Archive for February, 2011

WCNC.com to Livestream Procession for Fallen Charlotte, NC Officer

February 28, 2011

By News Channel 36 Staff

NewsChannel 36 and WCNC.com will have live coverage of the tributes to Officer Fred Thornton starting with today’s procession.By NewsChannel 36

WCNC.com will livestream the procession, which is tentatively set to begin around 3:45 this afternoon. 

It will start at the McEwen funeral home on Matthews-Mint Hill Road.  The procession will lead to First Baptist Church in uptown.  Visitation will be held from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Uptown Charlotte, NC Church Will Hold Funeral for Fallen Officer

February 28, 2011

by Diana Rugg / NewsChannel 36 / http://www.wcnc.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Plans are in place for a hero’s farewell today to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer who died on Friday after an accident at his home when an explosive device went off.

Visitation for officer Fred Thornton is planned for 6-9 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church in uptown Charlotte, while the funeral will take place at the same church Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Before both events, a procession will carry Thornton’s casket from McEwan Funeral Service in Mint Hill to the church on South Davidson Street. 

“It’s going to be one of those ‘all hands on deck’ kind of events,” said Jonathan Rebsamen, the associate pastor for administration at First Baptist Church. 

The church’s sanctuary holds 1,700 people, and Rebsamen is expecting an overflow crowd. First Baptist has held services for fallen police officers before, and hosts the police memorial service every year.

“We do have a relationship, so we do want to reach out,” said Rebsamen. “Especially to the family, but to all the police officers, and let them know that we do care.”

Streets around the church will be blocked off for several hours Tuesday morning for the procession before and after the funeral. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Sunday parts of Martin Luther King, Third Street, Davidson Street, Fourth Street and Trade Street around the church will be closed starting at 9 a.m.

McEwan Funeral Service said it will take a route to uptown that follows Matthews-Mint Hill Road, Lawyers Road, Albemarle Road, Independence Boulevard and I-277.   The uptown routes for Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning are still being finalized.  Tuesday morning’s route will stop in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police headquarters on Trade Street, where Thornton’s casket will be transferred to a horse-drawn caisson for its final three blocks to the church.

The procession for the viewing Monday afternoon starts between 3:45 and 4 p.m., and for the funeral Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in Mint Hill.   

Burial will follow the funeral at Sharon Memorial Park on Monroe Road. That procession will leave the church and follow 3rd Street, McDowell Street, and 7th Street/ Monroe Road.

Being ‘A Street Cop’ Always Officer’s Passion, Brother Says

February 26, 2011

By Meghan Cooke / Charlotte Observer

Relatives say Officer Fred Thornton always wanted to be a cop.

The veteran Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer and CMPD’s longest serving member of the department’s SWAT team died Friday night after a distraction device used in SWAT situations discharged at his Mint Hill home.

CharlotteMecklenburg Police officers formed an escort on Scott Avenue Friday evening to escort the body of officer Fred Thornton as he was taken from Carolinas Medical Center. Thornton was injured in an accident with a flash-bang device earlier in the day and died Friday evening. Gary O’Brien – Charlotte Observer

“That’s all he always wanted to be – a police officer,” said his brother, Tom Thornton. “Not a desk cop. A street cop.”

Paramedics responded to a call for help at Thornton’s home about 5:30 p.m. Friday.

After a preliminary investigation, police believe the distraction device – also known as a stun grenade or “flash-bang” – discharged as Thornton was “attempting to render his equipment safe.”

Thornton, a 28-year police veteran, underwent emergency surgery at Carolinas Medical Center, but later died as a result of his injuries. He was 50.

Earlier in the day, around 3:45 p.m., Thornton was on assignment as a search warrant was served.

The warrant service was conducted without incident and SWAT officers cleared the scene about 4:45 p.m., police said. Thornton then drove his SWAT vehicle to his home, where the distraction device later exploded, causing massive internal injuries, said Chief Rodney Monroe.

