WITN News

13-year-old shot in Rocky Mount

ROCKY MOUNT N.C. (WITN) - An Eastern Carolina boy was shot while walking Saturday night.

Rocky Mount Police say they were called to the 1400 block of Cokey Road in response to multiple shots fired calls.

Officers say that while on scene, they were notified by UNC Nash Hospital that a boy was being taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound.

Police say the boy told them he was walking in the area of Cokey Road when he was shot.

The 13-year-old was treated and released with non-life-threatening injuries.

Officers say they found shell casings on the scene and damage to an apartment in the 100 block of Parrish Court, where three minors and one adult live.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (252) 972-1411 or Crime Stoppers at (252) 977-1111.

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Survivors, first responders remember deadly Kinston explosion 20 years later

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of an explosion that changed Lenoir County forever. In 2003, a blast at a manufacturing facility killed six people and hurt 30 others.

WITN talked with first responders and survivors as they look back at a day that will stay with them forever.

“I didn’t hear [anything]. Everything turned white, and that was it,” said Jim Edwards, who was working the day of the explosion.

January 29th, 2003 is not an easy day for him to remember. It’s the day he lost his eyesight - the day six co-workers were killed and nearly 40 hurt in a massive explosion at West Pharmaceutical.

Edwards remembers waving for rescuers to help him. We’ve caught up with him over the years to check on his progress.

“I was burnt, 63 percent of my body. I hurt every day for about six months,” he explained. Investigators believe combustible dust, built up over the years, caused the blast.

At 1:30 in the afternoon, Kinston Fire Captain William Barss was one of the first to respond.

“From the east side, you can see this big huge black plume, and we were just driving towards that black plume, not knowing what was going on,” said Barss.

Driving into chaos - after an explosion that could be heard as far as 25 miles away from the Rouse Road plant.

“People were screaming yelling, and some people, you could actually see their injuries,” Barss explained. He distinctly recalls guiding one of the injured plant workers to safety.

“He had his hands up, and I can remember the injuries that I saw, and he’s pleading with you. ‘Please sir, don’t touch me, please, don’t touch me. I’m burning.’ I said, ‘I understand, but I gotta get you onto this ladder safely.’”

It wouldn’t be until the following day that first responders could leave.

“We were actually there when shift change which was 8 o’clock in the morning,” Barss explained.

Roger Dail was the Lenoir County Emergency Services Director at the time. He uses a timetable of what happened that day as a learning tool.

He remembers efforts to make sure the hundreds of employees on the schedule were accounted for after the computer system for clocking in and out shut down. He said the plant manager and supervisors had to recall every single name.

As the years pass by, Dail said he tries to focus on the good on display amidst the tragedy.

“I remember how well our community came together. That’s the stuff I choose to remember,” he said.

Edwards, too, who’s been changed forever by that day, maintains a spirit of optimism.

“The good Lord helped me out a lot, of keeping my... keeping me strong on everything and learning a different way of life when you’re not able to see anymore,” he said. “And just learning new techniques of walking and learning how to eat differently. Don’t think there’s something wrong just because you’re blind. You’re still a person.”

670 people now work at West Pharmaceutical’s new Kinston site on Sanderson Way.

In a statement on this 20th anniversary, West Pharmaceutical said they continue to honor and remember their team members affected by the explosion. They will mark Sunday with a private remembrance at the new plant.

There have also been new standards enforced to prevent this type of explosion from happening again, like new regulations for cleaning up combustible dust.

At the time, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said even they had limited knowledge of those hazards.

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Woman wanted for murder of man in Washington County

WASHINGTON COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - An Eastern Carolina woman is wanted for murder after a man was found dead Sunday morning.

Washington County Sheriff deputies were called to the Pea Ridge area of Washington County after reports of a shooting. When deputies arrived to the home around 1:30 a.m., they found a man dead with multiple gunshot wounds.

Raven Williams of Edenton is the prime suspect, according to the sheriff’s office. The 30-year-old is wanted for first-degree murder.

Deputies say she was last seen traveling in a 2000 Mercury Grand Marquis white in color KCW-5656. They believe she is fleeing to the Raleigh Durham area.

If you see her, Washington County Sheriffs Office asks you to contact your local authorities. They consider her armed and dangerous at this time.

