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WDEF News 12 - Local News
Updated: 16 min 31 sec ago

Lee University investigates threat made via popular social media app

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 11:16pm
Cleveland, TN (WDEF) - Lee University Students, in Cleveland, say they aren't too worried, after campus security was tipped off by a student last week about the possibility of a future active shooter situation.

"It was very general, and anonymous, and we spent the last few days trying to ascertain the level of threat," said Mike Hayes, VP for Student Development.

The threat was posted on Yik Yak, a social media app for smartphones, which allows users to anonymously send and respond to posts within five-miles of wherever they are. Students say the app didn't become popular until last year, and it's not always used in the best way.

"There's a lot of negativity on there," said junior, Michael Newbert, "People seem to be pretty cynical. It's anonymous so when you give people anonymous ways to say stuff publicly they tend to be a little bit negative sometimes."

"I think the idea was kind of cool at first, but it just kind of became a platform for people to say things that they wouldn't say to someone's face," said junior, Grayson Sutherlend.

Of course Lee University officials are taking last week's threat very seriously, "We spent the weekend trying to identify the level of threat, and also the specificity that actually wasn't in the Yak," said Hayes, "So over the weekend we were in contact with Cleveland Police Department, and the FBI, to make sure we were responding appropriately."

"I feel fine," said senior Indyasia Johnson, "I've never seen so many police officers in one location at the same time. There have been so many men walking around just looking super official. Like, I haven't felt like my safety is at risk at all."

University President, Paul Conn, released a statement this afternoon saying they will continue to work with the Cleveland Police Department, and the FBI to trace the source of the post. But until then, the campus will remain open.

Highway 27 wreck near Lafayette

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 10:06pm
Lafayette, GA (WDEF) - Life Force rushed the victims of a 3 car crash to Erlanger Medical Center Monday night.

It happened on U.S. 27 just north of the Wal-Mart near LaFayette.

The Walker County Sheriff tells us 3 vehicles are involved in the wreck that's south of Reed Road.

There are several victims.

We'll bring you more information as it becomes available.

Five shootings in one weekend

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 5:39pm
Chattanoga, TN (WDEF) - Five shooting victims found themselves in the hospital this weekend, all with non life-threatening wounds.

In many cases, shootings are related and retaliatory but police emphasize this weekend was different.

"We do not believe there is any relation from one incident to the next in the five shootings that we had this weekend," Officer Mark Frazer with the Chattanooga Police Department said.

So the question is, are these suspects shooting to kill but missing or are they intentionally sparing the victims' lives to avoid jail time?

The district attorney, Neal Pinkston, who prosecutes the suspects of shootings like these has an opinion.

"I don't know that criminals contemplate the consequences for their actions," Pinkston said. "They just act with disregard to what the consequences would be so I would find it unusual if they were contemplating just hurting someone to achieve a lesser charge."

Frazer said, "It's not as though the perpetrator is taking two shots and hitting them both times. It's an instance where they are going out and spraying and hoping to hit somebody."

Frazer sums it up in one word.

"Luck. Luck would be my first thought."

It's only understandable with this rash of shootings that the public at large may worry about being a target.

"I think it's very important to emphasize these are not random people walking down the street who end up shot," said Frazer. "The suspect and victim typically have some tie to one another."

Salvation Army Angel Tree sign up begins in Chattanooga and Cleveland

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 5:30pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) - Time's running out for anyone hoping to sign up for this year's Angel Tree Program.
    People lined up early Monday to get their loved ones on the list this year.
    The Angel tree provides clothes, toys and household goods to children under 12 and seniors who qualify.
    In Cleveland, you can sign up this week on Inman Street by appointment.
    In Chattanooga, come by the warehouse on Covington Street in Rossville.
    Kimberly George with the Salvation Army said, "Certainly if you're in need now or you know if you feel like you know, I just don't know if I'll be in need by Christmas, go ahead and get signed up.  You can certainly give those gifts to someone else if you know you end up being okay.  We don't want you to go without."
    There are only ten Fridays left until Christmas.

Bond denied for married couple accused of raping a teen

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 5:10pm
DALTON, Georgia(WDEF) - A second person has been arrested in connection to a reported rape of a teenage girl.

Whitfield County sheriff deputies arrested Timothy Pittman, 42, over the weekend.

Authorities had already arrested his wife Shannon Pittman, 41, last week. But after she was taken into custody, her husband reportedly went into hiding.

"The male subject basically just vanished for a few days then we got information where he would be located. We coordinated everything and was able to pick him up without any incident so that's how he was taken into custody and brought in this past week," said Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood.

The married couple are both facing multiple sexual assault charges including sodomy and rape of a teenage girl.

According to the arrest affidavit, the teen told her parent she was assaulted inside a residence on Haigmill Road. Shannon Pittman is accused of getting the girl drunk on hard liquor before she and her husband sexually assaulted the teen.

Investigators told News 12 this might be the first time they've arrested a married couple accused of sexual assault on a minor.

