University of Virginia football player Mike Hollins back on the field months after shooting killed three teammates

University of Virginia football player Mike Hollins back on the field months after shooting killed three teammates

University of Virginia running back Mike Hollins is letting himself be healed by football four months after he was wounded in a shooting that killed three of his teammates.

The fifth-year footballer, who is a native of Baton Rouge, La., opened about his return to the field for the first time after practice on Tuesday. He told reporters during a Zoom call that playing football again has allowed him to move past some of the pain and grief he’s felt in wake of the mass shooting at the University of Virginia.

“It’s freeing for me,” he said. “I don’t have to think, I just play.”

Hollins was one of two people wounded when a fellow student in November opened fire on a bus returning to Charlottesville from a field trip in Washington, D.C. He recalled how his recovery started the moment he woke up in the hospital. He’s had to relearn how to use his core and rebuild some key muscles — but the mental recovery has been the biggest challenge for Hollins.

Mike Hollins #7 of the Virginia Cavaliers returns a kickoff in the first half during against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons a game at Scott Stadium on September 24, 2021 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He said he didn’t learn about the deaths of his teammates — Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry — until days after the shooting. At one point, Hollins said he considered leaving UVA and starting fresh elsewhere but ultimately decided to stay and live out the athletic dreams of his late teammates.

“They don’t leave my mind,” he told reporters. “It’s a constant motivation, constant drive, constant effort to keep their flame lit and keep their legacy going.”

Hollins has already earned his degree from UVA in American and African American Studies, WVIR reported.

He is currently working on getting his Master’s in higher education. He is also taking classes about mental health and how to support college athletes struggling with mental health issues.

Source link

Stephen Smith death, first ruled a hit-and-run, now being investigated as homicide following Murdaugh case

Stephen Smith death, first ruled a hit-and-run, now being investigated as homicide following Murdaugh case

South Carolina police are investigating the death of Stephen Smith — which came to light in the recent high-profile trial of attorney Alex Murdaugh — as a homicide, says a local law firm working with Smith’s family.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division will participate in an exhumation of Smith’s body to gather more evidence, the Bland Richter law firm said Tuesday, citing a phone call with Chief Mark Keel.

The 19-year-old Smith was found dead on a rural Hampton County, S.C., road after an alleged hit-and-run incident in 2015. Investigators initially thought the teen had been struck while walking from his car after running out of gas.

No suspect was ever identified and no arrests were made, although Paul Murdaugh and his brother Buster were interviewed as persons of interest.

Buster Murdaugh, left, and his girlfriend Brooklynn White watch a video clip from Buster's brother Paul's phone in the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023.

The investigation halted and Smith’s death was labeled a highway vehicular manslaughter. But the recent trial of Alex Murdaugh for the 2021 murders of son Paul Murdaugh and wife Maggie Murdaugh prompted police to reopen the probe, according to Bland Richter.

Buster Murdaugh broke his silence about the matter on Monday, claiming he had no involvement whatsoever in Smith’s death.

The victim’s mother Sandy Smith has insisted that the death was no accident and that her son’s injuries were “not consistent with a hit-and-run.”

She recently started a GoFundMe page to raise money for an independent autopsy. The page has already secured over $80,000.

“We have a chance to right eight years of wrongs, and we intend to do just that,” lawyer Eric Bland of Bland Richter said in a statement.

Source link

Biden designates indigenous ancestral land in El Paso a national monument

Biden designates indigenous ancestral land in El Paso a national monument

A historical landscape known as Castner Range is now a national monument, President Biden announced Tuesday.

The swath of land in El Paso, Tex., which generations of Latinos have fought to preserve, spans about 7,000 acres and is situated along the Rio Grande.

The indigenous ancestral lands include numerous archeological sites and abundant wildlife.

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House Conservation in Action Summit at the Department of the Interior, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Washington.

The move came as part of a larger announcement from Biden, who said over half a million acres in Nevada and Texas are becoming national monuments. The president is also instituting a marine sanctuary in U.S. waters near the Pacific Remote Islands near Hawaii.

These are “natural treasures” that “define our identity as a nation,” Biden said Tuesday during the White House summit on conservation action. “They’re a birthright we have to pass down to generation after generation.”

Breaking News

As it happens

Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.

Avi Kwa Ame, a desert mountain in Nevada that Native Americans consider sacred, was named a national monument along with Castner Range.

