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moodboard/Thinkstock(CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla.) -- Three inmates are at large after they broke out of a Florida jail, apparently by exiting through the ceiling of the jail's law library, the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office said.

The three inmates -- Joel Teraill Cooper, Donald James Cotterman and Casey Martina Brandon -- escaped from the Wakulla County jail in the Florida Panhandle at 12:09 a.m. today, the sheriff's office said.

"We have no indication that these individuals are armed but because they are escaped inmates they are considered dangerous," the sheriff's office said.

While the investigation into the escape is ongoing, the sheriff's office said "preliminary evidence shows that the inmates were able to gain access through a breach of the ceiling in our Law Library."

The inmates then apparently "made their way across the building above the ceiling to an exit point where they made their escape," the sheriff's office said.

Cotterman, 44, is a registered sex offender, who is charged with burglary, criminal mischief and weapon possession, the sheriff's office said. Brandon, 25, is charged with burglary, theft, vehicle theft and criminal mischief. Cooper, 43, is charged with burglary of a business, the sheriff's office said.

"We have a large force working non-stop until we locate these escaped inmates," the sheriff's office said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office at 850-745-7100 or 850-926-0800.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon published the number of sexual assault reports made at U.S. military installations around the world for fiscal years 2013 through 2016 on Friday.

The report, provided by the Department of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, details the total number of reports of sexual assault made across U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and joint bases, as well in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The number of reports doesn't necessarily mean the alleged incident occurred at that installation, but rather point to where the service member is getting assistance with their sexual assault report. The incident could have occurred "while on deployment, while away on leave, or even prior to entering the military," the Pentagon said.

According to the press release, the data was published now "due to recent requests for this information under the Freedom of Information Act." However, it also occurs as reports of sexual harassment and assault have been leveled against powerful men in politics, the media and Hollywood.

For each of the military branches, as well as the joint bases and combat zones, the total number of reports in 2016 were largely identical to those in 2015.

Released in May of this year, the latest Pentagon survey of sexual assault in the military, which estimates the "prevalence” or rate of sexual assault, showed the estimated number of sexual assaults had decreased to 14,900 in 2016, down from the 20,300 measured in the last survey conducted in 2014.

Meanwhile, the number of sexual assaults reported by victims in 2016 rose slightly to 6,172, an increase that Pentagon officials said indicated greater awareness of the care and responses available to victims.

In the report released on Friday, the Pentagon estimated that for the 2016 fiscal year, 32 percent of service members who experience sexual assault now report it, up from 25 percent in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

The full report is available here.

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- A reward has climbed to $190,000 in the search for the killer of a veteran Baltimore police detective who was fatally shot in the head while on duty, the FBI said.

Det. Sean Suiter, a married father of five and an 18-year veteran with the Baltimore Police, was conducting a follow-up to a homicide investigation around 5 p.m. Wednesday when he saw a man engaging in suspicious activity, police said.

Suiter approached the man and was shot in the head shortly after, police said.

Suiter's partner was nearby and rushed over to render aid, police said.

On Wednesday evening, Suiter was in "very, very grave condition" and was fighting "for his life," Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said.

Suiter, 43, died around noon Thursday, authorities said.

Davis said Suiter was "a loved guy" who "loved being a cop."

Baltimore Police Maj. Martin Bartness wrote on Twitter, "Suiter was my rock" as a new sergeant.

"He knew his post; colleagues & citizens respected him. He was the man u wanted investigating ur case & patrolling ur neighborhood," he said. "Quick with a smile & big of heart, he is dearly missed. RIP, my friend."

The manhunt is ongoing for Suiter's killer, whom Davis described as "cold" and "callous."

Authorities said Thursday that evidence suggests the suspect may have been wounded.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement Thursday, "It is difficult to express the sadness -- and anger -- that comes with losing this dedicated public servant to such a cruel and senseless act of violence.

"The State of Maryland will continue to support local law enforcement as they hunt down the individual that committed this heinous crime, and ensure that the full force of justice is brought to bear," he added.

