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Hate group plans protest in Atlanta for Super Bowl

On Super Bowl Sunday, members of Westboro Baptist Church — the Kansas-based hate group infamous for picketing everything from gay pride parades to the funerals of slain soldiers — intend to hold protests at several North Georgia churches and outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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All six of the churches the group plans to picket on the morning of Feb. 3 are in Gainesville, the Hall County city about 60 miles northeast of Atlanta, where the 2019 Super Bowl will kick off inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium around 6:30 p.m. the same day.

According to a “picketing schedule” on Westboro Baptist Church’s website, the group plans to be outside of the stadium between 3 and 5 p.m. No further details were immediately available.

Protesters from the church, which is comprised largely of family members of late founder Fred Phelps, have visited the sites of many previous Super Bowls and other large sporting events. Church members planned protests at the college basketball Final Four in Atlanta in 2013.

Atlanta Police Department spokesman Carlos Campos said his agency was aware of Westboro’s plans. 

“Part of our security plan includes preparation for demonstrations and protests,” Campos said. 

Atlanta officials have spent months — and millions of dollars — preparing to host the Super Bowl, which is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city.

The preparations for Westboro’s planned visit are on a much smaller scale in Gainesville, the city of about 40,000 that lies well outside of the Super Bowl’s sphere of influence. 

But city officials there said they’ll be ready, too.

In half-hour intervals between 8 and 11 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday, Westboro said it plans to visit each of the following churches: First Baptist Church of Gainesville; St. John Baptist Church; First Presbyterian Church Gainesville; St. Michael Roman Catholic Church; Grace Episcopal Church; and Good Shepherd Church. 

The Times of Gainesville, which first reported on Westboro’s plans there, wrote that the church explained its motives in a Jan. 15 letter to Gainesville police Chief Carol Martin. A representative from the church reportedly wrote that the visit will be “for public demonstration/outdoor religious services regarding the judgment of God with respect to the dangers of promoting homosexuality, same-sex marriage, the filthy manner of life and idol-worshipping of this nation.”

Officials from Gainesville did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday. Gainesville police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Holbrook told The Times that the agency was “working with the organizers to ensure the short lived schedule of events are safe for all parties involved.”

The churches on Westboro’s picket list were making preparations, too.

In a video posted on YouTube, the Rev. Stuart Higginbotham, from Grace Episcopal Church, encouraged members to attend services that day and to bring friends — and not to engage with protesters. 

Higginbotham said he planned to have the church’s bells ring continuously during the 30 minutes Westboro members are expected to be outside. 

“I will peal them for the entire time that they are here,” Higginbotham said. “For the sound of those bells, which is a symbol of God’s love, drowns out the hate.”

Report: Detainees coerced to work or go without toiletries, adequate food in private ICE facilities

A new report from Reuters says detainees in private immigration detention centers must work for meager pay in order to afford marked-up toiletries and food, or go without those essentials -- claims prison officials refute.

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Immigrants and activists say the facilities deliberately skimp on essentials, even food, to coerce detainees to labor for pennies an hour to supplement meager rations, Reuters reported.

For example, 25-year-old detainee Duglas Cruz, housed at the privately run Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, California, works for a $1 per day wage in order to supplement a jailhouse diet that he told Reuters leaves him perpetually hungry. With his kitchen job, Cruz can save for a $3.25 can of tuna, which Reuters reported is four times the price of tuna at a nearby Target store.

In a lawsuit filed last year by the Southern Poverty Law Center against Nashville-based private prison company CoreCivic Inc., 67-year-old detainee Wilhen Hill Barrientos said detainees “either work for a few cents an hour or live without basic things like soap, shampoo, deodorant and food.”

But Pablo Paez, a spokesman for Geo Group Inc. -- the largest private prison company in the U.S., which owns the Adelanto facility -- says allegations of wrongdoing are “completely false.” He told Reuters that detainees are given meals approved by dieticians, the labor program is strictly voluntary and wage rates are federally mandated.

In addition to the lawsuit filed by the SPLC, immigrants' rights groups have filed similar lawsuits against Geo Group and CoreCivic in California, Colorado, Texas and Washington.

Lawmakers are also taking notice. In November, 11 U.S. senators sent letters to Geo Group and CoreCivic criticizing the “perverse profit incentive at the core of the private prison business,” which has benefited from a crackdown on illegal immigrants under President Donald Trump, Reuters reported.

