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Covid-19 State News

N.J. reports 5,107 new COVID-19 cases, 90 more deaths as rate of transmission drops again

New Jersey on Thursday reported 5,107 new cases of the coronavirus and another 90 deaths as the rate the virus is spreading dropped slightly, as did the number of people hospitalized throughout the state for the second day in a row.

But the pandemic has claimed 19,042 lives in the state since the first death was recorded March 10.

“We urge everyone to stay safe. Avoid large gatherings. Social distance. Mask up.” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a tweet.

The statewide rate of transmission dropped to 0.94 after it was 0.95 for two straight days. It increased Monday to 0.96 before returning to 0.95, where it had been from Dec. 25-27. Prior to Saturday, the rate dropped for 12 straight days to 0.95.
There were 3,716 people hospitalized in the state as of Wednesday evening, down for the second straight day from a more than seven-month high on Dec. 22 of 3,873 patients.

The state of 9 million residents has reported 19,042 deaths — 17,021 confirmed and 2,021 probable fatalities from complications related to the virus.

Health officials administered the first round of vaccines to 62,901 people as of mid-week, Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Wednesday during a COVID-19 briefing.
The first round of people to get the shots are health care workers and people who live and work at nursing homes. There are about 650,000 health care workers in the state, and long-term care homes should be fully vaccinated by early February, Murphy has said.
New Jersey unveiled a website this week where people can sign up to receive a vaccine in “the near future,” Murphy said.
The website — covid19.nj.gov/vaccine — doesn’t currently allow people to register or pre-register for the vaccine. But the governor has said he hopes doses for the wider public will be available by April or May.
Meanwhile, all indoor organized sports at the youth, high school and adult recreational levels that were put on hold for four weeks because of the pandemic will be permitted to resume beginning Saturday, Murphy announced Wednesday.
But teams will only be able to exceed the state’s current 10-person limit on indoor gatherings during practices and games, an official with knowledge of the announcement told NJ Advance Media. Otherwise, they will need to abide by other COVID-19 restrictions.

Spectators will not be allowed at practices and games, and the state’s ban on interstate sports and competitions is still in effect, the official said.

HOSPITALIZATIONS
There were 3,716 patients hospitalized in New Jersey with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday night, 11 fewer than the previous night.
That included 693 in critical or intensive care (eight fewer than the previous night), with 462 on ventilators (five fewer than the previous evening).
There were 493 COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.
SCHOOL CASES
There have been 108 school outbreaks involving 546 students, teachers and staff since the school year began in late August, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard updated Wednesday.
Those numbers do not include students or staff believed to have been infected outside school or cases that can’t be confirmed as in-school outbreaks. Though the numbers keep rising every week, Murphy has said the school outbreak statistics remain below what state officials were expecting when schools reopened for in-person classes.

The extensive rules for schools, which include social distancing guidelines for classrooms and strict mask requirements, have made them among the safest places in the state, he said.

But at least 83 students or staff members caught COVID-19 at one Essex County school in what appears to be the largest outbreak reported in a single New Jersey school building, according to new state data.
Though the state has released minimal information about the cases, most of the outbreaks have involved 10 or fewer people catching the virus at each school. In November, an unidentified Union County school reported an outbreak in which at least 23 people got sick.
New Jersey defines school outbreaks as cases where contract tracers determined two or more students or school staff caught or transmitted COVID-19 in the classroom or during academic activities at school.
AGE BREAKDOWN
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (31.4%), followed by those 50-64 (23.9%), 18-29 (19%), 65-79 (11.2%), 80 and older (5.8%), 5-17 (6.9%), and 0-4 (1.4%).
On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially those with preexisting conditions. Nearly half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents 80 and older (47.51%), followed by those 65-79 (32%), 50-64 (15.85%), 30-49 (4.25%), 18-29 (0.37%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0.02%).

GLOBAL NUMBERS

As of Thursday morning, there were more than 82.8 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.8 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 19.74 million, and the most deaths, at more than 342,450.
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Covid-19 U. S. News

Man called most prolific serial killer in US history dies

LOS ANGELES — The man authorities say was the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, with nearly 60 confirmed victims, died Wednesday in California. He was 80.

Samuel Little, who had diabetes, heart trouble and other ailments, died at a California hospital, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was serving a life sentence for multiple counts of murder.

