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The Latest National News

    A North Carolina sheriff stands accused of urging the murder of a former deputy who had a recording of him using racially offensive language, authorities say. Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, according to court records. Wilkins is accused of trying to get another man to kill former Deputy Joshua Freeman, who he believed was going to expose his racist talk. >> Read more trending news  Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who is prosecuting the case, said Wilkins' Aug. 12, 2014, phone conversation with the 'well-known' man who threatened Joshua Freeman's life was caught on tape, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh. Lorrin Freeman and Joshua Freeman are not related. Joshua Freeman worked for the Sheriff's Office from November 2011 to August 2014 but was let go in the days leading up to Wilkins' alleged crimes, WRAL in Raleigh reported. Wilkins, who was reelected in 2018 for a third four-year term, is accused of advising the unnamed man to kill Joshua Freeman, 'whom the defendant knew to have expressed his intention to soon publicly reveal a purported audio recording of the sheriff using racially offensive language to authorities in Raleigh,' the indictment states. The court records do not detail what Wilkins is alleged to have said, or what ultimately happened to the recording of his words. The indictment against the sheriff alleges Wilkins encouraged the man to 'take care of it' and said, 'The only way you gonna stop him is kill him.' According to the indictment, Wilkins counseled the would-be gunman on how to kill Joshua Freeman in a way to avoid getting caught. He offered two tips, according to the document: Get rid of the murder weapon and keep quiet. 'You ain't got the weapon, you ain't got nothing to go on,' Wilkins allegedly told the man, the court records allege. 'The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can't tell nobody nothin', not a thing.' Wilkins and the individual discussed a time in which to kill Joshua Freeman and a location that would ensure it would be Wilkins' own Granville County Sheriff's Office investigators who would get the case, the indictment says. Wilkins assured the man he would not tell investigators of his prior knowledge of the crime. The indictment accuses Wilkins of failing to prevent harm to Joshua Freeman or warn him of the 'credible threat' to his life. It alleges the sheriff also failed to seize the gun the other man planned to use, despite the person showing him the weapon at one point. 'The defendant failed to properly execute his duties because of his personal animosity towards Joshua Freeman,' the indictment states. Joshua Freeman was never harmed, though the indictment offers no indication why the alleged plot failed. Wilkins went before a magistrate Monday and was released on $20,000 unsecured bond. Court records show he was ordered to have no contact with anyone named in the indictment. He was also ordered to surrender his passport, if he has one. Read the indictment against Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins below.  Brindell Wilkins Indictment by National Content Desk on Scribd 'No one is above the law,' Lorrin Freeman said Monday, according to WRAL. 'It is always painful when someone who has the public trust faces these types of allegations for voters who put them in that place. 'Any time you have someone who is sworn to uphold the public trust, to protect their community, to investigate and report crimes, allegedly engage in this type of conduct, it is something that needs to be brought to justice, and so we will continue to follow the evidence in this case.' Several followers of Wilkins' public Facebook page offered support in the wake of the indictment. 'You will always have our support,' one woman wrote. 'Praying for you and your family.' 'Our friendship goes back 30 years or more and you have always been a great friend to me,' another woman wrote. 'You were there for me many times. I believe in you and you have my support, always.' Lorrin Freeman said Wake County is handling the case because Mike Waters, her counterpart in Granville County, could potentially become an important witness at trial. Waters, who addressed the case in a statement on his office's Facebook page, wrote to Lorrin Freeman in November to ask her to look into the case. Watch Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman discuss the case below, courtesy of the News & Observer. WRAL reported that Joshua Freeman, who Waters represented in 2014 while in private practice, gave the future prosecutor the tape recording of Wilkins' conversation with the man who talked of killing the former deputy. It was not clear Friday how Freeman obtained the recording. Waters said he immediately turned the tape over to the FBI. The Washington Post reported that Waters met with North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents about the recording in January 2017, but nothing happened. 'Quite frankly, it did not get to the top of their investigative list,' Lorrin Freeman told WRAL about SBI agents. Waters gave the recording to a different SBI agent in October 2018, but still, no investigation was initiated, the Post reported. That is when Waters turned to Lorrin Freeman to initiate a probe into the sheriff. She agreed. 'I have reviewed this recording,' Lorrin Freeman wrote to SBI agents, according to the Post. 'It contains a conversation between two individuals, one of whom appears to be the Granville County sheriff, about a former deputy sheriff and culminates in a discussion about committing a homicide.' In his Facebook statement, Waters expressed frustration at the amount of time it took to get an investigation going. 'At all times since (turning over the recording), I have provided assistance to investigators, and once Ms. Freeman opened a criminal investigation, have urged that this matter be given investigative priority,' Waters wrote. 'I understand it is a matter of great importance to the people of Granville County, and it has been a point of frustration that the investigative process has not been more expeditious.' He wrote that any allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement are troubling, particularly when they involve a sheriff elected by the community. 'Over the next few months, my office will continue to lend assistance to the ongoing investigation as requested, while we continue to do our daily work of protecting victims, prosecuting those who violate the law and seeing that justice is administered,' Waters said. WRAL reported Lorrin Freeman said she worked to obtain obstruction charges against Wilkins because obstruction would be easier to prove in the five-year old case than solicitation of murder or conspiracy. The Granville County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to discuss the indictment, but County Attorney Jim Wrenn said the board has no authority to remove Wilkins, an elected official, from office as his criminal case winds its way through the court system, WRAL reported. Lorrin Freeman confirmed that fact to the News & Observer. 