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WDEF News 12 - Local News
Updated: 3 sec ago

Chattanoogans Stand Up For Lt. White

3 hours 22 min ago
CHATTANOOGA,TN, (WDEF)-Crissy Essex, Chattanoogans For Justice, "I don't think he shouldn't be charged, he is a hero".

Lt. Commander Tim White, who was on duty on Amnicola Highway when Mohammad Abdulazeez opened fire claims he shot back.

Debate has raged over whether or not White should have been allowed to carry and shoot his personal weapon in retaliation.

Crissy Essex, Chattanoogans For Justice,"Put the guns, arm our military, make somebody stand out there at all the naval centers".

The activists believe White should be given a medal not punished for his actions.

Mike Ferracco, Florida Native,"We were told by inside sources that he is still being investigated, it is just a waste of resources, time, energy and money, this is ridiculous".

Half a dozen protestors held up signs and talked to passersby outside the federal courthouse from noon onwards.

Tex Luther, St Elmo,"If he's not armed, how can he a member of the armed forces, he's supposed to be protecting our rights, which he doesn't lose his rights because he joins the military".

Agitated members of the public shouted back in support.

"This whole thing is not right, nothing like what my father fought and died for".

White was the commanding officer of the Amnicola navy facility.
He was an honorary speaker at the memorial service held at McKenzie arena 2 weeks ago.

Hamilton County Schools Focus on Anti-Bullying Programs

4 hours 11 min ago
CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WDEF-TV) -Hamilton county educators have joined others across the country in trying to head-off bullying in schools.
The goal is to stop bullying before it starts in kindergarten through 2nd grade.
A group of Hamilton county teachers and parents got together Wednesday to hear about some new programs for the youngest students.

Bullying has always been a fact of life. It's not always so obvious as in this video prepared by anti-bullying organizations.
But it is now getting a lot more attention in schools these days.
The Hamilton county council of PTA's is helping schools deal with it---and the victims are sometimes the youngest and most vulnerable.

CATHERINE WELLS, HAMILTON PLACE "What we found was that there's not really a lot of programs for those younger grades for the kids that are just entering school....yet they still face some of those bullying problems

Hamilton Place is promoting Shark Patrol kits...shark means Students Help Achieve Respect and Kindness. They feature a character called Capt. McFinn. Its for kids in kindergarten through second grade. The kits have teacher resource guides , hand puppets and c-d's---all aimed at those who commit and those who are victims of bullying.

CATHERINE WELLS "To talk ..to really help kids understand what it means to be a friend. Instead of focusing on the word bullying, anti-bullying .turning it into a positive message for the children."

The school district is also trying to be pro-active.

KAREN GLENN, DIRECTOR, STARS PROGRAM "Unfortunately sometimes we get parents when there's an issue...but we'd like to engage them earlier...so that we can problem solve..and we can work together to make sure that every child is safe at school."

Hamilton Place has taken part in the program for three years. It salutes schools that create posters and focus on the problem.

Posters created by the participating schools will be displayed in the mall during October, which is National Anti-Bullying Month.


Pocket Wilderness rescue

4 hours 42 min ago
Dayton, TN (WDEF) - A rescue took place Tuesday on a trail at the Pocket Wilderness.

Mowbray Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene where a female was reported injured.

The fire department requested help from additional units.

Twenty-seven rescue personnel were in the woods to carry the female patient out to EMS.

Officials reported that the women rolled her ATV on top of her and sustained a knee injury.

