North Carolina News – July 20

North Carolina News – July 20


Police: Man charged in teacher’s killing in cartel shootout

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Authorities have arrested and charged a man wanted for months in a shootout that left a popular North Carolina teacher and another man dead. The Alamance County sheriff’s office says the U.S. Marshal Service arrested Gar-yon-ded-weh Stepney on Monday. News outlets report Stepney is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of Barney Dale Harris and Alonso Beltran Lara on April 8. Harris taught Spanish at Union Academy Charter School. He was found dead in a mobile home authorities called a drug “stash house.” Sheriff Terry Johnson says Harris and his brother-in-law entered the mobile home to rob a cartel member. At some point, there was a shootout leading to the deaths of Harris and Lara.


North Carolina man arrested in woman’s shooting death

WILKESBORO, N.C. (AP) — A man has been arrested by sheriff’s deputies in the shooting death of a North Carolina woman. News outlets report 36-year-old Donald Ray Lassiter of Elkin is charged with murder in the death of 25-year-old Stephanie Nicole Hatton of Kernersville. According to the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded on Sunday to a report of a shooting in the town of Elkin. When the deputies reached the location, they found Hatton dead from a gunshot wound. According to the sheriff’s office, Lassiter was arrested by deputies at around 11 a.m. on Monday.  It’s not known if he has an attorney.


850K gallons of raw sewage spills into Catawba River

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Charlotte Water says nearly 850,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Catawba River near Old Dowd Road on Friday. News outlets report that the spill happened Friday near Old Dowd Road. It was the largest spill of untreated wastewater in Charlotte in more than a year. Charlotte Water spokesman Cam Coley says the spill happened as a construction crew worked near the Paw Creek Lift Station. The spill was downstream from Mountain Island Lake, the source of Charlotte’s drinking water and Coley says he doesn’t expect the spill to affect drinking water. A no-swim advisory was issued for Paw Creek Cove on Lake Wylie.


North Carolina man arrested for racing on Interstate 85

STATESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina sheriff’s office says deputies have arrested a man for racing on Interstate 85, driving while impaired and leading authorities on a chase. The Salisbury Post reports the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office filed multiple charges against 28-year-old Steven Woods II, including driving while impaired and speed competition. According to the sheriff’s office, Woods was driving his Dodge Challenger south on I-85 on Sunday at 100 mph and left the interstate when deputies tried to stop him. He drove his car through a homeowner’s yard before he was apprehended.


Activists: Families escorted from pool for music in Spanish

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Activists in North Carolina are calling for change after Mexican women and their families were reportedly escorted out of a pool for playing music in Spanish. The News & Observer reports that members of the families gathered outside of the state Capitol on Saturday to speak about the incident at the Flex Fitness and Recreation Center pool in Hendersonville. Veronica Ramirez, Bella Perez and others were at the pool July 12 when an employee tried to disconnect their speaker. Ramirez’s niece says white women at the pool complained about the music and staff tried to take the speaker without communicating, then called police to remove them.


Florida mayor, former AP reporter Kevin Begos dies

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Kevin Begos, an award-winning science journalist and author who later became the mayor of Apalachicola, Florida, has died. He was 63. Begos died June 19 at Capital Regional Medical Center in Tallahassee. He had been battling a serious heart infection. Begos was elected mayor of Apalachicola, a small coastal town in the Florida Panhandle, in 2019. He was Pittsburgh correspondent for The Associated Press between 2011 and 2014. Before that, he worked as a statehouse reporter in Florida for The Tampa Tribune; covered Washington and did investigative reporting for the Winston-Salem Journal; and reported from Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. He also published a book on the origins of wine.


Hiring issues impact NC Zoo, with some exhibits closed

ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) — At the same time the North Carolina Zoo is seeing a huge increase in visitors compared with last year, it’s struggling to find staff to keep all of its exhibits open.  Diane Villa is director of communications and marketing for the zoo in Asheboro zoo. She tells The Courier-Tribune the zoo is having trouble finding applicants “like just about every other business out there.” The newspaper reports most attractions are open, but certain features like an obstacle course and feeding activities have remained closed. Many of the jobs at the zoo are part time, temporary and pay about $10 to $12 per hour.


North Carolina jobless rate falls for ninth straight month

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s unemployment rate has fallen for the ninth consecutive month. The state Commerce Department reports the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.6% in June, compared to 4.8% in May. It’s a streak of declining rates going back to October.  Data released by the agency show more people entered North Carolina’s labor force and were hired in June compared to the month before. Figures in May had signaled a decline in the number of people actively seeking work. The unemployment rate sits well below levels at the height of COVID-19 commerce restrictions last year, when the jobless rate soared to 13.5%.

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