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Carter County Detention Center(MOREHEAD, Ky.) -- For Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk in jail for refusing a judge’s order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, she herself holds a jailhouse key.

Davis, who was taken into custody Thursday, could be released as soon as she complies with U.S. District Judge David Bunning's order to resume issuing licenses in Rowan County.

"With civil contempt, you hold the jailhouse key," Howard Wasserman, law professor at Florida International University College of Law, told ABC News. "As soon as you comply, you are let out of jail."

But lawyers for Davis say she has no intention of resigning and any marriage licenses issued by her deputy clerks are void.

Professor Wasserman says he believes Bunning chose jail for Davis because "the less severe sanction of monetary fines would not have been sufficient to get her to comply. So the judge concluded that this was the only sanction he had left."

Davis' options appear to be to comply, resign or stay in jail, Wasserman said, adding that it's unclear what will happen next. But Wasserman noted that it seems as though Davis is "benefiting in an odd way from being in jail."

"I wouldn't say she wants to be there ... [but] for her cause, this is actually an advantageous thing," Wasserman said. "Because she has been a martyr to this cause. She has presidential candidates talking about [her as a] victim in a war against Christianity ... and how she's a victim of being the first person ever put in jail for adhering to their conscience, which is not true.

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Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images(MOREHEAD, Ky.) -- Kim Davis thinks she has a solution to her problem.

The Kentucky county clerk, jailed for failing to follow a judge’s orders to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, wants her name removed from the marriage certificates, her attorney Matthew Staver told ABC News.

“She has a very strong conscience and she’s just asking for a simple remedy, and that is, remove her name from the certificate and all will be well,” Staver said. “That simple remedy has simply been ignored by the court and by the governor and that’s what should have been done.

“I think it’s reprehensible that she’s in jail for this when a simple fix could have been easily handled.”

Marriage licenses in Kentucky are required to include an authorization statement of the county clerk issuing the license.

Five of Davis' six deputies are expected to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses Friday.

 Davis’ stay in jail has not made her reconsider her stance, Staver said.

“One thing about Kim, she may be incarcerated behind the jail bars but her conscious remains free. And just knowing Kim, she’s made a decision and she can’t violate that conscious and she can’t have this collision with her religious convictions,” Staver said.


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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Pope Francis had a piece of advice for the Americans he spoke to during a virtual audience hosted by ABC News: “Be courageous.”

During the event, which was moderated by ABC News’ World News Tonight anchor David Muir on Monday, the pontiff spoke for nearly an hour via satellite from the Vatican with individuals from the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago’s inner city, congregants from Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, located near the U.S.-Mexico border, and homeless men and women and those working with the homeless in Los Angeles.

The three locations were selected by ABC News because they are in parts of the country that Pope Francis will not be visiting during his historic trip to the United States, later this month.

The selected speakers, which included an undocumented teenager who had lost a soccer scholarship to college and a homeless mother of two, were all people who had struggled with adversity. The speakers were told beforehand they would get to share their story with his Holiness.

Pope Francis and the People will air in a one-hour special edition of ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, Sept. 4, at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, the event will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on ABCNews.com.

Throughout the hour-long event, Pope Francis consoled the speakers, many of whom shed tears as the Pontiff offered them words of praise, encouragement and advice.

“It’s true that there are difficulties on life’s path, many of them,” the Holy Father said. “Don’t fear the difficulties. Be prudent, be careful, but don’t fear.”

One of the most powerful moments during the event was when Valerie Herrera, 17, stepped up to speak.

Herrera, a senior at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, told Pope Francis she had struggled with vitiligo, an autoimmune disease that causes white blotches on the face and body, and had endured bullying through elementary and middle school.

Herrera, the eldest of four children born to parents from Mexico, said she sang in her church choir and had found comfort through music.

In her question, she asked what the Holy Father expects from today’s youth and what should they aspire to be.

But before he answered her question, Pope Francis surprised Herrera with a request.

"May I ask for you to sing a song for me?" he said in English. As Herrera hesitated, Pope Francis told her, “be courageous."

After a long pause and encouragement from the audience, Herrera sang, "Junto a Ti Maria (Next to You, Maria)."

When the applause died down, Pope Francis answered her question.

