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News Roundup

Among the most significant North Carolina criminal news stories last year was the tragic shooting on the campus of UNC Charlotte that killed two students, Reed Parlier and Riley Howell, and injured four others.  This week, the Charlotte Observer reports the proposal of a $1 million permanent memorial and reflection space to commemorate and remember the victims of the attack. Keep reading for more information about the memorial and other news.

UNCC.  The Niner Nation Remembrance Commission has recommended installing the space near the building where the shooting took place.  The Commission released its final report regarding the memorial and other remembrance activities last month.  In addition to the memorial and reflection space, the report recommends holding an annual Day of Remembrance for the next three years, creating named scholarships in honor of Parlier and Howell, and reconfiguring the classroom area where the tragedy occurred.

Howell Star Wars Tribute.  Late last month Time reported that after receiving word that Riley Howell was a fan of the Star Wars franchise, Lucasfilm honored his courage in tackling the shooter and preventing further tragedy by including a reference to him in a publication released to accompany the new Star Wars movie.  In the new book Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – The Visual Dictionary, there is a reference to Jedi Master Ri-Lee Howell, an homage to the Haywood County native.

Wake Sheriff Civil Suit.  WRAL reports that a former Wake County deputy, Richard L. Johnson, has filed a civil suit against Sheriff Gerald Baker, alleging that Baker fired him in retaliation for demoting Deputy Teddy Patrick in 2017.  At the time, Johnson was the chief of operations for the sheriff’s office and he says that he demoted Patrick for making homophobic and racist comments during a workplace training session.  Johnson, who was fired soon after Baker took office in 2018, describes Patrick as “a close friend and ally” of Baker.  Former Sheriff Donnie Harrison had ordered the demotion.  Patrick now is the third highest ranking official in the department. 

Hasty.  Last year the News Roundup noted the passing of Buncombe County Chief Assistant District Attorney Rodney Hasty, who died unexpectedly in October at the age of 50.  As WLOS reports, last month District Attorney Todd Williams announced that it had been determined that Hasty’s cause of death was an accidental overdose involving fentanyl.  In a statement, Williams noted Hasty’s “many gifts to the community” and said that “[t]hese results remind us that addiction doesn’t have boundaries and can ensnare anyone no matter how high achieving and competent they may be.”

Chase & Shooting.  A car chase across three North Carolina counties that ended in a fatal officer-involved shooting near the Asheboro Zoo made national news this week.  As the Asheboro Courier-Tribune reports, on Monday the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of an armed robbery of a cab driver where the suspect had fled the scene.  On Tuesday, Rowan deputies encountered the suspect driving a vehicle without a license tag and a chase ensued that spanned Rowan, Davidson, and Randolph counties.  During the chase, the suspect, who now has been identified as Troy Chase Caster, fired shots at pursuing deputies who eventually forcibly ended the chase near the zoo and returned fire.  Caster, who allegedly tried to kill the cab driver during the robbery but did not succeed because his gun malfunctioned, was killed in the incident.  The SBI now has taken over the investigation.

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