'Technically, he can continue to serve if he chooses, until convicted,' Freeman told the newspaper. Spectrum News' Charlotte bureau reported that Wilkins has indicated he will not step down. Wrenn said he is considering trying to get Wilkins out of office through the courts but wants to hear the recording himself before making that decision. Gerry Cohen, former special counsel to the North Carolina General Assembly, said state law has a provision allowing a judge to suspend a sheriff and allow a county commission to appoint a temporary replacement pending the outcome of a criminal case. 'The statute is there to allow removal of sheriff,' Cohen told Spectrum News. 'One of six causes is, in fact, conviction of felony. Others are some of the things in his indictment, like willful misconduct, corruption, willful neglect or refusal to perform duties of his office. Some of them match the charges in his indictment.' The News & Observer reported that the probe into Wilkins' alleged actions against Joshua Freeman has led to investigations of the Granville County Sheriff's Office's accounting practices, as well as the operations of its drug unit. Freeman was a member of the drug unit when he was with the agency. 'Part of this investigation has centered on why this sort of conversation would have occurred, what the underlying motivation would have been,' Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday, according to the newspaper. 'Additional information has come to light regarding operations and accounting practices of the Granville County narcotics interdiction team.' Those investigations remain ongoing.
  • President Donald Trump called reports that a U.S. intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint against him last month 'a ridiculous story' while speaking Friday to reporters in the Oval Office. >> Read more trending news  According to the Washington Post, the president made an unspecified 'promise' to an unidentified foreign leader that concerned the intelligence official. The official filed a complaint Aug. 12, two anonymous former U.S. officials told the newspaper, though lawmakers said Thursday they had yet to see the complaint. The intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to reveal the substance of the complaint. Update 7:40 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a statement on the whistleblower's complaint against President Trump. In it, Biden describes Trump's alleged behavior as 'abhorrent' and calls on him to release a full transcript of the call 'so that the American people can be judged for themselves.' The entire statement reads: Update 4:40 p.m. EDT Sept 20: The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The Journal reported Trump asked Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani to determine whether Biden 'worked to shield from investigation a Ukrainian gas company with ties to his son, Hunter Biden.'  Trump made the request about eight times during a phone call in July, according to the Journal. Trump was asked Friday if be brought up Biden in the call with Zelenskiy, and he answered, 'It doesn't matter what I discussed.' But then he used the moment to urge the media 'to look into' Biden's background with Ukraine. Trump and Zelenskiy are to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations next week. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the person behind the complaint filed against him was a 'partisan whistleblower' who 'shouldn't even have information,' though he added that he did not know the person's identity. 'I don't even know exactly who you're talking about,' Trump said. 'I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.' Trump said Friday that he's spoken with several world leaders and that his conversations with them were 'always appropriate.' Details surrounding the complaint remained unclear Friday afternoon, though The Washington Post and The New York Times reported at least some of the allegations centered on Ukraine. Both newspapers cited unidentified sources. Asked if he knew if the whistleblower's complaint centered on a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the president responded 'I really don't know' but continued to insist any phone call he made with a head of state was 'perfectly fine and respectful.' Update 9:50 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: The whistleblower complaint against Donald Trump centers around Ukraine, two anonymous sources confirmed to The Washington Post Thursday evening. The New York Times and ABC News are also citing anonymous sources, saying the complaint involves Ukraine. It's not clear exactly how Ukraine fits into the allegations. However, Trump spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, the Post reported. That call was already under investigation by House Democrats, who are looking into whether Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tried to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping with Trump's re-election campaign, according to The Post. Update 1:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 19:  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee suggested Thursday that lawmakers could ask a judge to compel White House officials to share with Congress a whistleblower complaint allegedly filed last month against Trump. The complaint was filed Aug. 12 and involved an undisclosed 'promise' made by the president to an unidentified foreign leader, CNN reported Atkinson declined to share details of the complaint during a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, citing a lack of authorization. 'We do know that the Department of Justice has been involved in the decision to withhold that information from Congress,' Schiff told reporters Thursday. 'We do not know -- because we cannot get an answer to the question -- about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress.' He said lawmakers had yet to see the complaint by Thursday afternoon. 'We do not know whether press reports are accurate or inaccurate about the contents of the complaint,' he said. Earlier Thursday, the president denied having done anything inappropriate. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: Trump on Thursday denied any wrongdoing after reports claimed a whistleblower had come forward with a complaint about the president making an unspecified promise to a foreign leader. 