The investigation is still ongoing, and more charges are pending. If anyone has any information regarding the shooting and/or location of the suspect, please contact Lt. Investigator Guy Cayton at 252-793-2422 or contact NCSBI at 919-662-4500.

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Eastern Carolina community holding prayer vigil for Tyre Nichols’s death

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A prayer vigil and meeting is happening at an Eastern Carolina church for the family of Tyre Nichols.

On Monday at 11:45 a.m., the Interfaith Clergy Standing for the Community and Pitt County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are hosting a meeting to address the beating and death of Tyre Nichols.

They have invited Greenville Police Chief Ted Sauls to the meeting at New Dimensions Church in Greenville.

A prayer vigil for Nichols’s family will follow the January 30 meeting. Pastor Rodney Coles says they will be praying for peace and justice.

New Dimensions Community Church is located at 1700 W. 6th Street in Greenville. 

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Carteret County remembers native lost in Space Shuttle Challenger explosion

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - An Eastern Carolina county remembers those lost alongside an ENC native in the Space Challenger explosion almost 40 years ago.

In a Facebook post, Carteret County Government paid tribute to Beaufort native, Navy Capt. Michael John Smith, and the six other astronauts who were killed 37 years ago.

The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded just 73 seconds after take off.

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DEPUTIES: Martin County man arrested in Bertie County for drugs

BERTIE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - 40 ecstasy pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia were seized during a drug bust in Bertie County, deputies said.

NC Alcohol Law Enforcement assisted by the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office and the NC State Highway Patrol said that 30-year-old Malik Edwards, of Williamston, was arrested Friday at a traffic stop off Highway 17 near a daycare.

Edwards was charged by deputies with possession with the intent to sell and deliver a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a daycare, two counts of possession with intent to sell and deliver MDMA, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting a public officer.

Edwards is being held in the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail on a $85,000 secured bond.

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Prayer vigil being held for Tyre Nichols’ family in Greenville

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A prayer vigil is happening at a church in the east for the family of Tyre Nichols.

At noon on Monday, January 30, Interfaith Clergy and Pitt County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are holding a prayer vigil at New Dimensions Community Church in Greenville for the Nichols family.

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ENC social justice activists and community leaders react to video of Tyre Nichols’ death

PASQUOTANK COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) -The emotional impact of the disturbing video footage of Memphis native Tyre Nichols being severely beaten is being felt by those in Eastern Carolina.

“Here we go again,” said Keith Rivers, Pasquotank County NAACP President.

Video showed five Memphis police officers attacking the 29-year-old, which started during a traffic stop after police say Nichols was driving recklessly.

However, it turned into something more serious as footage showed the officers violently beating Nichols, who later died, and all five officers charged with murder.

“You can’t be above the law because you’re law enforcement,” Rivers said.

Seeing the video of Nichols’ death affected many, especially those in Pasquotank County. In 2021, Andrew Brown Jr. was shot in the back of the head by Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Deputies.

The district attorney deemed his death justified saying Brown hit officers with his vehicle.

However, body camera footage of his death was not released like Nichols’ due to North Carolina laws. In Tennessee, body or dash camera footage is open for public record, but not in NC.

“Those recordings are not public records as a matter of law in North Carolina,” said Mike Tadych, North Carolina Press Association General Counsel. “They’re also not personnel records, which was the basis that we would be denied the access.”

It’s almost been two years since Brown’s death, but the fight for the full release of the video continues. Rivers says it still hurts.

“Can you imagine what it feels like to live in Pasquotank County,” Rivers said. “You had a sheriff, and deputies violate the sheriff’s 300 policy on the use of deadly force. They went right back to work.”

Brown and Nichols deaths came at the hands of law enforcement officers, which some feel has become a recurring sight in America.

However, Rivers believes Nichols’ fatal beating is different because all of the officers were African American.

“We know there’s a double standard,” Rivers said. “These law enforcement, we’re going to go ahead and do justice on them. However, when it comes to white officers and blacks then we tend to move a little slower.”

Rivers says Friday night’s video release of Nichols’ death shows how unjust the state of North Carolina is because he feels that Brown’s death needs to be shown in the same light.

President Biden reportedly told Nichols’ mother that he’s going to make a push for Congress to pass the George Floyd Act, in order to “to get this under control.”

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Beaufort County man arrested on drug charges

BEAUFORT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Deputies have arrested a man in Washington on multiple drug charges.

