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Santa Clarita shooting: Accused gunman in school shooting has died, police say

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    The 19-year-old driver who struck three people, including two children, at a Forsyth County school bus stop now faces numerous charges including DUI.Deputies with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department say Christopher Ray Frachiseur may have been under the influence of drugs when he failed to stop for the bus on Buford Highway near Bonnie Brea Road just before 7 a.m. Friday. His Toyota Camry jumped the curb, traveled down the sidewalk and struck the three victims who were waiting at the end of their driveway to board the bus which had its signal arm out.
  • Lyft is eliminating its scooter operation in Atlanta, nearly a year after the devices were deployed in the city, a spokesperson confirmed Friday in an emailed statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The electric scooters will leave the city Nov. 22. The company launched in Atlanta Dec. 21, just two days after rival Uber began its own scooter service in the city.  “We’re grateful to our scooter riders in Atlanta as well as our partners in Atlanta city government,” read the statement. “We look forward to continuing to provide riders with other modes of reliable transportation.” The decision comes amid discussions about Atlanta’s regulation of electric scooters. The city is considering reducing the number of scooter companies operating in the city. RELATED COVERAGE: City of Atlanta fails to collect $200K in scooter impound fees The Lyft spokesperson said they’re focusing on markets that have the biggest impact. The spokesperson also confirmed the company is eliminating services in five other cities, including Dallas, San Antonio and Nashville.  Twenty employees are expected to be laid off as a result of the decision.  Lyft is the latest micromobility company to leave Atlanta. Uber’s electric bikes, JUMP e-bikes, left the city in September.  Like Intown Atlanta News Now on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter In other news:
  • What will it be like for Melody Maddox to step into the role of DeKalb County sheriff next month? “This is nothing new to me,” said Maddox, who has served as the chief deputy in the sheriff’s office since June. Before that, she was the police chief at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Current Sheriff Jeffrey Mann announced Thursday that he will retire 13 months before his term is slated to end. That means Maddox will take over as sheriff, the first woman to hold that position in DeKalb history. READ MORE: DeKalb County sheriff retiring amid appeal over certification The DeKalb County Board of Registration & Elections has not yet decided whether a special election for sheriff will be held ahead of the 2020 general election, officials said Friday. Maddox, 53, plans to run to serve a full term as sheriff. Ted Golden, Antonio Johnson and Carl Mobley, three former law enforcement officials, have announced they intend to run for sheriff in 2020. When Maddox takes the helm Dec. 1, DeKalb will have a female sheriff and police chief, both the first women to hold their respective positions. Mirtha Ramos began serving as DeKalb’s police chief earlier this month. Mann, first elected in 2014, is leaving his post amid an appeal to keep his law enforcement certification after a state panel voted to revoke it in 2017. He previously pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction and prohibited conduct after being accused of exposing himself to an Atlanta officer at Piedmont Park and running away to avoid arrest in 2017. Maddox, who was appointed by Mann to be chief deputy, said they share the same vision for the sheriff’s office, which oversees the county jail and security at DeKalb’s courts. “We want to get the community to be able to trust us, and know that we are here to serve the community,” Maddox said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. She said Mann should be commended for his criminal justice reform efforts that involved bolstering services for inmates at the jail. The sheriff’s office has instituted a GED program for inmates, vocational training, career preparedness services and classes that address mental health and substance abuse issues. Maddox said she would like to continue growing the programs. “We just want to make sure that when these inmates are released to the community, they have the necessary resources available for them to become productive citizens,” she said. Over the past year, the county has seen protests from activists who said inmates are subject to poor and unsafe conditions inside the jail. Mann has refuted claims that human rights violations are occurring at the jail, but said earlier this year that he was working to address a black mold problem. Maddox said she will be “assessing” those issues, but said they have largely been addressed. She said it is “exciting” to be the first female sheriff in DeKalb, “but it doesn’t take away my leadership skills that I’ve already been (using) in the community.” But she still sees herself as a role model, adding that “I want to show other young ladies that you too can do this.” Wouldn’t you like to support our strong journalism? Your subscription helps us cover your communities in a way that no one else can. Visit https://subscribe.ajc.com/hyperlocal or call 404-526-7988 to begin or renew your subscription. Follow DeKalb County News on Facebook and Twitter  In other news:
