WABC-T(NEW YORK) — Two people were unaccounted for after a building explosion led to a seven-alarm fire in New York City, according to a New York Police Department official.
The NYPD official identified one of those unaccounted for as Nicholas Figueroa, 23. No information on the second person was immediately available.
Four people were in critical condition and at least 15 others were injured after the fire in Manhattan's East Village Thursday afternoon.
Figueroa's father, Nick Figueroa, told ABC News his son went to lunch in a restaurant at the bottom of the building that caught fire. He said he has had no contact with his son since the explosion and that investigators began searching for his son Thursday evening.
Neal Figueroa, Nicholas' brother, told ABC affiliate WABC-TV Friday morning outside the Harlem apartment he shares with his brother that the family knows Nicholas Figueroa was at the Sushi Park restaurant because he has a pending charge for $13.04 at the establishment. The family last heard from him just before 2 p.m. ET, he said.
"Right now, we're just worried," he said.
Neal Figueroa said his brother was on a second date with a female co-worker that he hadn't yet met, but who he believed was in the hospital with numerous injuries following the explosion.
The family found out Nicholas Figueroa was missing when he didn't show up to work at Bowlmor Lanes at Chelsea Piers, he said. He was expected at 5 p.m. ET.
Neal Figueroa said the family has tried to locate Nicholas Figueroa through police, investigators and 311.
Neal Figueroa told WABC-TV he was confident in his brother, referring to his brother as "Superman."
"I know he's strong enough to get out of this," he said.
It was unclear how many people were inside the building when the fire occurred, according to the New York City Fire Department. The incident took place in a bustling area with many restaurants and pedestrians, blocks away from New York University.
FDNY confirmed that three buildings collapsed as a result of the fire and that firefighters were still putting water on some pockets of fire Friday morning. As of 4:30 a.m. ET, firefighters had not started to go through the rubble.
"Preliminary evidence suggests a gas-related explosion," said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, adding that the investigation is ongoing. He said the incident "appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that occurred in 121 2nd Avenue."
The four people in critical condition include two individuals with burns to their airways and another person who was unconscious following the event, according to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
Of the about 250 firefighters who responded to the blaze, four were transported to area hospitals, where one was in fair condition, said the fire department. The conditions of the other firefighters weren't immediately released.
Around 3:17 p.m., witnesses reported what sounded like an explosion at Sushi Park restaurant at 121 2nd Avenue, which is at the bottom of a five-story, pre-war building that houses a handful of residential units.
Courtesy Mike Huskins(VALLEJO, Calif.) -- The attorney for a California woman who was reported abducted but found safe two days later said Thursday that she was not involved in a "hoax."
"She is absolutely unequivocally, 100 percent, positively a victim and [there is] no 'hoax,'" said Huskins' attorney, Doug Rappaport.
"She's distraught, she's emotionally and physically broken," he said.
Police in Vallejo, California, said on Wednesday they found "no evidence to support the claims" that Denise Huskins was abducted from a home before she was found alive two days later and more than 400 miles away. The Vallejo home from which Huskins, 29, was reportedly taken belongs to Aaron Quinn, 30. Vallejo Police Lt. Kenny Park said the two were dating.
Huskins was questioned for at least six hours, according to her attorney.
"She's fully cooperated with law enforcement with the hope to clear her name," he said.
Quinn's lawyer, Dan Russo, also denied that Quinn was involved in a hoax. He said Thursday that Quinn has "cooperated fully with the authorities," including in a 17-hour interrogation and seven visits to the police station. Russo said there was more than one kidnapper, and that Quinn was drugged and bound.
Police said that Quinn told authorities that Huskins' abductors made a $8,500 ransom demand.
The San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday reported it received an email the day before from an "anonymous person claiming to be holding Denise Huskins."
On Thursday, the Chronicle reported it received a second email from a person claiming to be one of the kidnappers and saying that the abduction was real.
Vallejo police said in a statement that it would request either state or federal charges "if evidence indicates that either Ms. Huskins or Mr. Quinn have committed a criminal act."
"I'm assuming that any police officer or any district attorney will see there is no basis whatsoever to file charges," Huskins' attorney said.
AndreyPopov/iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A federal judge in Texas granted an injunction on Thursday that will stop the expansion of medical leave benefits to some same-sex couples.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement that "the Obama Adminstration's attempt to force employers to recognize same-sex marriages would have put state agencies in the position of either violating Texas law or federal regulations." Paxton's office filed a suit against the U.S. Department of Labor over the Family and Medical Leave Act's revised definition of "spouse" on March 18.
The FMLA would include same-sex spouses if the marriage occurred in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage and allow those spouses to receive family and medical leave benefits even in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage. The rule was slated to take effect on Friday.
