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North Carolina state trooper shot, killed; suspect in custody

A North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper was shot and killed early Wednesday while conducting a traffic stop in the southeastern part of the state, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Authorities said the trooper, whose name has not been released, was shot just after midnight while conducting a traffic stop on U.S. 701 near Sellers Town Road in Columbus County, just south of Whiteville.

>> Read more trending news 

The trooper was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

After an extensive search, authorities were able to find the suspect in nearby woods and take him into custody.

The suspect's name also has not been released.

– Visit WSOCTV.com for the latest on this developing story.

Woman sets underwear rack on fire at Florida Macy's, police say

Police in Ocala, Florida, say they are looking for a woman who allegedly committed arson inside a Macy’s Tuesday morning.

>> Watch the news report here

Officers said the woman entered the department store at the Paddock Mall shortly after 10 a.m. and walked around the store for approximately 45 minutes.

Police said at some point the woman set fire to a rack of underwear.

“It was a bunch of smoke rolling out and people were walking – running outside,” said Kortnee Eubanks, who was in the store at the time. 

“The [Macy’s] staff believe that they smelled gas, so we’re not sure if she tried to set the fire to other area and this was just the only area where she was successful. She was in the store for some time,” said Ocala Police spokesperson Meghan Shay.

>> Read more trending news 

No one was hurt by the flames. 

A message on Paddock Mall’s website Tuesday afternoon said Macy’s will be closed for the remainder of the day.

“The safety of our shoppers, retailers and employees is our top priority. We are working closely with the Ocala Police Department as they investigate this incident further,” said the mall’s website.

Surveillance video from police shows a vehicle in which they believe the woman left. It appears to be a dark gray four-door sedan.

Ocala police ask anyone with information to contact them at 352-369-7000.

>> Watch the surveillance video here

Sheriff: Grandmother charged with murder after found toddler dead in oven

A 48-year-old grandmother has been charged with first-degree murder in connection to the death of her 20-month-old grandchild, authorities said.

Bolivar County Sheriff Kevin Williams said Carolyn Jones was charged Tuesday in the death of Royalty Marie Floyd. Williams said the cause of death is still under investigation, but the toddler’s body was found stabbed and burned in an oven in a Shaw, Mississippi, home.

>> Read more trending news 

“I’ve been doing law enforcement for 25 or 26 years now,” Williams told The Associated Press. “This is one of the most horrible things I’ve seen in doing law enforcement. The hardest part ... is to see a child victim.”

Authorities said Royalty lived with Jones. The toddler’s mother works in Memphis, Tennessee, according to a neighbor who spoke with WHBQ.

The toddler’s body was found Monday night by Jones’ brother, Williams said. He called local police and the Bolivar County Sheriff’s Office was in turn called for assistance.

Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain told The AP investigators are working to determine when the toddler died and if it was before she was placed in the oven.

The child’s body was transported to the crime lab for an autopsy.

Jones is in jail with bond set at $500,000.

$25,000 reward for info on missing pregnant postal worker

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is offering a $25,000 reward for information on the whereabouts of a pregnant mail carrier who has not been seen in two weeks. 

Kierra Coles, 26, was last seen Oct. 2 near her home on the south side of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported. According to Coles’ mother, she is about three months pregnant. 

Karen Phillips told the Tribune she reported her daughter missing on Oct. 4 after she had heard nothing from her for two days. Coles’ cellphone calls were going straight to her voicemail. 

“I talk to her every day,” Phillips told the Tribune. “I knew something was wrong. It’s just not like her.”

The distraught mother told the newspaper Tuesday that Coles’ car has been parked outside her apartment since her disappearance. When she gained access to the vehicle, Coles’ cellphone and purse were inside. 

A family friend, Regina Kennedy, said Coles had a lunch bag in the car as though she planned to go to work the day she vanished, the Tribune said. People magazine reported that Coles was seen on a neighbor’s security video Oct. 2, dressed for work as she walked near her home.

See the neighbor’s surveillance video, obtained by Fox 32 in Chicago, below. 

Dan Perkins, Phillips’ boyfriend, told WGN-TV in Chicago that Coles passed up her car instead of getting in.

“She seen something that made her turn around that fast and cross the street, and her car was on the other side of the street,” Perkins told the news station

Despite being dressed for work, Coles never made it to start her shift. 

Post office officials told her family she called in sick, People reported. Officers conducting a welfare check at Phillips’ request found Coles’ keys and wallet inside her apartment, the magazine said. 

