Maryland governor declares emergency, National Guard mobilized

By Associated Press 7:45pm, April 27, 2015 - Updated 11:39am, April 28, 2015
A police vehicle burns, Monday, April 27, 2015, during unrest following the funeral of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a Baltimore Police Department van. (AP Photo/Patrick Sem
The Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, said "thugs" are trying to "tear down what so many have fought for."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake imposed a curfew, to begin Tuesday night, and Maryland's governor declared a state of emergency, calling in the National Guard to restore order to the city.

Hours after the funeral for a black man who was injured while in police custody, rioters torched buildings and police cars and threw bricks at officers, injuring 15 of them.

Baltimore residents say their hearts ache

Many Baltimore residents said their hearts are aching as peaceful protests over the death of a man injured while in police custody have been replaced by rioting by what Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake calls "thugs."

Resident Kevin Johnson says his "heart is broken" because a community center for the elderly that was still under construction burned to the ground.

The violence started Monday just as high school let out. Young people began looting a local mall and a liquor store.



Baltimore in chaos

National Guard troops are fanned out through Baltimore and firefighters are dousing still-simmering blazes this morning after violence broke out following yesterday's funeral for a black man who died while in police custody.

The violence started in West Baltimore and by midnight had spread to the eastern part of the city, close to the baseball stadium.

At least 15 officers were hurt and at least two dozen people were arrested.

A 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew begins tonight.



15 officers hurt in riot

Police say 15 officers have been injured in the Baltimore riots and two are still in the hospital.

More than two dozen people have been arrested after people looted stores, set cars on fire and threw bricks at police.

Massive fire related to riot

Baltimore firefighters are spraying water on commercial and residential buildings near what's left of the Mary Harvin Transformation Center.

The brick building was engulfed by flames earlier this evening, after rioting and looting broke out following the funeral of Freddie Gray. Some flames are still visible and firefighters are trying to prevent them from spreading, given the number of abandoned rowhomes nearby.

Donte Hickman, pastor of a Baptist church that has been helping to develop the center, shed tears over the fire as he led a group prayer in front of the fire trucks. Hickman says his heart is broken because somebody didn't understand that his group was working on behalf of the community and investing "when nobody else would."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said through a spokesman that officials are investigating whether there is a connection between the fire and the riots.

A CVS pharmacy was also set on fire earlier in the day. Businesses have been looted and at least 15 officers were injured in the chaos.

Gray family in 'shock'

An attorney for the family of Freddie Gray says they are in shock watching the violence in Baltimore.

Hours after Gray's funeral, a large group of youths had a standoff with police, throwing bricks, bottles and other items at officers. Several stores have been looted and cars have been set on fire.

Gray family attorney Billy Murphy said the family is urging for calm.

"They don't want this movement nationally to be marred by violence," he said. "It makes no sense."

Murphy said Gray's family is lying low Monday night. Gray died after suffering critical injuries in police custody.

Obama pledges help to riot

President Barack Obama is pledging the federal government's help to respond to riots that have broken out in Baltimore following the funeral of Freddie Gray.

The White House says the Baltimore mayor updated Obama on the situation and that Obama told her his administration would provide assistance as needed.

The White House says Obama also discussed the rioting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was sworn in hours earlier.

Obama and Lynch met in the Oval Office while violent scenes of rioting in Baltimore played out on television. Gray died April 19 after suffering a mysterious spinal injury while in police custody. The Justice Department and local authorities are investigating.

Senators speak about riot

Maryland's two senators are faulting a few in Baltimore for the violent protests, looting and clashes with police.

"This is terrible," Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski told reporters in the U.S. Capitol Monday night. The five-term senator and Baltimore resident said about 300 students primarily from one high school acted out and showed "disrespect toward Freddie Gray." Mikulski said some 85,000 school children went home and were not involved.

Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said their "immediate concern is to restore the peace in Baltimore."

The two lawmakers said they are awaiting the independent, civil rights investigation by the Justice Department into Gray's death.

Gray died of an unexplained spinal injury while in police custody.


Police: Wanted fugitive, teen flee from Wilmington Police, striking cruiser; gun recovered

By DJ McAneny 11:23am, April 28, 2015
Tymir Mason, left, and Bryon Wilmer, right/Courtesy Wilmington Police
Two Wilmington men, one already wanted by police, were apprehended Monday--but not before engaging in a vehicle pursuit in which the fleeing car struck a mark police cruiser and two civilian vehicles, police announced Tuesday.

According to Wilmington Police, a detective assigned to the U.S. Marshals Task Force attempted to perform a traffic stop at 18th Street and Baynard Boulevard, assisted by additional police units, at approximately 2:30 p.m. on April 27, 2015.

