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Ohio man arrested after roommate found dead in Colorado

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 15:25

BUFFALO, Ohio (WCMH) -- An Ohio man who had been living in Colorado has been charged with murder after his roommate was found dead inside their home.

Carl Hoopingarner, 59, of Kipling, Ohio, was arrested on Tuesday and is now facing a first-degree murder charge, according to the Guernsey County Sheriff's Office. Investigators were alerted that Hoopingarner was wanted when his roommate was found dead inside their Limon, Colorado, home on Monday.

Colorado authorities told the sheriff's office that Hoopingarner may have been heading back to Guernsey County and was believed to be armed and driving his roommate's car. Officers took Hoopingarner into custody at around 3 p.m. on Tuesday at a Buffalo, Ohio, home after a standoff with law enforcement.

Ohio bowling pro facing 15 child pornography charges after arrest at tournament

Investigators found the car at the Buffalo home, which was partially covered in a plastic tarp. The sheriff's office said they spoke to the homeowner who was in the yard and confirmed that Hoopingarner was inside with the homeowner's girlfriend.

About 30 minutes later, Hoopingarner exited the home and surrendered to authorities before he was transferred to the county jail. The homeowner and the girlfriend were released at the scene after further investigation, the sheriff's office said.

Hoopingarner had also been wanted in Belmont County for an aggravated trafficking in drugs charge, and remains in the county jail while awaiting further court proceedings.

Categories: Ohio News

Former congressional candidate from Columbus arrested in connection to Jan. 6 Capitol riots

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 14:27

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- A former congressional candidate from Columbus has been arrested by the FBI on Friday in connection to the 2021 Capitol riots.

Cleophus Dulaney, 63, is facing multiple charges, including assaulting law enforcement, during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C. Dulaney was identified in videos as moving barriers to allow a mob of rioters to storm the Capitol grounds.

According to court documents, Dulaney was at the front of a mob that breached the Capitol on the west side of its grounds. He was captured in video moving several barricades and helping the crowd break through multiple lines of barriers. At one point, according to the complaint, he and several others threw a bike rack barricade at police officers.

The charges against Dulaney include multiple felonies, such as obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers. Dulaney is also charged with a slate of misdemeanors related to unlawfully entering restricted property and engaging in physical violence on Capitol grounds.

Dulaney ran a failed campaign for Ohio's third U.S. House district in 2020, losing the Republican nomination to Mark Richardson 86.4% to 13.6%.

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus man faces judge 17 years after alleged homicide

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 11:37

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A Columbus man charged with murder after a shooting that occurred 17 years ago faced a judge Friday afternoon.

A Franklin County Common Pleas judge issued a bond amount of $1 million for 50-year-old DeShawne Stewart, who is indicted on two counts of murder with firearm specifications. According to Columbus police, Stewart allegedly shot Wendell Davis on July 8, 2006 on South James Road in Eastmoor.

Police officers, prisoner injured after cruiser T-boned by suspected drunk driver DeShawne Stewart (Courtesy/Franklin County Sheriff's Office)

Davis, 51, suffered a “catastrophic wound” when he was 33 years old and was confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. He died on May 19, 2023, nearly 17 years later. On May 23 a Franklin County Coroner completed an autopsy and ruled Davis’s death a homicide.

An investigation led to the indictment of Stewart on Feb. 4 and two days later a warrant was issued for his arrest. A CPD SWAT team placed Stewart in custody Feb. 19 and took him to Franklin County Jail.

Categories: Ohio News

Ohio bowling pro facing 15 child pornography charges after arrest at tournament

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 09:58

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) -- An array of charges tied to sexual abuse material have stacked up against a professional bowler from Chillicothe who was arrested at an Indianapolis tournament.

Brandon Novak, 35, faces 15 felony counts, including five for pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, and 10 for illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance. Documents filed in Ross County Common Pleas Court did not elaborate on how investigators tied Novak to the charges, or the evidence they had against him, but did say he solicited, received, bought or possessed child sexual abuse material.

Ohio Stadium will reportedly host English Premier League juggernauts

The bowler's arrest at the beginning of February during the 2024 U.S. Open Bowling Tournament in Indianapolis was originally a mystery. A deputy U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio told the Associated Press that the agency took him into custody on a warrant from Ross County. Assistant County Prosecutor Cindy Schumaker said the warrant was from a "secret indictment" which wasn't unsealed until Friday.

Novak, who participated in professional bowling leagues for more than a decade, has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for March 21 at 1:30 p.m. He did not have any attorney listed in court records as of Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Categories: Ohio News

Red Rabbit Ramen to close unless a new operator is found

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 09:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- A ghost kitchen serving ramen near Grandview Heights is closing in early March, but the owners are seeking a franchisee to keep the business alive.

Red Rabbit Ramen announced in a Facebook post on Thursday that it would be closing up shop, with its last week of operations taking place during the week of March 4. The owners said that they are closing the ramen cart due to a change in their family situation.

