Multiple city officials said there was no immediate indication of a criminal reason for the hard landing
It is still unclear if the Helicopter crashed or caught fire during the hard landing on the building’s roof. The crash forced neartby buildings to evacuate, and set people in the area on edge. NBC 4 New York’s Sarah Wallace, Pei-Sze Cheng and Marc Santia report.
A helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a 54-story office building in Midtown Manhattan Monday, sparking a fire and killing the pilot, authorities said.
A call about the incident at the AXA Equitable Center on Seventh Avenue and West 51st Street came in shortly before 2 p.m.
A senior official told News 4 the pilot, identified by a manager at Linden Municipal Airport as Tim McCormack, had just dropped off a passenger at the East 34th Steet heliport, and may have been making his way back to the chopper’s base in Linden, New Jersey, when the crash occurred.
The NYPD confirmed the hard landing on the roof of 787 Seventh Avenue; it wasn’t clear why the chopper would have tried to land there, nor was it immediately clear who owned the chopper.
That path would have taken the helicopter up the East River, across Manhattan and then down the Hudson River past the Statue of Liberty. Officials are still unsure how the aircraft ended up flying over Midtown, or why it was flying in the poor weather conditions — which could have disoriented McCormack, the senior official said.
The airport manager, Paul Dudley, said that McCormack was highly trained and experienced, with intimate experience with the area. Dudley believes that McCormack chose to go to the roof to spare people on the ground.
According to a manager at Linden Airport in New Jersey, the pilot who died in the crash was Tim McCormack, who had decades of experience and something must have happened that caused him to go into the building. NBC 4 New York’s Jonathan Dienst reports.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the chopper was airborne for about 11 minutes before crashing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, in a briefing near the crash site just before 4 p.m., said there was no ongoing threat and no evident ties to terrorism. But he also said authorities did not yet know a cause for the crash. Both De Blasio and O’Neill said it was not clear if the chopper had permission to be flying in Midtown, given the flight restrictions usually in place in the area.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was an Agusta A109E helicopter and a preliminary investigation indicated McCormack was the only person aboard. Air traffic controllers did not handle the flight, the FAA said, adding that the National Transportation Safety Board would lead the investigation. An NTSB investigator was expected at the scene Monday evening, and the agency is asking anyone who witnessed the crash to contact them.
Witnesses on the scene describe hearing, feeling and responding to a helicopter crash in midtown Manhattan on Monday afternoon.
The first responder to the scene was FDNY Lieutenant Adrian Walsh, who confirmed the victim was dead when they arrived.
The hard landing and subsequent fire sent thick gray smoke billowing from the top of the towering building, which also houses offices for BNP Paribas, the French bank. The blaze was out within about 30 minutes, and the FDNY placed the three-alarm scene under control just before 4:30 p.m.
The NYPD shut down a broad stretch of roads all around the scene, with 42nd Street to 57th Street closed off for a few hours between Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue. Most roads were re-opened within a few hours.
Gov. Cuomo, who was in the area at the time, said from the scene that “at this point there is no indication” that the landing could be terror-related, though the FBI was responding as a precaution. Multiple city officials confirmed that as well.
Weather was poor at the time; at the time of the crash, the cloud ceiling height was around 600 feet, meaning it’s likely the top of the building was enshrouded in clouds, according to the National Weather Service.
A senior source tells News 4 that the passenger who was dropped off at the 34th Street heliport is Daniele Bodini, who was the former UN ambassador forthe small European country of San Marino.
President Trump tweeted about the crash, thanking first responders and adding “(the) Trump Administration stands ready should you need anything at all.” Officials confirmed Trump and Cuomo spoke after the crash.
The building that was hit and neighboring buildings were evacuated as a precaution — at least one person tweeted that he or she felt a building shake — and video posted to social media showed people standing outside in the rain.
A helicopter crashed into the roof of a 54-story office building in midtown Manhattan Monday, fire officials said.
Wanda Tucker, who works in the building, tells News 4 she was on her way back from lunch when a co-worker asked if she felt the building shake. She said she didn’t — then seconds later, an announcement blasted over the loudspeakers advising everyone inside the building was being evacuated.