Police said the detective believed the operator of the vehicle, identified by police as Tymir Mason, 23, to be a wanted subject. During the process of the traffic stop, the vehicle--additionally occupied by 18-year-old Bryon Wilmer--fled the scene, striking a marked police cruiser in the process.

The fleeing car struck two additional vehicles at Concord Avenue and West Street. Both occupants attempted to flee on foot, but were "quickly apprehended," police said.

A Bryco Jennings 9mm handgun loaded with 12 rounds was recovered during the following investigation, though police did not indicate if the weapon was found on one of the suspects' persons or in the car.

Following the chase, a 16-year veteran of the force was treated at the Wilmington Emergency Room for an arm injury suffered during the collision with the fleeing vehicle and released, police said. They also indicated Mason was treated for minor injuries suffered in the crash.

Mason, facing the charges on which he was originally wanted--breach of release, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, carrying a concealed deadly weapon, and resisting arrest--was additionally charged with possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, possession of ammunition by a person prohibited, second-degree assault-vehicular, resisting arrest and numerous traffic violations.

Wilmer was charged with possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, possession of ammunition by a person prohibited, and resisting arrest.

No bail information was currently available.


New Castle County Police ramp up cellphone ban enforcement

By Amy Cherry 10:00pm, April 27, 2015 - Updated 10:39am, April 28, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry goes for a ride-along with New Castle County Police
New Castle County Police are planning to crack down on drivers who don't put their phones down.



There's no denying it. Most of us have done it--grabbed a quick call from a boss, parents or even kids while behind the wheel.

"If I see the phone to their ear, or if I see them holding it up and texting, or at night I'll see the glow of the phone emanating," said Master Corporal Mike Eckerd. "I go about 5 miles faster than traffic, and I'll just look in and peek."

Those are all signs drivers have been texting or talking while driving, and Eckerd has had his eyes peeled this past week, looking for that kind of illegal behavior as part of a statewide crackdown, sponsored by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.

But enforcement of the state's cellphone ban is tricky. Eckerd said he has to see the phone in someone's hand while the car is moving in order to pull someone over. Checking a cellphone at a red light is not illegal under the statute. Almost every driver pulled over during WDEL's two-hour ride along through northern New Castle County knew exactly what they had done wrong.

"The reason I stopped you is for driving while talking on your cellphone," said Eckerd.

"Yeah, I understand; I get it, I was wrong," admitted Mike Molitor Jr. of Wilmington, who said he reached for his phone to finish a conversation after his Bluetooth kept losing its connection.

Some were apologetic, offering up their guilt instantly.

"So were you texting or talking on the phone?" asked the officer.

"Texting, sorry!" said a Wilmington woman.

Others weren't as friendly, and their excuses ran the gamut.

"I was on the phone; guys cut me a break--you're going to have my son screaming at me," said one man, who was pulled over for talking on the phone to his wife.

"I just turned it off; I just answered it, and I turned it off," said one Wilmington woman, who was pulled over on Interstate 95.

"Well, it looked like you were having a great argument on there," responded Corporal Eckerd.



"There's really no excuse. People always say, 'Oh I just got a call.' A lot of it, 'I was just talking to my work," said Eckerd.

In under two hours, Eckerd pulled over six people; four of them were issued civil citations for talking or texting while driving; the citation carries a $116 fine for first-time offenders with no points. The fine has risen $10 due to administrative fees.

NCCo Police Master Corporal Eckerd pulls over a man for talking on his cellphone while driving during ramped up enforcement Monday. Click to interact

"They're blown away that they're actually getting a fine for it," said Eckerd. "Because apparently, they do it a lot and just haven't been stopped."

Some drivers got quite emotional.

"Why are you crying?" asked Eckerd.

"I'm just overwhelmed, and I have five kids... I know I made a bad choice, and I do deserve this, I'm just frustrated," said a Wilmington woman.

Molitor Jr. of Wilmington told WDEL he rarely talks on his cellphone while driving, and he'll think twice before ever doing it again.

"Next time, I'll just probably pull over and finish the phone call and just deal with the Bluetooth cutting out," he said.

The Delaware OHS said officers have issued 54,000 citations since the state's handheld cellphone law went into effect in January of 2011.

---

Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.


Woman trapped, 3 hospitalized in Monday head-on

By Andrew Sgroi 8:45am, April 28, 2015 - Updated 10:51am, April 28, 2015
A head-on, two-car crash near Wilmington's Penny Hill hospitalized three people Monday.

County paramedics treated the patients at the crash scene on Shipley Road at Woodhill Road just before 4 p.m.