California corrections department spokeswoman Vicky Waters said there was no sign of foul play, and his cause of death will be determined by a coroner.

A career criminal who had been in and out jail for decades, Little denied for years he’d ever killed anyone.

Then, in 2018, he opened up to Texas Ranger James Holland, who had been asked to question him about a killing it turned out Little didn’t commit. During approximately 700 hours of interviews, however, Little provided details of scores of slayings only the killer would know.

A skilled artist, he even provided Holland with dozens of paintings and drawings of his victims, sometimes scribbling their names when he could remember them, as well as details such as the year and location of the murder and where he’d dumped the body.

By the time of his death, Little had confessed to killing 93 people between 1970 and 2005. Most of the slayings took place in Florida and Southern California.

Authorities, who continue to investigate his claims, said they have confirmed nearly 60 killings and have no reason to doubt the others.

“Nothing he’s ever said has been proven to be wrong or false,” Holland told the CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” in 2019.

The numbers dwarf those of Green River killer Gary Ridgway (49), John Wayne Gacy (33) and Ted Bundy (36).

Almost all of Little’s victims were women, many of them prostitutes, drug addicts or poor people living on the edges of society. They were individuals, he said he believed, who would leave few people behind to look for them and not much evidence for police to follow.

Indeed, local authorities in states across the country initially classified many of the deaths as accidents, drug overdoses or the result of unknown causes.

Little strangled most of his victims, usually soon after meeting them during chance encounters. He drowned one, a woman he met at a nightclub in 1982.

He was nearly 80, in failing health and serving a life sentence in a California prison when he began confiding to Holland in May 2018, after years of refusing to talk to other authorities. Once a strong, strapping boxer who used his powerful hands to strangle his victims, he was now using a wheelchair to get around.

Holland has described Little as both a genius and a sociopath, adding the killer could never adequately explain to him why he did what he did. Although known as an expert interrogator, Holland himself said he could only guess at why Little opened up to him.

The ranger did work tirelessly to create and maintain a bond with the killer during their hundreds of hours of interviews, bringing him favorite snacks such as pizza, Dr. Pepper and grits and discussing their mutual interest in sports. He also gave Little assurances that he wouldn’t be executed.

Holland would address Little by his childhood nickname, Sammy, while Little called Holland Jimmy and once told the Los Angeles Times he’d “found a friend in a Texas ranger.”

He told “60 Minutes” he hoped his confessions might exonerate anyone wrongly convicted of his crimes.

“I say if I can help get somebody out of jail, you know, then God might smile a little bit more on me,” he said.

A transient who traveled the country when he wasn’t in jail for larceny, assault, drugs or other crimes, Little said he started killing in Miami on New Year’s Eve 1970.

“It was like drugs,” he told Holland. “I came to like it.”

His last killing was in 2005, he said, in Tupelo, Mississippi. He also killed people in Tennessee, Texas, Ohio, Kentucky, Nevada, Arkansas and other states.

Kentucky authorities finally caught up with him in 2012 after he was arrested on drug charges and his DNA linked him to three California killings.

When he began recounting the other slayings, authorities were astounded at how much he remembered. His paintings, they said, indicated he had a photographic memory.

One killing was solved after Little recalled the victim wore dentures. Another after he told Holland he’d killed the victim near a set of unusual looking arches in Florida. A victim he met outside a Miami strip club in 1984 was remembered as being 25 years old with short blond hair, blue eyes and a “hippie look.”

As he continued to talk, authorities across the country rushed to investigate old cases, track down relatives and bring closure to families.

Little revealed few details about his own life other than that he was raised in Lorain, Ohio, by his grandmother. Authorities said he often went by the name Samuel McDowell.

He was married once, Little said, and involved in two long-term relationships.

He claimed he developed a fetish for women’s necks after becoming sexually aroused when he saw his kindergarten teacher touch her neck. He was always careful, he added, to avoid looking at the necks of his wife or girlfriends and never hurt anyone he loved.

“I don’t think there was another person who did what I liked to do,” he told “60 Minutes.” “I think I’m the only one in the world. And that’s not an honor, that is a curse.”

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Crime & Safety Local News

Deadly Stabbing Under Investigation in Paterson

The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office has taken over the investigation into a stabbing that left one person dead in a section of Paterson overnight.

