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Cody Simpson releases his love song to Miley Cyrus, “Golden Thing”

Coast HouseAfter much prodding from his new girlfriend Miley Cyrus, Cody Simpson has released the song he wrote for her, “Golden Thing.”

“Crystal dream/Cali queen/ Radiant hand, vibrant sand/ I’m shot/ It’s a golden thing she’s got,” the Australian musician sings on the sweet acoustic track.

The cover art for the song features what appears to be a close-up photo of Miley. Her face isn’t visible but we see her beachy blonde waves and gold chains around her neck.

Miley promoted the track on her Instagram Story Friday, writing, “MY HEART.” She had been bugging Cody to release it ever since he first played it for her after her recent tonsillitis surgery.

Cody told People, “She was like, ‘If you don’t put this s*** out, I’m putting it out on your behalf for you. I’m getting your Spotify login and doing this s*** myself.’”

Cody and Miley were apparently friends before Miley began dating actor Liam Hemsworth, who she eventually married. Miley and Liam split in August and Miley briefly moved on to Kaitlynn Carter, before that relationship ended in September.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Listen to Idina Menzel & Ariana Grande salute Santa’s wife in “A Hand for Mrs. Claus”

Decca Records

The North Pole is ready for some girl power.

Former Wicked star Idina Menzel and Wicked super fan Ariana Grande have teamed up for a fun duet on Idina’s new holiday album Christmas: A Season of Love, which just came out today.  The song, called “A Hand for Mrs. Claus,” was written by Frozen composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

In the humorous song, Idina and Ariana trade verses about Santa’s wife, who gets no respect despite the fact that Santa couldn’t do it without her.

“She reads every Christmas letter/And fills out a Christmas sweater/Better than Ol’ Santa any day,” sings Idina. Ariana adds, “She runs the operation with no appreciation/So send a little Christmas love her way!”

Ariana also appears on For the Girls, the new album from Idina’s Wicked co-star, Kristin Chenoweth.

As previously reported, Christmas: A Season of Love also features Idina teaming up with Emmy-winning Pose star Billy Porter for “I Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” her Frozen co-star Josh Gad on “We Wish You the Merriest,” and her husband Aaron Lohr on “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

There’s also a solo holiday version of the signature song from the show Rent, “Seasons of Love,” as well as a tribute to Idina’s Jewish heritage with “Ocho Kandelikas,” a Hanukkah song she sings in Ladino, the ancient language of Sephardic Jews. 

Right before that song, there’s an adorable audio clip of Walker, Idina’s son with her ex Taye Diggs, at age three, chanting the traditional Hebrew blessing over the Hanukkah candles.

Idina will reprise her role as Queen Elsa in Frozen 2 on November 22.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Finally! Selena Gomez announces new song, “Lose You to Love Me,” coming next week

Image Group LA/ABCSelena Gomez has been teasing something via some cryptic Instagram posts — and now we finally know what it is.

The singer announced her new song, “Lose You to Love Me,” will be coming out on Wednesday, October 23. She posted the cover art to Instagram: It features a black-and-white close-up of her face.

She captioned the post with part of the song lyrics, “I needed to lose you to love me.”

In the lead-up to the announcement, Selena teased fans by posting a couple of throwback photos of herself as a kid, with captions like, “We always go into it blindly” and “I gave my all and they all know it.”

She also posted another black-and-white photo of herself with the caption, “Rose colored glasses all distorted,” and a video of a brightly lit marquee bearing the words, “I saw the signs and I ignored it.”

During an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon back in June, Selena revealed she had completed the long-awaited follow-up to her 2015 album Revival and fans have been patiently waiting for her to drop some new tunes ever since.  