Paez told Reuters that Geo Group is preparing a detailed, comprehensive response to the senators, conceding that the company “fell short” in some areas of providing detainees care.

CoreCivic spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist told Reuters the company disagrees with the senators’ assertions and that it provides “all daily needs” of detainees.

Trump offers deal to end shutdown in Saturday speech

President Donald Trump announced a proposal for Democrats in a televised speech Saturday afternoon to end the the 29-day partial government shutdown.

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In his speech, he said he wants to trade temporary protections against deportation for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants for money to build his wall.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described Trump’s proposal as a “nonstarter” moments before for the announcement.

Democrats want the protections to be permanent and want him to reopen government before negotiating on border security.

The shutdown began Dec. 22, 2018 over a stalemate between Trump and congressional leaders over his demand for more than $5 billion to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

This is a developing story. Check back for details.

Teen wearing red MAGA hat taunts drum-beating Native American during Indigenous Peoples March

A grinning teen wearing a red Make America Great Again hat stood inches from a Native American who was chanting and playing a ceremonial drum during an Indigenous Peoples March. 

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Video of the intense interaction Friday shows supporters in the crowd who appear to be wearing clothing with the insignia of Covington Catholic High School, an all-boys private parochial school in Kentucky, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

"We are just now learning about this incident and regret it took place,” Laura Keener, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, told the Enquirer. “We are looking into it." 

The school’s social media channels were switched to private. 

Students from the school participated in a March for Life event in Washington the same day as the Indigenous Peoples March, according to the school’s website.

Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam veteran and former director of the Native Youth Alliance, is the man beating the drum and chanting the AIM Song, Indian Country Today reported

“I wish I could see that energy of that young mass of young men to put that energy into making this country really great,” Phillips said in an interview posted to social media. 

This is not the first time Phillips has been ridiculed. 

In 2015, a group of students from Eastern Michigan University having an “American Indian” theme party yelled racial epithets and threw a beer can at Phillips, WJBK reported.

'Unsolved Mysteries' reboot planned for Netflix

The producers of "Stranger Things" are planning to rebootUnsolved Mysteries” for Netflix.

“Stranger Things” producers Shawn Levy and Josh Barry are joining the creators of the original series, Terry Dunn Meurer and John Cosgrove for the latest incarnation.

The series is expected to follow the original format, but only focus on a single case in each of the 12 episodes.

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“This modern take on the classic series will maintain the chilling feeling viewers loved about the original, while also telling the stories through the lens of a premium Netflix documentary series,” officials with the streaming video service said. “Each episode will focus on one mystery and once again will look to viewers to help aid investigators in closing the book on long outstanding cases.”

Netflix has not announced who will host the reboot. The original series’ Robert Stack died in 2003. Dennis Farina, who died in 2013, also hosted a reboot on Spike in 2008.

The original “Unsolved Mysteries,” ran for 11 seasons and 260 episodes and received six Emmy nominations.

Texas high schooler says he was punched while defending girl

A Texas high schooler said he was trying to defend a female classmate when another student punched him, and now his mother is questioning why teachers didn’t intervene.

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Bisade Afolabi, a 17-year-old senior at Summit High School in Mansfield, told WFAA-TV the fight started when a boy he didn’t know threatened a girl he was sitting with in the school’s auditorium.

“I said, ‘Hold up. You don’t disrespect a woman like that. That’s wrong,’” Afolabi said. “And then he said, ‘Who are you? I’m going to punch you.’”

Several classmates sitting nearby took video, which appears to show the other boy throwing punches at Afolabi as he remains seated. Eventually, Afolabi stands and appears to attempt to grab the boy to try and stop the fight, the news station reported.

Afolabi, who is a boxer and football player, says he held back because he didn’t want to threaten his eligibility to play sports or his legal status. The high schooler and his family are permanent residents from Nigeria. He told WFAA he threw one punch, but isn’t sure if it hit the other student.

Afolabi said he hasn’t faced discipline for the assault.

Afolabi’s mother, Bola Afolabi, wants to press charges against the boy who punched her son. Bisade Afolabi said teachers jumped in to end the fight after it broke out, but his mother wants to know why teachers didn’t respond sooner.

“Why did it take them so long?” she said, “Because I can see the fight does not start immediately.”

The Mansfield Independent School District released a statement to WFAA, saying staff rushed to get the situation under control and added that appropriate disciplinary actions have been taken.

