Monday, December 29, 2014

Missing Alzheimer's Patient Safely Returns Home

Police find 80-year-old last seen on Christmas - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

This story played out over the Christmas Day and the day after.  We were alerted about a missing Alzheimer's patient through an MPD "city watch."  These often involve runaways.. But this case warranted more coverage.  I found the man's family at the home from which he wandered away.  We shot an interview, got some video, and I did a stand-up.  My photographer and I were preparing to edit the piece when the missing man's son called.  He said his father had been found!  Needless to say, we re-grouped and went back to the house for the reunion.  It turned out to be a much better story.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Day Fire Claims Family's Home

Fire crews respond to large house fire in Midtown - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

We saw the smoke from this fire long before we arrived on the scene.  I hated that a home was going up in flames on Christmas Day.  Fortunately, the family of 4 and their 4 pets made it out alive.  The homeowner, who was still in shock, agreed to speak with us about the fire.  I later learned the blaze was sparked by an unattended candle.  And the home had no working smoke detectors.  Their Christmas tragedy may be a lesson for others.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Neighborhood Delivers Christmas Cheer To MPD, MFD

Residents give back to public servants for the holidays - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

I thought this was a lame story when the producer pitched it.  It's light, for sure.  But I'm glad I got to do it. I believe it illustrates the Christmas spirit well.  I didn't realize, at the time, that the Cooper Young community had been preparing holiday gifts for the Memphis Police Department and Memphis Fire Department for two decades.  I'm sure the hard-working officers and firefighters appreciate it, every year.  I am also convinced that it's a tradition many of the volunteers cherish as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Family Shot In 2013 Survives House Fire This Week

Cordova family loses almost everything in house fire

Nicole Luke and three of her children were shot last year in Nashville during a domestic dispute.  This week, their rental home in Memphis burned.  We got an email about the story from a family friend.  I got in touch with Luke who was more than willing to talk.  The story aired at 10:00.  I was then bombarded by viewers wanting to help.  The generosity of viewers in situations like this is always encouraging.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Former Midtown Restaurant Owner Dies In Fire

Memphis restaurant owner died in house fire

I was dispatched to Lakeland, TN hours after fire ripped through a house in the Davies Plantation subdivision.  It was still a very active scene.  We confirmed a 66 year-old man died in the fire.  Naturally, I wanted to learn more about the victim.  I did a property search on-line and found the homeowner was Jerry Stamson.  The last name rang a bell as the same name as a former Juvenile Court Clerk.  So I called Steve Stamson.  He told me Jerry was his brother.  Information from Steve really helped personalize this story.  Steve also revealed that Jerry had owned the landmark Barksdale Restaurant in Midtown for many years.

MPD: Man Exposed To HIV By Girlfriend

Alleged Victim Of Criminal HIV Exposure Speaks Out

This story was generated by an affidavit.  We get a lot of stories that way.  The charge against Lakisha Free was "criminal exposure to HIV."  My goal was to find the ex-boyfriend who was allegedly exposed.  His name was in the affidavit.  Fortunately for me, he also had a criminal record.  I used data from the courts to find his address.  I spoke with his grandfather for a few minutes at their home.  The boyfriend then walked in and agreed to talk about this ordeal.  He was visible distraught about what police say his ex had done.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Student Escapes Robber Outside U of M Law School

Safety alert sent after attempted robbery at U of M law school

Memphis Police released information about this attempted robbery hours after it happened.  They generally wait until investigators have exhausted leads before giving us surveillance video, etc.  A student was approached by an armed man after leaving the University of Memphis Law School downtown.  It was 1:49 in the morning.  But other students told me it's not uncommon for them to be at school at all hours of the night.. Especially during exams.  This incident provided a reminder about available police escorts, walking in pairs, and parking in a secure garage.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Convicted Murderers Record Rap Videos In Prison

Convicted murders record rap videos behind bars

We got this story thanks to fellow NBC affiliate WSMV in Nashville.  They discovered two convicted murderers were still reaching the outside world through on-line posts and videos.. Using smuggled cell phones.  The pair murdered a University of Memphis student in 2009.  I covered the story originally, so our special projects producer approached me about doing a piece for our station.  I conducted an interview for WSMV and they shared materials with us.  There's definitely an outrage factor here.  But, unfortunately, it appears to be an issue the TN Department of Corrections has a difficult time controlling.