Of course, she’s been keeping busy with other projects outside of music. She produced the recently-released Netflix docu-series Living Undocumented, and will voice a giraffe in the upcoming Robert Downey Jr. movie Doolittle, due in theaters in January.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’ and ‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ among this week’s new releases

Walt Disney Pictures(NEW YORK) — Opening nationwide on Friday:

* Maleficent: Mistress of Evil — The sequel to the 2014’s Maleficent picks up several years after the first film chronicled the events that drove the notorious Disney villain to curse a baby Princess Aurora.  It follows the complex relationship between the two as they form new alliances and face new adversaries.  Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning return as Maleficent and Aurora, respectively.  Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville also return to their previous roles.  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein and Michelle Pfeiffer join the cast as new characters.  Rated PG.

* Zombieland: Double Tap — The sequel to the surprise 2009 horror zombie apocalypse comedy finds original cast members Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone, who played four strangers that meet on the road during a post-apocalyptic zombie outbreak, contending with newer, more evolved zombies, as well as new human survivors, as they deal with their own shaky relationships.  Zoey Deutch, Avan Jogia and Roasario Dawson, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch join the cast for the sequel.  Rated R.

Opening in limited release on Friday:

* Jojo Rabbit  Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi [TIE-ka Wah-TEET-ee] wrote and directed this satire, set in World War II Germany.  It follows the titular character, a young German boy in Adolph Hitler’s army, played by newcomer Roman Griffin Davis, whose mother, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.  Aided only by his imaginary friend, in the form of an idiotic version of Hitler, played by Waititi, Jojo must confront his ideology.  Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen and Sam Rockwell also star.  Rated PG-13.

* The Lighthouse  Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson star in this black & white horror film about two keepers of a remote lighthouse who begin to lose their sanity and become threatened by their worst nightmares.  Rated R.

 Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Jane Fonda arrested again at another U.S. Capitol climate protest

iStock/rarrarorro(WASHINGTON D.C.) — Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda, 81, was arrested by police with a group of about a dozen protesters Friday after being warned repeatedly to leave the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Inspired by young climate activists like 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, Fonda recently told ABC News that every Friday while she’s in the nation’s capital, she’ll attend “Fire Drill Friday,” a weekly event featuring scientists, celebrities and activists addressing the various facets and impacts of climate change.

Fonda, who has a long career in activism, told ABC News in an earlier interview about her planned effort, “11 o’clock every Friday morning come get arrested with me, or choose not to — it doesn’t matter.”

The actress reportedly decided to leave her home and move to Washington for four months, because she wanted to “make a commitment to” the issue of climate change.

“Fire Drill Friday” is a reference to Thunberg saying during a speech at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January, “I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.”

In an interview with ABC News Deputy Political director MaryAlice Parks for an episode of of ABC News Live’s The Briefing Room, Fonda said that it’s the kids who are leading the charge when it comes to fighting climate change.

“And so, grandmas unite,” she said. “I want to stand with them and raise up…their message. This is serious…this is a crisis unlike anything that has ever faced humankind.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

“None of my kids want to be actors,” says ‘Maleficent’ mom Angelina Jolie

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney(LOS ANGELES) — While there are enough of them to make their own ensemble movie cast, don’t expect to see Angelina Jolie’s kids on the big screen.

The Oscar-winner and Maleficent series star explains to People that Maddox, 18, Pax, 15, Zahara, 14, Shiloh, 13, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 11, have no plans to join the family business.

In fact, they turned down her offer to have them appear in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Jolie tells the magazine, revealing, “I tried. Nobody was interested!”

Although Vivienne played young Aurora in the 2014 original, she wasn’t ready for her close-up this time around.

“None of my kids want to be actors,” Jolie says. “[They’re into] business, humanitarian affairs, things like that.”

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, is now in theaters from Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Girls soccer team is yellow-carded after wearing ‘equal pay’ shirts

iStock(BURLINGTON, Vt.) — Players from a high school girls soccer team in Vermont were penalized after they revealed a message promoting equal pay under their team jerseys during a game, the team’s coach said.

