WITN News

Fire destroys guitars at house of Avett Brothers’ father

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - A fire has destroyed 60 guitars and up to 100 paintings at the North Carolina home of Jim Avett, the father of Scott and Seth Avett of the Avett Brothers band.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the fire occurred Friday in the city of Concord.

Jim Avett posted on Facebook that the fire started from a golf cart and that half the house is beyond repair.

The Avett Brothers are a three-time Grammy Award nominee. The band is based in North Carolina and has a national following.

Jim Avett said on Facebook that the blaze is “not a knockout punch” and that they have “the strength, attitude, faith and abilities to move forward.”

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Police: Man shot at NC mall remains in critical condition

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Police in North Carolina say that a man remains in critical condition following a shooting at a shopping mall that was packed with shoppers.

Durham mall closed after three people shot including 10-year-old

Durham police said Saturday that investigators continue to investigate Friday’s shooting at The Streets at Southpoint.

A 10-year-old child and another man were also shot but sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Police said the shooting occurred during an apparent fight between two groups.

A bystander described “mass hysteria” on one of the busiest shopping days of the year as shoppers ducked into stores for cover or ran for the exits.

Police said that no charges have been filed.

Meanwhile, the mall was scheduled to reopen at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

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Police identify New Bern murder victim

NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - New Bern Police released the name of a man who was shot and killed on Friday in New Bern.

Darrell Mims, Jr., 25, was shot in the 1000 block of Pavie Avenue Friday afternoon.

New Bern Police investigating shooting

Police said Mims was found suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and was taken to Carolina East Medical Center, where he later died. Next of kin have been notified.

New Bern Police is investigating this case as a homicide and ask anyone with information to call police.

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New Bern Police investigating shooting

NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - New Bern Police are investigating a shooting on Friday afternoon.

Officers came to the 1000 block of Pavie Ave. in New Bern at 2:39 p.m. in reference to a shooting victim.

New Bern Police have not released more information on the victim’s condition but said the investigation is still active and anyone with information is asked to call police at 252-633-2020.

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Winterville business tackles supply chain issues

WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As local businesses compete against national chain stores this Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a business in Winterville hoped to tackle issues, such as the supply-chain crisis, by fully stocking their shelves.

“When it’s just coming from down the road it’s a lot easier than being shipped from far away,” said Justin Lawrence, whose parents own The Village Market on Winterville Parkway. “It’s straight to the source, you get to support your neighbors, and be a part of the community.”

The Lawrence family said supporting neighbors is something they prioritize when running a business, with all of their items sourced from North Carolina.

“It’s not uncommon for us to have business owners bring their products right in here to us,” said Sarah Lawrence after stocking the shelves with fresh peanut brittle from Jamesville. “It’s basically from the business directly to the store. So, we’re not facing those supply shortages that a big box store may face.”

Customers browsed chocolate covered nuts from Goldsboro, barbeque sauce from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and handmade soap from Winterville on Friday.

Elizabeth Coghill came to The Village Market as a repeat customer. She wanted a holiday gift for her neighbors today.

“You can buy so much online now,” said Coghill. “This is something you can’t buy online.”

The pandemic has changed the priorities of some Eastern Carolina shoppers on Black Friday.

“We used to go out really early in the morning, like 6am,” said Coghill. “It’s just no fun when you’re fighting crowds.”

The Lawrence family opened the doors of the village market in March 2021. After seeing the pandemic’s effect on area vendors, Justin Lawrence said he decided now was the time to make a change.

“I saw a lot of the small businesses and local shops didn’t have the avenues to get their products out there and be seen as much as they were before,” he said. “So, that was the spur that we needed to make the dream come true.”

The Village Market will host a free-to-enter vendor market each Saturday this holiday season, featuring food trucks, music, Christmas trees, and local suppliers of crafts, meat, treats, and more.

The Saturday event will begin Nov. 27 at 9 a.m.

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Jacksonville Police Holiday Shopping Task Force returns

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The Jacksonville Police Department is working to help keep people’s holiday purchases safe this shopping season with the Holiday Shopping Task Force.

This year marked the 22nd year for the proactive crime prevention program, where teams of officers patrol shopping areas on foot, on bike and in patrol cars.

Plain clothes officers will also walk through shopping areas keeping an eye out for shoplifters. The officers staff these shifts on their off-duty hours, according to JPD.

The task force helps large retail stores handle holiday shopper traffic but also prevent theft. Officers say they see more car break-ins around this time of year than they do throughout most of the year.

