Chapel Hill Police Charge Durham Man with 7 Felony Counts

An arrest has been made in connection with a string on break-ins.

Keith Demetrius Wright is facing seven felony charges after being taken into custody by Chapel Hill Police. An Alert Carolina message that was sent to the campus community on Tuesday recounts incidents dating back to September 21, with the majority taking place near Greek housing.

Keith Demetrius Wright via Chapel Hill Police

Keith Demetrius Wright via Chapel Hill Police

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says the 20-year-old from Durham was taken into custody early Wednesday morning at 303 East Franklin Street, the address of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity House.

“He was attempting to commit another break-in,” he says. “Officers were watching a couple of different locations overnight and into the morning hours, observed a suspicious person and then eventually were able to determine that he was attempting to break-in to a location.”

Mecimore says that officers were able to connect the suspect to some of the unresolved cases.

“[The arrest] kind of started the whole ball rolling on getting the charges and then finding some other evidence that he had in his possession,” Mecimore says, “that may lead to even more charges for us or for another agency possibly.”

Mecimore adds police had a good description of the suspect from the previous incidents.

“I’m not sure if they had specifically identified this person,” he says. “I know that our investigators had a very good description and some surveillance video of the person.”

Wright is facing two counts of felony larceny of a motor vehicle, two counts of felony burglary, two counts of felony breaking and entering to a motor vehicle, one count of felony larceny, one count of misdemeanor damage to property, and one count of misdemeanor larceny.

Wright was also served with three warrants for probation violation.

Additional charges may be coming, according to Mecimore, depending on the result of the investigation.

Wright is being held in the Orange County Jail under a $110,000 secured bond.

His first court appearance is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

If you have any information on Wright or the other incidents Chapel Hill Police are investigating, you are asked to contact authorities.

Suspect Pleads Guilty to Striking Chapel Hill Police Officer with Vehicle

A Durham woman was sentenced to between 77 and 105 months in Orange County prison on Thursday, after striking a Chapel Hill Police Officer with her vehicle, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

50-year-old Joanne Kay Hall entered a guilty plea to charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, felony fleeing and eluding as well as assault on a government officer in connection with the incident.

Joanne Hall

Hall was charged in May after she ran into Chapel Hill Police Officer Drew Cabe with a vehicle. Assistant District Attorney Lamar Proctor tells WCHL that, on the day of the incident, Hall had left a drug treatment facility in Wilmington, stolen a vehicle, and was stopped for driving 65 in a 45 mile-per-hour zone while driving through Chapel Hill.

Proctor says Hall then led Cabe on a chase down Fordham Boulevard. Cabe eventually cornered Hall’s vehicle and exited his police cruiser. At that point, Hall ran into Cabe, tossing the officer onto the vehicle. Cabe then fired three shots into the left rear tire of the vehicle and Hall was taken into custody.

Proctor says that Hall apologized in court on Thursday before being taken back to jail.

Armed Robbery Reported on Franklin St

Chapel Hill Police are investigating an armed robbery from over the weekend.

A man was robbed at knifepoint early Sunday morning on Franklin Street, according to a report from Chapel Hill Police.

Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says police received a report of the armed robbery just before three o’clock.

“The victim reported that two white males approached him and asked him if he had any drugs,” Mecimore says. “He replied that he didn’t and then they, in his words, began roughing him up, showed a knife and took $350 cash from him.

“It sounds like he spent 30 minutes trying to find them and then eventually came across an officer that was working downtown and reported the robbery.”

The report states the man was assaulted in the alley behind Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub at 206 West Franklin Street.

Mecimore says the victim was unable to provide much more than a vague description of the two suspects beyond that they were white males.

“Early-to-mid 20’s,” Mecimore adds, “both around 5’9” tall, couldn’t give a build or weight, no clothing description on one and then the other was in a blue shirt and blue pants.”

The victim suffered minor injuries, according to the report.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to contact Chapel Hill Police.