"Our family situation has changed recently and I have taken a job offer in Seattle," the post said. "The ramen cart has been one of my proudest accomplishments in life, but our family needs some more stability. So, we have made a hard decision to change it up!"

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The ramen cart located at 985 W. 6th Ave. -- or Echo Spirits Distilling Co. -- had been open for three and a half years. It served a variety of ramen dishes, like spicy miso ramen, tan tan ramen and more. While the owners' departure could mark the end of the business, they put out a public inquiry to find a franchisee to take over the shop.

"We are currently looking for someone that would be interested in continuing Red Rabbit as a franchise," the post said. "If you or someone you know has an entrepreneurial mindset and is interested in an established food business: please reach out!"

Interested parties would need to move quick, as the current Red Rabbit owners are moving on March 18. They said they would be able to provide recipes, training, bookkeeping and continued mentorship for anyone interested in becoming a franchisee.

Red Rabbit will continue to operate this week, before taking next week off, and then reopening once more for its final week of service.

Categories: Ohio News

Mild this afternoon, snow tonight, wintry Saturday

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 09:13
Columbus and Central Ohio Weather

Clouds broke up after a foggy state, with some sunshine and a mild day. The temperature will edge into the low 50s.

Clouds will increase toward evening, as a secondary cold front pushes through the state, possibly accompanied by a few showers. Behind the front, winds will shift out of the north bringing in much colder air.

A fast-moving clipper storm will bring a swath of snow late tonight, tapering to flurries by mid-morning. Snow accumulations will range from 1 to 3 inches across central and western Ohio.

The coldest air will arrive Saturday. Temperatures on Saturday will only reach the mid-30s, which means you will need a warm jacket if you will be at the Crew home opener in the afternoon at Field.

Sunday will bring a complete switch back to mild conditions, with partly sunny skies and a small chance for an evening shower ahead of a warm front. Warmer weather next week could push readings to near 70 degrees on Tuesday, when showers will return and continue on Wednesday

  • Friday: Mostly cloudy, evening shower. High 52
  • Tonight: Clouds thicken, light snow late (1-2"). Low 24
  • Saturday: Early flurries, some sun, brisk, cold. High 34
  • Sunday: Partly cloudy. High 48 (23)
  • Monday: Mostly sunny. High 60 (36)
  • Tuesday: Showers p.m. , windy, warmer. High 66 (50)
  • Wednesday: Showers. High 61 (51)
  • Thursday: Some sun, breezy, cooler. High 46 (31)
Categories: Ohio News

Budd Dairy Food Hall announces two new food options

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 09:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Budd Dairy Food Hall is adding two new shops to its selection of food vendors.

The food hall on 1086 N. 4th St. is adding Marlow's Cheesesteaks and Zaki Mediterranean Grill to its list of offerings. Marlow's is being welcomed as a new, permanent partner, according to a news release Wednesday. Earlier in the week, it announced Zaki's would be joining its Hatch Kitchen as a rotating vendor.

Marlow's is a fast-casual concept created by a husband and wife Jomar and Shanika Sheppard. The sandwich shop is based out of Gahanna, serving traditional Philadelphia cheesesteaks and other favorites. Bread and meat is shipped daily to Marlow's from Philadelphia, with the goal of bringing authentic Philly-style cheesesteaks to Columbus. Now, the Sheppards' operation will expand to Budd Dairy, with its location in the food hall opening on March 5.

Zaki's is a Mediterranean restaurant offering dishes like hummus, falafel, gyros, shawarma and more. It opened its Budd Dairy shop on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Other chef partners at Budd Dairy Food Hall include Borgata Pizza, Cluck Norris, The Cheesecake Girl, Tacos Rudos and more. The food hall also includes multiple bars across its three levels.

Categories: Ohio News

Ohio Stadium will reportedly host English Premier League juggernauts

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 08:38

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Two of the most prominent football clubs in the world will descend upon Columbus this summer, and neither one of them is the Ohio State Buckeyes.

According to multiple reports, Manchester City, led by stars Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland and Rodri, will face Chelsea in an exhibition match at Ohio Stadium this summer.

The game comes as part of a two-week preseason soccer tour in the United States for Man City, which competes in the English Premier League along with other soccer juggernauts Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Things to know for the Columbus Crew season

Man City, the three-time defending English Premier League champion, is slated to play in four exhibition matches in the team’s first tour of the U.S. since 2022. The Cityzens, who have won the EPL in seven of the last 12 seasons and are also the defending Champions League title-holders, are in second place this season.

Chelsea, five-time EPL champions, last won the league in 2017. It also won the Champions League most recently in 2021. The team sits in 10th place this season.

While the date has yet to be announced, Man City will also reportedly play in New York; Orlando, Florida; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and and Everton, at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, February 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Rui Viera)Manchester City's Erling Haaland celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and and Everton, at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, February 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Rui Viera)

Ohio Stadium seats 102,780. The home stadiums for Man City and Chelsea seat about 53,000 and 40,000, respectively. By going to Ohio Stadium, the teams would be bypassing Field, home of the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer, which seats 20,371.