Friday, November 14, 2014

"I'm Not Gay No More" COGIC Controversy

Delivered COGIC man speaks out; MGLCC weighs in

This is one of the stories we've done this week on the ongoing controversy involving Memphis-based COGIC (The Church Of God In Christ).  A gay man claims he was "converted" during the denomination's annual convocation in St. Louis.  A Memphis bishop presides over the service.  Critics have condemned the church, the man, and the idea that you can change anyone's sexual orientation.  Meanwhile, the video is viral and there are now musical and animated versions of it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Teens Vandalize Car In Library Parking Lot

Teens vandalize car in library parking lot

Several highly publicized stories concerning out-of-control teens have a lot of people on edge.  College student Ross Nagler is included.  He had his own encounter upon exiting the main library on Poplar.  Two teens were messing with his car.  One climbed on top and started stomping.  Nagler emailed us about what happened and I contacted him to do a story.  I hate casting a bad light on all Memphis youth.. But these kinds of stories keep cropping up.  Clearly, the vast majority of young people manage to stay out of trouble.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Car Shot Repeatedly With Baby On Board

Only On 5: Car Shot Repeatedly With Baby Inside

I found this story by searching the jail's website.  I noticed a man charged with multiple counts of attempted murder and then pulled up his affidavit.  It detailed this scary incident.  A car was shot at least 8 times with a one year-old baby on board.  The victims know the suspect.. But claim they don't know what his beef was.  I was able to track down their information and they agreed to do an exclusive interview.  I even got to meet the baby.  I'm so glad she's okay..

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Teacher Quits Over Unruly Students

Teacher quits over 'violence in classroom' and 'unruly kids'

I was taken aback when I heard this teacher air her grievances during a Shelby County Schools board meeting.  Her experience sounded unbelievable.  But it's something parents at the school backed up.  And I've heard from other teachers as a result of this story.  It makes me feel really badly for dedicated, professional educators who may be struggling with this type of behavior every day.  Meanwhile, SCS is still "investigating" these claims.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pastor Sues Talk Show Host Thaddeus Matthews

Thaddeus Matthews faces defamation lawsuit

Controversial radio/cable access TV host Thaddeus Matthews has been a lightning rod for years.  He's now focused on "exposing" some Memphis preachers.  But one believes Matthew has gone too far.  We got wind of a lawsuit and decided to pursue the story.  There are many rumors we would never report.  But anything listed in a lawsuit is fair game.  I wonder if the pastor should've just ignored Matthews.  The talk show host says it won't keep him from discussing anything.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Masked Men Blamed For Deadly Shooting

Men in Halloween masks blamed for double shooting

My photographer and I were dispatched to this breaking news knowing only that a double shooting had been reported.  Neighbors and others informed us that one man was dead before Memphis Police released that information.  He and a friend were ambushed while sitting on a front porch.  The suspects wore Halloween masks.  A tidbit like that always makes a story more intriguing.  I also happened to interview a widow who buried her husband hours before a neighbor was killed.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Potential "Tricks" Prompt Alternative Halloween

Local pastor organizes Halloween treat to keep kids safe

A now-infamous teen mob attack outside a Kroger store and other instances of the "point em out, knock em out" game prompted Pastor Larry Hunter to plan an alternative Halloween.  He called the station to inform us.  I was skeptical about the truckload of treats he said was being delivered.  But, after waiting longer than expected, it arrived.  The candy, toys, and other items will be stored until Halloween.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

French Fort Residents Versus Developers

French Fort residents prepare for redevelopment battle

I've always wanted to get into the old U.S. Marine Hospital in the French Fort area just south of downtown Memphis.  This story provided the opportunity.  There's an ambitious plan to redevelop the area.  But longtime residents say they've been left out of the loop.  A meeting provided a chance for both sides to come together.  It appears there may be a long way to go before many are sold on the proposal.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Closure Plan Sparks New Debate Over "Old Bridge"

TDOT leaders consider shutting down 'old' I-55 bridge for two years

TDOT's proposed plan to close one of two bridges that cross the Mississippi River at Memphis has sparked a debate.  Many are putting pressure on the agency to reconsider.  They say it would be "catastrophic."  Obviously, it would create plenty of headaches.  But TDOT must weigh the long-term benefits of any temporary setbacks.  I was able to find one of the chief critics of the shutdown who was more than willing to talk about his reasons why.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Youth To Adults At Forum: "Get Out"

Memphis' youth voices concerns for community

The Memphis mayor's office organized a series of "youth empowerment forums" following a series of violent incidents.. Including the mob attack on innocent people outside a Kroger store.  We were there to cover the event.  However, all adults were asked to leave before it really began.  That included the media.  Of course, I asked the man in charge (a mayor's office appointee) if he'd be leaving too.  I didn't stick around to see if he did.  I do get the point.  It allowed young people to openly discuss things without feeling as if they needed to edit themselves.