"We join all Marylanders in praying for Det. Suiter's wife, children, and loved ones during this time of tragedy," Hogan said. "May God continue to bless the brave men and women who serve and protect us every single day, including all of Det. Suiter's fellow officers on the Baltimore City police force."

The FBI in Baltimore said the agency is looking for tips. Anyone with information can call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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iStock/Thinkstock(TELLICO PLAINS, Tenn.) --  A man accidentally shot himself and his wife in their Tennessee church after he had taken his gun out during a discussion about weapons in places of worship, police said.

The man, 81, and his wife, 80, both suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

The incident happened Thursday afternoon as members of the First United Methodist Church in Tellico Plains -- about 60 miles southwest of Knoxville -- were gathered at the church for a pre-Thanksgiving lunch, Tellico Plains Police Department Chief Russ Parks told ABC News.

The church members were discussing weapons during worship services on the heels of the shooting at a Texas church earlier this month that killed over two dozen people, Parks said, and "one of the gentlemen said, 'Well, I take my gun with me everywhere.'"

The 81-year-old man took his handgun out of his pocket, removed the magazine, cleared the weapon and handed it to other churchgoers who wanted to see it, Parks said.

He then took his weapon back, placed the magazine back in it, put the gun back in his holster and placed it in his pocket, Parks said.

When another man came over and asked to see the weapon, the man pulled his gun back out of his pocket and accidentally hit the trigger, firing one round, Parks said.

A single bullet struck the gun owner in his right hand before hitting his 80-year-old wife, Parks said. That bullet went through the woman's left side of her abdomen and came out of the right side of her abdomen, after which it struck her inside right forearm, came out of her forearm, struck the wall, ricocheted and landed at her wheelchair, Parks said.

No one else was injured, police said.

No charges will be filed, Parks said.

"This was an accident. It was not intentional," Parks said. "It just slipped his mind that he recharged the weapon."

Parks said the man was carrying the gun legally.

Parks added, "We are currently working on a program now for our local citizens on weapon safety. Sometimes we don't get enough of that for the general public."

A representative for the First United Methodist Church did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.
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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Starting at a new school with new classmates can be a daunting task for most children. But for Nathaniel Newman, the first day of middle school was extra intimidating, because he’s not like most kids.

Nathaniel was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, an extremely rare craniofacial disorder caused by mutations in the POLR1C gene. It affects an estimated 1 in 50,000 people in the United States.

In the first year of his life, Nathaniel had more than 10 surgeries because of the malformations in his face. But despite the hardships he’s faced so far in his short life, Nathaniel said he "kind of" likes being different.

“I know everyone looks different, except I look a lot more different than everyone else,” Nathaniel, 13, told ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas.

“I kind of like it,” Nathaniel added. “It just seems fun ‘cause I stand out.”

So in the fall of 2015, when Nathaniel was about to attend his first day of sixth grade at B.D. Billinghurst Middle School in Reno, Nevada, his parents Magda and Russel Newman had a plan to ease his transition.

“Russel and Nathaniel sit down and write a letter,” Magda Newman told “20/20.”

“My name is Nathaniel Newman, and I am 12 years old. I am different. I don’t want you to be surprised when we meet,” part of the letter read. “I have three dogs. I like 'Pokémon' a lot, as well as 'Star Wars.' I really just want you to treat me like everyone else.”

The letter included a photo of Nathaniel, as well as a mention of the bestselling children’s book “Wonder.”

“Like, ‘Hey, you might have read “Wonder” now. Well, I’m a kid just like Auggie Pullman,’” Russel Newman recalled of the letter.

“Wonder” tells the story of the fictional character 10-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with a facial difference -- much like Treacher Collins.

While “Wonder” isn’t based on real people, its author R.J. Palacio says she was inspired to write it by a chance encounter she had with a young girl while she was at an ice cream shop with her two sons.

“I realized that there was a little girl sitting directly next to me,” Palacio told “20/20.” “She had a very severe cranial facial difference, and I kind of panicked ‘cause my little boy started to cry hysterically.”