The Texas Attorney General's Office was joined in its lawsuit by the offices of the attorneys general of Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI has arrested two men -- one of them a current member of the Illinois National Guard -- for allegedly trying to join ISIS, the terrorist group wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq, authorities said Thursday.
Army National Guard Specialist Hasan Edmonds, 22, was arrested Wednesday at Chicago Midway International Airport as he was trying to fly to Egypt, according to authorities. His cousin, Jonas Edmonds, 29, was arrested at his home.
Both men are from Aurora, Illinois, and appeared in federal court on Thursday. They were formally charged with conspiring to provide material support to a known foreign terrorist organization. They face a maximum penalty if convicted of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Hasan Edmonds first came onto the FBI’s radar in late 2014 as he hatched a plan for him to join ISIS overseas while Jonas Edmonds launched an attack inside the United States, according to the Justice Department.
This comes a week after a former U.S. Air Force veteran was indicted by federal authorities for allegedly trying to join ISIS.
Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, who is from New Jersey but had been living overseas for years, was secretly arrested two months ago after being deported back to the United States.
On his laptop, FBI agents allegedly discovered more than 180 jihadist propaganda videos and noticed he had been conducting online searches for such phrases as "borders controlled by Islamic state," "kobani border crossing," and "who controls kobani."
Last month, three New York City men were arrested on charges they allegedly conspired to join ISIS but also expressed willingness to carry out attacks on the terror group's behalf in the United States. The men had planned to travel to the Middle East and had also pledged to launch attacks in this country, including one on President Obama or planting a bomb in Coney Island, Brooklyn, federal officials said.
Over the past 18 months, about 30 people have been charged with joining terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq or trying to do so.
Seattle Police Department(SEATTLE) -- Police in Seattle were able to stop a wild situation before it got worse on Thursday, after 10 goats escaped from their yard.
According to the Seattle Police Department, a group of kids reported being chased by another group of kids at about 1:15 p.m. Thursday. The only catch was that the second group of kids was actually a pack of baahd young goats.
After a brief "hoof chase," the SPD said it was able to corral the wayward goats. Animal Control officers were said to be contacting the goats' owner, who thanked police for bringing the goats home.
BREAKING: 10 goats in custody after brief hoof chase at 5000 blk S. Wallace Street. More info to come.
ABC News(VALLEJO, Calif.) -- The boyfriend of a California woman who was reported abducted but found safe two days later said Thursday that he was not involved in a "hoax."
"Our client has no responsibility for this kidnapping," said the attorney for Anthony Quinn, the man from whose home the woman was allegedly abducted. "He is in terrible shape -- mental and physical."
Police in Vallejo, California, said on Wednesday they found "no evidence to support the claims" that Denise Huskins was abducted from a home there before she was found alive two days later and more than 400 miles away. The home from which Huskins, 29, was reportedly taken belongs to Quinn, 30.
Quinn's attorney, Dan Russo, said Thursday that Quinn has "cooperated fully with the authorities," including in a 17-hour interrogation and seven visits to the police station. Russo said there was more than one kidnapper, and that Quinn was drugged and bound.
"He was forced to drink something that even the kidnappers said was a drug," Russo said.
Quinn's attorney said they do not know why authorities are implying the incident is a "hoax."
"Besides the fact that our client was used as a football, we still don't want to jeopardize authorities' attempt to put the [suspect] behind bars," Russo said.
Quinn's attorney said they don't know where Huskins is and they instructed Quinn not to try to reach out to her, so he hasn't, though he wanted to contact her when he learned she was discovered.
Huskins' family said Quinn is the man who called 911 hours after her "abduction." Vallejo Police Lt. Kenny Park said the two were dating.
Quinn has a "very good relationship with the woman who was kidnapped and his concern was that the woman was not killed or harmed," Russo said, adding that neither person has "any drug or alcohol issues."
"There seems to be a stream of blatant lies about our client, about the victim, and everything else that's going on," Russo said.
Police said that Quinn claimed whoever abducted Huskins made an $8,500 ransom demand.
"There is something very, very off about this investigation," said Quinn's attorney Amy Morton, adding that authorities have given "lies" to Morton and Russo.
"It's important to note all the ransom notes were not directed to her parents or family, they were directed toward [Quinn]," Russo said.
Huskins, a physical therapist, was found in Huntington Beach, California, on Wednesday morning, police said. Her father, Mike Huskins, told ABC News that his daughter called him from Huntington Beach to say she was safe.
Huskins had promised through family members to speak with investigators, but as of late Wednesday they were unable to contact her or her family, police said, adding that she has since retained an attorney. Huskins could not be reached for comment by ABC News Thursday.
"All indications initially were that she would be cooperative with the investigation," Park said during a news conference Wednesday night. But "as of right now, we have not heard from Ms. Huskins."