'Another Fake News story out there - it never ends!' Trump wrote Thursday in a tweet. 'Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. 'Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!' Original report: The promise occurred during a phone conversation with the leader, one source told the Post. Details about the alleged pledge and the leader's identity was not immediately available. Although Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, believed that the whistleblower complaint warranted 'urgent concern,' acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire so far has declined to provide information about the communication to the House Intelligence Committee, the Post reported. A closed hearing with Atkinson is slated for Thursday, the committee said. Maguire is expected to testify publicly Sept. 26, according to the committee's chairman, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A Massachusetts man in his 70s has died after contracting Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, state health officials said Friday. >> Read more trending news  Authorities said the man was a resident of Freetown, a town about 50 miles south of Boston, according to WFXT. 'Our most sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers go out to the victim, to their family and their loved ones,' town officials said in a news release. The man was identified as having the 10th confirmed human case of EEE in the state. Officials said eight other cases of EEE have been confirmed in animals, including seven horses and a goat. The man's death was the second reported in the state from EEE. At least two other EEE-related deaths have been reported in recent weeks in Rhode Island and Michigan. 'We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites,' Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel said Friday in a news release. “The unusually warm weather expected this weekend will increase outdoor activity among people and mosquitoes. It is absolutely essential that people take steps to avoid being bitten by a mosquito.” Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said several cases of EEE are reported each year, most often in states along the Gulf Coast. The mosquito-borne virus is rare, but serious, and can affect people of all ages, Massachusetts health officials said. Boston25News.com contributed to this report.
  • A sound engineer for country singer Josh Turner died Wednesday night in a tour bus crash in California that left seven others injured, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news  The crash occurred near Shandon around 11:40 p.m. following Turner's show at Vina Robles Amphitheater in Paso Robles, KEYT and KSBY reported, citing officials. The bus was carrying members of Turner's road crew, not Turner or any musicians, KSBY reported. Update 12:15 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: The engineer killed in Wednesday's crash has been identified as David 'DT' Turner, 64, WKRN and the Daily Journal reported. His death was confirmed by officials with the California Highway Patrol, according to the Daily Journal. The newspaper reported David Turner and Josh Turner were not related. 'David was an all-around -- actually one of my favorite audio engineers,' friend Jerry Slone told WKRN. He told the news station David Turner spent more than 40 years in the music business, working with artists including Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitter, Hank Williams Jr. and others. Author and local historian John Cofield shared images Thursday of David Turner, who hailed from Oxford, Mississippi, according to the Daily Journal. 'My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Jamie, daughter Ada and family,' Cofield wrote. 'RIP David.'  Original report: Of the eight victims, one was killed and two suffered 'major' injuries, Cal Fire/San Luis Obispo tweeted. First responders described the five other patients' injuries as 'moderate.'  'Josh Turner and his road family have suffered a devastating loss,' a representative for Turner said in a statement obtained by Fox News. 'Please keep the crew, band and Josh in your thoughts and prayers. All remaining shows in September will be rescheduled for a later date.' Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the crash, which sent the bus careening into an embankment, the news outlets reported. No further information was immediately available. Read more here or here. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
  • Authorities are investigating after two people were injured early Friday in a shooting at South Carolina State University, officials said. >> Read more trending news  Update 11:10 a.m. EDT Sept. 20: South Carolina State University President James E. Clark told reporters two women were injured in Friday's early morning shooting. Authorities first got a call about the gunshots around midnight, Clark said. He identified one of the injured women as a student who was injured in the leg. The injuries appeared to be minor, WLTX reported. Clark said he spoke with the injured student after she was released from the hospital. 'She is emotionally shaken but is recovering,' he said, according to WLTX. Clark said the shooting stemmed from an incident that began off campus. Authorities continued to search Friday for suspects in the case. Update 8:44 a.m. EDT Sept. 20:  A lockdown was lifted at South Carolina State University, several hours after a shooting was reported on campus, WLTX reported. Campus police lifted the lockdown at 7:49 a.m., the television station reported. According to a university news release, one student sustained non-life-threatening injuries and is expected to make a full recovery. University officials have scheduled a 9:30 am news conference on campus to discuss the shooting, WLTX reported. Original report: The university remained on lockdown several hours after a campus-wide text alert was sent by school officials at 2:30 a.m., WLTX reported. According to the alert, the shooting occurred at Hugine Suites near Building K, the television station reported. University officials said Hugine Suites is a coed upperclassman housing complex that contains about 755 students, WLTX reported. A second email sent by the school 12 minutes after the first one advised students to avoid the area, WCSC reported. Authorities have not released any information about whether anyone was hurt, the television station reported. Police also did not release a description of the gunman.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday he was dropping out of the 2020 presidential race, NBC News reported. >> Read more trending news  'I feel like I have contributed all I can to this primary election. It’s clearly not my time, so I’m going to end my presidential campaign,' de Blasio said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” De Blasio’s announcement comes before next month's Democratic presidential debate and lent credence to the idea he lacked support and money to continue as a candidate, The New York Times reported. De Blasio reported raising only $1.1 million during his first campaign finance filing, the newspaper reported.