The team had approached Burlington High School soccer coach Jeff Hayes several weeks ago with an idea to reverberate the message first promoted by their heroines, the U.S. women’s national soccer team, Hayes told “Good Morning America.”

For Friday night’s game, which was senior night, the entire team — as well as the coaching staff and members of the crowd — wore the custom-made white T-shirts adorned with #EQUALPAY, Hayes said. After the warmup, the girls placed their jerseys over the shirts to comply with the bylaws of the Vermont Principals’ Association, but after a late goal was scored with thee minutes left in the game, some players took off their jerseys in excitement.

“The fans were just absolutely going crazy,” and began chanting “equal pay,” Hayes said. However, the officials ran over and issued four yellow cards for unsportsmanlike conduct over the excessive celebration.

The penalized players had to sit out for some of the game but were eventually allowed back in, Hayes said.

Members of the team admitted that they got “carried away” by taking their jerseys “all the way off,” but said the message outweighed the penalties they received.

“It goes for everyone — every girl, every woman, the world,” player Helen Worden said. “It’s not just about sports.”

Friday night’s game ended in a tie, but the team feels as if they won in the spirit of spreading the message.

They have now sold more than 700 of the shirts, inviting men and boys to pay 16% more, which represents the average pay gap in Vermont, according to the team. The Burlington High School boys’ soccer team has even worn the shirts in solidarity.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and his wife, Marcelle, were among the purchasers. Leahy tweeted a photo of the couple wearing the shirts, stating, “Marcelle and I stand with you!”

The referee who issued the yellow cards even bought a shirt after the game and told the players he’s excited to wear it, according to the team.The money made in the sales will go to support youth soccer leagues in the community.

“They did such an amazing job with getting involved in the community,” Hayes said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

NBA commissioner says league ‘willing’ to take losses in China to stand for ‘American values’

Rich Arden / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league has suffered “substantial” losses in China as a result of the firestorm that followed a since-deleted tweet by the Houston Rockets general manager supporting the Hong Kong protests.

“The losses have already been substantial,” Silver said in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts at the TIME 100 Health Summit on Thursday, adding that, “I’m not even sure where we’ll go from here.”

“The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic,” he added in his first stateside interview since the NBA became embroiled in controversy in China.

Silver maintained, however, that the league is “not only willing” but “we are” taking these financial losses in China to stand for “American values” such as freedom of expression — and that they did not bow to Chinese pressure to fire the manager.

“The values of the NBA, these American values, we are an American business, travel with us wherever we go, and one of those values is free expression,” he said.

On Oct. 4, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong — setting off a series of consequences that illuminated the political challenges U.S. companies can face as they navigate doing business in China’s growing, lucrative market.

While the tweet was quickly deleted, China’s state-run broadcasting network ordered a blackout of NBA coverage. China’s internet giant Tencent, which inked a five-year, $1.5 billion deal in August to stream NBA games, also announced that they would not play Rockets games.

Morey has since apologized. The Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said that Morey does not speak for them. Rockets players James Harden and Russell Westbrook apologized at a news conference, with Harden adding, “We love China, we love playing there.”

NBA star player LeBron James also weighed in, telling reporters that he thought Morey “wasn’t educated on the situation at hand” and that “so many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually” by his tweet.

After his comments were met with criticism, James later tweeted: “Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk about that.”

Prior to Morey’s tweet, the Rockets were one of the most beloved teams in China, and where retired Chinese basketball star Yao Ming played in the states.

In the aftermath of his tweet, however, a series of NBA events in China — including charity events — were abruptly canceled, and video on social media emerged of NBA posters being ripped off the side of buildings.

The financial fallout has also been swift and dramatic, but Silver said Thursday that the NBA is willingly taking those losses.

Silver said the NBA was pressured to fire Morey, but they chose to take a stand.

“We were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government, by parties we dealt within government and business,” Silver said. “We said there is no chance that’s happening; there’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”

Still, Silver said that “our games are not back on the air in China as we speak. We’ll see what happens next.”

