Articles on this Page
- 06/18/15--16:13: _Suspects in PCB Spr...
- 06/19/15--10:10: _Charleston shooting...
- 06/19/15--15:39: _Man convicted of ra...
- 06/19/15--16:16: _UPDATE: Charleston ...
- 06/20/15--07:50: _BCSO arrest log Jun...
- 06/20/15--10:24: _Google cracks down ...
- 06/20/15--15:01: _One dead after dome...
- 06/20/15--16:06: _Toddler drowns in pool
- 06/21/15--12:34: _Coordinated ringing...
- 06/21/15--15:16: _BCSO releases new d...
- 06/22/15--11:19: _Man injured in moto...
- 06/22/15--14:32: _FWC campaign eyes b...
- 06/22/15--14:57: _P.C. man critical f...
- 06/22/15--16:42: _Man dies six days a...
- 06/22/15--16:42: _BCSO releases detai...
- 06/22/15--16:43: _34-year law enforce...
- 06/22/15--16:44: _Law enforcement wei...
- 06/23/15--07:55: _Man convicted of bu...
- 06/23/15--10:56: _'Star Wars' actor's...
- 06/23/15--15:55: _Investigators: Bewa...
- 06/18/15--16:13: Suspects in PCB Spring Break 'gang rape' case return to court
- 06/19/15--10:10: Charleston shooting tipster: ‘I had the worst feeling’
- 06/19/15--15:39: Man convicted of raping disabled woman
- 06/19/15--16:16: UPDATE: Charleston church victims' families forgive suspect in court
- 06/20/15--07:50: BCSO arrest log June 12-17
- 06/20/15--10:24: Google cracks down on 'revenge porn' under new nudity policy
- 06/20/15--15:01: One dead after domestic dispute
- 06/20/15--16:06: Toddler drowns in pool
- 06/21/15--12:34: Coordinated ringing of bells sends message of unity, healing
- 06/21/15--15:16: BCSO releases new details in PCB slaying
- 06/22/15--11:19: Man injured in motorcycle crash
- 06/22/15--14:32: FWC campaign eyes boating under the influence
- 06/22/15--14:57: P.C. man critical following wreck
- 06/22/15--16:42: Man dies six days after crash
- 06/22/15--16:42: BCSO releases details on toddler drowning; fund set up
- 06/22/15--16:43: 34-year law enforcement veteran Dennis Kiah dies
- 06/22/15--16:44: Law enforcement weighs charges after fatal PCB shooting
- 06/23/15--07:55: Man convicted of burglary, faces up to 10 years
- 06/23/15--10:56: 'Star Wars' actor's flight from South Carolina cops hit 120 mph
- 06/23/15--15:55: Investigators: Beware of jail time scam
PANAMA CITY — A court hearing Thursday inched a high-profile case toward trial, setting further court dates for the defendants alleged to be involved in what authorities say was a gang rape during Spring Break.
Delonte Martistee, 22, and Ryan Calhoun, 22, are charged with sexual battery by multiple perpetrators while George Davon Kennedy Jr., 21, is charged as a principal to sexual battery. The three are alleged to have been involved in what law enforcement said was a “gang rape” in March on a crowded beach in broad daylight. On Thursday at a preliminary court hearing at the Bay County Courthouse, the three were ordered to return to court Aug. 12 to determine the status of the case.
The arrests stem from a video showing several men surrounding a young woman who appears to be incapacitated on a beach chair. The men talk about “Molly,” slang for the illegal drug MDMA, and comments to the effect of “she isn’t going to know” as she tries to push their hands away as they digitally penetrate her. According to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the victim did not remember the incident but wanted to press charges.
Authorities said Kennedy accompanied the victim to the beach, and Kennedy testified he knew the victim since grade school and was dating her at the time of the incident, court records show.
Kennedy is scheduled to appear in court July 17 to determine whether he will have an adversary preliminary hearing. Kennedy’s attorney filed a motion for the adversary hearing and the State Attorney’s Office filed a motion against the hearing.
According to the Florida Bar, an adversary preliminary hearing is applicable when a defendant “who is not charged in an ... indictment within 21 days from the date of arrest ... shall have a right to a ... hearing on any felony charge then pending.”
Witnesses are examined at the hearing while the defendant is present. The defendant is then able to testify on their behalf and may be cross-examined as well. Actions a judge can take from an adversarial hearing are hold the defendant to answer to the circuit court or release the defendant from custody.
If released from custody, however, the defendant still must appear at all court proceedings and does not void further prosecution.
SHELBY, N.C. — Debbie Dills was running behind Thursday on her way into work at Frady’s Florist in Kings Mountain.