“What I hope for from youth is for you all not to walk alone in life,” he said. “Life is very difficult. It’s difficult to walk alone. You get lost. You get confused. You can find the wrong path or you can be walking around in circles, in a maze, or worst, you can stop because you get tired of walking in life. Always walk hand-in-hand with someone who loves you, someone who gives you tenderness.”

“In my country, there’s a saying, 'it’s better to be alone than to be in bad company,'” continued Francis, who is from Argentina. “That’s true, but walk accompanied... You have the strength to overcome. Don't be scared. Don't stop. There's nothing worse than a young person who has retired before his or her time. I don't know at what age people retire in the United States, but can you imagine a young person who's 25 years old, who's retired? Terrible. Always move forward with courage and with hope."

The pope praised Rosemary Farfan, 31, for caring for her two young daughters by herself. The family had been living at the Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children, a program of Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, but left in June to move into their first apartment.

“I know it’s not easy to be a single mother,” Francis said. “I know that people can sometimes look askance at you, but I’ll tell you one thing, you’re a brave woman because you’re capable of bringing these two daughters into the world.”

"You could have killed them inside your womb, and you respected life," the pope continued. "You respected the life you were carrying inside you, and God is going to reward you for that, and he does reward you for that. Don't be ashamed. Hold your head high. 'I didn't kill my daughters. I brought them into the world.' I congratulate you. I congratulate you, and God bless you."

Hundreds gathered at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, including Ricardo Ortiz, 19, who told Pope Francis that he had come to the U.S. from Mexico on a tourist visa when he was 4 years old. He said his father sometimes had difficulty finding work because he was undocumented. Then when Ortiz was around 17, he said his father had an accident and wasn’t able to work at all.

Choking back tears, Ortiz, who has three younger brothers, said, "That happening impacted my life in a very deep way. I had to become the breadwinner of the family. I had to be the person that supported our family... I never lost faith. I never lost the strength that my father and mother gave me."

Ortiz told the pope that eventually his father was able to return to work and Ortiz was able to graduate high school. He had even won a soccer scholarship to college, but the scholarship was revoked once the school discovered he was not a U.S. citizen. His father scraped together the money to send him to a community college instead.

Pope Francis, an avid soccer fan, expressed admiration for Ortiz and told him that "the match is played between friendship in society and enmity in society."

"We are all created for friendship in society. All of us bear responsibility for everyone else," the pope said. "And each one has to make a choice in his or her heart. And we have to help that choice to be made in the heart. .... Only closeness and giving of myself, all that I have to give, the way you gave everything you could as a boy, when you supported your family. Don't forget that."

Another surprising moment during the event is when the pope called out directly to Sister Norma Pimentel, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. Sister Pimentel runs a welcome center at Sacred Heart Church in response to the surge of immigrants being released by the U.S. border patrol. More than 23,000 immigrants have passed through the center.

The Holy Father singled Pimentel out in the audience and called her to the front.

“I want to thank you, and through you to thank all the sisters of religious orders in the U.S. for the work that you have done and that you do in the United States," the pope said. "It's great. I congratulate you. Be courageous. Move forward. Take the lead, always. I'll tell you one other thing. Is it inappropriate for the Pope to say this? I love you all very much."

The virtual audience was conducted ahead of Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the United States, when he will travel to Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia from Sept. 22 to Sept. 27.

When Marcus Alston, a 19-year-old who had lived on the streets of Los Angeles and on Monday was staying at Covenant House, asked the pope why his upcoming trip to the US was important, the Pontiff said he wanted to connect to Americans.

“There’s something very important for me, which is closeness,” Francis said. “For me it's difficult not to be close to people. When I approach people, as I'm going to do with you, it's easier for me to understand them and help them along life's path. That's why this trip is so important, for me to draw close to your path and your history.”

Pope Francis and the People will air in a one-hour special edition of ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, Sept. 4, at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, the event will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on ABCNews.com.


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ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- In the shadow of Hollywood, another, harsher version of Los Angeles exists -- a city containing the largest unsheltered homeless population in the country, including up to 10,000 homeless youths.

Marcus Alston, one of those many young people, had the chance to ask Pope Francis a question Monday morning when the Holy Father addressed a crowd of more than 200 homeless men and women in downtown Los Angeles during a virtual audience hosted with ABC News.