The Crew announced Friday it will host EPL's fourth-place team Aston Villa on July 27 as part of the 2024 Leagues Cup Showcase.

A representative for Ohio State declined to comment on the report.

Categories: Ohio News

Homestead Beer Co. moves to Gahanna, acquires Heart State Brewing

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 08:30

GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) – Homestead Beer Co. has opened a production facility and taproom in Gahanna, in a collaboration with Heart State Brewing.

With the head brewer at Heart State Brewing moving to Colorado, Homestead Beer Co. has acquired Heart State. The two brands will be served in a renovated taproom space, located at 750 Cross Pointe Road, complete with full kitchen, a curated cocktail list and a pinball collection.

Founder of Homestead Beer Co. Adam Rhodes said the move to Gahanna came as the company outgrew its Heath location, which will be closing. Homestead Beer Co.’s taprooms in Marysville and Canal Winchester will continue running as normal.

Rhodes said he is keeping Heart State’s brand going as well as continuing its production of beers, such as its "Ache" orange creamsicle sour and "Throb" west-coast style IPA.

“They just have a really great line of beers that is very different from the beers that Homestead produces, but are really just quite amazing,” Rhodes said. "So we worked with their head brewer to make sure that handoff goes seamlessly.”

Founded in 2012, Homestead Beer Co. has a variety of beers available year round. Rhodes said some of the company’s most popular beers include the “Snake Oil” IPA, “Tenpenny” amber, “Sun-Kissed” American Wheat and “Del Campo” Mexican lager.

Additionally, throughout the year Homestead produces seven to eight seasonal beers, as well as a series of limited release beers. 

“We just brewed the other day our next limited release beer which is Yabba Dabba brew, which is a double IPA that we brew with Fruity Pebbles,” Rhodes said. 

As for the taproom’s food, Rhodes said the menu will be pizza focused and similar to the other locations’ menus, but will have some “unique spins” of its own. 

“There’s pizzas, there are some other options, there are vegetarian options,” Rhodes said. “We’ll be bringing in barbecue at some point in the future.”

Homestead Beer Co. in Gahanna is open seven days a week as renovations continue. The taproom is open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.

Categories: Ohio News

Things to know for the Columbus Crew season

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 06:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- A Major League Soccer team has not won back-to-back MLS Cup titles in over a decade. The Columbus Crew can accomplish that feat and more in 2024, and the team's journey begins this week.

The reigning MLS Cup champion start its title defense Saturday when the team plays Atlanta United at 2 p.m. from Field. The Black & Gold used a fast-paced attacking style all of last season under coach Wilfried Nancy to win its third MLS Cup.

Full 2024 Columbus Crew schedule

Now in 2024, the Crew is chasing history but will face a variety of obstacles. The roster and tactics will face hurdles as the teams navigates three competitions and busy international periods.

Roster depth, tactics will be tested

The Crew won last season with an attacking brand of soccer that fans and analysts around the league dubbed the most entertaining style of play in MLS. It now is wearing a target with 28 other teams trying to beat that tactic.

Nancy's fast style of play brings a high-risk, high-reward payoff with a lot of goal scoring chances created but opportunities for opponents to counter. This season could see multiple teams adapting to this style and attempting to play a similar possession-style brand against the Crew rather than sit back and hope for counterattacking chances.

Not many new names were added to the roster, but the ones that were have positional versatility. Midfielder Derrick Jones has experience in defense and winger Marino Hinestroza can play on either side and might slip in to an advanced wingback role, akin to Yaw Yeboah.

Positional versatility on the roster and depth is the important with a busy schedule and international duty disrupting flow. A period to watch where the team's starting lineup will likely be undone is in June and July, when the Copa America tournament takes place.

Cucho Hernandez (Colombia) and Diego Rossi (Uruguay) will likely be gone, while American internationals Aidan Morris, Patrick Schulte, and Sean Zawadzki could be called up for Copa America or the Paris Olympics later this summer.

Crew chasing four trophies

Being MLS Cup champions comes with perks and ample opportunities to add more trophies to the cabinet. While defending its MLS title, the Black & Gold will be part of two other competitions.

Starting in March, the Crew will begin the CONCACAF Champions Cup in its search to qualify for the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup. The tournament lasts from March to June, with the Crew already in the Round of 16. They will play either St. Louis City or the Houston Dynamo with the opening leg on March 6 and the return leg at Field on March 12.

After Field hosts the MLS All-Star Game on July 24, the club will pause MLS play for the Leagues Cup tournament. In last year's inaugural edition, the Crew beat Mexican giants Club America 4-1 before a Round of 32 penalty shootout loss to Minnesota United. As MLS champion, the Crew avoids group play and is already in the knockout round.

A fourth trophy is available when the Crew hosts a Mexican club in the Campeones Cup sometime in the fall. It won this trophy in 2021 over Cruz Azul. A fifth trophy might still be possible if the Black & Gold are included in the U.S. Open Cup, which MLS pulled every club from for its developmental teams.