It was God’s way of putting her in the right place at the right time, the Gastonia woman said.
Dills and her boss, Todd Frady, made the initial calls around 10:35 a.m. EDT that led to the arrest of suspected Charleston, S.C., church shooter Dylann Roof in Shelby, about 40 miles west of Charlotte.
Roof is suspected of killing nine people, including pastor and S.C. state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, during a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on Wednesday night.
Dills, driving from her home in south Gastonia into work, first spotted Roof on U.S. 74 near Sparrow Springs Road in Gastonia, which is situated between Shelby and Charlotte. She wasn’t sure at first why she recognized the car.
“I saw the pictures of him with the bowl cut. I said, ‘I’ve seen that car for some reason.’ I look over, and it’s got a South Carolina tag on it,” Dills said Thursday afternoon. “I thought, ‘Nah, that’s not his car.’ Then, I got closer and saw that haircut. I was nervous. I had the worst feeling. Is that him or not him?”
She called Frady to ask his advice.
Frady said he made a call to officer Shane Davis of the Kings Mountain Police Department, who relayed to Shelby Police that the suspect’s black Hyundai Elantra was traveling west on the highway.
“I had been praying for those people on my way to work,” Dills said. “I was in the right place at the right time that the Lord puts you.”
Frady, who had Dills and Davis on two separate phones, acted as the intermediary.
“She called me when she was at the exit for Kings Mountain on Highway 74,” Frady said. “I called Shane Davis, then he called Shelby PD.”
According to Frady, the Shelby Police Department had officers near the Shelby Ingles supermarket on westbound U.S. 74, or West Dixon Boulevard and Polkville Road. Twenty short minutes after Dills’ initial call to her boss, Shelby officers pulled Roof over near Plato Lee Road, just west of Shelby.
Dills said she followed Roof to the Kings Mountain exit on the U.S. 74 bypass, then exited to head to work at the florist shop in downtown Kings Mountain. Something didn’t feel right to her, so she headed back to the bypass and drove west to attempt to catch up to Roof to provide more details.
“What if that really was him?” she thought. “I have friends going to the mountains this weekend, so if it that was him and something would happen again, what would I do? It kept eating at me, and something told me to keep following him.”
She caught up to Roof’s Hyundai again near East Dixon Boulevard in Shelby and continued to follow him, staying on the phone with Frady. Dills saw Shelby Police officers begin to follow Roof at the Ingles on U.S. 74 and Polkville Road and at first stayed behind, knowing the situation was under control.
But Dills wanted to see things through.
When she caught back up with police, Roof was pulled over and apprehended. She had followed the wanted man for 35 miles.
Dills said Roof never increased his speed as he drove down the highway.
“He wasn’t doing anything abnormal,” she said. “He wasn’t driving slow. He was just driving. He just kept going.”
Dills, the minister of music at West Cramerton Baptist Church, said she had been praying for the victims in Charleston since the news broke last night.
“I was in church last night myself. I had seen the news coverage before I went to bed and started praying for those families down there,” she said. “Those people were in their church just trying to learn the word of God and trying to serve. When I saw a picture of that pastor this morning, my heart just sank.”
By Thursday afternoon, some of her tears were mixed with smiles. She was especially proud of the job done by local officers involved in Roof’s arrest.
“Them boys knocked it down. They were on it,” Dills said. “Just after the arrest, three of them from Kings Mountain were standing right over there, thanking me and shaking my hand.”
A Bay County jury convicted Gary Sprouse Jr. on Friday of sexually battering a disabled woman, according to a press release from the State Attorney’s Office.
Assistant State Attorneys Christa Diviney and Michele Lucas showed jurors during the one-day trial that Sprouse, 48, raped a woman with Downs syndrome in her home the morning of Oct. 25.
Sprouse was found guilty of sexual battery on an intellectually disabled person and lewd or lascivious battery on an intellectually disabled adult. He faces more than 30 years in prison when Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet sentences him July 6, the State Attorney’s Office said.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — They forgave him. They advised him to repent for his sins, and asked for God's mercy on his soul. One even told Dylann Storm Roof to repent and confess, and “you'll be OK.”
Relatives of the nine people shot down during a Bible study session inside their historic black church confronted the 21-year-old suspect Friday during his initial hearing. They described their pain and anger, but also spoke of love.
“I forgive you, my family forgives you,” said Anthony Thompson, whose relative Myra Thompson was killed. “We would like you to take this opportunity to repent. ... Do that and you'll be better off than you are right now.”