  • The man charged with killing two North Carolina university students and wounding four others in their classroom in April pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of first-degree murder. >> Read more trending news  Trystan Andrew Terrell, 23, also pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of attempted murder and discharge of a firearm on educational property. State prosecutors accepted Terrell's plea during a hearing that was previously scheduled to decide whether the gunman could face the death penalty for the killings at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The shooting at UNCC happened April 30. Terrell admitted from the beginning he went to the Kennedy Building armed to kill that day. He recounted the shooting in detail to detectives hours later. Terrell was sentenced to two life sentences without parole. Riley Howell, 21, of Waynesville, and Ellis Reed Parlier, 19, of Midland, died after each was shot multiple times, according to their autopsy reports. Those victims' mothers spoke about the pain they have been living with. 'Your honor, the defendant took our son,' Reed Parlier’s mother, Julie Parlier, said after the plea deal. 'We will never forgive him (Terrell) for his actions,' Parlier said. 'If the defendant wanted to kill someone, he should have turned the gun on himself. May you rot in hell and suffer torture.' “Today, we finish what Riley started,” said Riley Howell’s mother, Natalie Howell. Samantha Coop graduated from the university since the tragedy. “It was really traumatizing,” Coop said. “I thought it was my obligation to see it through to the end with him.” She vividly remembers April 30. “I was getting phone calls and text messages from my friends that were scared,” Coop said. “My parents and family out of town were calling and asking me if I was OK.” Terrell apologized to the victims' families inside the courtroom. “I am so sorry to everybody,” Terrell said. “I really messed up. If I could go back in time and even to the very second to where I entered that classroom, I would do that. I am so sorry. I made a mistake.” Terrell’s attorneys spoke about how the suspect has been living with autism and that he was isolated and unable to socialize. They said he panicked, and the shooting was a cry for help. Spencer Merriweather III, Mecklenburg County District Attorney, told a news conference after the hearing the thought the decision to accept the plea deal was the right call because it saves families the anguish of enduring a death penalty trial. 'Today brings justice to the man who brought unspeakable harm to the victims, survivors and their families,' Merriweather said. However, at least one of the victims objected to the plea agreement, which effectively allows Terrell to escape the death penalty. It's a deal that has caught some by surprise. “I’m surprised that it's going this quickly,” said Rob Corbett, a defense attorney and former prosecutor. Corbett said earlier in the week if Terrell went to trial, the case could drag on for two years or more and require victims and their families to testify, with no guarantees the outcome would be any different. “I understand it's a hard call to make from the prosecutor's office but probably the right outcome,” Corbett said. At UNCC, the Kennedy Building where the shooting happened is still closed to everyone but faculty and staff, and no one has forgotten the shock that followed the shooting. “My friends and I actually saw the cops pull in to behind the library,” student Maryam Thomas said. Thomas is a junior now. She said the plea deal may help students and the school move on with the process of healing. “I think justice needs to be served for everyone here on campus, for all the staff, for the victims and the victims' families. I think it's time, and I'm glad that they're expediting how long this is taking, because justice needs to be served,” Thomas said. Prosecutors have discussed their decision with the surviving victims and the families of the two students who were killed. One of the survivors of the shooting, Drew Pescaro, posted a series of tweets Wednesday night reacting to the possible plea. He expressed frustration saying in part, 'Life in prison, and he got it by committing a school shooting. His plan to get life in prison worked, and he got everything he wanted out of the situation.
  • A New Jersey man is facing federal charges for allegedly scouting potential terror targets, including several landmarks in Boston.  >> Read more trending news  Federal prosecutors said Alexei Saab, 42, of Morristown, New Jersey, was a scout of the militant group Hezbollah and was looking at locations in Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. 'in order to help the foreign terrorist organization prepare for potential future attacks.'  Federal prosecutors said Saab was sending information about the locations back to the terrorist group's leaders in Lebanon, WFXT reported.  Boston's Fenway Park, Prudential Center, and Faneuil Hall were among the alleged targets. The charges were unveiled Thursday afternoon in a complaint that has been sealed since July when Saab was arrested.  The government said Saab was a Hezbollah member since 1996 and has extensive training in weapons and military tactics, including how to build and set off bombs.  Saab faces charges of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization, as well as a variety of conspiracy and other charges.  Saab legally entered the U.S. in 2000 with a Lebanese passport. In 2008, he became a naturalized citizen.  Other locations federal officials said he has scouted were the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and the Washington Monument, as well as airports, tunnels, and bridges. The FBI Boston Division told WFXT the photos acquired were taken before 2006: 'We're going to decline comment on this specific case as it's now a pending matter before the Southern District of NY. However, the unsealed court documents reveal an alleged nexus to Boston,' the FBI said. 'Law enforcement officials in Massachusetts, to include the Boston Police Department have been briefed on this alleged nexus.' Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told WFXT there is no credible threat and Boston has had increased security since the news came out in 2017 that the Las Vegas shooter who killed nearly 60 people at a concert had researched locations in Boston. 
