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Latest from Jon Lewis

    The supplies are nice, but the Red Cross does not need blankets, water, or diapers. What they can really use is cash.  'We can turn that into help that's needed immediately,' says Sherry Nicholson, with the Red Cross in Atlanta.  She tells WSB that getting items to the Houston area, and areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey, is difficult. Distributing those supplies is even more difficult, and the tractor-trailers carrying those loads can create blocked roads and trouble for law enforcement.  Besides, she says, anything that is needed can be purchased, and at a lower price by the Red Cross.  Take, for example, someone who arrives at a shelter soaked, with only the clothes they have on.  'A Red Cross worker steps up, wraps a Red Cross blanket around that person,' Nicholson says, 'and can give them a meal, can give them a comfort kit, which contains all those things we take for granted, like toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant. All those things we take for granted.'  It costs the Red Cross about $17 to provide that. The recipient gets two blankets; one to line their cot and another to cover themselves.  Through the donations of restaurants, hotel chains and suppliers, the agency can buy what is needed.  They also send supplies to the disaster area, with one of those distribution centers located in our area.  A Red Cross Center located in Union City has sent truckloads of needed items to the Houston area.  Those items, like meals and blankets, have gone out. Cleaning items will go later.  'The mops, the shovels, the brooms, the bleach, as people are able to get back and maybe clean a little bit,' Nicholson says.
  • We have warned you about skimmers. The latest device that crooks use to steal credit card information is called a Shim.   A shim is exactly what you might think. It is a thin, small card, wedged into an ATM or at a gas pump. Once inserted, it steals information.   'It's inserted into the Dip and Wait card slot,' says Dottie Callina of the Better Business Bureau, “in an ATM, at a gas pump or, really, anywhere.'   Unlike skimmers, which can be bulky and very noticeable, shims are almost undetectable.   'Where it is, it intercepts data off your chip,' Callina tells WSB, 'your credit card or debit card chip, the EMV chip, the one that's supposed to protect everybody.'   The BBB is telling people that, if possible, they should use tap and pay, like Apple or Samsung pay, to avoid the scam. In addition, they warn, if the card is not going into the reader smoothly and something appears to be blocking it, there may be a shimmer inside.   The scam has been used in other parts of the United States and in Canada, but has not been repoened in the Atlanta area. Yet.
  • Mistakes were made. A lot of mistakes and, in the end, they led to the murders of two Georgia Corrections officers.  The GBI has completed its investigation into the June 13 shootings of corrections officer Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue and found that some procedures were not followed. That, according to the report, led to the murders by inmates Ricky DuBose and Donnie Russell Rowe.  'The report outlines several security breaches that led to the escape that day,' says Department of Corrections Commissioner Gregory Dozier.   'The first was a breach in the inmates' search process,' Dozier says. 'We are aware that they were able to take a pen or a toothbrush on that bus that day.'  Dozier says the standard procedure should have included a strip search of the inmates but, instead, only included a pat down.  'They was a breach in the cuffing,' Dozier says. He says the inmates handcuffs should have been double locked, but were not. 'Within minutes after boarding that bus they were able to out of their cuffs, not just them but several others.'  'The inmates were not continuously supervised while on the bus,' Dozier says. 'There were two occasions: once on the grounds of Baldwin (State Prison) and once on the ground of Hancock (State Prison).'  The GBI reports also details how neither officer wore protective clothing. Billue's ballistic vest was found in his car while Monica’s stab vest was found at his home. In addition, the report says neither guard had their gun on them, nor had it secured. The guns were kept either in a box or on a shelf behind the two officers in the front compartment of the bus.  Dozier says, based on what happened, procedures have been changed.  Padlocks that secure the gate between the guards and the inmates will now only release the key when the lock is locked.  The security chief of the prison is now in charge of the inmate bus, instead of one of the corrections guards.  Inmates will, as was the policy, be strip-searched before entering a bus.  The killings of the officers prompted a nationwide manhunt for the escaped inmates. DeBose and Rowe were captured two days after the killings, after trying to carjack a car in central Tennessee.