The FBI, which assisted Vallejo police in its investigation, had arranged for an aircraft to bring her from Huntington Beach to Northern California for the interview, police said. But, detectives said Wednesday they don't know where she is.
"There is no evidence to support the claims that this was a stranger abduction or an abduction at all," read a statement from the Vallejo Police Department. "Given the facts that have been presented thus far, this event appears to be an orchestrated event and not a kidnapping."
Huskins was reported missing at 1:55 p.m. Monday by what police described as a 30-year-old man who called to report the alleged kidnapping and claimed he witnessed it. Police previously said that Huskins was abducted from the home where she was staying in Vallejo hours earlier, at about 3:30 a.m.
The San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday reported it received an email the day before from an "anonymous person claiming to be holding Denise Huskins."
The newspaper reported the email said that Huskins "will be returned safely [Wednesday]" and that "any advance on us or our associates will create a dangerous situation for Denise."
The email was also reported to include an audio file of a woman identifying herself as Huskins who referred to Tuesday's plane crash in southern France -- ostensibly as a time marker for proof of life -- and identified the first concert she had attended in her life, the name of a childhood friend she attended the concert with, and the name of the friend's mother as proof of her identity.
"That was her. The tape recording was her. That I know. They said they were going to drop her off and they did," Mike Huskins told the Chronicle after being played the audio recording. "I'm relieved. You have to expect the worst -- but in my heart, I knew she was still alive."
Police in Vallejo said they received the same email and audio file but did not confirm its contents.
Vallejo police said in its statement that it would request either state or federal charges "if evidence indicates that either Ms. Huskins or Mr. Quinn have committed a criminal act."
"The Vallejo Police Department would like to ensure the public that there is no indication that this was a random act of violence," police said in its statement.
More than 40 detectives from the local, state and police levels assisted in the investigation and search for Huskins, Park said.
"That is a tremendous amount of resources that in my opinion was wasted," he said, adding that the search could be classified as a "wild goose chase."
The investigation is ongoing and police are still trying to determine whether anyone else was involved, Park said. The FBI declined to comment and directed ABC News to Vallejo police.
The New York Police Department also responded to the scene.
At least 19 people were injured, the FDNY said, including 14 civilians. Four people were in critical condition. The FDNY also confirmed that four firefighters were taken to area hospitals and a fifth was evaluated at the scene.
MAN 7-ALARM 125 2 AVE, MIXED OCCUPANCY MAJOR BUILDING COLLAPSE,
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference on Thursday that a preliminary investigation suggested the incident was caused by a gas-related explosion. He noted that 250 firefighters were working at the scene.
Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Florida businessman's alleged attempt to fake his death came to a halt when authorities said they caught him in North Carolina applying for a driver's license and passport with a stolen identity.
Authorities said they first sniffed out discrepancies in Jose Lantigua's application because he didn't have all the accurate information about the man whose identity he was using, a retired postal worker living in New York.
"It's been a long time since I signed my true name," Lantigua said when he waived his Miranda Rights in writing, according to his criminal complaint.
In the complaint, authorities said Lantigua was using a date of birth, Social Security number, New York driver's license and birth certificate of Ernest Wills. But there were "multiple discrepancies" in Lantigua's application for a new license and passport, including his place of birth, hair color, signature, occupation and passport photographs.
Lantigua's story goes back to 2013, when he had reportedly become ill and died on vacation in Venezuela in 2013. But insurance companies and his lenders were suspicious.
Last weekend, Lantiqua, 62, was captured by authorities and placed under arrest in North Carolina.
When Lantigua tried to get a new passport, listing "freelance writer" as his occupation, the Charleston Passport Center investigated the discrepancies and used facial recognition software to search a U.S. State Department database to match the photo he submitted, according to the criminal complaint in Lantigua's case. It matched with a photo of Jose Salvador Lantigua, and the center discovered "numerous Internet news articles indicating that [Lantigua] had allegedly faked his own death."
Special agents with the U.S. Department of State then conducted surveillance on Lantigua and then addressed him as Jose Lantigua, according to the complaint.
"Yes, sir," Lantigua responded, according to the report, before he was arrested.
Lantigua and his wife, Daphne Simpson, are being charged with seven counts of fraudulent insurance claims and one count of schemes to defraud. Each charge is a first-degree felony that can lead to as many as 30 years in prison.
There also are lawsuits against Lantigua and his estate over nearly $10 million in life insurance payouts and Lantigua’s debts, according to the Florida State Attorney’s Office.
"During a search incident to arrest, agents discovered that [Lantigua] had a poorly-dyed beard and was wearing a brown toupee," the complaint in his case states.
Lantigua, who is in federal custody in North Carolina, has a detention hearing scheduled for Friday in Asheville. The federal defender listed as Lantigua's attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Simpson was released by authorities in North Carolina but arrested in Florida, where she remains in the Duval County Jail.
