State briefs: Man shot to death, body found in trunk in Durham

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

DURHAM (AP) — The body of a North Carolina man whose family reported him missing was found in the trunk of a vehicle, a police department said.

Durham police said in a news release on Tuesday that the body of Joshua Lamont Johnson, 35, of Durham was found around 5:30 p.m. on Monday in a parked vehicle.

The news release said Johnson had been shot multiple times, and they believe the shooting occurred elsewhere. Police said Johnson’s family had reported him missing earlier in the day.

Investigators say the shooting doesn’t appear to be random, but there have been no arrests so far.

Police: Street performer attacked, robbed

ASHEVILLE (AP) — Three people threw a street performer to the ground and stole his tip jar in downtown Asheville, a popular tourist destination in western North Carolina, police said.

Asheville police are looking for the robbers who attacked the busker on Sunday afternoon, the department said in a statement. The victim was taken to a hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.

The incident happened downtown near the Asheville Museum of Science, WLOS-TV reported.

Local street performers say the city has a lively street music scene but it has been repeatedly silenced due to violence.

“I have been robbed several times, assaulted,” Lyle Rickards, a member of the Board of Asheville Buskers Collective, told the station. “Other buskers have been as well this year, more than any year.”

Lt. Russell Crisp says the police department does as much patrolling in the area as possible. “We have as much staff committed to the area downtown that we’re able to commit at this time,” he said.

More than 40 students sickened in Boonville

YADKINVILLE (AP) — Officials in a North Carolina school district are trying to determine what caused more than 40 students to get sick on Monday.

Sixth-grade students at Starmount Middle School in Boonville complained of various symptoms on Monday, including headache, nausea and abdominal discomfort, news outlets reported. Yadkin County Schools’ Superintendent Todd Martin said emergency services and firefighters along with school nurses evaluated and took care of the students.

Martin said most of the students were feeling better before the school day ended. Students who were feeling fine were moved to another area while sick students were evaluated and sent home, said Wayne Duggins, associate superintendent for Yadkin County Schools.

The school system said no students were hospitalized.

Duggins said that while officials had considered food poisoning or other potential causes, they hadn’t found the exact cause as of Tuesday. 

Two people killed after car crash on Blue Ridge Parkway

ASHEVILLE (AP) — Authorities have begun an investigation after two people were killed in a crash on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Monday, the National Park Service said.

According to the park service, dispatchers received a report at 8 a.m. of a vehicle off the road near Milepost 386, news outlets reported. Park service rangers, along with Buncombe County rescue personnel, responded to the scene to find two people dead inside the car.

The milepost is about two miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor

A preliminary investigation shows the car was heading south in a curve when it left the road and hit two trees. The investigation will determine if there are any further, contributing factors.

The identities of the two victims are being withheld until family members are notified.

Parkway spokesperson Leesa Brandon said an 84-year-old man found dead Oct. 22 on the parkway near the North Carolina-Virginia border was the 13th fatality in the national park in 2021, meaning the people killed in the crash on Monday raised the death toll to 15, the Asheville Citizen Times reported.

Another assault on jail officer in Mecklenburg County

CHARLOTTE. (AP) — For the second time in two weeks, an officer has been assaulted by an inmate at the jail in North Carolina’s largest city, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriffs Office said shortly after midnight Monday, an officer saw several inmates playing cards during a housing unit tour and told them to stop and return to their cells, The Charlotte Observer reported.

One inmate threatened the officer, leading four other inmates to crowd around the lone officer, the sheriff’s office said. The officer radioed for help, but another inmate threatened the officer, leading the officer to hit one of the inmates and sparking a fight, according to the sheriff’s office. Two jail officers responded to the officer’s radio call, but when they arrived, the inmates dispersed.

The officer was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries and released, the sheriff’s office said. All involved inmates have been identified and the sheriff’s office expects to seek criminal charges against those responsible.

Last week, three jail officers were assaulted by an inmate wielding what was described as “homemade weapons.” One officer was stabbed, while the other two suffered minor injuries, the sheriff’s office said.

Officials: Man’s body washes ashore on coast

HARKERS ISLAND  (AP) — A man’s body has washed ashore on a North Carolina beach, authorities said.

The National Park Service said in a news release that the body of Gregory L. Miller, 65, of Durham washed up on the north end of South Core Banks on Monday.

Miller was staying at the Great Island Cabin Camp, which is operated by the park service on Cape Lookout National Seashore, the news release said.

Authorities have not said how Miller died.

Franklin Graham undergoes heart surgery

BOONE (AP) — Evangelist Franklin Graham successfully underwent a specialized heart surgery on Monday to treat a condition which had developed in recent months, a spokesman said.

Mark Barber, a spokesman for North Carolina-based Samaritan’s Purse, said in a news release that Graham underwent the procedure at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

In recent months, according to the news release, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham had developed constrictive pericarditis, inflammation, and hardening of the sac around the heart that compresses the heart and prevents it from working properly.

The surgery involved removing the pericardium, the statement said. Graham’s doctors expect a full recovery and assured him that he should be able to return to his normal activity and ministry schedule.

Graham is president of Samaritan’s Purse and of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.