A preliminary investigation indicated that at approximately 12:25 a.m., Paterson Police  were called to reports of a dispute with possible injuries in the 200 block of Park Avenue.

Upon arrival, police began CPR on a heavily bleeding,  unconscious and unresponsive person who suffered multiple stab wounds at that location.

Police said the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The motive for the attack is under investigation and there were no immediate reports of an arrest made.

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Local News

Joe Clark, New Jersey principal portrayed in film ‘Lean on Me,’ dies at 82

PATERSON, New Jersey – Joe Clark, the tough yet inspirational New Jersey high school principal portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the hit film “Lean on Me,” has died at the age of 82.

The former principal of Eastside High School in Paterson who famously used a bullhorn and a baseball bat to keep his students in line died Tuesday at his home in Florida after a long battle with an unspecified illness, his family said.

The bat, Clark once explained, was not a weapon, but a symbol of choice for students who could either strike out or hit a home run.
Paterson Superintendent of Schools Eileen Shafer released a statement following the announcement of Clark’s death:

“Joe Clark left his indelible mark on public education by being fiercely devoted to the students in his care. He demanded more from his students because he believed they could achieve more than what was expected of them,” she said. “And with his bullhorn and baseball bat, and Joe Clark courageously stood in the way of anyone who dared to try to lure a young person down the wrong path. Joe Clark was even the subject of a Hollywood movie. But in the end, it is the many lives Joe Clark influenced for the better that have become his greatest legacy. Our hearts are deeply saddened by Joe Clark’s passing, and our prayers are with his family and friends.”

Derick Waller reports on the 14-year-old speaking out about the incident.

At the crime- and drug-ridden school, Clark once expelled 300 students in a single day for fighting, vandalism, abusing teachers and drug possession. That lifted the expectations of those who remained, continually challenging them to perform better.

Clark’s unorthodox methods won him both admirers and critics nationwide, and President Ronald Reagan offered him a White House policy adviser position after his success at the high school.

Freeman starred as Clark in the 1989 film “Lean on Me” that was loosely based on Clark’s tenure at Eastside.

After he retired from Eastside in 1989, Clark worked for six years as the director of Essex County Detention House, a juvenile detention center in Newark. He also wrote “Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark’s Strategy for Saving Our Schools,” detailing his methods for turning around Eastside High.

Clark’s teaching career started at a Paterson grade school in Passaic County, New Jersey, before he became principal of PS 6 Grammar School.

Clark was born in Rochelle, Georgia, on May 8, 1938. His family moved north to Newark, New Jersey, when he was 6 years old. After graduating from Newark Central High School, Clark received his bachelor’s degree from William Paterson College (now William Paterson University), a master’s degree from Seton Hall University, and an honorary doctorate from the U.S. Sports Academy. Clark also served as a U.S. Army Reserve sergeant and a drill instructor.

Clark is survived by his children, Joetta, Hazel and JJ, and grandchildren, Talitha, Jorell and Hazel. His wife, Gloria, preceded him in death.Clark’s family released a lengthy statement describing his life and impact. Here is the full text of the statement:

Joe Louis Clark, the baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding Principal whose unwavering commitment to his students and uncompromising disciplinary methods at Paterson, New Jersey’s Eastside High School inspired the 1989 film Lean on Me, has passed away. A longtime resident of South Orange, NJ, Clark (82) retired to Gainesville, Florida. He was at home and surrounded by his family when he succumbed to his long battle with illness on December 29, 2020.

Born in Rochelle, Georgia, on May 8, 1938, Clark’s family moved north to Newark, New Jersey, when he was six years old. It was in the Garden State that Clark built his legacy through both his accomplished career in education and his children: Olympian and businesswoman Joetta Clark Diggs, Olympic Athlete and Director of Sports Business Development for the Bermuda Tourism Authority Hazel Clark, and accomplished athlete and Director of Track and Field and Cross Country at Stanford University Joe Clark, Jr.

A Legacy of Laying Down the Law

After graduating from Newark Central High School, Clark continued on to achieve his bachelor’s degree from William Paterson College (now William Paterson University), a master’s degree from Seton Hall University, and an honorary doctorate from the U.S. Sports Academy.


