Veteran Carries Flag throughout Arkansas, Spreading Unity

From KAIT by Miranda Reynolds via WBTV.com

A man from Lee County served in combat for our country and when the coronavirus pandemic began in March, he decided to spread unity and love.

“By the time I start out running and that flag goes up, I hear the horns start blowing, people waving, thumbs up, people applaud,” he describes.

Nathaniel Thomas knew his physical talents and then decided to use them for good.

“It was placed on my heart then, ‘What can I do as a citizen to try to keep Forrest City and those surrounding communities encouraged?’ I enjoy running,” he explains.

That’s when he grabbed Old Glory and started running 10 miles every Saturday to uplift those in the area and encourage them to stay strong during the pandemic.

“I’m trying to go all over Arkansas, trying to hit every major city I can hit and continue to do it, as long as we go through the challenges we’re going through right now,” he says.

He places the United States flag high on his left shoulder. Then, he salutes every vehicle that passes.

“By the time I start out running and that flag goes up, I hear the horns start blowing, people waving, thumbs up, people applaud,” he describes.

He started his journey in Forrest City and plans to end there as well.

“It’s going to be an emotional one for me because of all the things I have done and the people I’ve met on this journey. It’s going to be emotional but we’re going to get it and get through it,” he says.

Published in: on July 4, 2020 at 10:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Charlotte Mayor’s Emails Show Public Pleas for Help Addressing Violence More than a Year Ago

From wcnc.com, July 3, 2020 by Nate Morabito

More than a year after people started asking the mayor to come up with a plan to address the growing violence in Charlotte, city leaders have still not finalized that plan.

The Charlotte City Council will discuss its evolving plan to reduce violence Monday night.

In the meantime, WCNC Charlotte obtained emails sent to and from the mayor about this very issue, including several that date back to early 2019. More than a year later, people are still waiting for the city to act.

“This city is a battlefield in which I am not willing to wade into,” one resident wrote in an email to Mayor Vi Lyles and other leaders on February 19. 2019. “Our city is NOT safe…This city is a combat zone, without the official declaration.”

“It’s time to take the crime in this city serious and to stop listening to these people who want to continue to protect criminals,” another person wrote on March 29, 2019.

“The murders need to stop,” a Charlotte native wrote in an email to the mayor in August.

Mayor Lyles said the city would tackle the violence issue in January. In the first few months of 2020, city council members discussed possible solutions at length at multiple meetings, but the public’s heard little since. Meanwhile, more and more people keep getting murdered. Six months in, Charlotte’s on pace to suffer even more homicides in 2020 than last year.

“Why are we waiting?” Lucille Puckett asked in December 2019, frustrated by the city’s slow to evolve response to deadly violence. “If it was your son, your daughter, your grandchild, would you be waiting then?”

Puckett, who lost an election bid for mayor, wears her son’s ashes in a bullet around her neck.

“My son was murdered March 22, 2016,” she said.

Puckett wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Robert Dawkins with Safe Coalition NC has pushed for data collection, violence interruption and a public health approach since last year.

“It’s moving slower than I want,” Dawkins said in December. “Hopefully, we’ll start seeing some fruits from that early next year.”

People who emailed the mayor included a person who called for disruption and another who suggested the city focus on crime hot spots, which is part of the current approach.

Emails show the NAACP sent the mayor a proposal for a Community Education Plan in June. Despite the lack of public communication, the mayor shared her interest in the idea with fellow councilmembers behind the scenes the next week.

“The proposals targets Charlotte/Mecklenburg community members to educate on cultural awareness, conflict resolutions, gun violence, gun safety and implicit bias,” the mayor wrote to colleagues soliciting feedback. “The course would begin with a pilot at the Early College High school on UNC Charlotte’s campus; in-school suspension programs and community with a mother-to-mother education of self-awareness, proper emotional responses and ways to address issues child then to bring home.”

