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TWA Flight 800: Anguish, questions linger 20 years later

Newsday Coverage

TWA Flight 800: Anguish, questions linger 20 years later

It’s been exactly two decades since TWA Flight 800 crashed in the ocean near Center Moriches—killing 230 people. Yet the painful memories—and unanswered questions—linger on. Relatives who lost loved ones vividly recall their last goodbyes and the horror of learning what happened. Though the government has called the downing of Flight 800 an accident, critics point to evidence of a missile strike and a massive government cover up. Others ask if lessons learned from the crash have made airline passengers safer. Watch “TWA Flight 800—20 Years Later” – only on News 12 Long Island, as local as local news gets.

Expanded Coverage: Interviews and Resources

Gun control and mass shootings

Sutherland Springs, Texas: 26 killed, 20 injured

Devin Kelley wore tactical gear and a ballistic vest when he fired at least 450 rounds at worshippers in the First Baptist Church.

As Kelley left, he was shot by an armed resident, Stephen Willeford. Kelley was later found dead in his vehicle.

Investigators revealed that Kelley had past domestic violence offenses that would have prevented him from buying a gun, but the Air Force did not submit them to the FBI as required. Kelley was ousted from the Air Force for an assault on his ex-wife and her son in 2012.

Since the shooting, some politicians have called on the need for tighter gun restrictions while others have remarked on how more regulations may have kept Willeford from confronting the suspect.

“You might not have had that very brave person who happened to have a gun or a rifle in his truck go out and shoot him and hit him and neutralize him,” President Donald Trump said during a news conference Tuesday in South Korea. “If he didn’t have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has emerged as one of the leading voices for gun control since his district was devastated by the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, released an impassioned plea for lawmakers to enact gun control laws.

“As my colleagues go to sleep tonight, they need to think about whether the political support of the gun industry is worth the blood that flows endlessly onto the floors of American churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, and city streets,” Murphy said in a statement released hours after the shooting.

Las Vegas, Nevada: 58 killed, 527 injured

Stephen Paddock opened fire on people at an outdoor country music festival from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, then killed himself.

The incident, considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, renewed the gun control debate. Since the tragedy, some legislators have focused on regulating bump fire stocks, an accessory that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire ammunition more rapidly.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a bill to ban the gun accessory but is still searching for a Republican cosponsor, CBS reported. There are also two proposed bipartisan bump stock measures in the House.

In late October, Massachusetts became the first state to outlaw bump stocks.

Orlando, Florida: 49 killed, 53 injured

Omar Mateen used an assault rifle and pistol to open fire on more than 300 people at a gay nightclub. After a three-hour standoff, Mateen was killed by police.

Days after the shooting, a nearly 15-hour filibuster led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) forced a vote in the Senate on a batch of gun control bills. Four of the proposals were voted down the following week, mostly along party lines.

A measure from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to let the attorney general deny firearms to people on the terrorism watch list fell in the Senate 53-47. The Senate also rejected an alternative that would allow authorities to delay a gun sale to a suspected terrorist for three days or more if a judge ruled that there is probable cause to deny the sale.

A bill by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Murphy to expand background checks failed, as did a Republican-sponsored bill that would increase funding to run background checks without broadening them. 

San Bernardino, California: 14 killed, 24 injured

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire at a social services center. Farook and Malik fled the scene and were later killed in a shootout with police.

A bill proposed in January by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) would have repealed a 2005 law that protected gun manufacturers and sellers from liability lawsuits after shootings. President Barack Obama also pushed to pass legislation that would have prevented people on no-fly lists from buying guns. Neither proposal has been passed.

Roseburg, Oregon: 10 killed, 7 injured

Christopher Harper-Mercer carried out his attack at Umpqua Community College. After exchanging gunfire with police, he killed himself.

In the days following the shooting, Senate Democrats rallied to push through a new slate of gun control legislation, including a bill by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that seeks to ban gun sales without background checks pending beyond three days. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) introduced a similar bill in the House following the massacre in Charleston. Neither bill has passed.

