September 29, 2022
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crime

2 found shot to death in Fort Mill home

The 71-year-old woman and 40-year-old man were found dead on Tuesday night.

FORT MILL, S.C. — An elderly woman and middle-aged man are dead after a fatal shooting, York County Sheriff’s detectives said.

According to authorities, the 71-year-old woman and 40-year-old man were found shot to death on Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. They were later identified as Betty Reynolds and Barry Reynolds, who authorities said were mother and son.

Deputies discovered the victims after being called to the home on Saddle Ridge Road in Fort Mill for a well-being check. 

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

When officers entered the home, they found both victims with gunshot wounds. 

“All they told me was that my neighbors were found dead, and they couldn’t disclose anything because they have an ongoing investigation, and I totally respect and understand that, but I hope that they can wrap that up sooner than later so we know, and we can have some peace of mind,” neighbor Lisa LaFranca said.

LaFranca said she was friends with the Reynolds family for many years, calling Betty Reynolds a kind woman she would see often. 

“I just can’t even believe it. I can’t believe I’m not going to see her today or tomorrow or see her white car,” LaFranca said. 

York County officials said there are no suspects in custody, and the motive for the shooting is unknown at this time, but they do not believe this to be a random act of violence. However, authorities said this case is still under investigation.

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If you have information about this shooting, please contact the York County Sheriff’s Office at 803-628-3059 or you can remain anonymous by calling York County Crime Stoppers at 1-877-409-4321 or send tips online at crimestoppersofyorkcounty.com.

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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If you or a loved one are facing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help readily available. You can call Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat with them online. There are also resources in North Carolina available here and in South Carolina available here. 

If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence, help is readily available. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788. Resources for help are available in both North Carolina and South Carolina.  […]

crime

Lancaster County Sheriff: 4 arrested for teen's fatal shooting

Jashawna Coleman, 15, was killed on Sunday while visiting a family’s residence in Kershaw. Authorities have charged four people in connection with her death.

KERSHAW, S.C. — Four people have been arrested for the death of a 15-year-old girl who was killed in a drive-by shooting at a relative’s apartment.

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office said on Thursday that Antonio Gary Johnson, 20, two 16-year-old males, and a 15-year-old male were in custody for the shooting death of Jashawna Coleman, 15. Investigators used surveillance video to track down the suspects.

Deputies were first called to the Foxwood apartment complex on Country Club Road in Kershaw around 1 a.m. on Sunday for reports of shots fired. Residents of the complex told authorities they heard shots fired and that a car sped away at the time of the gunshots. Deputies located possible damage to an air conditioning unit from the incident, but no injuries or additional damage was found.

Deputies were called back to the complex around 7:05 a.m. on Sunday after Coleman’s aunt found her on the couch with a gunshot wound. Lancaster County EMS pronounced the teen dead at the scene, according to deputies. 

Coleman was visiting relatives at the time of the incident, deputies said. Other adults and children in the home were not injured.

Investigators believe Coleman was hit by a bullet that entered the apartment through an exterior wall during the shooting that was reported just before 1 a.m. There is no evidence that a second shooting occurred at the complex.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

After the shooting, investigators gathered surveillance video to attempt to track down the suspects. They witnessed gunfire coming from a Nissan Altima near the apartments and worked to identify the car. 

Deputies learned the car belonged to a woman on Day Street and tracked down the vehicle’s location. Investigators conducted a search of the home where the Nissan was found and confiscated the vehicle. Search warrants were executed on other homes in the area as well where multiple weapons were found and confiscated for examination.

Using this evidence, investigators connected Johnson to the crime and arrested him at one of the residences. Johnson is charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime. Johnson is being held at the Lancaster County Detention Center.

The 15-year-old was arrested at the same location and given the same charges. He is being held at the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in Columbia.

One of the 16-year-olds was found and arrested in Camden, S.C. The other 16-year-old turned himself in on Wednesday with a parent present. Both are also facing the same charges as Johnson and will be transported to the DJJ.

RELATED: Missing South Carolina woman’s boyfriend arrested in connection to her disappearance

Each of the teens will appear before a family court judge to determine whether they will remain in custody. Other court officials will determine if the teens will face charges as adults.

Barry Faile, Lancaster County Sheriff, described Coleman’s death as a senseless tragedy and said she was completely innocent. Coleman was a student at Lancaster High School.

This case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 283-3388.

RELATED: 2 found shot to death in Fort Mill home

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home

When solicitors call, charities receive just a fraction of donations

Of nearly $6 million raised by a professional fundraiser on behalf of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police since 2003, the FOP collected $1.5 million.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charities in the Carolinas are making money when they hire professional fundraisers to solicit on their behalf, but millions of dollars in donations never make it to the intended organizations and donors are likely unaware.

A WCNC Charlotte analysis of public records found when nonprofits hire professional fundraisers to solicit on their behalf, most of the time, those private companies collect more money than the actual charities that hire them.

“There are good professionals in this area and then there are organizations or groups of people or individuals who are either excessive in their fees or just not efficient in delivering services,” North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said. “I think most people want their money to go as far as it can to support that charity as opposed to the overhead.”

In North Carolina alone, state records from 2020 and 2021 identified 200 charities that received less than 50% of the donations the companies they hired collected.

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Just 25 cents of every dollar go to the local Fraternal Order of Police 

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police, like every other FOP in North Carolina and South Carolina, received far less than half of all proceeds. The lodge relies on donations to fund its Cops and Kids program, which provides gifts and school supplies to vulnerable children.

