BREWTON, Ala.Aug 12 2010 — Dozens of people gathered near a roadblock on U.S. 31 Wednesday night as word quickly spread about two local men who died in a violent head-on crash that ended a high-speed police chase.
Donald Rotch, a man some described as T.R. Miller’s greatest fan, had been driving home from playing golf at the Country Club of Brewton when he was hit head on by a red Pontiac Grand Am driven by Martin Reid, 39.
Brewton Police Chief Monte McGougin said one officer was pursuing Reid after the officer responded to a domestic violence situation in the parking lot of the police station.
“The officer approached, and he started running,” McGougin said. The chase proceeded north on U.S. 31 at speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour, officers said. McGougin said Reid was attempting to pass a vehicle when he struck Rotch’s SUV almost head on in the southbound lane. Both men were killed instantly, McGougin said.
McGougin said the officer, whom he declined to identify, was about 100 yards behind Reid when the accident occurred.
“He is not on duty now, and is taking this very hard,” McGougin said. “He knew both victims well.”
McGougin said the crash was being investigated by the Alabama State Troopers Vehicle Homicide Unit. McGougin said it appears the officer acted according to police policy in the chase.
Some bystanders, however, were critical of the chase that cost two people their lives.
Reid’s family members were among dozens who waited for word about the accident near a roadblock on the highway.
“Somebody called and told me my brother was in an accident,” said Mia Reid, the sister of the man killed. “I really think this is a bad situation. If I had been chasing him, when speeds got to the point it was unsafe to continue, I would have stopped the chase.” Some officers on the scene were rude and showed no sympathy, she said.
She said her brother was disabled, but loved to ride and train horses. He was the father of a 2-year-old son, Dillon.
Others at the roadblock were stunned at the news of Rotch’s death. Rotch came to T.R. Miller in 1974 and served as a baseball coach, assistant football coach, driver’s education teacher, assitant principal and was appointed principal several years ago.
McGougin said Rotch coached him in high school, and the loss would be painful for the town for years to come.
“It’s terrible to lose Donnie Rotch,” McGougin said, “and it’s the same for Martin Reid. His loss will be felt in this town too.”
Officials said Rotch had called his wife Jane to let her know he was on his way home for dinner just before 8 p.m. He never arrived, and when she heard sirens, she went looking for him, officials said. Police met her at the road block and told her about his death.
“This is a bad day for Brewton,” said Mayor Ted Jennings. “It will be a bad day for a long time to come.”
Hours after the accident, the roadway remained closed as workers cleared the debris and vehicles from the highway. Rotch’s vehicle lay on its side, the hood severely twisted and shoved into the driver’s side. About 50 yards away, the red Grand Am sat crumpled in the opposite ditch with debris strewn all in between.
McGougin said both bodies would be transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for autopsy.
Teachers were notified of Rotch’s death and were told to prepare for grief counseling on Thursday.
Outside the school office, just a few miles from the crash scene, someone had placed a memorial of red and white flowers, a wooden cross and a red balloon that said “I love you” at Rotch’s parking spot.
“He loved T.R. Miller like you wouldn’t believe,” Jennings said, “and T.R. Miller loved him back.
FAIRFIELD CA Aug 12 2010 – A married Fairfield high school teacher was arrested Tuesday in Solano County and charged with sexual battery and assault on a minor under the age of 14.
Carl Michael Testerman taught English at Vanden High School until yesterday’s arrest. Testerman was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery, touching an intimate part of a person who is unlawfully restrained and lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14.
It is not known at this time how many children were involved, and there is no sign that any of the children attended Vanden High. Stay tuned to FOX40 and check in with FOX40.com for the latest information as it develops.
Golden’s former deputy, Brendan Lee, assumed the title of acting deputy chief of operations for safety, said district spokeswoman Lisa Mastoon.
District officials said that Golden resigned yesterday morning, but others familiar with the safety office said that there had been speculation for months that Golden would be fired or asked to resign.
