Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
The Latest: Hurricane Florence is rapidly strengthening
ATLANTA (AP) – The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Florence is rapidly strengthening and that swells generated by the storm are affecting Bermuda and portions of the U.S. East Coast.
The Miami-based center said in its 5 a.m. ET advisory that Florence was about 625 miles (1,005 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda, moving west northwest at 9 mph (15 kmh). An increase in forward speed is expected over the next couple of days.
Its maximum sustained winds are at 105 mph (165 kmh). Drawing energy from the warm water, the now Category 2 storm could be a fearsome Category 4 with winds of 130 mph (209 kph) or more by Tuesday. Florence is expected to remain an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday.
Hurricane Isaac is holding steady in strength over the Atlantic.
Forecasters say that storm was about 1230 miles (1985 kilometers) east of the Windward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kmh). The storm was moving west at 13 mph (20 kmh).
TROPICAL WEATHER-CAMPUS EVACUATION
UNCW issues voluntary evacuation order beginning Monday
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington is encouraging its students to leave campus this week for a safer location.
The university said Sunday that it has issued a voluntary evacuation for students starting at noon on Monday. That means students are urged but not required to leave and classes are canceled.
The National Hurricane Center says it is still too early to predict the hurricane’s exact path, but a huge coastal area from northern Florida to North Carolina has been urged to remain on guard for the possibility of a major hit later in the week.
A statement from the university says officials will continue monitoring the forecast and that additional actions required may include a mandatory evacuation or campus closure.
Police: Officers fatally shot man who was firing into crowd
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Police in Greenville say officers fatally shot a man who was firing a gun into a crowd of people.
The Greenville Police Department said in a news release that officers responded to an alleyway around 1:30 a.m. Sunday for a report of a fight in progress involving shots fired.
The news release says the Greenville officers and officers from East Carolina University who were already in the area saw a man actively shooting into a crowd.
Police say three Greenville officers returned fire, striking the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The news release says two individuals are receiving treatment at a hospital for injuries not considered life-threatening.
The three officers involved will be put on standard administrative leave pending an investigation.
No one involved was immediately identified.
TROPICAL WEATHER-BEACH WARNINGS
Effects of Florence already felt along North Carolina coast
NAGS HEAD, N.C. (AP) – Officials say the effects of Hurricane Florence are already being felt along the North Carolina coast.
The National Weather Service in Morehead City said swells from the storm will lead to dangerous rip currents in certain coastal areas Sunday. Beachgoers were recommended to stay out of the water.
On the Outer Banks, the town of Nags Head said it had posted no-swimming flags on beaches. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore also urged people to stay out of the ocean.
North Carolina remains under a state of emergency issued by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Florence turned into a hurricane Sunday morning and was swirling toward the U.S. The National Hurricane Center says it’s too early to predict the storm’s exact path but that a huge coastal area from South Carolina to the mid-Atlantic region should prepare for a major strike late in the week.
State officials making preparations as Florence approaches
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – As Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says state workers are preparing for impacts expected later in the week.
Cooper’s office said in a news release that emergency management experts were working Sunday to determine where to place resources ahead of the storm. Department of Transportation workers are readying hurricane response equipment such as bulldozers and chainsaws.
The transportation department’s ferry division also tweeted that some runs from Hatteras and Ocracoke were canceled Sunday to conduct preventative maintenance on vessels in preparation for the possible severe weather.
Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said in a statement that officials are getting updates from the National Hurricane Center and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He also urged residents to make their own plans.
Individuals are encouraged to put together emergency supply kits, prepare their homes and know their evacuation routes.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENTS-NORTH CAROLINA
8 arrested in protest over toppled Confederate statue
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Eight people have been arrested following another protest over the toppling of a Confederate monument at the University of North Carolina.
The university confirmed the Saturday evening arrests in a statement. Officials did not immediately release further details. The memorial known as “Silent Sam” was toppled Aug. 20 by protesters who called it a symbol of racist heritage.
The News & Observer reports that about 100 anti-Silent Sam protesters gathered Saturday on the Chapel Hill campus for a “Nazis Suck Potluck and Food Drive.” Nearby, about a dozen people holding Confederate flags held a vigil in a sectioned-off area near where the statue had stood.
After both groups began yelling at each other, the Silent Sam supporters were escorted away and someone appeared to throw a smoke bomb at them. Some officers used the handlebars of their bicycles to push the Silent Sam protesters back.
For black women at church, it’s more than the Aretha eulogy
DETROIT (AP) – A black pastor’s controversial eulogy at Aretha Franklin’s funeral laid bare before the world what black women say they have experienced for generations: sexism and inequality in their houses of worship every Sunday.
The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. told the audience that as “proud, beautiful and fine as our black women are, one thing a black woman cannot do – a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.”
The backlash was immediate, given Franklin’s role as a mother and a pillar for women’s rights.
For many black women, Williams’ eulogy reopened wounds and sternly reminded them that black churches remain male-dominated institutions, where old-school resistance to women holding leadership roles is still alive.
MAYOR FOUND DEAD
Woman faces robbery charge in case of mayor, wife found dead
LEGGETT, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say three suspects are now facing charges in connection with the shooting deaths of the mayor of a small North Carolina town and his wife.
The Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Saturday afternoon that detectives have arrested Dakeithia Nesha Andrews of Rocky Mount on a charge of conspiracy robbery with a dangerous weapon.
Two men from Tarboro, 18-year-old Mitchell Brinson and 25-year-old Keith Earl Williams, have previously been charged with first-degree murder in the killings.
The news release doesn’t offer any new details about the case. It wasn’t immediately clear if she had an attorney to comment.
The sheriff’s office initially withheld the identities of the victims, but a town commissioner identified them as Mayor Gary Skelton and Jackie Dawn Skelton. Authorities haven’t discussed a motive.