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AP Newswatch


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US may never see another spiritual leader like Billy Graham
MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) – In the wake of the Rev. Billy Graham’s death, religion scholars say this much is clear: There will never be another American spiritual leader with his reach and influence.
The evangelical movement that Graham helped solidify and embodied for much of the second half of the 20th century has splintered.
The media he used so effectively has fractured, too, since the days when baby boomers had a choice of only three TV stations in their living rooms.
And politics has become more polarized.



Man convicted of murder in shooting of unarmed black man
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A white man who shot an unarmed black man after reporting “hoodlums” has been found guilty of first-degree murder in North Carolina.
News outlets report that the jury spent less than two hours deliberating before finding Chad Copley guilty of premeditated murder in the death of 20-year-old Kouren-Rodney Thomas, who was attending a party near Copley’s home.
Prosecutors had said Copley appeared bent on violence when he told 911 operators he was “locked and loaded” to confront people he described as armed “hoodlums” and launched a “surprise attack.”
Defense attorneys acknowledged Copley fired the fatal shotgun blast, but said he feared for his safety and was covered by the state’s Castle doctrine.
No gun was found at the scene.
Copley’s sentencing hearing is set for Friday.



N Carolina legislators use campaigns funds for guns, NRA
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Several North Carolina legislators have used campaign funds to purchase guns and memberships in the National Rifle Association, an organization that’s drawn increased scrutiny following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The News & Observer reports Republican state Rep. Larry Yarborough purchased a $447.25 pistol, listed in the state campaign finance database under “personal protection expense.”
Yarborough says people “openly hate” him and he needs to be safer. State Board of Elections spokesman Pat Gannon says Yarborough couldn’t retain his weapon if he left politics.
Records also show Republican state Sen. Trudy Wade spent $2,200 on a shotgun to raffle.
Since 2011, at least five state legislators, all Republicans, have used campaign money to purchase NRA memberships, including now-U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.
McClatchy reports 11 members of Congress spent campaign funds on NRA memberships in 2017.


N Carolina district sends all students home after threat
(Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com)
BRYSON CITY, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina school district sent all students home after a shooting threat targeting its high school was deemed a hoax.
Swain County Schools spokesman Toby Burrell tells The Asheville Citizen-Times a parent notified the Swain County High School principal shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday of a shooting threat posted on Facebook. Burrell says the high school was immediately placed on a hard lockdown, while the district’s two elementary schools, pre-kindergarten school and middle school were placed on perimeter lockdowns.
Swain County sheriff’s deputies evacuated and searched the high school, turning up nothing. School officials decided to dismiss for the day around 9:30 a.m.
Burrell says school officials got a “dry run” to prepare in the event of an active shooter. He says the person behind the threat is unknown.


Teen found not guilty of distributing nude photo of teacher
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina high school student accused of “catfishing” a teacher and circulating his nude photo has been found not guilty.
News outlets report the 16-year-old girl was acquitted Thursday on the charge of misdemeanor disclosure of private images. The case of a 16-year-old boy charged with the same offense is pending.
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office said the Swansboro High School students obtained the teacher’s picture after misrepresenting themselves on Grindr, a gay dating app. According to testimony, the girl forwarded the picture to the boy, who shared them with five friends.
The girl’s attorney, Matt Silva, said the state didn’t prove she intended to humiliate the man, who he says didn’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy after sending images to a stranger. The judge based his ruling on similar points.



Bare in the woods: Naked man fires gun, flees after crash
WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a man crashed his vehicle into another car, got out, stripped naked, fired a gun into the air and ran off into the woods in North Carolina.
Lt. Jerry Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office tells news outlets the unnamed driver was speeding down a major Wilmington street Thursday night when he crashed. Brewer says the man fired a gun four to five times into the air before fleeing into the nearby woods, but then returned and put his clothes back on.
No possible motive for this series of actions has been provided.
Deputies took the man into custody when he emerged from the woods. He’s been charged with going armed to the terror of the public, and additional charges are pending.
No one was injured.



The Latest: Spokesman: Graham planned own funeral carefully
MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) – A family spokesman says the Rev. Billy Graham carefully planned and signed off on every detail of his funeral next week.
The funeral March 2 will cap nine days of mourning for postwar America’s most famous evangelist, who died Wednesday at his home in North Carolina’s mountains at age 99.
Graham family spokesman Mark DeMoss said Thursday that the music and speakers will all have connections to Graham’s life and ministry. He says he will release details later.
DeMoss says the invitation-only funeral is being held in a tent at Graham’s Charlotte library in tribute to the 1949 Los Angeles tent revivals that propelled him to international fame.
Graham will be buried in a prison-made plywood coffin next to his wife, Ruth, who died in 2007.



Condolence book remembering Billy Graham set in old Capitol
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Members of the public can sign a book set inside North Carolina’s old Capitol building to remember the late Rev. Billy Graham.
Gov. Roy Cooper issued a proclamation ordering a “Book of Condolences” be placed inside the Capitol rotunda, where it will be starting Friday through March 2, the day of Graham’s funeral in Charlotte.
Cooper then plans to present the book to Graham’s family on behalf of North Carolina citizens.
Graham died Wednesday at age 99 at his home in Montreat. Thursday’s proclamation identifies Graham as “North Carolina’s native son” who was “without peer as an evangelist during his lifetime” and who refused to preach to racially segregated audiences.

AP-WF-02-23-18 1121GMT