Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EST
AIRLINE PASSENGER ZIP-TIED
FBI: Violent airline passenger zip-tied on flight
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Federal agents say an airline passenger was zip-tied and duct-taped after she ran toward the front of the plane and became violent.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court says the event happened on an American Airlines flight Wednesday morning from Dallas to Charlotte.
An FBI agent wrote that Charlene Harriott got up from her seat near the back of the plane, ran toward the front and ignored flight attendants’ instructions to sit down. Authorities say flight attendants restrained her in the first-class section, but she bit one and kicked another.
A criminal complaint filed Thursday says she faces a charge of interfering with a flight crew.
An FBI spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to an email asking if Harriott has an attorney. Jail records show she was being held Thursday night.
FLU DEATHS-NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina health officials report 20 more flu deaths
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Health officials in North Carolina say another 20 people have died from the flu, pushing the death toll for the season to 95.
In addition to the weekly report, the state Department of Health and Human Services says seven people who died in previous weeks were found to have had the flu.
For the 2017-18 season, there have been 63 elderly deaths, 25 death of people ages 50 to 64, four from ages 25 to 49 and three from ages 5 to 17. No children were included in the latest death toll.
The department says there were 25 flu-related deaths at the same time last year.
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness, spread by a virus. Young children and the elderly are at greatest risk from flu and its complications.
MISSING MAN-KIDNAPPING CHARGES
Sheriff: 4 arrested in kidnapping of missing N Carolina man
(Information from: Johnson City Press, http://www.johnsoncitypress.com)
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) – Four people have been arrested regarding the disappearance of a North Carolina man last seen in Tennessee.
The Johnson City Press reports 29-year-old Carlton Lamar Edmonson was reported missing Jan. 19 when his family received a call demanding a $700 ransom. A Johnson County Sheriff’s Office release says investigators believe several people kidnapped Edmonson, brought him to a remote area in the county and assaulted him. Edmonson has yet to be found.
A North Carolina couple, 31-year-old Robert Leroy Littleton III and 30-year-old Leigh Katherine Littleton, was charged last week. Thirty-nine-year-old Michael Stacey May was arrested Jan. 26 and 30-year-old James Combs was arrested Saturday. They each face charges related to assault and kidnapping. A fifth person is expected to be charged.
It’s unclear if anyone charged has a lawyer.
Judge: 5,500 doctors at 2 med schools covered by pay lawsuit
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – About 5,500 faculty will be represented in a class-action lawsuit alleging two prestigious North Carolina medical schools conspired to depress their wages by agreeing not to poach professors from each other.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles ruled Thursday that the lawsuit filed by former Duke University physician Dr. Danielle Seaman can be expanded to include all medical professors who taught since 2012 at the Durham school or at the University of North Carolina, 10 miles away. The Chapel Hill university was dropped from the lawsuit last month in return for turning over internal documents to Seaman’s lawyers.
Both UNC and Duke deny the existence of the no-hire agreement that Seaman claims was reached by top administrators to prevent lateral transfers, but which didn’t cover promotions.
TAX OVERHAUL-DUKE ENERGY
Duke Energy: We’ll pass along tax cut, but not too much
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Electric utility Duke Energy Corp. says it’s ready to pass along part of its windfall from the new federal tax law to North Carolina rate-payers, but is urging caution because the law’s full effects aren’t fully understood.
The Charlotte-based company on Thursday asked regulators to allow it to use some of its tax savings to reduce part of its current or future rate increase requests. The company isn’t specifying how much of nearly $275 million in tax savings it’s willing to pass along to customers.
The electricity giant is in the midst of seeking double-digit rate increases for millions of North Carolina customers.
Utility regulators around the country are considering lowering electricity rates after tax cuts reducing top corporate income tax rates by 14 percent took effect last month.
PARK STABBING DEATH
Suspect arrested in stabbing death at North Carolina park
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – Police in North Carolina have arrested a suspect in a woman’s stabbing death at a park.
Durham police said in a previous news release that officers were called to a park around 9 p.m. Tuesday, and they found the body of 50-year-old Alicia Elder.
A statement from police on Thursday said 55-year-old Michael Anthony Person was arrested and charged with murder. Investigators said the incident doesn’t appear to be random.
Person’s status wasn’t immediately available in online jail records on Thursday.
DUKE ENERGY-MINORITY CONTRACTS
Minority firms got 1 pct of $1B Duke Energy coal ash work
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Duke Energy Corp. is making changes that could make it easier for black, female and other minority-owned construction and hauling firms to compete for work on its multibillion-dollar project to excavate and close coal-ash storage pits.
Under pressure from its state regulator, the giant U.S. electricity company announced last week that it will double the weight it places on diverse and local suppliers landing contracts.
The move comes after the utility said in regulatory filings that only about 1 percent of the more than $1 billion it has spent on fixing its coal-ash problems in North Carolina went to its top 10 contractors owned by women, veterans or minorities.
MAN FALLS FROM TRUCK
North Carolina man falls out of pickup truck, dies
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina Highway Patrol says a man was killed when he fell from the back of a pickup truck while he was trying to hold down some furniture.
The patrol told local media outlets says 20-year-old Michael Lane III was trying to hold down a couch and box spring in the bed of the pickup truck on Wednesday when Lane and the two items fell out. Lane was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, where he died.
Trooper M.T. Bryan said charges are pending against the driver of the truck, and added that neither speed nor alcohol was a factor in the accident.