Severe rains have caused mudslides, washouts and flooding on interstates, highways and local roads across western North Carolina in recent days.
N.C. Department of Transportation crews have been working around the clock to assess damage, remove debris, clean pipes, and clear ditches in counties spanning from Cherokee County in the far west to Surry County in the northeastern mountains.
Road conditions continue to change. A news release issued this afternoon by the NCDOT says some roads may reopen after water recedes or small slides are cleared. It’s also possible for road conditions to deteriorate and other roads to be closed. Transportation officials remind motorists to drive with extra caution and never cross moving water. It can take just inches of running water to wash away a vehicle.
The list of highways and primary roads that were closed in the western part of the state include the following:
In Caldwell County, Brown Mountain Beach Road, Old Johns River Road, Camp Carolwood Road and some secondary roads. In Iredell County, Hill Dairy Road along with some secondary roads. In Watauga County, Rominger Road near Watauga River Road along with secondary roads. In McDowell County on Intersate 40 two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane are closed near mile marker 67, and NC 80 northbound.
Several other counties in western North Carolina have multiple roads closed. The Facebook page Burke County Emergency Reporter reports that Bost Road in Morganton was covered with water following the rainfall. For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.
18-year-old Megan Nicole Bryant of Underdown Avenue SW in Lenoir was arrested Tuesday (May 29) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with felony counts of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, and possession of stolen goods. Bryant was given a custody release. A District Court appearance is scheduled Thursday (May 31).
28-year-old Justin Drew Coffey of Prospect Street NW in Lenoir was arrested Tuesday (May 29) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony counts of breaking and entering, larceny after breaking and entering, possession of stolen goods, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Coffey was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $100,000 secured bond A District Court date is scheduled for Thursday (May 31).
The City of Lenoir recently received a $300,000 Brownfields grant and multiple NC Opportunity Zone designations, both of which could help promote redevelopment and economic growth in the city. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded a $300,000 Brownfields grant to Lenoir in April. Brownfields grant funds will be used to conduct environmental site assessments, and possibly fund cleanup of abandoned industrial sites in the City.
Brownfields site assessments are required before developers can apply for Brownfields Agreements. Brownfields Agreements remove environmental liability from owners and developers who are trying to redevelop and re-purpose abandoned properties. The grants funds become available October 1 this year. The City and its consultant have tentatively identified a number of properties that could benefit and will engage property owners later this year. There will also be a community outreach session to present the program and solicit community involvement.
The City also received the NC Opportunity Zone designation for three Census tracts in the City - Census Tract 301, which includes historic Downtown Lenoir; Census Tract 303, which includes the southwestern part of the City; and Census Tract 311, which includes a small section in the northern area of town.
The Opportunity Zone concept was created in the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R.1) passed by Congress last year. The legislation creates a tax benefit for qualified investors who wish to re-invest realized capital gains into Opportunity Zones, avoiding standard capital gain tax obligations.
37-year-old Janie Marie Perez of Woodridge Court in Lenoir was arrested last Friday (May 25) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with felony counts of possession of methamphetamine and possession of schedule I controlled substance. Perez was released on $25,000 secured bond. No court date was listed.
42-year-old Steven Allen Coffey of Oakwood Church Road in Lenoir was arrested last Friday (May 25) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged on a felony fugitive warrant from Tennessee. Coffey was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under no bond. His next District Court appearance is scheduled for June 28.
New names have been added to the Iredell County most wanted list.
50-year-old John Allen Karis was recently added to the list. He's wanted for felony breaking and entering. The last known address for Karis was 61 Jay Stafford Lane in Taylorsville.
27-year-old Lashawn Ashley Hughes was also added to the Iredell County most wanted list. He's wanted for felony possession of a stolen firearm. The last known address for Hughes was 121 Brown's Farm Drive in Cleveland, NC.
44-year-old Andrae Leavis Knox remains on the Iredell most wanted list. He's charged with possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine. The last known address for Knox was 117 Desiree Drive in Statesville.
You can see the entire list of wanted suspects with their photos at www.iredellsheriff.com. If you have any information on any of the suspects on the list you can e-mail email@example.com. You can also call any tips into the Iredell County Sheriff's Office at their Statesville location, 704-878-3180, or the Mooresville office, 704-664-7500.