In her haste to protect the girl from her son’s reaction, Palacio said, she turned the stroller around and started quickly pushing it away.

“It was terrible, and I was so mad at myself for the way that I handled it,” Palacio said. “For the rest of the day, I just kept thinking about all the things I wished I’d said and done.”

Palacio started writing with the hope that her story could inspire parents and children alike.

“I just thought, ‘OK, I’m going to write a book, and it’s going to be about what it must be like to face a world every day that doesn’t know how to face you back,’” Palacio said.

When the book came out in 2012, nurse Pat Chibbaro, who worked with the Newman family, read it and immediately told the Newmans about it.

“I literally read it in three hours, cried the whole time,” Russel Newman said. “I remember calling back Pat and going, ‘Pat, did she spy on us? Like, this is freaky.’”

Russel and Magda Newman and their sons Nathaniel and Jacob got to meet Palacio face to face. “And when she saw Nathaniel, you could just see this look in her face,” Russel Newman recalled.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, this is Auggie Pullman come to life,’” Palacio said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(KAKTOVIK, Alaska) -- Polar bears are an enduring symbol of the wild arctic, a mighty beast that has made its home in punishing terrains. But in recent years, the polar bear has come to embody something else: A creature caught in a world that’s disappearing under its feet.

Each fall, the bears descend in hordes on the tiny Alaskan village of Kaktovik, located on Barter Island, hugging the state’s northern coast.

And the bears are hungry.

Polar bears wandering into the town, with its population of just 239 people, proved to be such a problem that there a polar bear patrol now sweeps the streets looking for the animals.

One of the things attracting the bears to this area is what the locals call, “the bone pile,” a spot on shore where whale carcasses have been left for years and years. Marie Rexford, who grew up on this island, said locals are allowed to hunt three whales annually, which they rely on to survive, and they leave the carcasses at the bone pile. The polar bears will then come at dusk and feed on what’s left.

But, they are coming earlier and earlier because, experts say, the sea ice they depend on has been disappearing.

The polar bears' close proximity to the town has also sparked a tourism boom. But, while locals are familiar with the roaming bears and know how to handle them, the town’s mayor worries the tourists do not.

“There are some people that just come on here and try to go out to the bone pile or walk themselves. They don't really understand they are wild animals and their demeanor can change just like that,” said Mayor Nora Jane Burns. “If they get mauled or killed, it is on us, and most people don’t understand that.”

There are limited commercial flights to Barter Island and Kaktovik can be reached by smaller planes. Tourists who want to go "bear watching" can be seen out on chartered boats at sunset, taking pictures of the bears at the bone pile.

“What makes it worth it to me is simply seeing a living symbol, a beautiful white bear walking along the beach who's basically here only because the ice hasn't frozen yet, ice that would have frozen years ago,” said a tourist named Ed Bennett.

Bruce Inglangasak, who captained a boat for the ABC News team, said the bears come close to land to look for food.

“Every year in the fall time, they will hang out here until it is mid-November, and the ice starts forming out in the ocean,” Inglangasak said. “When that starts happening, the seals go on the ice and that’s where the polar bears get their seals on the ice. And if the ice is not there, they don’t get enough.”

The ABC News team traveled to the bone pile by land, in an SUV with a guide, Robert Thompson. He said the team could get out and snap a few shots of the bears, but said to be prepared to run back to the car very, very quickly.

When he first came to the bone pile, Thompson said he could see pack ice all summer long.

“Now there is 150 miles of open water and more in some places,” he said. “We've been hunting whales for about 10,000 years. So they're not coming here because of the bones, the remains of the whales that we catch. They are coming because their habitat has gone away.”

“The world should be interested in this,” he added.

Thompson pointed to evidence that the climate up there is changing.

“You can see where the permafrost is melting,” he said. “You see the ground cracked over there and it is open, and when it melts more, the water flows out.”

