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Police: North Carolina man wanted in girlfriend's death killed in shootout 

A man sought in the murder of a North Carolina woman was killed in a shootout outside Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters late Thursday.

>> Read more trending news

Police Chief Kerr Putney said Jonathan Bennett, 23, ambushed and shot at officers, who returned fire. Putney said Bennett was killed in the return fire.

“Times like this make you appreciate people who voluntarily put their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Putney said.

Police said Bennett was wanted after being accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend, 24-year-old Brittany White, Thursday afternoon. White was the mother of Journei Bennett, the couple’s 2-month-old daughter, sources said. Police said Bennett left the scene with the child, and left the infant with her grandmother, who lives in north Charlotte.

Television crews were outside police headquarters as police were about to brief them about an unrelated incident when shots were fired.

An officer was shot in the leg and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

State records show Bennett is a convicted felon. He served time in prison in 2013 for breaking and entering and larceny.

Records from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office show Bennett was arrested twice in 2017. On March 30, he was arrested for assault on a female and misdemeanor larceny. On April 6, he was arrested for communicating threats. He also was arrested for similar charges on Oct. 30, 2016.

Man injured pushing pregnant wife out of truck’s path

A California man is being credited with saving his pregnant wife’s life after he pushed her out of the way of an oncoming truck.

Aaron Gutierrez, of Fresno, suffered a broken leg and shoulder when he was struck by the fast-moving vehicle Friday night, ABC30 in Fresno reported. Gutierrez’s mother was also struck, and she remained in the intensive care unit Wednesday with a broken back and bleeding on the brain. 

Gutierrez and his wife told ABC30 that they were returning from a pizza place, where they celebrated their son’s sixth birthday. 

“It was one of the best nights,” Gutierrez told the news station. “And then followed by, as a father, the worst fear.”

As the family members walked home from their bus stop, a speeding Toyota Tacoma veered toward them. 

“I pushed her,” Gutierrez said about his wife. “I think that’s why she got the concussion, because I just pushed her out of the way as fast as I could.” 

>> Read more trending news

Gutierrez’s wife was knocked unconscious, but their three children were unharmed in the accident, including the couple’s 1-year-old son, who was in his father’s arms. 

A GoFundMe page has been established to help pay Gutierrez’s medical bills. According to the fundraising page, Gutierrez was also recently diagnosed with cancer and will begin chemotherapy in the next couple of months.

Police officials said that the Tacoma’s driver ran a red light before plowing into the Gutierrez family. 

“They weren’t doing anything wrong. They weren’t in the roadway,” Fresno police Lt. Mark Hudson said. “He took the actions that obviously probably saved his wife’s life by pushing her out of the way.”

“This could be a different story right now,” Gutierrez told ABC30. “He wasn’t paying attention and my kids could’ve been dead right now. It’s hard to think about that.”

It was not immediately clear what charges the driver of the truck faces in the crash.

Teacher arrested after student found lewd photos of girls on his iPad, police say

A Pennsylvania teacher is facing a string of charges after he loaned a student his iPad and the boy found disturbing images of young female classmates, police said.

>> Watch the news report here

Gaspare Gambino was arrested on Wednesday and charged with 14 counts of invasion of privacy and accused of taking photos and videos of over a dozen different students in his classes at Honesdale High School. In many cases, the videos zoomed in on students’ private parts, police said. The evidence reportedly came to light when Gambino loaned his iPad to a student who’d forgotten to bring his. The student tried logging in on his Google account but came upon Gambino’s, where the photos were stored, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news 

When the images initially came to light in September, Gambino, who has taught Spanish at the school since 2015, was suspended without pay. According to the arrest affidavit, the student who discovered the photos “observed photos of several young teenage girls” and “close-ups of the female genitalia and breasts.” After the student made the discovery, he showed the evidence to other students in the class, authorities said. One of the students reported the photos to administrators later in the day, authorities said. Gambino reportedly tried to delete the photos after he was suspended.

Police say not all of the victims have been identified, and the charges are filed as misdemeanors, The Times-Tribune reported. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 17.

Read more here.

'She wouldn't stop crying,' mom charged with smothering baby tells police in video

Footage was released of the police interrogation of an Arizona mother accused of smothering her baby to death.

>> Watch the video here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

Amber Sagarnaga, 23, of Glendale was arrested last year in connection to the death of her 5-month-old girl. A video of Sagarnaga's two-hour interrogation shows how she described what happened the day of the girl's deathreports AZ Central.

Sagarnaga wanted to lie down in the afternoon, but the girl "wouldn't stop crying," she said. She said she would often use a blanket to shush the child’s cries, but this time she kept the king-sized comforter over the baby’s head longer than usual.