Conservation and tribal organizations praised Biden for the move to protect the lands, but Nevada’s Republican governor saw it as an improper “federal confiscation” of Nevada’s territory.

“This kind of ‘Washington Knows Best’ policy might win plaudits from unaccountable special interests, but it’s going to cost our state jobs and economic opportunity,” Gov. Joe Lombardo said in a statement.

The Nevada land that is now protected spans more than 500,000 acres and borders Arizona and California state lines. The site is home to bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and Joshua trees, some of which are 900 years old.

In addition to protecting Indigenous land, the Castner Range will also honor the training and testing sites of the U.S. Army during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The area is still littered with unexploded munitions, according to NBC News. The plan is to make the landscape safe again for the people of El Paso to explore and “learn from nature,” the White House said in a statement.

With News Wire Services

Source link

Colorado man attacked by mountain lion while sitting in hot tub

Colorado man attacked by mountain lion while sitting in hot tub

That’s one way to ruin the vibes.

A man was attacked from behind by a mountain lion while sitting in a hot tub outside a rental home in rural Colorado.

The incident occurred around 8 p.m. on Saturday night in a forest roughly five miles west of Nathrop. The man told officials he was soaking in the hot tub with his wife when he felt something grab onto his head.

“He and his wife began screaming and splashing water at the animal,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife in a statement.

Mountain lion

The man’s wife then shined a flashlight on the animal and saw it was a mountain lion. The light, splashing and noise caused the animal to retreat about 20 feet away.

Breaking News

As it happens

Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.

“They continued to scream at the mountain lion and after a short time it moved up to the top of a hill near some rocks where it crouched down and continued to watch the couple,” the statement continued.

The couple then made their way back into the house to call authorities.

The wildlife agency said the man had superficial scratches on the top of his head and by his right ear that were consistent with mountain lion claws. He had already administered first aid to himself by the time Parks and Wildlife arrived to the home and he declined further medical assistance.

Wildlife officials set up a trap but were unable to find the animal because of snowy conditions.

The agency said this was the 24th mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado since 1990 and the first since last year. Three of those attacks were fatal.

“We think it’s likely the mountain lion saw the man’s head move in the darkness at ground-level but didn’t recognize the people in the hot tub,” Sean Shepherd, area wildlife manager, said in the statement. “The couple did the right thing by making noise and shining a light on the lion.”

“Although this victim had only minor injuries, we take this incident seriously,” he continued. “We have alerted neighbors and posted signs warning of lion activity. And we will continue to track the lion and lion activity.”

Source link

Five die in Tanzania in country’s first confirmed cases of Marburg virus

Five die in Tanzania in country’s first confirmed cases of Marburg virus

Five recent mystery deaths in northwestern Tanzania were confirmed as the country’s first-ever cases of the deadly Marburg virus, the public health ministry said Tuesday.

Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said the cases had been contained in the Kagera region, where it started.

The National Public Health Laboratory tested samples after eight people in the region fell ill with fever, vomiting, bleeding and kidney failure, among other symptoms of the virus that kills up to 88% of its victims.

One of the five who died was a health worker, while the identities of the others were not immediately known. The three who have not died are receiving treatment, and 161 contacts are being monitored, the government said.

FILE - An Egyptian fruit bat hangs upside down in its cage, in Winsted, Conn, July 29, 2003. The World Health Organization said Equatorial Guinea has confirmed its first-ever outbreak of Marburg disease, saying the Ebola-related virus is responsible for at least nine deaths in the tiny Western African country.

Five of the ill people were members of the same family, Mwalimu was quoted as saying by StatNews.

Breaking News

As it happens

Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.

The World Health Organization praised the country’s quick action and openness.

“The efforts by Tanzania’s health authorities to establish the cause of the disease is a clear indication of the determination to effectively respond to the outbreak,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, in a statement. “We are working with the government to rapidly scale up control measures to halt the spread of the virus and end the outbreak as soon as possible.”

WHO was sending an emergency team to support the epidemiological investigation. Tanzania is well versed in responding to health emergencies. COVID-19, cholera and dengue have broken out there within the past three years, WHO noted.

“The lessons learnt and progress made during other recent outbreaks should stand the country in good stead as it confronts this latest challenge,” Moeti said.

Neighboring countries Kenya and Uganda were on high alert for the highly transmissible virus, which comes from fruit bats and spreads among humans via direct contact with infected people’s bodily fluids, as well as contaminated surfaces and materials. Angola, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and Ghana have seen outbreaks and individual cases, and Equatorial Guinea is also contending with a small outbreak that was detected last month.

