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VIRUS OUTBREAK-NORTH CAROLINA
Judge refuses to intervene in N.C. prisons’ virus response
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A judge has refused the requests of several offenders and civil rights groups for him to tell North Carolina corrections leaders to reduce the prison population further to protect inmates from COVID-19. Wednesday’s denials by Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier came after he received last week an extensive report from prison officials about what wardens were doing to discourage the virus’ spread. That includes sending home hundreds of additional inmates. The plaintiffs argued that more meaningful action was needed. More than 640 offenders in about a dozen prisons have tested positive for the new coronavirus, and five of them have died.
BC-NC-POLICE SHOOTING-NORTH CAROLINA
Police: Officers fatally shoot robber in exchange of gunfire
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina say that officers have fatally shot a man after he robbed a gas station’s convenience store. An officer was also struck by gunfire but was treated and released from a hospital. Raleigh Police said in a statement that the shooting occurred Wednesday evening. Police said the incident began when David Tylek Atkinson, 24, jumped over the counter. He pointed a gun at the clerk and stole cash and tobacco products before running away toward some apartments. Police said responding officers exchanged gunfire with Atkinson. He later died at a hospital. Raleigh police said the State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation into the shooting.
AP-NC-DROPPED MURDER CHARGE
Murder charge dismissed over defendant’s mental incompetence
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A murder charge that was filed against a North Carolina man has been dismissed because of his mental incompetence. The Asheville Citizen Times reports that a Superior Court judge issued the dismissal order on Wednesday for Buford James Penley, 45, of Asheville. Penley had faced a first-degree-murder charge in the bludgeoning death of Joshua Christopher Stebbins in 2017. Psychologists have found Penley incompetent. Penley has been mostly in state hospitals and will return to one for inpatient commitment. Prosecutors said they’re “frustrated” that they couldn’t present evidence to to jury and seek justice. But Penley’s attorney said that three psychologists found Penley “incapable to proceed and unrestorable.”
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CHURCH SERVICE LIMIT
N. Carolina sheriff won’t enforce limit on church attendance
SMITHFIELD, N.C. (AP) – A sheriff in North Carolina says his department won’t enforce state guidelines limiting church attendance during the coronavirus pandemic. Johnston County Sheriff Steve Blizell said in a letter Wednesday that the state’s 10-person limit on church services was unfair and morally wrong while retailers are continuing to operate with social-distancing guidelines. Blizell has been part of the executive committee of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association that asked Gov. Roy Cooper to allow indoor church services last week. Cooper said Tuesday that it is more likely people will transmit the virus when they are sitting or standing in one place for a long time.
1 in custody after man shot with crossbow in North Carolina
HICKORY, N.C. (AP) – A sheriff’s office in North Carolina says it took a homeowner into custody hours after someone was shot in the head with a crossbow on his property. Burke County sheriff’s deputies located 28-year-old Siegfred Albert Jackson on Wednesday afternoon. The agency said Jackson was found less than 1 mile from the Hickory property where a man was discovered suffering from a serious head injury that morning. Investigators said the crossbow was recovered from the scene and Jackson was spotted leaving the home. Officials did not say whether Jackson has been charged with a crime. It’s unclear whether he has an attorney who can comment for him.
N.C. senator asks Cooper to let counties reopen barbershops
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – One of North Carolina’s most powerful Republican elected officials has called on Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to give county governments the ability to reopen barbershops and hair salons. Senate leader Phil Berger said on Wednesday that most Southeastern states have allowed these personal service businesses to reopen in some capacity. Salons and barbershops remain closed in the first part of Cooper’s three-phase plan to ease out of the state’s stay-at-home order. They could reopen in some capacity statewide later this month. Cooper has taken heat recently from Republicans about his steps to ease out from the stay-home order.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-TRAIN SERVICE
North Carolina-operated passenger train service suspended
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina transportation officials have suspended the state-sponsored train service between Raleigh and Charlotte because of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on revenues. The Piedmont runs three trips a day between the state capital and North Carolina’s largest city. N.C. Department of Transportation said in a news release on Wednesday people traveling between Raleigh and Charlotte by train can take the Carolinian, which departs Charlotte each morning daily and stops in Raleigh en route to New York. The Carolinian returns from New York, makes a stop in Raleigh before reaching Charlotte in the evening.
ATRIUM HEALTH LOSS
Atrium Health loses $30M in first quarter of 2020
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina health care system has lost nearly $30 million in the first quarter of this year as it dealt with the coronavirus pandemic. The Charlotte Observer reported Atrium Health’s operating loss announced Tuesday is down $56 million from the system’s $26 million income during the fourth quarter of 2019. The hospital system’s CEO said in April they have resumed non-essential procedures after a pause in March caused significant financial consequences. The system’s board also gave the green light in April to allow the health system to borrow up to $750 million for operations related to the virus outbreak.