“I don’t know why. I just didn’t take it off of her this time,” she told investigators.

>> Read more trending news 

The woman woke up several hours later and noticed that the girl appeared to be half-asleep, she said. Her fiance, who was also the father of the girl, reportedly called police around 9 p.m. He stayed on the phone with emergency services while attempting to perform CPR on the infant and seemed to be "in a panic," authorities said. 

Police who arrived on the scene described Sagarnaga as “lacking emotion.”

The baby was pronounced dead that night.

Before the police arrived, authorities said the father told Sagarnaga to clean up around the house so that the other children, ages 1 and 2, would not be taken by the Department of Child Safety. The children were ultimately removed. The baby also appeared to be neglected, authorities said. She died in a “soiled diaper, which appeared to have been on for more than a day,” and had a severe diaper rash, police said.

A day before the child’s death, Sagarnaga was accused of using a bottle to hit the baby’s lip and causing a laceration.

Arrests of nearly 70 at party after police find less than 1 oz. of drugs a 'waste of resources,' analyst says

A district attorney is trying to figure out how to proceed with a case where police arrested nearly 70 people at a Georgia house party for less than an ounce of marijuana and cocaine.

>> Watch the news report here

Bartow County District Attorney Rosemary Greene told WSB-TV’s Tyisha Fernandes that she’s waiting on a report from the Bartow County Drug Task Force so they can either drop the charges or figure out if all the people will be charged.

“What an incredible waste of resources, to take almost 70 people into custody and process them for what could only reasonably have belonged to one or two people,” WSB-TV legal analyst Esther Panitch said. 

Panitch said she was shocked when she found out that Cartersville police arrested nearly 70 people at a home where they were attending a 21st birthday party on New Year's Eve.

“I’m wondering if race played a role in it because on its face it seems ridiculous,” Panitch said. 

Police sent Fernandes a photo of the evidence that was confiscated in the home on Cain Drive in Cartersville that night. 

Along with the small amount of drugs, police said they also collected three firearms.

>> Read more trending news 

Two college students told Fernandes that two of the guns in the photo are theirs. Their attorney showed Fernandes their gun licenses and permits for the weapons.

The third gun belonged to the owner of the home. She told Fernandes it was locked up in her attic because she rented her home that weekend through AirBnB.

Police said they were never called to the actual party and that someone called and reported gunshots in the area.

While they were canvassing the neighborhood, they said they smelled marijuana and called for backup. However, police will not comment on the arrests right now.

“People aren’t treated the same and this is an obvious example,” Panitch said.

None of the people arrested have had a court date yet. They're all just waiting on word from the district attorney. Some people have already lost their jobs for the arrest alone.

Deputies: Elderly couple busted with pot Christmas presents arrested again

An elderly couple arrested last month after police said they claimed they had more than 60 pounds of marijuana in their car to give out as Christmas gifts is facing new charges after being arrested Tuesday morning in Nebraska, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Deputies arrested Patrick Jiron, 80, and his wife, Barbara Jiron, 70, after they were stopped while riding in a pickup truck that was stopped for driving too closely to another vehicle in Lancaster County, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Sgt. Jason Mayo, of the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, told KOLN that the couple’s daughter was driving around 9:40 a.m. Tuesday when the truck was pulled over on Interstate 80. 

>> Related: Deputies: Elderly couple says 60 pounds of pot in vehicle was for Christmas gifts

Deputies searched the truck and found about $18,000 in cash, according to the World-Herald. A K-9 deployed to search the truck indicated the presence of marijuana and the vehicle smelled strongly of the substance, Mayo said.

Mayo told KOLN that the seized cash tested positive for marijuana residue, as did a 50-gallon trash bag found in the truck.

The couple, from Clearlake Oaks, California, was arrested on suspicion of possessing drug money, the World-Herald reported. Their daughter, who lives in Vermont, was released without charges, according to the newspaper.

The Jirons were arrested two counties over last month by deputies in with the York County Sheriff’s Department. Authorities told the York News-Times they found nearly 60 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated $336,000, after making a traffic stop Dec. 19 on Interstate 80 near Bradshaw.

3 arrested after 3-year-old drinks soda spiked with meth, police say

A mother and her two siblings are facing charges after a 3-year-old girl accidentally ingested methamphetamine that had been mixed into soda and poured into a water bottle while the siblings partied last month, police said Monday.

>> Read more trending news

Authorities arrested the girl’s mother, 30-year-old Lucinda Black, and her siblings, 27-year-old Ashley Black and 23-year-old Danie Black, after being called by employees at the emergency room at Mountain West Medical Center, KTVX reported.