“A lot of these individuals [robbers] they simply will walk around and just watch for people that are just complacent and grab it whenever they turn around to look at a look at a thing and then before you know it they disappear into the crowd,” said JPD Lt. Mark Ketchum.

The national insurance crime bureau reported 2,161 car break-ins on Black Friday in 2017. Officers are reminding people of simple recommendations on how to prevent yourself from being a victim.

“I think the main recommendations is keep everything out of sight. If you’re going to have a purse or anything of value or just anything keep it in the back of the car in the trunk of the car. Make sure the doors are locked. You know when you’re walking around make sure you’re paying attention to the wallets you purses and don’t leave him in the buggy or in the cart,” said Ketchum.

Police recommended several other tips to shoppers:

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Shop in groups
  • Conceal packages in trunks
  • Report suspicious people or activities immediately
  • Carry bags or purses in your hands rather than on your shoulder or back
  • Don’t leave purses in shopping carts
  • People carrying cash should be discreet – Don’t flash money when purchasing gifts

The Holiday Shopping Task Force runs through December 31st.

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Durham mall closed after three people shot including 10-year-old

DURHAM, N.C. (WITN) - A popular shopping mall in Durham has been closed after a shooting this afternoon.

The Streets of Southpoint was crowded with Black Friday shoppers when three people were shot.

Chief Patrice Andrews said at a 5:30 p.m. news conference that one of those shot was a 10-year-old who was struck by a ricochet bullet. She said the shooting involved two groups of people that knew each other.

Andrews said the majority of people involved ran from the food court area, but officers were able to detain one person.

The chief said three people were injured during the evacuation process of the mall.

Andrews said of those people shot, no one had life-threatening injuries.

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Durham mall evacuated after reports of shooting

DURHAM, N.C. (WITN) - A popular shopping mall in Durham has been closed after reports of a shooting this afternoon.

The Streets of Southpoint was crowded with Black Friday shoppers when WRAL reports at least one person was shot.

Video from outside the mall showed emergency crews helping a woman who appeared to be injured. A short time later shoppers were being escorted outside the shopping center.

It has since been announced that the mall has been closed until further notice.

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Basketballs stuffed with contraband found at Pasquotank Correctional Institution

PASQUOTANK COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - More contraband has been found tossed over state prison fences here in Eastern Carolina.

The state Department of Public Safety said recently officers at Pasquotank Correctional Institution found five black basketballs tossed over their fence.

Stuffed inside were marijuana, 26 cell phones which included a smartwatch, charges, 27 bags of tobacco, and two screwdrivers.

The discovery is being investigated by both prison officials and local law enforcement.

The prison was the site of a 2017 escape attempt in which four prison employees were murdered.

On Wednesday, state officials said officers at another state prison found contraband inside Gatorade bottles.

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New U.S. attorney sworn in for Eastern District

RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - The eastern half of North Carolina has a new top federal law enforcement official.

Michael Easley, Jr. was officially sworn in Friday as the new U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Easley was unanimously confirmed a week ago by the United States Senate.

The Eastern District includes 44 counties, from Raleigh to the coast.

The Southport native had been a partner in McGuireWoods LLP and his appointment by President Joe Biden was recommended by both Senator Richard Burr and Senator Thom Tillis.

Easley is the son of former Gov. Mike Easley, who served from 2001 to 2009.

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Man charged with DWI, felony death by motor vehicle after deadly Pitt Co. crash

Man charged with DWI, felony death by motor vehicle after deadly Pitt Co. crash

PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - A Columbus County man has been charged with DWI in a deadly accident that killed a woman Wednesday night in Pitt County.

The crash happened on Mobleys Bridge Road just outside of Grimesland around 7:30 p.m.

Trooper C.D. Wilson said 31-year-old Kerri Silverthorn, of Plymouth, was heading north of the road when she slowed down for a vehicle in front of her.

Wilson said 51-year-old David Ravon, of Chadbourn, was in a pickup truck behind the woman and didn’t slow down.

His pickup truck struck the back of the woman’s car, according to the trooper. The car ran off the right side of the road, into a ditch and then struck a tree.

The pickup truck ran off the right side of the road as well, hit a mailbox, a ditch, overturned, and then hit the woman’s car a second time.

Silverthorn died at the scene, Wilson said, while Ravon was taken to Vidant Medical Center and eventually charged with felony death by motor vehicle and driving while impaired.