  • When you work in a prosecutor’s office, every day is filled with very specific details about very unpleasant events: homicides, rapes, and robberies; death, broken bodies and woe. It’s easy to lose faith in the world. So when you cross paths with someone like Arquevious “Que” Crane – a person who’s overcome the longest of odds and now spends his time trying to help others — it’s a breath of fresh air. And when you find out someone like Crane, a paraplegic, needs to replace his oft-broken down van to get around and do more good, you set up a GoFundMe page to raise money in time for a very special Christmas gift. That’s what Stacie Ehasz, Andrea Alabi and Sabrina Nizam from the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office did, anyway. And they need the community to chip in and make it a reality. “He is a representative of Gwinnett County and who we are today,” said Nizam, an assistant district attorney. “We are just overwhelmed by who he is and his fight.” Crane grew up without a father, and his mother disappeared, quite literally, when was 12. In 2007, an awkward hit during a South Gwinnett junior varsity football game left Crane, a 16-year-old wide receiver, paralyzed from the chest down. All he’s done since is graduate from high school and college, write a book or two, coach some kids and become a sought-after motivational speaker. He talks to crowds — usually kids — about overcoming adversity and tackling life’s obstacles. “His positive outlook on life and just everything around him is remarkable,” said Alabi, also an assistant prosecutor. Crane came into contact with the Gwinnett District Attorney’s Office in August, after his speech at a local middle school was highlighted by the Gwinnett Daily Post newspaper. As he was being honored with the DA’s monthly “community spotlight” award, Crane’s grandmother mentioned the troubles with his vehicle – an aging van Crane calls his Scooby Doo Mystery Machine. It’s unreliable, often broken down in one way or another. It creates a financial burden and a literal strain on his grandmother, who has to help load him into other vehicles if the van’s not working. It hampers his ability to do as much good as he’d like. A replacement won’t be cheap – but that’s where Ehasz, Alabi, Nizam and the community come in. The target for the GoFundMe page is $65,000. A few thousand dollars have been raised thus far. “For them to do this, it’s just really one of those choke-up moments,” Crane said. “I’m just thankful that people believe in me and what I’m trying to do. “Everything I went through, I know that it’s not for me. My pain and my troubles are for other people that are going through it. Them being able to help me and help me spread it and take it to the next level, it means a lot.” The fundraising page can be found here or by searching “Arquevious Crane” on gofundme.com.
  • DeKalb County School District officials confiscated another gun from a student, at least the eighth time this year a gun has been found on campus. A parent alerted administrators at Stone Mountain High School that a student had a gun Thursday. Officials said the school resource officer was notified and officials soon located the student and confiscated a gun. They did not specify the type of gun. ”The gun was secured and removed from the student without incident,” officials said. School district officials said Thursday’s was the eighth gun confiscated from inside a school this year. One gun was recovered from a stadium, found in a backpack. During the 2018-2019 school year, seven guns were discovered inside schools. More than a dozen students have been killed at school this year, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for reducing gun violence nationwide. That includes two students killed Thursday morning at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif. Four other students were injured, including the shooter, who officials have said is in grave condition following a self-inflicted gunshot. Metro Atlanta school authorities confiscated nearly 50 handguns and rifles from students on their campuses during the 2018-2019 school year, according to data submitted by the districts to the Georgia Department of Education.
  • MARTA has approved a $646 million plan to replace its aging fleet of rail cars — a plan the agency says is good news for passengers longing for a better ride. On Thursday the agency’s board of directors approved a contract to buy 254 new cars from Stadler Rail of Switzerland. The cars will begin arriving in 2023, with others following through 2028. Though passengers won’t see them for years, MARTA officials say they’ll be pleased when the new cars arrive. “This is the beginning of a contract that is going to lead to a tremendous improvement in customer service,” MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker told a crowd gathered to watch him sign the contract Thursday. MARTA recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its rail service. Many of its 318 rail cars have been around since the beginning, and they’re showing their age. Others date to 1979, 1985 and 2003 purchases. As the cars age, they become more prone to breaking down. Parker said 65% of service delays are due to rail car problems. He said newer cars will mean fewer breakdowns. MARTA says the new cars will feature an open design, modern electric signs, a better public address system and more comfortable seating. They also will have phone charging stations, luggage space and enhanced video surveillance. With customer feedback, the contractor will begin work on specific designs next year. MARTA will get a pilot car to show off in 2022. The vehicles will begin arriving the following year. Under the contract, MARTA also has options to buy up to 100 additional rail cars later. The purchase was delayed for several months because another firm — the Chinese government-owned CRRC — protested the award to Stadler, which was not the low bidder. On Thursday, an attorney for CRRC urged the board to delay the award, saying it would cost taxpayers an extra $64 million. Parker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the procurement process was not designed to automatically award the contract to the low bidder. He said the point system used to award the contract factored in quality as well as price. During Thursday’s ceremonial contract signing, MARTA officials stressed Stadler’s long history — it has manufactured trains since 1942. “We feel like we selected an excellent car builder,” said Dave Springstead, the agency’s chief of rail operations.
