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Sources: 2 more arrested in east Charlotte crime spree

Sources have told Channel 9 that police have made two more arrests in a series of robberies in east Charlotte.

According to sources, CMPD arrested Jabril Forth-Ward and Jaried Mozee.

They face charges including robbery and conspiracy.

Both are due to make their first court appearance Monday.

Another suspect in the crime spree that police arrested Tuesday night is due in court Thursday. Israel Williams is charged with robbery and conspiracy.

Police arrested two other suspects earlier this week.

Officers said the group's most recent crimes include a beating in a parking lot on Independence Boulevard Saturday night, a robbery minutes earlier on Idlewild Road and another crime the day before on Independence.

RELATED: Police arrest third suspect in string of weekend attacks

Published: Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:07:40 -0400

Police say third person helped dump body in west Charlotte

A third person will be in court Thursday after police said he helped dump a body in west Charlotte.

Officers charged Mark Huntley Wednesday with accessory after the fact to first degree murder.

They said he helped Avery Lail move and then dump Brian Jones' body on Old Dowd road last month.

Lail is charged with the murder.

Police also charged Lail's girlfriend, Delia Rick, who they said helped wash Lail's bloody clothes.

Police: Third person may be involved in killing of Gastonia man

Published: Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:40:28 -0400

Researchers predict quiet hurricane season for 2014

Researchers at North Carolina State University predict 2014 will be a relatively quiet hurricane season.

They predict there will be eight to 11 named storms -- four to six reaching hurricane status.

Experts are also predicting one to three of those will reach major hurricane status: Category 3 or higher.

The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1.

Published: Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:33:19 -0400

'Remember the Titans' director set to film new movie in Charlotte

Charlotte will be the backdrop of a new family movie called 'Max.'

Filming is expected to begin next month and the movie is due to hit theaters in 2015.

Boaz Yakin, who is best known for his work on ‘Remember the Titans,’ will direct the movie.

Published: Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:10:09 -0400

Yasiel Puig's terrifying coming-to-America tale

In piece that reads more like a thriller novel than real life, LA Magazine chronicles the journey of one of Major League Baseball's best and most talked about young talents, Cuban-born player Yasiel Puig.

The article features everything from Mexican drug cartels to murder, but more importantly, it finally answers some of the questions Puig has repeatedly refused to answer about his past. 

According to the article, a Miami man, Raul Pacheco, offered Cuban smugglers $250,000 to get Puig to Mexico where he could audition for MLB scouts. It took four attempts for Puig to make it to Mexican soil. (Via Google Earth)

"Once they get to Mexico, that's where the craziness begins. ... They hold him captive there for 20 some odd days as the price for his head is negotiated." (Via CBS)

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The article reports Pacheco never paid the smugglers, vying instead to go rescue his investment: "In a scene that could have been cribbed from a thousand screenplays, they stormed the motel and, according to court papers, 'staged a kidnapping.' Within days, Puig was auditioning in Mexico City." (Via Los Angeles Magazine)

The idea of such major stakes and questionable characters being involved with America's national pastime has worried many across the media landscape. 

"They should be 100 percent concerned because the details are scary."

"We're talking about drug cartels?"

"Any word cloud that involves Zetas, execution style killing, drug cartel, that's an enormous, serious problem." (Via ESPN)

In an article with the headline "Yasiel Puig's journey to America should concern Dodgers," Los Angeles Times writer Bill Plaschke raises a larger point while giving his take on the article, "Puig's story is reportedly not that uncommon."

In a league where 28 percent of players are foreign-born, Cuban players often have to go through the dangerous process of defection just to try out for MLB teams.

The Detroit Free Press tells the less dramatic but similar story of former Tigers catcher Brayan Pena, who sneaked out of the country at the age of 16 to play in the big leagues. (Via YouTube / Feel Like You Belong)

"He asked one of his coaches to use the bathroom. ... The window was left open, and Pena climbed through the window and rushed to his escape vehicle. Pena didn't take anything with him. No clothes. No pictures. Nothing." (Via Detroit Free Press)

Major League Baseball has yet to weigh in on the disturbing revelations in Los Angeles Magazine's cover article, but the Dodgers manager did offer some words Wednesday. 

Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Daily News, "We’re on the baseball side of it, ... We’re just going to try to continue to help him try to mature as a player. That’s what we do." (Via Wikimedia Commons / Cbl62)

Puig finished the 2013 season with 19 homers and 42 RBIs and finished second in voting for National League rookie of the year honors.