The crash happened around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The crash happened around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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Two arrested in Thanksgiving night murder

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WITN) - A Rocky Mount man is dead and two men are in jail after a Thanksgiving night shooting.

Rocky Mount police say around 11:45 p.m. they received a “shots fired” call in the 2500 block of Sexton Road.

They found 31-year-old Levaska Smith III dead in the yard of a home.

Police have charged Kenneth Parker, 35, of Rocky Mount, and Raylon Parker, 33, of Enfield with first degree murder.

Investigators say all three men are known to each other but police tell us the two Parkers are not related.

The Parkers were jailed without bond and police ask anyone with information or video footage to contact the Rocky Mount Police Department at 252-972-1411, or Twin County Crime Stoppers at 252-977-1111.

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Operation Blue Elf continues in Lenoir County

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - Deputies in Lenoir County continue to collect toys for Operation Blue Elf.

The toy drive began earlier this month and runs through December 11th.

This year deputies are not taking cash this year, only toys. Operation Blue Elf collects toys for children in need who live in Lenoir County.

Toys can be dropped off any business day at the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office or at the Kinston Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce. Deputies will also be at the Kinston Walmart on December 4th and at the Piggly Wiggly in Jackson Heights on December 11th to accept toys.

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Thanksgiving fire destroys Carteret County home

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Thanksgiving Day turned tragic after a fire broke out at a home in the east.

Morehead City Fire and EMS say a home on Utopia and Stargazer Lane west of Morehead City caught fire around 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Firefighters say 80% of the two-story home was in flames when they got there and it took about two hours to get the fire under control.

One man was treated on the scene. There are no further details on his condition.

Crews will be back out at the home Friday morning to investigate.

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Better Business Bureau warns of holiday shopping scams

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - While you’re spending money shopping on Black Friday, scammers are looking to make a profit.

“The Holidays are such a joyous time of year but they can turn sour really quickly if a scammer is able to find their way into your lives,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB of Eastern NC. “Having a plan ahead of time and knowing how scammers operate is the best way to avoid losing money.”

The Better Business Bureau is offering the following tips to protect you and your wallets before heading to the stores or shopping online this holiday season:

  • Start early. Numbers indicate that online shopping is up, so starting your shopping early can help avoid running into out-of-stock or overpriced items.
  • Research the business ahead of time. Check their business profile on bbb.org, ask for references from friends/family, and look for reviews and/or complaints.
  • Use your credit card. When making purchases online, use your credit card rather than a debit card or another form of payment. Credit card companies are more likely to offer refunds in the event of theft.
  • Always check the return policy. Whether you are shopping in a store or online, always make sure you are clear on the store’s return policy before you buy. Many businesses have changed their return or exchange policies in light of the pandemic.
  • Track your packages. Follow shipments from the seller to your front door with online, text message or phone call tracking offered through the delivery company. Sign up for alerts to be notified of delays or exceptions and when the package has been delivered.
  • Beware of false advertising such as fake social media ads. Just because you see a product advertised on social media does not mean its real. Scammers have been known to purchase those ad spots to reel unsuspecting victims in.
  • Price check before you buy. Dozens of online retailers will claim they have the best price on an item, but their offers can be misleading. Do your homework by comparing prices. Remember that the best deal may not be the real deal.
  • Watch out for phishing scams. Look out for unsolicited emails, texts, calls, or letters. These messages may claim you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery – all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information. Avoid phishing scams by ignoring suspicious correspondence and calls from unfamiliar phone numbers.

If you’ve been scammed, report it to the Better Business Bureau and your local authorities.

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Jacksonville police kick off Holiday Shopping Task Force

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The Jacksonville Police Department’s Holiday Shopping Task force is returning for the 22nd year.

Beginning on Friday, the task force will take a proactive approach to deter crime and keep shoppers safe. The task force is made up of teams of officers on foot, bike and in patrol cars.

Sergeant Paul Ehrler, who leads the Holiday Shopping Task Force, says, “high visibility of the police presence concentrated in and around our major shopping areas is one of the best tactics we have to deter criminal activity. It takes the help of concerned citizens and the cooperation of merchants to make the task force successful.”

The police department is also offering the following tips to shoppers:

  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Shop in groups
  • Conceal packages in trunks
  • Report suspicious people or activities immediately
  • Carry bags or purses in your hands rather than on your shoulder or back
  • Don’t leave purses in shopping carts
  • People carrying cash should be discreet – Don’t flash money when purchasing gifts

Officers are also reminding everyone to be aware of their surroundings when out shopping.