The organization hires Area Benefits, Incorporated, a professional fundraising company out of Georgia, to call potential donors on the FOP’s behalf. Over the last 20 years, the FOP has received an average of roughly 25% of all donations collected by ABI. That equates to a little more than $1.5 million.

“Without this partnership, we wouldn’t be able to collect the amount of money that we do,” FOP President Daniel Redford said.

While the charity is thankful for the tens of thousands of dollars raised every year by ABI, WCNC Charlotte’s review of state charity filings identified an additional $4.4 million from 2003 to 2021, about 75%, that went to ABI.

“When you look at it for just what it is, out of context, it is a big number,” Redford said. “When you start beginning to understand where that money goes to, nobody’s getting rich off of this. They’ve got phone bills. They’ve got employees that they have to pay. ”

The FOP’s longstanding contract states the nonprofit is guaranteed a minimum of 20% of all proceeds or at least $60,000 every year. The contract describes the final breakdown of funds as a 50-50 split after a promotional coordinator gets a 40% cut and after fundraising expenses are deducted.

“Do you think the people that are donating realize that 25 cents out of every dollar are going to this lodge?” WCNC Charlotte asked.

“I think that would be a question that would be better answered by ABI,” Redford replied.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app. 

WCNC Charlotte asked ABI President Gary Coyne that question.

“I can’t speak for the public myself,” Coyne said. “I know for a fact that the public knows that law enforcement is not making the calls themselves.”

Coyne said ABI uses a state-approved script that discloses his locally hired workers as paid solicitors calling on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police. He said ABI’s expenses include licensing, bonds and registration, as well as office staff.

ABI’s most recent report to the state, filed in June 2022, shows a gross revenue of just under $290,000 of which roughly $116,000 reportedly went to salaries, fees, commissions and benefits, $11,700 went toward office expenses, rental, furniture, equipment and utilities and about $7,600 covered telephone, printing and postage. The document lists ABI’s net proceeds from the telemarketing campaign as $77,287.70, which is equal to the amount the FOP received that year.

State laws require professional fundraisers to report how much they collect and provide copies of their contracts. WCNC Charlotte used those filings to conclude most fundraising services end up collecting the lion’s share of the donated dollars. 

Too much on overhead

The Better Business Bureau’s standard sets a baseline for charities to take home at least 65% of all money raised. The most recent state filings identify a range of charities that receive significantly less than 65%, including nonprofits focused on food, cancer and other medical priorities.

Tom Bartholomy, the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau, said the practice leaves a bad taste in donors’ mouths. 

“They believe that they’re doing good, that they’re having an impact,” he said. “And when they find out that’s not the case, that turns them off from donating to anybody.”

Bartholomy said charities that receive less than 65% are spending too much on overhead. His preference is to give directly to an organization.

“I would never ever make a contribution to a professional promoter that’s calling me on the phone,” Bartholomy said. “If you want to have that impact that every donor tells us they want to have, give directly to that organization. They’re easy enough to find. They all have websites.”

Marshall has an even higher bar for charitable giving. Her personal preference is “75% or better,” but neither she nor state leaders can mandate how much charities receive.

U.S. Supreme Court case out of North Carolina set the precedent

A 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which originated in North Carolina, concluded, based on First Amendment rights, states cannot determine “reasonable fees.”

“We can’t do that,” Marshall said. “I came into office thinking I could because I wanted to make sure charities get as much as they could.”

In its ruling, the country’s highest court also determined professional fundraisers don’t have to share the cost breakdown up front with possible donors. However, if asked, they have to provide that information.

“If asked, the expectation is they’re telling the truth and explaining what the funding is being utilized for,” Redford said about the FOP’s solicitor.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking “where’s the money?” If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

ABI’s president said the company, which filings show also recently solicited for FOP lodges in Asheville, Durham and New Bern, meets that expectation. Coyne said when potential donors ask for details, his workers are always transparent.

“It happens all the time,” Coyne said. “We direct them to the Secretary of State’s website. If somebody starts asking what the breakdowns are, that’s when we direct them to the Secretary of State.”

FOP to “re-explore” how it captures money

Charity filings show, during the most recent telemarketing campaigns, the other North Carolina FOP lodges received a slightly higher percentage of donations compared to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg lodge. In light of WCNC Charlotte’s questions, Redford said if the FOP can negotiate a more favorable deal in the future, the organization will. After all, the end goal is to give back to the communities local police serve.

“If it’s an opportunity for us to re-explore how we capture that money, we’re all for making changes that can benefit us, because it would benefit us greater to be able to receive more of that money,” Redford said. “We are very thankful for that partnership, but if there’s ever an opportunity in any realm of our organization to do a little bit better, then that’s something that we’ll always explore.”

Do your homework

Marshall urges people to do their research by reviewing every charity’s annual fundraising results, which are published online in North Carolina and South Carolina every year. She also recommends only giving to local charities and before donating any money, checking to see if the charity will allow visitors or volunteers, so potential donors can get a better feel for the non-profit.

There are several websites that can help you evaluate a charity.