Bisade Afolabi said he’s been benched from all sports until he’s cleared by a doctor, but told WFAA he believes he did the right thing.

Boo, World's Cutest Dog, has died

Boo, once named the World's Cutest Dog, has died of a broken heart.

Boo's owners posted Friday on Facebook that the Pomeranian started experiencing heart problems shortly after their other dog, Buddy, died and they think "his heart literally broke."

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The post reads:

"With deepest sadness I wanted to share that Boo passed away in his sleep early this morning and has left us to join his best friend, Buddy. Our family is heartbroken, but we find comfort knowing that he is no longer in any pain or discomfort. We know that Buddy was the first to greet him on the other side of that rainbow bridge, and this is likely the most excited either of them have been in a long time."

Boo had accomplished a lot in his life. In addition to his title and social media presence, Boo became Virgin America’s Official Pet Liaison in 2012 and appeared in several books, CNN reported.

Attorney general: Alleged predator used ‘Fortnite’ to contact victim

Florida authorities say a man used the video game "Fortnite" to solicit a child for pornographic images.

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Anthony Gene Thomas, 41, of Broward County, Florida, faces several charges, including 22 counts of child pornography and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, according to a statement from Florida Attorney General Ashley Mason,which says, in part:

“This case is disturbing not only because it involves child pornography, but also because a popular online game was used to communicate with the victim,” Mason said. “We have reason to believe there could be additional victims, and I am asking anyone with information about the recruiting of minors for child pornography, or any other type of sexual exploitation, to call law enforcement immediately.”

An investigation found that a co-conspirator contacted the victim, who lives in Brevard County, Florida, through the online video game "Fortnite," the statement said. The co-conspirator allegedly connected the victim to Thomas. Authorities said the victim confided in Thomas about hardships that were happening at home, and Thomas responded by manipulating the victim with gifts, including credit cards and a cellphone so they could be in direct contact with each other.

On Aug. 25, 2018, Thomas and the co-conspirator allegedly picked up the victim and brought them to Thomas’s Broward County home. The victim’s parents called the police, who found the victim and brought them back home Aug. 26. Thomas and the victim remained in contact, the statement said.

Law enforcementofficers served a search warrant Oct. 11 and allegedly found pornographic images and video of the victim on Thomas’s phone. He was arrested and charged with soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct using computers, traveling to meet a minor for unlawful sexual activity, possession with intention to promote sexual performance of a child, 22 counts of child pornography and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.

Authorities believe Thomas could have as many as 20 additional victims, the statement said.

Mason stressed in the statement that parents should monitor who their child talks to online, and should talk with their child about sexual predators.

Trump announcement: What time, what channel, how to watch; what will he say?

President Donald Trump is expected to announce Saturday a new plan that will fund a wall along the U.S. southern border and end a partial government shutdown that has gone on for four weeks.

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Trump will make the announcement from the White House, and according to The Associated Press, he is not expected to declare a national emergency to fund a border wall as he has said he might.

>> Trump sets ‘major announcement’ Saturday on border wall fight

While the administration would not confirm what the president will announce, according to The Associated Press, Trump will lay out a new deal that would both fund the wall and end the government shutdown.

The New York Times is reporting that House Democrats have added more than $1 billion in border-related spending to funding bills that have been passed in recent weeks. 

Democrats had proposed $563 million to hire 75 more immigration judges and $524 million to improve ports of entry in Calexico, California, and San Luis, Arizona, the AP reported.

Trump has asked for $5.7 billion in funding to build the border wall.The showdown over funding the wall led to the partial government shutdown that  sent 800,000 federal workers home without pay for the past month.

Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s announcement:

What time: The announcement will come at 4 p.m. ET, according to the White House

Where is he making the announcement: Trump will be speaking from the White House

What channel: Cable news channels will carry the announcement live. The four major networks are also expected to carry the announcement live.

What will he say: It’s not believed Trump will declare a national emergency, but instead will propose a new deal to end the partial government shutdown and fund the wall, according to reporting from The Associated Press.


Houston man fatally shoots 3 during home invasion, police say

Three men were fatally shot and a fourth man was hospitalized after a home invasion early Saturday in Houston, KPRC reported.

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According to police, four men forced their way into an east Houston home around 1 a.m. The homeowner grabbed his gun and shot all four men, KHOU reported. 

One man died in front of the house, while one wounded man fled on foot, KPRC reported. The other two men fled in an SUV but crashed into a pole, the television station reported.