Published: Thu, 17 Apr 2014 03:57:31 -0400

Portland reservoir to be flushed after man urinates in it

Portland city officials are having to flush millions of gallons of treated reservoir water after a 19-year-old man allegedly relieved himself in a non-traditional location. 

It happened around 1 a.m. Wednesday as three teens snuck into Portland's Reservoir 5, which holds some of the city's drinking water. This security footage reportedly shows one of the guys leaning against the fence and presumably urinating. (Via KGW-TV)

Those three men were detained shortly after they were seen in the security footage, and hours later, Portland city officials decided to take the 50-million gallon reservoir offline and flush 38-million gallons. (Via KPTV)

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The Portland Water Bureau there's little risk to the public's health but bureau administrator David Shaff says, "Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated. We have the ability to meet that expectation." 

This kind of incident has happened once before. The city flushed 8 million gallons of water in 2011 after a 21-year-old man urinated in another reservoir. (Via KOIN)

The Oregonian reports that previous episode was said to have cost $35,000, but KATU reports this most recent incident won't cost the city anything seeing that city employees are already scheduled to work. 

Portland police cited all three men for trespassing and cited one of the men for public urination. The security footage will be reviewed by the district attorney's office and those men could face criminal charges. 

Published: Thu, 17 Apr 2014 03:38:44 -0400

Chicken truck crashes through Monroe Rite Aid

A Rite Aid pharmacy in Monroe will undergo major repairs Thursday after a chicken truck crashed into it late Wednesday night.

The crash happened around 10 p.m. Wednesday on Highway 74 near Sutherland Avenue.

The trailer was wedged into the building so tightly that crews called two tow trucks to pull it out.

The truck, loaded with empty chicken cages, crashed through the front of the store.

Officials said a fuel tank on the truck ruptured and HAZMAT crews had to respond to the crash scene.

The fire chief told Channel 9 that the truck was driving eastbound on Highway 74 when, for some reason, it went off the road.

The driver of the truck was taken to Carolinas Medical Center but was alert and talking with paramedics.

Police have not said what caused him to drive into the building.

There were two employees inside who were not injured. No customers were in the Rite Aid, officials said.

The accident is under investigation.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:47:30 -0400

Teens arrested after threatening to shoot man, daughter

A group of teenagers and a 13-year-old are facing charges after police said they threatened to rob and shoot a man and his daughter. It happened Tuesday evening when Rick Haas and his daughter got out of their car and began to walk to their home on Frayser Street in Rock Hill.  

Haas said the group yelled obscenities to his daughter and when he moved closer to her they yelled at him.

"I saw a knife when they dropped it, he reached down and picked it up and came towards the fence like he was going to come over the fence, but I let them know that I did have a gun. One of them said he'd take my gun and shoot me," said Haas.

Haas said he called police and the suspects walked away. Officers arrived within minutes and arrested 17-year-old Darius Allen, 22-year-old Christopher Spake, 18-year-old Michael Humphries and a 13-year-old on misdemeanor disturbance charges.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:36:02 -0400

Mooresville police officer in stable condition after wreck

A Mooresville police officer is still in the hospital after he ran off the road and hit a storage container.

Police said last weekend, Officer Tyson Rogers turned into the Consumer Squad shopping center on West Plaza Drive, drove through the parking lot of the Shell station and hit a hotel's storage container.

Medic airlifted the 14-year law enforcement veteran to Carolinas Medical Center but he should be OK.

To see more local news stories, click here.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:08:28 -0400

McCrory says raises for all linked to revenues

 (AP) — Gov. Pat McCrory is still hopeful North Carolina government finances will work out so all public school teachers and state employees can get raises for the coming year and not just the early-career teachers.

But McCrory says fiscal challenges and other agency demands could get in the way.

McCrory said at Wednesday's North Carolina Education Cabinet meeting that raising the base salary for K-12 teachers is a top priority. McCrory and legislative leaders already have agreed to a plan to raise the salary floor to $33,000 this fall and $35,000 in fall 2015.

A presentation of McCrory's goals for the General Assembly's work session next month says pay increases for other teachers are linked to available revenues.

McCrory says the budget continues to be tight and Medicaid spending is uncertain.