Everything else was in its place -- except her daughter, Phillips told NBC Chicago

“I’m too scared to feel anything,” Phillips said. “I don’t want to fear the worst.”

Postal Inspection Service spokeswoman Julie Kenney said Monday, when the reward was announced, that her office -- which serves as the investigative arm of the U.S. Postal Service -- is investigating Coles’ disappearance in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department. Coles was not on duty when she vanished, but the agency has the ability to investigate crimes against its employees.

“At this point, anything is possible,” Kenney told the Tribune. “We’re just looking for information.”

Chicago’s branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers has also offered a $2,500 reward and a Chicago-area activist added another $1,000 to the pot, the newspaper said

According to fliers seeking to find Coles, she is a black woman with a medium brown complexion, brown eyes and black hair. She is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs about 125 pounds. 

Coles has two tattoos: a heart on her right hand and the words “Lucky Libra” on her back.

Anyone with information on Coles’ whereabouts is asked to call the Chicago Police Department at 312-747-8274 or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.

Video shows Florida city official kill fleeing shoplifting suspect

Video released in the fatal shooting of an alleged shoplifter at a Florida military surplus store shows Lakeland city Commissioner Michael Dunn fire the shot that killed the man. 

Dunn, a vocal supporter of gun rights, is a co-owner of Vets Army Navy Surplus, located at 819 N. Florida Ave. in Lakeland. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Dunn was not arrested following the Oct. 3 shooting, which police officials have labeled a “death-justifiable homicide investigation.”

Lakeland detectives, along with the Florida State Attorney’s Office, are investigating the case. Brian Haas, state attorney for the 10th Judicial District, told the Times he anticipates the investigation being concluded by the end of the week. 

Surveillance video released Monday by police officials shows Dunn, 47, confronting Christobal Lopez, 50, of Wauchula, about a $16 hatchet Dunn said he saw Lopez conceal and try to leave with. Dunn holds a handgun in his right hand and, as both men move into the camera frame, he pushes Lopez with his left. 

Watch the footage released by investigators below. Warning: Some images may be too graphic for some viewers. The fatal confrontation between Dunn and Lopez begins at the 7-minute mark. 

As Lopez moves toward the door, Dunn tries to grab Lopez’s shoulder, but instead ends up with a fistful of the man’s shirt. Lopez raises his left arm, trying to break free.

Dunn then appears to fire at least one bullet into Lopez’s body. The alleged shoplifter falls to the ground just outside the door. An object which appears to be the hatchet is still in his right hand.  

The mortally wounded man moves for a few seconds, seemingly trying to get up. Lopez then goes still, as Dunn keeps his gun trained on him. 

The video continues for another three minutes, during which Dunn is seen moving in and out of the frame, the Times reported. No one tries to see if Lopez, who is face-down on the sidewalk, is alive or render first aid. 

Lopez’s death was ruled a homicide. 

Other footage released from inside the store appears to show Lopez take the hatchet and put it into the front of his pants. The grainy footage appears to show Dunn get up from his chair and place something in the back of his waistband.

The Lakeland Ledger reported that Dunn put a Glock handgun into his waistband. 

Gary Gross, spokesman for the Lakeland Police Department, told reporters at the scene the day of the shooting that dispatchers received a call just after 2:30 p.m. of shots fired at the store. Responding officers found Lopez dead just outside the door.

Three employees were inside the store at the time of the shooting, including Dunn, Gross said

Investigators learned from witness statements that Lopez entered the store with his father, a news release from the department said. As his father made a purchase, Dunn reportedly saw Lopez try to conceal a hatchet and leave the store without paying for it.

The surveillance footage shows what happened next. 

Dunn’s attorney, Rusty Franklin, told reporters following the shooting that his client was justified because Lopez had a hatchet in hand during their scuffle, the Times reported

Tim Hessinger, a Tampa defense attorney and former state prosecutor, told the Times after viewing the video, however, that it does not appear to show Dunn in fear for his life when he fires at Lopez, who was struggling to get away. 

“This is a very difficult case to defend,” Hessinger told the newspaper

Lopez’s family is trying to make sense of why he was killed. His obituary stated that Lopez, who lived most of his life in Hardee County, worked as an agricultural laborer. 

His sister, Veronica Lopez, told the Times following the shooting that her brother, who had a non-violent criminal history that included drug and shoplifting charges, did not deserve his fate. 

“He was not a violent person,” Veronica Lopez said. “My brother didn’t need to be killed like some animal.”