Roof was ordered held until a bond is set on murder charges. A judge set a $1 million bond for a weapons charge but doesn't have the authority to set bond on the nine murder counts that Roof faces. That will be left up to a circuit judge at a later date.
Roof appeared by video from the county jail, looking somber in a striped jumpsuit and speaking only briefly in response to the judge's questions.
The victims included the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator who doubled as the church's lead pastor, and eight others who played multiple roles in their families and communities: ministers and coaches, teachers and a librarian, counselors and choir singers and the elderly sexton who made sure the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was kept clean.
A police affidavit released Friday accused Roof of shooting all nine multiple times, and making a “racially inflammatory statement” as he stood over an unnamed survivor.
The families are determined not to respond in kind, said Alana Simmons, who lost her grandfather, the Rev. Daniel Simmons.
“Although my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate, this is proof — everyone's plea for your soul is proof they lived in love and their legacies will live in love, so hate won't win,” she said. “And I just want to thank the court for making sure that hate doesn't win.”
Felecia Sanders survived the Wednesday night attack by pretending to be dead, but lost her son Tywanza. She also spoke from Chief Magistrate James Gosnell's courtroom, where Roof's image appeared on a television screen. It is not unusual in South Carolina for the families of victims to be given a chance to address the court during a bond hearing.
“We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts ... and I'll never be the same,” Sanders told Roof.
“Tywanza was my hero,” Sanders added, but then even she showed some kindness to the man accused of killing her son: “As we said in Bible Study, we enjoyed you but may God have mercy on you.”
Roof bowed his head slightly. From the jail, he could hear them talking, but couldn't see them; the camera showed only the judge.
“Charleston is a very strong community. We have big hearts. We're a very loving community,” said Gosnell, who urged people to find it in their hearts to help not only the nine victims, but “victims on the young man's side of the family” as well.
Roof's public defender released a statement from his family offering prayers and sympathy for the victims, and expressing “shock, grief and disbelief as to what happened that night.”
“We have all been touched by the moving words from the victims’ families offering God's forgiveness and love in the face of such horrible suffering,” the statement said.
The comments in court seemed in keeping with a spirit evident on the streets of Charleston Friday, where people built a memorial and planned a vigil to repudiate whatever a gunman would hope to accomplish by attacking one of the nation's most important African-American sanctuaries.
“A hateful person came to this community with some crazy idea he'd be able to divide, but all he did was unite us and make us love each other even more,” Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said as he described plans for the evening vigil at a sports arena.
A steady stream of people brought flowers and notes and shared somber thoughts at a growing memorial in front of the church, which President Barack Obama called “a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America.”
The Justice Department announced Friday that it's investigating whether it could be a hate crime or domestic terrorism. Agency spokeswoman Emily Pierce said the slayings were “undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community.”
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the state will “absolutely” want the death penalty.
“This was an act of racial terrorism and must be treated as such,” the Rev. Cornell William Brooks, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Friday in Charleston.
“This is a moment in which we say to them, the white nationalists movement, those purveyors of hate, we as Americans will not subscribe to that philosophy. We will not give up, we will not give in,” Brooks said.
Roof had complained while getting drunk on vodka recently that “blacks were taking over the world” and that “someone needed to do something about it for the white race,” according to Joey Meek, who tipped the FBI when he saw his friend on surveillance images.
Roof also told him he used birthday money from his parents to buy a .45 Glock pistol before the attack, Meek said. The affidavit said Roof's father and uncle also called authorities after seeing surveillance photos, and that the father said Roof owned a .45-caliber gun.
Roof was arrested across the state line and returned in shackles to a county jail where he was being held next to the cell of Michael Slager, the white former police officer charged with fatally shooting black motorist Walter Scott in neighboring North Charleston.
It was the third arrest for Roof, who was quizzed by police in February after workers at the Columbiana shopping mall said he appeared dressed entirely in black, asking strange questions about employee movements and closing times. He was charged then with possessing suboxone, a drug typically used to treat heroin addiction. A trespassing charge was added after he showed up again in April, prompting a three-year ban from the mall.
Spilling blood inside the “Mother Emanuel” church, founded in 1816, evoked painful memories of the racist violence that black churches have so often suffered, and the values their congregations have tried to uphold in response.
“For me, I'm a work in progress and I acknowledge that I'm very angry,” said Bethane Middleton-Brown, who appeared in court on behalf of her sister, the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor. “We have no room for hate. We have to forgive. I pray God on your soul. And I also thank God I won't be around when your judgment day comes with him.”
Pinckney, 41, was a married father of two and a Democrat who spent 19 years in the South Carolina legislature. The other victims were Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; and the reverends DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74.
