The Voice of West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston police officer will not survive after being shot on the job.
Charleston city officials on Wednesday confirmed the death of Patrolman Cassie Johnson.
“Her family still needs your prayers,” Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin said at a news conference. “Officer Cassie Johnson is going to leave an amazing legacy for every woman in this city. We love Cassie. We love her family.”
Johnson, 28, was removed from life support. Officials noted she is an organ donor.
Her condition was announced at Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital a day after she was critically injured while responding to a parking complaint on the city’s Garrison Avenue.
Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt says Officer Cassie Johnson will not survive after she was shot yesterday on duty.
“Officer Cassie Johnson is going to leave an amazing legacy for every woman in this city. We love Cassie. We love her family.” -Mayor Amy Goodwin pic.twitter.com/NRY8BVVBXa
— Jake Flatley (@JakeFlatley) December 2, 2020
Johnson joined the Charleston Police Department in January 2019. She previously worked as a city humane officer, according to Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt, who oversaw Johnson’s background check prior to her hiring.
“She decided she wanted to better serve the citizens of Charleston,” he said.
Johnson, a Charleston native, told MetroNews affiliate WCHS-AM being a police officer was a dream come true.
“I’ve been working extremely hard over the last year to get ready for it. I am really happy to finally getting to follow my dreams in working with Charleston PD,” she said. “I am able to work with a great group of guys and help out the city.”
Johnson was the first officer Goodwin swore in upon becoming mayor.
“To say that we’re hurting as a city and as a first responder community is the understatement of the year,” Goodwin told WCHS-AM earlier Wednesday.
Goodwin, Hunt and Johnson’s mother, Cheryl Johnson, spoke at a vigil held Wednesday evening at Laidley Field. Cheryl Johnson, noticing the crowd of residents and first responders, said she is touched by the city’s support.
“I never dreamed until this happened how many people in this community loved her,” she said through tears. “That means more to many than anything in this world.”
— Alex Thomas (@AlexHouseThomas) December 2, 2020
During an appearance on Wednesday’s “MetroNews Talkline,” Hunt identified the suspect in the shooting as Joshua Marcellus Phillips, 38, of Charleston.
Phillips was wounded Tuesday and remained hospitalized on Wednesday. His condition was not announced.
Initially, Charleston Police charged Phillips with attempted murder of an officer, but he was expected to face additional charges.
WCHS-TV reported Charleston police officers had responded to Garrison Avenue in January for a call about Phillips allegedly assaulting his brother with a handgun.
After being stopped elsewhere in connection with that, Phillips was found to be driving on a license that had been revoked for a 2016 DUI charge.
Court records showed he was out of jail on a personal recognizance bond for that pending case. Phillips had faced other charges prior to that.
The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation.
MetroNews reporters Shauna Johnson, Jake Flatley, Alex Thomas, and Brad McElhinny contributed to this story.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginians who buy their hunting and fishing license year to year will have additional options when they make a renewal for their 2021 permits. Governor Jim Justice and Division of Natural Resources Director Steve McDaniel unveiled new options for sportsmen in West Virginia on Wednesday.
McDaniel said a survey of West Virginia hunters and fishermen revealed a desire for bundling of license products. The result is a new one year license which includes privileges to hunt, fish, and trap but also added the trout stamp to the package.
“The X-Plus is just like the popular X License which is the sportsman’s license. It’s mostly for convenience, there’s no extra charges, it’s just a bundled privilege,” he said.
The X-Plus will cost $45 which would be the actual cost of the Sportsman’s license and the trout stamp if purchased separately, but when they are bundled it will save on the transactions fee. Those savings will also be reflected in two other license the agency has created for the 2021 seasons which are three year license options.
“People responded they’d like to see a multi-year license. This year, for the first time, you can buy the X-3 which is a three year sportsman’s license or the X-3 Plus which is a three year sportsman’s license plus the tout stamp,” McDaniel said.