“I understand that there is a point of view from some that we shouldn’t be in business at all in China, and I’d say from an intellectual standpoint that’s fair, not getting into whether the tweet and the response to it,” he said.

“At some point, look to the American government, we are in the middle of negotiating a trade agreement,” he added. “Many multinational corporations obviously trade extensively with China.”

Silver said that for years he has believed, however, that sports have been a way to “bring people together, often in a way that governments don’t.”

He added that he has been traveling to China for NBA events for years and he hopes to keep finding “a commonality” with the Chinese people.

“When you build that commonality over time, it potentially leads to shared understanding, empathy, begins dialogues …. often things that aren’t happening at high levels among official government operatives or diplomats,” Silver said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Controlled demolition takes down 1 crane looming over New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel

WGNO(NEW ORLEANS) — Crews have conducted a controlled demolition at the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans to bring down two cranes standing at the site.

Video of the demolition showed a brief explosion followed by one of the cranes toppling to the ground. The other crane appeared to remain standing after the smoke cleared.

The demolition was originally planned for Friday but was delayed until Sunday.

Three workers were killed and dozens more people were injured after the cranes collapsed on Oct. 12. The cranes were a source of major concern as they continued to sway after the accident.

City officials ordered an evacuation of the area surrounding the partially collapsed hotel, located on the edge of the historic French Quarter, on Sunday morning. Demolition crews attached small explosives known as energetic materials to the cranes in an effort to bring them down in the same place as where they were standing several stories above the ground.

The remains of two the deceased are still inside the unstable building, and first responders hope to retrieve them once the demolition was complete.

Ten of the injured victims have filed a lawsuit against five companies involved in the construction.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trafficking ring involving thousands of turtles uncovered by Florida wildlife officials

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission(WASHINGTON) — Florida wildlife officials have uncovered a trafficking ring of thousands of smuggled turtles following a long-term undercover investigation.

Two suspects have been charged for poaching the turtles, most of them native to Florida, and selling them illegally, according to a news release by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Many of the turtles ended up in international markets, including those in Asia, officials said.

The FWC launched the investigation in February 2018 after receiving a tip from the public. Investigators determine that a “ring of well-organized wildlife traffickers” was catching and selling the turtles to large-scale reptile dealers and illegal distributors, who would then ship most of them overseas on the black market, according to the release.

One of the suspects, 39-year-old Fort Myers resident Michael Boesenberg, allegedly directed others to collect the turtles in “large numbers.” Once they “had enough,” they would then sell them to a buyer with links to Asian markets, FWC officials said.

The turtles were sold wholesale for up to $300 each and retailed for as much as $10,000 in Asia. In one month alone, an estimated $60,000 worth of turtles were trafficked out of Florida, according to the FWC.


While the turtles were mostly sold for cash, the poachers would occasionally trade them for marijuana products, officials said.

The poachers would target habitats known for specific species of turtles and “depleted the species so much” that they had to expand to other parts of the state, according to the FWC. Lee County, the primary location of the poachings, was the most heavily impacted, but the affect on the wild turtle population overall stretched beyond the state.

“Wild turtle populations cannot sustain the level of harvest that took place here,” said Dr. Brooke Talley, the Reptile and Amphibian Conservation Coordinator for the FWC. “This will likely have consequences for the entire ecosystem and is a detriment for our citizens and future generations.”

Turtles are one of the most threatened animal groups on the planet, Dr. Craig Stanford, Chairman of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, said in a statement.

“The illegal trade of turtles is having a global impact on many turtle species and our ecosystems,” FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton said in a statement. “We commend our law enforcement’s work to address the crisis of illegal wildlife trafficking.”

More than 600 turtles were returned to the wild as a result of the investigation, and about half of those are now part of a long-term monitoring project by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, which has been conducting research on them for almost 20 years, officials said.

About two dozen turtles were at first quarantined and released at a later date, but a handful of them were retained by a captive wildlife licensee, since they were not native to the area, officials said.