Contributors include Russ Bynum, Alex Sanz, Meg Kinnard, David Goldman and Jacob Jordan in Charleston, South Carolina; Mitch Weiss in Columbia, South Carolina; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Eric Tucker in Washington.
Information is provided by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office on people arrested on charges June 12-17. Those arrested can contact The News Herald if charges are dropped or if they are acquitted. Addresses are those given by the defendant during arrest.
April Melissa Thompson, 39, 319 Floyd Drive, Lynn Haven, possession of controlled substance without prescription
Carlos Antonio (World) Worlds, 33, 3114 E. Fifth Court, Panama City, robbery
Deonte Marquise Nichols, 29, 3563 E. First Court, Springfield, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of cocaine
Rodney Paul Bryan Terpening, 40, 5602 Hill Top Ave., Panama City Beach, burglary
Crystal Louise Flowers, 44, 815 Kirklin Ave., Panama City, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill, robbery
Devon Michael Marshall, 20, 815 Harris Ave., Panama City, aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability
Gerald Robert Blaske, 18, 5103 Hwy 22, Callaway, burglary
Eric Fitzgerald Paulette, 21, 1420 Balboa Ave., Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription
Amy Michelle Pressley, 37, 5500 Sun Harbour Drive, Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription
Saleh Said Nofal, 33, 8200 Annabellas Lane, Panama City, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill
Michael Wayne Whitely, 30, 6916 Church St., Jupiter, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill
Aaron Joe Huff, 36, Gadsden, Ala., burglary
Dale Emmett Hill, 49, 3712 W. 21st St., Panama City, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver possession of controlled substance without prescription
Kendel Lemereiah Glover, 33, 3918 W. 21st St., Panama City, possession of cocaine
Juli Ann Fairbank, 43, 103 Dogwood Road, Panama City Beach, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of cocaine, possession of controlled substance without prescription
Jasmine Lien (Tran) Stewart, 27, 325 Joseph Circle, Panama City, possession of controlled substance without prescription
Alycia Eve Mills, 41, 22522 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
Collin Andrew Sappington, 30, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of controlled substance without prescription
Randy John Stallings, 38, 532 Joseph Circle, Southport, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver, possession of controlled substance without prescription, felony or domestic battery by strangulation
Melanie Creel, 36, 509 William Way, Callaway, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, manufacture, sell or deliver
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google plans to censor unauthorized nude photos from its influential Internet search engine in a policy change aimed at cracking down on a malicious practice known as “revenge porn.”
The new rules announced Friday will allow people whose naked pictures have been posted on a website without their permission to ask Google to prevent links to the image from appearing in its search results. A form for submitting the censorship requests to Google should be available within the next few weeks.
Google traditionally has resisted efforts to erase online content from its Internet search engine, maintaining that its judgments about information and images should be limited to how relevant the material is to each person's query. That libertarian approach helped establish Google as the world's most dominant search engine, processing roughly two-thirds of all online requests for information.
The Mountain View, California, company decided to make an exception with the unauthorized sharing of nude photos because those images are often posted by ex-spouses, partners in a broken romance or extortionists demanding ransoms to take down the pictures.
“Revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims — predominantly women,” Amit Singhal, Google's senior vice president of search, wrote in a Friday blog post.
Laws against revenge porn already have been passed in at least 17 states and a federal ban is expected to be introduced in Congress this year.
Google's stand against revenge porn won't necessarily purge it because not even the Internet's most powerful company has the authority to order other sites to remove offensive or even illegal content. But Google is hoping revenge porn will prove less mortifying to its intended victims by making it more difficult to find.
Other heavily trafficked sites, including Twitter and the social forum Reddit, have embraced policies banning nude photos from being posted without the subject's permission. Earlier this year, Google tried to prohibit sexually explicit material from the publicly accessible sites in its Blogger service only to reverse itself within a few days amid cries of unwarranted censorship among Blogger's users.
This isn't the first time Google has excised sensitive content from its search index. In most instances, the company has been forced to do so under laws imposed in various countries where it operates. While its search engine operated in mainland China from 2006 through 2010, Google blocked information that the country's Communist government deemed to be inappropriate and the company has been scrubbing humiliating information from people's pasts in Europe for the past year.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — One person is dead and investigators are trying to piece together exactly what happened late Friday night during what the Bay County Sheriff’s Office says was an apparent domestic dispute that led to a shooting.
The BCSO said dispatchers received a 911 call about 11 p.m. to the Sterling Cove community off Front Beach Road. Sterling Cove Boulevard is off the 7000 block of Front Beach Road less than a mile west of Thomas Drive.