License sales in West Virginia have been on the rise, particularly for fishing. Early in the Covid 19 pandemic Governor Justice allowed for free fishing during the months of April and May, but there was a jump in license sales in June. The Governor believed many spent the first few months of the pandemic socially distancing on a stream and wanted to keep it going.
“For the first time in six years, we had an increase in our hunting and fishing license. That’s great news because all of those people who are getting introduced to West Virginia’s great outdoors it will only make them better,” Justice said in a virtual press conference.
“We gave free fishing to every West Virginia resident for two months and what that resulted in was thousands of West Virginians getting out on our waterways, many of them introduced to fishing for the first time, and it paid dividends,” said McDaniel.
Similar discounts for State Park visitors were also noted as a boost for the park system during 2020.
West Virginians who renew their license for 2021 during the month of December will again be entered into a drawing for prizes. The two first prizes will be Lifetime West Virginia Hunting and Fishing licenses. There will also be four state park getaway packages and several bags of Gold Rush swag given away in the drawings. To be eligible you need to purchase or renew your hunting and fishing license between December 1 and December 31.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU senior forward Gabe Osabuohien scored just twelve points in three games at the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic. But it is highly unlikely that the Mountaineers would have been able to bring the tournament trophy back home from South Dakota without Osabuohien’s contributions. He was West Virginia’s third-leading rebounder in the tourney despite averaging just 18 minutes a game. He also led the team with 4 steals.
Osabuohien may not generate the national buzz or the stats of a Derek Culver, Oscar Tshiewbe or Deuce McBride. But he has found a niche as one of West Virginia’s most versatile defenders.
“Gabe guards anybody,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “We can put Gabe on a point guard, we can put him on a center.”
“Being a high-major, Division I athlete, you are definitely going to be the best player on your high school team. And when you come to a team of 12 or 13 people just like you, some people have better talents at different aspects of the game. I was just looking at how I could impact the game and that’s going to lead to playing time on the court.
“Doing the little stuff, you recognize yourself helping the team win. Whether is it taking a charge here or there, changing momentum or getting stops consistently, I definitely take a lot of pride in it.”
Osabuohien played his first two seasons at Arkansas before transferring to WVU in the summer of 2019. He was fourth on the Mountaineers in rebounding, assists and blocks while finishing third in steals last season. Osabuohien says he found ways to contribute in a similar fashion while playing for the Razorbacks.
“Being a young player my freshman year at Arkansas, I think we had six seniors that year. One of my biggest things was, how was I going to play? Doing what the six seniors weren’t going to do, just the little stuff ended up getting me a whole lot of playing time on the court as a freshman.”
Standing at 6-foot-7, Osabuohien is one of West Virginia’s best frontcourt players in distributing the basketball. In the South Dakota tournament, he dished out seven assists against just three turnovers.
“The knowledge of the offense, just knowing what I am looking for when we run specific sets, I know we are looking at specific players for every set. So just knowing what you are looking for comes with it too. And just being confident and being able to deliver the ball to them.”
Osabuohien is a native of Toronto, Canada and when he made the decision to leave Arkansas, a connection with WVU assistant Larry Harrison led him to Morgantown.
“One of my coaches from Canada, Ro Russell, he had a great connection with (assistant) coach (Larry) Harrison. When I did decide to transfer, they were one of the first teams to reach out to me.
“Knowing what West Virginia basketball is all about, the toughness, playing hard, everything about West Virginia is tagged with being tough. West Virginia definitely caught my eye, knowing I could come here and play my style and it would match the team’s play style.”
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Gov. Jim Justice announced the state is partnering with an at-home test kit company to make covid testing free and more accessible for West Virginians.
State residents may order a kit online, receive it in the mail, connect with a telehealth supervisor over a Zoom call and be guided through the saliva collection process. The kit is mailed back through expedited shipping and 48 to 72 hours later results are available.
It’s a RT-PCR test — real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test — which state leaders described as the “gold standard.”