On January 20th, investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Drug Unit arrested 33-year-old Jimmy Lewis of 408 East 6th Street in Washington.

Lewis was charged with trafficking in cocaine, possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Lewis’ arrest stemmed from investigators making purchases of marijuana from Lewis after receiving information that Lewis is involved in the distribution of marijuana and cocaine. Investigators executed a search warrant at Lewis’ home.

Investigators and a K-9 found cocaine, marijuana, digital scales, and packaging material used to package controlled substances.

Lewis was jailed on a $60,000.00 secured bond.

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Craven County varsity basketball player raises money for autism

NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - One Eastern Carolina high school student is using her talent on the court to help raise awareness for autism.

New Bern High School varsity basketball player Makenzie Richardson is spearheading a donation raffle at Friday night’s girls’ varsity game at New Bern High.

“I have a brother that has autism. So he has autism and a couple other special needs,” said Richardson.

“He’s kind of low functioning. He has a lot of behaviors. He has to have someone with him at all times and then he has a mentor that works with him. I see a lot of kids that have disabilities but disabilities really in my eyes are just a superpower,” she continued.

The team wore autism awareness shooting shirts and sold raffle tickets. The proceeds from the raffle will go to Project Unify, Mackenzie’s student-run organization that hosts events for special needs students in Craven County.

In addition to her efforts, Styron Davis Resource Network provides sensory toys to infant and adolescent children on the spectrum and resources to community advocates for special needs.

The nonprofit hosts an annual New Bern Autism 5K in Downtown New Bern, raising funds for autism treatment resources throughout Craven County.

“To be at that young age but think on a higher level to motivate others that hey you know what we have a health awareness that needs to be known in the community because most people don’t know I’m proud of her,” said Lindell Davis, of Styron Davis Resource Network.

Donations were accepted throughout the evening.

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Fur Baby Feature: Meet Subaru!

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - This week’s Fur Baby Feature is Subaru!

This sweet boy is a part of the shelter’s Capital Subaru litter.

Subaru is full of puppy energy, absolutely loves snuggles, and to give kisses.

He is the only one of his siblings that is black and white, so we’d say that makes him pretty special!

Though puppies are adorable, it is incredibly sad how many are in the shelter system.

HSEC currently has 18 puppies under the age of 3 months in their care, one of those litters being a mom and her nursing babies.

Everyday shelters around ENC are being flooded with puppies. Many situations could be prevented if more people spay and neutered their pets, and adopt or shop responsibly.

Thankfully all of the puppies in HSEC’s care will be spayed/neutered, microchipped, and vaccinated before they go into their new forever homes.

Before heading to the shelter, you can preview available animals at petango.com.

You’ll see pictures of dogs and cats so you can request to meet specific animals. Then, download the adoption application by going to hsecarolina.org.

Fill that one out, submit it to AdoptHSEC@gmail.com and a member of the Humane Society’s team will be in touch!

Tune into WITN every Friday for our next Fur Baby Feature!

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Onslow County man will use $100,000 win for daughter’s college

RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - A quick stop for a lottery ticket led an Onslow County man to win a $100,000 prize.

The North Carolina Education Lottery says that Jamie Johnson, of Hubert, bought his lucky $30 200X The Cash ticket from Handy Mart on WB McLean Drive in Cape Carteret. The 45-year-old man called his wife right away to tell her the news.

“She thought I was lying at first,” he laughed. “I had to meet up with her to show her the ticket.”

Johnson will use the money to do some home repairs and help pay for his daughter’s college tuition.

Ticket sales from scratch-offs make it possible for the lottery to raise $2.5 million a day on average for education. For details on how $12.1 million raised by the lottery made a difference in Onslow County last year, visit www.nclottery.com and click on the “Impact” section.

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Former Cherry Point Marine sentenced on child porn case

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WITN) - A former Cherry Point Marine is going to federal prison on child porn charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said William McCoy was sentenced today in Wilmington to 7-1/2 years in prison.

Prosecutors say back in February 2021, NCIS investigators at Cherry Point received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about improper activity on Facebook Messenger.

At the time McCoy was a lance corporal in the Marine Corps.

The feds say investigators found multiple sexually explicit photos of a 17-year-old girl on McCoy’s cell phone, as well as 150 video files. Prosecutors say of these, 11 pictures and 47 videos were confirmed to be child pornography.