They include:

Contact Nate Morabito at nmorabito@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Education

Some SC schools switching to virtual learning on Friday due to weather

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — Several school districts in South Carolina are changing schedules this week due to expected impacts from Tropical Storm Ian. 
The following school districts in South Carolina will switch to virtual learning Friday as a precaution ahead of Ian: 
Chesterfield County had an early release day Thursday before Friday’s remote learning day. All Chesterfield County School District campuses dismissed students at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. All extracurricular activities that were scheduled for Friday have been canceled. 
Fort Mill Schools have not decided on their plan at this time. 
The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDOE) has guidance for districts regarding inclement weather and what conditions can be unsafe for school buses. Winds over 30 mph can greatly impact a bus’s handling while driving, according to the SCDOE.
More information will be provided when it is released by the districts. […]

crime

Romance scam unravels after man caught at Charlotte Douglas International Airport with a bag of cash

The men would target their victims online and convince them they were in romantic relationships while slowly convincing them to send bigger amounts of money.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte is at the center of a romance scam that took $1.5 million from women who thought they were in love. It’s a scheme that stretched all the way to Africa and only unraveled after a man was caught at Charlotte Douglas International Airport with a bag full of cash.

The United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, Dena J. King, said this kind of scam is on the rise, and she’s hoping this story will serve as a warning for others.

Even as a veteran prosecutor, King was shocked by the audacity of the crime.

“It is insane, it actually hits you in the gut,” King said. “This organization scammed $1.5 million from 30 people.”

The men would target their victims — mostly older women — online and convince them they were in romantic relationships while slowly convincing them to send bigger and bigger amounts of money; Michael Moore would travel to each victim to pick the money up.

It all unraveled when Moore showed up at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport with a bag full of cash and Homeland Security started asking questions.

ALSO ON WCNC CHARLOTTE: Charlotte Douglas International Airport moves into next phase of construction

“Moore happened to be transiting through Charlotte Douglas after picking up a large sum of money, $75,000, from a victim here locally and that led to an investigation that reached across the Atlantic into west Africa,” Michael Prado, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations in Charlotte, said.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking “where’s the money?” If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

King said there is a term for Moore’s pattern.

“Mr. Moore is what we consider a bag man or a moneyman,” King explained. “He would literally travel throughout the U.S. to meet with victims where victims would hand him over cash — and we’re talking about thousands and thousands of dollars — in brown bags and he would take that money and would send it overseas to some of his co-conspirators.”

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King said the men targeted people through social media and dating websites. 

“Mr. Moore would pretend to be in love or have a romantic interest with many of the victims and over time he would begin to request money from them,” King said. “He’d start off with small amounts of money and after he was able to get smaller amounts, work his way up to getting much larger amounts.”

ALSO ON WCNC CHARLOTTE: ‘100% capacity’ | Coworking spaces are doing well as the return to work takes on a different shape

One of his victims lives in Charlotte and lost everything.

“She gave up her savings,” King said.

Moore can be seen using the money as a prop in a video he sent to his co-conspirators.

“He would record videos after he took the money,” King said. “He would spread it out on a bed and record videos where [he] was literally bragging about being able to take so much cash from the victims and you physically see stacks of money laying on the bed. This is literally hard-earned money from a victim who no longer has this money.”

Even after he’d been caught, King said Moore went back to his victims, texting them to cover for him and asking for more money.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

“Even after the money was seized by law enforcement, this fraudster Mr. Moore continued to go back to the same victim to seek out additional money,” King said. 

But not anymore. Moore is now serving 10 years in prison. His co-conspirators though remain free. Investigators say it’s almost impossible to build a case against overseas fraudsters.

According to the FBI’s Elder Abuse Report, romance scams are responsible for the biggest losses — almost half a billion dollars in 2021. 

That’s a 74% increase from the year before.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking “where’s the money?” If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

In 2021, there were more than 92,000 victims of elder fraud overall with a total loss of $1.7 billion and the average victim losing $18,246. 

North Carolina ranks 15th nationwide for the highest number of victims of elder abuse. South Carolina is 24th.

Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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home

How Hurricane Ian will impact North Carolina and South Carolina

Ian left a trail of destruction along Florida’s Gulf coast Wednesday, causing widespread damage, trapping people and knocking out power to 2 million people.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction in southwest Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, damaging the roof of a hospital intensive care unit and knocking out power to 2 million people before aiming for the Atlantic Coast.

One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit the United States barreled across the Florida peninsula overnight Wednesday, threatening catastrophic flooding inland, the National Hurricane Center warned.

The center said Ian became a tropical storm over land early Thursday and was expected to emerge over Atlantic waters near the Kennedy Space Center later in the day. Flooding rains continued across the state, and a stretch of the Gulf Coast remained inundated by ocean water, pushed ashore by the massive storm.

At least 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate. 

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Ian’s impact on the Carolinas

Ian will continue across Florida as a tropical storm on the East Coast later Thursday.

While Ian is not expected to strengthen over the Atlantic Ocean, a return to the ocean water could help the storm maintain some of its tropical storm strength as it turns back toward the Georgia and South Carolina coast Friday.

Thursday and Friday in the Carolinas

Ian is now a strong tropical storm off the coast of Georgia and is expected to move back toward the coast of South Carolina Friday afternoon.

By definition, tropical storm force winds range between 39-73 mph. 

By Friday afternoon, tropical storm force winds could be gusting in communities south and east of the Charlotte metro, including in Union, Anson, and Richland counties in North Carolina, and York, Chester, Lancaster, and Chesterfield counties in South Carolina. The most likely wind speeds at this time will range between 35-40 mph.

At this same time Friday afternoon, the eye of Ian will be approaching somewhere along the Georgia or South Carolina coast. Tropical Storm Warnings have been posted along these shorelines in anticipation of storm surge upwards of five feet.

While the heaviest of rain Friday will remain along the Southeast coast, outer bands of Ian could bring sweeping periods of heavier rain and thunderstorms in Charlotte by Friday afternoon. 