Even before that, emails show she solicited data and innovation help in May 2019 from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Mayor Bloomberg has provided consulting advice on both housing and climate change,” the mayor wrote. “I wonder if there in an opportunity to have advice and guidance on how we address this challenge with data and innovation. We are still a small enough city that we can engage directly with our residents and we have the resources to implement recommendations. Our Police Chief is fully on board.”

Mayor Lyles emailed a resource to former Chief Kerr Putney later that month.

“Thanks for your help to determine the best way to address the increasing violence in our city with a focus on the number (sic) homicides occurring this year,” she wrote. “After reaching out to the Bloomberg Foundation, I had a call with Beth Blauer, Executive Director of the  Center for Government Excellence at John Hopkins. She has a green light to advise and assist in this effort. I would like you to contact her for a conversation. In my brief discussion with her, she talked about assessment tools to determine those at most risk; a map to deploy interventions both short and long term. She is very familiar with the Major Cities Police Chiefs; she is also willing to establish a cohort of cities for comparison.”

Mayor Lyles replied to another concerned citizen by saying the city needs help from neighborhood leaders too.

She also received several emails from the public asking for more police support from elected leaders, including help filling CMPD officer positions.

“Think maybe you could make it a priority for filling the empty slots with the police now?” one person wrote in March 2019. “Leadership time.”

“Please help CMPD keep us safe,” another person wrote in April 2019. “At this point all the police do is clean up after a mess with nothing left for preventing crime or adequate investigations and arrests. Don’t let us end up another Baltimore.”

“I want the new light rail, the new airport, the roads widened,” one citizen wrote in October. “However morally we have to make our Citizens safe first. We need to get our priorities in order.”

The police shortage has only slightly improved since then. Today there are still 156 vacancies, according to a CMPD spokesperson.

 

Published in: on July 4, 2020 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

CMPD Releases Crime Statistics for First Quarter of 2019

From https://charlottenc.gov/CMPD/Safety/Pages/CrimeStats.aspx April 3, 2018

Crime Statistical Summary for the 1st Quarter of Year​​ 2019:

Year to Date:

CMPD ended March 2019,

    with a 4.6% increase in Index Offenses compared to last year. Property crime increased by 3.4% while violent crime increased by 11.0%.

    • 33 homicides were​ reported compared to 10, resulting in an increase of 230%.
    • 444 robberies were reported compared to 420, resulting in an increase of 5.7%.
    • 73 rapes were reported compared to 71, resulting in an increase of 2.8%.
    • 998 aggravated assaults were reported compared to 893, resulting in an increase of 11.8%.
    • Burglary overall was up 9.3%, (1357 compared to 1242) with an increase of 9.9% in residential (832 compared to 757) and an increase of 8.2% in commercial cases (525 compared to 485).
    • 594 vehicle thefts were reported compared to 696, resulting in an decrease of -14.7%.
    • Total larceny cases increased by 4.2% (5920 compared to 5684) with the larcenies from auto up by 2.4% (2474 compared to 2415​).​
    • 42 arson cases were reported compared to 30, resulting in an increase of 40%.

 

Published in: on April 3, 2019 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Shopper Assaulted, Robbed by 3 People at SouthPark Mall

Taylor Hanley, 22, said he got separated from his friends, then three guys rushed him and demanded money.

From http://www.wcnc.com by Mark Boyle, Mitzi Morris, March 13, 2019

Three people are on the run after beating up and stealing cash from a shopper at SouthPark Mall on Wednesday March 13, 2019, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.

Taylor Hanley, 22, said it happened in a stairwell at Belk. He explained he got separated from his friends, then three guys rushed him and demanded cash.

“His friend had me bear-grabbed and said if you don’t empty your pockets, I’m going to knock you out,” Hanley said.

Hanley said the trio got away, but he had a good idea of what they looked like and called police to report the incident.

“I panicked for a minute,” he said.

NBC Charlotte has reported on crimes for years at the SouthPark Mall.

We checked the crime mapping website, and within the past seven days, police reported well over a dozen crimes. Some of those included robbery, car-break-ins, and thefts.