The Granite Falls Police Department is investigating an assault and vehicle theft earlier this week. On Monday (May 28) shortly after 10 a.m., 83-year-old Erika Mclean of Granite Falls, went to the Granite Falls Recreation Center to walk. When she returned to her vehicle a man took her keys from her hand and pushed her to the ground. He then stole her vehicle. Mrs. Mclean was injured during the incident and was treated at the scene by Caldwell County EMS.
The stolen car is a white 2008 Hyundai Accent with a North Carolina license tag reading DJP-7514. The suspect is described as a white male with brown hair, a brown scraggly beard, and "messed up" teeth. A video of the incident can be seen at the Granite Falls Police Department Facebook page. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Captain Branham at the Granite Falls Police Department at 828-396-3358 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also submit an anonymous tip to Lenoir/Caldwell Crime Stoppers at 828-758-8300.
23-year-old Tony Aaron Ferguson of Eberle Way in Hudson was arrested Friday (May 25) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver methamphetamine. Ferguson was detained in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $75,000 secured bond. A District Court date was scheduled today (May 29).
38-year-old Kristen Nicole Reitzel of 17th Avenue NE in Hickory was arrested Friday (May 25) by Caldwell County Sheriff's Officers. She's charged with possession with intent to manufacture, sell, and deliver methamphetamine and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling, or place to keep controlled substance. Reitzel was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $25,000 secured bond. A District Court date was scheduled today (May 29).
19-year-old Trevon Antonio Simpson of 20th Avenue Drive N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police at about 10:45 p.m. Saturday (May 26) on one felony count of larceny from a person.
His arrest stems from an incident on April 2 of this year when Hickory Police responded to a reported armed robbery at Simpson’s residence. Upon arrival, Officers found Simpson and placed him under arrest.
The suspect was taken into custody without incident Saturday and placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $15,000, secured. He was scheduled to appear in Superior Court today (May 29) in Newton.
27-year-old Tevin Jerome “Li’l Tevin” Gaither of Leonhardt Street in Vale was arrested by Hickory Police early Monday morning (May 28) on one felony count of possession of cocaine and two counts of assault by pointing a gun.
Gaither was taken into custody without incident at about 1:40 a.m. Monday at a residence on South Center Street in Hickory. He was placed in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $21,000, secured. He was scheduled to make an appearance in District Court today (May 29) in Newton, with additional court dates coming up on June 13 & 27.
33-year-old Juan Moises McDonald of 20th Street N.E. in Hickory was arrested by Hickory Police early Sunday morning (May 27) on one felony count each of trafficking opium or heroin; possession with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver a schedule I controlled substance; and maintaining a vehicle, dwelling or place for a controlled substance. He was also charged with six counts of failure to appear on a misdemeanor, plus multiple vehicular charges, including two felony counts of speeding to elude arrest. The charges were filed by the Hickory Police Department and the Catawba Co. Sheriff’s Office.
He was arrested after Hickory Police responded to a potential overdose in the parking lot at McDonald’s residence (the Silver Springs Terrace apartment complex). After E.M.S. rendered medical assistance, McDonald was taken into custody without incident about a quarter past midnight on multiple outstanding warrants. The felony warrants were issued in August of last year.
McDonald was initially charged with speeding to elude when Hickory Police attempted to stop a vehicle at a retail store on Springs Road N.E. The vehicle didn’t stop until the suspect exited the vehicle on 21st Street N.E. and ran through the woods. The driver was identified as Juan Moises McDonald and warrants were issued.
Then, on May 22, Officers on patrol on the 2,500 block of Springs Road N.E. saw McDonald, driving a vehicle that was stopped at a stop sign at the intersection of 25th Street Drive N.E. and Springs Road N.E. Officers initiated a traffic stop, but McDonald fled. Warrants for his arrest were issued.
McDonald was jailed Sunday in the Catawba Co. Detention Facility with bond set at $65,500, secured. He was scheduled to make an appearance in District Court today (May 29) in Newton, with additional court dates on May 31, June 21, June 25 and July 19.
30-year-old Oscar Gabriel Rodriguez of Hurricane Hill Road in Granite Falls was arrested Saturday (May 26) by Caldwell County Sheriff's officers. He's charged with felony second degree sexual assault by force and misdemeanor resist, delay, and obstruct a public officer. Rodriguez was jailed in the Caldwell County Detention Center under $155,000 secured bond. A District Court date was scheduled today (May 29).