Chapel Hill Police Investigating After Vehicle Strikes Pedestrian

Chapel Hill Police are investigating a crash involving a vehicle striking a pedestrian on Friday morning.

Police say the crash occurred at the intersection of US 15-501 and Brandon Road, at approximately 6:40.

The pedestrian was transported to UNC Hospital in serious condition, but has since been upgraded to stable condition.

Authorities have not released the pedestrian’s name. The investigation is ongoing.

Seven Chapel Hill Restaurants Cited for Serving Alcohol to Underage Buyer

Chapel Hill Police cited seven businesses late last week for violating state alcohol laws.

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore says law enforcement will periodically run compliance checks on local establishments, the most recent of which was last Thursday night.

“Thursday nights are typically a pretty busy nights for bars,” he says. “We sometimes will do compliance checks on Thursday nights, Friday nights, Saturday nights – the busier nights – because we know that people are, unfortunately, more likely to be complacent when checking ID’s when they’re busy.”

Mecimore says 34 businesses were targeted as part of the investigation.

“We had seven – Tobacco Road, Red Lotus, Sandwhich, Breadmen’s, Chipotle, Four Corners, and Cosmic Cantina – where servers were cited for serving to an underage buyer,” he says. “That, for us at least, is a drastic reduction in the fail rate that we had from the same time period last year, 50 percent of the businesses that we checked failed. And then we did one in June where 37 percent failed.

“That seven out of 34 is a good increase. It’s not where we’d like it to be; we’d like to have zero [failures].”

Mecimore adds the citations in these situations are issued directly to the servers.

“It’s the server’s responsibility to ensure that everybody that they serve is of legal age,” he says. “The employee that serves the alcohol in these compliance checks will get issued a citation for violating that state law.

“But the violation is also reported to the North Carolina ABC Commission, so that the ABC Commission knows that that business was found to not be in compliance.”

He says at that point, the businesses may be ordered to attend training that is offered by the police department known as BARS – or be a responsible server.

“Have us give them some education on what to look for when looking at fake ID’s,” he says, “what their responsibilities are, what we expect of them, and what will happen to them if they are caught outside of those rules.”

Mecimore says some businesses choose to send employees to this training before they are required by court after a finding of noncompliance.

Mecimore says there are no set guidelines put forward to choose the locations checked during compliance investigations, but there are some factors brought into consideration.

“Some of those are picked because we’ve had noncompliance there before,” he says, “where you’re going back and checking the same businesses. And some of them are new businesses because they’ve popped up since [the last compliance check].”

Mecimore says more compliance checks will be done in the future, but there is no timeframe for the operation.

Alcohol-Related Incidents Keep Chapel Hill Police Busy

As the first week of classes at UNC wrapped up, it kicked off the first full weekend of parties with the full student body back on campus. And as the campus was filled with revelers, the UNC student charged in the triple-fatal wrong-way crash on I-85 in July was served new charges.

The police blotter is full of alcohol violations from Thursday through Sunday night.

Chapel Hill Police responded to multiple calls of loud music and parties in Fraternity Court, on the UNC campus, and on Church Street, in Chapel Hill, leading to 10 citations for underage possession of alcohol being issued to citizens between the age of 18 and 20.

It wasn’t only the under-21 population breaking the rules, police also issued six open container citations for the over-21 crowd, along with a 21-year old charged with resisting arrest and public urination, and a 22-year-old cited for being drunk and disruptive and resisting arrest.

More students were issued citations this weekend than compared with move-in weekend earlier this month.

Chapel Hill Police Lieutenant Josh Mecimore told WCHL recently that authorities are typically very active early in the semester.

“Our hope is that parents will have set those kids up with some good decision-making skills,” he says, “and then when we set clear expectations, that they’ll choose to follow those. We know that some people won’t.

“But we try to set clear expectations, and then we’re going to have some consequences for those who don’t follow those expectations. And that’s especially true at the beginning of the school year.”

He adds police also have concentrated efforts and a larger volume of calls on certain occasions, including football games and the days surrounding breaks in the academic calendar.

