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State briefs: North Carolina woman charged after 4-year-old shoots himself

HIGH POINT (AP) — A North Carolina woman is charged with child abuse after her unattended 4-year-old boy picked up a gun while she drank and smoked marijuana and fatally shot himself in the head, police said.

High Point police said Jasmine E. Fagan, 29, of High Point is jailed on a $50,000 secured bond, news outlets reported. It’s not known if Fagan has an attorney.

According to police, Fagan and several other adults were at a home Sunday night when the 4-year-old found a firearm under a couch cushion in the living room and shot himself in the head. He died at a local hospital.

Detectives using a search warrant found two additional firearms, multiple firearm accessories, ammunition, marijuana and cocaine, police said. The homeowner is also facing charges, according to police.

Detectives are still investigating the incident, police said.

Gun, ammo found in man’s backpack at NC courthouse

CHARLOTTE (AP) — A man accompanying his wife to a North Carolina courthouse for a traffic ticket tried to enter the building with a pistol and ammunition, a sheriff’s office says.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that Anthony S. Donte, 35, of Huntersville entered the courthouse on Tuesday with a bookbag, The Charlotte Observer reported. When two deputies put the bag through an x-ray scanner, they saw a gun, which they seized. Donte was placed under arrest, the news release said.

Along with a pistol, deputies found 27 rounds off ammunition in the bag, according to the sheriff’s office.

Donte was arrested and charged with possession of a deadly weapon on a state property or courthouse and taken to the Mecklenburg County jail. It’s not known if he has an attorney.

Man arrested for setting campus police vehicle on fire

GREENVILLE (AP) — A Pennsylvania man was accused of setting a patrol SUV at a North Carolina university on fire, police said Wednesday.

East Carolina University said in a news release that officers received a call on Tuesday about one of its vehicles on fire off campus. Damage to the vehicle was confined to the rear and the fire was quickly extinguished, the news release said.

Officers used camera footage from the area to get a description of the suspect, and an ECU patrol sergeant located and apprehended him after he tried to flee, according to the news release.

Authorities filed multiple charges against Fernando Daniel Laurens, 20, of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, including three counts of felony arson to personal property. Capt. Chris Sutton with ECU Police said Laurens was in possession of a one-gallon milk jug containing a liquid substance which is believed to have been used to start the fire. Sutton said the liquid could have pooled under the vehicle or been poured atop it prior to being lit, The Daily Reflector reported.

The news release said Laurens, who is being held on a $50,000 bond, is not a student at the school.

Feds sue North Carolina county over 911 operator’s firing

WILSON (AP) — A North Carolina county’s emergency communications unit engaged in unlawful retaliation when it terminated a worker after she told supervisors that she had been sexually harassed while on the job, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to a department news release Wednesday, Jennifer Riddle began working as a trainee for Wilson County Emergency Communications in 2017 and was soon sexually harassed by the agency’s assistant director. The filing says Riddle complained of the harassment and an investigation substantiated her claims, leading to the assistant director being fired.

After the firing, the lawsuit says, Riddle began experiencing hostility from her supervisor and co-workers, leading to a transfer and, eventually, her firing when she reported to the supervisors on her new shift that she had previously been sexually harassed and the department hadn’t effectively dealt with her harasser.

Ron Hunt, assistant Wilson County manager, said the county wouldn’t have a comment because the situation involves both a legal and a personnel matter.

Federal authorities contend the county’s actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which not only prohibits employer discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion, but also retaliation against employees for engaging in activities protected by the law, such as complaining about discrimination, the news release said

Riddle filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, whose Charlotte office made a reasonable cause finding. After unsuccessful conciliation efforts, the EEOC referred the charge to the Justice Department, according to the news release.

The lawsuit seeks to require the emergency communications unit to develop and implement policies that would prevent retaliation. It also seeks compensation for Riddle for damages she sustained from the alleged retaliation.

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