49-year-old Stacy Sherard Murrill of Village Circle in Hickory was arrested Saturday (May 26) by Hickory Police Officers. He's charged with felony counts of larceny of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon. In addition, Murrill is charged with misdemeanor counts of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, probation violation, and begging.
On May 3, Hickory Police took a report of a stolen firearm. The 12 gauge Winchester Pump Shotgun was stolen from a residence on 3rd Street Northeast. Stacy Murrill was developed as a suspect and arrested without incident at an address on 10th Avenue SE in Hickory.
Following the arrest, Murrill was detained in the Catawba County Detention Facility under $36,500 secured bond. He remained in jail as of earlier today (May 29). A District Court appearance was scheduled today.
22-year-old Taylor Evelyn Pritchard was arrested Sunday (May 27) by Morganton Public Safety Officers. She's charged with felony possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver schedule II controlled substance and misdemeanor larceny, possession, or receiving stolen goods from a construction site. Pritchard was arrested shortly after 8:30 a.m. Sunday at an address on South Sterling Street in Morganton. She was placed in jail under $8,000 secured bond. A District Court appearance is set for Wednesday (May 30).
Work scheduled for today on Burkemont Avenue in Morganton has been canceled due to the weather. The work, which consists of replacing water line valves and a fire hydrant in the area and would have closed a portion of the road, will be rescheduled for a later date.
An incident reported as an accidental shooting involving an officer at a bowling alley is under investigation. According to the Iredell County Sheriff's Office, last Friday (May 25) just before 8 p.m., an off duty Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Deputy was involved in an accidental discharge of a pistol. The incident occurred while the officer was bowling at the George Pappas’ Victory Lanes in Mooresville.
A child was grazed by a piece of shrapnel, however no serious injuries occurred and the child was not transported to any medical facility for treatment. The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting an Internal Investigation into the incident and the Mooresville Police Department will be conducting a parallel investigation to determine if any laws were broken. The deputy involved has been placed on leave pending the outcomes of the investigations.
49-year-old Timothy Wayne Norris of Windy Hill Road in Morganton was arrested by Burke County Sheriff's Officers. He's charged with felony possession of methamphetamine.
According to a news release issued over the weekend by the Burke County Sheriff's Office, last Monday, May 21, at approximately 12:45 a.m., a deputy with the Burke County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Division conducted an investigative vehicle stop while traveling West bound Interstate 40, in reference to an expired registration. Timothy Wayne Norris was the driver of the vehicle and it was determined that he was operating the vehicle with a suspended license.
Upon further investigation, methamphetamine was found in the vehicle and seized. Following the arrest, Norris was placed in the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Facility under $3,000 secured bond. He was no longer listed as an inmate as of today (May 29). The next District Court date for Norris is scheduled for June 11 in Morganton.
31-year-old Robert Leroy Littleton III of Fleetwood, NC, was arrested by Burke County Sheriff's Officers on a felony fugitive warrant. On May 7 a Tennessee Grand Jury returned an indictment on Littleton for his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and possible death of 30-year-old Carlton Lamaar Edmondson of Valdese. Littleton is charged with first degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, conspiracy to commit especially aggravated kidnapping, extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and aggravated assault.
There are five other suspects involved in this case, 39-year-old Michael May of Watauga County, 30-year-old James Combs of Zionville, 25-year-old Brittany Arnold of Mountain City, TN, 30-year-old LeighKatherine Mina of Boone, who is Littleton's wife, and 24-year-old Valerie Ann Dollar of Boone. The suspects face various charges, all six are charged with kidnapping. In addition to Littleton, May, Combs, and Arnold are all charged with first degree murder.
Edmondson has been missing since January 19. Authorities have said they believe he is dead after, according to search warrants from Watauga County, he was allegedly taken off a road in the Trade, Tennessee area, beaten and left.
According to reports, Littleton previously told officers he took Edmondson to the remote location in Tennessee, assaulted him, and left him. Edmondson’s mother, Lanisha Kincaid, said the family received calls asking for $700 to return him.
Littleton had an extradition hearing last Tuesday (May 22). According to the warrant from Tennessee, Littleton will be placed in jail under a bond of $500,000 once he is in their jurisdiction. Littleton was not listed as an inmate in Burke County as of today (May 29).