Downtown parking rate going up and covering more hours

5 hours 44 min ago
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) - Downtown workers, shoppers and park visitors need to get ready to dig a little deeper into their pockets.
        Brent Matthews works as the CARTA Director of Parking.  He said, "The rates are going from 75 cents to a dollar throughout downtown."
        It marks the first rate increase for CARTA since 2008. 
        David Schilling lives in Atlanta but visits Chattanooga frequently.  He said, "It looks like Chattanooga's doing a lot of stuff, as far as improving the city, so if it goes towards helping improve the city than I'm all for it."
        Matthews added, "All the parking funding goes back into more technology for the parking, it goes into funding the shuttle, it goes into us also being able to help with garages.  A lot of the development that's going on downtown is going to need parking."
        Parking will soon be enforced until 6:00pm, instead of the current 4:30pm cut-off.  And no more free parking on Saturdays.
        Beverly Barton lives in Chattanooga.  She said, "Saturdays you could come down here and bring your grandchildren to play, no you have to pay to park.  I mean, you've got all these parking places and they want to charge us for this."
        Matthews explained, "If you go downtown on a Saturday, you're going to find that a lot of the spaces are taken before any body even comes to town.  That's employees taking the spaces, so that's one of the reasons we felt like Saturday enforcement was probably a good next step."
        All of these new changes went into effect on September first, but they're not being enforced just yet.
        Matthews said, "For the extended times, for the 4:30 to 6:00 and for the Saturdays we're going to issue warnings for the first month just so people can kind of get used to it, because I know it's something new and they're not used to paying for the meters at those times."
        Matthews said another future step for the downtown will be shared parking.
        That is, garages that are only daily parking right now for people working downtown will have to become multi-use for residents at night.

Tennessee ACLU and other organizations denounce Sheriff Jim Hammond's anti-Muslim comments

6 hours 53 min ago

NASHVILLE – Four statewide organizations, the American Center for Outreach, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, the American Muslim Advisory Council, and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, released a joint statement today in response to recent and alarming xenophobic and anti-Muslim comments from several of our state’s elected officials and law enforcement leaders:

Recently the sheriffs of Hamilton and Sevier counties have both made alarmist and sensational anti-Muslim comments, on the heels of similar statements from state legislators.  Inaccurate, sweeping indictments made by leaders in law enforcement endanger members of the very communities that they have taken an oath to protect.  Not only do these statements send the wrong message to their respective communities, they stoke the flames of hate that could incite attacks against peaceful Americans.

Tennessee’s elected public servants should seek to serve all Tennesseans—from all ethnic backgrounds and all religions. This is especially true with regard to law enforcement officials who are charged with insuring our day-to-day community safety.  We urge law enforcement and Tennessee’s elected officials to acknowledge and ensure that all Tennesseans are treated fairly and equally under the law.

Collectively, our organizations look forward to working with Sheriff Hammond, Sheriff Seals and other law enforcement and elected officials who have concerns or need assistance connecting with their local Muslim communities.

Paul Galloway, executive director of the American Center for Outreach (ACO), said, “Sadly, inciting statements like those made by Sheriff Hammond erode public trust and disrupt community and law enforcement relationships.  Perhaps even more urgently, his statements reinforce negative and inaccurate stereotypes of the American Muslim community, which could very well result in hate crimes and discrimination.”

Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director, added, “Muslims, like people from all religious traditions, have a clear constitutional right to practice their religion freely without fear of harassment and harm.  The recent Islamophobic statements made by law enforcement encourage racial and cultural profiling, violating our American values of fair treatment and equal protection under the law.  Basing law enforcement decisions on false stereotypes rather than actual police work or evidence of criminal activity is not only a waste of resources, it undermines community-police relations, eroding public safety as a whole.” 

“The Tennessee Muslim community has long and very positive relationships with all levels of law enforcement in order to enhance the security of all Tennesseans,” said Zulfat Suara of the American Muslim Advisory Council.  “Law enforcement leaders and other elected officials who do not have active relationships with their local Muslim communities need to establish those relationships.  Ignorance is not an excuse for those who are entrusted with public safety.”

Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, continued, “It is irresponsible for elected officials who have sworn to uphold the constitution to cast suspicion on a large segment of our community based solely on where they are from or how they worship. As demographics continue to change in Tennessee we urge elected officials to respond in a way that upholds our American values, rather than creating fear and division.”

Dog Protected Kids Lost in the Woods Tuesday Night

9 hours 51 min ago
Soddy Daisy, TN (WDEF) - We have a happy ending to what could have been a very tragic story.

Two young kids who went missing for about 12 hours on Mobray Mountain were found.

WDEF News 12's Erik Avainer has our live update at noon.

After hours of frantically searching Mowbray Mountain in the cloak of darkness for 7-year old Hannah Musgrave and her 4-year old brother Matthew, crews were finally able to locate the children at a home along this road after sunrise.

Amy Maxwell with the Hamilton County EMS says "They came out hungry, starving; we were able to feed them what ever they wanted."