The man also had received sexual photos from at least three other underage girls, as well as McCoy sending pictures and videos of himself to the girls, prosecutors said.

McCoy had pled guilty to the charge of receipt of child pornography on July 27th.

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Five lawsuits settled in Carteret County plane crash that killed 8 people

BEAUFORT, N.C. (WITN) - The families of five people killed nearly a year ago in a Carteret County plane crash have settled their wrongful death lawsuits against the owner of the plane and the companies that employed the pilot.

Eight people, including four East Carteret High School students, died in the February 13th crash as the group was returning from a duck hunting trip in Hyde County. The Pilatus PC-12/47 plane, headed for the Beaufort airport, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

In paperwork filed Thursday at the Carteret County Clerk of Courts Office, five different lawsuits filed against the companies and the plane’s owner were dismissed. The paperwork says the defendants agreed to settle the claims in exchange for $15 million.

The lawsuits claimed that the pilot, Ernest “Teen” Rawls, of Greenville, disregarded air traffic controllers’ instructions and flew into restricted airspace.

Named in the five lawsuits were Rawls’ estate, EDP Management Group LLC, and Green Assets, Inc., both of Wilmington. Still unresolved are five lawsuits against Dillon’s Aviation of Greenville.

Killed in the crash were:

  • Ernest “Teen” Rawls, 67, Greenville, pilot
  • Jeffrey Rawls, 28, Greenville
  • Stephanie Fulcher, 42, Sea Level
  • Jonathan “Kole” McInnis, 15, Sea Level
  • Douglas “Hunter” Parks, 45, Sea Level
  • Noah Styron, 15, Cedar Island
  • Michael “Daily” Shepherd, 15, Atlantic
  • Jacob “Jake” Taylor, 16, Atlantic

The estates of Fulcher, McInnis, Shepherd, Styron, & Taylor filed the lawsuits back in May.

The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to complete its investigation into the crash.

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Beaufort County worker dies after fire at boat manufacturer

BEAUFORT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - An employee injured last week at a Beaufort County boat manufacturer has died from his injuries.

Mack Hodges, Jr. passed away Wednesday at the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill.

The 69-year-old man was critically injured last Friday when the fire broke out at Pamlico Boat & Fiberglass Repair on Magnolia School Road, east of Washington.

The company makes custom boats and fiberglass parts.

Authorities said the fire started in the building where resin is sprayed. Hodges was the only one in that building at the time.

Paul Funeral Home said funeral arrangements for Hodges are expected to be finalized later today.

There has been no cause released for the fire and the North Carolina Department of Labor says it has opened up an investigation into the death.

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NCDOT Ferry Division granted $1.3 million for shipyard upgrades

MANNS HARBOR, N.C. (WITN) - The North Carolina Ferry Division receives $1.3 million for upgrades at its shipyard in Manns Harbor.

The grant, from the U.S. Federal Transit Administration’s Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program, provides capital, planning and operating assistance to ferry services that serve rural communities.

The shipyard’s lights will be upgraded and fire-retardant paint added to their paint facility. The previous paint began to peel and the lights were not up to standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The $1.3 million in federal money, plus a matching $336,000 from the Ferry Division, will fix both issues.

“The shipyard is a major part of our maritime operations, and the money from this grant will help us improve that facility,” said Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas. “We’d like to thank our congressional and community partners that helped us secure this important funding.”

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Saturday’s Powerball jackpot grows to $572 million

RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - The Powerball jackpot increased more than $40 million after nobody won Wednesday’s jackpot, and it now stands at $572 million for Saturday’s drawing.

The North Carolina Education Lottery announces that the winner could claim the jackpot as a $572 million annuity or $308.9 million in cash.

Even though the jackpot remains up for grabs, this Powerball run has produced lots of other great wins for players across the state. Take a look at some of the wins from the current Powerball roll, which began Nov. 21:

  • One win of $1 million
  • Two wins of $150,000
  • Three wins of $100,000
  • 12 wins of $50,000

“It truly is amazing to see how many great wins are happening in North Carolina,” said Mark Michalko, executive director of the N.C. Education Lottery. “We still have our fingers crossed for a jackpot win this weekend though. Good luck to everyone trying their luck on Saturday.”

Ticket sales from draw games make it possible for the lottery to raise $2.5 million a day on average for education.

