Bubble clouds, daring fire rescue, Pete Seeger stamp: News from around our 50 states


Mobile: An Alabama man has been charged with threatening President Joe Biden in a call to the White House, federal authorities said. A criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Secret Service alleged John Andrew Bazor Jr., 37, of Mobile called the White House switchboard on July 10 and made the death threat. He was arrested Monday in Mobile. Prosecutors on Wednesday asked a judge to order a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether Bazor is competent to stand trial, WALA-TV reported. The report said prosecutors cited the man’s outbursts during a probable cause hearing earlier in the week and his resistance to mental health counselors as reasons for the request. Bazor’s attorney, Gordon Armstrong, said he supports the call for a mental health evaluation, adding the prosecution’s filing raises serious questions about whether his client is criminally liable because of his possible mental health issues.


Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Anchorage: An evacuation order for about 65 residents of a subdivision near the community of Anderson because of a wildfire has been lifted, Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker said Wednesday. The evacuation order went into place June 28 and was lifted Tuesday, he said. “It’s been a long haul,” Walker said. The fire destroyed about 30 structures but that includes just one, year-round residence, he said. The structures burned also included eight or nine cabins and a variety of other buildings, including sheds, garages and one shipping container that held about $100,000 of building materials, he said. The fire burned nearly 113 square miles near Anderson, which is about 80 miles southwest of Fairbanks. Rains have doused the fire, and as of Wednesday, it was listed as 56% contained with full containment expected within the next 10 days, fire officials said. Lightning started the fire June 21.


Mesa: Virgin Galactic said it has selected the Phoenix suburb of Mesa as the site where it will assemble its next class of rocket ships. Officials with the aerospace and space travel company said they have signed a long-term lease for a new final assembly manufacturing facility adjacent to the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. They said the facility will be capable of producing up to six spaceships a year and bring hundreds of aerospace engineering and manufacturing jobs to Mesa. Virgin Galactic officials said the Delta-class suborbital spaceplanes will be designed to fly weekly, supporting the company’s target of 400 flights annually from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The first of the spaceships is expected to start payload flights in late 2025, with private astronaut flights in 2026.


Paris: Electricity is expected to be fully restored to homes and businesses Thursday, three days after a summer storm knocked out power in the city. The storm late Sunday brought high winds that damaged more than 60 utility poles, said Mayor Daniel Rogers. Power was restored Wednesday night in all parts of the city. Paris has its own electricity service, and contractors have arrived to help crews with the work. There have been no reports of injuries from the storm or heat-related illnesses at homes without air conditioning since it hit, Rogers said. A cooling center was opened at the Paris High School cafeteria. Additional construction work is needed in places where power lines and poles have been repaired, Rogers said.


Los Angeles: A mountain lion that was part of a National Park Service study was fatally struck by a vehicle on a highway near the Santa Monica Mountains. The 2-year-old male cougar, dubbed P-89, was found dead early Monday on a shoulder along U.S. 101 in the Woodland Hills area of Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said in a statement. P-89 was outfitted with a radio tracking collar by biologists who are studying how the big cats live in habitat fragmented by urban sprawl, barriers that limit genetic diversity and with hazards ranging from poisons to roads and freeways. The statement said P-89 was the fourth mountain lion in the study killed by vehicles this year within the research area, which includes the Santa Monica range, Simi Hills, Santa Susana Mountains, Verdugo Mountains and Griffith Park in Los Angeles. P-89 was in a litter of three during the summer of 2020. P-89’s brother, P-90, is still alive and successfully crossed U.S. 101 near Camarillo last month, leaving the Santa Monica Mountains, the statement said. P-90’s GPS locations showed he has been wandering in Los Padres National Forest. The whereabouts of their sister, P-88, is unknown.


Poudre Fire Authority firefighters secure the scene of a grass fire caused by a transformer explosion on Northeast Frontage Road north of Fort Collins, Colo., on Wednesday.

© Jon Austria/The Coloradoan Poudre Fire Authority firefighters secure the scene of a grass fire caused by a transformer explosion on Northeast Frontage Road north of Fort Collins, Colo., on Wednesday.