A mall spokesperson sent us a statement that read, in part, there are “a number of proactive security measures in place, both seen and unseen, including maintaining a continuous security patrol of our property and parking lots.”

As for Hanley, he said he’s not scared to shop at this major shopping mall but learned a good lesson about knowing exactly who is around him at all times.

“It’s really unfortunate that these guys did this,” he said.

Published in: on March 14, 2019 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

NC bill Would Require Local Sheriffs to Cooperate with ICE Detainers

From http://www.wbtv.com, March 14, 2018

A new bill filed in the NC State House Thursday would require that sheriffs cooperate with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials seeking detainers on illegal immigrants charged with a crime.

The announcement of the bill – House Bill 370 (HB370) – came from the office of House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland). Along with compelling sheriffs to honor and fulfill ICE detainer requests, the bill also makes it unlawful for any county to prohibit ICE officials “entering or conducting immigration enforcement activities in a county jail, confinement facility, or other type of detention center.”

The day after taking office in December, 2018, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden ended the 287(g) program that allowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to operate within the Mecklenburg County Jail.

[ ICE responds to Mecklenburg Co. Sheriff’s removal of 287g ]

In February, Sheriff McFadden described the decision by ICE agents to more aggressively pursue illegal immigrants with criminal records as a form of ‘cynical fear mongering’ and as a deliberate response to the County’s decision not to recognize the 287(g) program in particular. He called on ICE to work with the Sheriff’s Office with arrests of all criminals rather than just immigrants in the city.

The newly-filed HB370 would allow private citizen who believe their jurisdiction is not in compliance with the law “to bring an action for declaratory or injunctive relief to enforce its provisions and require cooperation with federal officials. Courts could also impose civil penalties against any city, county, or law enforcement agency that fails to comply with federal detention orders.”

“North Carolinians need to know that their elected law enforcement officials intend to uphold the law and that they are always vigilant in protecting their rights,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln). “By ignoring our nation’s laws, they fail in doing just that.”

Published in: on March 14, 2019 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

2 Women Robbed at Gunpoint at McAlpine Creek Park

From http://www.WBTV.com, March 14, 2019

Officials say two women were robbed at gunpoint at McAlpine Creek Park in Charlotte Thursday afternoon.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the incident happened at the park on Monroe Road around 2 p.m.

Police say a man robbed the two women while they were at the park, but they were not injured.

There’s no word on a suspect description or arrests.

No further information was released.

Published in: on March 14, 2019 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Armed Robbery Reported at Arby’s on Monroe Road

From WBTV, March 9, 2018

An armed robbery was reported at an Arby’s in southeast Charlotte Saturday night, March 9, 2018.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the incident happened on Monroe Road.

Officers responded to an armed robbery from business call at the restaurant around 7:30 p.m.

The caller told police that someone, who was armed with a gun, robbed the business.

No one was injured and no one was arrested, police say.

This is a developing story and no further information was released.

Published in: on March 10, 2019 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Number of Guns in CMS Schools Down Compared to Previous Years, but Holding Steady, State Report Shows

In the report however, overall CMS’s crime rate rose by 8 percent compared to a statewide crime rate drop of 1 percent.

From WBTV by Chandler Morgan, March 8, 2018

“Having a gun makes them feel powerful,” that’s what one CMS student said when we asked him about why guns are so popular for teens these days.

But despite the reasons, the numbers are in and they’re down, according to the recent release of North Carolina’s statewide schools report.

We’re talking about the number of CMS students bringing guns to school – according to the report, that number and percentage has been cut in half.

During the 2016-17 school year, CMS students brought 19 guns to school – which was a decade record high – but the recent report shows in the 17-18 school year only nine CMS students were found with a gun at school.

CMS says in an unofficial count, they’ve found nine guns in schools so far this year, with two more months of school still to go.

Also something that’s changed for CMS schools this year? Random security screenings. In a statement Friday – CMS saying “Guns have no place at school.”