To see more local news stories, click here.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:06:15 -0400

Police: Teen arrested after shooting at high school party

Investigators in York County arrested a teen whom they said started shooting at a Fort Mill hotel.

Investigators charged Michael Carr with attempted murder.
They said he walked into a high school party in February at the Comfort Inn on Avenue of the Carolinas and got into an argument with other teenagers over a girl.
Carr shot a teen in the leg and fled, police said.

To see more local news stories, click here.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:38:06 -0400

Former sheriff takes stand in his own defense

The testimony is over in the trial of a former sheriff but not before a dramatic final day on Wednesday.
Sam Parker took the witness stand and was immediately asked by his lawyer if he ever knowingly broke the law.
"Absolutely not," he said, looking at the jury that will decide his fate. 
Parker faces a potentially long prison term for charges of misconduct in office, embezzlement and furnishing contraband to inmates.
His lawyer went one by one through all the indictments against Parker asking him to respond. 
Parker said he did what he did for the good of the county, often spending his own money on resources for the Sheriff's Office. 
He admitted giving guns to friends who had no law enforcement training, but said they were all gun experts who could protect the county if called upon.  
When asked why he allowed two inmates, William Skipper and Mike Lee, to live outside the jail at the armory while they refurbished it, he said they were not any danger to the community and had work to do. 
He said he got approval from state prison officials for them to live there. 
He also said it would help speed up their response time to emergencies if inmates were at the armory to gas up the cars and pull out the helicopter when it was needed.
Parker said Skipper and Lee were like part of his family, and became part of the Sheriff's Office. 
He said he didn't believe that it was wrong to house them outside the jail and let them wear street clothes instead of prison clothes.
When asked why he invited them over from Christmas with his family and to church, he said he felt sorry for them.
"The Christian side of me wanted to see these guys rehab," Parker said.  "I wanted to show them love and Christian values."
The former sheriff admitted that he had never read the agreement between his office and the state concerning what inmates are and are not allowed to do. 
He said he trusted his jail administrator with that job.
Parker is also accused of placing Pepsi machines in the jail and Sheriff's Office and keeping the profits from those machines.
When his lawyer asked about that alleged embezzlement, Parker said he was the Pepsi customer so he was entitled to commission checks on the money that was made.  He said he never stole anything from the taxpayers.
"I would never take money from the people of this county or anybody else," he said.
Later, Assistant Attorney General Heather Weiss confronted Parker during cross examination. 
She questioned his supposed lack of knowledge of what was going on in his own department.
Weiss questioned how Parker couldn't be aware of what was going on in the jail he ran or not know that inmates were supposed to wear prison uniforms. 
The prosecutor said that Parker's wife Pam had set up a friend on a date with Lee, a convicted arsonist, but Parker testified that he knew nothing about it.
Parker was also grilled about the guns he gave to more than a half dozen people who were not law enforcement officers and had no training.
He said he saw no problem with it and would do it again today. 
"I trusted those people," he said.
He was also questioned about earlier testimony that he threatened his own employees during staff meetings. Several deputies said he would threaten to fire them for questioning his authority.  
He admitted making threats but said he did it to get their attention so they would do their jobs.
Parker answered questions calmly during the cross examination and never appeared riled.
Once Parker's testimony ended after about four hours, his defense called a few character witnesses to the stand. 
They each spoke for a matter of seconds and told the jury that Parker was a truthful man with a good reputation.
The jury has heard 50 witnesses over seven days.  They will hear closing arguments first thing Thursday morning.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:31:59 -0400

Residents in Salisbury neighborhood fed up with crime

Some neighbors in the West End neighborhood of Salisbury told Channel 9 they're fed up with crime in their community.

Carolyn Rice said she heard gunshots ring out in the neighborhood two weeks ago at 1 a.m. 

The next day she discovered one of the bullets came through a window and into a television just feet from where her granddaughters' slept.

"I went in they room and I stuck my finger in the hole and immediately I start getting nervous."

Just last week someone threw a brick through her window and broke into her house in the middle of the day.

"It makes me angry," she said.

Neighbors in West End said crimes have been mounting lately. Tuesday night they told city council members they want more lights on streets and more police presence.

"If you want your neighborhood to be safe, make ours safe," said Rice.

"I feel like with the amount of property taxes you pay I feel you should get better service," said Cynthia Moore-Stanfield.  She lives in the neighborhood too.

City councilman William Kennedy said police are aware of the recent crimes in West End.  He said later this month they'll start having police patrol the area 24 hours a day.