Charleston, South Carolina: 9 killed

Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed his victims in a racially motivated attack on a Bible study group at a historically black church in Charleston. Roof faces nine counts of murder in state court and dozens of federal charges.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) introduced a bill to reform the background check process and to close what’s come to be known as the “Charleston loophole,” which allows firearm dealers to sell guns within three days unless notified by the FBI. The so-called loophole allowed Roof to purchase assault weapons since a background check that he would have failed wasn’t completed.

Isla Vista, California: 6 killed, 7 injured

After stabbing three men to death in his apartment, Elliot Rodger fatally shot three University of California Santa Barbara students and injured seven other people near the school’s campus. Rodger later killed himself.

Days after the attack, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation that would grant the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention $10 million to fund a gun violence prevention study. The CDC hasn’t conducted a comprehensive study on reducing gun violence in 15 years.

Markey’s bill was not passed.

Washington D.C.: 12 killed

Aaron Alexis, a mentally disturbed Navy contractor and former Navy enlisted man, opened fire at the Washington Navy yard. Alexis was killed in a shootout by police.

Newtown, Connecticut: 27 killed

After shooting his mother in the head, Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and fatally shot his victims, including 20 first-graders. Lanza then killed himself at the scene.

A background check bill pushed forward by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would have expanded background checks to internet and gun show sales was defeated in April 2013.

“All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” President Barack Obama said later that day at a news conference.

A revamped version of the assault weapons ban, which was first passed in 1994 and expired in 2004, was proposed in January 2013 by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) and 24 Democratic co-sponsors. It was defeated in the Senate in April 2013.

Two weeks earlier, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed into state law a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.

Aurora, Colorado: 12 killed, 70 injured

James Holmes opened fire in a movie theater during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.” He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In 2013, a series of gun control bills were passed in Colorado, including a measure requiring universal background checks and a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, like the ones used by Holmes.

Tucson, Arizona: 6 killed, 13 injured

Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in front of a Safeway during a meet and greet held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ar.). Giffords was among the wounded, suffering a gunshot to her head. Loughner was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) proposed a bill that would restrict ammunition magazines to a maximum 10 rounds in 2011. They proposed an identical measure in 2012 and again in 2013, when the bill died in Congress.

Killeen, Texas: 13 killed, 32 injured

Credit: Getty Images

Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan attacked at Fort Hood, where he was based. Hasan was sentenced to death in 2013.

Binghamton, New York: 13 killed, 4 injured

Jiverly Wong opened fire at the American Civic Association immigration center. Wong, a Vietnamese immigrant and former student at the center, killed himself at the scene.

Virginia Tech: 32 killed, 17 injured

The shooting by Seung-Hui Cho, a senior at Virginia Tech, on the school’s campus was, until the events in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in American history. After methodically gunning down students and teachers, Cho shot himself dead.

In response to the massacre, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), whose husband was killed and son was injured in the Long Island Rail Road shooting in 1993, made a fourth pass at pushing through a bill to improve the federal background check system to stop purchases by people, including individuals with criminal histories and those deemed mentally ill, who are prohibited from possessing firearms.

The bill received the support of the National Rifle Association and was signed into law.

Atlanta: 9 killed, 13 injured

After bludgeoning his wife and two children to death, Mark O. Barton went to his office where he worked as a day trader and shot four people. He then walked to another nearby office and killed five others. Barton later killed himself.

Columbine, Colorado: 13 killed, 24 injured

Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had a friend purchase four guns for them at a gun show. They used the weapons to open fire at their school, killing 12 students and a teacher. Harris and Klebold later killed themselves.

Weeks after the Columbine shooting a bill requiring background checks at gun shows – closing the so-called “gun show loophole” – passed in the Senate but died in the House.

Jonesboro, Arkansas: 5 killed, 10 injured

After pulling a fire alarm at Westside Middle School, two students, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, opened fire on students and teachers. Four students and a teacher were killed. Mitchell, then 13, and Andrew, then 11, were sentenced to confinement in a juvenile facility until they turned 21.