Scientists say less and less of this crucial ice returns each year. In this part of the world, the sea ice is declining at a rate of nine percent every 10 years -– a dramatic number to polar bear conservationists.

Dr. James Wilder, a U.S. Forest Service biologist, studies the polar bear population in the Beaufort Sea near Barter Island. While he said the numbers don’t show a scientifically significant increase in the number of bears visiting the island, they do reveal something.

“Polar bears are showing up earlier,” Wilder said. “They used to show up in the beginning of September. Now we see them showing up in late July, August and staying for longer. And that seems to be correlated with the availability of sea ice, so if sea ice melts earlier than it used to, then bears will come to shore sooner.”

Erosion too has affected much of Alaska’s arctic coast, chipping away at beaches, threatening towns and habitats.

“I think the rest of the world should look at this and say it is going to happen more to other people in other areas,” Thompson said. “It has an effect on marine life and marine mammals and the wildlife on land are affected.”

Organizations, such as the U.S. Geological Survey, are trying to figure out just how climate change could be affecting these polar bears.

In the winter, when the bears reach the sea ice, researchers like Dr. Todd Atwood with the USGS will tranquilize them from helicopters to collect samples from the bears.

Atwood said his team will spend about 45 to 50 minutes with each bear they capture, collecting data that includes body measurements and physical stature, as well as looking at how the bears' physical stature may be changing over time.

“I think the most surprising thing for me personally has been the complexity of their behaviors,” Atwood said. “You know we've seen them adapt to some pretty dramatic changes in the Arctic sea ice ecosystem."

"We're seeing them use terrestrial habitats to an extent that we didn't expect them to be able to use,” he added. “We're seeing them switch to certain food items that we didn't expect them to switch to.”

Atwood’s team said they collect and study hair samples from the bears for a project devoted to characterizing the bears’ stress levels.

“We can quantify the amount of cortisol, which is a stress hormone, in these hair samples and we can relate that to the how the environment has changed around polar bears, to figure out if those environmental changes are causing an increase in stress levels,” he said.

But, in order to figure out how polar bears are affected by a warming climate, Atwood said more research is needed. The bears are currently categorized as a “vulnerable” species, meaning they are at high risk of endangerment in the wild. There are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 left in the wild.

“I think from a circumpolar perspective, the primary threat to polar bears is sea ice," he continued. "Where you have good high quality sea ice habitat you generally have healthy polar bear populations.”

The opposite appears to also be true, he said, “Where you have areas that have experienced large declines in the availability of sea ice, you tend to have populations that are a bit stressed.”

For the people of Kaktovik, their way of life is at risk, as well. Rexford said locals used to store the whale meat they caught in natural ice cellars. But then, she said, they were all “washed out."

“Erosion got all of them,” Rexford said. “They are all gone.”

The old cellars rely on permafrost to keep food frozen, but Rexford said now most of them are “filled up with water” and it's impossible to use them once they are flooded.

The town has a grocery store, but everything is expensive because the island is remote for suppliers. Eggs will run about $7.25 to $8.75, the store manager, Michelle Kayotuk, said, a bottle of lotion can cost $21 and a bottle of conditioner can set you back $34.

“It is tourist season now. I am finally getting my shipments in,” Kayotuk said. “The planes are fully loaded with tourists and we are slowly getting in our mail and our groceries ... it is challenging.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- A massive fire engulfed a senior living facility west of Philadelphia on Thursday night, sending emergency responders scrambling to remove patients from the large complex.

The three-alarm fire in West Chester, Chester County took place at Barclay Friends Senior Living Community and was burning uncontrolled until after midnight.

Dozens of residents could be seen being wheeled out on beds and in wheelchairs.

Chester County Hospital said it had admitted eight patients, including one paramedic. The hospital said they were suffering from smoke inhalation and minor leg injuries.

All area hospitals have been told to expect patients, Philadelphia ABC station WPVI reported.

West Chester is about an hour west of Philadelphia.

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Image Source/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Almost three feet of snow has fallen over the past 48 hours in the Sierra Nevada mountains in a storm expected to dump heavy rain on the Midwest and Northeast to start next week.