Details were scarce Saturday morning, but the BCSO said in a news release that “As of this time it appears to be a homicide stemming from a domestic dispute where a next door neighbor got involved.”
The State Attorney’s Office also was investigating the incident.
The Sterling Cove community remained quiet Saturday afternoon. There were no obvious signs of a crime scene from the street outside the gated community. Some nearby business owners were surprised to learn of the incident and said there were no indications a shooting had occurred.
Sheriff Frank McKeithen could not provide additional details Saturday afternoon. He echoed the news release that the investigation was continuing and that more details would be available in the near future.
A toddler drowned in a family swimming pool Saturday, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
BCSO would not release the exact location of the incident. A news release said it happened in the “north end of the county.” Officials said the name of the toddler and the location of the drowning were being withheld until all family members were notified.
The child was 2½ years old, according to BCSO.
Deputies responded to a call at 9:48 a.m. from the toddler’s mother, who said she could not find her son, BCSO reported. The father said he changed the child’s diaper, gave him a fresh bottle and put him back to bed at 6 a.m. before he left for work, the BCSO reported.
When the mother woke up she could not find the child and alerted other family members, deputies reported. The house was searched and BCSO said someone initially checked the pool.
Neighbors joined the search. The father returned home from work, started to search and found the child on the bottom of the pool behind the ladder, according to BCSO.
Family, friends and a deputy performed CPR until EMS arrived and paramedics pronounced the child dead at the scene.
CHARLESTON, S.C. — For several minutes Sunday, the sweltering skies above this grieving city were alive with the sound of bells: high in steeples and in the hands of toddlers, all ringing and tinkling in unison to honor the nine people cut down during a Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Churches of all denominations across Charleston agreed to ring their bells at 10 a.m. in a gesture they hoped would send a healing message of unity and love to the world.
Standing in the shadow of St. Matthew's Lutheran, less than a block from "Mother Emanuel," Kelly Nix said the event brought her immense comfort.
"It's about grace, hearing the bells and being part of a community that we love," she said, tears rolling down her cheeks as her twin girls, Lana and Margeaux, who will turn 2 on Friday, ran around in their matching white dresses. "And searching for grace and faith in a time when you think of unthinkable things."
Police say a white man named Dylann Storm Roof, 21, sat with the Bible study group for an hour Wednesday before pulling out a handgun and opening fire. Pastor Clementa Pinckney and eight others, ranging in age from 26 to 87, were killed.
Authorities have called the shooting a hate crime and are investigating whether a racist screed posted on the Internet was written by the suspect. But if Roof intended to strike a blow for segregation, Sunday's event was meant as a message that he failed.
Less than a block from Emanuel, several hundred people gathered in Marion Square Park, which is dominated by a statue of pro-slavery U.S. Rep. John C. Calhoun and flanked by the spires of St. Matthew's Lutheran and Citadel Square Baptist Church.
Under a blazing sun, the throng held an interdenominational service, sitting on blankets and folding chairs beneath umbrellas and tents. Some wore T-shirts bearing the faces of those who were slain at the church.
Behind the stage, hanging from the battlements of a castle-like hotel, hung a white banner with the words "Mother Emanuel, We Love You."
Shortly before 10 a.m., Pastor Mike Seaver of Sovereign Grace Church in nearby Summerville read a passage from the book of Psalms. When he had finished, Seaver asked the throng to come closer together and urged them to "honor the Lord and weep with those who weep."
Quincy Williams bent down and whispered to her 3-year-old sister, Michal, who was holding a purple plastic tambourine to match her purple dress.
"Are you going to shake it really loud?" the big sister asked. The shiny cymbals tinkled in response.
"Good job," Williams cooed.
Quincy Williams is white. Her sister is black. She said their presence was a reminder that "God doesn't see color."
"We're all his under the sun," Williams said as Michal shook her tambourine. "He created us individually, to be different. But those differences make us who we are."
Across town at First Baptist, the Rev. R. Marshall Blalock read the names of the dead as their photos appeared on a large screen. He then told the story of a congregant whose young son was taunted by some whites at a fast food restaurant the day after the killings.
"The white community needs to build a bridge to the black community," he said.
Blalock said Emanuel family members who offered their forgiveness to Roof in court on Friday sent the right message to him and to the world.
"He wanted division and hatred," the pastor said. "But he went to the wrong place."
People stapled notes to a wooden cross with the words "First Baptist Stands With Mother Emanuel."
On the sidewalk outside St. John's Lutheran, a crowd of about 40 parishioners and bystanders listened as the church's 18-bell carillon — which replaced a bell melted down for gun metal during the Civil War — played a celebration peal in the steeple above.