A pair of bills was introduced following the Jonesboro shootings. One called to close a loophole that allowed for the sale of ammunition clips holding more than 10 rounds. The other sought to impose criminal penalties on adults who don’t properly lock away firearms that a child may use to hurt others. Neither proposal was passed.

LIRR shooting: 6 killed, 19 injured

Colin Ferguson opened fire on a Long Island Rail Road commuter train. Ferguson was sentenced to life in prison.
Following the shooting, President Bill Clinton decried the incident as a “terrible human tragedy.” The following year the assault weapons ban, which banned the manufacture, possession and sale of certain combat-style weapons and also limited the size of ammunition magazines, was signed into law.

The ban expired in 2004 and has not been renewed.

Published: June 17, 2016

Battle of the Bands


Newsday’s Battle of the Bands Contest Entry 2017

Is your band ready for a battle?

Newsday is looking for the greatest band rocking Long Island, across all genres from country to metal. To get in on the competition, enter your band below before 11:59 p.m. New York time on July 11, 2017.

The following week, the contest will open for reader voting on — so be sure to share with your fans and encourage them to vote! A panel of music industry judges will then choose a contest winner from the Top 10 bands with the most reader votes.

The 2017 Battle of the Bands Contest champion will win an opening act slot at The Paramount in Huntington, plus a feature story by Newsday’s music critic in Newsday and on, plus major bragging rights as Long Island’s best band. Enter now for your shot at fame!

Fill out the Battle of the bands form here.

Long Island’s Extraordinary Seniors 2016

Live. Laugh. Give. Repeat.

That seems to be the life course of Extraordinary Seniors in the Class of 2016.

Each year, Newsday receives nominations from principals, teachers and guidance counselors in Nassau and Suffolk counties about students who exemplify the best of qualities: Kindness, perseverance, humility, thoughtfulness, determination, altruism. Those traits and more shine among the 16 seniors selected this year.

Quentin Thomson: A super-powered love for his community

More about Quentin

Community service is one of Quentin Akwasi Owusu-Adjei Thomson’s secret superpowers.

The graduating senior is involved with volunteer groups in and out of his busy school career. He credits the Leaders Club at his local YMCA for kicking off his passion for community work.

“That club really transformed me and developed my character by helping me in different endeavors and helping me to see my potential, and see where I would like to go with my future,” Thomson said.

He also said the National Honor Society “helped a lot in terms of developing me academically where I would like to focus.”

Read more.
(Reporter: Sophia Chang / Videographer: John Paraskevas)

Morgan Zuch: A cancer survivor’s path is forever changed

More about Morgan

At 2 years old, while other children were playing outside and starting to explore the world, Morgan Zuch was isolated in a hospital room. It was 2000, and with a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, her life was lived inside.

Her next three years were a blur of chemotherapy, medication, injections and surgeries. Zuch was considered a “standard risk” patient, and the cure rate for her leukemia was about 80 to 85 percent. But she wasn’t allowed to play with other children or attend preschool, for fear that her suppressed immune system could turn a simple cold into a deadly infection.

Zuch’s mother, Nancy, said her daughter at times suffered the most from the side effects of the chemotherapy, which she said included severe leg pain, constant nausea, spinal headaches and night terrors. At one point Zuch stopped walking, talking and eating for two weeks.

Read more.
(Reporter: Christine Chung / Videographer: John Paraskevas)

Triplets Carmine, Francesco and Marconi D’Auria-Gupta: Triplets who sing in harmony

More about Carmine, Francesco and Marconi

The D’Auria-Gupta brothers have been in harmony for as long as they can remember but the 18-year-old fraternal triplets have already amassed a string of successes as a family singing act.

Carmine, Francesco and Marconi started practicing tunes as children about a decade ago, but grew into serious singers with performances at Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and at the 2008 U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens.

Over the past few years, they’ve performed classical pieces with the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of New York and as a barbershop group with brothers Gaetano, 20, and Leonardo, 15.

“Since we’re all related, the way our voices blend and work together just gives it a different sound than when it’s just four unrelated people,” said Marconi, a tenor.