"It's certainly not your standard sexual charges that we're familiar with on a daily basis so with the circumstances of how this came about; the parties involved, yes a little unusual for what we normally do," Chitwood said.

The case is so unusual that even experts at the rape crisis center said they could not find a crime statistic that addresses rape allegations involving married couples as suspects.

"I don't really know any specific rates of that. I will say that each case is different and each case has different dynamics to it so we have to look at cases on an individual case by case basis," said Rape Crisis Center Supervisor Caroline Huffaker.

A judge denied bond to the Pittman's based on the nature of the charges as well as the circumstances surrounding the allegations.

In an effort to protect the identity of the young victim, News 12 has omitted several facts and details that were written in the arrest affidavit.

Life Force Hangar

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 5:08pm
A big announcement could be a life saver for Cleveland area residents.
Officials with Erlanger Health System held a grounbreaking at the Cleveland Regional Airport.
It's to build a new hangar for the Life Force air ambulance service.
Leaders say the location will get patients to Erlanger more quickly.
It will also help patients in nearby Meigs, McMinn, Rhea and Bledsoe counties.
The new Life Force hangar should be finished by January.

Assault victim dies and charges upgraded to murder

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 4:55pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) - The victim of an assault at 100 Moccasin Bend last week died from the injuries.

Chattanooga Police upgraded the charges against 37-year-old Leviticus Avery from aggravated assault to first degree murder.

Old McDonald Farm tries to clean up after huge fire Sunday

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 4:45pm
Sale Creek, TN (WDEF) - The Old McDonald Farm in Sale Creek should be gearing up for its busiest time of year.
    The fall festival plays a big role in the $750,000 the farm brings in annually.
    But this year, organizers work to clean up after a huge fire ripped through the property.
    Halloween usually marks the final day of the festival, but it may be extended to help recoup the fire loss.
    Videographer Ashley Henderson has the story.

Good samaritans step up after donation jar theft at Red Bank Thirft Store

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 4:22pm
Red Bank, TN (WDEF) - A good samaritan steps up to help after last week's donation jar theft at the Red Bank Thrift Store.
    The money collected was to help people with hospice needs in the Red Bank area.
    The stolen donation jar funds were specifically ear-marked to build a handicapped accessible ramp for hospice patients.
    Daniel Shoats owns the Red Bank Thrift Store. He said, "After the news was aired, we've had at least 10 or more contractors that called up, volunteered their time, we've had a company in Middle Valley to offer us basically any kind of lumber that we needed, the community has brought in quite a bit of funding, and the ramp was started this morning, and hopefully will be finished by tomorrow evening."
    Also Monday investigators tell us they've gotten a lot of good tips and could make an arrest soon.

Manhunt Monday: Dwight Turner

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 3:46pm
Chattanooga, TN (WDEF) - This week's Manhunt Monday fugitive is on the Hamilton County Top 12 Most Wanted List.
    Dwight Turner stands accused of aggravated burglary and vandalism, as well as theft over $1,000.
    He stands 5'11" inches tall and weighs around 200 pounds.
    If you know where he is, please contact the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Police Investigate Online Threat to Lee University

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 2:37pm
Cleveland (WDEF) - Cleveland Police and the FBI are joining an investigation into an online threat against the Lee University campus.

The anonymous threat was posted on Yik Yak.

President Paul Conn says there is no direct evidence that it is a credible threat.

But they have notified the Cleveland Police Department and the FBI.

Uniformed officers will be on campus through the week.

And there will be additional officers at campus events like Dorm Wars tonight.

President Conn posted "We understand why people would feel uneasy about posts like this. It is part of the chaotic and often unsettling world we live in. However, based on all available information in consultation with authorities, we do not feel it is necessary to suspend normal activity at this time. We encourage everyone to continue to engage in the life of the campus as usual and hope you have a reenergizing Fall Break."

Learn At Amazon

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 2:36pm
Chattanooga's Amazon Fulfillment center wants its employees to further their education, and the business will help.
The company announced the expansion of its Career Choice Program.
It's the first of its kind in Tennessee.
The fulfillment center now has a dedicated on-site classroom.
It features high-end technology and allows workers to take college classes, industry certification courses, college readiness programs and even business seminars on site.
More than 3,000 full-time employees at the facility can take advantage of the expanded Career Choice Program.

Chattanooga Police Arrest Suspect In Shallowford Shooting

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 2:19pm
Chattanooga (WDEF) Chattanooga police make an arrest in one of this weekend's five shootings.

They have charged 22 year old Jimmy Jenkins with shooting on Shallowford Road on Saturday.

33-year old Paul Holloway was shot in the leg.

They are still building their case, so police ask anyone with more information to call 423-698-2525.

Last Week to Sign Up For Angel Tree Christmas Campaign

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 11:30am
Chattanooga (WDEF) This is the beginning of the last week to sign up for this year's Angel Tree program.

Local children ans seniors are eligible for help this holiday season, but you need to register with the Salvation Army this week.