The Daily News was unable to reach Golden yesterday for comment.
Michael Lodise, president of the School Police Association, said many officers began hearing as early as January that Golden would be ousted this year.
He said Golden may be the “fall guy” for the violence at South Philadelphia High School in December, when dozens of Asian students were assaulted in racially motivated attacks.
“The school police officers felt that they didn’t have his support,” Lodise said, adding that the officers are upset about staff reductions. The ranks were cut from about 500 school officers a year ago to about 425 officers today.
Lodise said the officers expect a better relationship with Lee.
The Rev. LeRoi Simmons, coordinator of the Germantown Clergy Initiative, a group that volunteered inside Germantown High School, said officers thought Golden was too “mild-mannered,” and criticized him for rarely coming to schools.
Golden, a former police official with 30 years in law enforcement, was hired in April 2005 as the deputy safety officer under then-chief safety officer Dexter Green. Golden assumed the top position when Green resigned later that year.
His hiring was controversial because Golden was fired as security chief at Philadelphia International Airport in 2004 after hiring his son-in-law as a supervisor for night-shift security screeners. After Golden appealed, the Transportation Security Administration changed his firing to a resignation.
In the arrest, police seized a bevy of less-than-lethal weapons, which, while not deadly, are still illegal for civilians to own, or at least to carry while walking the streets. Among the items seized were two BB guns, two bullet-proof vests, six pairs of handcuffs, a stun gun, and a night stick.
The call came at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday from a woman reporting that she saw a man dressed in black tactical clothing and armed with a gun in the area of Beatty and Lalor streets. The caller told police she saw the man run into the El Fuego bar.
When police entered the bar, they reported finding several suspects matching the description given by the caller. One man was seen at the rear of the bar, kneeling on the floor, and apparently hiding an object.
The suspect turned out to be 26-year-old Andre Quarles, and the object he was hiding turned out to be a black Air Mag BB gun, police said.
Quarles was arrested and charged with numerous weapons offenses. Along with the BB gun he allegedly hid, police said the accused also had two pairs of handcuffs and a can of mace, and he was wearing body armor.
While at the bar, police also saw a man, later identified as Kenneth Smith, 23, coming out of the building wearing all black clothing. Police said he was also wearing body armor and had a tactical utility belt with a gun holster around his waist. In the holster, police recovered a green and black Smith & Wesson BB gun.
Smith was arrested and police additionally found him in possession of the night stick, the stun gun, four pairs of handcuffs, and a can of mace.
Police said the two men were employed as security guards for the bar, and that the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission has been notified of the arrests.
Dallas TX Aug 12 2010 A Dallas ISD police officer and a school clerk have been arrested on accusations of stealing activity fund money from Pinkston High School.
Officer James Ellison and Tracey Blair each face two felony charges of theft of property by a public servant between $500 and $1,500 and tampering with a government record.
DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander would not comment on the case, saying it’s a personnel matter. But he said that the Dallas ISD police department provided information to the Dallas County district attorney’s office.
Ellison, 57, has been with DISD for at least 23 years. It was unclear Wednesday evening how long he has been a police officer in the district. His bail was set at $200,000.
Blair, 34, has worked in the district for at least nine years. Her bail was set at $100,000.
Ypsilanti MI Aug 12 2010 A female security guard on foot patrol at Maplewood Apartments in Ypsilanti Township was attacked by three men Tuesday night, causing serious injuries, police said.
No arrests have been made, and the motive of the attack isn’t clear, said Washtenaw County Sheriff’s spokesman Derrick Jackson.
The 29-year-old security guard for Ypsilanti Township-based S.I.A. Protective Services & Investigations, which provides security at the complex on Chestnut Drive, was conducting foot patrols at about 11:40 p.m., Jackson said. She was in uniform and is an unarmed guard, police said.
“She was walking doing her foot patrol and from behind these guys jump on her and beat her up,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the guard fought back, and the men eventually stopped beating her and fled.