With some of these outer bands comes a threat of an isolated tornado. While overall the chances of tornadoes remain low throughout the weekend, the best chances to see a tornado Friday will be along the Carolina coast and the Interstate 95 corridor.

As with any other time frame during this storm, the biggest threat will be in the form of heavy rain and flash flooding. 

By Friday night, the chances of heavy rain and gusty winds increase. During the evening hours, winds could gust up to 45 mph in Charlotte and communities to the south and east of the city. Locations for these higher wind gusts would include, but not be limited to, Rock Hill, Monroe and Lancaster.

Saturday in the Carolinas

By Saturday morning, Ian will likely already have made landfall in the Southeast.

Very heavy rains continue along the coast and I-95 corridor with the threat slowly moving inland toward Charlotte. 

Much of Saturday in Charlotte and the surrounding communities will reach heavy rain early in the day. Some of these rains could continue to produce localized threats of flooding. Heavy rain and flooding could also produce landslides in the higher elevations of the North Carolina foothills and mountains.

Those wind gusts upwards of 35-40 mph will continue through portions of Charlotte. The wind threat will begin to shift to the north and west of Charlotte and into communities such as Hickory, Statesville and Gastonia.

While rain is likely throughout mainly the first half of Saturday, conditions should improve late Saturday as the dry slot moves into the Carolinas. This would make showers more scattered to isolated as the heavy rain band moves out of the Piedmont.

By Sunday

Rain chances will begin to decrease by Sunday in Charlotte. While some light rain will linger over the area, the flooding threat will continue as rivers, creeks and streams continue to process excess rainfall from Ian. Wind gusts on Sunday are expected to be much calmer, around 10 mph. 

Overall Ian impacts

Regardless of whether Ian is classified as a hurricane, tropical storm or depression, the impacts from the storm in the Carolinas will remain the same.

Rainfall amounts upwards of 8 inches are possible in the Carolinas. In Charlotte, rain totals are likely between 3-5 inches. Upwards of 7 inches are possible across the North Carolina foothills and mountains.

Winds will gust as high as 50 mph in the North Carolina mountains. The strongest wind gusts in Charlotte are expected to be between 40-45 mph.

Along the coast, storm surge totals could reach 5 feet in places like Charleston.

 🌩️ If you like weather, watch Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte Weather Team on their YouTube channel, Weather IQ. 🎥

#Ian will be weaker but still a tropical storm as it moves back into South Carolina and then disiaptes over the western part of North Carolina this weekend. #cltwx #ncwx #scwx #wcnc pic.twitter.com/lZmScwLA5x— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) September 28, 2022

What you can expect from WCNC Charlotte?

Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte weather team will provide updates on Ian throughout the weekend.

Receive severe weather alerts straight to your phone by downloading the WCNC Charlotte app, where you can also send the team photos and videos of the storm as it is safe to do so.

Brad and the team will have expanded, live-streaming coverage of the storm, which you can watch for free on the WCNC Charlotte phone app, the WCNC+ apps for Roku and Amazon Fire, YouTube, and on WCNC.com.

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crime

Woman dies in Catawba County motorcycle crash, driver charged

Jaquelin York, 36, died after being ejected from a motorcycle during a crash on Tuesday. The motorcycle driver is charged with driving while impaired.

CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. — One man is facing charges after he was involved in a crash that left the passenger of his motorcycle dead.

According to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol (SHP), the crash occurred on Tuesday around 4:40 p.m.

Investigators say a Harley-Davidson motorcycle was traveling northbound on Kale Road in northeast Catawba County before crossing the centerline and sideswiping a 2011 Honda CR-V.

The driver and passenger of the motorcycle were ejected during the crash. Jaquelin York, 36, the passenger, was transported to a hospital in Winston-Salem for treatment where she was later pronounced dead. The driver of the motorcycle, Tony Travis, 43, suffered non-life threatening injuries.

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

Both occupants of the Honda were uninjured.

The crash caused Kale Road to be closed for nearly three hours.

RELATED: High school student killed by tractor-trailer, Lancaster County coroner reports

SHP says alcohol is suspected to be a contributing factor in the crash. Travis has been charged with driving while impaired and more charges are pending from the Catawba County District Attorney’s Office.

RELATED: Released bodycam footage shows teen shooting CMPD officer

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Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly.SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Stitcher || Google Podcasts

All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. […]

crime

Released bodycam footage shows teen shooting CMPD officer

A 14-year-old was arrested in December 2021 after police say they shot at an officer during a theft attempt.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released bodycam footage of an incident where a 14-year-old shot an officer in December 2021.

On Wednesday, CMPD officers released the footage from the shooting that occurred on Dec. 27, 2021, on Winged Elm Court.

The video shows CMPD officer Elliot Whitley chasing after a suspect before the teen turns around and shoots Whitley in the shoulder. Whitley fell to the ground after being hit and shot at the suspect, but did not strike the teen.

Whitley stays around the area before other officers come to offer aid. He was transported to a local hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Police were at the scene after reports were made of a larceny from a vehicle The caller told police that the suspect had pointed a gun at a person nearby.

RELATED: 2 found shot to death in Fort Mill home

The suspect ran away from officers when they approached him. After shooting Whitley, the suspect was tracked down and arrested by CMPD officers. The suspect’s age prevents their name from being released.

CMPD said the teen has an extensive criminal history that includes 46 charges in cases dating back to 2014.