The illegal commercialization of wildlife ranks fourth in trafficking in the U.S. behind guns, drugs and human smuggling, according to the release. Illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth $19 billion annually, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Col. Curtis Brown, head of the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement, described the thwarting of the trafficking ring as “a significant win for conservation.”

ABC News could not immediately reach Boesenberg or an attorney for him for comment. The other suspect who was charged was not identified.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Man missing after falling into sinkhole and getting swept away in drain pipes

Phoenix Fire Department(PHOENIX) — Crews from the Phoenix Fire Department have returned from helping local authorities search for a man who fell into a sinkhole and was swept away in a storm drain.

The incident happened last Monday when a large sinkhole opened up in Hermosillo, Mexico, and the man was swallowed up by it and carried away by the underground water currents.

Phoenix, a sister city to Hermosillo, sent technical advisers from the Phoenix Fire Department to help with the rescue operation on Friday morning, according to ABC Phoenix affiliate station KNXV. The group returned from assisting the authorities in Hermosillo this weekend.

Officials said that there are several different drainage pipes that the missing man could have been carried through so authorities are currently searching those pipes in hopes of finding him.

Authorities from Jaurez were also sent to Hermosillo to assist with the Phoenix Fire Department and other local authorities, according to KNXV, citing a press conference that was streamed by news organizations in Mexico.

“The Phoenix Fire Dept advisory team along with Councilman Nowakowski and Councilwoman Guardado have returned safely from Hermosillo Mexico. The team was able to assist and lend their technical expertise to the responders in Hermosillo in a complex rescue operation of a missing adult male that fell into a sink hole and was swept underground into a storm drain. Through our Sister Cities program, and with the generosity of Cutter Aviation, our members were able to make the trip and ensure operations were conducted effectively and safely,” the Phoenix Fire Department said in a post on Facebook.
Additional details regarding the incident were not immediately available. The man is currently still missing.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


The National Zoo says bye bye to Bei Bei: 4-year-old panda to leave for China on Nov. 19

iStock(WASHINGTON) — The expected move is part of an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, which dictates that any giant panda cub born at a U.S. zoo be sent to a breeding program in China after their fourth birthday. Bei Bei follows in the pawprints of his sister, Bao Bao, who left in 2017, and his brother, Tai Shan, who left in 2010, in an effort to breed more of the giant panda species in their native homeland.

“Bei Bei is part of our family,” Steve Monfort, director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, said in a statement on Friday. “Our team has cared for him, learned from him and, along with millions, loved watching him grow. We’re sad he’s leaving, but excited for the contributions he will make to the global giant panda population.”

A fan-favorite at the zoo, visitors have watched Bei Bei in person and via “panda cam” grow from a small cub to a 240-pound bear since his birth on Aug. 22, 2015. To celebrate Bei Bei’s first four years of life in the district, the zoo is hosting a farewell celebration dubbed “Bye Bye, Bei Bei” from Nov. 11 to Nov. 18.

With less than a month left until his departure date, zookeepers are busy preparing Bei Bei for the 16-hour nonstop flight from Washington to Chengdu. Zoo officials said Friday they will first get Bei Bei accustomed to his travel crate by having him walk through it every day before having him spend short periods of time inside with the door closed.

A panda keeper and a veterinarian will accompany Bei Bei on a dedicated B777 FedEx aircraft and offer him treats while he’s in the crate, from bamboo and apples to cooked sweet potatoes and biscuits. FedEx has experience transporting giant pandas including the successful transfers of Bei Bei’s older siblings to China and Bei Bei’s parents to Washington.

Once Bei Bei arrives in Chengdu, his new keepers will accompany him to his new habitat at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. Keepers from the National Zoo have also said they will stay with him until he settles in.