The Sierra Nevada in California has seen 30 inches of snow since Wednesday. Oregon's Cascades Mountains have seen heavy snow in the past week, with 5 feet of snow on the ground -- the highest snowpack ever recorded this early in the season.

As the storm moves through the Rockies and into the western plains, watches and warnings have been extended from California to Oklahoma and up into the northern plains.

The storm system is moving out of California on Friday and moving through the Rockies with heavy snow expected.

As the storm moves into the Midwest and Tennessee Valley, strong to possibly severe storms could develop on Saturday. The biggest threat with these storms will be damaging winds, and possibly tornadoes.

By Saturday evening, the storm system moves into the Northeast with heavy rain and wind from Washington, D.C. to Boston. Delays at major airports in the region are likely due to the gusty winds and low visibility.

Additional snowfall is forecast for the west through the next 24 hours, with up to 2 feet of snow possible in Colorado, and additional 6 to 12 inches is still possible for the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The storm system will also bring snow to the Great Lakes and inland Northeast due to the cold air moving over the relatively warm Great Lakes. Some areas could see several inches from Wisconsin to New York state.

Behind the storm system, much colder air and gusty winds will cover the eastern half of the United States, with freezing wind chills to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday week.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As more restrictions are placed on gun ownership, more people -- and criminals -- could start to manufacture their own, law enforcement experts tell ABC News.

The issue of "ghost guns" or guns without serial numbers has been thrust into the national spotlight after California authorities revealed that the man who engaged in a string of shootings earlier this week that left five dead had two firearms that he manufactured at home.

Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston told reporters in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the two semi-automatic rifles with multi-round clips that gunman Kevin Neal was armed with were illegally manufactured at his home and were not registered.

Neal was out on bail on an assault charge he was arrested for in January, and his family said he suffered from a history of mental health issues, such as paranoia.

Johnston said that as gun laws become more restrictive, criminals will begin to build their own. ABC News consultants, former NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and former FBI agent Steve Gomez, said they agree with him.

People are already building firearms or modifying existing firearms in an "unlicensed and illegal manner," Gomez said.

"If lawmakers took steps to make the gun laws more restrictive, those unlicensed home-made firearms would be highly sought after by people and criminals who do not care to comply with the law," Gomez said.

These guns are almost impossible to trace, experts say. Tracing the parts of a homemade firearm could be difficult if there are no serial numbers or registered identifiers designated for those parts, Gomez said.

"That typically is the objective of the manufacturer and end user of the [homemade] firearm - to produce and own a gun that is untraceable by the authorities," Gomez said.

The tagline for the site includes the words "unserialized" and "unregistered," while a description says the company "specializes in unregistered weapons build."

Ghost guns pose a threat to society because if someone exhibits behavior indicating the potential to commit violence, law enforcement will not be able to determine if the person possesses a firearm and determine whether he or she has the capability to act out on those violent tendencies, Gomez said.

"Without the ability to check a database to determine if a potentially violent person possesses a firearm, law enforcement may have a more difficult time determining if a person poses a threat to the public, unless provided with specific facts that would justify an investigation and/or enforcement action," Gomez said.

Civilians and especially cops should be worried about ghost guns, Kelly said. When responding to a call, there could be "no record that anyone there has a gun." Although, the same case could be made for illegal guns, too, Kelly added.

In addition, unregulated guns may be unsafe and pose a hazard to the user and the surrounding public because they do not meet the same operating standards of regulated firearms, Gomez said.

In order to attempt to trace ghost guns, authorities can look at monitoring or even regulating materials that may be used to build a homemade firearm in the same manner that they use to closely monitor ingredients that can be used to make explosives, Gomez said.

"However, even with increased monitoring and regulations, those individuals intent on having and using an unlicensed and illegal firearm will always seek other alternatives," Gomez said. "Its law enforcement’s job, along with the public’s help, to anticipate and respond to those alternatives that can lead to a violent incident as we saw in Tehama County."