2024 expectations

Since MLS' first season, the MLS Cup has only been defended three times and many believe the Black & Gold can be the fourth team to do so. The Crew will have to balance out a busy start and need substitute players to step into starting roles to stay in contention.

If it can continue to impose its will during games, the Crew could certainly go far. Injuries were the biggest obstacle in 2021 when the Crew defended its 2020 title.

The Crew is the joint second favorite to win MLS Cup alongside Los Angeles FC on the betting lines. Way ahead of everyone as the MLS Cup favorites is Inter Miami, with high expectations for Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and company this season.

Alongside Miami and LAFC, FC Cincinnati, Philadelphia Union and the Seattle Sounders are a few other teams that are in the conversation as MLS Cup contenders. At minimum, the Crew will be looking to win one trophy but can be confident two or even three is attainable.

Categories: Ohio News

Look inside: Stained-glass artist's $2.2 million Victorian home in German Village

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 05:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Stained glass decorates a renowned artist's former Victorian home in German Village that is on the market for $2.2 million, overlooking the pond at Schiller Park and complete with a custom wine cellar.

The 3,720-square-foot home was built in 1886. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)

Once owned by Theodore Von Gerichten, a German Immigrant who founded a stained glass company in the mid-1880s, the property located at 117 E. Deshler Ave. sits on the second largest lot in German Village. Built in 1886, the 3,720-square-foot home includes four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, two half bathrooms and a two-car garage.

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The Queen-Anne style home was purchased by Gerichten in 1909 and features stained glass windows he designed, including the eight-foot front door that bears his initials. Gerichten resided in the home until his death in 1938, and the property remained in his family until the 1970s.

  • The 3,720-square-foot home was built in 1886. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)

Beyond the front door, a spacious foyer with heart pine wood floors leads to a sitting room home to a decorative fireplace with an original slate mantle and clear art glass windows with views of Schiller Park. The heart pine wood floors continues into the dining room that features a chandelier and antique pocket doors.

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The kitchen is one of several rooms improved after the current owners, who acquired the home in 2011, concluded a $600,000 renovation. Custom cherry cabinetry fills the space with exposed brick walls and a six-burner Viking range. A pantry and a half bathroom can be found just off the kitchen.

  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)

Also part of the renovation, a new family room addition includes a wood-burning fireplace, coffered ceiling, floor-to-ceiling bookcases and tall French glass doors that lead to a private garden. The main office, also with fully paneled heart pine wood floors, features an original fireplace with a new mantle.

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Up the stairs, the private bedroom suites with connecting bathrooms overlook the back garden and Schiller Park. A custom 2,500-bottle wine cellar built entirely in Mahogany wood with original brick walls completes the home.

  • The 3,720-square-foot home was built in 1886. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • Inside the 3,720-square-foot home. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • The 3,720-square-foot home was built in 1886. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • The 3,720-square-foot home was built in 1886. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • The 3,720-square-foot home was built in 1886. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • The 3,720-square-foot home was built in 1886. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • The 3,720-square-foot home was built in 1886. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)
  • The 3,720-square-foot home was built in 1886. (Courtesy Photo/Dale Clark with Arc Photography)

View more photos of the property listed by Marilyn Vutech, a partner in Vutech ∣ Ruff real estate firm, here.

Categories: Ohio News

Study: Ohio among most stressed U.S. states

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 04:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A recent study has revealed the most stressed states in America, with Ohio ranking in the top 10. 

The study, conducted by mental health facility Onyx Behavioral Health, analyzed data from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to see which states had the highest rates of people reporting stress.

Ohio is the sixth most stressed state in the country, according to the study. 18.30% of adults reported mental distress during more than half of the last 30 days in the study, and 13.90% reported the same for physical distress, averaging to an overall stress rate of 16.10%.

The study found that West Virginia was the state that had the highest percentage of residents reporting stress. The study reports that 21.10% of citizens suffer from frequent mental distress, and 18.20% of citizens suffer from frequent physical distress. Combining these statistics comes out at an average of 19.65%, the highest of any U.S. state.

Arkansas comes in second place, with the state averaging 18.95% for physical and mental distress. 20.40% of citizens reported suffering from frequent mental distress and 17.50% from frequent physical distress.

In third place is Tennessee, with the state seeing an average of 17.90% people reporting stress. 20.30% of citizens reported suffering from frequent mental distress and 15.50% from frequent physical distress. 

Louisiana comes in fourth place on the list. In the state, 20.10% of citizens reported suffering from frequent mental distress, and 14.90% reported suffering from frequent physical distress, averaging to 17.50%.

Rounding out the top five is a tie between Alabama and Oklahoma, with 18.10% of citizens reporting frequent mental distress and 14.20% reporting frequent physical distress in both states. Crunching the numbers results in an average stress rate of 16.15% for the two states.