“Hi, Holy Father,” Alston, 19, began, “It's a great honor to meet you and to be able to speak with you-- and to represent all the people-- the young people here-- who are without a home here in the United States. So my question for you-- 'cause I know why you're so important to me-- but why is this trip to America so important to you?"

"For me it's very important to meet with you all, with the citizens of the United States, who have your history, your culture, your virtues, your joys, your sadnesses, your problems like everyone else," Pope Francis said. "I'm at the service of all churches and all men and women of good will."

"There's something very important for me, which is closeness," the pontiff continued. "For me it's difficult not to be close to people. When I approach people, as I'm going to do with you, it's easier for me to understand them and help them along life's path. That's why this trip is so important, for me to draw close to your path and your history."

The ABC News team met with Marcus the previous day where he told us his story. Living in foster care on and off until the age of 17, he told us he lived on the streets after a failed stint living with his biological mother left him homeless. He told us his first night in L.A. he didn’t know where to go so he scaled a fence and slept outside a church

Marcus eventually found Covenant House of California, a youth homeless shelter, where he lived for 13 months. Before moving out this week, he gave us a tour of the bedroom he’d been sleeping in, showing us his skateboards and the jacket he says is his most prized possession.

“This is my prized blazer," he said. "It builds my self-esteem, and also people, I’ve noticed people take people in suits more serious than they do somebody with a hoodie and sweats.”

An aspiring singer and songwriter, he played a song he’d written himself in the Covenant House’s music room.

The next morning, he would wear his prized jacket to meet the Pope, an experience Marcus found completely humbling and surreal.

“This is my favorite and most honorable day, I get to meet the pope,” he said after the event. “I just I don’t know, maybe it’s just like the lottery… I really do feel special, and feel like I was made for something bigger and this will be the start hopefully.

Pope Francis and the People will air in a one-hour special edition of ABC News’ "20/20" on Friday, Sept. 4, at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, the event will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on ABCNews.com.


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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — One of the alleged masterminds behind what has been called "one of the most financially destructive computer viruses in history" is expected to appear Friday afternoon in a New York federal courtroom.

Deniss Calovskis, a Latvian national, was arrested in November 2012 for his alleged role in writing some of the code that allowed the Gozi virus to be so effective. The malicious code infected at least 40,000 computers in the U.S., including NASA computers, and was allegedly used to steal tens of millions of dollars from bank accounts around the world, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Calovskis' appearance in court comes as he has been in plea talks with the government, according to his attorney. Calovskis allegedly wrote the code that tricked victims into divulging personal information.

The malicious code, described as "one of the most financially destructive computer viruses in history," was first discovered by American cyber-security experts in 2007, but New York prosecutors said the criminal operation continued until March 2012.

Gozi spread to the U.S. no later than 2010 and eventually infected 160 computers belonging to NASA, according to court documents. In total, the scheme "caused tens of millions of dollars in losses and affected well over one million computers," court papers noted.

One method for infecting victims was to disguise the virus as a PDF document, which when opened, would install the virus on the target's computer while remaining undetectable by anti-virus software, according to the Department of Justice. The virus would then collect personal data from the computer, including bank account information, which was then used to transfer funds from the victims and ultimately into accounts the hackers could access, the Department of Justice said.

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Ty Wright/Getty Images(MOREHEAD, Ky.) -- James Yates and William Smith Jr. were the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in Rowan County, Kentucky, Friday morning, while clerk Kim Davis remains in jail for failing to follow a judge’s orders to issue the licenses.

Smith and Yates, of Morehead, Kentucky, have been together for nearly a decade. They arrived minutes after the office opened, and became the first same-sex couple to get their marriage license in Rowan County's history.

After the men paid the $35.50 fee, deputy clerk Brian Mason said, “Congratulations.” They said this was their sixth attempt to get a license.

Yates rushed to embrace his mother in a long hug.

When Yates and Smith exited the courthouse, they were met with cheers from about 35 supporters, chanting, "Love wins."

Clerk Davis was jailed Thursday after a judge found her in contempt of court for her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses. But five of her deputies said under oath they would comply with the court's order to issue the licenses.

Davis’ stay in jail has not made her reconsider her stance on issuing same-sex marriage licenses, her attorney Matthew Staver told ABC News.

“One thing about Kim, she may be incarcerated behind the jail bars but her conscience remains free," Staver said. "And just knowing Kim, she’s made a decision and she can’t violate that conscience and she can’t have this collision with her religious convictions."