Fire Truck "Browned Out" During Deadly Blaze

Browned out truck unable to service woman in fatal fire

There is a lot of debate in Memphis right now concerning firefighter pay, benefits, and general morale.  Issues like this are used as ammunition.  In this case, a ladder truck (which hauls all types of equipment) was "browned out" the day a lady died in a nearby fire.  Her family is convinced it would not have made a difference.  But the fact that MFD says the brown out impact is "undetermined" made it worth looking into.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

News Coverage = Overgrown Alley Clean-up

Overgrown alleys create haven for thieves, some fear:

Some Midtown residents had concerns about overgrown alleys that are possibly used by criminals, and turned to WMC Action News 5 for help.  I sometimes go out on this stories and think "yeah, I'm sure your issue is soooo bad."  But I was amazed by how overgrown these alleys were.  It was like going on safari in the news car.  A few Email messages to the right people got crews out the next morning.  One alley looked great by the time I used it for this live shot background.  It's always nice when our coverage gets action.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Pick Them Out, Knock Them Out"

Additional victims come forward after Crump Stadium mob attack

"Pick (or point) them out, knock them out" is the apparent name of the game played by a teen mob last Friday following a football game at Crump Station.  At least four innocent bystanders were targeted.  My colleague, Ben Watson, interviewed one of them.  I was assigned to try and get others.  Fortunately, a little digging paid off.  I interviewed two more victims and one mother.  A 16 year-old victim divulged information about the game's name.  He explained that attackers simply pick people from crowds and then pounce.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Couple, Toddler Robbed In Overton Square

Couple with 3-year-old robbed after dinner in Overton Square parking lot

This is something that's been discussed in the newsroom.  How long will it be before we cover a robbery in Overton Square?  The revived midtown entertainment district is packed with people many nights of the week.  Police will tell you crooks go where the people are.  We got word of this robbery through social media.  I found out where one of the victims worked and made contact through his boss.  The couple were more than willing to talk about what happened.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Story Prompts Company To Help Needy School

Varsity donates football and cheer uniforms to Hamilton Middle School

It's alway nice when positive things happen as a result of a story.  In this case, I did a story concerning the Hamilton Middle School football team.  Practice and games weren't possible because of old, unsafe equipment.  Varsity Brands of Memphis took note and did something about it.  I was more than happy to do this follow-up story about the team (and cheerleading squad) getting $25,000+ dollars worth of brand new stuff.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Memphis Council "Adjusts" Benefit Cuts

Chamber packed as council discusses health care cuts for city employees

The pressure of perturbed employees finally got to the Memphis City Council.  It voted to "adjust" benefit cuts that were passed in June.  No one would admit they "caved" or gave in.. But, clearly, it was somewhat of a reversal.  I went down to the 3:30 full meeting in order to turn a story at 5:00 on one proposal aimed at helping employees.  Turns out, three proposals came up and I ended up in both the 5:00 and 6:00 newscasts.  At the same time, a class action lawsuit over the cuts was filed.  This clip is from the 10:00 news.  I encompassed everything from the busy day downtown.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Driver Struck By School Bus Shares Story

SCS: Bus driver, 10 students sent to hospital after bus crash

Gary Bryant thought he was a goner as a school bus barreled toward his truck along Austin Peay Highway.  The two vehicles collided.  But Bryant and the 30+ people on board the bus all survived.  We were on this scene for hours.  I went by Bryant's house after our 6:00 hit to see if he'd be willing to talk (I got his address from a web search based on THP info).  Fortunately, he was willing to share his story.. And Bryant turned out to be quite a character.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Police Take Down Young Man During "Girl Fight"

MPD responds to girl fight, takes down young boy

Honestly, I'm over videos of fights and such.  I long for the days when cell phones weren't so prevalent.  Just my opinion.. Although many stories these days (often legitimate stories) are the result of such videos.  This is an example.  Some of the people who witnessed this incident, and shot it, believe officers went overboard.  MPD is now reviewing the video after we sent it to them.