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Completing the top 10 is Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri, along with Arizona, Indiana and Oregon tied for ninth place, and New Mexico. On the other side of the list, Hawaii is the least stressed of any state, with just 11.50% of citizens reporting frequent mental distress and 9.50% reporting frequent physical distress, averaging to 10.50%.

Categories: Ohio News

Police officers, prisoner injured after cruiser t-boned by suspected drunk driver

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 03:39

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Four people have been hospitalized after a car struck a Columbus police cruiser while officers were transporting a prisoner to jail.

According to police, a car slammed into the driver’s side of a CPD cruiser at the intersection of Marconi Boulevard and West Broad Street in Downtown Columbus. Two officers were in the cruiser as was a prisoner, who was being transported from police headquarters to jail.

Scammers posing as Kroger target Ohio woman Two officers and a prisoner were injured when a Columbus police cruiser was struck by a suspected drunk driver, Feb. 23, 2024. (NBC4/Ronald Clark)

The car was t-boned by a suspected drunk driver, who ran a red light at the intersection. The driver attempted to flee the scene, but officers caught up with him at the intersection of West Broad Street and Belle Street, a couple of blocks across the Scioto River.

All four people involved in the crash were taken to area hospitals in stable condition, including both officers, who were taken to Grant Medical Center. The Eastbound lanes of West Broad St. were temporarily closed between McDowell Street and Civic Center Drive but have since reopened.

Categories: Ohio News

Narcotics K-9s that smell marijuana in Ohio will need to retire. A proposal would help police forces foot the bill

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 03:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Nearly 300 drug-sniffing police dogs in Ohio will need to retire in the near future as the legalization of cannabis has rendered their marijuana-smelling snouts a liability for law enforcement across the state.

Several agencies, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, have already begun replacing their marijuana-imprinted canines with narcotics dogs not trained to root out cannabis. Others have plans to quickly phase out their K-9s for fear of the legal ramifications of their alerts.

The latest state to legalize adult-use marijuana, Ohio is also the latest state facing a blow to its police dog force, something Rep. Sean Brennan called an “unintended consequence” of the passage of Issue 2. Dogs trained to detect marijuana cannot be reliably retrained to forget it, meaning any alert they give to the presence of narcotics can be challenged in court.

With law enforcement agencies big and small facing potentially astronomical costs to replace marijuana-imprinted dogs, Brennan (D-Parma) and Rep. Josh Williams (R-Sylvania) hope to ease the financial burden – and soon. Their proposal, House Bill 396, would give police forces up to $20,000 per K-9 to offset the cost of acquiring, training and equipping narcotics dogs that don’t alert to the smell of cannabis.

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“If you’re a drug-trafficker from Pennsylvania and you want to transport cocaine in the state of Ohio across to Indiana, all you need to do is put a joint in your cupholder,” Williams, a criminal defense attorney by trade, said. “If the dog alerts on that vehicle, and he’s been trained and imprinted on the smell of marijuana, the whole entire search gets thrown out.”

Sgt. Joe Albert, public information officer for Columbus police, said although the department stopped training K-9s to detect marijuana after hemp was legalized in late 2018, four marijuana-imprinted dogs remain on the force. Columbus police plans to retire two of those dogs within the year, he said; the force currently has five narcotics dogs trained to ignore cannabis.

“$20,000 per K9 can help ensure agencies have a way to continue to address all the crime and community issues that come with illegal drug activity,” Albert said in an email.

No marijuana-imprinted dogs remain on the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s canine unit, and the patrol stopped training marijuana-imprinted dogs in 2018, said its public information officer. But the patrol has retired at least four narcotics dogs since Issue 2 passed last November.

Smaller police departments, with smaller budgets and fewer dogs, face potentially significant cuts to their canine units. Brennan said his hometown department in Parma, for instance, will have to retire three of its five dogs. Chillicothe police’s two K-9s are both trained to detect cannabis, according to the department’s website.

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There are 298 marijuana-smelling narcotics K-9s in Ohio, according to data Brennan received from the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. Under Williams and Brennan’s bill, the state would allocate $6 million to kickstart the transition from marijuana-imprinted canines. After that, remaining cannabis-smelling canines would be replaced with money from the cannabis social equity and jobs fund, a fund created from tax revenue from eventual recreational sales.

Other states have grappled with the retiring of police dogs en masse after the legalization of marijuana. In Colorado, for instance, a court ruling solidified concerns that marijuana-imprinted dogs would threaten the admissibility of their drug alerts in court. A slate of narcotics K-9s were retired in Virginia after its legislature passed a law banning police stops or searches based solely on marijuana odor.

As lawmakers’ proposals to regulate marijuana remain at a standstill in the legislature, Brennan and Williams hope their bill, which has 30 cosponsors, can move quickly – before the consequences play out in police departments or court.  

“I don’t think that anybody that voted for Issue 2 saw that this would be a problem, and I’ve never talked to anybody that is anti-police canine,” Brennan said.

HB396 has been referred to the House Finance Committee, awaiting its first hearing.

