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Gas explosion also damaged world-famous Porsche collection
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – The gas explosion that killed one person and injured 25 others in North Carolina also damaged a building that houses a world famous collection of Porsches.
The Ingram Collection is housed next to the building in Durham that collapsed Wednesday. The building that houses the German-made cars was extensively damaged. About half its roof collapsed. Details on any damage to the collectible cars have not been released.
More than a dozen low-profile sports cars were covered in tarps in the parking lot Thursday as workers moved around. Workers occasionally pulled back the coverings, revealing at least four Porsches.
The Ingram Collection issued a statement on Facebook offering thoughts and prayers for those killed and injured, but not focusing on the cars.
Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia.
Durham celebrates 150th anniversary, honors blast victims
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina city is celebrating its 150th anniversary while honoring the victims of a fatal explosion that happened on its birthday.
Durham on Saturday kicks off a year of celebrations marking 150 years since the one-time railroad depot between Raleigh and Hillsborough became a city unto itself on April 10, 1869.
That anniversary was Wednesday, the same day that a gas line explosion killed a coffee shop owner and injured 25 people, including nine firefighters.
Celebration organizers say that Saturday’s celebration will remember the victims and honor the heroic response of police, firefighters and medics.
N Carolina police ordered to share video of fatal shooting
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina police department has been ordered to release video of an officer fatally shooting a man at a Burger King.
The Charlotte Observer reports a judge on Thursday ordered Charlotte-Mecklenburg police to release the video by Monday.
Police have said Officer Wende Kerl killed 27-year-old Danquirs Napoleon Franklin at the restaurant in late March. They said Kerl fired when an armed Franklin refused to drop his weapon.
WBTV-TV reporter Nick Ochsner petitioned for the video’s release, arguing that conflicting witness and police accounts created a compelling reason for release.
Assistant District Attorney Bill Bunting has argued releasing the video may impact the ongoing criminal investigation. Kerl’s attorney, Jeremy Smith, argued the release would endanger his client’s safety.
Gov. Cooper wrapping up tour of far-west North Carolina
ROBBINSVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper is wrapping up a multi-county visit to far western North Carolina, where the Democrat has been talking up his budget proposal, bond package and efforts to assist rural communities and small businesses.
Cooper scheduled visits on Friday in Robbinsville, Bryson City and Cullowhee. The stops will include the Nantahala Outdoor Center, the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Western Carolina University.
Thursday’s schedule had him in Brevard, Hayesville and Murphy. Cooper was more than 400 miles to the east earlier in the week, touring Hurricane Florence damage at Camp Lejeune.
DISASTER AID STALLED
Frustration builds over stalled disaster aid bill
WASHINGTON (AP) – Six months after hurricanes devastated the Southeast, infighting among Washington’s tribes has shelved a widely backed disaster aid package that’s most desperately being sought by President Donald Trump’s allies in Florida and Georgia.
Trump’s opposition to aid to Puerto Rico – slammed by back-to-back hurricanes in 2017 – has sparked a standoff with Democrats demanding more aid for the island U.S. territory. Trump is feuding with the island’s Democratic officials and railed against aid to Puerto Rico at a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans last month.
Senate Republicans have stuck with the president so far, refusing to add more funding to help Puerto Rico rebuild its water systems or help its impoverished government with more generous disaster aid terms.
BIG DONOR-NORTH CAROLINA-INDICTMENTS
Indicted N Carolina campaign donor’s insurance firms in flux
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Insurance companies owned by a big-money donor accused of trying to bribe North Carolina’s top insurance regulator for easy treatment are on the sales block and under review by at least one rating agency.
Entrepreneur Greg Lindberg was indicted last week in what federal prosecutors said was a plot to bribe state insurance commissioner Mike Causey. Days later, Lindberg-owned Global Bankers Insurance Group said it is pursuing buyers for its U.S. life insurance companies. A Global Bankers spokesman said the company had no comment Thursday.
Global rating agency AM Best said Wednesday it is reviewing two insurers under the Global Bankers umbrella. AM Best said it’s reviewing “with negative implications” the financial strength ratings of Colorado Bankers Life Insurance Co. and Bankers Life Insurance Co., both based in Durham.
EXPLOSION-NORTH CAROLINA-THE LATEST
The Latest: Company says it was doing work before explosion
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A fiber-optic communications company says a contractor was doing installation work in the area where a gas leak explosion leveled a Durham building.
Durham police have said that a contractor boring along a sidewalk hit a gas line and caused a leak that preceded the explosion. City officials say the cause is under investigation. One person died and 25 were injured.
On Thursday, Deputy City Manager Bo Ferguson said that the permit to do the work was held by a subsidiary of Crown Castle.
Crown Castle issued a statement saying that its Fibertech Networks subsidiary had hired a contractor that was installing fiber in the area prior to Wednesday’s explosion. It declined to answer further questions about the contractor or how close the work was to the blast.
It said it was grieving the loss of life.
North Carolina inmate could get parole after 2nd murder
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina officials are considering paroling a prisoner who killed a man in a pool hall 42 years ago.
The state parole commission said Thursday it is weighing the release of 70-year-old William Baggett. Parole is possible only for crimes committed before October 1994.
Baggett was convicted of the 1976 murder of James Dee Williams in a Sampson County poolroom. A court said Baggett drank a pint of liquor and fought with his wife before driving himself and friends to the night spot outside Salemburg.
Williams approached Baggett several times, exclaiming that he knew Baggett. The fourth time, Baggett hit Williams in the mouth and shot him four times with a .22-caliber pistol.
Baggett was sentenced to life imprisonment. He had been convicted of second-degree murder in 1968.