Backlogged Rape Kit Test Snares Ex-Cop

Rape kit testing helps indict former MPD officer in a 2000 rape

We've done tons of stories on the rape kit backlog in Memphis.  Some untested kits stretch back into the 1980's.  It's been a PR nightmare for public officials.  But cases like this may help change things.  One of the backlogged kits was tested.. And investigators say the DNA matched a former Memphis Police officer.  He was living under a new name in Atlanta.  But you know what they say about the "long arm of the law."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Neighborhood Outraged By Kroger Mob Attack

E. Memphis residents disgusted by Kroger parking lot attack 

I was part of our team coverage of the Kroger mob attack Monday afternoon.  We were set up in a post office parking lot across the street.  Several people stopped by the news car to tell us how disgusted they were.  Many have lived in the neighborhood adjacent to Poplar Plaza for years.  One woman, in particular, was outspoken about how she would not let "thugs" take over.  I knew it would make for a good follow up story at 10:00.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bleach, Cleaning Supplies May Have Sparked Fire

Cleaning products may have caused apartment fire

This apartment fire was about the third thing we checked out on what was turning out to be a slow Friday.  I did a quick hit for the 5:00 news just minutes after arriving.  But then I discovered, through interviews with the tenant and fire lieutenant, that cleaning supplies may have started the fire.  I immediately thought this could be a bigger story for 10:00.  Having good chopper video and emotional sound certainly didn't hurt.  I wanted to do my live shot from the 3rd floor kitchen at the station.. But my photog was sent on breaking news.  I ended up grabbing some cleaning stuff to hold up during my live shot in the newsroom.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Crooks Hammer Through Wall of New Business

Crooks hammer through concrete store wall, steal cigarettes

This story was generated by a news release from Memphis Police.  It included surveillance video of crooks who hammered through the wall of a Fox Meadows neighborhood business.  It was actually a "plan B" for me, at first.  The kid made the difference.  He and his sister were very articulate and made for TV.  Besides, the "plan A" interviewee never called me back.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Driver Found Alive After Truck Pulled From Lake

Driver alive after car found in lake

I already had my main story written and edited when we got word of a search and rescue in a Mississippi lake.  My photographer and I hit the road, got to the location, and soon learned the man was at a friend's house nearby.  It had appeared he was a goner.  Crews went through a lot of effort thanks to his apparent carelessness on the road.  Meanwhile, we had to find a better cell service spot in order to do the live shot.. Since we were using a "back pack."  That also explains the slight delay after the anchor tosses to me.

"Neck Brace Bandit" Caught After This Story Airs

Suspect wearing neck brace accused of robbing ATM customers

I usually pull police reports to find victims of crime.  This one contacted us in hopes of catching the man who terrorized him at an ATM.  The suspect actually wore a neck brace.  I knew it was a matter of time before someone identified him.  I got an email within minutes after the story aired from someone who knew him.  Police had the suspect in custody the next morning.  Meanwhile, I called no less than four health equipment businesses trying to find a neck brace I could use in a stand-up.  I finally found one willing to play.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Olive Branch Officers Honored For Rescue

Olive Branch officers honored for rescue

Sometimes I do the soft stuff too.  In fact, stories like this are rather enjoyable.  I was searching for something to do for the 10:00 show after covering an unrelated story for early newscasts.  I wasn't too excited when I saw this suggestion.. Until I got there and interviewed these two officers.  They are dedicated to their jobs and to service.  Their reactions to receiving awards of valor made for a great story.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Student Drugged On Beale.. Then Robbed, Beaten

Student drugged, robbed, beaten after 'pink drink' on Beale

Memphis Police released details of this crime in hopes of catching the suspects.  I immediately thought we needed to get the victim.  I made one of my regular trips to Central Records and pulled the report.  Fortunately, the 18 year-old college student agreed to do an interview.  He came to Memphis on a fraternity rush trip.  But it's not the fun he'll always remember.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Abused Dog Beats The Odds

Dog makes miraculous recovery after locked in closet - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

This is a positive outcome to a negative story.  "Lenny" was found locked in a storage room after his former owner vacated a rented home.  Vets say dogs in his condition usually die.  I told one of his new caregivers that it seemed Lenny knew how lucky he was.  He'll soon find a new home with much better owners.  Meanwhile, I got to use my dog in the live shot!  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Indecent Exposure Charge Exposes Killer's Past

Bizarre crime lands convicted killer back in jail

Randy Brazeal has been living in Horseshoe Lake, AR since his release from prison in Arizona.  He was convicted there of second degree murder in the deaths of two 13 year-old girls.  DNA evidence tied him to their rapes, but it was never presented during a trial because Brazeal pleaded guilty.  No one knew he was living in Horseshoe Lake because he did not have to register as a sex offender.  Many there know now and are concerned about their new neighbor.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cohen And Wilkins Continue Radio Ad Spat

