case moved quickly at that point, with Aguilar and Palomino being developed as suspects overnight. Both men, who were acquaintances of Mendoza and her granddaughter, were subsequently taken into custody at the home they shared. Palomino was initially arrested for possession of methamphetamine, WAFF reported. Both men were interviewed separately, at which time detectives developed enough probable cause to arrest them in Lopez’s killing. Leads in the investigation led detectives to Moon Cemetery, where the second body was found, according to a news release issued Friday. The cemetery is about 2½ miles from the wooded area where Lopez’s body was found. “There is reason to believe that the remains are those of Oralia Mendoza, the missing guardian/grandmother of Mariah Lopez,” the release said. “However, positive identification will have to be made by the Department of Forensic Sciences.” The news release did not indicate if either of the men led investigators to the body’s location. Shaw told WAFF that all indications were that the body was that of Mendoza. “It’s a sad update, but it’s moving closer as to when we can make a positive identification (and) we can give this family some closure as to what happened, how it happened and what exactly occurred in this case,” Shaw said. The spokesman credited the community with moving the investigation forward. “For a murder where there were no indications, no witnesses, nothing to lean on when we began with it, the Hispanic community, the partners, the media, we’ve been able to do a phenomenal thing in just a little over seven days by coming to the arrests of two individuals,” Shaw said. Palomino and Aguilar are both being held without bond in the Madison County jail. Aguilar is also being held for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.