  • The two luxury GMC Denalis used to chauffeur Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms around town were purchased for a combined $175,000 without the apparent authorization of Atlanta City Council, who had designated the money for police cars used by patrol officers and detectives. City Council approved $2.6 million for 91 new police vehicles in the summer of 2017. The two Denalis were not on the list of vehicles to be purchased in the approved ordinance. But the city finance department nevertheless took money for the Denalis from those funds after Bottoms was sworn into office in January, 2018. Bottoms said she never asked for the SUVs. “I was told they needed to order new cars, but I wasn’t mayor then,” she said. The Denalis came equipped with advanced communications systems, blue emergency lights and included the “ultimate package”: 22-inch rims, a sculpted chrome grille, perforated leather seats and premium floor mats, according to purchasing documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Capt. David Jones, the commander of the team of officers assigned to protect the mayor, ordered the $87,500 vehicles. Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore, who was a council member in 2017, said the purchase wasn’t authorized because the Denalis were not included with those approved by the council. “You can’t ask the council to approve a list of vehicles and then turn around and use the money for something else,” Moore said. She said the purchase subverted the council’s check on the executive branch. A spokesman for Bottoms said city officials didn’t have to adhere to the specific vehicles listed in legislation. The Denalis are police vehicles, purchased for the mayor’s protection. Bottoms said she believed the vehicles were properly purchased. “But I haven’t gone into any details with that,” she said. Fraud expert Victor Hartman said the manner in which the SUVs were purchased likely violated the city’s charter, which restricts discretionary equipment purchases by the mayor’s office to less than $100,000. Hartman said he doesn’t consider the vehicles inappropriate for the mayor, but the purchase violated the charter because the vehicles were contained on a single invoice. “It’s not good governance and lacks transparency,” said Hartman, an Atlanta attorney and author of the book The Honest Truth about Fraud. Spending significant amounts of money without council authorization is a pattern that occurred under Mayor Kasim Reed — who handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses to his executive staff; spent extravagantly on travel accommodations with his city-issued credit card; and used money designated for charity to pay for his family’s health insurance after he left office. ‘Project Hoopty’ For the better part of a decade, the luxury sport utility vehicles used to transport the city’s top leader have stirred controversy. To some, they are a symbol of excess and arrogance. Others view them as an expense fitting for the office’s stature. A year after former Mayor Kasim Reed was elected, the city upgraded the mayoral transport vehicles to luxury SUVs from the Ford Tauruses that ferried around Reed’s predecessor, Shirley Franklin. Four years later, however, Reed’s administration replaced the mayor’s SUV fleet without going to the council as he started his second term. In a 2015 email, then Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard told an officer on the executive protection unit that the city’s finance department supported the purchase — with one exception. A proposal to repaint the brand new vehicles at a price of about $5,000 apiece seemed like an unnecessary expense that “could raise the interest of the media,” Beard said. The purchase eventually required finance department officials to override financial controls for what Beard dubbed in emails as “Project Hoopty.” Reed’s Denalis came equipped with blue lights and sirens, which became controversial after a Channel 2 Action News investigation found Reed’s security detail used them for routine travel — which is illegal. William Perry, founder of Georgia Ethics Watchdogs and a frequent critic of Reed, said the vehicles symbolized the belief that the mayor was “beyond the rules and above the law.” ‘I need this handled today’ In December, 2017, Police Chief Erika Shields asked Beard in an email for assistance in replacing one of the Denalis in the mayor’s fleet because of high mileage. It was two days after the mayoral election in which Bottoms defeated Mary Norwood. From that point on, Jones, the commander of the mayor’s executive protection unit, took charge of the request, emails show. Soon after, the department decided that two SUVs were needed. “The vendor located two SUV Denalis (that) Capt. Jones requested for the new administration,” the city’s fleet manager wrote in an email to Beard on Dec. 13, 2017. Beard wrote back two days later: “I need this handled today.” Beard’s attorney, Scott R. Grubman, declined to answer a question about how the purchase became an urgent matter. “This was a purchase clearly requested by and authorized by the APD Chief. Any questions should be directed to Chief Shields,” Grubman said. Atlanta Police did not respond to AJC questions, or to a request to make Shields and Jones available for interviews. A database of city expenditures shows that the city paid Wamar Technologies, a local company that specializes in defense and security, roughly $175,000 for the two SUVs on Feb. 9, 2018.