In a probable cause statement obtained by the news station, Grantsville police said the child’s guardian, identified in court records as her grandmother, said she took the girl to the emergency room after the 3-year-old started acting strangely. She said her son and daughter, the girl’s aunt and uncle, said that the child “started acting weird after she drank from a water bottle with soda in it.”

Investigators went to the trailer park where the 3-year-old was before her grandmother took her to the hospital, where they found two women and a man identified as the Blacks.

Police said Danie Black agreed to speak with investigators after he tested positive for recent meth use.

“He stated that his sisters, Lucinda and Ashley Black, gave him meth and that the bottle (that the 3-year-old drank from) belonged to Lucinda or Ashley,” authorities said in court records. “(He said) Lucinda and Ashley would always mix him drinks with meth in them.”

The trio was taken into custody. Police said that after a urine test proved Ashley Black had meth in her system, she told investigators she gave Lucinda Black methamphetamine and that her sister showed up at their mother’s house a short while later carrying a water bottle with soda in it.

“(Ashley Black) said after a few minutes, Lucinda started freaking out as she was looking for her bottle, because she could not find it,” police said.

In court records, Detective Lydon Allred said the siblings gave conflicting stories and tried to blame the incident on each other, “but I was able to show that Ashley gave the meth to Lucinda and that Lucinda put it in the bottle, which she took to her mother's where the 3-year-old consumed the meth by accident.”

The trio was arrested on charges that included child endangerment and child abuse. Police said they could also face additional charges.

Teen girl sold drugs from bedroom window with mom’s permission, police say

A 15-year-old Haverhill high school freshman is accused of running a 24-hour drug pickup operation from her bedroom window.

>> Read more trending news

The girl was arrested, and according to court documents, police believe she was selling the drugs with her mother’s consent.

Police and neighbors said it was easy as walking up the back stairs of the multifamily home where the girl lived and making the exchange.

“(For it) to happen in your own building -- I sleep in the back with my son,” said Tanya Silva, a woman who lives on the second floor of the building, just below where the alleged drug deals were happening. “To know they were coming up the back there and drugs were being bought it is kind of disturbing.”

The 15-year-old girl is not being named because of her age. In court documents, authorities alleged that her mother, 37-year-old Heather Vittorioso, told narcotics detectives “... she knew that (her daughter) was selling weed but had no idea about anything else.” 

Neighbors said they found that hard to believe, saying it sounded like a routine stampede of foot traffic heading up to Vittorioso’s daughter’s bedroom. 

“People were going up and down the stairs (at) 2 and 3 a.m.,” Brianna Rogers said.

Investigators said they found marijuana, cocaine, fentanyl, two unlicensed guns and ammunition while executing a search warrant Friday on the Vittoriosos’ third-floor apartment. Police also reportedly seized $1,069 in cash.

Authorities said the bulk of the cash and a stash of drugs were found in a top drawer of the teen’s bedroom dresser, just 3 feet from the window.

“You’ve got to know how to raise your children,” said Elijah Silva, a friend of the teen suspect. “It starts from the base.” 

He told Boston 25 News that he believes the girl made a mistake and that he hopes she learns from it.

“There comes a fine line where you got to tell your children to stop,” he said. “You can’t let your children take control of you.”

Eighteen-year-old Cameron Dawson is also charged in the case. According to investigators, Dawson is the boyfriend of the 15-year-old girl and had been living in her bedroom.

Police said the teen girl’s dad is also in jail on unrelated assault and kidnapping charges.

Fugitives in 4-year-old’s killing caught in Georgia as grisly details released in death

A Michigan woman and her boyfriend, charged with murder in the grisly death of her 4-year-old daughter, were captured Tuesday evening in Georgia after a manhunt that involved U.S. marshals. 

Candice Renea Diaz, 24, and Brad Edward Fields, 28, both of Sumpter Township, were taken into custody near Lake Park, not far from the Georgia-Florida state line. Both are being held on fugitive warrants in the Lowndes County Jail. 

>> Related story: Mom, boyfriend sought in burning, beating death of 4-year-old

Diaz and Fields are charged with felony murder, second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and torture in the New Year’s Day homicide of Diaz’s daughter, Gabrielle “Gabby” Barrett. The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday that the Washtenaw County medical examiner called the girl’s death the “worst child death case” he’d seen in 27 years on the job. 

The Free Press gave some of the chilling details of the case, including the extent of Gabby’s burns, which were found on her legs, elbows and buttocks. Court documents stated that the girl was burned so badly that one of her big toes fell off, and that investigators found some of her skin in the bathtub drain. 