“We were a little anxious because the company that I work for, they were in the World Trade Center when we had that,” Tucker said, referencing the 9/11 terror attacks. “So it was like, real emotional. People just trying to get out of the building. I’m just happy to be out.”
The FDNY is responding to a helicopter crash into the roof of a 54-story office building in midtown Manhattan, law enforcement officials tell News 4.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney renewed her call to end the use of non-essential helicopters in New York City in the wake of the crash.
“Today is one of the nightmares New Yorkers talk about,” Maloney said. “This pilot’s death is one too many. We cannot rely on good fortune to protect people on the ground. It is past time for the FAA to ban unnecessary helicopters from the skies over our densely-packed urban city. The risks to New Yorkers are just too high.”
Commonwealth Partners, which partially owns the building along with California public pension fund CalPERS, hung up when News 4 called for information. The high-rise was built in 1986.
There have been multiple incidents over the years with small aircraft hitting skyscrapers in Manhattan. In 2006, a plane carrying New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle hit a 40-story condominium tower on the Upper East Side.
In 1977, a helicopter crash on the roof of what was then the Pan Am Building killed five people.
Trump Again Boosts a Baseless Conspiracy Theory, This One About Jeffrey Epstein
President Donald Trump on Saturday promoted a conspiracy theory linking the Clinton family to the death of multimillionaire and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, the latest instance of Trump propagating baseless conspiracy theories and falsehoods.
Trump shared a tweet and video from conservative comedian Terrence Williams that claimed without evidence that former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — Trump’s 2016 presidential election rival — were responsible for Epstein’s death. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and Attorney General Bill Barr said Epstein died in an “apparent suicide” while in federal custody.
As a result of Trump’s retweet, the video received more than 3 million views on Twitter by Sunday morning — more than triple Williams’ most recent videos. Both Trump and Bill Clinton were friendly with Epstein in previous decades, but Trump seized on the conspiracy theory Saturday in his latest dig at the Clintons. The tweet also falsely claimed that Epstein died while on suicide watch, even though Epstein had been taken off of suicide watch before his death.
Angel Ureña, a spokesman for the former president, called the conspiracy theory “ridiculous, and of course not true.”
“And Donald Trump knows it,” Ureña tweeted.
Trump promotes conspiracy theories
Lawmakers and government officials have called for inquiries into Epstein’s death, but none have gone so far as to even suggest that political rivals were behind it.
Unlike any other President before him, Trump has repeatedly promoted evidence-free conspiracy theories and falsehoods without regard for the consequences of his rhetoric.
Even before he was a candidate for President, Trump grew his following on the political right by promoting the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya — and not the United States — even after Obama released a birth certificate showing he was born in the US.
During his campaign for President, Trump spread a conspiracy theory linking the father of his then-GOP presidential rival Sen. Ted Cruz to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Cruz campaign denied it was Rafael Cruz and Cruz, a Texas Republican, responded at the time by blasting Trump as a pathological liar.
And in the second month of his presidency, Trump accused Obama without evidence of tapping his phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. More than two years later, there is still no evidence that Trump’s phones were wiretapped during the 2016 campaign.
Trump has also repeatedly claimed without evidence that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election; has fed conspiracy theories about a “deep state” of government officials working against him; and has also falsely smeared former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” and called the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign “treason” — among many others.
Trump was not the only official in his administration to promote the Epstein-Clintons conspiracy theory.
Lynne Patton, a senior official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a longtime Trump family aide and friend, also gave voice to the conspiracy theory on her Instagram account earlier in the day.
Trump’s tweet promoting the conspiracy theory came about an hour after Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio warned of the dangers of spreading partisan conspiracy theories about Epstein’s death.
“Scrutiny of how #Epstein was able to commit suicide is warranted,” Rubio tweeted. “But the immediate rush to spread conspiracy theories about someone on the ‘other side’ of partisan divide having him killed illustrates why our society is so vulnerable to foreign disinformation & influence efforts.”
White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News Sunday defending the President. “I think the President just wants everything to be investigated,” Conway said when asked about Trump’s controversial retweet.
“Just the day before, there was some unsealed information implicating some people very high up,” she said, referring to the hundreds of pages of documents from a defamation lawsuit from one of Epstein’s accusers. Those documents were unsealed Friday by a court.
