Amita Kelly

Amita Kelly manages national news coverage across NPR.org and other digital platforms.

Previously, she was a digital editor on NPR's Washington Desk, where she managed election, politics, and policy coverage for NPR.org as well as social media and audience engagement.

She was also an editor and producer for NPR's mid-day newsmagazine program Tell Me More, where she covered health, politics, parenting, and, once, how Korea celebrates St. Patrick's Day. Kelly has also worked at Kaiser Health News and NBC News.

Kelly was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where she earned her M.A., and earned a B.A. in English from Wellesley College. She is a native of Southern California, where even Santa surfs.

When a shooter started spraying the inside of a Sutherland Springs, Texas church with bullets on Sunday, 30-year-old Joann Ward "threw her body over the little ones," according to her mother-in-law, Sandy Ward.

The "little ones" who were at church that day were Joann Ward's daughters Rhianna Garcia, 9, Emily Garcia, 7 and Brooke Ward, 5 and stepson Ryland Ward, 5.

Joann Ward, Emily and Brooke died; Ryland was shot several times and remains in critical condition, facing multiple surgeries.

Dispatch audio from the New York Police Department recorded as Tuesday's attack unfolded in the city reveals a dramatic — and often tense — response. At least eight were killed and more than a dozen were injured.

Listen to six moments from the first 10 minutes after reports of pedestrians hit and shots fired came in:

(NPR obtained this audio via Broadcastify)

Updated 10:10 p.m. ET Fri

Though the brunt of Hurricane Maria has left Puerto Rico, the island's water worries continue. On Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service reported that the Guajataca Dam in the northwest is "failing," causing flash flooding. Buses were trying to evacuate people from the area "as quickly as they can," the service said.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

More than 6.5 million Florida homes and businesses are now without power after Hurricane Irma moved through the state, according to the state's emergency management division. That's 64 percent of the state's power customers, and there are several counties where 80-90 percent of customers are without power.

Like many Texans, Chiwoniso Luzolo is desperate to be rescued from her home — as she has been since Sunday afternoon. Her deck, backyard and front yard in Cypress, Texas, outside Houston are flooded, made worse by water released from nearby dams.

The house and deck are on 12-foot stilts, and when the water reached the deck, she knew it was bad.

At the center of Charlottesville's violent white nationalist rally was a long-simmering controversy over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

President Trump's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller had a tense exchange with reporters at Wednesday's press briefing as he defended the administration's new proposal to dramatically curtail legal immigration. The plan prioritizes highly skilled workers over family members for green cards.

A 12-year veteran of the New York Police Department, Miosotis Familia, was shot and killed early Wednesday in the Bronx.

As WNYC reports, the 48-year old officer was in her patrol car in the Bronx when a man suddenly started shooting.

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill tweeted that Familia was "assassinated in an unprovoked attack on cops assigned to keep NYers safe."

Updated at 7:40 p.m. ET

President Trump says he is "sending in Federal help" to Chicago to help curb gun violence.

The president tweeted early Friday that crime in Chicago has reached "epidemic proportions," referencing the nearly 2,000 shootings in the city so far this year.

The tweet came ahead of a press conference announcing a new 'Strike Force' — a collaboration between the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives bureau and the Chicago Police Department.

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday sided with same-sex marriage opponents who argued that the city of Houston should not have extended its benefits policy to married same-sex couples. The court threw out a lower court ruling that had favored the benefits and sent the case back to a lower court.

The benefits policy was enacted by Houston's former, and first openly gay, mayor, Annise Parker, in 2013.

For 24 years, Joe Arpaio was a tough talking sheriff in Arizona, famous for cracking down on illegal immigration.

About a decade ago Arpaio, dubbed "America's Toughest Sheriff" in conservative circles, started instructing his deputies to make traffic stops and detain any unauthorized immigrants they encountered. Then they'd turn the immigrants over to federal agents for deportation.

127 degrees in California's Death Valley. 124 degrees in Ocotillo Wells in San Diego County. 119 in Phoenix.

Parts of the Southwest and West are suffering through a heat wave, which is bringing problems beyond sweat and bad hair. Here's what's happening:

1. Airplanes can't take off

Nearly 50 flights were cancelled in Phoenix on Tuesday, as NPR's two-way blog reported. In Las Vegas, some airlines changed flights to take off in the morning when it's cooler.

The director of Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office over the Flint water crisis. Both are felonies in Michigan.

The state's chief medical executive, Dr. Eden Wells, will be charged with obstruction of justice. Four other officials, including the former Flint emergency manager and former director of public works, were also charged with involuntary manslaughter.

On Friday, Hillary Clinton addressed the graduating class of her alma mater, Wellesley College.

She used the opportunity to wade into current politics and direct a few jokes at President Trump.

Melania Trump accompanied the president to the Vatican on Wednesday, wearing a black veil and a long-sleeved black Dolce & Gabbana dress.

North Carolina NAACP President William Barber, a liberal force against the state's attempts to limit voting rights and ban gay marriage, will step down from the organization next month.

Barber, who was elected to the position in 2005, organized weekly "Moral Mondays" protests, calling on supporters to take a moral stand for a wide range of issues including voting rights, higher wages, gun control and President Trump's immigration ban.

The protests grew to draw thousands of progressive supporters and led to arrests from time to time.

Baltimore Orioles player Adam Jones received an extended ovation from fans at Boston's Fenway Park on Tuesday night, one day after he says he heard racists taunts from fans at the same park.

Jones, who is African-American, also said someone in the stands threw a bag of peanuts at him Monday night.

New allegations that he inappropriately touched and groped women are "vicious" as well as "totally, absolutely false," Donald Trump said Thursday at a campaign rally.

Trump made the comments at a planned rally in West Palm Beach, Fla., his first time speaking publicly since the New York Times and other publications reported assault allegations from various women.

He said the claims were thrown at him by "the Clinton machine," the New York Times and other news outlets.

First lady Michelle Obama gave a rousing, lengthy speech Thursday, hammering Donald Trump for vulgar comments he has made about women. Campaigning for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, Obama also addressed new allegations that Trump inappropriately touched women.

Reacting to the recent release of audio of Donald Trump making vulgar comments about women, President Obama called the candidate "insecure" and said he "pumps himself up by putting other people down — not a character trait I would advise for somebody in the Oval Office."

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