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UPDATE: Athens homicide victim identified

UPDATE: Athens homicide victim identified

Note: A previous version of this story misidentified the apartment complex at which the shooting occurred. A corrected version is below. We apologize for the error. Athens-Clarke County Police investigate a Thursday homicide: a man was killed at the University Oaks Apartments off West Broad Street in Athens.  From the ACCPD... On June 13th at 12:11 pm, ACCPD responded to a Shots Fired call from the University Oaks apartment complex at 2360 West Broad Street.    David Burnette (51, black male) was found deceased in his apartment in the complex. ACCPD’s initial investigation suggests that Burnette was shot.    ACCPD detectives are actively investigating this incident. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Sgt. Shaun Barnett, 706-613-3330, ext. 479, Shaun.Barnett@accgov.com or Det. Mike Carroll, 706-613-3330, ext. 292, Michael.Carroll@accgov.com.    Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in this incident - call 706-705-4775.   A Hall County man is charged with making terrorist threats after allegedly smashing a woman’s windshield and threatening to set the vehicle on fire: 31 year-old Eric Rider (pictured above) was booked into the Hall County jail.  A 34 year-old Gainesville man is arrested and charged in connection with what prosecutors say was a nationwide insurance fraud scheme: Beau Wilson was arrested at his home in Hall County. Investigators say he was part of an operation that illegally netted more than $120 million.   There was lotta pot confiscated in Gwinnett County, where police say a traffic stop on I-85 near Buford netted 70 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated $200,000: Gwinnett Police say three suspects—all from Charlotte North Carolina—were arrested and are being held without bond.   A prison guard in northwest Georgia is arrested after allegedly trying to smuggle marijuana into the lockup in Chattooga County. La'Keshia Thomas was a Lieutenant at Hays State Prison in Trion. Now she is facing a long list of federal charges. Investigators say Thomas was paid to sneak contraband into the prison for gang members on the inside. The 39 year-old was arrested at her home in Rome.

Fire probe in Commerce

Fire probe in Commerce

Firefighters in Jackson County are investigating this week’s fire, a blaze that destroyed a 12 year-old house in Commerce. They say the people who owned the home were not there at the time of the fire. The blaze burned the home on Laura Lane in Commerce. There is no word yet on the cause of the fire. From the Jackson Co Fire Dept…   Fire Investigators with the Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office are currently searching for information regarding a June 11th house fire in Commerce. The fire occurred shortly before 3:00 A.M. Tuesday morning.    The home, located at 179 Laura Lane in Commerce, Georgia, was completely destroyed by the blaze. The one-story (with basement), wood-frame residence was 12 years old and about 1700 square feet at the time of the fire. When emergency personnel arrived on scene, the structure had already collapsed into the basement.    The occupants of the residence were out of town when the fire occurred. The fire is undetermined, but still under investigation at this time. The fire has not been ruled arson, but anyone with knowledge about this fire should call the Arson Hotline at 1‐800‐282‐5804. Rewards are offered of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of an arsonist(s). Calls are taken 24 hours a day and callers can choose to remain anonymous.    Investigators with the Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office are assisting the City of Commerce Fire Department and the City of Commerce Police Department with this investigation. 