Fort Collins: A grass fire north of the Budweiser brewery was quickly extinguished Wednesday afternoon. Poudre Fire Authority firefighters responded to the grass fire just before 12:40 p.m. and extinguished it in 5 minutes, Capt. Kristine Reinking said. The fire burned about 500 feet in a ditch north of the Budweiser brewery on the west side of Interstate 25. No structures were threatened and no injuries were reported, spokesperson Annie Bierbower said. The fire started by a transformer explosion, Reinking said. Parts of Wellington are experiencing power outages. An Xcel Energy crew arrived on scene shortly after the fire was out and will work to bypass the section that was burned and replace the pole and transformer impacted, Reinking said.


Manchester: The Office of the Inspector General has launched an investigation into the death of a New York man who became unresponsive while in the custody of Manchester police. Joseph Torrice of Dutchess County, New York, was arrested July 8 on drug possession charges and was held after police discovered he also was wanted in New York state on charges of larceny and burglary. He was found on the floor of his cell July 10 after suffering some type of medical episode, Manchester police said. The office released a 13-minute video Wednesday showing Torrice rolling out of the bed in his cell and later becoming motionless on the floor. About 10 minutes later, police entered the cell and dragged Torrice by his feet to the entrance, where they appeared to check his pulse before removing him from view. Torrice was transported to Hartford Hospital, where he was treated in the intensive care unit, before dying July 18.


Wilmington: A handful of Delaware gun rights groups filed a federal lawsuit seeking an injunction against recently passed legislation that bans assault weapons. In the final months of the legislative session, Democrats passed a sweeping package of gun reform bills that also included limiting high-capacity magazines and increasing the purchasing age from 18 to 21 for most firearms. The bills were introduced after recent mass shootings, specifically the shooting at an Uvalde, Texas elementary school. The Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware on Wednesday afternoon. They were joined by the Bridgeville Rifle and Pistol Club, the Delaware Association of Federal Firearms Licensees and the Delaware Rifle and Pistol Club. The suit specifically focuses on HB 450, which makes it illegal to make, sell, purchase or possess assault-style weapons, including AK-47s and AR-15s. The legislation does grandfather currently owned weapons and protects owners from being misidentified as those breaking the law, and grants certain exceptions for law enforcement and military members. The 92-page lawsuit argued the legislation violates the Second Amendment, as well as other constitutional rights. A spokeswoman for Gov. John Carney declined to comment on the lawsuit.

District of Columbia

Washington: Police said a cyclist died after she was struck and killed by a Mack truck in Northwest D.C. on Wednesday morning, WUSA-TV reported. The Metropolitan Police Department said the victim was hit at the intersection of 21st and I streets NW, nearby The George Washington University campus, about 8 a.m. The victim, identified as 40-year-old Shawn O’Donnell, was transported to a local hospital by medical personnel where she died.


Miami: The Miami-Dade School Board, which oversees Florida’s largest school district, reversed its decision to adopt a new sex education book, with some in the majority saying the material is not age-appropriate for students in middle and high school. The 5-4 vote followed an emotionally charged board meeting on Wednesday, with some members of the public being escorted from the room, the Miami Herald reported. It’s not known how the nation’s fourth-largest public school system, with 334,000 students, will comply with state law requiring students to receive sexual education. Choosing, ordering and distributing a new textbook could take months. The board adopted the textbook in April on a 5-3 vote, but then its material was challenged by some parents who cited the parental rights law Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in March.


Fort GordonThe U.S. military Thursday identified a soldier killed by a lightning strike at Fort Gordon as a 41-year-old Army reservist assigned to a medical team that performs emergency surgery in combat zones. Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Clark of Springfield, Massachusetts, served for 22 years on active duty and as a reservist and had deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army Reserve said in a statement. It said Clark died and nine other soldiers were injured Wednesday when lightning struck the group during a training exercise at Fort Gordon. Clark was rushed to the Army post’s hospital along with the injured soldiers. All nine survivors were in good condition Thursday, the Army Reserve said. Clark and eight of the injured soldiers were assigned to the 933rd Forward Resuscitative Surgical Company, which performs emergency surgery and other urgent treatment on wounded soldiers in combat. The unit is based in Paducah, Kentucky. “Sgt. 1st Class Clark was a loving husband, father, and a patriot who deeply loved our country,” the company’s commander, Maj. Stephen W. Rhinehart, said in a statement. “His leadership, knowledge, experience, and love for his fellow soldiers was immeasurable.” Soldiers from the 933rd were visiting Fort Gordon for an annual training exercise for medical units to improve their skills in the field.