Officials said a 42-year-old woman was trapped inside of her vehicle before rescue crews could free her. She suffered possible head and upper extremity injuries.

Two other women, an 18-year-old passenger in the first vehicle and the other car's driver, also suffered possible injuries.

All three patients were taken to Christiana Hospital, listed in serious condition.


Supreme Court hears historic same-sex marriage arguments

By Mark Sherman/Associated Press 11:39am, April 28, 2015
Equality flags fly in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, April 28, 2015./(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy asked skeptical questions as the court heard arguments over the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Kennedy, whose vote is seen as pivotal, said Tuesday that marriage has been understood as one man and one woman for "millennia-plus time." He said same-sex marriage has been debated in earnest for only about 10 years and he wondered whether scholars and the public need more time.

He told a lawyer representing same-sex couples that it's "very difficult" for the court to say "we know better."

Chief Justice John Roberts said that gay couples are not seeking to join the institution of marriage, they are seeking to change it.

The session was interrupted after about 30 minutes a protester yelling loudly. He was removed by security.


New arrest powers would help Newark police crack down on motor vehicle violations

By Shana O'Malley 1:01am, April 28, 2015 - Updated 10:34am, April 28, 2015
A bill making its way through Newark City Council would grant city officers certain arrest powers without warrant.

Under the proposal, an officer who observed a cell phone, red light, or seatbelt violation would be able to notify another nearby officer of the act.

The officer who was contacted by the observing officer would then have the "arresting authority," even though they did not witness the crime.

Officers already have this authority for speeding violations.

Newark officials said the bill will align city law with a state law that was passed last year.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 280 during the last day of the 147th General Assembly session.

---

Contact Shana O'Malley at somalley@dbcmedia.com or follow her on Twitter at @shanaomalley


Insurance company wants out of Korn child porn defamation suit

By Associated Press 10:04pm, April 27, 2015 - Updated 10:49am, April 28, 2015
Richard Korn (WDEL/file)
An insurance company has asked a federal judge to declare it's not obligated to defend the ex-wife of serial political candidate Richard Korn against his defamation lawsuit.

Liberty Mutual argued in a complaint filed Monday that a homeowner's policy it issued to Magda Korn does not cover her against the defamation claims.

Richard Korn sued his ex-wife in December after he was acquitted on child pornography charges. Korn was arrested in 2013 after his ex-wife told police he had child pornography on his computer. He was acquitted by a judge who said prosecutors had not proven that he knew about the images.

Korn, who has run unsuccessfully for state auditor, county executive, and state legislature, claimed his wife falsely accused him to try to gain leverage in divorce proceedings.




Bill would let Wilmington, other Delaware governments create land banks

By Tom Lehman 3:19pm, April 27, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.
Cities like Wilmington and other local governments could soon have a new way to deal with blight and abandoned properties if a proposed law enabling the creation of land banks is passed by state lawmakers.

Under a bill introduced to the State Senate, cities, counties, and towns with long-term vacancy rates of more than three percent could create land bank entities to procure properties that are able to purchase abandoned properties for redevelopment.

State Sen. Bryan Towsend (D-Newark/Bear), the primary sponsor for the bill, said the agencies could use public funds, grants, private investment, and property sale proceeds to buy vacant and tax-delinquent properties by purchasing liens from governments or acquiring them through sheriff sales.

"When a property is otherwise just sitting there, and somebody might own it but it's just sitting there and it has tax liens, it's obviously dragging down the whole community," he said.

If the bill passes, Wilmington is expected to be the first municipality to create a land bank. In March, city council members voted to allocate money to start a land bank program.

City Planning Director Leonard Sophrin said a land bank program would give the city and communities another option for dealing with blight. He said obtaining vacant properties to facilitate investment and redevelopment could also lead to improved public safety in neighborhoods.

"It's a way to revitalize neighborhoods so that there are places to walk and commercial properties and retail in neighborhoods," he said.

Townsend said governments in places other than Wilmington have expressed interest in the program, which would allow multiple "political subdivisions" to enter partnerships to create land banks.

Senate Bill 66 was assigned to the Senate Banking and Business Committee, a panel led by Townsend. It is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday at Legislative Hall.

---

You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook


Death of Laurel girl, 3, ruled a homicide

By DJ McAneny 5:07pm, April 27, 2015
A 3-year-old girl's death in downstate Laurel has been ruled a homicide, Delaware State Police said Monday.

According to authorities, detectives are investigating a death that occurred on Friday, April 17, 2015, at approximately 7:17 p.m.

Sussex County Emergency Operations Center responded to the scene where CPR was reported to be in progress at the scene in the 900 block of Daniel Street in Carvel Gardens.