A distraction device is standard-issued equipment to SWAT officers, police said. It is used to startle suspects during raids.

Thornton graduated from UNC-Charlotte with a degree in criminal justice and almost immediately enrolled in the police academy.

Tom Thornton said his younger brother loved riding motorcycles – he had a Harley-Davidson – and enjoyed going to bike weeks at Myrtle Beach and Daytona Beach, Fla. He liked playing pool. But most of all, he was passionate about the SWAT team.

He’d been placed on desk duty after he injured his knee last summer as he tried to stop a rolling car with a man inside who had passed out after drinking. The driver was unresponsive inside the stopped car when it began to roll into the intersection. Thornton was hurt when he tried to open the door to slam on the car’s brakes.

Thornton resumed his regular duties about eight weeks ago after recovering from surgery and physical therapy, his brother said.

“His biggest concern was getting back to the SWAT team,” Tom Thornton said.

Although he loved his job, the longtime officer planned to retire this summer. He had talked to his brother about the possibility of helping him with his business and traveling together.

“I was really proud of my brother and looking forward to his retirement,” Tom Thornton said.

“I don’t think you’ll find anybody that doesn’t like him.”

Thornton had four children – three in their 20s and a 13-year-old son. He’s also survived by his wife, Linda.

Mint Hill and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are investigating the incident.

A visitation will be held for Thornton 6-9 p.m. Monday at Calvary Church on Pineville-Matthews Road in south Charlotte.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police will form a procession to the church prior to his funeral service at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Fallen Officer Being Remembered Across Charlotte

February 26, 2011

Funeral Plans For 28 Year CMPD Veteran Released

By Diana Rugg / NewsChannel 36 / www.wcnc.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C.– Members of CMPD and people across the Charlotte area are remembering an officer who died after a “flashbang” exploded at his home.

Flowers have been laid at CMPD’s fallen officer memorial in honor of Officer Fred Thorton.

NewsChannel 36 learned Saturday the injuries that killed officer Fred Thornton were to the abdomen, as he worked to put the safety devices back on his gear following a call to serve a warrant Friday.

Officer Thornton’s body got a hero’s escort Saturday morning from the medical examiners office to a local funeral home.

CMPD hosted a family day also Saturday.

Officers who attended the event wore black bands over their badges in honor of Thorton.

There was also a special memorial for him set up there.

NewsChannel 36 talked to an army veteran who knew Fred Thornton for years.

Roger Ayscue says as a friend and a professional Thornton set the very highest standards for himself and other officers.

“If I had to sue a phrase to describe him, it would be the consummate quiet professional. He was a quiet professional. Not someone you had to worry about. Is he gonna be there? He’s the guy you knew was going to be there,” says Ayscue.

Ayscue says Thornton was even a SWAT instructor, a man very familiar with the use of “flashbang” devices.

Some people have asked why he would have that kind of gear at home with him?

Those familiar with SWAT procedures say officers are called out at all hours of the day and night and need their gear with them but it is kept in a locked box in their locked trunks, which is likely where this accident happened.

Funeral arrangements have been set.

There will be a visitation at Calvary Church monday night from 6-9 p.m.

Thorton’s funeral will be held on Tuesday at 11 a.m. also at Calvary Church.

Contact Information for Charlotte, NC SWAT Officer Killed After Device Exploded at His Home

February 26, 2011

Contact Information For the CMPD is Listed Below This Article

By Meghan Cooke / Charlotte Observer

Police stood at attention outside Carolinas Medical Center on Friday night, saluting as an ambulance bearing the body of a fellow officer was escorted away by dozens of police cruisers.

They came to pay their respects to veteran Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Fred Thornton. The SWAT officer and father of four died Friday night after a distraction device used in SWAT situations discharged at his Mint Hill home.

Officer Fred Thornton

Paramedics responded to a call for help at Thornton’s home about 5:30 p.m. A Mint Hill ambulance escorted by a convoy of police cruisers transported the officer to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

After a preliminary investigation, police believe the distraction device – also known as a stun grenade or “flash-bang” – discharged as Thornton was “attempting to render his equipment safe.”