Renewed focus has been aimed at underage drinking on the UNC campus after a rising junior was involved in a triple-fatal wrong-way crash earlier this summer.

20-year-old Chanlder Kania has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder after allegedly driving his 2005 Jeep Wrangler the wrong way on I-85 for at least six miles before crashing head-on into another vehicle, killing three of the four passengers.

Kania was cited on Friday with two additional charges of obtaining alcohol with a false ID, according to court documents.

Kania is currently under house arrest in Asheboro after posting a $1 million bond. He is scheduled to be back in court on his initial charges on September 25 and has an appearance on October 8 for the additional allegations.

Victim’s Family Files Suit Against Wrong-Way I-85 Crash Suspect

The family of a Charlotte woman killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 85 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Multiple media outlets report that attorneys for the family of 46-year-old Darlene McGee said Tuesday they want punitive and compensatory damages from 20-year-old Chandler Michael Kania.

The UNC-Chapel Hill student faces multiple charges, including second-degree murder. The N.C. Highway Patrol says Kania was driving north in the southbound lanes near the split of I-85 and Interstate 40 in Orange County on July 19 when his Jeep Wrangler collided with a Suzuki.

Killed were McGee and 49-year-old Felicia Harris, also of Charlotte, and 6-year-old Jahnice Baird, of New York. A 9-year-old suffered serious injuries. Prosecutors Kania’s blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit and he had marijuana in his system.

Cyclist Hit at Franklin-Columbia Intersection on Tuesday

A female cyclist was transported to UNC Hospitals on Tuesday afternoon after being struck by a vehicle, Chapel Hill Police confirmed on Wednesday.

WCHL first reported the collision based off of eye-witness reports that the crash occurred around 4:30 Tuesday afternoon at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets.

A police official says the cyclist suffered “serious but not life-threatening” injuries.

The spokesperson adds the driver of the vehicle stopped and was cooperating with the investigation, which is ongoing.

No further information is available at this time concerning the status of the cyclist.

University Police Review Process after Cincinnati Shooting

Campus police across the country are reviewing procedures after a University of Cincinnati Police Officer has been indicted on a murder charge for shooting an unarmed motorist.

UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken says campus police will discuss safety in the light of a recent shooting of an unarmed black male that had been pulled over for driving without a front license plate by a University of Cincinnati officer.

“I think all police talk about it,” he says. “We do use-of-force training regularly, as part of our required in-service training. We do active-shooter training.

“We do a lot of training to try to ensure that our officers have the tools and know how to respond when they are in these potentially life-threatening situations. Certainly, when one of these cases is publicized to the level this one is, there will be discussion about it.”

Ray Tensing is the first officer in Cincinnati to face murder charges for killing someone in the line of duty, according to local media reports.

The shooting was caught on Tensing’s body camera and is being used as key evidence that the 25-year-old Tensing initially lied to his supervisors about what happened at the traffic stop to lead to the death of 43-year-old Samuel Dubose.

McCracken adds UNC Police are close to implementing the use of body cameras on all campus officers.

“We have received body cameras,” he says. “We’re finalizing what our policy will be. And we’ll be training our officers and should have them deployed very soon.”

The prosecutor in the case is calling for the Univeristy of Cincinnati police force to be disbanded.

Tensing entered a not guilty plea in the courtroom on Thursday and was released after posting $1 million bond. He is due back in court August 19.

Lawson Arrested For DUI; Second Time This Year

Former UNC basketball star Ty Lawson has reportedly been arrested in Los Angeles for driving under the influence.

TMZ and Yahoo Sports are reporting Lawson was pulled over on the 101 freeway at 2:30 Tuesday morning, initially for speeding. This is Lawson’s second DUI arrest this year; he was also arrested for underage drinking and driving in 2008, while still at Carolina.

Lawson also backed out of a scheduled commitment to a youth basketball camp in Denver this week, citing a conflict with his “traveling schedule.”

Lawson plays for the Denver Nuggets in the NBA.