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General Assembly back-in session, ENC lawmakers reveal priorities

PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - State lawmakers returned to work for the first time this year, and several items from 2022 are set to be reintroduced; including those dealing with abortion, critical race theory, and the expansion of Medicaid.

On Wednesday, the North Carolina General Assembly held its first session of the year. Following November’s election, the Republicans have a supermajority in the State Senate and are one vote short in the House to override a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper.

Republican Representative Celeste Cairns is excited about the new session. “We [Republicans] certainly passed a lot of bills in the last term that got vetoed by our governor,” Cairns said. “I think we’re going to be readdressing some of those things that I think are very important and getting some of those things through, now that our numbers are larger.”

Several of the items Cairns hopes Republicans push are considered controversial.

“We’re going to be looking at abortion laws again,” Cairns said. “We’re going to be looking at schools and making sure that the kids are learning and learning well and not being taught ideologies that are un-American frankly.”

Cairns goes on to say that the expansion of Medicaid will also be a hot topic. Democrat Representative Gloristine Brown says that is one of her top priorities, especially one day after ECU Health closed down five clinics in rural areas.

“I’m worried about the citizens in the rural areas the distance that they may have to travel for some type of help,” Brown said.

With gas prices the way they are, Brown is worried people in rural communities will struggle.

“I’m worried that they’ll have to make a decision to pay someone or if I can I afford to pay someone to take them to where they need to get to because the facilities that were once there are no longer there.”

The five ECU Health clinics that are shutting down are ECU Health Women’s Care in Williamston, ECU Health Immediate Care in Wilson and ECU Health Family Medicine clinics in Jacksonville, Aurora and Snow Hill.

All five clinics are expected to close by March and the employees will move to other ECU Health locations.

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Four students participate in annual ECU Science Fair for visually impaired

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -It’s been two years since the Discoveries in Earth Science program at ECU has been able to hold its annual science fair due to the pandemic, however, it’s now back.

Young scientists were busy in the lab Thursday afternoon on campus as they geared up for the competition.

They’re all a part of the earth science program that allows visually impaired students to compete in scientific study, which ECU professor Dr. Rhea Miles says sends a positive message to the world.

“This project is showing that students with special needs, can do science,” Miles said. “They can see science, but just see it differently.”

The program is aimed at giving students in Eastern Carolina, a chance to learn earth science in a university setting.

This year, four students in elementary, middle, and high school joined for the chance to compete.

“For three out of the four students, this is the first time they’ve ever done something like this,” Miles said. “They’ve never participated in a science fair.”

Each of them put together unique projects and presented them to a panel of judges that consisted of ECU faculty and graduate students.

The students began working on their projects during a three-week summer program and have continued doing so over the course of the school year.

Grace Berry is one of the participants and her dad, Brandon says he’s just happy she wanted to be a part of something positive.

“To get her to take part in something where she can actually go hunt for fossils and do an actual science project,” Berry said. “I thought that was really cool.”

Miles says the four students have developed many skills when it comes to the field of geological sciences, which has led to their special projects.

Berry says he believes the group exemplifies what the average person may not be able to overcome.

“Probably a lot better than other kids without any type of special needs,” Berry said.

The student’s projects were judged based on data, research, statistics and other things that went into putting them together.

They will now prepare for the regional competition in February. One will take place in Nash County and one in Pitt County.

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Two people hospitalized after shooting in Halifax County, shots fired at deputy

HALIFAX COUNTY, N.C. (WRAL) -Two people were shot at the Carriage House Apartments, according to the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office.

WRAL reports one person was shot in the head at 8:07 p.m. Thursday and airlifted to ECU Health Medical Center in Greenville.

The sheriff’s office said the second person was shot in both legs and taken by ambulance to ECU North.

Enfield Police Chief Eric Johnson said it appears both victims are also the shooting suspects and exchanged gunshots at each other.

Enfield police are investigating the shooting.

At 9:37 p.m. Thursday, a Halifax County deputy left the Carriage House Apartments and went to 111 Bryant St. to talk with possible witnesses. The sheriff’s office said someone fired shots at a deputy from behind a home at Dennis and Bryant streets. The sheriff’s office said no one was injured.

The deputy did not fire any shots, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff’s deputies are still searching for the person or people who shot at the deputy.

The sheriff’s office said it could hear someone firing shots in its body camera footage.

The Halifax County Sheriff’s Office will investigate the shooting at 111 Bryant St.

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