“Gabrielle had burns all over her body and bruising to her entire body,” a court document read, according to the newspaper

A police news release issued Monday stated that Sumpter County deputies and paramedics went to the couple’s mobile home shortly before 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day following a 911 call reporting an unresponsive child. When first responders arrived, they found family members attempting CPR on Gabby, who had obvious, severe burns on her arms and legs.

The girl was taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, where she was pronounced dead. The medical examiner ruled the girl’s death a homicide two days later. 

>> Read more trending news

Gabby’s autopsy showed multiple traumatic injuries on her body, as well as evidence of old injuries consistent with ongoing child abuse, police officials said. 

Warrants were issued for the arrest of Diaz, who had custody of Gabby, and Fields, who were nowhere to be found. U.S. marshals from the Detroit field office were called in to aid in the search for the fugitives. 

Gabby’s 1-year-old half-sister was also taken into the custody of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services workers. 

The Free Press reported that Diaz gave investigators a statement on what she said happened to her daughter the night before the girl died. 

“The mother claimed she ran Gabrielle’s bath and placed Gabrielle into the tub after she filled the tub halfway,” the court documents said. “The mother then claimed she left Gabrielle alone in the tub and went to the kitchen to make pancakes.”

Diaz said that when she returned, Gabrielle was under the surface of the water. The mother said she pulled her from the tub, at which time the girl began to vomit.

“The mother said she called Brad … to the bathroom for help,” the court documents said. “According to the mother, Gabrielle continued to vomit, and Fields attempted to provide CPR.”

Diaz told authorities that they waited more than a half-hour to call 911. Officers discovered cocaine while searching the couple’s mobile home.

Investigators also found guns on the premises, and the house was filled with animal waste, investigators previously told WDIV in Detroit.

Family, friends and members of the public celebrated the couple’s capture on social media.

“They caught them!” one woman wrote. “I wish they would’ve been caught by some other people first who would’ve tortured them and put them through all the hell they put that sweet baby through. But at least they are not just running free now.”

“I am so sorry to the whole Barrett family. Thank goodness the monsters are in custody,” another woman wrote. “I don’t know what else to say. I am just speechless. My heart hurts for all you guys. Love y’all. #JusticeForGabby.”

Gabby’s grandmother described the little girl as a “ball of joy” who always had a smile on her face. 

A GoFundMe page initially set up to help her family bury her has since been removed, but a second one has been established. The second page makes clear that donations will be used by Gabby’s father, Kyle Barrett, to lay his daughter to rest. 

Barrett spoke to WJBK about his daughter Sunday night at a candlelight vigil held in her memory. 

“She didn’t have to pass the way she did, but I hope we get justice for her really soon,” Barrett said. “I know we may not have a lot of information at all, but it just hurts.”

Barrett told the Free Press that he last saw his daughter in September, just before turning himself in on an outstanding warrant. He was released from jail two days after his daughter died. 

“I got to give her a kiss and a hug and say I loved her,” Barrett told the newspaper of that last visit. 

Texas woman killed her husband, 2 sons before killing herself at resort, police say

An entire Texas family is dead after a Galveston murder-suicide during which a mother allegedly killed herself, her husband and two young sons.

According to KTRK, the family, reportedly from Baytown, checked into the iconic San Luis Resort on Sunday evening.

Early Monday, however, guests reported hearing “pops” from their eighth-floor room at the hotel.

Hotel authorities said they dispatched police to the room, who said they found a man and two children in the bed, unresponsive, and a woman on the floor who also appeared to be shot.

Police pronounced the man, later identified as 39-year-old Mauricio Morales, and one of the boys dead at the scene.

The mother, whom a neighbor of the family identified as Flor De Maria Pineda De Canas, 37, and another child were transported to the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital, where police said they both later died.

>> Read more trending news 

Witnesses further said the two boys, ages 10 and 5, attended Victoria Walker Elementary School, and the Goose Creek ISD released the following in a statement:

“The tragic circumstances surrounding these students’ deaths are almost too much to bear. A student death can have a ripple effect on a school community and, because of this and out of concern for the students’ classmates and the campus faculty, we will have additional counseling services at the school. We are grieving for the loss of young life and its infinite possibilities and we pray for the family, friends and students most affected by this tragedy.”

While police said they are searching for a motive for the killings, they also said they are not looking for suspects.

Landry’s Inc., which owns the hotel, also offered a statement about the incident:

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their family members during this difficult time. We are still gathering information about this isolated incident, however it appears to have been a murder suicide amongst a family in their room,” said Paul Schultz, vice president of Hospitality for Landry’s Inc.“We are fully cooperating with the police department during their investigation and will assist them in any way we can.”

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