It’s unclear whether the men used any weapons, Jackson said. The initial 911 call reported the attack as a stabbing, he said.
Police don’t know whether anything was stolen from the guard, Jackson said.
She was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital with serious injuries, Jackson said. Because of her injuries, detectives have not had an opportunity to interview her at length.
The attackers left in a dark-colored pickup truck with a cap covering the truck bed.
Kim Harper, property manager of the 271-unit complex across from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, said she’s looking into the matter, but did not have details.
“Of course safety is our number one concern,” she said.
Amany Tabb, owner of S.I.A. Protective Services & Investigations, did not return phone calls seeking comment this morning.
Baton Rouge LA Aug 12 2010 An hours-long standoff in Baton Rouge ended Wednesday evening with the arrest of a man federal authorities said is the “Granddad Bandit,” who is suspected of calmly robbing banks in more than a dozen states, including Virginia.
Michael F. Mara, 52, was charged with bank robbery in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Richmond, the FBI said.
The arrest followed a 19-month investigation that frustrated FBI agents and local police. Several bank security cameras had captured clear images of the robber — a balding middle-aged man who wore no disguise — but detectives were stumped when they tried to determine his identity.
A break in the case came last week after surveillance photos were flashed across nearly 2,000 digital billboards in more than 40 states. A tipster from Virginia, where Mara has lived, came through with a name and sent FBI agents photos of Mara. The agents knew they had their man, authorities said.
Wednesday morning, agents and local police surrounded a home in Baton Rouge. Authorities said that Mara had a weapon and threatened to harm himself but that sometime between 4 and 4:30 p.m., the standoff ended peacefully.
“We’ve got him,” said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Amanda Moran, who is in charge of bank robbery investigations across the country. “It’s a great feeling. It was a lot of work for a lot of field officers. The public came out and really helped us.”
Moran said Mara is cooperating with investigators and directed them to evidence at the home.
The Granddad Bandit is suspected of robbing 26 banks in 14 states from Florida to Texas to New York. The string of robberies began at a Richmond bank in December 2008 and ended Tuesday at a bank in North Carolina, authorities said. He never robbed banks in the same state twice in a row.
Thousands of banks are robbed each year in the United States, according to the FBI. Last year, there were more than 5,900 such robberies, with nearly $46 million taken. But the Granddad Bandit stood out.
Most robbers try to mask their identity. Take, for instance, the man who wore a burqa when he robbed a TD Bank branch in Silver Spring on Tuesday. Or the guy who donned a Darth Vader mask and flowing robe to hold up a Long Island bank in July.
But the Granddad Bandit appeared unconcerned about showing his face. Apart from the occasional baseball cap, he made no effort to cover his head or face. His thinning hair, wire-rimmed glasses and even his paunch are clearly visible in security camera photos taken in banks.
This robber, authorities said, calmly walked into banks and handed tellers notes demanding a specific amount of money. At first, he wanted $2,000 to $3,000, authorities said, then he upped the amount to $5,000. He took the loot and walked away.
Authorities said they think the man has robbed banks in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas. He struck as far north as New York. He never robbed a bank in the District or Maryland. He never threatened or harmed anyone during a robbery, though court records say he put his hand in his pocket as if he had a gun during the holdup in Richmond.
Early this month, FBI agents, at wits end, decided to expand their public plea for help by using digital billboards usually reserved for the most urgent cases, such as a manhunt for a violent criminal.
The FBI was already on to the suspect when a Charlotte bank was robbed Tuesday. “He walked right in there without a mask like he had no fear in the world,” Moran said.
Online court records show Mara was convicted of breaking and entering and grand larceny in Chesapeake, Va., in 1995 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. It is not clear when he was released.
MONTGOMERY, AL Aug 12 2010 – The Alabama Bureau of Investigation says it has closed its investigation into nude photos being taken at a Montgomery tanning salon saying the matter was an isolated event.