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Shoppers encouraged to support local on Small Business Saturday

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - After snagging deals at big box stores on Black Friday, don’t forget to shop local!

Saturday is Small Business Saturday, which celebrates businesses that help local economies and communities thrive.

The Emerald Express Trolley in Greenville will run from 12 p.m.- 8 p.m. throughout the uptown district to encourage shoppers to support local. They’ll also be hosting a gift card blitz for riders to spend at stores in uptown.

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Saving Graces: Latte

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A pretty kitty with a story that lives up to her name is looking for her forever home.

Latte was was found outside of a Starbucks, so volunteers with Saving Graces 4 Felines quickly named her after the drink. She weighed just 10 ounces at the time she was rescued, but has gained two pounds and will continue growing and getting healthier.

Volunteers say she is sweet and affectionate. She loves other kittens and would do great in a home with them.

If you’re interested in latte or any of the pets at Saving Graces, click here. They are meeting potential adopters by appointment only at PetSmart.

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ECU faces off against 4th ranked Cincinnati today

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The Pirates face 4th ranked Cincinnati Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Greenville.

ECU has never won against a top 5 team in program history. Cincinnati is undefeated this season and just cracked the College Football Playoff top 4 this week.

“Yeah we don’t have any pressure. They are undefeated. We aren’t going to make the conference championship, we already made the bowl game,” says ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers, “We don’t have any pressure on us. We just have to go out there, and play loose, and try and make history.”

It’s natural the Pirates would be excited to face a top-5 team on Friday on national television.

“There’s lessons we can reference from earlier this season, or last year, or we use other teams across the country with certain examples like that. We just talk about it,” says ECU head coach Mike Houston, “The whole thing is just focusing on the guys that are in that building, the guys in that room, and you can’t pay any attention to the noise.”

To add to the all the excitement surrounding the game, it’s also senior day.

“Something I am going to be real proud of because we finally got this program turned around,” says ECU linebacker Bruce Bivens, “I get one more football game to go out there and display what being a Pirate is. So, it means a lot man.”

“The young guys they call me unc in the locker room. They just call me old,” says ECU defensive back Warren Saba, “But uh, it’s a blessing. I can’t ask for anything more than that to just get an opportunity to play the game I love.”

A group which has worked to bring back the fear of “No Quarter”.

“It’s been their backs that this whole thing has turned on. So, those kids will be special to me for the rest of my life, the rest of my career,” says ECU head coach Mike Houston, “I, and everybody else, are indebted to them. Because they are the leaders. It’s why I trust them so much, I’m proud of them, and it’s going to make Friday afternoon special when we recognize them.”

All of it adds up to one of the biggest games the Pirates have ever had. The chance for their first ever win over a top 5 team. A chance to play spoiler for the College Football Playoff.

“They believe in how we want to play. They believe in what kind of identity we want,” says Houston, “I don’t have any eligibility left, I’m not the one out there playing, and so it’s those kids. If they believe in what we are doing, then we have a shot. They believe in our style of play.”

The game is nationally televised on ABC. Check your local listings.

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Friends and family hold balloon release to remember Qwa’Jay Briscoe

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - On Thanksgiving night, family and friends gathered in Kinston to celebrate the life of Qwa’jay Briscoe, 8, who passed away in a mobile home fire last Sunday.

Family identifies eight-year-old killed in Lenoir County fire

His grandmother, Rose Rufus Hicks, says his mark on the community was felt far and wide.

“He touched so many lives and so many people in eight years,” Hicks said. “I hate that he’s gone, but while he was here he accomplished more than all of us.”

The third-grader was trapped inside a mobile home when it went up in flames on Nov. 21.

His older sister, 10-year-old Zsakiyah Sutton, says she attempted to save him but the flames were too intense.

“I really didn’t want to lose my brother, but I couldn’t see and I couldn’t breathe,” Zsakiyah said. “I feel like my brother was a little bit too young to die so I tried to get him but I couldn’t see and I couldn’t breathe.”

On the night of Thanksgiving, those who loved Qwa’jay released pledged to keep his legacy alive.

“He showed love, respect, he played with every single last one of your children,” Hicks said.

A car and truck show will also happen in memory of Qwa’jay at the Lenoir County Fairgrounds this Saturday at 2 p-m.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

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