Categories: Ohio News

Still mild Friday, snow showers and a cool down to start weekend

News Channel 4 - Fri, 02/23/2024 - 03:04
Columbus and Central Ohio Weather QUICK WEATHER FORECAST:
  • Today: Mixed clouds, iso. shower SE, high 53
  • Tonight: Light snow, low 25
  • Saturday: AM flurries, breezy, high 35
  • Sunday: Partly cloudy, iso. PM shower, high 52
  • Monday: Partly cloudy, iso. shower, high 61
  • Tuesday: Rain showers, high 65

Happy Friday!

We start the day with patchy dense fog across the region, that will likely stick around through the mid morning. This afternoon, we'll see just partly cloudy skies, with highs in the lower 50s, and a breeze. We'll be mainly dry, with the exception of an isolated shower or two for our southeastern counties as a boundary lingers in the area.

Then tonight, we've got a quick cold front that moves through, bringing a scattered wintry mix, and some light snow showers overnight and into Saturday morning. Totals from this will be light, with some of it melting upon impact at the onset. Saturday is our outlier day, with cold temperatures, topping out in the middle 30s, and a breeze.

For Sunday, expect a mix of sun an clouds, and a big warm up! Highs are back into the lower 50s, but the breeze does stick around. We'll be dry most of the day, outside of a very isolated shower later in the day.

A similar setup Monday, with mainly dry conditions outside of an isolated shower later in the day. Highs continue to warm, into the lower 60s.

Rainy weather returns for the midweek.


Categories: Ohio News

Madison County railroad crossing poses danger to drivers

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 21:32

KILEVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) - A railroad crossing in Madison County is getting lots of attention from residents in the area. 

Railroad crossing #2569 on State Route 161 in Kileville has been in disrepair for nearly a year. It's located between Dublin and Plain City where it sees around 10,000 drivers a day. However, that estimate of drivers was last done in 2004. 

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The railroad itself is operated by CSX Railroads. Drivers and concerned residents have called to bring the matter to their attention numerous times in the last 12 months. Roger Spring of Plain City has called the State Highway Department, Railway Commission, and CSX.

"On Oct. 2, I called the state highway department, and they told me that they have no authority to make CSX do anything there in that intersection," he said. 

He described the damage around the approach to the tracks.

 "My theory is what's going on is that the foundation under the tracks and around the tracks is starting to fail causing the asphalt on either side of the rails to collapse in,” Spring said. 

Spring said he drives over the crossing at least twice a week. 

"The situation got so bad that I began to put my flashers on when I approached the intersection, and then I would slowly drive across the tracks. This is a heavily traveled strip of state highway right through there. And you should not have to hit your brakes to slow down by very much when you go across there," he said.

NBC4 had a crew at the railroad crossing on Thursday. They saw hundreds of cars cross the tracks. Many of them slowed down and gently crossed the tracks. Some displayed flashers like Spring said. Others sped right over the tracks without slowing down. When our crew drove over the tracks it was definitely bumpy, and at a certain speed, possibly dangerous.

Spring recalled at least once when construction crews did some work on the crossing. 

"Eventually CSX comes out and their solution to the problem was to add a little bit of coal patch. And that stuff never holds up for any length of time especially if there's no foundation underneath the area where they're wanting to put that," Spring said.

But it's not just the tracks themselves that could be dangerous.

"Usually about two or three times a month somebody has a flat tire. There's been multiple rear endings there from people slamming on their breaks to go over the tracks. Ultimately going over them slow is worse. If you go over them fast and to the right on both sides it's usually a little bit better," said Susan Jones who lives nearby the tracks and drives over the railroad crossing every day.

NBC4 reached out to ODOT to find out who is responsible for the upkeep of the roadways at a railroad crossing. They declined an interview but Hannah Salem, District 6 Public Information Officer sent this statement:

"Railroad companies are responsible for maintaining all approaches to their tracks and sidewalks within their designated right of way. As such, any potholes found in these areas fall under the maintenance jurisdiction of the railroad company.

Our office has received inquiries from members of the public regarding this issue, and we have been directing them through our contacts with the Ohio Rail Development Commission and the railroad company. We respect and understand that this is a concern for the public, and ODOT is actively leveraging our communication channels to get it addressed."

Ohio Railway Commission records show the railroad responsible for the crossing as CSX. Spring has called them several times. 

"I then called CSX again for a second time and told them about the situation and how deep this hole was because you could see the rebar in the bottom. And their solution is come out, put some coal patch on top of the rebar and then left the rest pretty much how it was." 

After Spring said he called for a fourth time after a near head-on collision at the crossing, "Their response was well, we don't have any record of you having ever called us. End of conversation."

Jones lives right next to the railroad crossing. NBC4 asked her if she's seen crews working on the approach at all in the last year. 

"No. I haven't even seen anybody out here looking at it,” she said.

Jones wants the rough crossing fixed before someone gets seriously hurt. 

"I think they need to get it fixed before someone, like, dies on those tracks," she said.