  • A mother is locked up in the DeKalb County jail, charged in the hot car death of her daughter.  Police say 25-year-old Dijanelle Fowler is charged with second degree murder and second degree cruelty to children in the June death of one-year-old Skylar Fowler.  The girl's body was found inside the car in a parking deck of Emory Hospital.  The investigation into the girl’s death took a month.  “The timeline of her interaction with her child throughout the day,” says DeKalb police Captain Jerry A. Lewis. “Through the process of the investigation we were able to determine that some of the things that were told to us were not true.”  Captain Lewis tells WSB that the biggest discrepancy was the timeline involving how long the girl was in the car.  “The injuries that the child had for the amount of time that she said the child was in the vehicle do not match,” Captain Lewis says.  When the incident happened police went on the theory that the mother was getting her hair done for six hours while the one year old died inside the hot car.  Captain Lewis says there is a father, but that neither the suspect nor the victim lived with him. He has been notified of the girl’s death and the charges.  The charges against the 25-year-old do not include intent, nor do they need to. Captain Lewis says the cruelty charge allows police to also charge her with second degree murder due to negligence.  Surveillance video shows the woman leaving her car and entering the Northlake Tower Festival Shopping Center just after 10:00 the morning of the girl’s death. Fowler then leaves the shopping center at about four that afternoon.
  • He could not get out of jury duty, but to be honest, he really didn't want to.  “It really wasn't getting stuck,” says P. Harris Hines, 'I got my jury summons like everybody else. I always thought it was a pillar of a free society.”   So Hines missed his day job for jury duty. And what does he do? He's the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.   “I considered it an honor and a privilege,” Hines tells WSB. “My wife has done it, and my father some years ago. I'm part of the legal system and always try to be a good citizen.”   Hines was summoned to jury duty in Cobb County, and, even though he did not get chosen for a jury, he did find the experience a good one.   “I always believed, and believe now, that jurors seek to do that which is right according to the law,” Hines says, “and the people I was serving with, I feel good about them serving.”   Hines cannot remember if he has ever been called for jury duty before. The original date of his service was during a busy time for the state Supreme Court, so he asked to be rescheduled and his request was granted.
  • She is tall, slim, wears a bandanna, and she is wanted for two bank robberies.  The FBI and Marietta police are hunting for the woman suspected of pulling off two robberies. The first was at the Wells Fargo bank in Marietta, and the second at a PNC Bank in Sandy Springs.  “The fact that she's hit so close together, time wise, leads us to believe we will see her again,” says Stephen Emmett with the FBI.  The first robbery, at the Wells Fargo, happened on June 16 at the bank on Roswell Street NE. The second was 10 days later, on June 26 at the PNC Bank at 5640 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.  Both robberies were pulled off late in the afternoon.  In both cases the robber entered the bank, told an employee that this was a robbery, and walked away with the cash.  There were surveillance cameras at the banks and they took some very clear pictures of the suspect.  “I understand the pictures are innocuous, but make no mistake, a robbery is occurring,” Emmett tells WSB. “Someone, from the photographs, has to know who this person is.”  The individual in both robberies is described as a black female, 25 to 35 years old with a slender to medium build and wearing a bandanna.
  • It's a scam tech could affect anybody buying groceries or just about anything else.   This was at the Kroger on Highway 138 in Conyers. There are two suspects who approached one victim.   “They offered to let her use the employee discount for Kroger,” says Conyers Police Sergeant Kim Lucas, “while they faked completing a transaction at the self check out counter.”   Lucas tells WSB the opportunity for robbery happened when the victim turned away.   “An employee came up to assist them with that, she was talking to the victim, distracting her, and that's when this couple made off with the victims cash in hand,” Lucas says.   Lucas says the employee was not part of the scam, and was simply doing her job by offering to help.   Police do not have any of the reports of similar fifth but, Lucas says, there are, no doubt, more out there.   “Chances are this is not the first time that they've done this,” she says, “ and it won't be the last unless we catch them.”
  • Clergy from around the state are pleading with Georgia Senator Jonny Isakson concerning the current Healthcare bill before the Senate and the future of Medicaid in Georgia.  “Respecting dignity of people,” says John Berry, CEO of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia. “The Healthcare bill that was passed by the House of Representatives does not respect the dignity of human beings in the way they are treated with their health. And the Senate version appears, from a Medicaid perspective, if possible, to be even worse.”  Berry has been with the Society for 11 years and says he's seen everything.  “We have dealt with situations where people have told us ‘I have to choose whether to put food on the table for my children or provide medicines that I need to live a healthy life’,” Berry says.  A letter has been sent to Senator Isakson, signed by more than 100 clergy members, asking him to protect Medicaid.  Archdeacon Carole Maddox, with the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, is among those who have signed the letter.  “This is clearly not morally right,” Maddox says. “It is, instead, cruel and destructive.  “It is completely contrary to our call as Christians to care for the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the children,” Maddox says. “I can understand how Christians of good faith can find themselves on both sides of many issues. But healthcare is a no-brainer.”  According to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 19 percent of Georgians receive Medicaid, compared to the national average of 20 percent.  Nearly 2,000,000 people in Georgia receive Medicaid help, many of them children, seniors, the disabled, and veterans. The letter claims that federal Medicaid funding in Georgia would be cut by $4 billion over the next 10 years.  The Society also says that Georgia school districts would face a financial strain under the current bill. It says that Georgia schools received $30 million in Medicaid funds in 2015 to provide service for special education students and pay the schools for nurses and therapists.  The letter to the Senator has been signed by more than 100 clergy from around the state.