Honolulu: A former county official admitted in court that he used his position to scam a program meant to address the lack of affordable housing. Alan Rudo, who was a Housing and Community Development Specialist on the Big Island, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. “My client is taking full responsibility for whatever he did and he’s cooperating with the government,” Rudo’s defense attorney Gary Singh told the Associated Press on Tuesday. Rudo faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced in October.


Post Falls: Authorities recovered the body of a 14-year-old Washington boy who went missing on the Spokane River in northern Idaho. Kootenai County sheriff’s officials said the teen from Spokane was with his family at Corbin Park near Post Falls on Saturday and was last seen alive playing near the shore. When first responders arrived at the park, the teen had not been seen for more than an hour. Some of his clothing was found near the water, and a dive team started searching. The boy’s body was found about 20 feet from shore in 10 feet of water. His name has not been released.


East Peoria: The city will add a splash pad and an amphitheater to Levee Park next year, paid for in part with a $400,000 grant from the state. The Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grant will allow the East Peoria Community Foundation and the City of East Peoria to move forward with the addition. Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced July 8 that 87 parks in 31 counties statewide will receive a total of $30.3 million in grant money. Grants can provide up to one-half of a project’s funds. City of East Peoria Director of Planning and Community Development Ty Livingston said construction of the splash pad and amphitheater could begin as early as next spring. The beginning of the project will signify Phase Three in the development of Levee Park. Livingston said he hopes construction will be completed by next summer.


Lafayette: A man who ran into a burning home and saved five people, including a 6-year-old girl with whom he jumped out of a second-floor window, said he’s no hero and the serious injuries he suffered were “all worth it.” Nick Bostic, 25, of Lafayette was driving early July 11 in the city when he saw a house in flames. He stopped and ran inside to alert its residents. “I slammed on the brakes, I turned the steering wheel, I did a 180. I ran into the back of the house and I was yelling for anybody. Four faces, three or four faces, came out the top,” he told WLFI-TV. An 18-year-old woman was in the home babysitting her three siblings, ages 1, 6 and 13, along with a 13-year-old friend of the 13-year-old sibling, while the siblings’ parents were out playing darts, The Washington Post reported. Bostic said the 18-year-old was able to get three of the children out, but she told him one child was still missing, prompting him to search the smoke-filled home for that child. Because of the dense smoke, he said his only option was to exit through a second-floor window. Bostic punched out the glass and jumped to safety with the 6-year-old girl in his arms. He suffered multiple injuries but the girl only suffered a minor cut to her foot. After an officer helps Bostic to a safer spot across the street, a tourniquet is applied to his arm after he lies down in the grass. Bostic, who suffered smoke inhalation in addition to his arm injury and other wounds, was airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital and discharged two days later. He said he’s not a hero, and just did what he would have wanted someone to do for him and his family if their home was on fire. A GoFundMe page set up for Bostic to help pay his hospital and medical bills had raised more than $470,000 by Wednesday afternoon, far surpassing its $100,000 goal.


Dubuque: The main terminal at Dubuque’s regional airport has been renamed to honor a Black World War II fighter pilot from the eastern Iowa city. The family of the late Robert Martin, city leaders and those who sought the change gathered Tuesday for a ribbon cutting at the Dubuque Regional Airport to commemorate the new name, the Capt. Robert L. Martin Terminal, the Telegraph Herald reported. Martin, who died in 2018 at the age of 99, was a native of Dubuque who joined the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and flew missions with the Tuskegee Airmen – the U.S. Army’s first Black aviators. During the war, Martin flew numerous missions in Europe and was shot down while flying over Yugoslavia. For his service, Martin was awarded several medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and, later, the Congressional Gold Medal.


Topeka: A new poll showed a close race in the passage of a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the state Constitution, set to be the first time voters in any state weigh in on abortion after Roe v. Wade was overturned last month by the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the survey, conducted by the Kansas City, Mo., firm co/efficient and first reported by the political news site FiveThirtyEight, 47% of voters said they will vote for the amendment and 43% said they will oppose it. The poll has a 2.7% margin-of-error, meaning the race is likely to remain close in the run-up to the Aug. 2 vote. It is the first public polling released on the amendment to date, with both campaigns hesitant to share their internal survey data. Of those polled, 49% said they agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, and 46% were against.