Woman says brand-new SUV exploded just days after she bought it

Woman says brand-new SUV exploded just days after she bought it

An Athens woman says she could have been killed when her brand new SUV exploded just days after she bought it.  Kaitlyn Schaefer told Channel 2's Audrey Washington she and her friends were in Buckhead when the Hyundai Tuscon she'd bought just four days earlier started to smoke and exploded. Schaefer said she and her friends only had seconds to get out. Luckily, no one was hurt, but it left Schaefer shaken.  'We could have died,' she said.  Schaefer said she and her parents bought the SUV just a few days earlier with only 300 miles on it. But when she drove to her friend's Buckhead home on Tuesday, she noticed problems right away. 'We noticed there was smoke coming from the front tires,' Schaefer said.  Schaefer said the car jolted and the lights started to flicker, so she and her friends jumped out.  Schaefer called the dealership, and she said a representative told her to go back and press the SOS button.  Schaefer said when she did, 'There was an explosion underneath the hood.' Video shot after the fire started shows the white SUV engulfed in flames. The fire was so intense that the SUV partially melted onto the pavement.  Washington dug into records on Hyundai Tuscons to see if the same thing has happened to any other SUVs.  According to the Center for Auto Safety, there's no recall for the 2019 Hyundai Tuscon. There were, however, recalls for the 2011-2013 models due to oil leaks that could cause non-crash fires.  TRENDING STORIES: Jury sentences father to death for killing his 5 children Road rage leads to teen being attacked, dragged down busy road, police say Creepy creature in home security video may look like Dobby, but probably isn't In November, Channel 2 Action News covered a rash of reported engine fires in vehicles, including the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe, but not the Tuscon.  Hyundai sent Washington a statement that said, in part:  'As soon as we became aware of the vehicle fire, Hyundai contacted the customer to take care of them and make arrangements to inspect the vehicle. We are taking this incident very seriously.' Schaefer said she's still working to get everything resolved with the dealership and her insurance company, but she said once she gets her money returned, she doesn't plan to buy the same make and model of SUV.  In the meantime, she's just thankful to be alive.  'It could have been the worst day,' Schaefer said. 

With no earmarks in Congress, the Executive Branch hands out the pork With rules that make it difficult for lawmakers to steer taxpayer dollars into home state projects - that doesn't mean less money is being spent for such items - as instead billions of dollars in grants are being handed out by the Executive Branch each year, with federal bureaucrats taking the place of lawmakers in deciding how to dole out money approved by Congress for a variety of programs. A decade ago for example, Congress would have approved a highway bill filled with pages and pages of specific projects to be funded back in their states - but now, Congress funds billions in generic grants for the Department of Transportation, and then watches as the money is handed out by the feds. Experts say voters probably don't understand that what some would deride as 'pork barrel spending' just been shifted from the Legislative Branch to the Executive Branch. 'Presidents — and their appointees — engage in pork-barrel politicking (earmarking) in the same way Congress does,' wrote John Hudak of the Brookings Institute, who argues that budget 'earmarks' should be brought back in the House and Senate. Here are some examples of money sent out for highway and transit projects by the feds: Some lawmakers say they should be the ones deciding where that money goes - not a bureaucrat who maybe has never been to their state. 'We all should be able to stand behind the work that we do and advertise to our constituents and everybody around the country as to why this is a priority,' said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). 'If people think we are quote saving money,' Murkowski told reporters, 'they are fooling themselves, because those dollars are still going out the door.' But there are also Republicans who think Congress should just stay away from pork barrel spending. 'Earmarks grease the skids for bigger government,' said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). But regardless of complaints about how big the federal deficit might be, and how much is being spent overall, lawmakers of both parties trumpet the arrival of money for the folks back home - with federal agencies joining in those announcements as well. There are so many grants offered by the U.S. Government that a special website was set up to help people find out more information about what's available. Going through many of the grants, what one notices right away is the wide swath of money available for all sorts of matters: + Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) USA Cooperative Agreement Program + Invasive and Noxious Plant Management  + Forest and Woodlands Resource Management + Cultural Landscape Inventory for the Navajo Settlement  + Longitudinal Research on Delinquency and Crime  One grant available right now from the National Institutes of Health deals with research into dementia, 'to conduct new research on automobile technology for signaling early signs of cognitive impairment in older drivers.' In recent weeks, President Trump has made it clear that he's ready to use support for specific home-state spending matters to his electoral advantage, too. The focus on local spending is not new - almost ten years ago, I wrote about the proliferation of grants, and how the executive branch was handing out the pork. And it's still happening today.