  • An Alabama man shot and killed a plumber working at his home over the weekend and told authorities he had no memory of committing the crime. Orva Kyle McDonald Jr., 61, of Gadsden, was charged Saturday with murder in the death of Douglas Dewayne Sparks, 49, of Anniston, Etowah County Sheriff’s Office records show. According to WBRC in Birmingham, McDonald is being held in lieu of $1 million bond. >> Read more trending news  A judge ordered that McDonald be subjected to a psychological evaluation before being released on bond, the news station reported. AL.com reported that Etowah County sheriff’s deputies were called to McDonald’s home around 7:20 p.m. Saturday for reports of a shooting. They found Sparks lying dead in the side yard. McDonald and his wife were the only people at the home with Sparks at the time of the killing. Sparks’ coworkers at First Action Plumbing Services in Anniston addressed his death Sunday on Facebook. “All of us at First Action Plumbing are saddened and shocked at the untimely, unfortunate and senseless death of our employee, co-worker and friend Doug Sparks,” the statement read. “The details of what took place last night are still very unclear. Please join us in support and prayer for his wife, children, family and friends.” Sparks’ widow, Diana Sparks, wrote on social media that he was and always will be the love of her life. “He had a big heart and loved everyone, especially his family,” she wrote. “I love you always and forever.” Diana Sparks shared a private message her husband sent her on their January anniversary, in which he thanked her for a wonderful life together and said she would always be his greatest love. “I love you so much, hope you have a great anniversary,” Doug Sparks wrote. “In my eyes, you will always be the best wife ever.” He ended the note by saying she made him the “happiest person in the world.” Sparks is survived by his wife, five children, his parents, a brother, and several grandchildren, according to his obituary. “He was a loving husband, father, brother, uncle and friend that would do anything for his family and friends and will be greatly missed,” the obituary read. Detectives learned that the McDonalds had hired Sparks to repair a clogged sink a week before the shooting, AL.com said. McDonald, who did not know Sparks prior to that job, then hired him to replace the plumbing at the house, authorities said. Sparks had been working on that job most of the day Saturday and the McDonalds even fed the man, Etowah County Sheriff Jonathon Horton said. “Shortly after arriving home, which was just, you know, within an hour of the incident occurring, (McDonald) had fixed the gentleman a sandwich,” Horton told WBRC. “And he appears to have been eating that sandwich at the time of the shooting.” McDonald, who has no criminal record, told investigators he does not remember the shooting or what may have preceded it, Horton told AL.com. McDonald’s wife was on the front porch of the home when she heard gunshots. She did not see the killing, the news site reported. “It’s a mystery,” Horton said. Investigators have seized home surveillance footage, hoping it will shed light on what took place. McDonald remained jailed Thursday morning.
  • The Osceola County Sheriff's Office in Florida began an investigation at Horizon Middle School involving students who reportedly created a list of who would be 'safe' during an unknown event. >> Read more trending news  Investigators discovered two students had a conversation about carrying out school violence, possibly a shooting at the school, according to deputies. Officials said the list was created with names of students on a 'safe' list and names of students on a 'stab' list. There was also talk about sneaking a gun into the school and shooting students as well as stabbing them, according to deputies. Deputies said both students admitted to discussing and creating the list but added that they were just joking. A third student who was present during the conversation provided the information to detectives. The two students who admitted to creating the list were charged with making written threats to kill or conduct a mass shooting. According to officials, the students were transported and booked into the Juvenile Detention Center.  Anyone with has information regarding this case or a similar situation is urged to contact the Sheriff's Office at 407-348-2222 or Crimeline at 800-423-8477, where information leading to an arrest may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Usually the Central Florida International Auto Show starts over Thanksgiving, but this year, they chose to have it in September to make more room on the show floor for more manufacturing companies. This weekend's event at the Orange County Convention Center features more than 400 of the latest brand of cars, trucks, crossovers, you name it- and you can test them out! Good thing is you don't have to feel pressured to buy anything because everything on display is for informative and planning purposes only. You can get in, get a feel for it, read all the stuff like mileage and what not, and eventually, you can decide for yourself if its something you want to invest in. Some of the new models include the 2020 Toyota Supra, the 2020 Lincoln Corsair, and the 2020 Nissan 50th Anniversary Z. They have product specialist there to answer any questions you may have.  