Tyner: Elected officials celebrated the completion of a $220 million highway project in eastern Kentucky that improved the route for three rural counties to Interstate 75 in London. The final stretch of the new Kentucky 30 straightened the route between Tyner in Jackson County to Travellers Rest in Owsley County. Gov. Andy Beshear and Rep. Hal Rogers joined other officials Wednesday in Tyner to mark the completion of the 20-year transportation project. The new wider highway stretches from Booneville to London. Beshear unveiled signage naming a portion of the final segment in Jackson County after former state Rep. Marie Rader.


Lafayette: The Lafayette Parish Council gave Mayor-President Josh Guillory preliminary approval to enter public-private partnerships for parish facilities as Guillory aims to build a parish jail without increasing taxes. The council voted 4-1 on a resolution giving the first-term mayor-president authority to develop partnerships for up to 40 years at $10.5 million a year, provided the council has final authority to spend any money. AB Rubin, the lone Democrat, voted against. Guillory announced plans to seek a public-private deal to build a jail in a short video released Monday night. Although details were sparse in the recording, he said the partnership plan would allow the parish to build a jail without passing new taxes and keep Sheriff Mark Garber in charge of operating the facility.


Augusta: Chipotle is closing its store in Augusta that had been leading efforts to unionize the chain. Employees filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board in June asking to hold a union election at the store. It was the first of the Mexican food chain’s stores to file such a petition, according to the NLRB. The NLRB had scheduled a hearing Tuesday on Chipotle’s objections to the union election. But early Tuesday, Chipotle announced it was permanently closing the store. Labor organizers said they will fight the closure. They said Chipotle is retaliating for their unionization efforts and trying to send a message to other stores that might try to unionize. But Chipotle said the closure was the result of staffing issues and not related to union activity. Chipotle said the Augusta store had been closed to the public since June 17 because of staffing issues. The company said it was facing “excessive” absences and lack of availability from existing staff and was having a hard time finding managers for the store. Chipotle said the store’s workers will receive severance pay and assistance finding new jobs.


Hagerstown: New coronavirus cases leaped in Maryland in the week ending Sunday, rising 24% as 11,317 cases were reported. The previous week had 9,127 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data showed.


Hadley: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is going an extra step to protect birds by upgrading its northeast headquarters to prevent bird collisions. The agency said it will install markings on exterior windows of its regional office in Hadley. The markings will be arranged in a pattern designed to alert birds to the presence of glass windows before it’s too late. The agency also programmed its interior lights to switch off at night to reduce the risk of attracting birds. In its announcement, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it hoped to lead by example and encouraged private property owners to do their part. Turning off unused lights at night will reduce bird collisions while also saving energy, agency officials noted. Birds often don’t recognize glass windows and can be tricked by reflections of sky or physical surroundings. According to the service, nearly 1 billion birds collide with glass in the U.S. each year. Many are killed or seriously injured.


Lansing: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the final piece of a $76 billion state budget into law Wednesday, vetoing money that Republicans funneled toward anti-abortion causes including groups that run “pregnancy resource centers” focused on persuading pregnant women to give birth. Negotiators met behind the scenes for weeks to develop the budget proposal and announced a deal in late June. But they couldn’t agree on how to lower taxes, which is possible after a flood of federal money and anticipated higher tax revenue. Whitmer, a Democrat, has called for targeted cuts, and Republicans want broader ones, including lower individual and corporate income tax rates. The governor’s vetoes largely focused on anti-abortion causes and totaled about $20 million in spending cuts. That’s just a small slice of the budget but again demonstrated the stark political divide over abortion rights in Michigan following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.


Sartell: Drivers in Sartell can expect access changes on Minnesota Highway 15 at Stearns County Road 1 beginning Monday. County Road 1 will be reduced to a single lane through the Highway 15 intersection, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The northbound Highway 15 double left turn lane to westbound County Road 1 will also be reduced to one lane. The closures are to install a new access just west of Highway 15 along the north side of westbound County Road 1. Work will occur weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Aug. 4, weather permitting.


Gulfport: Military veteran Jeffrey Hulum III won a special election Tuesday in state House District 119 in Harrison County. He defeated Gary Fredericks, president of the Gulfport branch of the NAACP. Candidates run without party labels in Mississippi special elections, but Hulum and Fredericks previously ran for office as Democrats. Hulum will finish the four-year term that expires in January 2024. He succeeds Democrat Sonya Williams-Barnes of Gulfport, who resigned in May to become Mississippi policy director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Williams-Barnes had served since January 2012. Republicans hold a majority in the 122-member House. The Legislature is next scheduled to meet when the regular session begins in January.