He also wants the council and city manager to personally meet with neighbors.

"I think this is a time to open up lines of communication and listen to what citizens have to say," said Kennedy.

He said the police also assigned an officer to go through the neighborhood and talk to neighbors about persistent problems. That officer started working on Monday. 

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:50:36 -0400

US Air employee says noose attached to locker at work

A US Airways employee at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport says he found a noose attached to his locker at work.
Channel 9 started asking about the case after we found a police report filed Monday with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.  Wednesday, Eyewitness News learned the FBI has been notified.
According to a report filed with police, Michael Aziz-Muhammad, said he found a "teal colored cord tied into a hangman's noose" attached to his locker at work. An FBI spokesperson said they have been contacted about the case, but wouldn't say whether the agency is investigating.
US Airways says it is looking into the case and cooperating with the investigation. The airline wouldn't say whether it is looking at this as a hate crime or if anyone had been placed on leave.
Channel 9 reached out to American Airlines, which has partnered with US Airways.
A spokesperson said, "American Airlines is aware of the incident and currently investigating.  We do take these matters very seriously." Wednesday, when Eyewitness News learned the FBI may be involved, the airline updated its statement to say it has a strong and clear policy about employee conduct.
Channel 9 also learned Aziz-Muhammad is a member of the International Association of Machinists union. The local union president, Bill Wise said he has not been contacted about this case and that the union only gets involved they are asked to do so by a member.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:34:40 -0400

Neighbors concerned over south Charlotte retail development

Travis O'Hara looked toward his one story ranch home just off Woodlawn Road and tried to describe what could be coming right behind it.

 "A two-lane road, six  town homes and a three-story parking deck, six stories," he said, worried that it may be too much, too close to home.

That's why he and some of his neighbors have questions about the project planned by Selwyn Properties near the intersection of Park and Woodlawn roads in south Charlotte.

"What we have here is a mixed use, infill redevelopment project," said Grey Poole, one of the developers proposing the project.  

His company already has agreements to buy one home on Drexmore Avenue and three small businesses on Park Road that they plan to tear down and replace with the six-story building that would include one floor of retail space and five floors of apartments.
The project is close to another apartment complex Selwyn Properties is just finishing up at the busy intersection and Poole said they are sensitive to neighbors' concerns.

"We certainly want this project to be embraced by the neighborhood," he said, and it is the reason they took their plans to a meeting of the Madison Park Homeowners' Association Monday night.

But some in the community still have questions--including the height of the project--which is more than the city outlined last year in a study of future development on Park Road.

"Five stories is what the design shows and the Park Road study calls for nothing taller than four stories," said Marty Doss, who is past president of the HOA.

And then there's the traffic.  The intersection of Park and Woodlawn is already busy and neighbors worry that adding an apartment building and retail would force some of those cars into their community.

"So the issue is all that traffic from that apartment is going to come up this road now," said O'Hara as he stood in front of his home.

Poole said they plan to meet again with neighbors as they go through the approval process with the city.  Two meetings with city planners are set for May and a public hearing in June.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:32:45 -0400

Mother upset with how school handled son’s traumatic injuries

A Union County mother said she has permanently removed her son from Rock Rest Elementary School after he came home with traumatic injuries.

The Union County Sheriff's department said it is now investigating her case.

Mother Tyisha Ratliff said she is frustrated with the way the school district handled the situation with her 5-year-old son who has cerebral palsy.

Ratliff said there are three teachers who oversee her son and 11 other students with special needs in the elementary school’s E-C Pre-K program.

Earlier in April, Ratliff said her son was inappropriately touched by another student while at school.

Ratliff showed Channel 9 medical documents and she said the doctors concluded her son had suffered trauma in his private area.  She said she contacted the school and the Union County Sheriff’s Department, who is investigating.

“He has repeated this same exact story to every doctor he has seen, to the investigator,” Ratliff said.

However, Ratliff said she was disappointed by the response from school officials.

“Not only did they try to say he was a 5-year-old that didn't know what he was talking about, they didn't take my complaint seriously when I called and let them know I had medical paperwork. I just feel like they brushed me off,” she said.

Her son hasn’t been at Rock Rest since April 1, which is when she said this happened. Ratliff showed Channel 9 a letter she received last week where the district offered to move her son to a different classroom.

“He’s not going back to Rock Rest,” she said.