Clark’s post-collegiate career as a U.S. Army Reserve Sergeant and Drill Instructor engrained in him a respect for order and achievement, which came to define his more than three-decade career in education.
First serving as a Paterson grade school teacher and the Director of Camps and Playgrounds in Essex County, NJ, Clark soon found his calling in administration as Principal of PS 6 Grammar School. Under Clark’s command, the once failing school was transformed into the “Miracle of Carroll Street.”

Committed to the pursuit of excellence, Clark greeted the challenges presented to him following his appointment as the Principal of crime and drug-ridden Eastside High School with eager optimism. In one day, he expelled 300 students for fighting, vandalism, abusing teachers, and drug possession and lifted the expectations of those that remained, continually challenging them to perform better. Roaming the hallways with a bullhorn and a baseball bat, Clark’s unorthodox methods won him both admirers and critics nationwide. Steadfast in his approach, Clark explained that the bat was not a weapon but a symbol of choice: a student could either strike out or hit a home run.

Impressed by the expeditious changes imparted on the troubled school, President Reagan offered Clark a White House policy advisor position. Clark’s dedication to his students and community led him to decline the prestigious honor, and his larger-than-life career continued to spark conversations across the country. Clark appeared on programs including 60 Minutes and The Arsenio Hall Show and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine before the motion picture Lean on Me starring Morgan Freeman memorialized his work.

After he retired from Eastside in 1989, Clark worked for six years as the Director of Essex County Detention House, a juvenile detention center in Newark. He also wrote Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark’s Strategy for Saving Our Schools, detailing his methods for turning around Eastside High School and how they can be applied to combat crime, permissiveness, and academic decline in schools nationwide.

Nearly thirty years after his retirement, Clark’s captivating career offered inspiration to executive directors John Legend and LeBron James for a television series, reflecting his philosophies’ generational transcendence.

Predeceased by his wife, Gloria, Clark’s legacy as an influential educator and father of New Jersey’s most storied track and field family lives on through his children, Joetta, Hazel, and JJ, and grandchildren, Talitha, Jorell, and Hazel.

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Crime & Safety Local News

Vehicle Occupied by Pregnant Woman Struck by Gunfire in Paterson

There were no injuries reported in a shots-fired incident that caused property damage in a section of Paterson Tuesday evening.

According to police, at approximately 8:20 p.m., gunfire rang out in the 60’s block of North 4th Street, sending officers to the scene to investigate.

Upon arrival, police found a pregnant woman who reported that while she sat in her car, armed suspects began firing shots in the area.

Police searched the scene and found multiple shell casings on the ground and the woman’s vehicle struck by bullets.

The suspects fled the scene and remain at-large.

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Crime & Safety U. S. News

Bomber in Nashville Christmas explosion was ‘loner,’ IT consultant, sources say

“I never thought he would do something like this, but that’s the kind of world we’re living in now, I guess,” a neighbor said.

Before he was identified as the suspect and the only person killed in the Christmas morning explosion in Nashville, Tennessee, Anthony Warner, according to people who knew him, was a loner who had recently retired as an information technology consultant.

Warner, 63, died when his recreational vehicle exploded in a blast that rocked downtown Nashville, injuring at least three people and damaging more than 40 businesses. Warner was identified as the bomber after authorities said that they had matched DNA from the scene to Warner and that an identification number from the RV matched a vehicle registered to him.

Steve Schmoldt, Warner’s next-door neighbor since 2001, described Warner as a “loner” whom he understood to be an information technology specialist who worked from home. Schmoldt said Warner once told him that he had 14 security cameras around his house.

“He was a loner,” Schmoldt said. “I never saw anybody go into his house. I never saw him have anybody over.”

But Warner was friendly to him and his wife, he said. They would sometimes interact while Warner was working in his yard or on his property.

“I never really saw him in a dark mood,” Schmoldt said.

Warner had several dogs over the years that he “loved” and “really took good care of,” he said.

“I’ll be honest with you, the way he took care of his dogs, I got the impression he wouldn’t harm a flea. Even if some people thought he was odd, to me he was completely harmless,” he said.

Investigators said Warner’s RV was parked outside an AT&T building on Christmas morning. It exploded at 6:30 a.m. local time as police officers were responding to reports of gunfire in the area. Responding officers heard a warning of an imminent explosion coming from a speaker system in the RV. The officers also heard the vehicle broadcasting the song “Downtown” by Petula Clark.