  • The Cobb County School Board votes 7-0 Thursday to approve the purchase of nine new school buses -- with air conditioning. WSB’s Edgar Treiguts reports that the total cost of the new buses is nearly $900,000. The district's superintendent says in addition, all new school bus purchases going forward, will be buses with AC.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote a story last month as board members weighed the decision to add AC on the county’s school buses. **Original story below.** A discussion on whether students need air-conditioned buses left some Cobb County School Board members hot under the collar. On the heels of a record-setting heat wave in Georgia, Cobb County School Board members will explore whether adding air conditioning to new buses will be a worthwhile investment in the future. But some board members disagreed over the need. The board directed district staff members to bring back an analysis on how much it would cost to add air conditioning to buses the system buys. The majority of buses the county owns do not have air conditioning, and including air conditioning in a new bus costs about $10,000 extra, according to Marc Smith, chief technology and operations officer. The discussion stemmed from a request to buy five 72-passenger traditional buses and four 48-passenger buses for special needs students from Yancy Bus Sales and Service for $844,758. The buses would be added to the district’s overall bus fleet. Board members voted 5-2 to delay taking action on the item until next month’s meeting when staff members will present the report on the feasibility of adding air conditioning to the traditional buses. The board members agreed air conditioning was a necessity for the special needs buses. READ | Cobb custodian celebrates 40 years with school district Smith said Cobb County Schools has a total of 1,133 school buses. Of those, 855 are regular service and 278 are for special education students. The district uses about 1,000 buses to transport roughly 70,000 students to and from school. The remaining buses are used to transport students and staff on special occasions, such as field trips or events, Smith said. Many metro Atlanta school buses do not have air conditioning. During the summer months, drivers leave the windows open to allow for maximum air flow. But when Cobb’s school year began on Aug. 1, there were many days of 90-degree temperatures still to come and the heat didn’t abate until earlier this month. Board member Dr. Jaha Howard, who proposed adding air conditioning to the five traditional buses, said children on the uncooled buses are at risk for overheating due to lack of proper nutrition and hydration. “It seems that this gives us more flexibility and does not lock us into a long term financial commitment,” he said, referring to only adding air conditioning to the five new buses at this time. READ | Cobb school board approves settlement over yoga lawsuit Board member David Banks did not support Howard’s suggestion. Banks rides the school bus on the first day of classes every year and the only time when the heat is an issue is in the afternoons, he said. To change the district’s policy would be a “mistake” since the heat is only a problem about four to six weeks out of the school year, Banks said. “These kids are not hot,” he said. “The temperature does not faze them.” Banks’ comments drew groans from several people in the audience. One person responded to Banks by saying, “That’s totally wrong.” READ | Cobb SAT scores increase for 2019, exceed state and national averages Board member Randy Scamihorn also took issue with Howard’s suggestion that students have trouble coping with the heat, adding the children “are very adaptable.” He also said the cost to add air conditioning could easily grow to an additional $25,000 per bus. Scamihorn said approving the request on the fly would be “absolutely reckless.” Howard, who works with children as a pediatric dentist, said he believes the school board was falling into the trap of characterizing his question as an “either/or decision.” He said he believed the school board could make the commitment to add the air conditioning to five buses and explore whether it’s feasible to continue adding on air conditioning to future bus purchases. “I don’t know why we are making this difficult,” he added. Like Cobb County News Now on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter
  • It's going to be a wet morning Friday, so you'll want to stay with 95.5 WSB Atlanta’s News & Talk as you prepare for the day. Here's what you need to know:  Isolated to scattered showers are moving through metro Atlanta and will continue through mid-morning. Roads across north Georgia are expected to be wet, so WSB Meteorologist Kirk Mellish advises you give yourself extra time before heading out of the house. Throughout the morning, temperatures will be in the low to mid 40s. More rain will develop Friday afternoon.  We're tracking when the rain will move out, all morning on 95.5 WSB. 
  • Never before has fewer Americans smoked cigarettes, according to new data from the government's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Cigarette smoking has reached an all-time low of 13.7 percent in 2018. That's a decline of about two-thirds in the more than 50 years since the first Surgeon General's report warned of the health issues related to lighting up.