They also required medical attention after being lost in a wooded area over night.

"They do have significant amount of scratches. They have a lot of bug bites and both are suffering from sever poison ivy."

The seven year old told authorities she and her brother were playing with Samber the family dog last night and followed it into the woods. At some point they got lost and could not find their way back.

"They were able to honker down for a couple of hours to rest at a cell tower which is approximately two mile from their own home. When it became daylight, they decided to get back on foot and that's when they found the first residence they saw on Sluder Road."

The terrain was considered very dangerous even, even for rescue crews searching in the cloak of darkness. Authorities say Samber the dog actually kept the children safe as they kept walking.

"Trusting a dog, their dog to guide them really did save these children's lives; allowing them to know where they needed to walk and where they didn't need to walk I think played a big role in these children's lives."

Children Found in Soddy Daisy

13 hours 1 min ago
Soddy Daisy (WDEF) - Erik Avanier updates us from the scene where rescuers are treating Hannah and Matthew Musgrave right now.

They are giving them water and food.

The children have scratches all over them from their night in the woods, but seem fine, otherwise.

Their dog was also found and is doing well, too.

-----------------------------------------


Hannah and Matthew Musgrave are safe, with minor cuts after their night in the woods.

They were found about 2 miles from home.

-----------------------------------------
Searchers confirm that they have found the two missing children who spent the night outdoors in the woods around Soddy Daisy.

The two apparently walked up to a home at 811 Sluder Lane.

Hannah (7) and Matthew (4) Musgrave disappeared last night from their home.

Rescue crews have been searching for them overnight in the Mowbray mountain area.


Update on Endangered Child Search in Soddy Daisy

14 hours 29 min ago
Soddy Daisy, TN (WDEF) - An East Tennessee Endangered Child Alert has been issued for the Soddy Daisy Police Department for 7 year
old Hannah Musgrave and 4 year old Matthew Musgrave.

They were last seen playing on their porch last night after 9PM.

Erik Avanier reported live from the search scene on WDEF News 12 This Morning.

Search Underway in Soddy Daisy for 2 Missing Children

16 hours 55 min ago
     The Soddy Daisy Police Department needs your help to locate two missing children.
     Early this morning, they issued an endangered child alert for Hannah and Matthew Musgrave.
     Take a close look at these pictures.
     Hannah is seven-years old...
     Has brown hair, blue eyes and is about three-foot-four.
     She was last seen wearing a purple shirt with a butterfly on the front, a cream colored skirt, and no shoes.
     Matthew is four-years old...
     Has brown hair, brown eyes and is around three-foot tall.
     He was wearing camo warm-up pants, and had no shirt or shoes.
     They were both last seen playing on the front porch of their home around 9pm last night.
     If you've seen them call 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Truck Driver Charged in Six Fatalities Now Back in Hamilton County

16 hours 58 min ago
     The truck driver charged with six counts of vehicular homicide following that massive pile-up on I-75 near Ooltewah back in June returns to Hamilton County.
     Deputies went to Kentucky to pick up Benjamin Brewer.
     The 31-year old faces 13-charges relating to the crash that killed six people, including two children.
     He's now in the Hamilton County jail awaiting his first court appearance.

JOE FRUGAL: Free Admission to National Parks for 4th Graders

17 hours 10 min ago
     If your child happens to be in the fourth grade, you can save big at our National Parks.
     The Obama Administration just launched the Every Kids in a Park program...
     giving fourth graders a pass that provides free access to their families to all federally managed lands and waters - including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries.
     The pass is valid for the 2015-2016 school year.
     Fourth graders must complete a fun, educational activity at everykidinapark.gov in order to print the pass. Students may also trade in their paper pass for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide.

24th annual Hands Across the Border kicks off today

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 11:08pm

Rossville, GA (WDEF) - For 24 years now Georgia State Patrol has joined forces with Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Alabama to kick off their Hands Across the Boarder Campaign.

"We believe that traffic safety doesn't stop at the city limits or the county line or even the state line, it's something all of us are agreeing upon," said Harris Blackwood, Director of the Georgia Governor's office of highway safety.