The district said it couldn't comment on this individual case, but sent a statement stating, "The safety and security of our students and staff is the union county public schools system's No. 1 priority."

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:16:30 -0400

1 hospitalized after train collides with truck near uptown

A train collided with a truck Wednesday afternoon on West Summit Avenue near South Clarkson Street.
Workers in the area say they heard a loud boom and went outside to see the wreckage after the train ripped the back of the truck off.

The Charlotte Fire Department, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and paramedics arrived within minutes.
But some workers got to the driver of the truck first to make sure he was OK.
“We just kept talking to the guy trying to get him to speak to us at first,” one witness said.
The driver was transported to Carolinas Medical Center with potentially life-threatening injuries.
No one else was injured.

The cause of the collision is under investigation.

To see more local news stories, click here.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:15:18 -0400

NAACP rallies for shorter jail time before trial

The NAACP rallied for changes in the Cabarrus County court system.
The president of the Cabarrus County chapter said there are 17 inmates who have been in jail for 300 days or more with no trial.
They said it's a waste of taxpayer money and they're asking the district attorney why these cases are taking so long.
"We'd like to know why folks are being housed so long without a trial date -- 300 days is unacceptable,” Amos McClorey, president of NAACP Cabarrus County.

The Cabarrus County District Attorney’s Office's office checked its system and found that the average amount of time people spend in jail on a felony charge is 176 days.
Requests for a new attorney by defendants and also State Bureau of Investigation lab delays can push back a person's trial, according to the DA’s office.

"Despite these obstacles, the Cabarrus County District Attorney's Office is in the top third in the state for quickly moving cases," said an official at the District Attorney’s Office.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:13:53 -0400

CMPD: Despite recent violence, teen crime decreasing

Teen crime has decreased in Charlotte, despite recent high-profile cases with teen suspects that involve violent attacks.

Wednesday, 17-year-old Israel Jacobs appeared before a judge, one of three teenagers arrested in a brutal beating of a man during a robbery outside the Red Sea Grocery Store on Independence.

But that mugging, along with the carjacking and murder by five teenaged suspects in north Charlotte in early April, are the exceptions, not the rule, according to CMPD data.

Eyewitness News obtained new numbers from CMPD that show 1,441 arrests of youth ages 0-20 since Jan. 1, 2014.

In that same time period last year, officers arrested 1,583 youth, according to the data supplied by CMPD.

"When they do get caught up the first time, they don't understand the consequences of those charges," said Officer Adrian Johnson.

Johnson is one of many CMPD officers who have partnered up with the Urban League for a diversion program that offers GED classes, technical skills and life coaching.

Johnson believes diversion programs like that have led to the decrease in teen crime, and help first time offenders from re-offending.

"We encourage them to try to develop a positive attitude about life, staying in school, doing the right things, hanging around the right people," Johnson said.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:02:44 -0400

Parents shocked after former teacher accused of sending inappropriate video

Parents tell Channel 9 they're stunned after learning a former middle school teacher is accused of sending nude pictures and videos to students.

The school sent out a letter concerning the teacher’s replacement.        

The letter stated they hired a new teacher to replace Caron Blanton at Burns Middle School, but it doesn't mention the charges against her, or the pornographic images police say she sent to students.

"I was shocked,” said Stacey Rivers.

Rivers' daughter had Caron Blanton as a teacher two years ago at about the same time that investigators say she started sharing pictures of herself with male students.

Detectives said that eventually led to Blanton sending a pornographic video of herself to her former students.

"I would never, never expected it.  She was a nice teacher,” Rivers said.

Rivers said Blanton was always respectful and kind.   

She still has a hard time believing Blanton is suspected of sharing a nude video and pictures with young boys.

"These are people’s kids.  Respect that,” she said.

Investigators said the video was sent to a 15-year-old who is now at Burns High School and another minor who is also a former student in Blanton's class.

Those students shared it with others.

“It's probably opened a lot of eyes around here because people think it's a small community it couldn't happen here,” Rivers said.
 It also has the attention of administrators.

They have regulations in place designed to prevent situations like this, but they want to take another look at their policies to make sure they cover social media and other forms of communication commonly used by students.

Then they will let parents, teachers and students know if they need to make any changes to their policies.

Meanwhile investigators say they are checking to see if any other students received illicit pictures or video.

Blanton heads to court on May 14.

Published: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:08:20 -0400