Mentioning the new screenings – including metal detectors, wanding students – searching for guns, is another attempt to fight crime in CMS schools.

In the report however, overall CMS’s crime rate rose by 8 percent compared to a statewide crime rate drop of 1 percent.

 

Published in: on March 10, 2019 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rayquan Borum Found Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder in Fatal Shooting During Charlotte Riots in 2016

 From http://www.wbtv.com, March 8, 2018

The man accused in a deadly shooting during the 2016 riots in Charlotte was found guilty of second-degree murder in court Friday.

“I realize this is a tense, emotional time… I won’t put up with an outburst of any kind,” the judge warned as the jury was brought back into the room. “You will be summarily removed.”

Deputies were positioned around the courtroom as the verdict was read – guilty of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. The verdict was unanimous.

Rayquan Borum was on trial for first-degree murder in the shooting of Justin Carr, who died when demonstrators took to the streets to protest the officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Police say when a crowd gathered in front of the Omni Hotel, Carr was fatally wounded.

Carr’s mother made a statement after the verdict was read.

“Just want to say the whole time, I felt like my son was lost in this, [and] the trial was made about the defendant,” Vivian Carr said, adding that her “son went down to for a purpose” and her “grandson will never meet his father.”

The judge asked Borum if he had a statement before his sentencing. Borum remained silent.

Borum was then sentenced to serve two consecutive sentences: 276-344 months (23-28.6 years) on the second-degree murder charge and 14-26 months (2.17 years) on the firearm charge. He will get credit for the 896 days he was behind bars before the trial.

Police arrested Borum shortly after the uptown shooting and charged him with first-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm.

One of the elements of first-degree murder is intent. Prosecutors had to prove Borum was intending to kill. Prosecutors say Borum was aiming for police, who were trying to move the crowd back from the Omni Hotel, but the bullet hit Carr.

The state said just because Carr was the one who was fatally wounded instead of a police officer doesn’t mean intent goes away – it just transfers.

With less than an hour before the first full day of deliberations ended Thursday, jurors in the Rayquan Borum murder trial had a question for the judge.

“The question reads is ‘there a legal criteria for engaging in a riot or are you inherently engaged by virtue of being there?’” Judge Gregory Hayes read from a note the jury sent him.

The judge told them “the state must prove the defendant willfully engaged in riot and willfully is intentionally and without justification or excuse.”

Eight women and four men began deliberating Wednesday afternoon. Within an hour of deliberating, jurors had two questions. The first one was about evidence.

“It says photos, voice calls, and videos” said Judge Gregory Hayes as he read from the note jurors sent him.

Jurors told the judge they wanted to see most of the 124 pieces of evidence prosecutors presented. They requested all photos, and asked for transcripts of videos of interviews Charlotte Mecklenburg Police conducted with two witnesses.

One of the witnesses was a reporter who was covering the riots, and was at the scene when the shooting happened and called 911.

The second transcript that jurors asked to review was from the man who was with Borum the night of the shooting and said he saw Borum shoot. The jury also asked for transcripts of phone calls.

About 15 minutes later, the jury had a second question. They asked the judge for the definition of possession. The other charge Borum is facing is possession of firearm by felon.

Before deliberations began, each side had a chance to talk to the jury one last time to argue their case and try to persuade jurors.

“You’ve seen the evidence,” said Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Desmond McCallum, as he asked the jury to apply the facts to the law and told them there’s “only one verdict – guilty.”

Prosecutors painted the picture of a night with two faces. There was the face of Justin Carr and peaceful protesters making a statement about a police shooting. Then ADA McCallum turned to the other side of the night when he said Rayquan Borum took part in mayhem and looting and incited violence against police.

“Grip a glock, shoot back” McCallum said that’s what Borum was chanting in a video played for jurors.

“That tells what his intention was – this is shoot back. He’s telling you what he wants,” said McCallum and reminded jurors of the videos and screen shots that showed what investigators say is Borum firing the gun outside the Omni Hotel. Prosecutors contend he was aiming for police.