The teen was charged with attempted murder after this incident. The progress of that court case is unknown at this time.

The department said an internal affairs investigation found that Whitley committed no wrongdoing during his actions with the suspect.

RELATED: Waxhaw names retired Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Captain as new Interim Police Chief

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Flashpoint is a weekly in-depth look at politics in Charlotte, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond with host Ben Thompson. Listen to the podcast weekly. SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts || Spotify || Stitcher || Google Podcasts 

All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. […]

Entertainment

Several Charlotte weekend events canceled due to Hurricane Ian, while others hold on

Heavy rain and wind is expected to move into the Charlotte area on Friday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte may not see extreme impacts from Hurricane Ian but heavy rain is forcing several weekend events to reschedule.  

The much-anticipated food festival Taste of Charlotte made the decision to postpone the three-day event on Tuesday. 

“Seeing that the rain and the wind was going to be so heavy, we really, in good conscience, could not say, ‘yeah, let’s push through and still have an outdoor event,’” shared event planner Carrie Griffin.  

The festival was set for this weekend at Truist Field with food vendors, live music, and the Pink Cupcake Walk. It’s now rescheduled for October 7, 8 and 9.  

“When reaching out to the bands and sponsors we’re telling them, ‘hey, set up time is the same,’ we’re literally moving everything seven days,” Griffin explained. 

RELATED: Taste of Charlotte, Pink Cupcake Walk postponed due to predicted impacts from Hurricane Ian

Also postponed is the Greater Charlotte Heart Walk. The American Heart Association event was scheduled for Saturday, October 1, but has been rescheduled to Sunday, October 16. 

Popular Plaza Midwood restaurant Moo & Brew was planning a food, beer, and music festival for Saturday, October 1 but that has now been canceled. Organizers are accepting refund requests and have not posted a new date yet.

Meanwhile, Bank of America Stadium is expected to still be roaring with Charlotte FC and Carolina Panthers fans over the weekend.

“Rain is rain,” Charlotte FC fan Mario Rubio told WCNC Charlotte. “Unless there’s a danger for us, I don’t care. I want to go and support my team.”

Charlotte FC is celebrating Fan Appreciation Week, and fans at Wednesday’s block party said they aren’t letting the incoming weather get them down. 

“We’d go regardless,” added Jonathan Clayton. “It’d be pouring down rain, we’d be there. It’s the best experience.” 

The team isn’t a stranger to rain delays. A spokesperson told WCNC Charlotte that it takes lightning or severe flooding of the field to cancel a game.

Saturday’s game will have free shirts and ponchos for fans. 

Meanwhile, several high school football games have been rescheduled in Mecklenburg, Gaston, and Iredell counties. 

RELATED: How Hurricane Ian will impact North Carolina and South Carolina

However, college football games like UNC Charlotte, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, and Clemson vs. NC State are still on. 

USC and SC State’s game has been moved up to this Thursday, September 29.   

Breakaway Music Festival said in a statement online that it is moving forward as planned at the Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. Organizers wrote that they’re monitoring the weather and guidance from local authorities. 

Contact Julia Kauffman at jkauffman@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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Education

CMS: Only 8.2% of high schoolers are ready for a job or college based on math scores

The goal for CMS is to have at least 26% of high schoolers scoring a level 4 or 5 on end of year math exams by 2024.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Test scores show high school students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are severely underperforming in math. 

On Wednesday, CMS released data that show just 8.2% of high schoolers are testing at the highest levels of end-of-year exams in this area. 

The goal for CMS is to have at least 26% of high schoolers scoring a level 4 or 5 on end-of-year math exams by 2024. When students reach this score, this means they’re ready for a job or to head to college. 

CMS says teachers are no longer tamping down expectations due to the pandemic. 

“No matter who they are, where they’re from, they’re not going to teach down, they expect him to learn the standard,” said Hugh Hattabaugh, interim CMS superintendent. “And if we don’t do that, we won’t increase the scores anywhere in the district.” 

RELATED: CMS still searching for 361 teachers a month into the new school year

Despite the data that shows less than 10% of CMS high schoolers are ready for a job or college based on math, it’s still an improvement; this time last year, only 3.7% of high school students were making the grade.

Some teachers are still working on mastering the curriculum to catch students up. 

“We’ve had like 700 new teachers come into the district this year, they’re going to need more support, and ensure that they stay with and focus on the curriculum,” Hattabaugh said. 

CMS says chronically absent students had some of the lowest scores. 

“If we expect teachers to be in the classroom, and be providing positive instruction, great instruction, and enriching students’ abilities to do well, then we expect them to be in the seat,” Hattabaugh said. 

The district still has thousands of virtual and hundreds of in-person after-school tutoring options available to students.

RELATED: CMS gets its $50 million tutoring program off the ground

“We’ve reached out directly to parents where we call up parents, we’ve had our list of kids that we wanted to make sure that we got some extra support for trying to target the kids that need it,” said Daniel Gray, a CMS school principal. 

The district recently spent $50 million in COVID-19 relief dollars on a program to help increase student test scores in schools hit hardest after the pandemic. 

CMS says if scores don’t increase dramatically this school year, they won’t reach their 26 percent target. The district outlined a plan to increase test scores at its board meeting. 