There is also plenty of stuff to do for the kids in case they get bored. They can bounce around on a bungee rope, have their picture taken in a Formula 1 type racing car, get their faces painted, or even take a ride as many times as they want at the Camp Jeep test track which features the iconic Jeep Mountain, which is an 18 foot, 35 degree hill climb.  You can check out our exclusive look at the ride so you know what to expect here:   https://www.facebook.com/965Orlando/videos/627153287691443/ The event lasts throughout the weekend with it wrapping up on Sunday from 10 am to 6pm. Admission for adults(13 and over) is $12, $7 for seniors(62 and older), military or first responders( with ID) and students 21 and under, and free for kids under 12 with an accompanying adult.  You can check out our gallery which features some of the newer cars and even some of the classic cars on display here: https://www.news965.com/news/local/check-out-these-cars-the-central-international-auto-show/G5U1EOCfSRM0mpO0AkXrQK/
  • School leaders at Lake Mary High School in Seminole County say that two students have been arrested for reportedly brining weapons on school campus. According to a Seminole County Sheriff's Office incident report, 14 year old Curtis Leonard was called to the discipline office on Thursday for an unrelated incident. When he he opened his backpack, that's when an administrator noticed a gun and notified a deputy. Deputies say the chamber was loaded, but the gun was disassembled.  Leonard now faces a felony charge of possession of a firearm of school property and was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. This is the second incident within the last year where a student managed to sneak a gun onto the campus.  Following this incident, school leaders say another situation happened on Friday where students came forward and accused a 15 year old student of carrying a weapon on school grounds. They say 15 year old Bernard Blackmon was located with a 7 inch fishing knife and was arrested. The arrest report shows Blackmon has also been charged with possession of a weapon on school property.  In response of these incidents, school leaders say that they are testing new technology as part of a pilot program which acts similar to metal detectors, but can be used in more places. They also want to remind students to report any suspicious activities by calling the SpeakOut hotline at 800-423-8477 or use their campus app.
  • A North Carolina sheriff stands accused of urging the murder of a former deputy who had a recording of him using racially offensive language, authorities say. Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins was indicted Monday on two counts of felony obstruction of justice, according to court records. Wilkins is accused of trying to get another man to kill former Deputy Joshua Freeman, who he believed was going to expose his racist talk. >> Read more trending news  Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who is prosecuting the case, said Wilkins' Aug. 12, 2014, phone conversation with the 'well-known' man who threatened Joshua Freeman's life was caught on tape, according to The News & Observer in Raleigh. Lorrin Freeman and Joshua Freeman are not related. Joshua Freeman worked for the Sheriff's Office from November 2011 to August 2014 but was let go in the days leading up to Wilkins' alleged crimes, WRAL in Raleigh reported. Wilkins, who was reelected in 2018 for a third four-year term, is accused of advising the unnamed man to kill Joshua Freeman, 'whom the defendant knew to have expressed his intention to soon publicly reveal a purported audio recording of the sheriff using racially offensive language to authorities in Raleigh,' the indictment states. The court records do not detail what Wilkins is alleged to have said, or what ultimately happened to the recording of his words. The indictment against the sheriff alleges Wilkins encouraged the man to 'take care of it' and said, 'The only way you gonna stop him is kill him.' According to the indictment, Wilkins counseled the would-be gunman on how to kill Joshua Freeman in a way to avoid getting caught. He offered two tips, according to the document: Get rid of the murder weapon and keep quiet. 'You ain't got the weapon, you ain't got nothing to go on,' Wilkins allegedly told the man, the court records allege. 'The only way we find out these murder things is people talk. You can't tell nobody nothin', not a thing.' Wilkins and the individual discussed a time in which to kill Joshua Freeman and a location that would ensure it would be Wilkins' own Granville County Sheriff's Office investigators who would get the case, the indictment says. Wilkins assured the man he would not tell investigators of his prior knowledge of the crime. The indictment accuses Wilkins of failing to prevent harm to Joshua Freeman or warn him of the 'credible threat' to his life. It alleges the sheriff also failed to seize the gun the other man planned to use, despite the person showing him the weapon at one point. 'The defendant failed to properly execute his duties because of his personal animosity towards Joshua Freeman,' the indictment states. Joshua Freeman was never harmed, though the indictment offers no indication why the alleged plot failed. Wilkins went before a magistrate Monday and was released on $20,000 unsecured bond. Court records show he was ordered to have no contact with anyone named in the indictment. He was also ordered to surrender his passport, if he has one. Read the indictment against Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins below.  