>> Read more trending news

Lopez’s Oct. 3 shooting is not the first time Dunn, who took office in January, has shot a man. The Times reported that Dunn accidentally shot a man when he was 19 years old. 

Reports at the time indicated that Dunn was pretending to draw a 9-mm handgun when the gun went off and a bullet traveled down an alley and struck a man in the elbow as he passed in his car. The shooting was ruled accidental and no charges were filed, the Times reported

Dunn in July held a rally at his store to counter a March for our Lives rally held nearby, according to the Times. The March for our Lives movement was formed by students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were gunned down on Valentine’s Day. 

Surviving students have become prominent activists for better gun control. 

Mom, 4 children dead in apparent murder-suicide, deputies say

A Tennessee mother and four children were found dead Monday in what investigators believe was a murder-suicide.

>> Watch the news conference here

According to the Columbia Daily Herald, a family member arrived at the Maury County home after 6 p.m. Monday and discovered the bodies, authorities said. 

The mother, whose name has not been released, appeared to have died from "a self-inflicted gunshot wound," the Daily Herald reported. The children – three girls and a boy – ranged from 8 to 16 years old and were home-schooled, authorities told WSMV.

>> Read more news stories 

Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland said investigators do not believe there are any additional suspects, and the children's father was not at home during the incident, WZTV reported.

"We don't believe we have a suspect at large at this time, but we are going to be thorough with this investigation," Rowland said, according to the Daily Herald.

He added: "As emergency responders, we see gruesome scenes regularly, but this is not one that you see every day."

Read more here.

'Kill Trump' tweet leads to Secret Service probe of school employee

A Massachusetts school employee is under investigation by the Secret Service for allegedly threatening President Donald Trump on social media.

>> Watch the news report here

The employee, a Fitchburg Public Schools paraprofessional who works with special-needs students, has also been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation.

Her husband, a principal at Fitchburg's Longsjo Middle School, spoke only to WFXT about his wife's alleged tweet, which was captured in screen shots and shared multiple times on social media.

At first, the tweet caught the attention of the local police force and subsequently of federal agents.

"People have their preferences, but sometimes you should just keep your 2 cents to yourself, you know?" said Roger Valcourt, a parent.

The tweet, posted Oct, 10 which read, "No just kill Trump," has been generating controversy around town.

Parents were shocked to learn what happened, saying both the principal and his wife are star educators.

After the tweet was reported to Ashburnham police, the Secret Service launched an investigation, telling WFXT that they are aware of the incident and investigate all threats made against the president.

"I don’t know what was going through her head, I guess, but it’s not a good thing to say you want to kill the president," said Alex Clemente, a parent.

Clemente, a veteran who fought in Iraq, says the tweet went too far.

"Even though you don’t like him, you can’t say that," Clemente said.

>> Read more trending news 

The employee's husband told WFXT in an off-camera interview she meant no harm, saying, "It was lapse in judgment, a mistake. It was a bad choice of words that were taken out of context. My wife is not a malicious person, and has an impeccable work record. She’s embarrassed by this situation."

While Craig Chalifoux spoke to WFXT on the record, his wife isn't being identified because she is not facing any charges.

The superintendent told WFXT that the employee has been placed on paid administrative leave, saying, in a statement, this "is being done to protect her interests as well as the interest of the district [and] it will allow the investigation to conclude and minimize any disruption and distraction and protects her safety and security."

Ex-West Virginia football star cut by Falcons faces child sex charge

A former college football standout who briefly signed with the Atlanta Falcons was arrested Saturday by police in Columbus, Georgia, for allegedly having sex with a 12-year-old girl, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported.

Justin Crawford, 23, who played running back at Georgia's Hardaway High School and West Virginia University, faces charges of incest, sodomy and enticing a child for indecent purposes, according to Muscogee County Jail records.

At a preliminary hearing on Monday, Columbus Detective Mark Scruggs said Crawford’s wife, Chakeya, woke up Saturday around 5 a.m. and walked into her living room to find her husband with an erection as he stood over the child, the newspaper reported.

However, she told the Ledger-Enquirer she objected to Scruggs’ account, saying her husband’s penis was exposed but not erect. She said she confronted her husband about it, that he denied any wrongdoing and she decided to go back to bed.

>> Read more news stories 

She took the 12-year-old to the child’s mother later, and that’s when the girl said she had been asleep in the living room when Crawford came in and had her perform oral sex on him before they had intercourse, Scruggs said.

