Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EST
North Carolina House Democrats press for gun restrictions
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gun-control advocates in the North Carolina legislature are pressing again for weapon restrictions they say will reduce the risk of mass shootings and other firearm violence.
Several House Democrats filed omnibus gun-safety legislation on Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the school shootings in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.
The measure would require background checks for all gun sales, beef up the safe-storage law and raise the age to own assault-style weapons to 21. It would also ban high-capacity magazines and let local governments set their own gun regulations.
First-term Democratic Rep. Christy Clark of Mecklenburg County says the bill is a first step toward addressing gun violence she calls a “public health crisis.” Republicans leading the General Assembly have passed laws this decade actually loosening some gun laws.
Cooper, Congress members attending Rep. Jones funeral
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper and members of Congress are gathering in eastern North Carolina to remember the late U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr.
Jones’ funeral is slated for Thursday at St. Peter Catholic Church in Greenville. Jones died last weekend on his 76th birthday after serving 24 years in Congress. He had missed the last few months on Capitol Hill and was moved to hospice care in January.
Jones was originally a Democrat as was his father, who also served in Congress until his death in 1992.
The younger Jones switched parties and was elected to the 3rd Congressional District seat in 1994. He was a fiscal and social conservative who reversed course on his support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, becoming a leading critic of military action there.
RV SWEPT AWAY
RV swept away by rain apparently found weeks later
(Information from: WLOS-TV, http://www.wlos.com/)
MARSHALL, N.C. (AP) – A man whose RV was swept away by a western North Carolina river may have found its remains miles away.
WLOS-TV reports that debris found 7 miles (11 km) away appears to be part of the vehicle Derek Velthuis lived in. It was swept away around Dec. 28 during heavy rains in the area.
French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson says the debris was found along a part of the river not accessible by road.
Velthuis told the station that the camper was his home. He left work when he heard of the flooding, but was only able to salvage some personal documents and insurance paperwork.
He told the station Wednesday that he feels some closure about finding the debris but is still devastated. He’s still waiting on an insurance payment.
400-plus acres added to recreational forest in western NC
(Information from: Times-News, http://www.blueridgenow.com)
BREVARD, N.C. (AP) – A conservation group is adding more than 400 acres to a state recreational forest in western North Carolina.
The Hendersonville Times-News reports that Conserving Carolina is adding 402 acres to DuPont State Recreational Forest. The additional acreage will help conserve key headwater streams along the Eastern Continental Divide. It also links the forest with more than 100,000 acres of existing conserved lands along the North Carolina-South Carolina border.
The new property is located south of the forest in Transylvania County.
The announcement follows last month’s news that almost 800 acres near Cascade Lake will be added to the forest, bringing the forest to more than 12,000 acres.
Conserving Carolina says it hopes to buy about 300 more acres of the Continental Divide tract by the end of the year.
Surgeon accused of patient sex abuse arrested on new charges
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – An oral surgeon in North Carolina accused of sexually assaulting anesthetized patients, including minors, has been charged with additional offenses.
The Wilmington StarNews reports 55-year-old Michael Lee Hasson was arrested Wednesday on charges including indecent liberties with a child. He was arrested last month on charges of sexual battery and forcible sexual assault.
Wilmington police say the Wilmington Oral Surgery worker is accused of sexually abusing female patients between 2009 and 2018. Police said last week that his known victims were between 17 and 21 years old at the time. Police didn’t release additional victim ages Wednesday.
The state Board of Dental Examiners suspended Hasson’s license and anesthesia permit last week after his arrest on the initial charges.
BEAR STUCK-TRASH TRUCK
Hungry bear goes for ride after getting stuck on trash truck
WINDSOR, N.C. (AP) – Drivers were startled to see a hungry bear that got stuck in the back of garbage truck and took a ride across a stretch of eastern North Carolina.
News outlets report that a motorist called Bertie County 911 on Wednesday morning about a bear hanging off of the truck on U.S. Route 17.
Apparently, the snack-seeking bear climbed into the trash truck during a stop and became trapped after the driver secured the netting that prevents garbage from blowing out.
Sheriff John Holley says a deputy stopped the truck with the bear perched on top just outside of Windsor. The driver, who hadn’t been aware of the stowaway, pulled back the net and the bear ran off before the truck continued on to the landfill.
N Carolina governor honors black musicians, artists
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A musician who’s received a genius grant, North Carolina’s poet laureate and the founders of National Black Theatre Festival are among those being honored by the governor and first lady as part of Black History Month.
Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said in a news release that Cooper and his wife, Kristin, will honor about 50 African-American musicians and artists from North Carolina during a reception Thursday at the Executive Mansion.
Among those being honored are Rhiannon Giddens, who received a MacArthur Foundation genius grant of $625,000 in 2017, and state poet laureate Jaki Shelton Green. Also being honored are the late Leon Hamlin, founder of the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, and his widow, Sylvia Sprinkle-Hamlin, the festival’s executive producer.
FBI MOST WANTED
FBI: Most Wanted list suspect is believed killed by officers
APEX, N.C. (AP) – The FBI says law officers in North Carolina have killed a man they believe was on the list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives for armed sexual assaults in California.
The FBI’s North Carolina office says agents moved in on a motel in the Raleigh suburb of Apex on Wednesday looking for Greg Alyn Carlson. He was wanted in connection with multiple crimes including a burglary and sexual assault in Los Angeles last fall.
The FBI says the raid led to the shooting death of an armed suspect who will be positively identified by state medical examiners.
An FBI spokeswoman did not respond when asked whether the man exchanged gunfire with agents.
The FBI said previously it had tracked Carlson to South Carolina, Alabama and Florida.