Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
Camp Lejeune reiterates warning about island trespassing
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) – Camp Lejeune officials are reminding people of a no trespassing policy in place for an island that the Marine base uses for live-fire training.
In addition, Lejeune (luh-JERN’) officials reiterated that access to creeks and tributaries that lead to Browns Island is restricted.
The Marines said in news release Thursday that in addition to the live-fire training, another safety issue is unexploded ordnance. Previously buried ordnance has been exposed on the island since Hurricane Florence struck in September.
Military police working with the U.S. Coast Guard regularly patrol the area and issue citations to trespassers, who must appear before the federal magistrate in Wilmington. Violators can be imprisoned up to six months and fined a maximum of $5,000.
Browns Island is between Onslow Beach and Hammocks Beach State Park.
PREGNANT WOMAN KILLED-WITNESS
Murder trial witness killed 2 weeks after testifying
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A pregnant woman who was shot and killed in North Carolina had testified against a murder suspect in court two weeks ago.
The Asheville Citizen-Times reports 24-year-old Tiyquasha Antwonique Simuel suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at a hospital Wednesday. Asheville Police spokeswoman Christina Hallingse declined to say whether Simuel’s baby survived, citing state law.
Simuel testified against her ex-boyfriend Nathaniel Dixon in late May. Dixon is accused of killing Candace Pickens and attempting to kill her then-3-year-old son in 2016. Pickens was pregnant at the time.
The judge for the murder trial closed the courtroom to anyone other than immediate family, criminal justice officials and reporters. The trial is ongoing.
Simuel hadn’t been publicly identified as a witness before her death.
Police haven’t announced any arrests in Simuel’s slaying.
Gaming commission advances without fantasy sports regulation
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A measure creating a new state commission to oversee the state lottery, bingo and raffles and boxing in North Carolina has now cleared a House committee, minus any language to regulate fantasy sports games.
The House Judiciary Committee voted for the North Carolina Gaming Commission proposal on Thursday, a week after legislation containing both the commission and new fantasy sports regulations failed. Some members panned language in that bill declaring fantasy sports games aren’t gambling.
Thursday’s debate focused on a failed amendment that would have removed video lottery games from the list of activities the proposed commission would conduct feasibility studies on, which include sports betting and steeplechases.
A state lottery commission already exists, so the measure now heading to another committee would merge its duties into the new commission.
SOLDIER-GUNFIRE INTO HOME
Police: Solider wearing military gear opened fire into home
LAUREL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina say an active-duty soldier wearing military-issued ballistic gear opened fire into a home and was then wounded by return gunfire and injured in a car accident.
News outlets report 24-year-old Eric Jerrod Davis, a soldier at Fort Bragg, was charged with attempted murder Wednesday. Scotland County Sheriff’s investigators say he fired into a home early Sunday morning.
Authorities say he targeted someone inside the home and fired, with other people also inside. Davis was wounded when someone fired back, and then crashed his car while fleeing. Davis was reported “in a critical state and highly unstable,” at a hospital.
Police said Davis was “wearing his military issued ballistic gear,” including a bulletproof vest, during the shooting.
It is not clear if anyone else was injured.
ELECTION 2020-SENATE-NORTH CAROLINA
Rep. Walker won’t challenge Sen. Tillis in NC GOP primary
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Rep. Mark Walker announced Thursday that he won’t challenge Sen. Thom Tillis in North Carolina’s Republican primary next year, a move that shows President Donald Trump’s influence on state politics and the high stakes in the 2020 congressional elections.
Walker said he’ll focus on remaining in the House, rather than trying to move over to the Senate, even though he says Trump and conservatives had encouraged him to switch.
Walker’s name surfaced after GOP activists complained Tillis wasn’t supporting Trump enough. Some were particularly unhappy with Tillis’ initial opposition to Trump’s emergency declaration for the wall at the Mexico border. Tillis later changed his mind and has since intensified his public support for the president.
Raleigh financier Garland Tucker got into the Senate primary race last month.
HEPATITIS C LAUNCH
North Carolina fights rising hepatitis C infections
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina launched a multi-million dollar initiative to fight a dramatic spike in statewide hepatitis C infections fueled by the opioid crisis.
The HepConnect launch in Raleigh on Thursday followed launches in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Indiana, which also saw increased infections.
The state’s health department estimates over 100,000 North Carolinians live with hepatitis C, many of whom are unaware they’re infected. The virus can spread through sharing needles and can cause severe liver damage, or death. But virus symptoms often don’t show up for years.
The initiative aims to increase hepatitis C screenings and treat those infected with the virus.
Democratic Rep. Gale Adcock spoke at the event and later said the initiative is just one step in addressing all the problems caused by the opioid epidemic.
Emails show author Sparks objecting to pro-gay ‘agenda’
NEW YORK (AP) – Emails filed in an ongoing lawsuit show novelist Nicholas Sparks chastised a former headmaster at the private Christian school in North Carolina he runs for promoting a pro-gay “agenda.” Sparks denies he discriminates.
The emails, published Thursday by the Daily Beast and filed as exhibits in federal lawsuit in North Carolina, show Sparks complaining in 2013 about “an agenda that strives to make homosexuality open and accepted.” The emails are part a case between Sparks and former headmaster Saul Hillel Benjamin, who alleges that Sparks defamed him. Benjamin headed the college-prep K-12 school for a few months before being forced out.
In a statement issued through his publicist, Sparks says the Daily Beast story repeats “false accusations” and noted that charges of discrimination originally in the lawsuit have been dropped.
Golden LEAF Foundation begins search for new president
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (AP) – The Golden LEAF Foundation board of directors is searching for a new president after its previous leader accepted a position as interim chancellor of East Carolina University.
The foundation said in a news release that it’s hired Raleigh-based firm Elinvar to search for someone to succeed Dan Gerlach, who’s now at ECU in Greenville.
Elinvar will accept applications through July 15th. The board is expected to choose a new president in the fourth quarter of this year.
The foundation awarded more than 1,700 grants totaling over $870 million during its 20 years of operation. The nonprofit was established in 1999 to receive part of North Carolina’s funding from a 1998 settlement agreement with cigarette manufacturers.
Its grants are awarded to tobacco-dependent, economy distressed and rural areas of North Carolina.