 While Kelly agrees that ghost guns are a "problem," he said he does not believe that lawmakers are currently in an environment to place regulations on gun parts.

"I don't think we're going to get legislation anytime soon that would effectively stop the shipment of ghost weapons," Kelly said.

Lawmakers, law enforcement and mental health professionals must consider implementing procedures to properly integrate information about someone who has the potential to commit violence, which could lead to "a swift and appropriate" response by authorities, Gomez said. This could be done for someone who has a history of violence, exhibits mental health issues or is threatening someone, especially if that person has access to a firearm that can be used to commit a violent act, he added.

"Detection and prevention should always be the goal," Gomez said.

But, since "there's not even an adequate database in regards to mental health issues," Kelly said he does not believe it is "feasible" to keep gun parts away from people who suffer from mental health problems, especially if they have not been adjudicated to having them.

"I don't see an answer to it," Kelly said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) --  Two children were killed in an accident involving a police SUV in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department vehicle was rushing to the scene of a gunshot victim at 7:25 p.m. PT when it struck five pedestrians in the Boyle Heights section of the city, according to police.

In addition to the two killed, three other pedestrians were injured, and two sheriff's deputies in the vehicle were taken to the hospital, according to authorities. The deputies were treated and released Thursday night. The extent of the injuries to the other three pedestrians was unknown.

Police did not provide the ages of those killed, but said both were minors.

"I was inside in my home and I heard the crash. Within seconds, I was outside and just a few feet from the incident," eyewitness Paulette de la Cruz told Los Angeles ABC station KABC. "When I got there I saw a little boy with a white blanket over him. Another one across, I'm not sure if he was conscious or not, but it didn't look like he was."

There were two other vehicles involved in the accident, but no one in the cars were injured.

Police said an investigation into the accident was ongoing.

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kodda/iStock/Thinkstock(AMHERST, S.D.) -- Some 210,000 gallons of oil leaked from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota, TransCanada, the owner of the pipeline, said on Thursday.

The company said it shut down the flow of oil on the pipeline at 6 a.m., "after a drop in pressure was detected in its operating system resulting from an oil leak that is under investigation."

The leak took place some 35 miles south of the Ludden pump station in Marshall County, South Dakota, the company said in a press release.

TransCanada said the leak was "completely isolated within 15 minutes and emergency response procedures were activated."

"The safety of the public and environment are our top priorities and we will continue to provide updates as they become available," the press release added.

A proposed extension of the pipeline, known as Keystone XL, has been mired in controversy for years. The Trump administration approved the long-delayed 1,179-mile project in March of this year. The proposal was hotly debated and pitted environmentalists against proponents who said it would promote energy independence.

The Obama administration previously rejected the proposed pipeline, which would carry crude from Canada through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska.

Nebraska's Public Service Commission is due to rule in the coming days on a permit that would allow Keystone XL to move forward.

In a statement released on Thursday, Greenpeace Tar Sands Campaigner Rachel Rye Butler called approval of the permit "a mistake."

"The sad truth is that oil spills are not uncommon," she said. "A permit approval allowing Canadian oil company TransCanada to build Keystone XL is a thumbs-up to likely spills in the future."

"It is time to say no to outdated fossil fuel infrastructure and invest in clean energy instead," Butler concluded. "At the end of the day, you can't drink oil."

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Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The 59-year-old psychiatric patient who was on the lam for four days after escaping the Hawaii State Hospital said he left as an "act of desperation."

In 1981, Randall Saito had been committed to the hospital in Kaneohe, just outside Honolulu, after he was acquitted of first-degree murder by reason of insanity. He had been missing for 10 hours by the time hospital staff alerted authorities, who then warned the public that Saito was "extremely dangerous and should not be approached."

Saito described the mental health facility as "hell in a handbasket," adding that he was spurred to flee because "patients' rights were being denied" in an interview with ABC San Francisco station KGO from the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp, California, Thursday, one day after he was apprehended in nearby Stockton.