Nearly a dozen people reached out to NBC4 with stories and issues with the railroad crossing. Many of them have already placed complaints with CSX and the State Highway Department. NBC4 reached out to CSX and heard back on Feb. 8 from a representative from the company's public relations team. The response was that they will look into it and get back. Since that time, several more efforts have been made to reach CSX but no response has been given.

"They don't care. We're just, we're just a pain in the rear end. They don't care whether it's fixed or not, or they'd have had it done because this has been going on for close to a year," said Spring.

Categories: Ohio News

Cellphone outage causes safety challenges for central Ohio fire department

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 17:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Thursday, many central Ohioans' day started on a frustrating note with a nationwide cell service outage impacting day-to-day life. 

AT&T, which had the largest outage, said all service has now been restored as of Thursday afternoon. But this issue caused problems for customers of multiple networks including Cricket Wireless, Verizon and T-Mobile since the overnight hours.

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The Federal Communications Commission is investigating what caused the problem. But this caused more than an inconvenience for the Upper Arlington Fire Division.

“We had an issue at one of our buildings that the city owns where we were notified that the fire alarm was offline. And what that means is it was no longer communicating with the call center,” said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Bell.

Bell said this problem was impacting several city buildings and commercial businesses. This means if there was a fire, they would not be notified right away.

“It could cause a significant delay in getting our fire apparatus there to deal with whatever problem you have. And this could go with any not just fire alarms, but there's medical alarms. There's, you know, AED alarms and things like that that also bring ambulances and police,” Bell said.

Bell said the problem was on and off throughout the day. His best advice, if you experience an outage, call 911 directly if there is an emergency. Bell said if your cell phone is not working to try a landline.

Many central Ohioans said they noticed something was wrong with their cell phones right away. 

“I was on the phone, my friend last night around like three in the morning and then randomly our call hung up. So we text each other and we're like, what just happened,” said Kelsey Cripe.

AT&T did release a statement saying they are taking steps to make sure this does not happen again.

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus students take the stage with rapper Lil Durk

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 17:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Drake, J. Cole and Lil Durk helped central Ohioans create all kinds of memories this week, but the ones a group of local students now have will be tough to top.

The artists performed Tuesday and Wednesday night at the Schottenstein Center. More than two dozen area students were part of the show. They had the spotlight on them as they sang and danced along with Lil Durk.

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"It was a dream come true," said Aaiden Bush, a sophomore at Independence High School.

Nine other students from Independence were alongside him. He said Drake, J. Cole and Lil Durk are three of his favorite artists.

“It was amazing, before this I could never dream of me being on stage singing or even being on the floor like with them, it was amazing," Bush said.

The opportunity came about through mentoring work the ACE Program and My Brother's Keeper (MBK) do at the school, according to Jamie Allen, the assistant principal. She said she first found out about it Monday. Students were told Tuesday.

“One boy we announced it to, he cried, because he was just so excited to get the opportunity," Allen said.

Students were given minutes to write why they should get to be part of the experience. Allen said it goes along with what is taught at Independence, being involved and always being prepared.

“You don't have to get ready if you stay ready, so we want them to stay ready, because you just never know," she said.

She was at the concerts with them too. In total, 29 students from the area got to participate in the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I think it will show them more of the world that's out there. That you are not limited to your city, you’re not limited to circumstances, that there is a world out there, you see all these people that are here at this concert, they’re coming to see somebody on stage who at one point he was just a regular high school kid," Bush said.

Categories: Ohio News

Scammers posing as Kroger target Ohio woman

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 16:30

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) – It was last October when Chillicothe resident Lori Howard got an unexpected delivery.

"I received a Priority Mail envelope," Howard said. "And I wasn't expecting anything. And then, I opened it up, and it says, you know, ‘Attention: Dear Esteemed Secret Shopper.’”

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The packet appeared to come from Kroger, "with respect to the secret shopper offer" Howard applied for.

"And that was a red flag, because I haven't signed up to be a secret shopper, and I don't know anything about being a secret shopper," said Howard. 

As she continued to read and sift through the envelope, Howard spotted several more red flags, starting with the postage.

"You know, my dad's from Cincinnati, Ohio, and I know that's where their (Kroger's) headquarters is at," said Howard. "Well, the priority mail came from San Francisco, California."

The letter inside stated Howard had been "selected and hired to be a customer service evaluator." All she had to do was follow the instructions provided. Like, deposit the cashier's check provided -- $1,980 to cover "purchases and transportation costs." But when Howard took a closer look, she noticed some discrepancies.

The name at the bottom of the letter was "David Jile," but the purchaser on the check was "David Jiles."

"And it was telling me, you know, to deposit this in your bank account. That was a big error. No, you're not getting my bank information, you know? That's how they get you," Howard said.

The letter instructed Howarad to use that money to buy eBay gift cards, as part of the survey.

"Like, I know, an older couple that got scammed this way," said Howard. "They actually bought $3,000 worth of gift cards, and by the time they got to sending them the information off the card, which is what this letter's instructing me to do, is to send them the codes off the cards. That's another red flag. You never, ever do that."