“We have known since the day Bei Bei was born he would be moving to China.” Smithsonian Zoo spokesperson Devin Murphy said at Bei Bei’s fourth birthday celebration on Aug. 22. “It’s also a really exciting milestone for us so we want him to move to China and become part of the breeding program and eventually have cubs and hopefully maybe one day some of those cubs will be released into the wild.”

Bei Bei will join the giant panda breeding program in China when he reaches sexual maturity, likely between the ages of 5 and 7.

The National Zoo has worked on a breeding program with Chinese scientists since the U.S. received its first pair of pandas as a gift following President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. It is one of just three American zoos — including Zoo Atlanta and Memphis Zoo — that currently have agreements with China to host giant pandas. Earlier this year, the San Diego Zoo sent back its remaining two giant pandas when their lease with China ended and was not renewed.

Bei Bei’s parents, Mei Xing and Tian Tian, are the National Zoo’s only breeding giant panda couple since 2000. Though the original 10-year, $10 million lease agreement with China to study the pair has been extended multiple times, it’s now set to expire on Dec. 7, 2020. It’s entirely up to China whether to recall its pandas or not.

According to the National Zoo’s website, around 1,800 giant pandas currently live in the wild, while another 300 pandas live in zoos and breeding centers around the world. The International Union for Conservation of Nature changed the status of giant pandas from endangered to vulnerable in 2016, reflecting the species’ comeback in recent years.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

‘He fought them,’ father says of son killed on his birthday defending his family in Texas home invasion

iStock(NEW YORK) — Security video of a car speeding from the Texas home of a father gunned down on his 29th birthday while defending his wife and two young children from intruders was released by authorities desperate to identify the suspects and bring them to justice.

Brenton Estorffe, an Australian native raising his family in the Houston suburb of Katy, was shot to death early Wednesday while attempting to fight off at least two men who broke into his residence, according to Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office investigators.

“He wrestled those two blokes away from his wife and kids,” Estorffe father, Michael Estorffe, told The Australian newspaper before flying from Australia to Texas to be with his son’s grieving widow and children. “That’s when they shot him. Unfortunately, he paid the highest price.”

The killers remained on the run on Sunday. A $25,000 reward was offered by the Fort Bend County Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrests and prosecution of the killers.

Estorffe’s death sent shockwaves from the Lone Star State to Australia, where the headline in Estorffe’s hometown newspaper, The Courier-Mail, screamed, “Australian man, Brenton Estorffe, shot dead in Texas home while confronting intruders.”

Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls requested the public’s help in finding the owner of a light-colored, four-door sedan with a sunroof that was spotted on home security video arriving and speeding away from Estorffe’s block around the time of the shooting. He said the tail lights on what he described as a “vehicle of interest” may not have been operating properly.

Nehls said at least a dozen investigators are working around the clock to solve the homicide of a “loving husband and a loving father.”

“He gave his life in defense of his family. What more honor can you bestow upon an individual than that,” Nehls, a retired Army Reserve major and recipient of two Bronze Star medals, said of Estorffe.

“They’re going to pay for this,” Nehls said of the killers during a news conference on Friday, attended by Estorffe’s widow, Angeleanna.

Staring into a bank of news cameras, he told the killers to surrender, saying, “You came into the wrong county.”

Nehls said there could be more than two suspects involved in the homicide.

“There could have been another individual inside that vehicle of interest that might have been the getaway driver. We don’t know,” Nehls said.

Det. Thomas Cantu, the lead investigator on the case, described the two intruders Estorffe confronted in his home. He said one was about 5-foot-11, had a medium build, a dark complexion and was wearing a dark-colored hoodie with the hood covering his head. He said the other intruder was about 6 feet tall, had a slender build, a dark complexion and a buzz-cut hairstyle.

The slaying unfolded just after midnight on Wednesday when Estorffe and his wife were startled awake by glass breaking at the rear of their home, Nehls said. Estorffe’s children, 1-year-old Eliana and 3-year-old Asher, were asleep in the house.