Cohen responds to FEC complaint on recent radio ad

Congressman Steve Cohen has faced a challenger in every election.  This time, attorney Ricky Wilkins is picking apart a radio ad that he considers "insulting."  But a technicality is why he filed an FEC complaint. Coincidentally, Cohen was shooting a television ad at his home when we stopped by.  It provided a good b-roll opportunity for us.  In the end, both candidates admit there are real issues that need to be discussed.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Roofers Save Children From Burning Apartment

Contractors save young children from fire

This story came along at the right time.  I was in the 5:00 newscast on a separate story.. Then needed something for 10:00.  We got wind of an apartment fire where three children had been left home alone.  Fortunately, I was able to interview two roofers credited with getting the children out of the burning unit.  The parents who left their kids at home alone were not interested in talking.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Daughter Charged In Awful Elder Abuse Case

Mother dies after her daughter ignored rotting leg

The elderly, children, those with disabilities.. All are too often the targets of crime.  The suspects in those crimes are often their own family members.  In this case, a 77 year-old woman's mother is accused of neglecting her so badly that her legs rotted.  Imagine the suffering.  Unfortunately, crimes like this may become more common as baby boomers age.  Advocacy groups in Memphis are hoping to implement new programs to help.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is "Blue Flu" Impacting City's Image?

City's image is least of police, firefighters union members' concerns

Google "Memphis" and there's a good chance the current work stoppage by police and fire will be among the results.  That worries some in the recruitment business.  They already struggle to overcome Memphis's reputation for crime.  Several of the movers and shakers didn't even bother to text me back or return my phone calls.. Apparently unwilling to go on the record.  But "Choose 901" did.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Blue Flu" Prompts Sick Leave Policy Crackdown

City leaders enforce strict sick leave policy in wake of 'Blue Flu'

The "Blue Flu" has now claimed more than 550 Memphis Police officers.  They're calling in sick in the wake of benefit cuts (that don't take effect until 2015).  The mayor and administrators announced Tuesday that they would more strictly enforce the city's sick leave policy in hopes of bringing the "Blue Flu" to an end.  We'll see if it works..

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Senator's Son Charged In Beale Fondling

Alleged fondling by prominent politician's son on Beale

I was originally assigned your typical "downtown security on the 4th" story for Independence Day.  Fortunately, I found some alternatives.  Searching the jail website turned up Carroll Cullerton, charged with sexual battery at a Beale club.  His affidavit stated the alleged victim was "E Moss."  I figured her name may be "Emily" and I was right.  I found her on Twitter and she agreed to an interview.  Another stroke of luck led to the discovery of Cullerton's political connection.  His father is president of the Illinois State Senate.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Child Found Chained In Backyard Shed

Child found restrained in Memphis home

I was already on my 3rd story of the day by the time the station called and said DCS and MPD were on the scene where a child had been found chained up.  There were plenty of police and others still on the scene when we arrived.  We watched as officers spoke with the boy and tried to make him comfortable.  I'm glad it appears he's alright, at least physically.  The conditions some children must endure no longer shock me.  I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Polling Site Change Prompts Debate

Poll worker speaks up during election commission meeting

I was assigned to cover the Shelby County Election Commission for the 5:00 news.  I told the producer there was nothing exciting on the agenda.. Just a decision to relocate polling precincts.  Well, I'm glad I decided to check it out.  The normally mundane meeting took a turn when a poll worker expressed concerns about the changes.  Her comments then prompted an uncharacteristic response from the commission chairman.  It ended up providing a bigger story for 10:00.

Friday, June 20, 2014

4 Robberies, 4 Nights Along Madison Avenue

Armed robbers hit stretch of Midtown on Madison Avenue

I search Memphis Police reports daily and noticed a robbery trend along one stretch of Madison Avenue.  There were 4 robberies in a 4 night period.  All of the crimes happened within a few blocks.  2 of them happened outside a popular bar.  Fortunately, one of the victims agreed to speak with us.  She was still shaken.  An added bonus was when the bar let us have surveillance video of the actual crime.  We often gets criticized for exploiting crime.. But I also see stories like this as a way to publicize crimes that need to end.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Germantown School Name Game

Germantown officials propose name change for schools

I was hoping, as always, to find a story at a meeting of the Shelby County Schools board.  Fortunately, a non-agenda item gave me one.  Germantown city leaders had sent a proposal to the superintendent concerning usage of park facilities in exchange for the renaming of 3 Germantown schools.  You see, although Germantown ES, MS, and HS sit within the city limits.. They will remain with Shelby County Schools and not join the new Germantown Municipal Schools.  The arrangement has sparked quite a bit of controversy.  This issue is the latest.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Henri Brooks Charged For Parking Spot Tiff

Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks surrendered at Jail East after an assault warrant was issued.