One man was found dead in the vehicle, while the other man left the SUV but collapsed. He later died at the hospital, KPRC reported.

The surviving suspect was shot in the leg, police said. He is expected to survive, the television station reported.

The homeowner was not injured and was being questioned by police, KHOU reported.

California teen presumed dead after being swept into Pacific Ocean

An 18-year-old California man is presumed dead after he was swept into the ocean at a state park near Carmel, KPIX reported.

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Braxton Cooper Stuntz, of Carmel, was hiking along the trails at Garrapata State Park Beach on Jan. 12 when he slipped and fell through a blowhole near the cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean, the television station reported.

The hole filled up with 14-foot waves that crashed into the area nine seconds apart, sweeping Stuntz out into the ocean, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office said.

Coast Guard spokeswoman Emily Rowan told KSBW that two friends hiking with Stuntz said they saw him give a thumbs-up after he fell, "but after a few crashes of the waves they were unable to locate him."

Stuntz’s body has not been found.

Stuntz’s family started a GoFundMe page to begin a charitable foundation in his name. As of Saturday morning, more than $41,000 had been pledged.

The money will go toward the Children's Surgical Center and the tutoring of children in math and science, KION reported.

Teen in cancer remission practices with Nashville Predators 

A Michigan teen battling cancer realized a dream Friday when he practiced in goal with the NHL’s Nashville Predators, fending off shots while meeting his favorite player, The Tennessean reported.

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Jacob Piros is visiting Nashville to participate in the Make-A-WIsh Foundation’s program. The 17-year-old played in goal during the Predators’ practice Friday and then had lunch with his favorite player, goalie Pekka Rinne, the newspaper reported.

Piros’ cancer is in remission, and he was given special treatment while he visited the Music City. The high school goalie was introduced before the Predators’ game Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets, led the team onto the ice and stood with Rinne during the playing of the national anthem, The Tennessean reported.

Friday morning, Piros worked in net as Predators players Roman Josi, Anthony Bitetto, Ryan Ellis, Yannick Weber, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Hartman, Matt Irwin and RInne took shots at the teen. Piros stopped most the shots fired his way, the newspaper reported.

"I can't score on you," Rinne said after Piros made a save.

Rinne told The Tennessean that Piros’ handling of his cancer through the years was “awesome.”

"It’s a humbling feeling. It’s pretty surreal," Rinne said. "Last night I was upset about the game, but all of a sudden you realize how selfish it is. It’s just a hockey game. There’s a lot of other things going on in life.

"Great guy. He’s funny. Good sense of humor,” Rinne said. “It’s a great experience for me, too."

Piros was given five hockey sticks by Rinne, and he will attend Nashville’s game Saturday against the Florida Panthers with his parents, The Tennessean reported.

"It was fantastic," Piros’ mother, Ronda Klein, told the newspaper. "He was in his glory. He was like, 'Wow, dream come true.'"

Tennessee store clerk accused of tampering with lottery tickets

A Tennessee woman is accused of “slightly scratching” lottery tickets at the convenience store when she worked and then selling them to unsuspecting customers, WATE reported.

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Delany Ann Schaffer, 27, allegedly tampered with the bonus box on lottery tickets at the Ken Jo Market in Powell and then placed them back into the display case, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. She kept the winning tickets, the newspaper reported, citing an arrest warrant.

Schaffer was arrested Thursday and is being held at the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility in lieu of $10,000 bond, the newspaper reported.

A Tennessee Lottery inspector said he received a tip from a customer who bought tickets and noticed they had been tampered with, WATE reported.

Surveillance video from the store confirmed Schaffer tampered with tickets several times, WATE reported. The ticket scratching took place from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3, the News Sentinel reported.

Tampering with lottery tickets is a Class C felony in Tennessee. If convicted, Schaffer could be sent to prison up to 15 years and could be fined up to $100,000, the newspaper reported.

Police: Man arrested after demanding drugs at North Carolina CVS store

North Carolina police are investigating at the scene of an alleged armed robbery at a CVS store in Catawba County that ended with a chase to another county.

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The robbery happened just before 9 p.m. Friday when a man demanded drugs at the drugstore, located south of Hickory. 

Police said the man threatened the employees, saying that he had a gun. 

Deputies spotted the getaway car and chased the suspect into Cleveland County, where one man was taken into custody. 

Officials said there were no injuries.

Texas day care center probed after video shows worker pulling child's hair

A Texas day care center is under investigation after a video showing a worker pulling a toddler’s hair went viral, KCBD reported.