In the hours after the accident, Chief Rodney Monroe and fellow officers streamed to the hospital.

Thornton, a 28-year police veteran, underwent emergency surgery, but later died as a result of his injuries. He was 50.

“Members of CMPD … are heartbroken over the loss of a veteran member of their family,” CMPD spokeswoman Officer Rosalyn Harrington said in a statement.

After word spread of Thornton’s death, more officers congregated at the hospital. Some stood together in groups, some talking in low voices and others shaking their heads.

On Morehead Street near the hospital and later through uptown on Tryon Street, dozens of patrol cars drove with lights and sirens on in a show of respect. Traffic came to a halt as firefighters, paramedics and police stood outside their vehicles and watched the procession pass by.

Earlier in the day, around 3:45 p.m., Thornton was on assignment as a search warrant was served.

The warrant service was conducted without incident and SWAT officers cleared the scene about 4:45 p.m., police said. Thornton then drove his SWAT vehicle to his home, where the distraction device later exploded.

“The device exploded, causing very massive injuries internally,” Monroe said.

A distraction device is standard-issued equipment to SWAT officers, police said. It is used to startle suspects during raids.

Mint Hill and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are investigating the incident.

Thornton was assigned to the department’s North Tryon Division.

In 2006, he was among four CMPD SWAT officers deployed to the Gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina.

He spent seven weeks in Waveland, Miss., providing help with security, transportation and labor in support of a medical team from CMC.

Monroe said the day’s tragedy reminds people of the risks of serving as an officer: “It’s a risk that all too often costs our members their lives.”

– Observer Staff writer Ely Portillo contributed.

Sympathy Cards Should Be Sent To:

Sgt. Eric Peterson, Supervisor

Special Weapons and Tactics Team

Charlotte–Mecklenburg Police Dept.

601 East Trade Street

Charlotte, NC 28202-9999

Sgt. Peterson’s Phone: 704-336-2328

Sgt. Peterson’s E-Mail: epeterson@cmpd.org

CMPD Web-Site: http://www.cmpd.org

 

CMPD SWAT Officer Dies After Accident at Home

February 25, 2011

By Meghan Cooke / Charlotte Observer

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer has died after an accident at his Mint Hill home.

Paramedics responded to a call for help at the home of Officer Fred Thornton on Tinkerton Court in Mint Hill around 5:30 p.m.

Thornton was transported to Carolinas Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. He underwent emergency surgery, police said, but later died as a result of his injuries.

Police believe Thornton’s injuries were the result of a distraction device that discharged as he was attempting to render his equipment safe, police said.

Thornton was a SWAT officer, and police said a distraction device is standard-issued equipment to SWAT officers during tactical operations.

Shocking Mug Shots Reveal Toll of Drug Abuse

February 25, 2011

In-your-face photos aim to scare teens straight by striking their vanity

By Linda Carroll / msnbc.com contributor

 With disturbing before and after photos of drug users’ faces, a new anti-drug campaign may succeed where others have failed, grabbing teens’ attentions by appealing to their vanity.

The pairs of mug shots, which graphically display the damage drugs can do to the face, were collected by the sheriff’s office in Multnomah County, Ore.

Faces that were normal — even attractive — in initial photos, shot when addicts were first arrested, metamorphose over years, and sometimes just months, into gaunt, pitted, even toothless wrecks.

The photos are part of a 48-minute documentary called “From Drugs to Mugs,” created by Deputy Bret King. King hopes that the documentary, which is available on a DVD along with a CD of mug shots, will help scare kids straight by showing them concrete evidence of damage that can occur within months from using meth, heroin or cocaine.

“The thinking is that this will give kids a tangible image of what can happen if they get involved in using hard drugs,” King says. “We did want to appeal to their sense of vanity.”