The newspaper reported that Scruggs said Crawford initially denied any sexual contact with the girl to police, but he later admitted to having oral sex and intercourse with her but claimed it was her idea.

Crawford remains in the Muscogee County Jail without bond, according to jail records.

As a senior in high school, Crawford rushed for 825 yards and seven touchdowns, the Ledger-Enquirer reported.

He spent two years at Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he rushed for over 3,000 yards and six touchdowns, putting him in the national spotlight. He then transferred to West Virginia, where he rushed for 2,237 yards and 11 touchdowns over two seasons.

Crawford signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent on May 1, but he was among 36 players released in September during the preseason.

He was on the roster for the Atlanta Legends in the new Alliance of American Football league but was suspended by the team after being arrested, according to The Associated Press.

Man hits ex for taking too long at Walmart, stabs dad, police say

A Georgia man is in jail on assault and battery charges after he allegedly stabbed his father and punched his ex-girlfriend in the face, police said.

Jonathan Allen Fain, 25, of Gwinnett County, has been charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, battery and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of a felony.

>> On AJC.com: Georgia man accused of taking, posting pictures of sleeping girls in underwear

Fain got his ex-girlfriend to give him a ride to the Walmart on Rockbridge Road the morning of Oct. 11, according to a police report. He began yelling at her that she was taking too long shopping while they were inside, and the yelling continued while she was driving him home, the report said. She told him to get out of the car, but he wouldn’t, so she threw his wallet out the window, according to police. Fain punched the woman in the face and exited the car to get his wallet; the woman took that opportunity to drive away, the report said.

Soon after, Fain arrived at his father’s house in Lilburn. They got into an argument, and at some point, Fain stabbed his father, according to the police report. When an officer arrived around 11 a.m., Fain had fled on foot into some nearby woods, the report said. Fain’s father was lying on the ground with a stab wound to his stomach. The officer found a kitchen knife with its blade missing; the blade had broken off and was still inside Fain’s father, the report said. 

>> Read more trending news 

Shortly after, Fain reportedly returned to the house, entering the basement. Fain surrendered when officers entered the basement and was arrested, the report said.

The father was transported to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, according to the report.

Fain was taken to the Gwinnett County Detention Center, where he is being held without bond. 

4 killed, 1 hurt in shooting at Texas child’s 1st birthday party

A child’s first birthday party turned deadly over the weekend when an argument among family members ended in gunfire that left a man and three of his grandsons dead.

CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reported that the shooting took place in Taft, a city of about 3,000 people 12 miles north of Corpus Christi. The dead were all distant relatives of the child for whom the party was held. 

Sgt. Nathan Brandley, with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that officers arrived at the residence just after 5 p.m. Saturday to find four men dead: Juan Espinoza Sr., 62, and his grandsons, Juan Sandoval III, 20, Jeremy Sandoval, 22, and Nicky Sandoval, 25. According to the news station, the injured man was Espinoza’s 43-year-old son, Juan Espinoza Jr.

Juan Espinoza Jr. was airlifted to a hospital in Corpus Christi and was expected to survive, the CBS affiliate reported. His sister, Belinda Espinoza, said on Facebook Sunday that he was in critical condition and required surgery. 

CNN reported that all the dead were found in the backyard of the home where the party took place. 

A 20-year-old man, Ronnie Rodriguez Jr., is in custody in the shooting, Brandley told CNN. His father, Ronnie Rodriguez Sr., 37, is at large. 

No charges had been filed against the younger Rodriguez as of Sunday, Brandley said. 

“There (were) a lot of people who witnessed this happen,” Brandley told the CBS affiliate. “(We’re) still interviewing eyewitnesses and everybody that was there at the party, trying to piece all the pieces of the puzzle together.”

Family members did not say what the argument was about, but Brandley told CNN witnesses said it started with “an argument over something real small and it escalated real quickly to where guns were involved.”

It was not clear Monday whether any of the men killed or injured were armed at the time of the shooting. 

>> Read more trending news

Belinda Espinoza, who is raising funds on Facebook to help bury her father and nephews, told CNN that her father was a farmer and family man.

“He did everything he could for us,” Espinoza told the network. “He was happily married to his first and only love, my mother, Eulalia Sandoval.”

She described her brother, Juan Espinoza Jr., as a man who would “give the shirt off his back” for anyone he cared about.

“He always opened his home to anyone,” she said. 

Her nephews were also good men, Espinoza said. Jeremy Sandoval leaves behind a wife and young son, CNN said

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