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ABC News(MCALLEN, Texas) — When Sister Norma Pimentel participated in a virtual papal audience hosted by ABC News this week, she was excited to see Pope Francis, but never expected him to address her directly.

Sister Pimentel runs a welcome center at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, which has helped more than 20,000 immigrants. Pope Francis was watching and listening intently via satellite from the Vatican as Sister Pimentel was introduced briefly. Then, after young mothers and children who had just arrived shared their stories, the Holy Father returned to the sister who had been mentioned before.

“There was a sister there of a religious order, I want to see her,” he said.

“I said, ‘Oh, that’s me,’” Sister Pimentel said, reflecting on the moment afterwards. “He’s actually speaking to me. And then I saw his little hand go like, ‘come, come, come, come,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I felt like a little child called forth by their dear father.”

The 62-year-old nun made her way to the center aisle and stood before Pope Francis’ smiling face, on a 9-by-9-foot screen.

“I want to thank you," Francis said. "And through you to thank all the sisters of religious orders in the U.S. for the work that you have done and that you do in the United States. It's great. I congratulate you. Be courageous. Move forward.

And then the pope, 78, said something she could never have imagined: “I'll tell you one other thing. Is it unseemly for the Pope to say this? I love you all very much.“

She bowed, her hands in prayer, and returned to her seat. Then the tears began to flow. “I’m still in heaven still experiencing his presence,” she said. “He’s telling me I love you very much at the end I was like, ‘Oh, wow. ... I will cherish and treasure this moment forever. I am blessed.”

The Pope and the People will air in a one-hour special edition of ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, Sept. 4, at 10 p.m. ET. In addition, the event will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on ABCNews.com.


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A STRONG SIGNAL TO U.S. SISTERS

It was a personal moment of triumph for Sister Norma, but Vatican experts say it also sent an important message to Catholic sisters across the United States that their work is valued and supported by the church.

“Especially after the Vatican’s recent investigation of Catholic sisters, Pope Francis’ beautiful words of encouragement remind people of the incredible work these women do day in and day out,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor-at-large for America magazine. “It’s a sign that he ‘gets it’ when it comes to Catholic sisters in this country.”

The investigation of the sisters by the Vatican, which began under Pope Benedict, was incredibly painful for U.S. women in the church, according to ABC News consultant Cokie Roberts.

“This is a very strong signal that he admires the work of American women religious, and that the moment of discord is over,” Roberts said. “These nuns are doing exactly what the pope is talking about: They work on the margins with people who need help.”

‘WE TOO LOVE POPE FRANCIS’


Francis showed his support for the U.S. Catholic sisters in April when he met with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LGWR) in Rome. LGWR executive director Sister Joan Marie Steadman, who was at the meeting with the pope, said she was heartened by the pope’s recent comments on ABC News.

“I was very moved by the pope’s recognition of Sister Norma and the critical work she is doing on behalf of immigrants, and was heartened that he extended his gratitude to all Catholic sisters serving in the United States,“ Steadman said in a statement to ABC News. “We will take heart from his words to be courageous and to keep moving forward, and I am sure sisters will delight in his spontaneous expression of affection as well. We too love Pope Francis."

Martin, the Jesuit priest and editor-at-large for America magazine, told ABC News, “The pope speaks with both gestures and words, just like Jesus did, His gesture of meeting with the LGWR leadership, coupled with his words now of support for this sister, shows his deep admiration and support for the Catholics sisters in this country.”

As for Sister Norma, she believes the Holy Spirit was guiding what transpired in the church. “It’s a new beginning right?” she said. “It is a historical moment where our holy father acknowledges and recognizes the wonderful work that we as nuns in the US are doing and are committed in making a difference in the lives of so many people.”

For more information on Sister Norma Pimentel and the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley visit their website HERE.

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John Roman/iStock/Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- An 11-year-old St. Louis boy fatally shot a teenager believed to be trying to enter his home on Thursday afternoon.

According to the St. Louis County Police Department, officers were called shortly before 2:30 p.m. Thursday and found the 16-year-old victim in the front foyer of the home. Police said that earlier in the day, two subjects had approached the home repeatedly, but did not gain entry into the home. At about 2:20 p.m., the two individuals approached the home again and made it through the front door.