Jefferson City: Gov. Mike Parson and first lady Teresa Parson will travel to Germany and the Netherlands next week to promote Missouri businesses and trade. Missouri exported nearly $679 million in goods to Germany last year and more than $223 million to the Netherlands, according to the governor’s office. The trip will include stops in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf in Germany, as well as Amsterdam and The Hague in the Netherlands. The trip is funded by the Hawthorn Foundation, a Missouri nonprofit organization.


Billings: A man drove his pickup truck into a family as they walked in a tourist village bordering Glacier National Park and opened fire with a shotgun, killing one man and a toddler who was in her mother’s arms before the mother’s sister-in-law managed to kill the assailant after he ran out of ammunition, authorities said. Killed in the weekend attack on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana were David Siau, 39, of Syracuse, New York, and Siau’s 18-month-old daughter, McKenzie. Injured were Christy Siau, 40, and her sister-in-law, Christina Siau, 30. The assailant, Derick Amos Madden, 37, had been in a prior relationship with Christina Siau and had mental health issues, the Glacier County Sheriff’s Office said. Authorities on Wednesday would not say how he was killed. Two other children of David and Christy Siau were present but managed to run away and were not injured.


Lincoln: A 42-year-old Lincoln man died when someone walked onto his boat at Branched Oak Lake and shot him, prompting four other people to dive in to the water to escape, authorities said. Benjamin Case died in an apparently targeted shooting Tuesday night, Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said. The four other people on the boat were not injured, he said. Case and his friends were inside the boat’s cabin when the man walked onto the boat’s deck. Wagner said. Case opened the cabin door and was immediately shot twice with a handgun. The suspect – who did not fire toward the others – left the lake area in a vehicle, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. Wagner said it did not appear the suspect took anything from the boat or the victim’s vehicle, which was parked at the lake.


Reno: A woman accused of starting a July 7 wildfire in Truckee is a healing arts and yoga teacher who suffers from a mental health condition, according to her family. In a Facebook post on Ellen Lindsey Walters’ website, her father, Dave, said his daughter is “being treated with medication for a newly diagnosed mental condition.” “She wants people to understand that she would never have done this in her right mind, that the mental illness itself prevented her from knowing what she was doing …” he wrote. Ellen Lindsey Walters faces felony charges of arson and resisting an officer, and battery, a misdemeanor.

New Hampshire

Concord: The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday a tornado touched down Monday in Chesterfield, the second one in New Hampshire this year. No injuries were reported. In May, a tornado touched down in Charlestown. Tornadoes are uncommon in the state. In 2009, a tornado destroyed the home of Brenda Stevens in Deerfield. She was killed in the collapse, but had protected her 3-month-old grandson, who survived.

New Jersey

Atlantic City: Harvey Kesselman, a member of Stockton University’s inaugural graduating class who went on to serve as the school’s president for the past seven years, said he will be stepping down next year. Kesselman made the announcement during a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday at the university’s Atlantic City campus. The fifth president in the school’s history, he plans to leave that post on June 30, 2023, but will remain at Stockton as president emeritus and a tenured professor of education. Kesselman was part of then-Stockton State College’s inaugural class in 1971 and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science, then received a master’s degree in student personnel services/counseling from Rowan University and a doctorate in higher education administration from Widener University.

New Mexico

Carlsbad: An earthquake occurring near the New Mexico-Texas border shook Carlsbad on Thursday morning as the region saw a recent uptick in seismic activity researchers tied to growing oil and gas operations. A magnitude 4.7 quake was reported at about 7:35 a.m., about 35 miles south of Whites City, per the U.S. Geological Survey. It was followed by a magnitude 3.0 reported at about 8:40 a.m. At 12:43 a.m. Thursday, a magnitude 3.1 earthquake was also recorded.

New York

Albany: An independent auditor will review the state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including efforts by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration to downplay the number of deaths of nursing home residents. The state plans to select an independent auditor, who would have until late 2023 to deliver a final report, under a timeline released Tuesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office. Initial findings are expected in May. The report will include a planning guide for future emergencies and will explore issues from the transfer of nursing home patients to the reopening of schools and businesses to efforts to purchase needed medical supplies.