Simpson has a hearing scheduled next month and she will be assigned a public defender, according to the Florida State Attorney's Office. The public defender's office for Duval County said it had not yet assigned her an attorney.
Efforts to reach Lantigua's son, Joseph Lantigua, were unsuccessful.
The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, which is handling Lantigua's case, declined to comment.
Zach Gibson/Getty Images(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) -- University of Virginia student Martese Johnson entered no plea Thursday to charges stemming from his bloody arrest last week.
Johnson was expected to enter a not guilty plea, but the prosecution asked for a continuance so the investigation could continue.
Martese and lawyer Daniel Watkins agreed to this and his next appearance will be May 28. Attorneys hope that the Virginia State Police investigation will be done by then.
Nearly 100 supporters showed up to the Charlottesville District Court, all dressed in black in a show of unity. The court appearance lasted all of 90 seconds.
Johnson, 20, was bloodied during an arrest near the campus last week, sparking protests on the campus over alleged police brutality as well as a state investigation of the incident. He was arrested outside a Charlottesville bar by state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents who are charged with enforcing alcohol laws in Virginia.
This week, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order requiring increased training and oversight for ABC agents. A statement from Johnson's lawyer said that that action serves to "illustrate that we all share a common belief: it is important for all law enforcement aegncies to act within the bounds of the law."
Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(FALL RIVER, Mass.) -- The courthouse where the Aaron Hernandez murder trial is being held was evacuated on Thursday morning due to a bomb threat.
ABC's Boston affiliate, WCVB-TV, reported that no explosives were found and employees were allowed back into the courthouse about an hour after the threat was called in. Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh reportedly told jurors that there was no reason to believe the interruption was related to the Hernandez case.
Hernandez's fiancee, Shayannah Jenkins, could testify as early as Friday.
Hernandez is on trial for the June 2013 murder of his friend Odin Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.
David Schliepp/iStock/Thinkstock(TULSA, Okla.) -- At least one person was killed as tornadoes and severe storms swept through northeast Oklahoma Wednesday evening.
One person was killed and several others injured at a mobile home park in Sand Springs, about seven miles west of Tulsa, after a possible tornado formed nearby, said the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office. Some 36,500 power outages had been reported in northeast Oklahoma as of 3:30 a.m. Thursday morning local time.
The tornado went by Tulsa and was headed for Inola at about 7 p.m. local time, ABC affiliate KOCO reported.
The National Weather Service had issued tornado warnings as a severe storm headed towards Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wednesday.
People in the Tulsa area captured photos and videos of what was believed to be a tornado. One had formed near Westport, Oklahoma, fewer than 30 miles west of Tulsa, and was moving east at 45 mph, the National Weather Service reported.
A photo posted by Joe Steinhafel (@joe_steinhafel) on Mar 25, 2015 at 3:03pm PDT
The National Weather Service reported the sighting of a possible tornado moving at about 45 mph near Peggs, which is about 60 miles east of Tulsa. Some 67,800 power outages had been reported in northeast Oklahoma as of 7:50 p.m. local time.
Another tornado briefly touched down in Moore, about 11 miles south of Oklahoma City, reports KOCO. A radio tower was toppled and a few roofs were taken off homes, but no injuries were immediately reported, said a spokesperson for the city.
The Storm Prediction Center had warned that a clash of warm and cooler air masses could lead to severe storms.
The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office confirmed that one person was killed at the Sand Springs Mobile Home Park. There were also an unconfirmed number of injuries.
Courtesy Hadford Family(HOUSTON) -- A Houston woman who was shot in the head in a road rage incident said the fact that she's alive must be torture for her attacker -- and she has a message for aggressive drivers.
Kay Hafford, 22, was on her way to work in Houston Friday morning when she honked at a driver of a white Chevy Tahoe who cut her off, she said.
Police said that minutes later the driver pulled up right next to Hafford's car, fired a single shot through her passenger-side window and then took off.
Despite being shot in the head, Hafford managed to pull over and call the authorities -- only realizing she was hit when she was on the phone.
"When I heard Siri, that's when I cried." she said. "When I heard her say, 'Who do you want to call?' I said 911 and a 911 operator picked up. That's when I lost it."
Hafford was transported to a hospital where she had bullet fragments removed from her skull. She's expected to make a full recovery.
"His mission, although it was to kill me and I'm still living, I know that is killing him," she said.
Hafford said her worry now is the fact that the gunman is still on the run. But, she has forgiven him.
"I forgave him right away," she told ABC News. "When I looked in his eyes, I knew there was something wrong with him."
She added, "All I ask is for him to have a heart and turn himself in."
Hafford urged other aggressive drivers to be more cautious on the road.
"As much as you want to retaliate, think twice," she said, "because you may be in the situation like I am, but you might not make it."