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The video was posted to social media Thursday and involved a worker and a child at My Little Playhouse Learning Center in Lubbock, the television station reported. 

Police investigators, who are referring the case to prosecutors on possible assault charges, said the video was recorded Dec. 26. However, the child’s parents were unaware of the recording until it hit social media, KCBD reported.

The video shows an employee at the day care center grabbing a young child by the hair as the girl tried to stand up, the television station reported.

The person recording the video can be heard laughing and making fun of another child, KCBD reported.

"They had no apology," the child’s mother told KTRK. "They had no reason they did not call me. Like I said, everything hit the fan and it's like they just had nothing to say."

The two employees involved in the incident were fired, day care officials told the television station.

Wisconsin woman accused of embezzling lunch money from school district

A Wisconsin woman is accused of embezzling more than $10,000 from school lunch accounts -- and possibly more -- over a five-year period, WISN reported.

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The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday charged Jennifer Dettmann, 48, of Kewaskum, of taking money while employed with Taher Inc., a food service vendor. Dettmann served as the Brown Deer School District's food service director from April 2008 to January 2016, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

During a police interview, the criminal complaint states Dettmann admitted to taking money, WISN reported. Prosecutors said Dettmann was not sure of the exact amount but believed it to be approximately $50,000, the television station reported.

According to the criminal complaint, Dettmann would input e-funds, checks, and a portion of the cash received into the proper system, and then would take the second batch of cash for herself, WISN reported.

Dettmann is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 30, the Journal Sentinel reported.

New Jersey man convicted in 2016 murder of estranged wife

A New Jersey man was convicted Friday of murdering his estranged wife inside her home while their 12-year-old son watched, the Daily Journal reported.

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Jeremiah E. Monell, 34, was accused of stabbing Tara O’Shea-Watson, 35, nearly 90 times at her home on Dec. 18, 2016, reported. O’Shea-Watson suffered stab wounds to her neck, chest and stomach during the attack, the website reported.

Monell faces a mandatory sentence of life without parole, according to the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. Monell is scheduled to be sentenced March 1, the Daily Journal reported.

Testimony showed that the knives Monelli used were found behind a kitchen stove and one of them had his palm print, the newspaper reported.

According to, the child testified he watched from his bedroom as his father choked and stabbed his mother before telling the sobbing boy, “You shouldn’t have seen that.”

According to trial testimony, Monell moved out of the home in April 2016 after a domestic violence incident, the Daily Journal reported. He was arrested two weeks after the crime in Atlantic County, reported.

Monell rejected a plea deal in October, where he would have served 30 years to life imprisonment, the website reported. He now faces a mandatory life sentence without parole.

MRI comes back clean for Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly received good news this week, as his recent MRI results after cancer surgery came back clean, WROC reported.

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Kelly, who led the Buffalo Bills to four Super Bowls during his 11-year NFL career, underwent surgery last fall after he had surgery for oral cancer.

In an Instagram post, Kelly’s wife, Jill Kelly, said "We finally got back the results from Jim’s recent MRI ... CLEAN! Thank GOD! It took a bit longer than usual because of all the reconstruction Jim has had inside his mouth. They wanted to be certain that all was good ..."

Kelly threw for 35,467 yards and 237 touchdowns during his NFL career from 1986 to 1996. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Police: 2 people found dead in vehicle after shots fired near Tacoma Mall

Police are investigating after two people were found dead in a vehicle in a Washington state parking lot Friday evening.

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At about 5 p.m., officers responded to reports of shots fired in near the Tacoma Mall. Gunshots were reported coming from a vehicle in the parking lot. 

Police said when they arrived at the scene, they went to the vehicle and saw two people who appeared to have gunshot wounds and were unresponsive. 

Fire officials said the two people were pronounced dead. 

The investigation is ongoing.

Sheriff Shaq? O'Neal considers running in Georgia county

NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal said he wants to run for sheriff in a Georgia county.

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Appearing on Friday’s episode of “The Dr. Oz Show” O’Neal told Dr. Mehmet Oz that he wants to run in Henry County “to bring law enforcement and the community closer together.”

When talking about community relations as it pertains to law enforcement, O’Neal said, "Right now, we're miles apart."

O’Neal said he's too busy right now and wants to focus all of his energy on being a good sheriff.

"I thought about doing it in 2020, but I think I'll wait until 2024," O'Neal said.


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