Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. EDT
Pence: US will sanction Turkey unless American pastor freed
WASHINGTON (AP) – Vice President Mike Pence is threatening NATO ally Turkey with economic sanctions over a detained American pastor held on terror and espionage charges.
Pence said Thursday that if Turkey does not take immediate action to free Andrew Craig Brunson, “the United States of America will impose severe economic sanctions on Turkey.” He spoke at the close of a three-day conference on religious freedom.
Brunson, 50, an evangelical Christian pastor originally from North Carolina, was let out of jail Wednesday, after 1 1/2 years, to serve house arrest because of “health problems,” according to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded Brunson’s release and said on Twitter last week that the pastor’s detention was “a total disgrace.”
SCENIC INN-WORKER KILLED
Homicide suspected in worker death at renowned mountain inn
CANTON, N.C. (AP) – An employee’s death at a North Carolina inn along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway is being investigated as a homicide after federal agents found signs of foul play.
An FBI news release says 29-year-old Sara Ellis was found dead Tuesday night off a path to Pisgah Inn employee housing. She was reported missing several hours earlier by a manager. A path to staff accommodation leads up a wooden staircase and through foliage, according to the hotel website.
The Seminole, Florida, resident had worked as a cook since May at the inn that’s run privately under a National Park Service contract. The website says it offers seasonal employment April to October.
The inn at a 5,000-foot (1.5 kilometers) elevation was named best national park lodge by USA Today readers in 2015.
Man drowns in surf; beachgoers link arms to help swimmers
EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (AP) – A man has drowned amid dangerous surf conditions in North Carolina and video from a witness at a beach there shows people trying to rescue swimmers by linking arms to form a long chain.
The Town of Emerald Isle tweeted the drowning happened Wednesday afternoon and that red flags indicating people should not swim were in place at beaches. Town manager Frank Rush says the person who drowned was a 41-year-old man visiting on vacation.
The video Shane Gentry provided to news outlets shows beachgoers in Emerald Isle lined up arm-in-arm and attempting to pull people from the rough water. Gentry says “it was nuts. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The town says in the tweet that people should stay out of the ocean as the dangerous conditions continue.
Federal immigration officials detain registered sex offender
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Federal immigration officials say they arrested an immigrant who is in the U.S. illegally after a sheriff declined their request to keep the registered sex offender in custody.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says Raleigh-based agents arrested Udiel Aguilar-Castellanos at his Carrboro, North Carolina, residence Monday. ICE discovered he was a sex offender when he registered with Orange County on July 11. He is being held at the Stewart Detention center in Lumpkin, Georgia.
On June 27, Aguilar-Castellanos pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery of an 11-year-old girl and was released the same day.
ICE says the Orange County Sheriff’s Office refused to enforce an immigration detainer filed in 2017 and failed to notify the agency of Aguilar-Castellanos’ release. The sheriff’s office was not immediately available for comment.
STOLEN POLICE CRUISER
N. Carolina police: Handcuffed suspect escapes in patrol car
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say a man handcuffed in the back of a patrol cruiser managed to escape by getting into the front seat and driving away.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said in a news release as officers were searching the suspect’s car Tuesday, the man managed to get the handcuffs in front of him, squeeze through the window inside the car and drive off.
The news release said the marked police cruiser was found but the suspect remains at large.
Police say 20-year-old Dontray Anotnio Pharr is wanted on multiple charges, including larceny of a motor vehicle, flee to elude arrest and impersonating law enforcement.
Police also say they’re reviewing potential modifications to cruiser windows to prevent a similar incident.
North Carolina board to resolve early voting in 15 counties
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Early-voting locations this fall in at least 15 North Carolina counties must be settled by the state elections board because local boards couldn’t agree on the details.
State law requires county elections boards to make unanimous decisions on early-voting schedules, or the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement will decide for them.
The state board is expected to meet early next month and approve plans for Wake, Buncombe, Durham, Orange and the other deadlocked counties. State board decisions don’t have to be unanimous.
Almost 80 of the 100 counties have reported adopting unanimous plans. Seven counties hadn’t reported their decisions to the state board as of Wednesday.
A new law requires more uniform opening and closing times for early-voting sites statewide, including for sites open on weekends in counties.
Police seek suspect after man fatally shot, baby next to him
(Information from: News & Record, http://www.news-record.com)
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Police are looking for a suspect after a man was shot to death at a North Carolina apartment complex and a crying baby was found next to his body.
The News & Record of Greensboro reports police said officers found 28-year-old Michael Anthony Rollins dead Tuesday.
Greensboro police spokesman Ron Glenn said the baby was taken to a local hospital to be examined. Glenn said the baby wasn’t hurt and is with its mother.
So far, there have been no arrests in the case.
CANDIDATE-ANTI MEXICAN REMARKS
North Carolina state House candidate to drop out due to blog
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A Democratic candidate for the North Carolina House says she plans to quit the race after being criticized for a 2006 blog post that made incendiary remarks about Mexican immigrants.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the N.C. Democratic Party distanced itself from Cathy Von Hassel-Davies last week after hearing of the post. Von Hassel-Davies was challenging Republican Rep. Dennis Riddell in an Alamance County district between Durham and Greensboro.
An expletive-laden post on her blog, “Cat’s Craft Corner: Rantings and Ravings of Perhaps a Lunatic,” suggested Mexican immigrants were “illegal” and criticized the U.S. for accommodating Spanish speakers. Von Hassel-Davies later apologized, saying her words were “indefensible” but inspired by her German father’s precarious employment.
State law lets local Democrats pick a replacement if Von Hassel-Davies withdraws.