News

  • A 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy died Thursday morning after a classmate opened fire on students at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, injuring three other students before he attempted to take his own life, sheriff's deputies said. >> Read more trending news  Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies responded to reports of the shooting just after 7:30 a.m. local time. Authorities found six people suffering gunshot wounds in the school's quad. Deputies said the injured included the suspected shooter. The shooter later died Friday afternoon at a hospital with his mother present, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Update 7:50 p.m. EST Nov. 15: Police say 16-year-old boy who shot five students at his Los Angeles-area high school has died. People who knew the boy described him as a quiet, smart kid who they’d never expect to turn violent. Update 7:30 p.m. EST Nov. 15: Authorities have identified the second student killed in a shooting by a fellow student at a Southern California high school. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office says 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell died Thursday along with 15-year-old Gracie Muehlberger. Two teenage girls remain hospitalized but are expected to be released over the weekend. A third student was treated and released. Update 3:20 p.m. EST Nov. 15: Los Angeles County coroner's officials on Friday identified one of the two teenagers slain Thursday after a student opened fire on classmates at Saugus High School as Gracie Anne Muehlberger, 15, according to The Los Angeles Times. The newspaper reported she celebrated her 15th birthday on Oct. 10. A 14-year-old boy killed in the shooting was not immediately identified, according to KCBS-TV. Update 6:37 a.m. EST Nov. 15: The suspect has been identified by two separate law enforcement sources as Nathaniel Berhow, CNN and the Los Angeles Times reported. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has not confirmed his identity due to his age, CNN reported. Neighbors described Berhow as a good student and typical teenager who was affected by the death of his father in 2017, CNN reported. Neighbors said Berhow found his father dead after had a heart attack, KTTV reported. His mother and father had divorced in 2016, CNN reported. There is no motive for the attack, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office.  Members of the community gathered near the campus Thursday night to remember the victims, KNBC reported. The Associated Press reported the gunman shot whoever was near him and that there was no known connection to the victims. Update 3:10 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Capt. Kent Wegener identified the gunman as a 16-year-old student who opened fire on his classmates on his birthday. Wegener said video from the scene showed the teenager, who was not identified by name, taking a gun out of his backpack in the quad at Saugus High School on Thursday morning. He shot five of his classmates before turning the gun on himself. Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters Thursday that the suspect shot himself in the head. He was among six people transported to the hospital after the shooting. Two students died in Thursday's shooting, a girl and a boy. Authorities did not identify the victims by name. Update 2:30 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Authorities in Los Angeles County are holding a news conference Thursday to update the public on Thursday morning's deadly shooting at Saugus High School. Update 1:05 p.m EST Nov. 14: Officials with Henry Mayo Hospital confirmed a female died after being taken to the hospital following a shooting at Saugus High School. It was not immediately clear whether the victim was a student. Hospital officials said three other male victims were taken to the hospital with injuries after shooting. Two of the victims were listed in critical condition while the third was listed in good condition. Update 12:50 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said a suspect was in custody after Thursday morning's shooting at Saugus High School. Authorities were expected to provide more details at a news conference scheduled Thursday morning. Update 12:35 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Officials at Henry Mayo Hospital confirmed they had received four patients after a gunman opened fire Thursday at Saugus High School. Hospital officials said the victims included three males and one female. All the victims, aside from one male in good condition, were listed in critical condition in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Update 12:30 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Parent Brian Skiba told KCBS-TV that his daughter ran into a classroom when she heard shots fired Thursday morning at Saugus High School. 'She heard the shots ... she in the quad, where it started, and ran into the band room,' Skiba told the news station. '(She) locked the door behind her and told everybody to get down.' Skiba told KCBS-TV a police officer was in the band room with about 50 students Thursday. 'I'm still pretty shook up,' Skiba said. Update 12:10 p.m. EST Nov. 14: Sheriff's deputies told KNBC-TV that they were surrounding two locations Thursday morning in Santa Clarita, including a home believed to be the suspect's residence. KTLA reported authorities believe the gunman was a student at Saugus High School. Officials asked residents in the area to stay inside and keep their doors locked as they continued to investigate Thursday. Update 12 p.m. EST Nov. 14: White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said President Donald Trump was monitoring reports of Thursday morning's shooting in Santa Clarita. 'The White House encourages all those in the area to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders,' Deere said. Update 11:50 a.m. EST Nov. 14: Officials with Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia said two people were taken to the hospital in critical condition after Thursday morning's shooting at Saugus High School. Hospital officials said three other victims were en route to the hospital Thursday morning. Their conditions were not immediately known. Update 11:45 a.m. EST Nov. 14: Deputies asked residents in the area of Saugus High School to lock their doors and shelter in place as they continue to search for a shooter who opened fire Thursday morning at the school. Update 11:30 a.m. EST Nov. 14: Authorities revised down the number of people injured in Thursday morning's shooting from seven to three, according to KNBC-TV. Sheriff's deputies warned the incident was active and ongoing Thursday morning. Original report: Deputies said nearby schools were placed under lockdown as authorities investigated. Officials with the Los Angeles County Fire Department told KNBC that at least seven people were shot. Their conditions were not immediately known. Check back for updates to this developing story.