Brindell Wilkins Indictment by National Content Desk on Scribd 'No one is above the law,' Lorrin Freeman said Monday, according to WRAL. 'It is always painful when someone who has the public trust faces these types of allegations for voters who put them in that place. 'Any time you have someone who is sworn to uphold the public trust, to protect their community, to investigate and report crimes, allegedly engage in this type of conduct, it is something that needs to be brought to justice, and so we will continue to follow the evidence in this case.' Several followers of Wilkins' public Facebook page offered support in the wake of the indictment. 'You will always have our support,' one woman wrote. 'Praying for you and your family.' 'Our friendship goes back 30 years or more and you have always been a great friend to me,' another woman wrote. 'You were there for me many times. I believe in you and you have my support, always.' Lorrin Freeman said Wake County is handling the case because Mike Waters, her counterpart in Granville County, could potentially become an important witness at trial. Waters, who addressed the case in a statement on his office's Facebook page, wrote to Lorrin Freeman in November to ask her to look into the case. Watch Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman discuss the case below, courtesy of the News & Observer. WRAL reported that Joshua Freeman, who Waters represented in 2014 while in private practice, gave the future prosecutor the tape recording of Wilkins' conversation with the man who talked of killing the former deputy. It was not clear Friday how Freeman obtained the recording. Waters said he immediately turned the tape over to the FBI. The Washington Post reported that Waters met with North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents about the recording in January 2017, but nothing happened. 'Quite frankly, it did not get to the top of their investigative list,' Lorrin Freeman told WRAL about SBI agents. Waters gave the recording to a different SBI agent in October 2018, but still, no investigation was initiated, the Post reported. That is when Waters turned to Lorrin Freeman to initiate a probe into the sheriff. She agreed. 'I have reviewed this recording,' Lorrin Freeman wrote to SBI agents, according to the Post. 'It contains a conversation between two individuals, one of whom appears to be the Granville County sheriff, about a former deputy sheriff and culminates in a discussion about committing a homicide.' In his Facebook statement, Waters expressed frustration at the amount of time it took to get an investigation going. 'At all times since (turning over the recording), I have provided assistance to investigators, and once Ms. Freeman opened a criminal investigation, have urged that this matter be given investigative priority,' Waters wrote. 'I understand it is a matter of great importance to the people of Granville County, and it has been a point of frustration that the investigative process has not been more expeditious.' He wrote that any allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement are troubling, particularly when they involve a sheriff elected by the community. 'Over the next few months, my office will continue to lend assistance to the ongoing investigation as requested, while we continue to do our daily work of protecting victims, prosecuting those who violate the law and seeing that justice is administered,' Waters said. WRAL reported Lorrin Freeman said she worked to obtain obstruction charges against Wilkins because obstruction would be easier to prove in the five-year old case than solicitation of murder or conspiracy. The Granville County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to discuss the indictment, but County Attorney Jim Wrenn said the board has no authority to remove Wilkins, an elected official, from office as his criminal case winds its way through the court system, WRAL reported. Lorrin Freeman confirmed that fact to the News & Observer. 'Technically, he can continue to serve if he chooses, until convicted,' Freeman told the newspaper. Spectrum News' Charlotte bureau reported that Wilkins has indicated he will not step down. Wrenn said he is considering trying to get Wilkins out of office through the courts but wants to hear the recording himself before making that decision. Gerry Cohen, former special counsel to the North Carolina General Assembly, said state law has a provision allowing a judge to suspend a sheriff and allow a county commission to appoint a temporary replacement pending the outcome of a criminal case. 'The statute is there to allow removal of sheriff,' Cohen told Spectrum News. 'One of six causes is, in fact, conviction of felony. Others are some of the things in his indictment, like willful misconduct, corruption, willful neglect or refusal to perform duties of his office. Some of them match the charges in his indictment.' The News & Observer reported that the probe into Wilkins' alleged actions against Joshua Freeman has led to investigations of the Granville County Sheriff's Office's accounting practices, as well as the operations of its drug unit. Freeman was a member of the drug unit when he was with the agency. 'Part of this investigation has centered on why this sort of conversation would have occurred, what the underlying motivation would have been,' Lorrin Freeman said Tuesday, according to the newspaper. 'Additional information has come to light regarding operations and accounting practices of the Granville County narcotics interdiction team.' Those investigations remain ongoing.