“It was a picture of me nude in the tanning salon,” says Rachelle Thornton. Thornton used to be a regular of the Electric Sun tanning salon on Chantilly Parkway. But now, she’s never going back. “It’s horrible just feeling like you’re violated. I mean, and being a woman and the main thing that concerns me is…are my pictures on the internet now?”
Thornton says the ABI notified her a month ago that nude pictures of her were found on a computer at the salon. She says state investigators told her they found cameras in the tanning rooms. “I broke down and cried first…just stunned,” she says. The ABI disputes that claim, however, saying only one photo of Thornton was found and that no surveillance equipment or hidden cameras were found in the salon.
Martha Earnhardt, A Department of Public Safety spokeswoman, says the investigation found no evidence that the privacy of other patrons was compromised.
Montgomery County Sheriff D.T. Marshall says when Thornton learned of the pictures she signed an arrest warrant. Sheriff’s deputies arrested the owner of the store, Edward Swann, and charged him with criminal surveillance.
Thornton says she was always suspicious of Swann. “He would just stand in the room waiting on me to get undressed, and I would have to tell him excuse me, I’ve got to tan.”
She says she’s not the only one, that other women have similar stories. “A couple people ever since this has happened to me has came out in the open about this man.”
Thornton says Swann would make inappropriate sexual comments to her. Now she says she knows why. She says stepping inside any tanning salon will never be the same. “I just don’t feel that security anymore. I feel like I’d be looking for cameras. And, I mean, even when I go to a public bathroom now, I’m looking because this can happen.”
Swann posted bond and is out of the Montgomery County Jail.
ABI officials say they’ve concluded their investigation and it’s now in the hands of the District Attorney.
Cowden, Ill. Aug 12 2010 A police officer was killed Tuesday night while chasing a vehicle in Effingham County, Ill., police said.
A passenger in the vehicle, Jessica Stuckemeyer, 22, was treated for injuries and released from Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. Cowden Mayor Lorne Barnes said Stuckemeyer was doing a ride-along to gain experience in preparation for entering the police academy.
Illinois State Police is investigating but has not released the officer’s name. Barnes, however, identified him as Jeremy Hubbard, 35, of Effingham.
Hubbard crashed about 8:15 p.m. on North First Street, about a mile south of the junction of U.S. 40 and Illinois 128, police said. He lost control of his squad car and was ejected as the car flipped several times into a cornfield. Hubbard was pronounced dead at Greenville Regional Hospital in Bond County.
Police have released no additional information about the crash, but Barnes said officers were assisting another police department stopping a red Dodge pickup truck wanted for driving without license plates.
Barnes said Hubbard crashed at least 15 miles south of Cowden and that the suspect escaped. Barnes did not know why Hubbard had traveled that far outside Cowden village limits.
Hubbard was a part-time officer who was married with two young children, Barnes said. Hubbard also worked for a truck sales company in Effingham.
Hubbard had served Cowden’s police department for three to four years, Barnes said. Cowden, a village of about 600 people about 100 miles northeast of St. Louis, has a part-time police force: Hubbard and one other officer.
“He was a top-notch police officer,” Barnes said. “He was very polite. He was very quiet, but when he talked, people understood. That’s one thing I really liked about him, how well he conducted himself. I would put him up against anybody.”
His wife, Trisha Hubbard, said her husband loved being a police officer so that he could help people. His goal was to become a full-time officer.
She said she was told her husband started chasing the pickup after it ran a stop sign and had no plates.
“He died doing what he loved to do,” said Trisha Hubbard, 35. “He lived it. He loved it.”
Trisha and Jeremy Hubbard met in high school and dated for eight years before gettting married. Two sons, Dylan, 13, and Jordan, 8, survive.
“Their dad was everything to them,” she said.
Before his shift Tuesday, Trisha Hubbard said she and her husband hugged and said they loved each other. She said she knew the dangers of police work but thought he would be OK.
“It’s a small town so I thought he would be safe,” she said.
Funeral arrangements were pending Wednesday.