For the next few days, leading up to Labor Day weekend, officers will be setting up check points to crack down on drunk driving, distracted driving and wearing seat belts around the holiday. "We wanna make sure that this is a safe weekend, " said Blackwood, "We've had an increased number of fatalities in Georgia. We want that number to come down, not for the sake of numbers, but we want to see lives saved this weekend."

As of now, Georgia is 82 fatalities ahead of their record this time last year, which officials say is already too many. "Those are 82 families whose lives have been changed forever," said Blackwood, "And most often, most often it's avoidable."

"We want everybody to have a good time, but to get home safe and nobody injured or killed in car crashes," said Captain Grady Sanford, troop commander.

This campaign has a history of not only catching drunk drivers, but drug offenders, unlicensed and uninsured drivers, fugitives and drivers without outstanding warrants.

Hidden Harbor house fire

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 10:52pm
Hixson, TN (WDEF) - A dog and two birds died in a house fire Tuesday night.

The homeowners were watching tv in their bedroom when they heard a loud explosion coming from the sunroom.

Oliver Rand went to investigate it and found it engulfed in flames.

He called 9-1-1.

Rand and his wife got out of the home with 2 dogs, but we're able to find their third due to the smoke and fire in the home.

Dallas Bay Volunteer Firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the back of the Hidden Harbor home.

Firefighters found the dog had expired in a back bedroom.

The Rands two birds also died in the fire.

The Sequoyah Volunteer Fire Department and Red Bank Fire Department came to help.

Two Dallas Bay firefighters had to be taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion.

Damage is estimated at $75,000, and the Red Cross will be helping the family.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is investigating the cause of the fire.



Chattanooga man arrested for shooting on Grace Avenue

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 9:38pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - A shooting suspect is now in custody after police caught the man standing over the victim with a gun pointed at him.

Darrell Fearn, 41, of Chattanooga has been arrested and charged with:
  • Attempted first degree murder
  • Aggravated assault
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Reckless endangerment
According to the arrest affidavit, a Chattanooga police officer who responded to a shots fired call in the 3800 block of Grace Avenue witnessed Fearn standing over a gunshot victim who was identified as Dean Carroll. According to the officer, Fearn was pointing a gun at Carroll.


When the officer gave Fearn an order to drop his weapon, Fearn reportedly passed the weapon off to his son who was standing next to him. News 12 is not identifying the son because he is considered a minor. His son began to run away with the weapon in his hand and eventually threw it away after police ordered the boy to put the weapon down.

While at the hospital, Carroll told investigators, he went to Fearn's house to speak to him about disrespecting his wife. Fearn and Carrol's wife both have child together. 

Carroll also told investigators that when he walked up to Fearn's front door, he heard a gun being cocked. Carroll stated to police that he and Fearn got into a verbal altercation that escalated to violence when he turned to leave and Fearn shot at him several times. 

According to the arrest affidavit, Fearn chased Carroll and continued to shoot at him until Carroll was finally struck by a bullet. 

When investigators questioned Fearn about what happened, he not only told them he had nothing to hide and admitted that he came out the house with a gun in his hand. He told police that all his children were outside the home when Carroll began to be disrespectful. He also told police that he shot Carroll when Carroll told him that he could have shot Fearn at any time in the past. 

According to the arrest affidavit, Fearn told police he shot at Carroll several times and began to chase after him. 

Because children were present during the altercation, Fearn was charged with reckless endangerment as well as child abuse.

His bond was set at $197,500. 

Fearn is expected in court on September 1.

Back in 1995, Fearn plead guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm. 


City Council welcomes new members to health, education and housing board

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 8:49pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) - The health, education and housing board are welcoming two new members today after being nominated by city council members.

Richard Johnson and Victor Hogstrom were hand-picked, out of several applicants, for their knowledge and experience. Councilman Larry Grohn said the decision to appoint the new members was taken very seriously, due to the importance each board has on the community.

"Health, education and housing are issues that both the council and the mayor have been very concerned about," said Councilman Grohn, "and this board can help address that issue when issues come before it."

There are currently 37 boards, which are all served by people in the community who volunteer their time and expertise on specific issues.

Sculpture put up for Chattanooga terror attack victims

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 7:57pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) - Chattanooga now has another permanent reminder of the 5 servicemen who died in that terror attack on July 16th.