The Division of Forensic Science performed an autopsy and determined the manner of death to be a homicide. No further information is available as the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Det. Jon King at 302.741.2821 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.


Delaware State Fire Marshal charges 3 teens with arson that destroyed historic Milltown home

By DJ McAneny 2:11pm, April 27, 2015 - Updated 5:21pm, April 27, 2015
Three teens have been arrested and now face arson and burglary charges in connection to the destruction of a Milltown home during a November 2014 fire.

On Monday, the Delaware State Fire Marshal's Office announced a 15-year-old, 16-year-old, and 19-year-old have been charged in connection to a home--originally built in 1871--that burnt down in the 1400 block of Milltown Road near Limestone Road shortly after 10 p.m. on November 26, 2014.

Deputy fire marshals made the arrests following the culmination of their criminal investigation, officials said. The damages to the home were estimated to exceed $200,000.

Each defendant faces second-degree felony arson, second-degree felony burglary, and second-degree felony conspiracy charges. Each was released on a $15,000 unsecured bond.


New Castle County Police investigating 3 armed robberies that took place on same day

By DJ McAneny 4:26pm, April 27, 2015
Delaware State Police are investigating three armed robberies that took place on Sunday throughout New Castle County.

According to authorities, the first incident occurred at 2:35 a.m. on April 26, 2015, at the Wawa located at 531 East Basin Road just outside Wilmington Manor. Two male suspects, one armed with a handgun of an unknown make and model, confronted a 18-year-old clerk and demanded money from the store safe and cash registers.

The clerk complied with the suspect's demands and turned over an undisclosed amount of cash, at which point police said the suspects fled.

This was the second armed robbery to take place at that same Wawa in a week.

Both suspects were described as black males between 15 and 20 years old. The first was described as 5'6" to 5'9" and weighing 130 to 150 lbs. The second was about 2" taller than the first, and 10 lbs. heavier. Each was wearing a black hoodie, black pants and a mask. The first was carrying the handgun.

The second incident occurred at approximately 8:47 p.m. when two suspects entered the Burger King at 2911 Philadelphia Pike in Claymont.

Again, one of the suspects armed with a handgun of unknown make and model confronted a 26-year-old employee there while the second acted as a lookout. After demanding and receiving cash from the registers, the suspects fled on foot.

Both were described as black males, 20 to 30 years old, one described as 5'10" to 6'1" and weighing 150 to 180 lbs. He was wearing a blue hoodie, dark pants, black sneakers, and was armed with a handgun. The second suspect was wearing a black hoodie, dark jeans, dark sneakers, and a mask over his face.

In the final incident, at approximately 10:30 p.m., a male suspect entered the Tsung Hsing House Restaurant at 505 East Basin Road and, with a handgun, confronted a 33-year-old male employee, demanding cash.

The suspects demands were met and he fled from the restaurant in a westbound direction, taking "a piece of furniture with him."

The suspect was described as a black male, standing 5'5" to 5'6" and wearing a black sweater, black pants, black shoes and a mask.

There were no injuries in any of the incidents and no surveillance footage available.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Delaware State Police at 302.365.8566 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.888.TIP.3333.


Newark Police charge 3 brothers in connection to Kildare's Pub attack

By DJ McAneny 4:54pm, April 27, 2015 - Updated 5:11pm, April 27, 2015
Jordan Powell, left, and Johnathon Brown, right. No photo of Jaxon Brown was available./Courtesy Newark Police Department
Police have arrested a Maryland man and a Delaware man in connection to an incident that occurred earlier this month at Kildare's Pub in which a victim was attacked and knocked unconscious.

According to the Newark Police Department, a victim was punched in the face and knocked unconscious at approximately 12:40 a.m. on April 4, 2015, by an assailant now identified by police as Jordan Powell, 21, of Salisbury, Maryland.

Police said surveillance video showed the victim being thrown to the ground by off-duty Kildare's employee Johnathon Brown, 24, of Bear, Delaware. Powell is then seen punching the victim in the face, causing injury, police said.

One of the men questioned during the course of the investigation was 24-year-old bouncer Jaxon Brown, also of Bear and twin brother to Johnathon Brown.

All parties denied knowing Powell, police said. A press release containing a still photo of Jordan Powell posted on social media on April 10 led to an anonymous tip providing Powell's name, police said.

A subsequent portion of the investigation connected the Brown brothers to Powell, who is also a brother of the pair.

Powell was charged with third-degree assault and third-degree conspiracy and released on April 12 in connection to the assault. Johnathon and Jaxon Brown were charged and released on April 23 with hindering prosecution.


Most Recent Stories