Down below, Todd Monsell, music director of the 270-year-old congregation, led a hastily assembled hand bell choir of seven adults and seven children.
He told the group of amateurs to simply "make a joyful noise." Across the street, Adam and Jill Fetsch clutched their twin 3-year-old twin daughters, Zoey and Ella, as the girls waved red and silver Christmas jingle bells.
"I wanted them to just create a memory and then later explain to them that something so amazing came from something so tragic," the mother said. "They're too young to understand this."
Back at Marion Square, organizers waited to start the interdenominational service for nine minutes — one for each of the victims. With the bells still tolling, Pastor Brandon Bowers of Awaken Church told the crowd that they were all one congregation this day, and that they were "gathered here to make a statement that what the enemy intended for evil, God is using for good."
Sitting on a Snoopy blanket with his wife, Kristin, and their five young daughters, Seaver said the bells were a sobering reminder that there were nine families "that don't have their moms and grandmas and dads today."
Inside Emanuel, filled to overflowing, the bells were drowned out by the loudspeakers in front of the church projecting the singing and preaching from inside the sanctuary.
But for many people, it didn't matter.
Felicia Breeland, 81, whose family has been attending Emanuel for four generations, said she was happy to see people "getting together, instead of dividing. God made all of us, right?"
Officials with the
While outside, Holt saw her neighbor,
They added that neighbors heard the shots and attempted first aid. Grooms was taken to a local hospital where was pronounced dead.
The slaying remains under investigation by the Bay County Sheriff's Office and the States Attorney's Office.
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE — A man was injured in a crash near Tyndall Air Force Base on Sunday, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
Nathaniel T. Shanks, 25, of Callaway, was taken to Bay Medical Center Sacred Heart Health System and listed in critical condition following the crash at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Sabre Drive and Tyndall Parkway, the FHP reported. The driver of the other vehicle, 22-year-old Benjamin Lawrence Ten Eyck, of Tyndall AFB, had minor injuries, according to the FHP.
Ten Eyck traveled north on Sabre Drive in a 2007 Ford F150 to make a left turn onto Tyndall Parkway, FHP said. Shanks, on a 2012 Trum Tiger 800, traveled eastbound in the inside lane of Tyndall Parkway, according to the report. The FHP said Ten Eyck failed to stop at the red light and caused Shanks to strike the side of the F150. Shanks was ejected and tumbled to a stop in the middle of the intersection, the FHP said.
FHP reported Ten Eyck was wearing a seat belt and alcohol was not a factor in his role in the crash. FHP also reported Shanks was wearing a helmet and alcohol was not a factor in his part of the crash.
Charges are pending and the investigation continues, according to the FHP.
PANAMA CITY — As the summer recreational boating season gets into full swing, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is ramping up its efforts as part of a national campaign to stop boating under the influence, officials announced Monday.
The annual three-day campaign, Operation Dry Water, focusing on deterring boaters from boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, will take place during the coming weekend.
From June 26 to 28, law enforcement agencies nationwide will be out looking for boaters operating under the influence and removing them from the water. The purpose of increased messaging about the dangers of boating under the influence and officers identifying impaired operators is to drastically reduce the number of accidents and deaths due to impaired boating.
FWC officials reported that officers will be participating in Operation Dry Water with additional scrutiny of boaters who decide to operate a vessel under the influence during those days.
BAYOU GEORGE — A man suffered critical injuries after a single-vehicle crash on Nehi Road on Monday, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
Patrick Wayne Jolly, 25, of Panama City, was injured after his 2006 Ford F150 struck a pine tree and overturned at 9:28 a.m. Monday, the FHP reported. Jolly lost control of the vehicle as he traveled south on Nehi Road and went on to the west shoulder, where he struck the pine tree and the truck overturned on its roof before coming to a rest facing east, the FHP said.
Jolly was not wearing a seat belt and alcohol was not a factor in the crash, according to the FHP.
SAND HILLS — A DeFuniak Springs man died six days after a single-vehicle crash on County Road 388, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
Jerry Corneileus Wright, 64, died at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday at Bay Medical Center Sacred Heart Health System, the FHP reported. Wright was injured in a crash June 15 while driving a 2007 Chevrolet van westbound on 388 near State 77, according to the FHP. Wright had a “medical event” that caused him to cross lanes while he entered the tree line and struck several trees with the front end of the van, the FHP reported.
The FHP said Wright was wearing a seatbelt and alcohol was not a factor in the crash.
PANAMA CITY — Officials have released more details related to the Saturday drowning death of a 2-year-old.