  • That notice that you got right now, throw it in the trash.'  Those words, that every Fulton County homeowner wants to hear, come from Commission Vice-Chairman Bob Elis concerning the 2017 tax assessments.  The county commission, in a unanimous vote, approved a measure that corrects the 2017 tax assessments by using the 2016 tax rates.  The decision by the board does not affect commercial properties and homeowners who have made improvements to their homes will also see an increase.  The corrective measure was sponsored by Commissioners Ellis, John Eaves and Liz Hausmann.  'The system is broken,' Hausmann says. 'It's inherently broken.'  Commissioner Emma Darnell says in addition to fixing a problem, the vote also shows that the Fulton County government is willing to listen.  The new tax assessments will be completed within a few weeks and then be sent out to homeowners by August. Those homeowners can still appeal the assessment, if they so choose.   'You can still appeal,' Ellis says, 'but, as for the new digest, you'll probably like it a whole lot better than what you have right now.”
  • Not every jail inmate is a bad guy and not all want to escape. Some try to help their guards.  A Polk County Sheriff's deputy owes his life to a work detail of six inmates who, instead of trying to get away, rendered help to the man until other authorities arrived.  It happen last week. It was a brutally hot and humid day and the officer was watching over a work detail. He was having some difficulties, so an inmate asked if he was alright.  'The guard said he was, but also told the inmate that he should call 911 on his cell phone if anything happens,' says Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats.  Moats tells WSB that, a few minutes later, the deputy wavered then collapsed due to the humidity.  'They (the inmates) rolled him over on his back,' Sheriff Moats tells WSB, 'took his gun belt off and his vest off and got ready to perform CPR when he started breathing.'  The inmates could have taken the officer's gun and car, but stayed with him instead.  'My guys were thinking the worst on their way over there,' Moats says, 'but, when they got there, all the inmates were with the officer. All were accounted for. They took care of him.'  The actions of the inmates do not surprise the sheriff.  'These guys are not bad guys,' Sheriff Moats says. 'They're people who just made a mistake and got caught.'  The Sheriff and his staff bought the inmates pizzas after what they did. The deputy’s family provided dessert.
  • Jon Lewis

    Field Reporter

    Jon Lewis has been a reporter for WSB for 20 years starting in 1997. He is originally from New York. His top stories include going to Norway to cover Jimmy Carter receiving the Nobel Peace prize. 

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News

  • A man is facing murder charges after authorities in England discovered dozens of bodies in a truck container in Essex, police said. >> Read more trending news  According to the BBC, the bodies of 39 people, including 38 adults and one teen, were discovered early Wednesday at an industrial park in Grays. Police arrested the truck's 25-year-old driver, a man from Northern Ireland whose name was not released, in connection with the deaths, the network reported. North Essex police Chief Superintendent Andrew Mariner called the incident 'tragic,' The Associated Press reported. “We are in the process of identifying the victims; however, I anticipate that this could be a lengthy process,' he said, according to the news service. Investigators said the truck, which came from Bulgaria, arrived in England on Saturday. Read more here or here. Please check back for updates to this developing story.
  • Registered sex offenders in Butts County, Georgia, are suing to stop the Sheriff’s Office from putting signs in their yards to discourage trick-or-treaters ahead of Halloween. >> Read more trending news  The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Macon, asks the court to order the agency to stop the practice, which began last year with deputies planting signs that read: “NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS!! A COMMUNITY SAFETY MESSAGE FROM BUTTS COUNTY SHERIFF GARY LONG.” Deputies put up some of the signs while others among the county’s 200 registered sex offenders were told to display one themselves or face unspecified trouble, according to the complaint. A hearing is set for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. for a judge to decide whether to bar the signs this year. Long intends to fight for the signs. The sheriff said his agency decided to put up the warnings last year because the “Halloween on the Square” event in Jackson had been canceled, causing more children than normal to go door to door for their candy. “Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday,” the sheriff wrote on Facebook, “I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community.” The suit — filed by registered sex offenders Christopher Reed, Reginald Holden and Corey McClendon — said deputies had violated the law by trespassing to put up signs without permission. The plaintiff’s attorneys, Mark Yurachek and Mark Begnaud, argue that forcing the men to leave the signs up in their yards was tantamount to “compelling speech,” which runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The suit also seeks a trial and for a jury to award the plaintiffs compensation for the stress, fear and humiliation the signs caused last year.