The Angel Tree provides clothing, toys and other crucial items to qualified participants.

Registration will take place every day this week, ending on Friday, October 16.

In Chattanooga, register at 5001 Covington Street, off of Rossville Boulevard, 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM.

In Cleveland, register at 437 Inman Street West ,Cleveland, TN 37311 by appointment only by calling 423-308-3467.

If you have any questions about the process, call 423-756-1023 or visit

Hamilton County Needs Witnesses to Crash That Killed A Child

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 10:59am
Hamilton County (WDEF) -Hamilton County investigators need your help with a deadly crash from a couple of weeks ago.

It happened on Friday, October 2nd at 11 AM in the 1000 block of Boy Scout road.

A toddler was killed in the single vehicle crash.

"In order to gather necessary information pertinent to the crash, Traffic Investigators would like to speak to any eye witnesses who may have seen the wreck occur or may have stopped to provide assistance to the family prior to EMS and Police arrival. These eye witness accounts are very important for the investigation and may help shed additional light on how this accident occurred."

Please contact the Traffic Division at 423-893-3503, ext. 260 (please leave a message if no answer).

Father reportedly tells deputy he shot at his son to "Teach him a lesson"

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 9:56am
HARRISON, Tennessee(WDEF) – A Harrison man who was arrested for assault told police that he shot at his son to “teach him a lesson.”

James Watkins, 51, was arrested Sunday night and charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and possession of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.

Hamilton County deputies were dispatched to a residence in the 7400 block of Pamela Drive to respond to a call about a disorder with a weapon involved. But the response became more serious when another 911 caller told dispatch that shots were fired at that address.

According to the arrest affidavit, Watkins told deputies that he was having an argument with his son. He wanted his son off the property so he walked into his house, grabbed his handgun and fired a shot toward his son.

According to deputies, Watkins said he fired the shot at his son to “teach him a lesson.” He also told deputies that although he fired the shot, he didn’t intend to hit his son.

During their investigation, deputies noticed that Watkins had been drinking prior to their arrival and may have been under the influence of alcohol when he fired at his son.

While Watkins was being transported to the Hamilton County Jail, he reportedly told a deputy that he fired the gun because he was “afraid for his life and that his son was a constant problem.”

But the deputy noted in his report that the statement made about fearing for his life contradicted an early statement of “teaching him a lesson.”

Watkins remains in jail on a $15,000 bond.

He’s due court on November 9.

Watkins is no stranger to trouble involving alcohol. He’s been convicted three times for DUI.

Chattanooga Police Investigate 5th Shooting This Weekend

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 8:46am
Chattanooga (WDEF) - Chattanooga's 5th shooting of the weekend happened around midnight on Sunday.

21 year old Anthony Visher arrived at a local hospital with a gunshot wound.

He told police that he was walking on Brainerd road when he was shot.

But he did not give them any suspect information.

Investigators place the scene of the shooting in the 3200 block.

If you have any more information on the shooting, please contact the Chattanooga Police Department at 423-698-2525.

Gas Prices Still Drifting Up

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 8:20am
(WDEF) Gas prices once again headed up last week both nationally and here in Tennessee.

The national average rose two cents ($2.32) while it went up three pennies in Tennessee ($2.03).

"For the first time in recent memory year-over-year discounts are below the $1 per gallon benchmark, largely because gas prices began falling this time last year," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Consumers are saving 93 cents per gallon versus this same date last year. Gas prices could remain volatile as refinery maintenance season continues, which leaves supplies tightened while gasoline demand remains high. The good news for motorists is that prices are still forecast to slip back toward $2 a gallon by the end of the year."

But the experts still expect prices to drop in October, like they have the last three years.

Oil prices moved higher last week due to geopolitical tensions and a weakening dollar. Russia has increased its presence and engagement in Syria causing unrest and turmoil in the region which could disrupt and/or limit supply. 

But gas remains particularly cheap in the Chattanooga area. reports prices are going up here, too.

But the average is $1.93.

The cheapest pumps in town are all over.

Murphy Express on Lee Highway and Hi-Tech on Dayton Boulevard both have $1,74.

The RaceWay on Signal Mtn. Road has $1.75.

TBI Most Wanted Found in Manchester

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 7:59am
Manchester (WDEF) - Last week, we told you that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was putting a Winchester suspect on their To ten Most Wanted List.

Late Sunday night, they got their man.

Agents found 30 year old Earl Antonio Taylor at a Scottish Inn in Manchester.

They took him without incident.

Taylor was wanted for the shooting death of Angela Kibble in Shelbyville. 

JOE FRUGAL: FREE Best Of Releases from Alice Cooper, Europe, Jessica Simpson, and others

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 5:05am
The Google Play store's free album deals just got sweeter, with several "best of" sets now available.

Artists include Alice Cooper, Europe, Jessica Simpson, Miles Davis, Meat Loaf and others.

You must add a form of payment to the google play store in order to download, even though the albums are free.