North Carolina

Asheville: The family of a New York City firefighter killed last month when a tree fell onto the car he was driving at the Biltmore Estate has filed a lawsuit accusing the tourist attraction of gross negligence. Casey Skudin was driving near the Biltmore’s entrance June 17 with his wife and two children when the tree fell across the road, striking the car, officials said. A tree limb fell across the road amid high winds, an estate spokesperson has said. Casey Skudin died from his injuries and his wife, Angela and their two sons were also injured, including their 10-year-old son, who was knocked unconscious and sustained multiple fractures to his spine and sternum, the lawsuit filed on behalf of Skudin’s family stated. The suit claims the Biltmore “knowingly and intentionally kept a massive, rotted tree on its property next to a main road where Defendants knew it would cause great harm when it fell,” news outlets reported. It claimed Biltmore knew the tree posed a danger to guests and tried to keep it by installing steel cables. The complaint named The Biltmore Company, Biltmore Estate Wine Company, and Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate as defendants.

North Dakota

Bismarck: Health officials said Wednesday a man from the eastern part of the state has contracted the state’s first assumed case of monkeypox, a disease that has emerged in more than 50 countries and 44 U.S. states. The person, who is now isolating, likely caught the virus while traveling outside the state, according to a release from the North Dakota Department of Health. The test sample will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation. Health officials are working to find people who might be at risk because of close contact with the infected person.


Wooster: Another round of storms battered some Ohio communities Wednesday night with heavy but brief rainfalls, 60 mph gusts and a confirmed tornado while producing picturesque bubble-like clouds at sunset. Straight-line winds coupled with an EF1 tornado felled trees and some power lines with winds ranging from 86 to 110 mph south of Shreve along the Wayne County and Holmes County border, the National Weather Service said in a preliminary report. Cooperative crews and those from AEP and FirstEnergy worked overnight and early Thursday morning to restore power. Rolling clouds filled the sky like an upside-down bubble bath colored burnt orange from the setting sun. The technical term for the clouds is mammatus, which is derived from Latin for udder or breast, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Described as the “drooping underside … of a cumulonimbus cloud,” according to weather.gov, pouches hung from the bottom of clouds providing an unusual sky that inspired some people to take pictures and share them on social media. These clouds can bring hail, rain and lightning, as was seen in Wayne and Holmes counties. A tornado warning had been issued for the area just before 9 p.m. and expired by 9:30 p.m.


Edmond: A suburban Oklahoma City motorcycle police officer was killed when he was struck from behind while on patrol, authorities said. Sgt. C.J. Nelson, 38, died Tuesday after being struck by a pickup truck just outside the Edmond city limits in Oklahoma City, according to Edmond police. Nelson would have marked his 13th anniversary with Edmond police on Wednesday and is the first Edmond officer to die in the line of duty, police said. Oklahoma City police, who are investigating the crash, said Nelson was stopped with other vehicles at a traffic light when they were struck by a truck driven by Jay Stephen Fite, 54. No other injuries were reported. Fite was arrested on a warrant for second-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter and was jailed without bond, according to jail records. Court records do not show that formal charges have been filed as of Thursday and jail records do not list an attorney who could speak on Fite’s behalf.


Portland: A member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer caught on camera throwing a pepper spray can and shoving a woman in the face after a protest in northeast Portland has been found guilty of felony riot. A Multnomah County jury of nine women and three men returned the verdict against Mackenzie Lewis on Wednesday, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. On May 1, 2019, after a day of demonstrations, Lewis and the Patriot Prayer group approached anti-fascists who had gathered at the Cider Riot bar. Defense attorney Kelly Doyle argued Lewis’ actions were self-defense or to protect Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson. Lewis faces a maximum of five years in prison when sentenced Aug. 1. On Tuesday, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Souede acquitted Gibson and associate Russell Schultz on felony riot charges in the same incident.


Harrisburg: The state has certified the results of primary elections from 64 of 67 counties, leaving out three in a growing legal dispute over whether to count mail-in ballots on which the voter didn’t handwrite a date, state officials said. Certification of the remaining three counties – Berks, Fayette and Lancaster – will occur once litigation is resolved, Gov. Tom Wolf’s Department of State said in a statement. The May 17 primary election included nominating contests for U.S. Senate, governor, Congress and most of the Legislature. The department sued the three counties last week seeking a court order requiring them to provide primary election results that include mail-in ballots on whose envelope the voter did not handwrite a date. In a court filing, Fayette County said the state didn’t have the authority to require it to count those ballots. Plus, the state’s lawsuit missed a deadline to appeal a county election board decision and courts have not yet settled separate lawsuits over whether to count the ballots, it said.