“Once that bullet left it doesn’t have a name” McCallum said.

The prosecution said when police questioned Borum after he was arrested, he told investigators that he broke up the gun and threw it out of the window. Detectives say when they searched the house where Borum lived, they found 9mm bullets similar to the spent shell casing found at the scene. And then there were the phone calls that Borum made from jail. The prosecutor told jurors – put the evidence together.

McCallum told jurors there’s nothing he could say that would bring Justin Carr back.

“Only thing that can be done is justice,” he said. “Hold that man accountable…hold him accountable for first degree murder.”

“The state hasn’t proven anything. The state hasn’t proven my client shot Justin Carr” said defense attorney Mark Simmons.

Simmons told jurors that detectives didn’t do a thorough investigation and didn’t test the shell casing found at the scene that he says was left unsecure for hours. The defense says CMPD didn’t want answers. They wanted to make an arrest.

“What police officer was Mr Borum trying to shoot,” asked Simmons. He told jurors there was a concrete wall separating Borum from police.

“If you believe Mr. Borum was shooting at all – how in the world did he intend to kill a police officer if there was a concrete barrier between him and all the police officers?”

Borum made a threat on a judge using someone else’s personal identification number, prosecutors said last week.

The prosecution said Borum seemed to be looking for a magical remedy to his circumstances in making multiple calls to his mother using another inmates ID number and trying to raise some money.

“To pay a voodoo healer in Raleigh in order to obtain that practitioners services,” said the prosecution.

The judge says when he first heard the call he was concerned for his family’s safety, but following an investigation, that was no longer a concern.

“I am now completely able to fairly and partially and ethically preside over this trial,” said Judge Hayes.

A lot of what happened the night of the shooting was captured on video, which prosecutors used to take jurors back to the moment.

A man who said he was working as a news correspondent making documentaries testified he was at the front line following and covering protesters and was outside the Omni Hotel when Justin Carr was shot.

“After I saw Justin – God rest his soul bleeding out on the ground you can see the blood – so the people started yelling at the officers come and get him, y’all gotta come and help him… four or five officers came out,” Rasheed Ali said. Testimony from police helped jurors go behind the police line.

A forensic pathologist and Medical Examiner for Mecklenburg County testified that Carr died from a gunshot wound to his head.

After Borum was arrested for the fatal shooting, detectives questioned him at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) Law Enforcement Center.

 

Published in: on March 10, 2019 at 9:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

2 Suspects Arrested in Triple Shooting that Left 2 Dead in West Charlotte

From wsoctv.com, February 27, 2019

Two people have been charged in connection to the triple shooting in a west Charlotte neighborhood Wednesday night, February 27, 2019.

Furqan Grice and Anthony Goodson have been charged in connection to the triple shooting that killed Ibn Marshall and Anu’bius Smith and injured a third victim.

Shortly after 9 p.m. on Grandin Road, officers arrived on the scene and found a male victim with an apparent gunshot wound off of W. Morehead Street. Two other male victims were found inside of a vehicle two blocks away, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say.

All three were taken to the hospital where the two victims were pronounced dead.

 

As a result of an investigation, warrants were obtained for the arrest of Grice and Goodson. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say they interviewed and arrested Grice Thursday. Goodson was arrested Friday morning by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Team (VCAT).

 

On Thursday night, police released 911 calls from the incident where a caller stated that she heard three or four gunshots in a row. The caller said she heard two more gunshots while she was on the phone with police.

 

“Pretty sure we heard gunshots and there’s somebody outside like laying on their horn,” the caller stated.

 

The caller went on to describe a person at the scene and said she saw the person throw a gun into a trash can.

An initial investigation revealed two of the victims remained inside of the vehicle during the shooting, while the third victim ran to a parking lot down the street for help, officials say.

Police also say they found two guns and some marijuana on the scene that was later seized.

 

Police were searching the area for witnesses to the incident.

 

This remains an active investigation and no further information has been released at this time. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Published in: on March 1, 2019 at 10:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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