Information about testing options, including the mail-in tests, is available at the Department of Health and Human Resource’s website.
Coronavirus response coordinator Clay Marsh says this is a way to ease the necessity of waiting in lines for covid-19 tests.
“This is the next step for us to continue to amplify the ease and convenience of getting people tested,” Marsh said.
Marsh and DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch also said the at-home test kits — and their do-it-yourself method — could help ease the workload of local health workers who usually administer tests, freeing up more time for duties such as the upcoming vaccine distribution.
Because the offering is new, state leaders aren’t yet sure what demand might be. They acknowledged that they’ll need to monitor what demand is. The test kits are free to state residents but billed to the state.
The cost if you just ordered your own test kit would normally be $119.
“We’ll have to monitor, you know, how we’re able to allow people or get these number of tests out. Just from the standpoint of watching the dollars we have,” Justice said.
“At some point we may wind up having to cap this, but we certainly hope not,” Crouch said.
Crouch said the mail-in testing offering entered state leaders’ radar a couple of weeks ago, enhancing the state’s goal of testing citizens and having people with positive tests quarantine.
“We want West Virginians to test. It’s how we fight this disease right now,” Crouch said.
The company with the mail-in test kits is Vault Health. Its chief executive, Jason Feldman, said the test format has been available since April and has been in use by several states.
But he said West Virginia has taken its embrace of the product a step further.
“The way West Virginia is doing it is pretty innovative,” Feldman said. “There are two or three other states that have taken a similar tactic, but I think what Governor Justice has done is probably among the most progressive in that he has — and his team has — made it so accessible that there’s no need to even accept or have to worry about taking insurance.”
Feldman said getting a test is critical for those with symptoms or possible covid exposure.
“So one of the easiest ways to take a test is not having to go somewhere and find a place where you might be infected with people who are also trying to get a test — but, in fact, do it in your own home,” Feldman said.
“Governor Justice and his team have made it accessible in a very innovative way. Everybody in West Virginia is able to get access to a free covid test — for everybody in their family if they need it — to be delivered to their home by UPS overnight.”
He concluded, “In less than 48 hours, you will know if you are safe or sick and you can get on about your life.”
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A special education teacher at South Charleston High School in Kanawha County is the winner of a new car from Mazda and ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
It’s a program called “Mazda Heroes: Honoring The Human Spirit.”
Jennifer Williams was surprised Wednesday on “GMA” with two other car winners after talking with Michael Strahan about what keeps her motivated.
“Honestly, it’s the kids. They show up every day. They’re excited to be there. As crazy as things are, we’re trying to keep everything normal,” Williams said.
“We’re seeing these special ed students grow leaps and bounds still in this pandemic and they’re excited and they’re proud of what they’re doing, so just seeing that every day keeps me motivated.”
Mazda accepted nominations online through Oct. 25.
— South Charleston HS (@OrangeNationSC) December 2, 2020
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MORGANTOWN – The City of Morgantown has initiated the process of eminent domain to acquire a piece of property a riverfront renovation project encroached on without the property owner’s permission.
The city has filed a verified petition for condemnation in Monongalia County Circuit Court claiming that the property is necessary to provide adequate access to the to the Hazel Ruby-McQuain Park that underwent $4.1 million worth of renovations.
It was that renovation project that has led to the property dispute and Tuesday’s court filing.
Dan Nagowski, owns Wings Ole on 1125 University Avenue and claims he verbally agreed in September 2019 to allow the project to encroach about 35 square feet onto his property, about the size of half a parking space.
However, Nagowski knew something was wrong as soon as he saw the footer being poured for the new building, in a different orientation and different location with sidewalks that he claimed were not in the plans that had been discussed with him.
The building and adjacent sidewalks that ended up being constructed took up about 800 square feet, according to Nagowski. When Nagowski approached March Westin, the contractor in charge of the renovation project, he was told they were just following the plans provided.