Rhode Island

Newport: Pete Seeger, the banjo-playing folk singer whose music was indelibly intertwined with his social activism, was honored Thursday as the latest American musician to appear on a U.S. postage stamp. The forever stamp, which features a color-tinted, black-and-white photograph taken in the early 1960s showing Seeger in profile singing and playing his five-string banjo, went on sale at post offices nationwide, according to a U.S. Postal Service spokesperson. A special ceremony was planned for the evening in Newport, the site of the Newport Folk Festival, where Seeger was a performer and for a time a member of the board. Seeger, a Harvard dropout who died in 2014 at age 94, wrote or co-wrote “If I Had a Hammer,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” He is also credited with popularizing “We Shall Overcome,” an anthem of the civil rights movement.

South Carolina

Walterboro: The once-powerful and now disbarred lawyer Alex Murdaugh pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges he murdered his wife and son 13 months ago. Wearing a white face mask beneath his shaved head and ankle chains above shiny leather shoes, Murdaugh, 54, made his first court appearance in Colleton County since being indicted in the murder case last week. Despite his not guilty plea, he agreed to remain jailed without bond. One of his attorneys, Dick Harpootlian, said the defense team wanted to avoid a bond hearing that might reveal new information about the killings and risk prejudicing potential jurors when the case goes to trial. He also said Murdaugh, already saddled with $7 million in bond on unrelated criminal charges, can’t afford to put up cash for his release pending trial. Murdaugh has been behind bars since October, charged with financial crimes and several other misdeeds that were uncovered after the killings of his wife Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, at the family’s Colleton County hunting estate in June 2021. Murdaugh is charged with two counts of murder and two counts of possessing a weapon during a violent crime. The indictment alleged he fatally shot his wife with a rifle and used a shotgun to kill his son.

South Dakota

Oglala: A wildfire that started earlier this week west of Oglala has burned about 11 square miles and is 40% contained, according to officials. The fire began near Prairie Wind Casino on Tuesday night and moved southeast. Oglala Sioux President Kevin Killer said local groups from the tribe, such as the Emergency Management Department, focused on structural protection while the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Wildland Fire Management focused on putting out the fire. Two air tankers were dispatched to the area. State fire meteorologist Darren Clabo said weather conditions, including 40 mph winds, high temperatures and low humidity, most likely contributed to the fire, South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported. There’s no word on what might have ignited the fire. Six homes in the path of the fire were evacuated for a short time after the fire began. And, community shelters were temporarily opened for people displaced by the fire. No structural damage has been reported.


Nashville: A federal magistrate has ordered an attorney suing a private prison firm over an inmate’s death to delete certain tweets – one of which describes the company as a “death factory” – and restrict his public commentary going forward. U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffery Frensley issued the order last week in response to an argument from Tennessee-based CoreCivic that the public posts put the company’s right to a fair trial at risk. Attorney Daniel Horwitz, who is suing the company over the death of an inmate at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center, argued his posts amounted to constitutionally protected free speech. He said his clients and other inmates at CoreCivic facilities could benefit if public scrutiny leads to changes in their prisons. The judge agreed with the company. The judge wrote that Horwitz’s obligation is “to be an advocate, not an investigative journalist,” and said the attorney could be held in contempt of court if he continues to seek news media attention in the case.


San Antonio: Two men were indicted Wednesday in the case of a hot, airless tractor-trailer rig found last month with 53 dead or dying migrants in San Antonio, officials said. A federal grand jury indicted Homero Zamorano Jr., 46, and Christian Martinez, 28, both of Pasadena, Texas, on counts of transporting and conspiring to transport migrants illegally resulting in death; and transporting and conspiring to transport migrants illegally resulting in serious injury. Both remain in federal custody without bond pending trial. Martinez’s attorney, David Shearer of San Antonio declined to comment on the indictments. A message to Zamorano’s attorney was not immediately returned. Conviction on the death counts could result in life sentences, but the Attorney General’s office could authorize prosecutors to seek death penalties. The serious bodily injury counts carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison. It was the deadliest tragedy to claim the lives of migrants smuggled across the border from Mexico. The truck had been packed with 67 people, and the dead included 27 from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two from El Salvador, said Francisco Garduño, chief of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute.


A wildfire forced road closures near the Kolob area of Zion National Park on Wednesday.