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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crime

High school student killed by tractor-trailer, Lancaster County coroner reports

The office said the 14-year-old girl was trying to cross the road near the intersection of Potter Road and Highway 9 just before 4:30 p.m. That was when the coroner’s office said she was then hit by the vehicle.
As of writing, the teen has not been identified as the coroner’s office does not release the names of minor children. However, she was confirmed to be a student who attended Buford High School.
We are heartbroken by the loss of one of our students in a tragic accident today. We will have additional counselors on-site at Buford High tomorrow.
All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere. […]

community

Therapeutic horseback riding helps kids with special needs

Students ride the horses free of charge due to community donations to the nonprofit Mitey Riders.

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Harry Swimmer changes lives on his 83-acre property called Misty Meadows Farm. When talking about the land, Swimmer calls it “a little bit of heaven.” 

He’s 92 years old and still going strong. 

“Mitey Riders started 27 years ago,” Swimmer told WCNC Charlotte’s Sarah French.

Swimmer met a little girl in a wheelchair, and that’s when he got the idea.

“I said, I wonder what she’d be like on a horse,” he said. “And I put her on a horse, and boy, she lit up. And I said — this is for me.” 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Therapeutic horseback riding helping kids with special needs

Since then, nearly a thousand kids have been transformed through the power of therapeutic horseback riding. And once you start, you never age out. Swimmer lets them come for all long as they want, and the program is completely free to families.

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, just download the free app.

Chancellor Lee Adams has been a part of Mitey Riders for 12 years. He is the son of former Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth.

Chancellor’s grandmother, Sandra Adams, said she loves what horseback riding does for her grandson.

“The horses are so big and powerful,” Adams said. “It lets them know they can face anything and conquer big challenges.”   

She said the name “Mitey Riders” stands out to her.

“I love the name Mitey Riders because they are mighty riders!” Adams said. “So many people look at people with disabilities and think of what they can’t do and he [Swimmer] is showing them what we can do. It’s not about, ‘I’m disabled, I’m abled differently.’”

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Swimmer said horses are “amazing animals” and can tell what is going on in a given environment.

“I had a great big horse, and I had a child on the horse, and it was in the ring and I was working the class,” Swimmer recalled. “All of a sudden we turned around and looked and the horse stopped dead in his tracks. And we went over, and the little boy was having a seizure.” 

Swimmer started to get emotional remembering this moment. 

“The horse knew before we did,” Swimmer added.

In 2016, Swimmer was recognized as a CNN Hero for his incredible work. He started it all with his wife of nearly 70 years.

“She really rode horses,” Swimmer said with a smile.

His wife, Marilyn Swimmer, passed away last year

Her memory and imprint everywhere you look at Misty Meadows.

Swimmer says he’ll be out there every day though, giving back to the kids who have changed his life forever.

ALSO ON WCNC CHARLOTTE: Kannapolis nonprofit helping those in need thanks to community donations

WCNC Charlotte anchor Ben Thompson shares more about Mitey Riders’ impact on kids:

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Carolyn Bruck shares more about the organization:

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Carolyn Bruck gets another up-close look at how the Mitey Riders do their work:

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Carolyn Bruck presents a special check for $5,000 from WCNC Charlotte and the TEGNA Foundation:

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WCNC Charlotte forecaster Larry Sprinkle learns more from the program’s leader:

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Carolyn Bruck learns how one parent is impacted by Mitey Riders:

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All students ride the horses free of charge thanks to generous donations to the nonprofit Mitey Riders from the community.  

WCNC Charlotte, the TEGNA Foundation, Steel Skin Realty and the Parham Family Foundation have donated $5,000 to Mitey Riders. If you’d like to make a difference and donate money to horseback therapy for special needs kids, click here.

Contact Sarah French at Sarah@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

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home

Removing debris from storm drains will help mitigate flooding from Ian

Charlotte Storm Water Services is asking residents to clear out storm drains, or call 311, ahead of Ian to reduce the risk of flooding from the storm.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Since heavy rain and flooding are forecast to be the main impacts from Ian in Charlotte, city officials are encouraging homeowners to clear out the storm drains in their neighborhood to mitigate potential flooding.

Timing will play a critical role on the impacts in Charlotte. A brief period of heavy rain all at once could cause flooding.

“Two, three, five inches of rain possible with this storm that could cause considerable flooding,” John Wendel with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services said Wednesday.

With more than 100,000 storm drains in Charlotte, officials are asking residents to help clear out clogged drains in their neighborhoods.  The extra help will make way for incoming rain and reduce flood-covered streets.

“Do it from the curbside, going out and cleaning it all out,” Wendel said. “If you live on a busy street and feel uncomfortable about cleaning out that storm drain, you can call 311.”

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, just download the free app.

Wendel goes on to say they have a system in place with emergency management to monitor water levels.

“We maintain the named creeks like Little Sugar, Briar Creek, McDowell Creek. And we have crews going out checking our typical hot spots where blockages occur,” Wendel said. “If we get an alert saying that the water is rising on Addison and McMullin, and if it is going over the road, they’ll close the road.”

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 🌩️ If you like weather, watch Brad Panovich and the WCNC Charlotte Weather Team on their YouTube channel, Weather IQ. 🎥

As the costliest natural disaster in Mecklenburg County, flooding ranks as the second highest cause of weather-related fatalities in the United States, according to officials.

The flood threat from Ian will continue into Sunday as rainfall and flooding continue to flow downstream across the region. Creeks and streams will flow the water to rivers, which flow from the mountains of western North Carolina, across both North Carolina and South Carolina out to the coast. 

Contact KJ Jacobs at kjacobs3@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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crime

Waxhaw names retired Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Captain as new Interim Police Chief

A former CMPD captain will serve as Waxhaw’s interim police chief while the town searches to fill the position permanently.

