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North Carolina News – May 28, 2020

North Carolina News – May 28, 2020

Head of N.C. unemployment office replaced by ex-legislator

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has replaced the head of the state unemployment benefits office with a former legislator. The agency has been struggling to handle an onslaught of pandemic-related job loss claims. Cooper’s Commerce Department announced on Wednesday that Pryor Gibson is the new assistant secretary overseeing the Division of Employment Security. Out of the job is Lockhart Taylor, who apologized last week to citizens testifying at a legislative hearing about their problems obtaining benefits. Taylor said there have been more claims filed since mid-March than in the previous six years.

FATAL COLLISION

Police: Charlotte bus driver fatally struck man, fled scene

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A public bus driver in Charlotte has been accused of hitting and killing a man standing at a bus stop and then fleeing the scene without administering any aid. News outlets report Luis Garcia was charged with a felony hit-and-run following the victim’s death Tuesday morning. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said officers found the victim lying on the street in front of the bus stop when they got to the scene. Police say the 58-year-old victim attempted to get Garcia to stop the bus before he was struck. Garcia’s employer said Wednesday he was fired following his arrest.

GUN PIPELINE-BUST

North Carolina man sentenced in ‘gun pipeline’ scheme

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a North Carolina man accused of running a “gun pipeline” that furnished firearms to dozens of out-of-state buyers has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said Tuesday that 37-year-old William John Shaw Jr. pleaded guilty to eight counts of making false statements while purchasing firearms. Officials said agents began investigating after police recovered guns that had been used in crimes in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. Prosecutors said the weapons were traced back to Shaw, who had written in federal documents that he wasn’t acquiring them on behalf others.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-CASINO REOPENING

Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort reopening for patrons

CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina casino says it’s ready to reopen its doors to patrons. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort says it’s planning to reopen at 6 a.m. on Thursday. On its Facebook page, the casino says it will operate at 30% capacity in keeping with North Carolina and tribal guidelines and operating with social distancing in place. The casino says most restaurants will be open with limited seating as well as carryout options. Other amenities will also open in phases as determined by the state and local guidelines. Officials say the casino gaming areas will temporarily be non-smoking.

WINSTON-SALEM HOMICIDES

Winston-Salem police report three homicides in 5 days

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Police in a North Carolina city are investigating three homicides in a five-day stretch, the latest being the death of a man after an apparent shooting. The Winston-Salem Journal reports Winston-Salem Police Department spokesman Lt. Gregory Dorn said police first got a 911 call on Wednesday about a body lying in the road,  and soon after received calls about people hearing a single gunshot. Dorn said when officers and emergency personnel arrived, the body of 27-year-old Kelvin Juan Bonner was found lying in the road in front of his home.

FATAL APARTMENT FIRE

Unattended charcoal grill blamed for fire that killed 2

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (AP) — Investigators say a fire that killed a North Carolina woman and her son last week was started by an unattended charcoal grill. The Virginian Pilot of Norfolk reports that a news release from the town of Kill Devil Hills says the fire started on the wooden deck of the ground floor of an apartment in the town on the Outer Banks. According to investigators, the unattended grill was close to combustible materials on the deck. Authorities say the fire killed 39-year-old Ann Rachelle Horton and her 9-year-old son, Sebastian Lopez.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-ELECTIONS

Bill seeks easier N.C. ballot access in fall during pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Lawmakers in North Carolina are advancing legislation that would allow voters to have more options in requesting absentee ballots this November and would give officials funds to keep precincts clean and staffed. The measure that cleared two House committees on Wednesday prepares for November’s high-stakes election to occur amid the pandemic. The bill would expand the options to seek and return absentee ballot forms. The number of required witnesses on the ballot envelope would decrease from two to one. The bill heading to the House floor Thursday also distributes money to help with election security, equipment and poll-worker recruitment.

TROPICAL WEATHER

Bertha forms, hits South Carolina coast, dissipates in a day

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tropical Storm Bertha surprised the South Carolina coast, forming and making landfall within two hours, bringing a poor beach day of rain and gusty winds, but no major problems. Forecasters expected the bad weather Wednesday, but didn’t predict it to organize so quickly and become the second named storm before the official start of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season. Bertha was named around 8 a.m. Wednesday, was onshore east of Charleston by 9:30 a.m. It was downgraded to a tropical depression by 2 p.m. Like almost all storms with heavy rain, several streets flooded in Charleston, leaving ankle- to calf-high brown water mixed with trash from knocked over cans Wednesday.

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