Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
Red wolves court battle reignites as governor urges action
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Wildlife advocates have returned to court to prod the federal government to jump-start its recovery efforts for the critically endangered red wolf. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has lent his voice to efforts to bring the animal back from the brink of extinction in the wild. Amid the pressure, federal biologists plan to promote wild breeding among several wolf pairs. But environmental groups say much more work is needed.áIn November, Cooper sent federal officials a sharply worded letter warning that “the American red wolf is on the brink of extinction.” He noted only about a dozen remain in the wild.
TRAFFIC STOP-FATAL CRASH
Police: 1 killed, 3 hurt after stolen car crashes into tree
BURLINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say one person was killed and three were injured when a car believed to have been stolen crashed into a tree after an officer attempted to make a traffic stop. Burlington police tell news outlets that the car fled from a parking lot on Christmas Day when an officer attempted to make the stop after identifying the car. After the crash, átwo occupants were able to get out of the car, while a third person was trapped and the fourth person was dead. Their identities haven’t been released.
North Carolina mountains home to ‘Hobbit’-themed Airbnb
WEAVERVILLE, N.C. (AP) – O’er the misty mountains of North Carolina is a “Hobbit”-themed Airbnb. The News & Observer reports the hobbit house named “Hobbithenge” is nestled into a meadow in Weaverville. The listing says the house, which appears to be tucked into the earth, was handcrafted out of clay and wood. In addition to the wood stove and queen-sized futon, the listing says the rental also comes with mud, dust, spiders and a door that doesn’t lock just yet. It emphasizes the home as “rustic,” noting it also doesn’t have hot water or much privacy. This rental is about 25 miles outside Asheville and isn’t the only Tolkien token. Similar rentals are available in states including Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.
N Carolina couple call 911 on vacuum thought to be intruder
HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina couple awoke just after midnight on Christmas to the sounds of clanking coming from their first floor. In a panic, they hid in a closet and called 911 to report a possible home intrusion. WGHP-TV reports responding Forsyth County deputies searched the home and found a robot vacuum clanking about. Homeowner Thomas Milam says the couple had only had the vacuum for about two days.
States are on front lines of 2020 election-security efforts
SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) – Local officials once had limited responsibilities on election days. They’d keep track of who might show up at the polling stations and ensure all the equipment and supplies were in place. Now they’re on the front lines of efforts to defend U.S. elections from an attack by Russia, China or other foreign threats. The federal government will be gathering intelligence and scanning systems for suspicious cyber activity in the 2020 election. But it will be state and county officials on the ground, charged with identifying and dealing with any hostile acts. Officials from 24 states recently attended election-security training held by the Defending Digital Democracy Project in Virginia.
AP-NC-CHRISTMAS DINNER-LOTTERY TICKET
He bought Christmas dinner fixings – and a $250K scratch-off
MINT HILL, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man has won a $250,000 lottery ticket after stopping by the grocery store to buy some fixings for Christmas dinner. North Carolina lottery officials said in a statement that Michael Rosenbrock claimed his prize on Monday. Rosenbrock said he was hosting the family this year and wanted to make sure he had all he needed for the holiday meal. That included “ham, meatballs, stuffing, the whole shebang.” He ended up with an extra $176,876 after taxes. Rosenbrock said the money will help him fulfill his dream of starting a nonprofit.
Deputies: Foul play suspected in death investigation
CURRIE, N.C. (AP) – Authorities in North Carolina say foul play is suspected in the investigation of a body found on Christmas Day. News outlets report the Pender County Sheriff’s Office identified the body Wednesday as Bennie Donnell Jones. Dispatchers received a call to respond to an address in Currie. Jones was found dead at the location. It’s unclear how Jones died or how long the body had been there. Deputies are asking anyone with knowledge about the address or Jones to contact the sheriff’s office.
COLLEGE SHOOTING-NORTH CAROLINA-JEDI
Student who saved classmates from shooting honored as Jedi
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina college student hailed by police as a hero for preventing more injuries and deaths after a gunman opened fire in a classroom has now been immortalized as a Jedi by the production company for the Star Wars franchise. News outlets report Riley Howell’s family received a letter from Lucasfilm saying its story group has created a character in honor of Riley in the Star Wars galaxy, and it appears in a book released to coincide with the latest Star Wars movie. Howell was one of two students killed when a former student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte walked into a classroom building and opened fire. Police credited Howell with preventing more injuries and loss of life.