Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT
DURHAM SHOOTING DEATH
1 arrested in shooting death at home in North Carolina
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say one man is in custody after an overnight shooting at a North Carolina home.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office tells local media outlets that officers were called at around 11:30 p.m. Thursday about a possible home invasion in Durham.
When deputies arrived, they found a person dead from an apparent gunshot wound. After a witness said that the suspect could still be nearby, officers searched the area and arrested a man.
Authorities haven’t identified the victim or the suspect. No other details about the incident have been released.
Jury hits pork giant for $50M for hog operation’s nuisance
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal jury in North Carolina is awarding more than $50 million in damages to neighbors of an industrial hog operation responsible for smells, noise and other disturbances so bad they couldn’t enjoy their rural homes.
Jurors on Thursday awarded 10 neighbors of a 15,000-head swine operation a total of $750,000 in compensation plus $50 million in damages designed to punish the hog-production division of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods.
Lawyers didn’t sue the farm’s owner, instead targeting the Chinese-owned corporation. Smithfield uses strict contracts to dictate how farm operators raise livestock the company owns.
The decision is the first in dozens of nuisance lawsuits filed by more than 500 neighbors against hog operations.
Smithfield says the lawsuits are a serious threat to a major agricultural industry and employer in North Carolina.
Water exec: Uncertain mix of chemicals from consumer taps
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A public water utility that studied what it was serving its 200,000 North Carolina customers is finding a soup of unregulated industrial chemicals with uncertain health effects, including some that university researchers didn’t know existed.
State legislators heard Thursday from chemists at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the top executive of the area’s main water utility as they try to cope with rising concern about the prevalence of untested chemicals in drinking water.
Jim Flechtner of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says the chemical GenX found in drinking water is now in a range health officials think should be safe. But GenX is just 14 percent of the concerning compounds being addressed, while about 20 different related chemicals combined push the water question into unknown territory.
Cooper seeks federal help for 2 North Carolina counties
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Gov. Roy Cooper has asked for a federal disaster declaration for two central North Carolina counties where hundreds of buildings were damaged as a confirmed tornado touched down this month.
Cooper said Thursday he wrote President Donald Trump this week seeking the designation for Guilford and Rockingham counties for the April 15 storm. He wants the declaration that would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to offer low-interest loans and grants to homeowners, renters and business owners.
Cooper’s office says damage assessments found 36 Guilford County homes and businesses were destroyed and 180 sustained major damage. In Rockingham County, there were five homes or businesses destroyed and seven with major damage. One storm-related death occurred in Guilford County.
Vice President Mike Pence visited Guilford County storm recovery efforts last week.
North Carolina tax agency duplicated thousands of payments
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s tax collectors are refunding money to thousands of taxpayers whose electronic payments were wrongly subtracted twice from their bank accounts.
The Department of Revenue said Thursday the error happened because a high volume of 2017 payments were being made around last week’s filing deadline. But the agency says the roughly 6,400 taxpayers affected were making payments for earlier tax years, such as on installment plans.
Department spokesman Schorr Johnson says the taxpayers are being contacted about the problem and duplicate payments are being refunded. The department also will reimburse overdraft fees such a payment could have caused.
The department says 629,000 tax payments were submitted to the state last week.
North Carolina county begins collecting abandoned boats
(Information from: The StarNews, http://starnewsonline.com)
BOLIVIA, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina county has begun its effort to rid its waterways of abandoned boats.
The StarNews of Wilmington reports Brunswick County commissioners adopted an ordinance last year addressing the problem. The sheriff’s office has posted warnings on boats believed to be abandoned and tracking down the owners.
Maj. Tommy Tolley said the sheriff’s office is trying to work with the boat owners, but they haven’t put forth an effort to save the boats.
On Thursday, the sheriff’s office held an auction for a 1981 Catalina sailboat and a 1976 AMF Paceship. Authorities couldn’t reach the owners, making them the first to go up for auction. No one showed up to bid on the boats, so they were hauled away to the county landfill, where they will be destroyed.
Activists urge better online public access to police records
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) – Asheville activists say better online public access to police records could help ease community mistrust of law enforcement heightened after the beating of a black pedestrian.
Local media report that members of Code for Asheville told city leaders on Tuesday that the accountability is needed because neither the public nor city council knew about the incident for nearly six months.
City officials have given the U.S. Attorney’s Office records related to former Asheville Police Officer Chris Hickman’s beating of Johnnie Rush last August. The earliest subpoena was on March 5, five days after the Asheville Citizen-Times published leaked police body camera footage that showed Hickman choke and strike Rush while holding him on the ground after shocking him with a Taser.
Hickman was later charged with felony assault by strangulation.
BOY SWEPT TO SEA
Boy swept out to sea while walking on North Carolina beach
KITTY HAWK, N.C. (AP) – Authorities have suspended their search for a four-year-old boy they say was swept out to sea while walking with his mother on a North Carolina beach.
The U.S. Coast Guard tells media outlets the boy and his mother were walking along the shore in Kitty Hawk on Wednesday afternoon when a wave hit the boy and carried him out into the ocean. Officials say the mother ultimately lost sight of her son as he went further from the shore.
A helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City and Coast Guard boats from the Oregon Inlet station together combed 130 square miles before suspending the search at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The boy has not been identified.