The 11-year-old resident shot the 16-year-old in the head, killing him. The second suspect fled the scene before police arrived, but was later taken into custody.

A four-year-old girl was also home at the time of the shooting. Neither of the residents were injured. The mother of the children was not home at the time.

An investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch, however, reports that at least two witnesses say that the 11-year-old was the aggressor in the incident. The newspaper also said that there were no signs of forced entry at the home.


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Dennis Macdonald/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Summer's nearly over, and that means most summer vacations are, too.  If you haven't yet had the chance to take yours, you might want to think twice about visiting certain cities that, apparently, would rather you not visit at all.

Stratosjets compiled Twitter data to analyze over 37,000 geotagged tweets from June 1, 2014 to July 20, 2015. Tweets that included the words "tourist" and "tourists" were then checked to see if they were positive or negative. Then based on the number of negative tweets, the company compiled a list of the cities where the locals were most unfriendly to tourists.

While the method may not be scientific, it does show how a fair few people in those cities feel about tourists.  Based on those results, here are the top ten cities where the locals are most unwelcoming of tourists:

1. Arlington, Texas
2. New York City, New York
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. Boston, Massachusetts
5. New Orleans, Louisiana
6. Orlando, Florida
7. Greensboro, North Carolina
8. Phoenix, Arizona
9. Los Angeles, California
10. San Francisco, California

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iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Sacramento City College was put on lockdown Thursday night after a deadly shooting on campus near the baseball fields, police said.

Sacramento police said there were three male shooting victims, including the one who died. Two others suffered non-life-threatening injuries and one of those was hospitalized.

Police said they were looking for a shirtless man wearing cargo shorts.

The motive was not clear.

A spokesman for the college said that three shots were fired on campus, which was on lockdown while police looked for the shooter.

The Los Rios Police Department said that the shooting took place following an argument involving four individuals, one of whom produced a handgun and shot at the other three.

All three victims are current students at Sacramento City College. It was not immediately clear whether the shooter was a student as well.

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Ty Wright/Getty Images(ASHLAND, Ky.) — A Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, was jailed Thursday after a judge found her in contempt of court for her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses, but five of her deputies said under oath they would comply with the court's order to issue the licenses.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning ruled against the Rowan County clerk before deputy marshals removed her from the courtroom.

Bunning said Davis could be released if she complies with the order to resume issuing licenses. She has refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone, arguing that such a move was a way around discriminating against same-sex couples.

The ACLU had asked that she be fined but the judge said he didn’t believe that was enough to force her into action.

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Davis, said in a statement, “Everyone is stunned at this development. Kim Davis is being treated as a criminal because she cannot violate her conscience. While she may be behind bars for now, Kim Davis is a free woman. Her conscience remains unshackled.”

The controversy surrounding her refusal played out today in court, where the judge had told her to appear after the Supreme Court this week refused to intervene in an appeals court’s affirmation that she issue the licenses.

The crowd of marriage equality supporters that had gathered outside of the courthouse in Ashland, Kentucky, began to cheer as the news spread.

Davis was called to testify at today's hearing and she reiterated that she believes issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples is against her religious beliefs, even though she has been ordered to do so as a result of an earlier Supreme Court ruling.

"My conscience will not allow me," she said several times during her testimony.

On the stand she was quiet, almost whispering, and teared up when talking about her religious beliefs.

"I did a lot of vile and wicked things in my past," Davis said when asked about her life before becoming a Christian in 2011.


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Grace Beahm/Getty Images(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- State prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty against the alleged South Carolina church shooter, they announced on Thursday.

In a court filing released on Thursday, state prosecutors indicated that they will be seeking the death penalty when Dylann Roof is tried in the killing of nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June.

Cited in the filing as the rationale for seeking capital punishment was the fact that more than two people were killed and others' lives were put at risk.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson is scheduled to explain the state's decision at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

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iStock/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) -- A school bus driver in Texas was fired and three women face charges after the women allegedly boarded a bus filled with middle-school students and rode to school, officials said.

The alleged incident occurred last Friday on a bus from the North East Independent School District in San Antonio.

Video footage from inside the bus, first obtained by San Antonio station KENS-TV, appears to show the women slipping past the driver and taking seats. Two of the women sat in the back of the bus, while the third sat next to a middle-school boy.

“We don’t know them,” students could be heard saying when the women boarded the bus.