"I don't want to be in the state hospital," he said. "I'm not safe there."

Hawaii's Department of Health, which runs the Hawaii State Hospital, did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Saito escaped the mental health facility Sunday morning on Oahu and was captured in Stockton, California, three days later. He had been missing for 10 hours by the time hospital staff alerted authorities, Hawaii Gov. David Y. Ige said.

Seven hospital workers have been relieved of their duties without pay while officials investigate the incident, officials said.

Saito is currently awaiting extradition from California. If he makes the $500,000 bond once back in Hawaii, he will be placed back into the hospital's custody, officials said.

Saito was able to make his escape with $6,000 he had in cash as well as a "bogus" driver's license that featured his photograph but an alias for the name, he said, declining to reveal how he obtained the identification or the money.

While the hospital has security guards and surveillance cameras, there is no "fencing all around" the campus, Saito said.

"It's a hospital, not a prison," he said.

Hawaii Department of Health Director Dr. Ginny Pressler said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that Saito's escape was a "result of a major breakdown" in staff protocols, procedures and guidelines at the hospital. An initial internal investigation revealed that staff "may have inadvertently or purposely neglected" to notify supervisors of the incident, Pressler added.

Saito did not have a plan in place for after he left the hospital grounds, he said. He chartered a small plane from a private company to go from Honolulu to Maui, and from there, he chose the cheapest ticket out -- to San Jose, California.

Once he landed in San Jose, he spent the night in a hotel and tried to "get" himself "together," he said.

"I couldn't believe I actually made it," Saito said. It was surreal."

Saito spent Monday traveling around San Jose looking for a car to buy, but couldn't find a good enough deal, he said.

When the cab driver asked him where he wanted to go, he chose Stockton "off the top of his head," and he ended up staying there until he was caught on Wednesday morning.

Saito said he mostly stayed in his hotel room, which he noticed was right across the street from where local police officers would fill up their squad cars.

He had traveled to Walmart to buy a phone, but later found it was defective, he said. On Wednesday, he said he called a cab and asked the driver to take him back to Walmart so he could exchange it. When the store wouldn't accept the defective phone due to a lack of a receipt, the driver asked Saito where he wanted to go next, Saito said.

When the driver told him that he would fill up his tank first, Saito knew it was a setup, he said.

"I started laughing, because I knew," he said.

Saito went inside the gas station store, and when he returned to the cab, he saw the police officers waiting to apprehend him, he said.

The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office said the tip from the taxi cab driver is what led authorities to Saito.

Saito said he escaped to prove he could exist in the community without harming anyone.

"This was about buying myself time in the community to prove that I could be in the community without doing anything wrong," he said.

Saito said he was hoping to "build a track record" so he could go back to the state hospital and say, "Look, I was out for a month, and no one was hurt by me," he said.

"I'm not assaultive," he said. "I'm not turbulent."

Saito said that after he committed the murder, he "fabricated" stories about his mental health in order to get to the state hospital.

"The story was absolutely fabricated," he said, adding that he had displayed "exemplary behavior" for the 37 years he resided at the facility.

Saito said that three weeks prior to committing murder at 21 years old, he had been abusing substances such as PCP, LSD and alcohol.

"I regret it," he said. "I regret the murder, let's make that clear. I do have remorse about that."

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MaggyMeyer/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. wildlife officials began issuing permits for lion trophies hunted in Zambia and Zimbabwe about a month ago, ABC News confirmed Thursday.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said the decision was made after concluding that regulated hunting would help the survival of the endangered species in the wild.

The African lion population has decreased 42 percent in the past 20 years, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. The officials did not provide any additional details about what new information led to the decision to issue permits to import lion trophies from those countries. The Fish and Wildfire Service said it takes at least 45 days to get a permit approved so it’s unclear if any have been granted since they began accepting applications.

In 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service placed African lions on the endangered species list for the first time due to the "dramatic decline of lion populations in the wild." The designation says that imports of African lions will "generally be prohibited" but still allows the government to issue permits to import the species "such as when it can be found that the import will enhance the survival of the species." There are an estimated 17,000 - 19,000 African lions remaining in the wild.