  • With drive and charisma, he helped transform a game': That's the reasoning behind the U.S. Postal Service choosing golfer Arnold Palmer to honor with a new stamp. >> Read more trending news  According to agency officials, the stamp features an action photograph of Palmer at the 1964 U.S. Open at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.  According to the Golf Channel, Palmer won seven majors and had 62 PGA Tour wins. He was the first golfer to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom and 'was the most beloved golfer of all time.' The Palmer stamp is part of a new collection issued for 2020. The Postal Service said it celebrates people, events and cultural milestones unique to U.S. history each year with new stamps. The 2020 crop includes stamps featuring the Lunar New Year, a heart, journalist Gwen Ifill, wild orchids, the state of Maine, the Harlem Renaissance and more.
  • The daughter of gospel recording artist and songwriter Micah Stampley has died at age 15. >> Read more trending news  Mary Stampley died Tuesday after a seizure. No other information was available about her health history. The singer, who has been nominated for several Dove and Stellar Awards, lives in Fayetteville, Georgia. He and his wife, Heidi, own a cafe, Orleans Brews and Beignets. Stampley’s 2005 debut CD, “The Songbook of Micah,” debuted at No. 3 and included hits like “War Cry” and “Take My Life.” Arrangements are pending. 'Please keep their family in your prayers and respect their privacy as they deal with this traumatic event,' spokesman David Robinson said in a statement.
  • A woman is recounting a terrifying and vicious dog attack at a park in Pineville, North Carolina, Monday and when police tried to seize that dog, the owner took off, leading police on a slow-speed chase for miles.  >> Read more trending news  Abryana Heggins said she remembers all the thoughts that were rushing through her mind as a huge dog attacked her at a Pineville dog park.  'I just kept thinking 'What's happening? Why is this happening? How am I gonna get this dog off of me,'' Heggins said.  She said it all started when a very large dog owned by Terilyn Jackson started attacking a husky in the park.  'At first, he grabbed the husky by the back of its neck and then, grabbed its tail and started shaking its head aggressively,' Heggins said. 'The woman got a whistle and blowing at him.' She and her friend Jaylen rushed to get their dogs out of the park, but suddenly, she said she felt pressure on her arm.  'I just ended up being dragged across the ground by the dog, and he started shaking and locked onto my arm and there's people yelling, and she's yelling and Jaylen is trying to rip the dog off my arm,' Heggins said.  Her friend jumped on top of the dog and fought it until Pineville police arrived. Officers told Jackson they needed to take her dog into custody, but they said she took her dog and drove off.  Officers turned on their lights and sirens and followed her. They said she drove the speed limit the entire time, but refused to stop.  At one point, they said she tried to hit their patrol car. Six miles later, she arrived at an animal hospital on Archdale Drive in Charlotte.  Eventually, police arrested Jackson.  'I could have been an 8-year-old or a child and that would be worse than what I got or Jaylen,' Heggins said. Her friend Jaylen suffered several bites and broke a finger during all of this.  The dog is under what is called a 'rabies quarantine.' Animal control officials are monitoring it while police look into its background and decide if it should be put down. 
  • Pete Burdon received a call from his daughter about a post circulating on Facebook that was getting a lot of attention.  >> Read more trending news  Gunnery Sgt. John Guglielmino, a Marine Corps veteran from Clay County, Florida was sick in the hospital and his daughter’s final plea was to get as many visitors as she could to say goodbye to her dad.  “I contacted her right away and I said would this be a good time to go over there,” said Pete Burdon, a retired Navy civilian who spent 37 years working with the Navy. Burdon said he responded to the call because it felt like it was important to say goodbye to a fellow veteran, even if he didn’t know him personally. Last week he gave him a hat and a hero’s salute. “When I joked with him you can see that he tried to smile and then he tried to salute after he put that hat on, that was really a touching moment for me,” Burdon said.  His daughter Katherine Boccanelli told me her father served three tours in Vietnam. She said he suffered a stroke back in April and he was diagnosed with cancer from exposure to Agent Orange. She didn’t want him to feel alone with his last few days on earth so she put the post out on social media.  What she didn’t expect was to see the outpour from the community.  “For her it was a step she didn’t know was going to happen when she put it out there, about a 100 people showed up in that short time,” Burdon said.  Burdon says he said goodbye to Guglielmino in the hospital and he’ll be there tomorrow to say his final farewell at the funeral.  The funeral will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Crossroads to Victory Church in Raiford, Florida.  Guglielmino’s family says any veterans who visited who wanted to come out and pay their respects are welcome to attend. To contribute to the funeral services, click here.