“The last couple of days, of course, I’ve been trying to think through my head why he would feel like he had to do that, but I didn’t know him that well to come to any kind of conclusions,” Schmoldt said. “I never thought he would do something like this, but that’s the kind of world we’re living in now, I guess.”

Warner signed away his property on Bakertown Road in Antioch the day before Thanksgiving to a woman in Los Angeles for $0, property records of a quitclaim deed show.

Before the explosion, he told a woman that he had cancer, multiple senior law enforcement officials said Sunday. It was unclear whether that was true, the officials said, but Warner gave the woman his car. The officials did not identify the woman. An FBI spokesperson said agents are investigating all aspects of the case.

Warner this month told Fridrich & Clark Realty, where he had worked as a contractor, that he was retiring, Steve Fridrich, the company’s president and managing partner, said in a statement Monday.

Fridrich said a “computer consultant named Tony Warner has worked as an independent contractor” for the company for several years.

“Tony Warner has never been an employee of our company but occasionally came to our office to service our computers,” he said in the statement.

Fridrich said that Warner had advised the company this month that he was retiring and that the company had not had contact with him since then.

“Upon learning that Tony is a suspect in the bombing on 2nd Avenue on Christmas morning, Fridrich & Clark notified the authorities that he had provided IT services to our firm,” Fridrich said. “The Tony Warner we knew is a nice person who never exhibited any behavior which was less than professional.”

Warner had one arrest for possession of marijuana for resale by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department in January 1978, according to a state arrest record released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Other state records show that Warner was charged with felony drug possession in 1978 and was sentenced to two years’ probation.

The FBI tamped down expectations Monday that a motive would be determined as quickly as they were able to determine the identity of the apparent suicide bomber.

The U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI previously said they were able to use Warner’s DNA, the bombing vehicle’s VIN and tips from the public to determine the identity of the bomber less than 48 hours after the explosion, which crippled AT&T’s service in the region.

The FBI said Monday that it would not be able to determine the motive that quickly.

The FBI said numerous interviews were being conducted with associates of Warner to try to develop a better picture of who he was and what his background was.

It was also trying to develop a comprehensive timeline and sequence of events in Warner’s life and the sequence of events in the days and hours leading up to the explosion.

FBI spokesperson Jason Pack said: “We are in the early stages on determining a motive. FBI and ATF Agents are still collecting evidence from the scene and conducting numerous interviews, which our team will need to analyze.

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Covid-19 State News

N.J. reports 2,745 new COVID-19 cases, 21 more deaths as hospitalizations increase for 2nd straight day

New Jersey on Monday reported 2,745 new cases of the coronavirus and another 21 deaths as the number of people hospitalized increased slightly for the second day in a row after dropping for three consecutive days.

There were 3,684 people throughout the state’s 71 hospitals Sunday night, marking another increase after the number dipped to 3,464 on Christmas Day. Hospitalizations hit a more than seven-month high on Dec. 22 with 3,873 people seeking treatment.

Monday marked the second day in a row new positive tests were fewer than 3,000.

“Some of the hospital numbers have moderated a bit over the past several days, however we are not yet ready to call it a trend,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during his regular COVID-19 briefing in Trenton.
“We also don’t know where the numbers may go as we are just now coming out of Christmas and then we have New Year’s Eve … standing on-deck,” he said “Hopefully, more and more of you are taking to heart the need for doing things differently and much smaller this year, and we won’t see a post-holiday spike.”
The statewide rate of transmission of the virus, meanwhile, ticked up slightly to 0.96 after staying at 0.95 for two consecutive days. Prior to Saturday, the rate dropped for 12 straight days to 0.95, the lowest it’s been since Sept. 2.

Any number over 1 means each person who gets COVID-19 is spreading the disease to more than one person, and getting the rate below 1 is considered key to suppressing the pandemic.

The latest figures were announced the same day a 103-year-old woman became the first resident of a New Jersey nursing home to be given a vaccine for the virus. Mildred Clements received the shot shortly after 9 a.m. as Murphy and the state’s top health official were there to witness the event at Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge.
“We have gone through some dark times together,” Murphy said at the event, “But the light is starting to break on the horizon.”

Roosevelt is one of about 90 long-term health facilities across the state scheduled for inoculations throughout the week, and Clements was the first of more than 83,000 residents who will get the vaccine through the beginning of February, according to the Murphy administration.

