The Rancho Viejo restaurant on Lenoir-Rhyne Boulevard S.E. in Hickory was robbed by an armed suspect last night.
The robbery occurred at about 7:50 p.m. A former Rancho Viejo employee entered the restaurant. He sat down at a table, ordered a drink and asked to speak to the manager. The suspect and the manager went into the manager’s office where the suspect held a large object believed to be a gun in his pocket. He asked the manager for money.
When the manager came out of the office and went to the register to get cash for the suspect, he was able to motion to another employee to call Police. The suspect left the restaurant with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Police arrived as the suspect fled on foot into a nearby wooded area. A K-9 unit was called in, but the suspect was not found. The K-9 did lead Officers to recover the suspect’s airsoft pistol and a hat worn by the suspect.
The suspect was identified by Rancho Viejo employees. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. Police are not releasing the suspect’s identity at this time.
39-year-old Brian Keith Guzman of Alabama Avenue in Marion and 24-year-old Tiffany Dawn Milam of Faith Baptist Church Road in Marion have both been arrested in connection to the August 16 shooting death of 39-year-old James Lionel Ferguson of Old Highway 10 East in Marion. Guzman was charged with murder and felony conspiracy and Milam was charged with felony accessory after the fact.
Two other men – 24-year-old Shane Edward Webb of Forsythe Street in Marion and 24-year-old Andrew Clifton Johnson, of Maces Park Drive in Marion – were previously charged with murder.
McDowell County Sheriff’s Capt. Shanon Smith said an investigation shows that the three males conspired to rob Ferguson. During the robbery, the victim was shot and subsequently died. Capt. Smith also said that Milam allegedly aided the three men after the shooting by driving them away from the residence. The shooting occurred at approximately 4:30 p.m. on August 16 at a house on Blunt Way in Nebo.
Both suspects are scheduled to appear in Superior Court; Guzman on December 1 and Milam on December 15.
30-year-old Bradley Olin Burleson of Moody Drive in Connelly Springs pleaded guilty to felony assault by strangulation and felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. The charges were consolidated during sentencing and he received a sentence of 33 to 52 months in prison. The sentence was handed down in Burke County Superior Court on Monday (November 17).
The incident occurred on May 22 of this year. The victim reported to the Burke County Sheriff’s Office that she had been beaten and held against her will inside her residence. She said she was recently separated from Burleson when the attack occurred.
Burleson has been in the Burke Catawba Detention Facility since his arrest the day after the attack.
56-year-old Donald Eric Kincaid could face the death penalty if he is convicted in connection to a triple homicide that occurred in Burke County in August of this year.
Kincaid is accused of beating three people to death at a residence on West Concord Street in Morganton. The victims are 54-year-old Barbara Ann Johnson, 21-year-old Freddie Charles Thompson, and 75-year-old Zakiya El Bey. The three were found dead in the home on the morning of August 10. Police said all three victims appear to have died as the result of blunt force trauma.
Johnson was Thompson’s mother. Bey was a family friend. The incident leading to their deaths was described as some sort of domestic dispute and not a random act of violence. Kincaid reportedly was Johnson’s boyfriend.
Kincaid is currently incarcerated without bond. His next appearance in Superior Court was set for December 15 in Morganton.
For the twenty-sixth straight year, Catawba County’s Budget Office has been recognized by its peers for producing a budget document that’s easy to read and understand.
The County Budget Office has won the 2014 Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA). The award recognized the county’s fiscal year 2014-2015 budget. Staff from the budget office will be formally recognized at a future meeting of the Catawba County Board of Commissioners.
Catawba County's annual budget is created through a yearlong planning process involving department heads, the budget staff, County Manager Tom Lundy and the Board of Commissioners. Budget staff members receiving recognition included Budget Manager Jennifer Mace, Paul Murray, Budget & Management Analyst (now Strategic Management Director for Rockingham County); and Barron Monroe, Budget & Management Analyst.
Only 1,424 local governments across the United States received the award this year. The GFOA is a non-profit professional association serving more than 18,000 government finance professionals throughout North America.
29-year-old Samuel “Zane” Billings of Mt. Olive Church Road in Morganton was arrested today (November 20) on several outstanding warrants. Billings was wanted by the Burke Co. Sheriff’s Office on one count each of domestic criminal trespass, breaking & entering, larceny and possession of stolen goods, as well as failure to appear on a charge of financial card theft.
The charges come in connection to numerous break-ins and larcenies throughout western Burke County, specifically in the Highway 64 South and Dysartsville Road areas. Billings was taken into custody without incident. Detectives located the suspect at an address off of Denton’s Chapel Church Road in Morganton.
Bond was set at $60,000, secured. No court appearances are currently listed.
31-year-old Triesa Jane White of the Lucia River Bend Highway in Stanley was arrested Monday (November 17) by Lincolnton Police Officer Tyler Hart on warrants for trafficking opiates, conspiring to traffick opiates, possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver hydrocodone and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or forgery.
The arrest was the result of a nine-month investigation into a group of suspects making, forging and passing fraudulent prescriptions. Several arrests have already been made in the investigation, including Ashley Nicole Hunt, Armod Rashad Hunt and Barbara Jean Teague, who were arrested in September 2014.
The investigation is ongoing. Additional arrests are expected.
Area doctor’s offices and pharmacies have assisted and cooperated with the Lincolnton Police Department in the investigation. The investigation covered Lincoln, Gaston and Catawba counties. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration has assisted in the investigation.
White was given a $25,000 secured bond and placed in the Lincoln County Jail. White also has pending cases dating back to last year for possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver morphine and the sale or delivery of morphine. She has posted bond on all charges. A District Court appearance in Lincoln County was set for December 9.
This week, Catawba County individuals, families and groups are working to collect 22,400 shoebox gifts—filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items—for kids in need overseas. The effort is part of Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. Operation Christmas Child’s goal is to collect enough shoebox gifts globally to impact more than 10 million children this Christmas season.
Collection points are open in the Catawba Co. area through November 24 to receive colorfully wrapped shoebox gifts packed by local residents. To find the nearest drop-off site, call 518-437-0690 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.
17-year-old Tashanna Lashay Foster of 20th Avenue Drive N.E. and 19-year-old Jaquan Cortez McDowell of 7th Avenue S.E., both from Hickory, were arrested at about 6:50 last night (November 19). They were each charged with one felony count of possession with intent to sell or deliver marijuana. Foster was also charged on an outstanding felony warrant for buying, selling or distributing food stamps.
They were arrested after Police were called to the Motel 6 on 13th Avenue Drive S.E. in Hickory in response to a possible drug violation there. The caller noticed a high volume of traffic in and out of a hotel room. Officers conducted a search of the room and found 131.6 grams (just under five ounces) of marijuana.
The outstanding warrant was issued on July 25 when Foster was charged with selling food stamps for $200 in order to help her boyfriend, Jaquan McDowell, make bond after he was arrested on June 27 for breaking & entering.
The two were taken into custody at the motel without incident. Both were jailed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond for Foster set at $10,000, secured. McDowell was given a $5,000 secured bond. First appearances in District Court were scheduled for tomorrow in Newton.
The Hickory Police Department will hold a rabies clinic in the east front parking lot at Police Headquarters on Sunday, November 30 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
The rabies clinic will offer reduced cost rabies vaccinations for $7 per animal. Those who participated in the program last year should bring their paperwork. Their pets could be eligible for the three-year vaccination for the same $7 fee.
Hickory Police Department Animal Control reminds pet owners the best way to protect pets and avoid the spread of rabies is to have them properly vaccinated.
Contact the Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551 to report any animals exhibiting abnormal behavior.