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Teen jumps onto field as cheerleader's fill-in father

A San Antonio family is thanking a young man for saving a little girl from a heartbreaking moment last weekend.

Addie Rodriguez, 9, was performing at a football game at Central Catholic High School when the other cheerleaders on her squad were joined by their fathers and lifted onto their shoulders. But Addie’s father wasn’t there.  

“Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday,” said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie’s mother, during an interview with WOAI.  

Addie’s father is Abel Rodriguez, a senior airman who’s currently training at Travis Air Force Base in California. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news  

“It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away," Perry-Rodriguez said. "It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country.”   

Then someone rushed toward Addie. That someone was Matthew Garcia, a senior at Central Catholic High School.  

“I ran down from the bleachers right here,” he said, “and I just hopped the fence, and I went over, and I (knelt) down, I talked to her and I said, ‘Are you OK?’”  

Matthew lifted Addie, a fourth-grader at St. John Bosco Elementary School, onto his shoulders.  

“And then I realized what he was doing,” Alexis said, “and my heart just melted. It was just the most beautiful thing.”   He served as emergency fill-in for Addie’s father, who’s serving some 1,700 miles away.  

“I just felt like somebody saved my life,” Addie said, adding: “I thought that's so nice, especially since my dad's serving for us.”

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  • A mother wanted on child cruelty charges out of Snellville has been arrested in Tennessee.  Savion Piotter already had DFCS cases pending against her in New York and DeKalb County. Snellville Police Det. Deann Green took out arrest warrants against her last week for drugging her four kids with Benadryl in an effort to control them, keeping them out of school for the last year and refusing to seek medical care for them.  When an officer showed up at her Snellville duplex with a caseworker, a 3-year-old answered the door and an 8-year-old subsequently shut and locked it in the officer’s face. Piotter skipped town with the kids before police could return with the warrant.  “I was able to ping her cell phone… and located it in Tennessee. I coordinated with Knoxville Police Department and they were able to locate her in the hotel in that area and make an arrest,” Green tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.  The four children were placed in DFCS custody and will be brought back to Georgia along with Piotter who Green plans to extradite.  Asked why Green was able to locate Piotter when others haven’t been able to, “My big thing is to keep track of kids and make sure they’re safe and in good condition. So, I wanted to make sure they didn’t slip through the cracks,” she says.
  • The Flint, Michigan, airport officer stabbed in the neck during what authorities are investigating as a terrorist act is recovering well from a 12-inch 'slash' that caused significant bleeding but spared major arteries and a nerve by 'millimeters,' one of his doctors said Friday. Hurley Medical Center doctors said during a news conference that Bishop International Airport police Lt. Jeff Neville could be released from the hospital within a couple days. Dr. Donald Scholten said he is making good progress after being stabbed from 'by his Adam's apple' up 'to the angle of his jaw.' 'This was a matter of millimeters,' Scholten said. 'The slash was probably very, very close to severing his major arteries and nerve — perhaps even his windpipe and digestive systems ... This was not a shaving nick, if you will. This was significant force.' Neville was stabbed Wednesday at the airport in Flint, about 50 miles (80.46 kilometers) northwest of Detroit. Amor Ftouhi, 49, a Canadian from Tunisia, is charged in the attack. Detroit FBI head David Gelios said Ftouhi unsuccessfully tried to buy a gun once he arrived in the U.S. but instead managed to buy a large knife. Authorities say Ftouhi stabbed Neville with a large knife after yelling 'Allahu akbar,' the Arabic phrase for 'God is great.' According to the FBI, Ftouhi said something similar to 'you have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die.' Ftouhi was immediately taken into custody and was charged in a criminal complaint with committing violence at an airport. Acting U.S. Attorney Dan Lemisch said more charges are coming in the days ahead. Ftouhi is in custody and has a bond hearing scheduled for Wednesday. Neville 'fought him to the end,' managing to stop the stabbing and bring Ftouhi to the ground as other officers arrived to help, according to Chris Miller, the airport police chief. Scholten also credits first responders, saying their efforts to control Neville's bleeding were 'absolutely life-saving.' Investigators are working to learn more about Ftouhi, whom they describe as a lone-wolf attacker who made his way to the seemingly random destination of Flint, a struggling city once known for its sprawling General Motors factories but now better known for lead-tainted water. He was a part-time caretaker at the Montreal apartment building where he lived and had once studied to sell insurance, a landlord and an insurance company spokesman said. The suspect indicated to court officials that he has lived in Canada for 10 years and has three children. A pretrial services officer told a judge that