In addition to Zambia and Zimbabwe, the government allows permits for wild lions and lions from managed areas in South Africa and is reviewing policies about importing lion trophies from Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokesperson said they found that "legal, well-regulated sport hunting" can benefit conservation by providing incentives to local communities and generating revenue that can be directed to conservation programs, saying that the programs in Zambia and Zimbabwe will enhance the survival of the species in the wild. They began issuing permits to import lion trophies on Oct. 20.

The administration also announced this week that it would allow permits to import trophies from elephants killed in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Conservation and animal advocates dispute that the money brought in by hunting tourists and fees really helps conservation, saying that more money is brought in by people who want to see animals alive in the wild.

"African elephants and African lions drive billions of dollars of economic activity in Africa. But they drive that activity only when they are alive," Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States wrote in a blog post tonight. "Killing them deducts from their populations, diminishes wildlife-watching experiences for others, and robs the countries of Africa of its greatest resources."

In addition to Zambia and Zimbabwe the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows permits to import trophies from hunted wild lions and lions from managed areas in South Africa and is reviewing policies about importing lion trophies from Mozambique, Namibia, and Tanzania.

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shiyali/iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- The reward to help find a killer on the loose in Tampa, Florida, has increased to $100,000 as investigators search for answers.

A string of unsolved killings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood has left the community on edge. Four people have been shot and killed within blocks of one another in just six weeks.

The reward for information leading to an arrest stood at $91,000 until Tampa restaurateur Richard Gonzmart pledged $9,000 on Thursday. Law enforcement partners have contributed $85,000 and the community has raised more than $6,000, according to the Tampa Police Department.

"The support from the community and our law enforcement partners has been inspiring," Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said in a statement Thursday. "I can't thank them enough for stepping up. The reward money is truly impressive, and that's only one of the many ways that people are showing their support."

The first three victims were killed within 11 days in October. Benjamin Mitchell, 22, was killed on Oct. 9 and then the body of 32-year-old Monica Hoffa was found on Oct. 13, just half a mile from where Mitchell was killed. Anthony Naiboa, a 20-year-old man authorities described as having "mild autism," was killed on Oct. 19 after taking the wrong bus home from work, according to police.

Early Tuesday, Robert Felton, 60, was shot to death from behind in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. Investigators consider Felton to be a fourth victim in the series of murders.

“We are treating it as though it is related until we rule otherwise,” Dugan told reporters Tuesday morning.

The suspect in Felton's shooting has been described by witnesses as a tall, slim black man with a light complexion, clad in all black clothing and armed with a large black pistol, according to police.

Investigators are not calling the suspect a serial killer because they can't yet determine whether the same individual committed all the killings. Still, Dugan said police are "pretty convinced" that the suspect was involved in the deaths of at least Mitchell and Felton.

"Finding this killer is a community effort," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a statement Thursday. "We need to and will find who's committing these heinous, senseless murders and when we do, it will be because of people like Richard, the Seminole Heights community, Tampa Police Department and our partners in the law enforcement community who have poured their blood, sweat and tears into bringing this killer to justice."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A young Australian diplomat fell to his death from a New York City building early Wednesday, police said, reportedly as he played a trust game on a ledge.

Julian Simpson, 30, was on the seventh floor of a Lower East Side building with his wife and others when he fell, landing on a second-floor terrace, New York City police said. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

There's no apparent criminality, police said.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said in a statement on Thursday, "I extend my condolences to the family and loved ones of Julian Simpson," saying his death occurred "in tragic circumstances in New York."

"Julian was a diligent, professional and highly skilled diplomat, whose support I valued, particularly during U.N. Leaders’ Week. He will be remembered as someone dedicated to the service of our nation as a member of Australia’s foreign service," Bishop said. "The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to provide support to Julian’s family, and to other Australian diplomats in New York who have lost a valued colleague."

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