Read more.
(Reporter: Will James / Videographer: Chuck Fadely)

Marie Albanese: A high-octane passion for volunteering

More about Marie

Marie Albanese has spent her high school career relentlessly giving back to make someone else’s life better.

She volunteers to bake and cook at the Ronald McDonald House, various senior centers and a local soup kitchen. She participates in clothing and shoe drives. During her free time during the school day she helps the speech pathologist by sitting in on sessions and assisting with the lesson. After school Albanese, who is 18 and lives in Franklin Square, volunteers to help autistic students, and when she’s not doing that she heads to a local elementary school to help kindergarten students with their homework.

Oh, and last year she led the effort to create a club called Saving Our Society, which participates in various community service projects, such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises money to fight childhood cancer. All this she does while maintaining strong grades and being a member of the cheerleading team.

Read more.
(Reporter: Deborah S. Morris / Videographer: Raychel Brightman)

Tyler Bloch: Tourette syndrome doesn’t get in his way

More about Tyler

Tyler Bloch is not only a top student and tennis master but is also a teenage foodie with thousands of fans.

Bloch, 17, cooks healthy dinners for his family each night, has an Instagram food blog with more than 3,600 followers and appeared on the Food Network show “Chopped” when he was only in ninth grade.

From curried lentil stew to charred scallion bruschetta to banana-oat pancakes — he’s driven by a greater purpose.

Read more.
(Reporter: Candice Ferrette / Videographer: Barry Sloan)

Ross DiBetta: Helping others, at home and abroad

More about Ross

In the winter, when lacrosse captain Ross DiBetta hangs up his gear, he’s leading the cheering section for the basketball team, riding a hobbyhorse mustang — the school’s mascot — its pole a lacrosse stick he made in woodshop.

What started as a group of a dozen of his friends who wanted to rev up the crowds at the junior-varsity games has grown into a boisterous group of more than 60 strong at all school sporting events. Dressed in white, sometimes black, or red, white and blue, they make up “the stable.”

“We take it pretty seriously,” said DiBetta, 18, of Mount Sinai.

That’s not a surprise to his school’s principal.

Read more.
(Reporter: Scott Eidler / Videographer: Raychel Brightman)

Danielle Fauteux: ‘Ready for anything’ as an EMT

More about Danielle

Danielle Fauteux never knows when the call will come that sends her racing out the door and off to an emergency in her neighborhood. It could be in the middle of dinner or while she is doing homework; one call came right before a school pep rally.

But as a certified Emergency Medical Technician and a volunteer with the East Marion Fire Department, Fauteux, 18, knows that when the call comes she has to go.

“I am ready for anything,” said the East Marion resident. “You can never gauge when it will be. It will be a school night and I would get a call at 3 a.m. and I would go to school; that’s happened multiple times . . . I had a call where I was out til 5 a.m.”

Read more.
(Reporter: Joie Tyrrell / Videographer: Chris Ware)

Krish Kamdar: An immigrant himself, he helps others adjust

More about Krish

Krish Kamdar knows how tough it can be for an immigrant to adapt to life in the United States: He was one himself.

He arrived from India in 2004 at the start of first grade, and struggled to understand English and make friends.

He has turned it around and now uses the experience to help others in the same predicament. Kamdar, 17, became a volunteer at a center in New Hyde Park that helps elderly Indian immigrants adjust to life in the United States. Kamdar helps them obtain Social Security cards and fill out immigration papers. He also tutors Indian children who are very much in the same situation he once found himself in.

Read more.
(Reporter: Bart Jones / Videographer: John Paraskevas)

Erin Goldrick: Medical condition inspires an interest in nursing

More about Erin

She has a metal plate, a metal bolt and metal rods in her head, and the back of her neck “looks like a racetrack or a candy cane” because of cuts made for the insertion of shunts.

But for Erin Goldrick, school has always been the most important thing to focus on.