Nagowski also pointed out the issue to then-City Manager Paul Brake, noting the deed, the purchase contract and survey of the property but his concerns were never addressed. Construction continued with the plans provided and the structure and adjoining sidewalks ended up taking up about 800 square feet of Nagowski’s property.
“I feel like I’ve been bullied,” Nagowski said to WAJR during a March interview on Talk of the Town.
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 in West Virginia was at 622, the highest ever in the coronavirus pandemic, in Wednesday reporting from the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
Confirmed, active cases climbed by 1,087 to 17,125 statewide with additions of results from 10,275 tests.
There were 20 additional deaths bringing the death toll to 778.
Among the victims was a woman from Cabell County who was 25.
The other victims were a man from Hampshire County, 74, a woman from Wyoming County, 61, a man from Pocahontas County, 59, three women from Marshall County, ages 80, 90 and 88, a man from Marshall County, 85, a woman from Hancock County, 68, a man from Greenbrier County, 74, a woman from Wetzel County, 99, a man from Wetzel County, 95, a woman from McDowell County, 69, a man from Preston County, 82, a woman from Berkeley County, 89, a man from Mineral County, 54, a woman from Wayne County, 69, a woman from Preston County, 71, a man from Preston County, 72, and a woman from Mineral County, 95.
Overall, the daily coronavirus infection rate was at 6.6 percent.
On the daily DHHR County Alert System Map there were eight red counties on Wednesday: Mineral, Grant, Ohio, Marshall, Wirt, Wyoming, Mason and Wayne.
Red counties are those said to have “substantial” coronavirus transmission.
Under alternative metrics, more than 45 counties would be red.
CASES PER COUNTY: Barbour (456), Berkeley (3,453), Boone (682), Braxton (124), Brooke (709), Cabell (3,056), Calhoun (82), Clay (123), Doddridge (129), Fayette (1,190), Gilmer (214), Grant (407), Greenbrier (552), Hampshire (372), Hancock (787), Hardy (300), Harrison (1,527), Jackson (713), Jefferson (1,442), Kanawha (5,862), Lewis (252), Lincoln (444), Logan (1,088), Marion (943), Marshall (1,298), Mason (535), McDowell (640), Mercer (1,383), Mineral (1,385), Mingo (998), Monongalia (3,400), Monroe (390), Morgan (305), Nicholas (385), Ohio (1,651), Pendleton (111), Pleasants (104), Pocahontas (225), Preston (686), Putnam (2,050), Raleigh (1,674), Randolph (751), Ritchie (185), Roane (191), Summers (280), Taylor (366), Tucker (148), Tyler (149), Upshur (527), Wayne (1,076), Webster (69), Wetzel (425), Wirt (120), Wood (2,708), Wyoming (783).
Free testing events continued statewide on Wednesday.
The schedule was available HERE.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The man who nearly killed a former Cabell County business owner during an attack at his restaurant in April 2018 will spend decades in prison.
On Tuesday, Aaron Rafael Ingram, 51, was sentenced to more than 50 years after entering guilty pleas to charges of strangulation, attempted murder and armed robbery in Cabell County Circuit Court as part of a plea agreement.
At the time of the attack, the victim, Sidney “Sid” Torlone was the owner of G.D. Ritzy’s, located on Huntington’s Hal Greer Boulevard.
Torlone was threatened with a knife, strangled with a cord and hit in the head multiple times with a large object, according to investigators.
A delivery person found him.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Elkins head football coach Evan Hott has stepped down after four seasons leading his alma mater. Hott and all but one member of the coaching staff submitted their resignations on Monday.
Hott led the Tigers to a 6-4 record this season, which included a memorable, 42-27 victory over No. 1 Sissonville in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs. It was the first postseason victory in the history of Tiger football. The Tigers defeated Nicholas County 42-8 in the final week of the regular season to clinch their first playoff berth since 2012.
Hott was a multi-sport standout at EHS and played for his father Greg, who led the Tiger football program from 1997-2016.
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