WAXHAW, N.C. — Starting Wednesday, the Town of Waxhaw has a new interim police chief. 

Gregg Collins will serve as interim police chief for the Waxhaw Police Department over the next four to five years, announced Waxhaw Town Manager Jeff Wells. During that period, the Town of Waxhaw will search nationwide to find a permanent police chief. 

“Collins brings nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience to the table and comes highly recommended. His collaborative approach when working with communities gives me confidence,” Wells said in a press release on Wednesday. 

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

Collins’ law enforcement career began in 1992, as an officer for the City of Kinston, North Carolina. In 2000, Collins joined the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, where he served for 22 years, retiring as Captain in 2022. 

The role of the interim police chief is to oversee police operations and ensure the day-to-day consistency of services until the permanent position is filled.

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, just download the free app.

“I, and my family, are very excited for this opportunity form to lead a great department of dedicated men and women,” Collins stated in the press release.

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All of WCNC Charlotte’s podcasts are free and available for both streaming and download. You can listen now on Android, iPhone, Amazon, and other internet-connected devices. Join us from North Carolina, South Carolina, or on the go anywhere.  […]

crime

2 found shot to death in Fort Mill home

The 71-year-old woman and 40-year-old man were found dead on Tuesday night.

FORT MILL, S.C. — An elderly woman and middle-aged man are dead after a fatal shooting, York County Sheriff’s detectives said.

According to authorities, the 71-year-old woman and 40-year-old man were found shot to death on Tuesday at 11:30 p.m. They were later identified as Betty Reynolds and Barry Reynolds, who authorities said were mother and son.

Deputies discovered the victims after being called to the home on Saddle Ridge Road in Fort Mill for a well-being check. 

For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the WCNC Charlotte mobile app.

When officers entered the home, they found both victims with gunshot wounds. 

“All they told me was that my neighbors were found dead, and they couldn’t disclose anything because they have an ongoing investigation, and I totally respect and understand that, but I hope that they can wrap that up sooner than later so we know, and we can have some peace of mind,” neighbor Lisa LaFranca said.

LaFranca said she was friends with the Reynolds family for many years, calling Betty Reynolds a kind woman she would see often. 

“I just can’t even believe it. I can’t believe I’m not going to see her today or tomorrow or see her white car,” LaFranca said. 

York County officials said there are no suspects in custody, and the motive for the shooting is unknown at this time, but they do not believe this to be a random act of violence. However, authorities said this case is still under investigation.

You can stream WCNC Charlotte on Roku and Amazon Fire TV, just download the free app.

If you have information about this shooting, please contact the York County Sheriff’s Office at 803-628-3059 or you can remain anonymous by calling York County Crime Stoppers at 1-877-409-4321 or send tips online at crimestoppersofyorkcounty.com.

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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If you or a loved one are facing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help readily available. You can call Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat with them online. There are also resources in North Carolina available here and in South Carolina available here. 

If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence, help is readily available. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788. Resources for help are available in both North Carolina and South Carolina.  […]

features

Dragon helps put out fire: Charlotte Knights mascot seen helping put out uptown Charlotte fire

This time, the dragon helped extinguish a fire.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Knights mascot Homer the Dragon flipped the script Tuesday: he helped put out a fire. 

When a small brush fire broke out in a flower bed near Truist Field and Romare Bearden Park, the Charlotte Fire Department said, “Homer was in the neighborhood and assisted Charlotte Fire Engine 4 with putting the fire out.”

Walter Hawkins, who shared photos of the event with WCNC Charlotte, said he was at Romare Bearden park Tuesday around noon when he noticed the fire. Hawkins said while waiting for a fire engine to arrive, multiple people stopped to help — among them, Charlotte’s favorite dragon. 

Homer the Dragon told WCNC Charlotte he was shooting a video in the team store when the team store manager noticed a fire across the street. Homer ran over, and when he noticed an extinguisher in use had emptied, he said he knew it was time to step up.

At that point, Homer said they pulled the pin on their extinguisher, working to get the fire out. When Engine 4 pulled up, Homer said the firefighters had big smiles and let Homer use the fire hose to cover the fire in water. 

“I’m so thankful for the brave citizen that started putting the fire out, those that called 911, and the Engine 4 crew!” Homer said in a statement. “It was an honor to protect and serve the neighborhood and city that I love.” 

RELATED: Charlotte Knights announce season delayed until May 4

RELATED: Long lines at Spectrum Center COVID-19 vaccine clinic […]

gastonia

Gaston County leaders confront homelessness crisis

Gaston County Commissioners voted Tuesday to create an intergovernmental agency task force on homelessness.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County commissioners met Tuesday and voted unanimously to create a homelessness task force. The task force will review how many people are homeless, what barriers people face seeking help, and review potential solutions.

John Mills, the director of social services for The Salvation Army in Gastonia, is optimistic about the possible changes resulting from a task force.

“Just more collaboration and communication as far as our services because really no one agency can do it all,” Mills said. “I think it’d be much more stronger focus as far as our clientele and just trying to help them more.”

Dwayne Burks is the director and chaplain of The Gateway, which connects people with chronic crises to relief programs to lift themselves out of homelessness.

He said there are two challenges with Gaston County’s homelessness issue: affordable housing, and government services and non-profits in the county that are siloed in their efforts yet have overlapping responsibilities.