he had worked on and off as a truck driver. He indicated 'no mental or physical health problems and no drug or alcohol use,' the officer, Linsey Carson, said. Police in Canada were searching a Montreal apartment. Montreal police spokesman Benoit Boiselle said officers were assisting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the search on behalf of an FBI request. Three people staying at the residence had been taken in for questioning, Boiselle said. He legally entered the U.S. at Champlain, New York, on June 16 and was in Michigan by at least June 18, said Gellios, who would not say whether Ftouhi entered the U.S. under a so-called trusted traveler program. He spent some time in public, unsecured areas of the airport before going to a restroom where he dropped two bags before attacking the officer with a 12-inch knife that had an 8-inch serrated blade, Gelios said. Ftouhi asked an officer who subdued him why he did not kill him, according to the criminal complaint. Police described him as 'cooperative' and said he was talking to investigators.
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  • After an online outcry, a Seattle Police Department video in which an officer playing a video game discussed the recent fatal police shooting of a pregnant mother has been removed from social media. The video was part of a recent effort by the department to engage a new audience on Twitch.tv, a platform on which people can livestream themselves playing video games and talking. Previous versions have included members of the department's public information office blasting aliens in the game Destiny while discussing law-enforcement related topics. But a video posted Wednesday in which Sgt. Sean Whitcomb discussed Sunday's fatal shooting of 30-year-old Charleena Myles struck many as inappropriate, although Whitcomb's videogame character just walked around rather than firing any shots. The video was initially linked on the department's official Twitter feed, but it had been set to private Friday. The department said it would no longer use Twitch.
  • A dozen or so House Democrats want Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to go after a dispiriting loss in a Georgia House election. They just don't know how to make it happen. 'We can't keep losing races and keep the same leadership in place. You have a baseball team that keeps losing year after year. At some point, the coach has got to go, right?' said Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., on Friday. The frustrated Democrats met in Rice's office a day earlier to discuss their options as they face long odds of knocking out the woman who has led the Democratic caucus for nearly 15 years from minority to majority and back, raised tens of millions of dollars and has had multiple legislative successes. Their action plan: Keep talking. Keep raising the concern that something needs to change within the ranks of the party's leadership. It's about all they can do. 'Right now, what I'm pushing for is a conversation within the caucus,' Rice said. A defiant Pelosi told reporters Thursday that she was 'very confident' about the support that she had from fellow Democrats who now number 193. When it comes to her detractors, Pelosi said 'my decision about how long I stay is not up to them.' The main argument against Pelosi from her Democratic detractors is that more than 30 years in Washington and hundreds of millions of dollars in attack ads against her have taken their toll when it comes to public opinion. Millions were spent in Georgia with ads linking Pelosi to Jon Ossoff, who lost to Republican Karen Handel on Tuesday. They argue that Democratic candidates will have a better shot on Election Day if they're not tied to Pelosi. 'The issue I think strategically is that Trump energizes their base and Leader Pelosi energizes their base,' said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who was unsuccessful last year in trying to unseat Pelosi. Said Rice: 'The Republican playbook has been very successful. It's not fair. It's not accurate in its attacks on our leader, but it's effective. They keep winning and we keep losing.' But it's also clear that many Democrats in the House, if not the large majority, don't see it that way. They say voters in Republican-leaning districts are motivated by more than a desire to stop Pelosi and Democrats need to work on developing a message that can win them over. On that point, Ryan agreed that the Democrats need to focus less on President Donald Trump and more on economic issues. 'We should stop talking about Trump all the time, and Russia. People in Ohio don't grab me about Russia at all when I'm home,' Ryan said. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., who also attended the meeting, said, 'in every corner of our caucus, we're concerned. And we have one goal: winning in 2018.' Moulton is one of the House Democrats who has been most vocal in calling for a new generation of leadership. The Iraq war veteran endorsed eight veterans running for the House this week, and started a new national security task force with other young veterans within the Democratic caucus. 'Of course I'm open to a meeting' with Pelosi,' Moulton said. 'We're a family. We're going to have those discussions.' Pelosi said that would be fine with her. 'I love the arena. I thrive on competition, and I welcome the discussion,' she said. ___ Associated Press staff writer Matthew Daly contributed to this report. ___ On Twitter, reach Kevin Freking at https://twitter.com/APkfreking
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