Authorities said Tristan Isam, 2, drowned in a family pool off Big Island Pond Road, as more details were released on Monday. Paramedics arrived at about 10 a.m. to find family members and neighbors attempting to resuscitate the lifeless child. Isam was pronounced dead a short time later, according to Bay County Sheriff’s Office reports.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family of Tristan Isam. Those interested in donating may do so here: http://www.gofundme.com/xh4myrk
LYNN HAVEN — Assistant Police Chief Dennis Kiah was the type of officer people would thank for changing their lives after they’d been arrested by him and served their time, according to fellow officers.
Kiah, 59, died Saturday at Covenant Hospice after retiring as Lynn Haven’s assistant police chief and more than 34 years of law enforcement service in Bay County. Not only a law enforcement officer, he was particularly passionate about helping abused or mistreated children. Friends and family members remembered him Monday as a dedicated, “gruff but compassionate” officer who deeply cared about the community in which he was raised.
Lynn Haven Police Department Sgt. Tom Willoughby, a colleague and friend since joining the Springfield Police Department with Kiah in the ’70s, said Kiah over his illustrious career cultivated an understanding for victims, suspects and anybody else involved in a police call to the point that some of the people he arrested — that served time in prison — thanked him for turning their life around.
“He could do his job and treat you like a human,” Willoughby said. “He always treated people the way they wanted to be treated. And at the end of the day, even the people he arrested respected him as a professional.”
Kiah was born in Springfield and spent the majority of his life working for local law enforcement agencies.
“He lived and breathed law enforcement,” said his wife, Renee Kiah. “He was there 24-7 for officers calling to seek advice or guidance.”
Kiah eventually left the Springfield Police Department and worked as a narcotics officer for the Bay County Sheriff’s Office as “one of the best undercover officers we’ve ever had,” Sheriff Frank McKeithen said Monday. An outspoken man with a gruff but compassionate veneer, Kiah was an exceptional fit for the job.
“Dennis was an avid motorcyclist and he loved Harley-Davidson’s,” McKeithen said. “He kind of just fit in with these situations we had in the ’80s. He could walk the walk and talk the talk.”
Those times of being entrenched in criminal circles could have helped further shape his approach to people accused of crimes, McKeithen added.
“All the people who get arrested aren’t bad people,” he said. “And he could always see the good in people.”
Eventually, Kiah left the BCSO and accepted the position of assistant police chief for LHPD for 18 years. He continued to assist in high-profile cases like murders and child abuse. His love for people and law enforcement drove him to sit as a board member for the Children’s Advocacy Center, where he focused on helping children get through traumatic experiences.
It was one of the many ways he expressed his love of public service for the community, according to April Bitler, his daughter
“I think everything he learned in his progress made him want to make other people better,” Bitler said. “He was loved by everyone he met. That was just who he was.”
A service celebrating Kiah’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Kent-Forest Lawn Funeral Home, 2403 Harrison Ave. Family members requested memorial donations be made to Covenant Hospice.
PANAMA CITY — Prosecutors and law enforcement continue to investigate a fatal shooting between neighbors to determine whether charges will be appropriate, according to Bay County Sheriff’s Officials.
So far, 45-year-old Gerald Douglas Carter has not been charged with any crime after allegedly shooting at his neighbor three times Friday night with a 1911 .45-caliber handgun, BCSO officials said.
Carter declined to comment Monday for this story.
According to BCSO reports, Carter called law enforcement to his Sterling Cove Boulevard home at about 11 p.m. to report he’d shot his neighbor, 32-year-old William Brodie Grooms. The shooting began after Grooms ran onto Carter’s property and the two men became involved in a physical altercation, BCSO reported.
Carter also reported his neighbor appeared intoxicated, according to BCSO reports.
Moments earlier, Grooms and his fiancée, 32-year-old Ashlyn K. Holt, were arguing in their adjacent home. The situation calmed, and Holt left the house to walk her dog, she told officers.
Holt told investigators that while she was outside, Carter was sitting on his front porch reading a book. She sat with Carter, but after about 10 minutes Grooms came out of their house and began yelling obscenities and allegations of infidelity at Holt, she told the officers.
Grooms previously warned her not to go over to Carter’s house, Holt said.
Grooms went over to Carter’s house and stood in the driveway for a period of time before grabbing Holt’s arm and twisting it, BCSO reported. She then broke free and walked back toward Carter’s house before Grooms approached Carter’s home again, she said.
Holt attempted to push her fiancée away before he allegedly started to run after Carter, and the two men became involved in a physical altercation. A short time later, Carter produced the handgun and began firing, Holt told investigators.