I spent much of my Thursday evening "stalking" Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks after we got wind that she would be arrested on an assault charge.  Known for her occasional antics.. Brooks didn't say a word outside Jail East (where female defendants report).  Interestingly, the home listed as Brooks' address in the warrant and on her election paperwork may not be where she lives.  Not one neighbor with whom I spoke has ever seen her there.  Another story?  We'll see..

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

SCS Supt: Muni Schools Will Have "Hiccups"

SCS superintendent: Muni schools will have some hiccups - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Municipal school districts are already working to begin their first school years.  Shelby County Schools superintendent (from which the municipalities are breaking away) predicts some problems.  He says it's the nature of the business.  But he says the municipal districts will have long-term success.  I got this interview following an SCS board meeting.  Basically, I needed a story after a couple of items were pulled from the agenda.  We know that any discussion regarding the "munis" usually gets attention.  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Video Of "Riot" After Teenage Party

Memphis DJ charged with inciting riot at graduation party

A Memphis DJ ended up in jail following a melee at a graduation party for teens.  Police had to disperse the crowd outside the event venue as young people fought to get in.  I was assigned this story only knowing about the arrest.  I got the venue owner to talk and a neighbor gave me cell phone video of the police response.  Social media provided shots from inside the party.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dead Man's Testimony Convicts Robbery Suspect

Testimony from the grave convicts home invasion suspect

A home invasion victim finally got justice even months after he died.  Jerry Wolfe passed away before the trial.. But was able to testify during a preliminary hearing.  A recording of that testimony was used in the trial and helped convict one of two men accused of robbing him.  The challenge for me was getting the recording.  The judge was gone for the day by the time I was on the story.  Fortunately, a very cooperative criminal court clerk texted the judge and got me the recording.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Principal Resigns After Calling Students "N Word"

Audio recording reveals principal referring to students in derogatory manner

Hearing an audio recording of a Memphis principal refer to students as the "n word" was shocking.  Could she really be saying that?  The recording was taken during a faculty meeting at Florida Kansas Elementary.  The school district confirmed it happened.. And that the principal resigned.  She wasn't interested in talking.  However, the district and school board members weighed in.  The big question:  does similar behavior in other schools also take place?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Elvis Presley impersonator charged with sex crimes

Elvis Presley impersonator charged with sex crimes involving children

The puns were too easy in this story about an Elvis Presley impersonator charged with sex crimes involving a juvenile.  There's nothing funny about the alleged crimes, for sure.  I decided to use YouTube clips of the impersonator to spice up the piece.  There were dozens of videos on-line and even a dedicated website.  We got kicked off Graceland property while attempting to interview folks at a cafe where the impersonator was recently hired.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Suspect Surrender: Coincidence Or Political Calculation?

Mall shooting suspect's surrender becomes issue in criminal court clerk race

Memphis City Councilwoman (and Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk candidate) Wanda Halbert helped arrange a shooting suspect's surrender Wednesday morning.  She was there.. As were news cameras.  One of her opponents quickly took the opportunity to question her motives.  Halbert told me it was about getting the suspect off the streets and that she did it in her capacity as a council member and acquaintance of the family.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Toddler's Death Another Sad Story This Week

2-year-old girl dies after being hit by car

I was dispatched to this scene Thursday where a toddler was struck by a minivan.  As usual in these cases, you hope the kid makes it.  Sadly, this little 2 year-old did not.  The fatal accident followed the fatal shooting earlier in the week of a 10 year-old girl and a boy who died after a wreck in Fayette County.  Then there's the case of a 7 year-old who found her parents dead.  It's difficult sometimes to keep the sadness from getting to you.. Especially when sad stories are so frequent.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MPD: 10 Year-Old Girl Shot By Brother

10-year-old girl shot by brother

This is one that everyone missed.  We got to the scene a full four hours after police say a 13 year-old boy shot his younger sister.  It's because the original call concerned a child "injured by an object."  Investigators later learned the little girl had been shot.  Neighbors saw it coming.. Claiming the boy shot their vehicles.  It's another example of a gun ending up in the wrong hands.