Though the shots were doled out with great fanfare, they came a week later than they could have after the state missed the federal deadline to file paperwork by one day. The error meant other states — including New York and Connecticut — are a week ahead of New Jersey in vaccinating staff members and residents at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Since the outbreak started in March, New Jersey has reported 463,965 cases out of more than 7.46 million tests administered. Those totals do not include rapid tests.

The state of 9 million residents has reported 18,651 deaths — 16,706 confirmed and 1,945 probable fatalities from complications related to the virus.
HOSPITALIZATIONS
There were 3,684 patients hospitalized in New Jersey with 3,482 of them confirmed cases and 202 under investigation as of Sunday night. It was 150 more than the previous night.
That included 715 in critical or intensive care (29 more than the previous night), with 505 on ventilators (18 more than the previous evening).

here were 286 COVID patients discharged from hospitals Saturday, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

SCHOOL CASES
The state Wednesday reported seven new confirmed in-school outbreaks in New Jersey, which resulted in 31 new cases.
There have now been 105 confirmed in-school outbreaks across the state, resulting in 459 cases among students and staff members across 98 schools.
Those numbers do not include students or staff believed to have been infected outside school, or cases that can’t be confirmed as in-school outbreaks. Though the numbers keep rising every week, Murphy has said the school outbreak statistics remain below what state officials were expecting when schools reopened for in-person classes.
The extensive rules for schools, which include social distancing guidelines for classrooms and strict mask requirements, have made schools among the safest places in the state, he said. The governor said of the 250,563 cases reported overall statewide since the school year began, only 2/10ths of 1% are “traced to activity within our schools.”
AGE BREAKDOWN
Broken down by age, those 30 to 49 years old make up the largest percentage of New Jersey residents who have caught the virus (31.4%), followed by those 50-64 (23.9%), 18-29 (19%), 65-79 (11.2%), 80 and older (5.8%), 5-17 (6.9%), and 0-4 (1.4%).

On average, the virus has been more deadly for older residents, especially those with pre-existing conditions. Nearly half the state’s COVID-19 deaths have been among residents 80 and older (47.51%), followed by those 65-79 (32%), 50-64 (15.85%), 30-49 (4.25%), 18-29 (0.37%), 5-17 (0%) and 0-4 (0.02%).

GLOBAL NUMBERS

As of Monday morning, there were more than 80.8 million positive COVID-19 tests across the world, according to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.76 million people have died from coronavirus-related complications.

The U.S. has reported the most cases, at more than 19.1 million, and the most deaths, at more than 333,100.
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Crime & Safety U. S. News

Bomber to neighbor: The world is ‘never going to forget me’

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  — It seemed like a friendly chat between neighbors. Only after a bomb exploded in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning could Rick Laude grasp the sinister meaning behind his neighbor’s smiling remark that the city and the rest of the world would never forget him.

Laude told The Associated Press on Monday that he was speechless when he learned that authorities identified his 63-year-old neighbor, Anthony Quinn Warner, as the man suspected of detonating a bomb that killed himself, injured three other people and damaged dozens of buildings.

Laude said he saw Warner standing at his mailbox less than a week before Christmas and pulled over in his car to talk. After asking how Warner’s elderly mother was doing, Laude said he casually asked, “Is Santa going to bring you anything good for Christmas?”

Warner smiled and said, “Oh, yeah, Nashville and the world is never going to forget me,” Laude recalled.

Laude said he didn’t think much of the remark and thought Warner only meant that “something good” was going to happen for him financially.

“Nothing about this guy raised any red flags,” Laude said. “He was just quiet.”

Laude said Warner sometimes did not respond when he and other neighbors waved to him, but said he did not take it personally. “I knew that he was just a recluse,” he said.

Warner left behind clues that suggest he planned the bombing and intended to kill himself, but a clear motive remained elusive.

“We hope to get an answer. Sometimes, it’s just not possible,” David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said Monday in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “The best way to find motive is to talk to the individual. We will not be able to do that in this case.”

As investigators continued to search for a motive, body camera video released late Monday by Nashville police offered more insight to the moments leading up to the explosion and its aftermath.

The recording from Officer Michael Sipos’ camera captures officers walking past the RV parked across the street as the recorded warning blares and then helping people evacuate after the thunderous blast off camera. Car alarms and sirens wailed as a voice on the dispatcher calls for all available personnel and a roll call and people stumble through the downtown area littered with glass.