Knowing it was a scam, Howard picked up the phone and called Better Call 4 to get the word out and help prevent anyone else from falling for it.

"I feel sorry for somebody that actually didn't look into this,” she said. “But I think people really need to be aware, because my money is too precious. And I'll make my penny scream."

Better Call 4 also reached out to Kroger in regard to the scam and Howard's experience. A spokesperson responded with this statement:

At Kroger, we take the safety and security of our customers seriously. We encourage our customers to remain aware and diligent of such scams and to report any suspicious activities directly to us. Our teams are trained in fraud prevention and should a customer have questions, they can contact our Kroger Customer Relations Center at 1-866-544-8062.

Categories: Ohio News

Democratic 'anti-corruption' bills related to HB6 scandal met with pushback 

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 16:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – It has been five years since a multi-million-dollar corruption case on capital square was first ripped open. Now, after criminal charges, trials and sentences, there have not been any law changes, despite some efforts. 

“Ohio continues to languish under the cloud of the House Bill 6 scandal,” Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said. 

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The scheme was all a part of a $60-million bribery scheme to pass House Bill 6, a bailout bill for FirstEnergy, which has already landed former Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder and former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party Matt Borges in federal prison. It all unfolded about five years ago and is still costing taxpayers

“We are not going to stop talking about this because it is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is about everyday Ohioans who are paying the cost for this crime,” Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said. 

“Must be an election year, but the Democrats must have forgotten who voted to make Householder speaker. They did. They even held the Bible for his oath of office,” Spokesperson for Ohio Senate Republicans John Fortney said in a statement. 

Now, though, Democrats are taking a step outside the statehouse, calling for an investigation into the DeWine-Husted administration, but said that Attorney General Dave Yost (R-Ohio) is not best for the job. 

“There are simply too many unanswered questions,” Russo said. 

In this a letter to the U.S. Attorney for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and Yost, Russo and Antonio said while Yost’s efforts are “laudable” and  they believe his office “does not possess the capacity to detach itself from the political realities of Ohio’s control of state government.” 

In a statement, Yost said, “my oath swears no allegiance to any political officer or party, only to the rule of law and to the Constitution. Let the chips fall where they may."    

Part of the reason Democrats are calling on an investigation to the administration is because of recent findings in a state indictment that one of DeWine’s top advisors knew about an alleged $4.3 million dollar bribe from FirstEnergy to Sam Randazzo, before the governor appointed him as chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).

On Wednesday, PUCO said in a statement that they plan to resume their four related investigations to the case. But despite the investigations, indictments and convictions these past five years, no new campaign finance law, or transparency law has been passed; and parts of House Bill 6 are still on the books, with GOP leaders torn on its repeal

That is all while at least a dozen bills, from both sides of the aisle, have been introduced within the past year. But there is still debate on what needs to be addressed. For example, House Bill 112, which would require dark money groups to identify their contributors and disclose their spending, is drawing opposition. 

“That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous. No, I have no interest in doing that,” Ohio House Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said. “Legitimate 501(c)(4) activity and 501(c)(3) activity should be protected to protect the anonymity of the donor.” 

Fortney said Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima), in general, is supportive of reviewing and updating the disclosure law. Aside from that legislation, several other Democratic led bills have been introduced to do things like repeal the remaining parts of HB6 (HB120 and SB151), refund money that taxpayers paid under the HB6 bailout provision (HB393), and require the itemization of all riders, taxes, and other costs on certain utility bills (HB41).  

But, despite the wide range of legislation, nearly all the democratic led bills have been stalled in committee. Russo said it is a “lack of political will.” 

“There certainly is a large portion of the Republican caucuses in both the House and Senate who just want to turn their head the other way and pretend this didn’t happen,” she said. “Because frankly, some of them were involved in and components of this and they were complicit in allowing this to happen either legislatively or afterwards.” 

“Some of what they’ve proposed is unconstitutional, such as requiring full refunds of all the monies that were collected under the order of the PUCO, you can’t have retroactive rate making,” Seitz said. “Some of what they’ve proposed is also unnecessary.” 

Seitz is sponsoring House Bill 260, a lengthy bill that addresses rate cases and PUCO proceedings. He also sponsored House Bill 79, a bi-partisan bill with joint sponsor Representative Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Westlake), to reinstate some energy efficiency programs that were stripped by HB6. 

He said both bills “get at” parts of what the Democrats have proposed “in a responsible way.” 

But Russo said still, there has been too much inaction by her Republican colleagues in this area. 

“It’s time that we fully close this dark chapter in Ohio’s history,” Russo said. “That we undo the economic damage of corruption, that again, Ohioans are still paying today, and we ensure that this corruption is never commonplace in our state government no matter who is in charge at the highest levels.” 

Sietz said statehouse Republicans believe that the laws are adequate in dealing with corruption in Ohio.

Categories: Ohio News


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