A 65 foot tall sculpture named "Anchors" was raised at Chattanooga's Sculpture Fields on 23rd street Tuesday.

WDEF News 12 Photographer Harrison Pirtle takes us there in this local perspective.

Check out the video.

Chattanooga ranks #3 in South on Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 7:15pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) - Allstate Insurance Company just came out this its eleventh annual “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report".

Chattanooga ranked #3 out of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana cities.

The city also ranked #51 out of America’s 200 largest cities.

The report shows Chattanoogan drivers will get into a wreck every 9.8 years.

Kansas City ranked #1 with drivers being in accidents every 13.3 years.

The national average is 10 years.

“As a trusted advisor to Allstate customers in Chattanooga we’re sharing these report results to help them become safer drivers,” said Karen Teske, Allstate Agent. “While Chattanooga ranks highly on the report, slowing down, leaving room between you and other drivers, and minimizing distractions are tips for Chattanooga drivers to always remember to remain safe while on the road.” 



North Georgia Moms Petition To Have Judge Removed

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 5:49pm
NORTH GA, (WDEF)-"She doesn't understand that she is hurting my granddaughter".

Rene Breeden wants her granddaughter Lexia back and believes DFCS and Judge Blaylock are destroying North Georgia families.

Her online petition has 114 supporters who all claim to have been treated poorly by Blaylock.

"The people who have replied, have wrote their reasons why they don't like her, i don't even know them".

Lexia's mother Chantel admits to using meth but claims she has cleaned up her act.

"She should give people hope instead of directly stripping any kind of hope that they have in getting custody of their children back".

Previous petitions back in 2012 to remove Blaylock failed to have any impact.
Blaylock has been a judge in Murray and Whitfield counties since 1997.

Murray County mother Janay Millwood claims she also lost 4 of her children because of harsh decisions from Blaylock.

"I want them to prove all of those lies to be true, because i can look at them right their in their eyes and pull up paperwork, pictures anything to prove them wrong, i am sick of this judge Blaylock taking everybody's kids".

Blaylock was unavailable for comment but we did speak with the juvenile court clerk.

According to the Whitfield County juvenile court office, Georgia codes have changed... narrowing options for judges, like Blaylock, who rule on custody cases.
Those changes also make it more difficult for parents to challenge a judge's decision.

Chantel,"More or less i am not allowed to see my daughter as of now, i am supposed to have no visitation".

Previous petitions back in 2012 to remove Blaylock failed to have any impact.
Blaylock has been a judge in Murray and Whitfield counties since 1997.

Brewer booked into Hamilton County Jail

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 5:46pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) - The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office officials says Benjamin Brewer is secure in their jail.

He's the truck driver charged in the I-75 wreck that killed six people in June.

Hamilton County Sheriffs Office Fugitive Division members went to Kentucky to pick him up.

Prosecutors there agreed to drop charges against Brewer.








Legislation to Ban Guns at Park Venues Ramps Up

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 5:35pm

The guns in parks debate is ramping up as two Democrat Tennessee law makers are proposing legislation that bans firearms at certain park venues.

Currently, local government cannot restrict those with handgun carry permits to be armed in parks.

But these parks host music festivals, like Riverbend, that attract hundreds of thousands of people and serve alcohol...and that's where Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris has a problem.

"If these new laws regarding guns and large crowded events are allowed to stand, some of these long standing festivals will have to consider moving out of public parks," said Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris.

Riverbend has always been gun-free, but the state attorney general says if the event is held in a park where guns are legal, organizers don't have the right to ban guns with legal carry permits.

Riverbend director Chip Baker said allowing guns in the festival is very irresponsible and doesn't make sense.

But one Republican lawmaker said this proposed legislation is harassing law abiding citizens.

"Gun crimes are perpetrated by people carrying guns illegally," said Senator Bo Watson. "We know who has a permit and we want to target them by bringing legislation to restrict their rights. Let's figure out a way to deal with the folks who are carrying these guns around illegally. That's who we need to be afraid of."

Some local law enforcement see the difference in park size as something to take into account.

"I think there's a little difference between say one of the local parks on the river like Chester Frost Park, Harrison bay State Park, Booker T Washington Park, and local versus the river front where you have Riverbend with a hundred thousand people," said Chief Deputy Allen Branum with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.


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