There are no treatments or vaccines, just supportive care.

With News Wire Services

Source link

Upstate NY Republican lawmaker pitches bail compromise, new commission to steer judicial discretion

Upstate NY Republican lawmaker pitches bail compromise, new commission to steer judicial discretion

ALBANY — An upstate Republican lawmaker believes there’s a path to bipartisan compromise on bail.

As Gov. Hochul butts heads with her fellow Democrats over her plan to once again amend New York’s bail laws in this year’s budget, Sen. Jake Ashby (R-Rensselaer) is proposing an overhaul he says will grant judges more discretion and still keep low-level offenders from being jailed simply because they’re poor.

“Fairness and public safety are not mutually exclusive,” Ashby said. “We can support and empower judges and law enforcement officials while acknowledging the reality that rich people and poor people have historically had very different experiences dealing with our criminal justice system.”

Assemblyman, Jake Ashby, R-Troy, is pictured in the Assembly Chamber at the state Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, in Albany, N.Y.

The freshman senator, who previously served in the Assembly, unveiled a bill on Tuesday that would greatly expand judges’ ability to hold dangerous defendants pretrial while still eliminating cash bail for most nonviolent misdemeanors.

Essentially, the bill would give judges the option to remand a defendant charged with a felony or certain misdemeanors if they are seen as a danger while keeping the bulk of the current cashless system in place.

The bill also calls for the creation of a new Commission on Public Safety made up of law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and appointees nominated by the governor and legislative leaders.

The panel would be tasked with creating a risk assessment tool for judges in consultation with the Division of Criminal Justice Services based on data, arrest statistics and other factors.

In line with Hochul’s belief that there are “inconsistencies” in the current law, Ashby argues that the commission would help clarify the legislation’s initial guidance to judges classifying most felonies and some misdemeanors, including sex crimes, domestic violence and witness tampering, as remand-eligible.

“It’s about removing politics from the process and getting serious professionals to provide guidance that’s about assessing risk, period,” he said. “That’s not about the color of your skin or how much money is in your bank account.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks in Times Square on Monday.

The state’s bail laws have been a lightning rod of political controversy since the Democrat-led Legislature approved changes in 2019 limiting pretrial detention for most nonviolent crimes and ordering judges to only impose the “least restrictive” means of ensuring defendants return for court.

Hochul, who successfully negotiated tweaks that expanded the list of bail-eligible crimes into last year’s state budget, is hoping to once again address the issue this year by eliminating the so-called “least restrictive” standard for serious crimes.

Republicans and moderate Democrats, including Mayor Adams, have blamed cashless bail for spikes in violent crime and called for granting judges more discretion despite little evidence linking the two.

Polls have repeatedly shown that crime is a major concern for New Yorkers amid an uptick in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most Democrats, who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature, have not embraced Hochul’s plan to revisit bail in this year’s budget, which is due at the end of the month.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said last week that misinformation about the current law has led to a wave of undue backlash.

“Violent offenders have always been bail eligible,” she told reporters. “And that’s what, I think, people have not understood.”

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Some Democrats, while opposing Hochul’s plan, have called for new training for judges who might be misapplying the statute or not setting bail in certain situations even if it’s allowed under the current law.

Criminal justice advocates and progressive Democrats argue that the governor’s approach would essentially gut the 2019 reforms, which eliminated cash bail and mandated release for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.

“The governor’s plan will only ensure that more Black and brown people are sent to jail pretrial,” Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (D-Brooklyn) said during a virtual press conference on the topic last week. “And it will ensure that more Black and brown people die on Rikers Island. This is not the future I want for New York.”

A bail bonds sign hangs on the side of a bail bonds business near Brooklyn's courthouse complex and jail in New York.

Some of Ashby’s fellow Republicans have said they support Hochul’s proposal, while others say they want nothing short of a full repeal of the 2019 laws.

Still, the lawmaker is hopeful his alternative approach can gain traction and garner support on both sides of the aisle.

“It seems like lots of members are open to compromise. Most people seem to agree that how much money you have shouldn’t dictate if you’re sitting at home or sitting in jail,” he said. “Most people seem to agree that previous efforts to reform the pretrial process didn’t do nearly enough to protect our families and promote public safety. Let’s work together and fix it.”

Source link