“Try to put yourself through this: somebody breaks the glass. You hear glass breaking at the back of your home. Two individuals enter the home. They startle you. You wake up and then all of a sudden a confrontation takes place and then the next thing you hear are gunshots,” Nehls said.

“Brenton gets up, confronts two individuals inside the residence, at which point in time he was shot and killed,” Nehls said. “Brenton was there to protect his family.”

He said Estorffe’s wife and neighbors called 911. Estorffe was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Help me please … ohh … someone just broke into my house and shot my husband,” Angeleanna Estorffe said in the 911 call released by authorities. “I just heard glass shattering and then my husband jumped up and took off after them … and they just … they started shooting.”

“A few minutes later we have a vehicle of interest … leaving the neighborhood. We see the same vehicle entering the neighborhood before the 911 calls took place,” Nehls said, asking anyone who has seen the vehicle to contact investigators immediately.

Nehls and Cantu said it remains under investigation whether Estorffe and his family were targeted or if the culprits went to their home seeking the previous owners.

Cantu said Estorffe and his family moved into the home about six months ago.

Nehls said the intruders must have known the home was occupied and that children were inside the home because cars were parked in the driveway and the house was decorated for Halloween.

“Anybody would know that there were obviously children in that house. I mean there’s Halloween decorations. You almost got to make the safe assumption, these individuals knew somebody would be at home. But yet they still had the audacity to break a window and enter the home. That’s a little unusual,” Nehls said.

He said the neighborhood is generally “very quiet, very safe,” and added that of the seven homicides this year in the county, of which there are more than 500,000 residents, six of the cases have been solved.

Estorffe was originally from Mooloolaba on the Queensland’s Sunshine Coast of Australia, his family said. He moved to the United States in 2011 to attend college at Southern Virginia University, where he played football. At one point, according to his family, Estorffe had aspirations of someday playing in the NFL.

Estorffe got married in 2015 and he and his wife decided to settle down in Katy, Texas, and Estorffe took a job at a car rental company, his family said.

A crowdfunding page established for Estorffe’s family had raised more than $35,000 as of Sunday afternoon.

“We will stop at nothing,” Nehls said. “We will investigate, we will investigate, we will investigate until we can bring these individuals to justice.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tourist deaths in Dominican Republic were due to natural causes: FBI

Nathaniel Holmes/Facebook(LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic) — Toxicology tests done by the FBI have confirmed that three American tourists found dead this spring in the Dominican Republic died of natural causes, the U.S. State Department said.

The results were consistent with the findings of local authorities, according to a statement from the State Department on Friday.

Miranda Schaupp-Werner, 41, from Pennsylvania, was found dead at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville hotel on May 25.

Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, a couple from Maryland, were found dead in their hotel room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana Resort in San Pedro de Macoris on May 30.

Steven Bullock, a family spokesperson for the Day and Holmes families, said the families have yet to hear any updates from authorities regarding their loved one’s deaths.

“The Day and Holmes families have not been provided with any information from the FBI or the Dominican Republic Authorities regarding the deaths,” Bullock said in a statement to ABC News. “The only information that has been received by the families is what is being reported in the media. Our investigation is continuing, and we will not have any further comment until we receive the results of our investigation. Thank you.”

The FBI was assisting in the probe at the neighboring resorts in the Caribbean nation.

Their deaths were among the first of at least 11 Americans to die in the country in recent months, setting off a flurry of panic as to whether it was safe to visit the Dominican Republic.

The U.S. State Department said back in June that, despite the deaths, it had not seen an “uptick” in fatal incidents.

The spokesperson said that more than 2.7 million U.S. citizens visit the Dominican Republic each year and, as in most countries, “the overwhelming majority travel without incident.”

Schaup-Werner died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, according to the hotel. An autopsy performed on Holmes and Day determined that they died of the same causes, according to the Dominican Republic National Police.

The families of the three Americans have been informed of the FBI toxicology reports.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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