Friday, April 18, 2014

East High Fight Lands Family In Jail

Ruckus at high school lands family in jail

This is one of those stories that makes you shake your head.  I mean, how do you expect children to learn how to behave with parents like this?  A Memphis mom was arrested on campus after coming to school to get her daughter.. Who was in trouble for fighting.  Police say the mom and an adult son started fighting with students and security officers themselves.  Surprisingly, some people said certain situations could prompt them to behave the same way.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Democrats Hoping to Unseat Luttrell Debate

Democratic mayoral candidates hold debate ahead of primary election

The democratic candidates for Shelby County Mayor debated again Thursday night.  As expected, Rev. Kenneth Whalum, Jr. had the best sound-bites.  But the 3 candidates touched upon many topics.. From city-county consolidation to tax breaks for big companies.  In addition to Whalum, former county commissioner Deidre Malone (who ran unsuccessfully for county mayor in 2010), and current commissioner Steve Mulroy are in the race.  The primary winner will challenge republican incumbent Mark Luttrell in August.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MPD: Woman Uses Mr. Clean for "Dirty Work"

Woman tries to poison uncle by mixing Mr. Clean with punch, police say

I was supposed to be in the 6:00 newscast Monday with a story that really didn't deserve an update.  Then we heard the producer talk about this story.. Which was supposed to be just a mention.  Several of us thought it deserved to be developed.  I mean, a woman allegedly spiking her uncle's juice drink with Mr. Clean?  Of course, the story required a trip to Walgreens.

Amy Weirich and Judge Joe Brown Cross Paths

DA, rival Judge Joe Brown cross paths at dinner

We went to this free dinner for the homeless with hopes that some of the politicians who were invited would provide some newsworthiness.  I saw District Attorney General Amy Weirich arrive early and thought it might be interesting if rival "Judge" Joe Brown showed up too.  Well, he was late and Weirich left after an hour or so.  But the two being at the same event on the same night gave me a story.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Possible Plan to Revive Peabody Place

Wharton shares new idea for shuttered Peabody Place Mall

Peabody Place Mall was among the reasons I moved downtown when I came to Memphis.  I saw movies there, shopped, ate.. But then it slowly died.  It's hard to believe the center, built in 2001, lasted barely a decade.  I got wind of a new idea from the mayor.  I emailed his media folks but decided to pay a personal visit to city hall (mainly because I'm very impatient).  Fortunately, the mayor was more than willing to discuss this potential plan to revive Peabody Place.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Victory for Same-Sex Marriage in Tennessee

Federal judge orders Tenn. to recognize 3 same-sex marriages

A federal judge issued a temporary injunction Friday while 3 TN couples fight a legal battle over same-sex marriage.  We got word of the decision late in the day and discovered one of the couples live in Memphis.  We found an address but it was old.  Fortunately, the people who live at the house know the couple and contacted them for me.  I kind of stalked them for an hour or so but finally got the interviews that made this story.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

MIssing Toddler POSSIBLY Spotted in Memphis

MPD confirms reported sighting of missing 2-year-old

My photographer and I had nearly made it to a school rezoning meeting when we were rescued by breaking news.  We got word that a toddler missing from Mississippi MAY have been spotted at a Memphis motel.  Local police and the FBI were on scene when we arrived and, fortunately, we got some people to talk.  Investigators were tight-lipped since this was merely another possible lead.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Some Happy, Most Sad at End of School Closure Process

SCS votes to close multiple elementary, middle schools

I've been covering these proposed school closures for months.  Emotional community meetings made news in the recent weeks.  The end came Tuesday night during this school board meeting.  The board voted on the superintendent's revised list.  Some schools were spared.. But most were not.  The district claims closing under-enrolled, under-performing schools is in the best interest of students.  But many parents may never believe that.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Grizzlies "Tattoo" Giveaway Sparks Some Debate

Grizz fans on the fence about temporary neck tattoo

I wasn't excited at all about this story.  I thought anyone who had a problem with this promotion was being unreasonable.  But it sparked quite the discussion in our editorial meeting.  Fortunately, I was able to get my hands on one of the stickers to wear in my live shot.  That got a lot of attention too.  I'll be honest.. it hurt coming off.  Keep that in mind if you go to the game and participate in honoring rising star James Johnson.

Family of 6 Saved From House Fire

Family saved from house fire

"In the right place at the right time" is an over-used phrase.  But it was definitely what saved a Marion, AR family when their house caught fire.  A woman and her teenaged son happened to be in the neighborhood.. and would not have been if they had not missed a Greyhound bus connection.  She's confident the family would have perished.  I was fortunate enough to find the good samaritan and the landlord.  The family was too shaken to talk on camera.. but a family member did give give me their photos.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Willie Herenton Wants School Building, If Closed By SCS

Community meets at middle school to discuss closures

You often need to show up to get a story.  This story is a perfect example of that.  The closure meeting itself was not well attended.. And I wondered what I would do for a 10:00 package.  Then a district official mentioned that former Memphis Mayor (and superintendent) Willie Herenton was interested in the Lanier Middle School building, if closed.  I knew that could be my focus.  Fortunately, Herenton was just a phone call away.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Charter Schools Accused of Unethical Recruiting