  • A 9-year-old child prodigy in Belgium is expected to graduate in December with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. >> Read more trending news  Laurent Simons, of Belgium, started studying electrical engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology when he was 8 and will complete a three-year program in 10 months, The New York Times reported. His final project is an electrical chip that is connected to the brain. “Then, I want to study medicine and do a Ph.D. and make artificial organs,” he told The New York Times. He was raised by his grandparents while his parents worked in the Netherlands. They are all doctors. He now lives with his parents. “His grandparents always taught us he’s very special,” father Alexander Simons told The Times. “We thought they were taking him too seriously.” Laurent, who has an IQ of 145, started school at 4 and was in high school at 6 years old.  'Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,' Sjoerd Hulshof, the director of education at the university, said in a statement, CNN reported. 'Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.' His instructors rave about his academic abilities. “Laurent’s absorption capacity is very high, which means that everything goes much faster and we can cover a lot more material in a short span of time,” Peter Baltus, a professor at the university and the boy’s mentor, told the Times. “It’s been quite special and enjoyable.” In his off-time, Laurent has interests similar to most kids, playing video games, posting on social media and watching Netflix.  Ultimately, he would like to develop artificial hearts. “My goal as a scientist is life extension,” he told AD, an online publication in the Netherlands. “My grandfather and grandmother are heart patients and I want to help them.”
  • The 19-year-old driver who struck three people, including two children, at a Forsyth County school bus stop now faces numerous charges including DUI.Deputies with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department say Christopher Ray Frachiseur may have been under the influence of drugs when he failed to stop for the bus on Buford Highway near Bonnie Brea Road just before 7 a.m. Friday. His Toyota Camry jumped the curb, traveled down the sidewalk and struck the three victims who were waiting at the end of their driveway to board the bus which had its signal arm out.
  • A Philadelphia 14-year-old has been charged with murder in the death of a well-known animal rescuer who was found tied to his bed, naked, and bludgeoned to death last week. The girl is also charged with robbery, possession of an instrument of crime, obstruction and tampering with evidence in the killing of Albert 'Al' Chernoff, according to Philadelphia court records. Her name is being withheld due to her age and the uncertainty of her status as a defendant. Jane Roh, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, told CNN on Monday that prosecutors had not yet decided whether the girl would be tried as an adult. CBS Philadelphia reported last week that investigators were also looking into whether the girl was a victim of a crime. Her connection to Chernoff and her reason for being at his home were not clear, but the CBS affiliate reported the day after Chernoff was found dead that detectives believed he may have been the victim of an escort who tied him up, robbed him and killed him. Court records show the teen is being held without bail at the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center. >> Read more trending news  Chernoff, who went by the nickname 'Alley Cat,' was found dead around 3 a.m. Nov. 5 in his home in the Rhawnhurst neighborhood of northeast Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was suffering from a massive head injury and multiple slashes to his chest, the newspaper reported. The 59-year-old previously appeared on the NatGeoTV reality show 'Rescue Ink,' which profiled tattooed bikers working against animal abuse. Police were called to Chernoff's home by a concerned neighbor who requested a welfare check, the newspaper said. Chernoff, who authorities believe was attacked around 10:30 p.m. Nov. 4, was pronounced dead at the scene. Tony Branconi, Chernoff's neighbor in the duplex where he lived and died, told the Daily Mail he called police because he 'heard a racket.' 'I have heard such noises before, but this was in the middle of the night,' Branconi, 70, told the publication. 'It was like he was building something.' He said he went outside and saw Chernoff's car parked in an unusual spot on the driveway. When he looked inside, he saw the vehicle had been ransacked. ‘A very brutal murder' Acting Philadelphia Police Commissioner Christine Coulter said last week that the case is an 'extremely troubling' one. 'It was a very brutal murder,' Coulter said, according to video shot by Fox29 in Philadelphia. Sources told ABC6 that Chernoff was killed with a nail-studded two-by-four, though Coulter declined to identify the weapon used in the crime. 'We're not going to release details about the crime scene itself until we have the evidence that we need,' she said. The commissioner said it was hard to grasp anyone committing such a grisly crime, but that it was even harder to imagine a child being involved. 