Neighboring witnesses reported hearing three gunshots ring out in the gated neighborhood. When officers arrived, Grooms lay in the grass beside Carter’s driveway with two visible gunshot wounds to the chest, BCSO reported. He would later be pronounced dead from the injuries.
Officers handcuffed Carter and read him his Miranda rights. However, he has not been charged in connection with the shooting.
PANAMA CITY — A Bay County jury convicted Jesse Ray McCuin of burglarizing two vehicles, according to a State Attorney’s Office news release.
Assistant State Attorneys Devin Collier and Christa Diviney proved during the one-day trial that McCuin, 25, of Mississippi, broke into two cars parked at 302 Cabana Blvd, on Jan 11, causing damage to one of the vehicles. He was seen in the second car, and followed by two men as he tried to leave the area on foot. The men stayed with him and informed deputies as to his location.
McCuin was arrested with the insurance card from one of the vehicles in his pocket. He was found guilty as charged of two counts of burglary of a conveyance. McCuin faces up to 10 years in prison when Circuit Judge James Fensom sentences him July 23.
WALTERBORO, S.C. (AP) — A former child actor who starred in one of the “Star Wars” movie prequels was in an all-out flight from South Carolina law officers that hit speeds of about 120 miles an hour, according to details of Jake Broadbent's arrest released Tuesday.
Broadbent performed under the name Jake Lloyd when he played a young Anakin Skywalker in the 1999 movie “Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace.” In the movie Anakin wins a death-defying, high-speed race between anti-gravity “podracer” vehicles.
Broadbent, 26, remained in the Colleton County jail Tuesday after his arrest Wednesday on charges including reckless driving and resisting arrest. Broadbent carried no identification when he was arrested, but deputies established he had a valid driver's license with an Indianapolis address, said Colleton County Sheriff's Sgt. Kyle Strickland.
A jail official said he had no information whether Broadbent had a defense attorney. His bond was set at $16,700.
Broadbent first attracted attention driving his Nissan Maxima through South Carolina towns and backroads at 70 miles an hour, but accelerated to about 120 mph as officers flashed blue lights signaling him to stop, an arrest report described.
A dashboard video released by the sheriff's department shows Broadbent weaving through traffic on Interstate 95. A pickup truck with flashing blue lights pulled alongside the car and tried to force it into a spinout by bumping it onto the interstate's grassy median.
Broadbent's car keeps going until a police vehicle again bumps it, pushing it sharply to the right off the interstate, down an incline and through a fence onto a parallel frontage road. Broadbent kept going, the report said.
“The frontage road came to a dead end and the driver continued driving into the woods striking several trees causing extensive damage and finally stopped. The driver exited the vehicle on foot but after a brief struggle with law enforcement, he was apprehended approximately 20 feet from his vehicle,” the arrest report said.
Broadbent suffered small cuts to his face, head and arms after hitting the trees, the report said.
PANAMA CITY — Authorities are asking for the public’s vigilance after receiving several reports of scammers threatening people with jail time if they don’t pay up, according to a Bay County Sheriff’s Office news release.
Two different versions of the scam, one involving jury duty and one involving IRS collections, have emerged in Bay County. Both are derivatives of what officials call “Nigerian scams,” BCSO reported. And neither is characteristic of IRS or BCSO tactics.
“We would never call someone to announce a warrant,” said BCSO Maj. Tommy Ford. “The only way to satisfy an arrest warrant is to turn yourself in to us or we come to you.”
In the jury duty scam, the victim will receive a call from an individual claiming to be with a law enforcement agency, advising that the victim has missed jury duty. The suspect will tell the victim that a warrant has been issued for their arrest and that they must make a payment to avoid arrest. In the most recent cases, the suspect stated they were from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
The IRS scam involves the suspect telling the victim that they owe money to the IRS for taxes and will be arrested if they don’t make an immediate payment.
In both of these scams, the suspect will tell the victim to wire transfer the money, or to purchase money cards and provide the suspect with the card numbers. Many times these calls will be received from what appears to be an 850 area code number; however, the scammers are usually calling from out of the area — or even foreign countries. The disguise poses a series of problems to law enforcement, BCSO reported.
“It’s very difficult for us to trace where the numbers come from,” Ford said. “Since many of these operations are based overseas, we lack jurisdiction to prosecute even if we could locate them.”
BCSO suggested residents protect themselves by becoming familiar with the standard procedures of local law enforcement and the IRS, which does not issue arrest warrants. In order to protect yourself from these scams, it is important to note that law enforcement will not call you and ask for you to wire money in cases where an arrest warrant is issued.
“Be vigilant, be alert and ask questions,” Ford added. “Call the Sheriff’s Office if something seems suspicious.”