King understands the power of that teen vanity. “I remember in high school you had to have the right clothes, the right shoes, the right look,” he says.

Perhaps the most stunning feature of the photos is how quickly the face is damaged.

That speed isn’t surprising to addiction experts.

Meth, for example, can cause small blood vessels around the face to constrict, says A. Thomas McLellan, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Solutions at the University of Pennsylvania.

“So consequently, the gums shrink as they do in old age,” says McLellan, also former deputy director of the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy. “The teeth that remain can become discolored and black.”

Both meth and heroin are often cut with sugar, McLellan explains. “And you get acne from oily or sweet things, so if you’re injecting the sugar into your veins it’s even more direct,” he adds.

Other impurities can cause lumpy cysts on the face and other areas of the body, such as the armpits and groin, McLellan says.

The gaunt look on many of the addicts can be the result of poor nutrition and lack of sleep , says Dr. Larissa Mooney, an addiction psychiatrist and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles.

As for the facial sores: Sometimes meth users will hallucinate and get the sensation that there are bugs crawling under their skin, Mooney says. Trying to get relief, they’ll sometimes pick at their skin until there are open sores.

Experts can’t say whether the program will work, but Mooney and McLellan are hopeful.

“The video is trying to tap into something that is important to young people,” Mooney says. “It’s less abstract than telling someone they’ll get lung cancer many years down the line. This is something you can actually see right now.”

McLellan agrees that the short time to facial devastation may have a big impact on kids. “Some of these photos show changes in less than six months,” he says. “This is the kind of time frame kids understand.”

CMPD SWAT Officer Injured in Accident At Home

February 25, 2011

By NewsChannel 36 Staff / www.wcnc.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police SWAT officer was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center Friday afternoon after an accident involving a “flash-bang” device.

 

Police say the officer was at his home in Mint Hill when the device accidentally detonated, severely injuring the officer.

A Mint Hill ambulance, escorted by a convoy of police cruisers, transported the officer to CMC in Charlotte. Chief Rodney Monroe was also headed to the hospital.

Georgia Congressman Regrets, Condemns Violent Town Hall Question

February 25, 2011

From http://www.firstread.msnbc.msn.com

By NBC’s Luke Russert and Mark Murray
Georgia Congressman Paul Broun (R) has confirmed that he received this question at a town hall on Tuesday: “Who’s going to shoot Obama?”

According to the Athens Banner-Herald, which first reported the news, Broun responded to the question this way: “The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president. We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Broun’s spokeswoman told the Georgia newspaper: “Obviously, the question was inappropriate, so Congressman Broun moved on.”

Now, after the outburst gained national attention, Broun has issued a statement condemning any suggestion or threat of violence aimed at the president or any other elected official.

Tuesday night at a town hall meeting in Oglethorpe County, Georgia an elderly man asked the abhorrent question, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?” I was stunned by the question and chose not to dignify it with a response; therefore, at that moment I moved on to the next person with a question. After the event, my office took action with the appropriate authorities. I deeply regret that this incident happened at all. Furthermore, I condemn all statements—made in sincerity or jest—that threaten or suggest the use of violence against the President of the United States or any other public official. Such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated.

*** UPDATE *** TPM is reporting that, per witnesses, Broun “laughed when an elderly man at his town hall meeting this week asked ‘Who’s gonna shoot Obama?'”

Mooresville, NC Teens Arrested After Trying to Steal Beer From Home

February 25, 2011

by NewsChannel 36 Staff / http://www.wcnc.com

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Two teens are facing charges after trying to steal beer from a Mooresville home.

Iredell County detectives say a homeowner spotted one of the teens trying to steal beer from a garage fridge. The homeowner chased the would-be thief, who then jumped into a car driven by another teen.

A Lake Norman High School resource officer identified the teen after seeing surveillance video taken at the home.

The teen, who was not identified by detectives because he’s a juvenile, turned in his alleged getaway driver, identified as 17-year-old Matthew Mulligan.

Both teens are charged with first-degree burglary.