“My parents — they’ve helped me out a lot,” said Goldrick, 18, of Hampton Bays. “They told me ‘education first.’ My dad said, ‘There’s only a little amount of time [to spend in school] to set up the rest of your life.’ ”

Read more.
(Reporter: Lisa Irizarry / Videographer: Randee Daddona)

Frances Gould: A zeal for social justice that started at home

Frances Gould has never been known to take anything lightly, whether it is her passion for the environment or a college-level course at New York University.

At the end of her freshman year, she conceptualized a paper recycling program for her high school and spent the following years putting it into place. She developed a proposal, contacted the local sanitation department and asked the school’s endowment fund to pay for recycling bins. Now, the program is in full swing, with paper picked up and recycled on a regular basis.

“This year it is becoming fruitful and we are seeing amazing results,” she said.

Read more.
(Reporter: Joie Tyrrell / Videographer: Chris Ware)

Kyle Kratzke: Turning a brain tumor into fodder for comedy

More about Kyle

If a brain tumor has a bright side, it seems Kyle Kratzke found it.

“He always looked at it as ‘Lucky me, look at what happened to me and how I’m so lucky to get the chance to do all these things and make my life better,’ ” said his mother, Lisa Kratzke.

Kratzke was diagnosed when he was 5 and has undergone eight surgeries. His tumor causes cognitive disabilities, including a slower processing of information and reduced memory. But he has used his tumor as fodder for jokes in the more than 20 stand-up comedy acts he has performed at clubs throughout New York City and Long Island over the past three years, some at fundraisers for nonprofits, others for pay.

“The brain tumor is why I got started in comedy,” Kratzke, 18, said.

Read more.
(Reporter: David Olson / Videographer: Raychel Brightman)

Alexander Perlak: A life-changing trip inspires a desire to help others

More about Alexander

Alexander Perlak likes to say he is motivated by a “service heart.”

He works tirelessly to give back to his community, and thanks to his leadership, more families in the school district had a little more for the holiday season.

As co-president of the school’s Key Club and student council, Perlak, 17, is instrumental in coordinating events that bring together students, parents and faculty to raise money for needy families. Through a Family Feud game show-style event to raffles to organizing the school’s food pantry, Perlak started many initiatives in the district that will continue after he graduates.

“It was really nice to see that my hard work starts a tradition,” said Perlak, of West Hempstead. “I think you always have to give back to your community and your school. They’ve done so much for you and you have to return the favor.”

Read more.
(Reporter: Candice Ferrette / Videographer: Alejandra Villa)

Liane Russell: Turning her differences into strengths

More about Liane

If you ask Liane Russell what has most defined her as a teenager, the last answers you’ll hear are her vision impairment, cerebral palsy or leg braces that run from her shoes to her knees.

Rather, you’ll hear about a place where she’s as visible and vulnerable as a teen can be the

“I figure it’s a part of me, so why dwell on it?” Russell, 18, said of her disabilities. “I love chorus and Drama Club. With singing, it isn’t a physical activity and I can sing as loud as I want . . . With acting, I can be someone else and still be myself at the same time.”

Russell’s journey began when she was born nine weeks early and was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Her right foot is turned inward and a vision impairment causes eye fatigue if she stares too long. Today, she wears ankle-foot orthosis braces and leaves classes five minutes early to navigate her school’s hallways and stairs, the latter of which she calls “a bit of a monster.”

Read more.
(Reporter: Michael R. Ebert / Videographer: Raychel Brightman)

Dante Vigliotti: A love of animals, a knack for business

More about Dante

Animals hold a special place in the heart of Dante Vigliotti.

“Animals don’t have a voice,” he said. “When they need help, people aren’t always there.”

That doesn’t apply to Vigliotti, 18, who spent most of his middle and high school years volunteering and caring for pets at the animal shelter in Glen Cove at least once a week. He said the shelter doesn’t enjoy the same resources as others on Long Island, so he decided to do his part by undertaking multiple initiatives to raise money for the facility.

His efforts started in his parents’ basement several years ago after he bought goods from a local pet shop to start his own dog and cat supply store.

“I went door to door putting fliers in my neighbors’ mailboxes,” to draw attention to his business, Vigliotti said.

Read more.
(Reporter: Deon J. Hampton / Videographer: Barry Sloan)