The driver continued on his route and arrived at the school, where two of the unnamed women allegedly slipped past the driver again. But when the driver saw the third woman, he recognized that she wasn’t a student.

The women were charged with criminal trespassing warnings. One of the women was also cited for possessing alcohol on school property, while another of the women was charged with assault after allegedly grabbing a student’s arm, authorities said.

Aubrey Chancellor, a spokeswoman with the district, said the new school year may have contributed to the matter.

“It’s obviously difficult at the beginning of school with new faces," Chancellor said. "But, regardless, this was a big mistake, and that is why this bus driver no longer works for this district."


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Courtesy of Kathy Gafford(GATLINBURG, Tenn.) -- A Tennessee woman learned the hard way a valuable lesson about bears -- always keep your car windows closed.

Kathy Gafford, of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, was inspecting cabins in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Monday when she looked down at her car and saw a mother and baby bear had found their way in.

“I’ve always left my windows down. I just took for granted that they would never get in my car,” Gafford told ABC News affiliate WATE-TV of the bears in the area. “Well, wrong.”

“The baby was sitting in the passenger seat. The mama was sitting in that seat [driver's] looking like she was cruising around, like she was fixing to take off,” she said. “I was carjacked by a bear.”

The bears grabbed Gafford’s purse, as seen in a photo Gafford took that shows the bear leaning out of the car with the purse firmly in its mouth.

The mother bear also found a cooler that Gafford had stocked with her lunch and snacks for the day.

“Mama was the bad one. She was the bad bear,” Gafford said. “She just wanted anything and everything she could find that I had in my car.”

Gafford told WATE-TV she was not scared by the bears and started banging on pans and yelling to scare the animals away.

She also says she will be closing her car windows from now on.

“And I would advise everybody else to do the same,” she said.

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KOMO-TV(SEATTLE) -- A tree that crashed down into a Snohomish County, Washington house during a recent storm -- splitting it in half -- narrowly missed the family of four inside it.

Homeowner Marlon Waske said that he, his wife, their two young daughters and their dog had just moved into the home about three weeks ago, and they weren't even finished unpacking when a strong windstorm knocked over the large tree into their home this past Saturday.

"My wife and I were just sitting on the couch upstairs with my one-year-old and three-year-old daughters and our dog when we heard a big gust of wind coming through," Waske, 38, told ABC News. "It seemed to be at least 60 miles per hour, and we could hear the branches hitting the roof. We thought, 'Whoa, that's getting bad,' so we grabbed the kids and dog and went downstairs."

Just three minutes after moving downstairs, the tree crashed through their home, he said. The tree stopped only about a foot away from his head, he added.

"When it came down, it sounded like a war zone," Waske said. "It looked like it, too. Everything -- debris, glass, the stairwell -- came shooting down, and then it was just the whole room full of dust. Our ears were ringing."

Neighbors came running down the street, he said, adding that "they thought everyone was dead until I put my thumbs up and showed them we were OK."

"We ran outside, and we were all still in our pajamas and bare feet," Waske said. "When we came outside, we saw our cars were completely totaled. Our neighbors took us in."

Waske said he's been frustrated with the slow response of his insurance company, who he declined to name, but he's thankful for local tree services who helped remove the tree from their home on Wednesday night.

ABC News is respecting Waske's wishes not to identify the city where their home is to prevent anyone from coming and trying to take something from the damaged home.

The family temporarily lived in a hotel for a little bit but has since been "bouncing back and forth" between Waske's parents' home and his wife's parents' home, he said.

"It's been hard because we haven't spent one night all together yet because I'm taking care of the dog at one house while my wife stays with the kids," Waske said. "We haven't gone to the hospital either. My wife's got headaches. My ears are still ringing, and our bodies are aching. It feels like we were in a car wreck. Luckily, the kids seem OK."

The father of two added that what's even more heartbreaking about the situation is that he and his dad had spent over three months remodeling the "dream home" before he and his family moved in.

"One thing we did during remodeling was added steel brackets to a beam running across upstairs, and I think those brackets are what stopped the tree from going through and crushing us," he said.

A structural engineer was scheduled to take a look at the home today to determine whether or not it was safe for workers to be inside and begin work on the home, Waske said.

"I just really want my house back," he said. "I just want to rebuild it and have my family back together."


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