Area charter school accused of unethical recruiting

The proposed closure of 13 Shelby County Schools is a highly charged and emotional issue.  Allegations of charter "poaching" were brought to me during the community meeting at Gordon Elementary.  Sources inside the school, in addition to parents, say people working on behalf of two nearby charters told lies in order to recruit their children.  Low enrollment at Gordon is the primary reason it is on the proposed closure list.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Public Comments Get Personal During Closure Meeting

SCS could close school because of building's condition

I did a story last week on how Shelby County Schools determined the most effective way to hold public meetings on proposed school closures was to collect comments on index cards.  The rules were changed following criticism from parents and my story.  Some officials may be having second thoughts after this meeting at Westhaven Elementary.  The comments were heated and passionate.. And got personal at one point.

Friday, January 31, 2014

No "Open Mic" For Parents During Closure Meetings

Parents 'silenced' with index cards during school closure meetings

I reported during the 5:00 news on Thursday that SCS Supt. Dorsey Hopson announced some format changes for community meetings concerning proposed school closures.  One of them was to allow "open mic" comments.  But parents who showed up to two more meetings were given index cards again.  There was no opportunity to make comments publicly.  Some said they'd been "silenced."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Germantown's Goldsworthy On Retirement Decision

Germantown mayor not seeking re-election

We got word Tuesday night that longtime Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy decided to retire after her fifth four-year term.  She sent emails to some 60 city staffers and friends.  We confirmed it and got it on the air.  I decided Wednesday to call and ask for a sit-down interview.  I was surprised that the formation of municipal schools was not, in her opinion, the biggest accomplishment of her tenure.  Mayor Goldsworthy is always very welcoming and warm.  Unlike many politicians.. She seems sincere.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Parents Brave Cold For Better Education

Parents camp out, brave cold for education

A handful of Shelby County Schools outperform all others.  That's the reason parents line up every year for the optional program.  They want their kids in high-preforming schools that are outside of their own attendance zones.  I've never seen folks line up so early when it's been so cold.  The district wishes they'd play by the rules.  But parents and others are committed to doing whatever it takes.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Free Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner for ALL SCS Students

SCS: Free lunch for students could safe district money

Shelby County Schools Nutrition Services officials announced during a work session Tuesday night that free breakfasts, lunches, and dinners could be provided to every child in the district next year.  It's quite a concept and somewhat surprising since it will supposedly save money.  More than 80% of the district's students will be free or reduced lunch eligible once municipal districts break away.  Officials say it makes sense to take advantage of a new USDA program targeting high poverty areas.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Easy-Way Owner Remembered For Philanthropic Work

Community remembers Easy-Way co-owner as leader

I owe this story to anchor Joe Birch.  He is involved in the "Green Machine" project at his church and thought murdered grocer David Carter's involvement was worth reporting.  Carter's company provided expertise, food, and a place to keep the produce market on wheels.  Organizers say the project would not have happened without Carter's input.  We've also since learned that Carter has more than 3 sons.

Friday, January 17, 2014

School Closure Plan Prompts Community Outcry

Community speaks out against possible closure of 13 Shelby County schools
People get riled up when you start talking about closing neighborhood schools.  It's a process some suggest should include more than 13 schools.  But that's the number currently being considered.  This story is from the first ever district-wide meeting dealing with proposed closures.  I expected a crowd.. But I was surprised so many showed up to speak out.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pizza Hut Employees, Customers Robbed During Dinner

Customer runs from Pizza Hut robbery, calls police
This was one of those stories that start with a blurb in the newspaper.  We saw that three guys were arrested for holding up a Pizza Hut during dinner.  Not only was the alleged gunman charged with robbing employees.. But customers as well.  I didn't think the story would amount to much without getting one of the victims.  I was able to track more than one of them down using information from a police report I picked up at 201 Poplar.  Fortunately, one of the victims was willing to talk on camera.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2 Wrongful Death Lawsuits Target MPD

$3 million in wrongful death lawsuits filed in killings involving officers
My colleague Nick Kenney knew these lawsuits were going to be filed Wednesday afternoon.  They came in just before the 5:00 news.  Nick was able to detail what they allege.  I picked up the story after turning a separate piece for an early newscast.  I was actually on the scene of one of these police-involved shootings.  Both came soon after an MPD officer was shot and killed.  The suits claim the "heightened alert" officers were on made them trigger happy.