  • President Donald Trump called reports that a U.S. intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint against him last month 'a ridiculous story' while speaking Friday to reporters in the Oval Office. >> Read more trending news  According to the Washington Post, the president made an unspecified 'promise' to an unidentified foreign leader that concerned the intelligence official. The official filed a complaint Aug. 12, two anonymous former U.S. officials told the newspaper, though lawmakers said Thursday they had yet to see the complaint. The intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, appeared before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to reveal the substance of the complaint. Update 7:40 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: Former Vice President Joe Biden has released a statement on the whistleblower's complaint against President Trump. In it, Biden describes Trump's alleged behavior as 'abhorrent' and calls on him to release a full transcript of the call 'so that the American people can be judged for themselves.' The entire statement reads: Update 4:40 p.m. EDT Sept 20: The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The Journal reported Trump asked Zelensky to work with Rudy Giuliani to determine whether Biden 'worked to shield from investigation a Ukrainian gas company with ties to his son, Hunter Biden.'  Trump made the request about eight times during a phone call in July, according to the Journal. Trump was asked Friday if be brought up Biden in the call with Zelenskiy, and he answered, 'It doesn't matter what I discussed.' But then he used the moment to urge the media 'to look into' Biden's background with Ukraine. Trump and Zelenskiy are to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations next week. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 20: President Donald Trump told reporters Friday that the person behind the complaint filed against him was a 'partisan whistleblower' who 'shouldn't even have information,' though he added that he did not know the person's identity. 'I don't even know exactly who you're talking about,' Trump said. 'I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.' Trump said Friday that he's spoken with several world leaders and that his conversations with them were 'always appropriate.' Details surrounding the complaint remained unclear Friday afternoon, though The Washington Post and The New York Times reported at least some of the allegations centered on Ukraine. Both newspapers cited unidentified sources. Asked if he knew if the whistleblower's complaint centered on a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, the president responded 'I really don't know' but continued to insist any phone call he made with a head of state was 'perfectly fine and respectful.' Update 9:50 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: The whistleblower complaint against Donald Trump centers around Ukraine, two anonymous sources confirmed to The Washington Post Thursday evening. The New York Times and ABC News are also citing anonymous sources, saying the complaint involves Ukraine. It's not clear exactly how Ukraine fits into the allegations. However, Trump spoke on the phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed, the Post reported. That call was already under investigation by House Democrats, who are looking into whether Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, tried to manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping with Trump's re-election campaign, according to The Post. Update 1:45 p.m. EDT Sept. 19:  The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee suggested Thursday that lawmakers could ask a judge to compel White House officials to share with Congress a whistleblower complaint allegedly filed last month against Trump. The complaint was filed Aug. 12 and involved an undisclosed 'promise' made by the president to an unidentified foreign leader, CNN reported Atkinson declined to share details of the complaint during a closed meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, citing a lack of authorization. 'We do know that the Department of Justice has been involved in the decision to withhold that information from Congress,' Schiff told reporters Thursday. 'We do not know -- because we cannot get an answer to the question -- about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress.' He said lawmakers had yet to see the complaint by Thursday afternoon. 'We do not know whether press reports are accurate or inaccurate about the contents of the complaint,' he said. Earlier Thursday, the president denied having done anything inappropriate. Update 1 p.m. EDT Sept. 19: Trump on Thursday denied any wrongdoing after reports claimed a whistleblower had come forward with a complaint about the president making an unspecified promise to a foreign leader. 'Another Fake News story out there - it never ends!' Trump wrote Thursday in a tweet. 'Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. 'Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!' Original report: The promise occurred during a phone conversation with the leader, one source told the Post. Details about the alleged pledge and the leader's identity was not immediately available. Although Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, believed that the whistleblower complaint warranted 'urgent concern,' acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire so far has declined to provide information about the communication to the House Intelligence Committee, the Post reported. A closed hearing with Atkinson is slated for Thursday, the committee said. Maguire is expected to testify publicly Sept. 26, according to the committee's chairman, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Police are responding to the Woodfield Mall after an SUV drove into a Sears and through the mall walkways. WGN is reporting that the driver is in custody.  So far there have been no reports of injures. Video posted on Twitter shows a black SUV driving past a Forever 21, and people running away.

Washington Insider

  • The White House campaign of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) teetered on the edge of being abandoned in coming days, as the candidate on Saturday publicly confirmed the existence of an internal memo which bluntly said that unless Booker could get a surge of donations in the next ten days, his 2020 campaign was doomed. 'I want people to see where we are and understand that we have a pathway to victory,' Booker wrote on Twitter Saturday morning, 'but I can’t walk it alone.' Booker's comments came soon after NBC News had reported that the campaign's top aide told the candidate and staff that a major infusion of money was needed to keep Booker's campaign going. 'This isn’t an end-of-quarter stunt or one of those memos from a campaign trying to spin the press,' said Addisu Demissie. Booker's predicament in the Democratic race is much like a large number of other candidates right now - they are mired in low single digits in most polls, and have shown no ability to break out of that group to challenge the leaders in the race. For example, in the latest national poll from Fox News on the Democratic race, Booker is a 3 percent - that's where he was in August, June, and May. Others who have shown little to no ability to jump up in recent polls would include Marianne Williamson, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Julian Castro, John Delaney and Michael Bennet. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was also in that group - he officially quit the race on Friday. Others stuck in the polls have been Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, and Beto O'Rourke - and even Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris - who while they are above most of those in the race, the two have been unable to make up ground on the Democratic Party leaders. Harris encountered rough waters in the last week as repeated stories reported that her campaign was going to focus much more on Iowa - a decision which is often a signal of broader difficulty for a presidential candidate. Meanwhile, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders seem locked in to the top three spots in the Democratic race, with little evidence that any of the other Democrats were going to be able to pull them down at this point. And for Booker - it's been a bridge too far. “Now or Never,” his campaign chief wrote.