'But then you have to look to why did this happen, and, you know, that's what the investigators are going to attempt to find out,' Coulter said. Philadelphia detectives trying to identify Chernoff's killer released surveillance footage Nov. 6 from inside the Army veteran's house. The footage showed the suspect, wearing red sweatpants, a black jacket and a pink top, walking through the living room of the home and into the kitchen, where she washed her hands and looked in the fridge and freezer before leaving. Some of Chernoff's 11 cats can be seen in the footage as his suspected killer walks though his living room. Listen to Coulter speak about the crime and see footage from inside Chernoff's home below. Witnesses also reported seeing a young woman leaving Chernoff's house shortly before his body was found, the Inquirer reported. The 14-year-old girl, accompanied by her mother and two defense attorneys, turned herself in to police Nov. 8 after family members saw the footage, CNN reported. Coulter told Fox29 that the girl's family brought her in 'because she was clearly the person on the video.' Once the girl was in custody, police officials removed the footage from their website. On Twitter, at least one person wondered if the footage was removed because the girl was a possible sex trafficking victim. 'Everybody talking about how good of a man Al Chernoff was,' another man tweeted. 'I just want to know why a 14-year-old alleged prostitute was in his home. I'm sorry, but if he was having sex with her, he got exactly what he deserved.' Howard Taylor, one of the girl's lawyers, told CNN the situation was a sad one. 'Troubled girl. There's a reason police aren't saying much,' Taylor told the network. 'There's a lot more to it.' When a reporter asked if the girl was a victim of some kind, Taylor said he 'wouldn't put it to that extent.' He said Chernoff 'wasn't totally innocent, either,' CNN reported. Coulter described Chernoff as a 'guy who went to work every day, well liked by his neighbors and co-workers.' She said Chernoff, who was a building maintenance supervisor at the Philadelphia International Airport, did not appear to have a criminal record. ‘A fierce and tireless advocate' Animal welfare activists in Philadelphia were stunned by Chernoff's death. 'If you help animals in Philadelphia, you've met Al,' Blake Martin of Philadelphia's Animal Care and Control Team told ABC6. 'He is a wild veteran who loves motorcycles and will talk your ear off about his motorcycles and cats.' Chernoff, who was known for building shelters for feral strays in the city, also founded a one-man rescue group, Alley Cat Animal Rescue. 'His generosity was incredible,' Martin said. 'You don't see a lot of that anymore, especially towards the animal community. 'It's been a tough day.' The Facebook page of 'The Cat Rescuers,' a documentary about cat rescue in New York City, described Chernoff as 'one of many amazing rescuers' filmmakers met during filming. The crew met Chernoff during a workshop on 'trap-neuter-return,' a method of managing the stray and feral cat population that Chernoff was known to use. 'He wasn't one of the main four we were following, but we were so taken by his warmth and affability when we encountered him at a (trap-neuter-return) workshop that we just knew we had to put him in our film,' the post read. A brief clip from the documentary shows Chernoff showing off his many cat tattoos. He tells the camera that he had a cat as a child. 'I just was always into cats,' Chernoff says. 'Cats and Harleys and tattoos. That's what I'm into.' Chernoff's Facebook page is filled with photos of his cats, 11 of them, along with photos of his building projects. Motorcycles and military memorabilia are also heavily featured on his page. Last month, he posted a wedding photo of his parents, along with his Army basic training photo, writing that he had just stumbled upon the pictures. Chernoff was not married and had no immediate family left, according to Philadelphia's Jewish Exponent. 'We tried the best we could to keep him family-oriented because he had no parents, he had no siblings and he had no children,' Chernoff's cousin, Beverly Levin, told the Exponent. 'He was with us for Rosh Hashanah just last month. We kept him as close as we could because he was alone in the world.' Since his death, friends in the animal rescue community and beyond have mourned Chernoff on social media. They have also contributed more than $18,000 to a GoFundMe page set up by Levin's son, David Levin, to pay for Chernoff's funeral and provide for more cats to be rescued. 'Al's kids were his cats,' David Levin wrote on the fundraising page. A private donor, along with Chernoff's veteran benefits, have taken care of the cost of his funeral and memorial service, which is scheduled for Nov. 24 in Southampton. All the funds raised by the GoFundMe campaign will be distributed to multiple animal rescues, David Levin wrote in an update. Chernoff's 11 cats, along with three turtles and two frogs, were rescued from his home following his death. Friend and fellow rescuer Gwen Cooper wrote that she was “shocked and saddened beyond the telling of it” to learn of Chernoff’s death. 'Al was a fierce and tireless advocate for rescue cats -- one of the staunchest protectors of cats I've ever known -- and I was honored and privileged to count him among my personal friends in rescue for many years,' Cooper wrote. 'My heart goes out to the people and felines who knew and loved him best.' She said she was certain the 'veritable army of cats' he saved over the years were there to greet him on the 'rainbow bridge' when he died. Chernoff was also active in the Jewish war veterans' community, the Exponent reported. 