“I will say that there’s always this rush to (say), ‘We need transparency. We need accountability,’ when it involves fictional accusations like collusion with Russia to swing an election. This seems to be very concrete and that Jeffrey Epstein has done some very bad things over a number of years. So let’s continue to investigate that,” Conway said.
Democrats call out Trump for ‘more recklessness’
Still, two 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on Sunday called out Trump for retweeting the Epstein conspiracy theory and the President’s history of spreading baseless claims.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called Trump’s latest theory-peddling “more recklessness” and “dangerous,” telling CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that Trump has “been using the Clintons as a means for a lot of his false accusations.”
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke also told Tapper that Trump is attacking his “political enemies with unfounded conspiracy theories” and called it “bizarre behavior.”
O’Rourke said the President is attempting to shift the focus away from last weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
“He’s changing the conversation, and if we allow him to do that, then we will never be able to focus on the true problems, of which he is a part, and make sure that we get to the solutions,” O’Rourke, an El Paso native, said.
Jeffrey Epstein Was Not Being Monitored in Jail as Directed Before His Death
Authorities said Epstein died of apparent suicide. He was in jail on sex-trafficking charges.
The law enforcement official told The Times Epstein was supposed to be checked by guards every 30 minutes, but that procedure was not being followed the night he was found dead in the Manhattan jail.
The jail had also transferred Epstein’s cellmate and left him alone ahead of his apparent suicide, The Times reports.
Epstein’s death has left officials and lawmakers asking for answers on how this happened.
Epstein had apparently been taken off suicide watch before he died.
His death comes just weeks after officials investigated a possible suicide attempt.
The FBI is launching an investigation into the circumstances of Epstein’s death, Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.
R. Kelly Charged With Soliciting a Minor in Minnesota
A Minnesota prosecutor has charged R. Kelly with prostitution and solicitation charges for a 2001 allegation that he invited a 17-year-old girl to his hotel and paid her $200 to dance naked with him.
On Monday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Kelly, whose full name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is accused of soliciting the girl after meeting her before a concert in Minneapolis.
Freeman said the girl was trying to get an autograph from Kelly, and that the R&B performer gave her his signature and a phone number. When the girl called the number, she was invited to Kelly’s hotel. There she was offered $200 to take off her clothes and dance, Freeman said. He said Kelly took his clothes off and they danced together.
A criminal complaint said the girl said Kelly lay on his bed and the girl climbed on top of him “body to body.”
“According to Victim, the defendant was rubbing her body” and fondling himself, according to the complaint. “Victim stated that the defendant touched all over her body.”
The complaint said the girl attended Kelly’s concert “as a guest who did not have to pay,” and told her brother what had happened in Kelly’s hotel room.
According to Variety, Freeman said that the victim was under 18 but at least 16 years old at the time and the incident involved “dancing and sexual contact.” He added that there was no sexual intercourse between Kelly and the victim.
The charges are felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison. Freeman said his office investigated after getting a tip from a Chicago tip line.
“We felt we had more than enough to charge based on her testimony and corroboration from her brother,” Freeman — who did not provide a name for the alleged victim in Minneapolis — said.
In a statement to Fox News on Monday, Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg, said: “That case is a pure publicity grab by the prosecutor.” Greenberg also tweeted: “Give me a break. This is beyond absurd.”
Gloria Allred, the attorney for several of Kelly’s accusers, said she also represents the newest woman to come forward. She commended the woman “for the courage she displayed in speaking to law enforcement.
“As this new case demonstrates, it is not too late for there to be justice for even more victims of R. Kelly,” Allred — who added she will not name the woman — said in a statement.
Allred said her client is not a prostitute. She told a news conference in Los Angeles on Monday that she was told the prostitution statute was the only one available to Minnesota authorities to charge Kelly in this case.
The charges are the latest legal problem for the 52-year-old singer, who remains jailed in New York after pleading not guilty last week in federal court to charges that he sexually abused women and girls who attended his concerts there. He is accused of using his fame to recruit young women and girls into illegal sexual activity.
Kelly is also charged separately in Chicago with engaging in child pornography.
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