Investigators are analyzing Warner’s belongings collected during the investigation, including a computer and a portable storage drive, and continue to interview witnesses as they try to identify a motive for the explosion, a law enforcement official said. A review of his financial transactions also uncovered purchases of potential bomb-making components, the official said.

Warner had recently given away a vehicle and told the person he gave it to that he had been diagnosed with cancer, though it is unclear whether he indeed had cancer, the official said. Investigators used some items collected from the vehicle, including a hat and gloves, to match Warner’s DNA and DNA was taken from one of his family members, the official said.

The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Warner also apparently gave away his home in Antioch, a Nashville suburb, to a Los Angeles woman a month before the bombing. A property record dated Nov. 25 indicates Warner transferred the home to the woman in exchange for no money after living there for decades. The woman’s signature is not on that document.

Warner had worked as a computer consultant for Nashville real estate agent Steve Fridrich, who told the AP in a text message that Warner had said he was retiring earlier this month.

Officials said Warner had not been on their radar before Christmas. A law enforcement report released Monday showed that Warner’s only arrest was for a 1978 marijuana-related charge.

“It does appear that the intent was more destruction than death, but again that’s all still speculation at this point as we continue in our investigation with all our partners,” Rausch added.

Furthermore, officials have not provided insight into why Warner selected the particular location for the bombing, which damaged an AT&T building and wreaked havoc on cellphone service and police and hospital communications in several Southern states. By Monday, the company said the majority of services had been restored for residents and businesses.

Forensic analysts were reviewing evidence from the blast site to try to identify the components of the explosives as well as information from the U.S. Bomb Data Center for intelligence and investigative leads, according to a law enforcement official who said investigators were examining Warner’s digital footprint and financial history.

The official, who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said federal agents were examining a number of potential leads and pursuing several theories, including the possibility that the AT&T building was targeted.

Doug Korneski, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis field office, said Sunday that officials were looking at any and all motives and were interviewing acquaintances of Warner’s to try to determine what may have motivated him.

The bombing took place early on a holiday morning well before downtown streets were bustling with activity. Police were responding to a report of shots fired when they encountered the RV blaring a recorded warning that a bomb would detonate in 15 minutes. Then, for reasons that may never be known, the audio switched to a recording of Petula Clark’s 1964 hit “Downtown” shortly before the blast.

In addition to the DNA found at the blast site, investigators from the Tennessee Highway Patrol were able to link the vehicle identification number recovered from the wreckage to an RV registered to Warner, officials said.

“We’re still following leads, but right now there is no indication that any other persons were involved,” Korneski said. “We’ve reviewed hours of security video surrounding the recreation vehicle. We saw no other people involved.”

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday called the bombing “a reminder of the destructive power an individual or a small group can muster and the need for continued vigilance across the board.”

President Donald Trump hasn’t publicly commented on the explosion but has spoken to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and offered resources and support, according to the governor’s office.

Categories
Local News

BREAKING: Fire Destroys Popular Paterson Sports Bar

Firefighters in Paterson batted a raging two-alarm fire that destroyed a popular sports bar on the borders of Woodland Park and Totowa this afternoon.

The fast-moving fire happened at the Carlos Bar and Restaurant located at 476 McBride Avenue around 12:10 p.m.

Firefighters arrived and found the bottom level of the building engulfed in flames, with fire pushing through the cockloft then out the roof.

Firefighters were able to beat down stubborn flames then locate the seat of the fire, where crews extinguished the fire just before 12:40 p.m.

A search of the establishment indicated no trapped or injured occupants.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Local News

Police bust more than 50 people inside unlicensed hookah lounge in New Jersey

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) — Police busted more than 50 people inside an unlicensed hookah lounge in New Jersey.

The people were packed inside ‘La Cafe’ in Paterson on Saturday night for a birthday party.
New York City Sheriff’s deputies shut down an illegal club in Queens early Sunday.

The invitations instructed people to bring masks, but officers say no one was wearing one.

Police accused the owners of locking the doors on them to try to sneak alcohol out the back.

Police seized 8 hookahs and various hookah accessories as well as bottles of alcohol and card sets from within the establishment.

Officials report there were no fire alarms inside the lounge.