Gaston County commissioners will be meeting tonight to discuss forming a homelessness taskforce. Today at 5:30 p.m. @wcnc, the unique challenges to solving Gaston County’s homelessness, and how the promise of big projects could exacerbate the issue. pic.twitter.com/8MzhpLSNze
— Brandon Goldner (@BrandonWCNC) March 9, 2021

Burks said in The Gateway’s last count, they had 5,600 people receiving Supplemental Security Income from the federal government, which is under $900 a month.

But he said, at any given time, the county only has about 2,200 rental units total, with a median price of $800 a month.

“It’s wonderful to see the growth that we’re seeing in our community,” Burks said. “But we’re also gentrifying because we’re not planning ahead for that.”

He said Gaston County has a unique challenge because outside of Gastonia, there are few options for people seeking help.

“We need a pathway for those folks that’s clearly delineated, ‘This is how you get yourself out of homelessness,'” Burks said.

The number of people in Gaston County on the verge of homelessness is also on the rise.

Crisis Assistance Ministry in Gastonia helps people facing an emergency crisis situation by providing food, financial assistance, or limited medications.

Kim Wheeler, the nonprofit’s director, said the pandemic’s placed more people on the brink of homelessness.

“Most of the people we’re seeing are new applicants who have never been in this position,” Wheeler said.

From March 2020 to February 2021, the non-profit distributed $365,000 in emergency rent and utility payments, which was more than double the amount during the same period in 2019 to 2020.

Here’s a breakdown of who will be on the task force: 

A member of the board of commissioners who will chair that task force
A representative of the elected board or council of each of the cities or towns
A local faith community representative that geographically represents the county
A county health department representative appointed by the county manager as well as a social service representative
A Gaston County police department representative 
A United Way county representative 
Aston County Salvation Army representative 
Gaston/Lincoln/Cleveland Continuum of Care planning committee 
A Catherine’s House Sisters of Mercy representative

Commissioner Tracy Philbeck was approved as the chairman of the task force. […]

home

Several coyote attacks recently reported in the Carolinas

The attacks happened in Greensboro but several Charlotte-area neighborhoods report recently spotting coyotes too.

NORTH CAROLINA, USA — The start of spring signals the middle of the mating season for coyotes. They’ve recently been spotted all across the Carolinas from Greensboro and Charlotte to Fort Mill.

Guilford County Animal Control reports six coyote attacks in just two days at Lake Brandt Park in Greensboro. Four people were bitten.

Biker Derik Broach says he was riding the trails when he noticed a coyote start to charge at him.

“He started running towards me and that was terrifying,” Broach said.

He used his bike as a shield and fortunately was not hurt in the attack, but he said he certainly felt the coyote’s threat and strength.

“He had very strong teeth and jaws because he just popped my tire like nothing.”

Neighbors in Charlotte and Fort Mill have recently taken to the NextDoor app to share their warnings about coyote sightings in the area too. In one case, Rachael Hudson says she came in contact with two coyotes while taking her dog out at night.

“First they looked like dogs because it was kind of hard to see, but she was very guarded — she was barking and growling,” Hudson said.

Thankfully she and her dog were not hurt. But wildlife experts say now during the breeding season you should not be surprised to see a coyote at any time — day or night. 

It’s important you keep an eye specifically on your small pets. If you’re approached by a coyote, yell, wave your arms, or throw something.

For more tips on how to protect yourself in a coyote attack, click here.

RELATED: A bird rescue wants you to take down bird baths and feeders to keep birds from getting salmonella

RELATED: Prepare to Spring Forward: Daylight saving time starts Sunday

RELATED: Cat that vanished 15 years ago reunited with owner […]

hornets

Hornets fan shares special moments with the team

A limited number of fans will be allowed to return to Spectrum Center for the second half of the season

The Charlotte Hornets are set to return to Spectrum Center later this week to begin the second half of the season and when they do, they’ll be able to host a limited number of fans.

However, prior to this announcement, 13-year-old Preston Pruitt missed interacting with the team so much that he and his other Janelle made their way to Spectrum Center so that Preston could possibly get an autograph or at least a wave from some of his favorite players as they were leaving the arena postgame.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, the autographs didn’t happen, but he did have some special moments that evening.

“I just really miss being able to have the experience to be able to see the players up close like I was able to do at games and stuff. It was cool to see all of the players being able to wave at me, even though they weren’t able to sign autographs just that interaction with people I feel like is pretty cool,” Preston Pruitt explained.

Preston has been a lifelong Charlotte Hornets Fan, from attending games to the team’s summer ball camps and his first NBA autograph was from the one and only Kemba Walker.

“I’m kind of a Kemba fan. I love Kemba,” Preston said as he showed a large stack of Kemba Walker cards he’s collected.

Since then collecting autographs has become a passion of his and it’s led to some pretty cool experiences with players and coaches, including Hornets guard Devonte Graham who gave him a pair of shoes at a game.

“I was almost in tears. I looked up to my mom like ‘Mama, I got the shoes!'”

Preston’s support for the Hornets has already gotten the attention of rookie LaMelo Ball and his team, who sent him a hoodie after they heard about Preston’s efforts to still show his support even though he couldn’t attend a game.

“I was ecstatic. I was so excited,” Pruitt said. “Watching him at Chino Hills and whatnot and being able to see him and seeing him getting drafted I was very excited. When I got the hoodie I was like wow this is so crazy.”

Preston, like many other fans, can’t wait to be back at Spectrum cheering the Hornets on to hopefully many more victories and possibly even the playoffs this season. For those looking to get an autograph from their favorite player, Pruitt says the biggest key to having success is simple, just be kind to the players. […]