'He went out of his way many a time for people who suffered what used to be called shell shock and what is now called PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),' M.B. Kanis, commander of the Jewish War Veterans Drizin-Weiss Post 215, told the publication. 'He recognized PTSD and knew that people with service animals could become more calm and relaxed and more focused. In the Philadelphia area, I know of at least three service veterans who he helped hands-on (with service animals).' Emily Petry, who described Chernoff as the 'best cat daddy ever,' said he was one of the kindest people she'd ever known. 'Nobody who ever knew you would have ever done you any harm,' Petry wrote. Ashley Foresta, a fellow animal rescuer in Philadelphia, told the Daily Mail she could not imagine why the 14-year-old suspect was in Chernoff's house. Foresta speculated that perhaps Chernoff had hired the girl to clean his home, but Branconi told the Mail he had never seen the girl at the duplex before. 'I just can't imagine for one minute that Al was the type of person who would have had an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old girl -- but at the same time I can't think of anyone ever having a reason to kill him,' Foresta said. 'To be honest, maybe part of me doesn't want to know the whole truth,' she said. Chernoff's family and friends weren't the only ones puzzled by his slaying. Coulter said last week that detectives were still piecing together what happened and why. 'Who it is, is identified, but the why and the rationale behind it is what the investigators are now working on,' Coulter told reporters. 'These things take time to get right. 'I know that everybody would like to have everything answered, and so would we, but we want to make sure that we do it in a way that the judicial process plays out fairly and everybody involved gets justice.
  • Lyft is eliminating its scooter operation in Atlanta, nearly a year after the devices were deployed in the city, a spokesperson confirmed Friday in an emailed statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The electric scooters will leave the city Nov. 22. The company launched in Atlanta Dec. 21, just two days after rival Uber began its own scooter service in the city.  “We’re grateful to our scooter riders in Atlanta as well as our partners in Atlanta city government,” read the statement. “We look forward to continuing to provide riders with other modes of reliable transportation.” The decision comes amid discussions about Atlanta’s regulation of electric scooters. The city is considering reducing the number of scooter companies operating in the city. RELATED COVERAGE: City of Atlanta fails to collect $200K in scooter impound fees The Lyft spokesperson said they’re focusing on markets that have the biggest impact. The spokesperson also confirmed the company is eliminating services in five other cities, including Dallas, San Antonio and Nashville.  Twenty employees are expected to be laid off as a result of the decision.  Lyft is the latest micromobility company to leave Atlanta. Uber’s electric bikes, JUMP e-bikes, left the city in September.  Like Intown Atlanta News Now on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter In other news:
  • The 2019 Leonid meteor shower peaks this weekend. >> Read more trending news  With clear skies, there's a good chance you may be able to see a meteor Sunday night and see the peak in meteor showers early Monday morning. According to the American Meteor Society, spectators can expect up to nine meteors an hour during this year’s peak time, which is expected to be around 5 a.m. Monday. 'Skywatchers may be able to see some meteors on days just before and after the peak, although the moon will continue to obstruct views,' according to Space.com. The meteors can be seen each year in November when Earth's orbit crosses with the comet 55P Tempel-Tuttle. The comet was discovered by German astronomer Ernst Wilhelm Tempel and American astronomer Horace P. Tuttle in 1865. Both astronomers discovered the comet independently. The comet “makes fairly frequent passes through the inner solar system,” according to David Samuhel, senior meteorologist and astronomy blogger at AccuWeather. “This lays out fresh debris in the path of the Earth's orbit every 33 years.” When it does make a close approach to the planet, stargazers get to revel in explosive showers. In 1833, stargazers reported seeing as many as 72,000 shooting stars per hour, according to National Geographic. Later, in 1966, a group of hunters reported seeing 40 to 50 streaks per second over the duration of 15 minutes. Scientists currently predict the next major outburst won't take place until 2099. But, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported, the comet will be returning closer to Earth in 2031 and 2064, meaning more intense storms are on the horizon. Smaller showers, like the one occurring this weekend, happen annually. While the 2019 shower won’t bring hundreds of shooting stars an hour, it’s sure to be a delight in areas with clear skies and the absence of moonlight. How to watch the meteor shower Clear skies are essential for prime meteor shower viewing. Skyglow, the light pollution caused by localized streetlights, will block out the stars and negatively affect your viewing experience, so head somewhere far from city lights. When you’re outside in the dark, lie flat on your back with your feet facing south and look up at the vast sky. Give yourself 30 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the environment. Be sure to bring warm clothing, a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair and leave your telescope at home.