© Lyndsay Fonger/National Park Service A wildfire forced road closures near the Kolob area of Zion National Park on Wednesday.

St. George: National Park Service firefighters from Zion National Park and surrounding crews responded to a wildfire on Kolob Terrace Road late Wednesday. Zion National Park indicated on social media that the fire was located about 15 driving miles north of state Route 9. The cause of the fire was still under investigation as of early Thursday. Officials estimated the blaze had burned at least 25 acres. Airplanes and helicopters were called in to assist with the fire. The only closures were Kolob Terrace Road at state Route 9 to the south and Lava Point to the north.


Montpelier: Vermont Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, 82, has undergone a second surgery to help repair a broken hip, his office said Wednesday. Leahy fell and broke his hip last month in his Virginia home. He underwent hip-replacement surgery June 30 at a Washington-area hospital. He was then moved to a rehabilitation center. On Wednesday, Leahy’s office said his surgeons found it necessary to perform an additional operation on the hip “to help advance his recovery.” Leahy was back in his rehabilitation room by Tuesday night. He is working with physical therapists “to return home as soon as possible.” Leahy’s office says the senator and his wife Marcelle “deeply appreciate the continued messages of support and affection that have been offered to them during his recovery.” Leahy, the longest serving member of the U.S. Senate, is not seeking reelection in November. When Leahy’s current term expires in January 2023, he will have served for 48 years in the Senate.


Richmond: A Richmond woman was sentenced Tuesday to more than five years in prison for directing a yearslong scheme to defraud state and federal officials of at least $230,000 in student financial aid funds, a prosecutor said. Court documents showed Kiesha Pope, 48, was the director of financial aid at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College starting in 2006. Pope was involved in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Education, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the college of educational funds from 2011 to 2017, U.S. Attorney Jessica Aber said. News outlets reported Pope pleaded guilty earlier this year to wire fraud. Pope developed or increased financial aid eligibility for individuals, often her family members, who were not eligible for financial aid, Aber said. From there, Pope directed at least four co-conspirators to send her the majority of the funds, which she spent on personal expenses, including a vacation on Disney Cruise Line.


Seattle: Officials with the National Park Service said Wednesday night the body of a climber who went missing Monday night at Olympic National Park has been found. Sean Allen, 38, of Port Angeles, was found by rescue workers using a helicopter to locate the man, whose body was on the southern end of Mount Mystery approaching the Del Monte ridgeline, park officials said in a written statement. His body has been transferred to the Jefferson County coroner, which will determine the cause and date of death, KOMO-TV reported. Allen obtained a wilderness permit for July 16-18 and was taking the route from Royal Basin to Home Lake alone. His itinerary included climbing attempts at Mount Mystery, Hall Foss Peak and Little Mystery. Allen was seen carrying a green Osprey backpack, ice ax and crampons and was using a green Nemo tent. He was likely wearing black, officials said. Allen was reported missing after he did not return from the backpacking excursion.

West Virginia

Charleston: The state continued working on resolving a computer systems outage Thursday that is affecting residents’ access to services at several state agencies, including the Division of Motor Vehicles. West Virginia Department of Administration officials announced Wednesday afternoon it was experiencing a mainframe outage caused by equipment failure at its data center. Officials said the state Office of Technology has ordered the parts needed to repair the hardware, but they don’t know how long the outage will last. Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Everett Frazier said Thursday the outage is affecting the Division of Motor Vehicles’ ability to provide many of its services, such as title work and driver record updates. But he said the agency’s offices are still open to the public. Frazier said customers can still use the agency’s online portal to renew car registration and driver’s licenses.


Madison: A new report on Wisconsin employment showed the state is just about where it was before the coronavirus pandemic hit, but the recovery has been uneven. Total employment is down about 2.4%, or about 69,500 jobs from December 2019, according to the analysis from the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum. Employment in clothing stores decreased 20% statewide; gambling and recreation are down 15%; the food services industry declined 9%. The report showed one sector is thriving – transportation and warehousing, which grew 6.3% during the last two years. The unemployment rate has hovered around 3% the last several months and businesses are still struggling to find workers for their vacant positions.


Casper: A new poll by the Casper Star-Tribune showed nearly 60% of Wyoming Republicans who plan to vote in next month’s primary said U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s service on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot makes them less likely to vote for her.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Bubble clouds, daring fire rescue, Pete Seeger stamp: News from around our 50 states