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Ohio men arrested after cocaine, $2,000 in cash seized in Marion search warrant

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 14:37

MARION, Ohio (WCMH) -- Two Ohio men have been arrested after authorities found cocaine, gun parts and more than $2,000 in cash while executing a search warrant in Marion.

Marcus Pickens, 39, has been charged with possession of drugs and illegal manufacturing of drugs, according to the Marion Metro Drug Enforcement Unit. Randy Johnson, 19, was also arrested for a probation violation and could face charges later on.

Woman accused of kidnapping, suffocating boy in Amber Alert issued $4 million in total bonds

Law enforcement attached to the drug enforcement were executing three search warrants in Marion on Thursday when they seized 32.7 grams of cocaine, a loaded gun, several high-capacity pistol magazines, more than $2,000 and items associated with drug manufacturing.

(Courtesy Photo/Marion Metro Drug Enforcement Unit)

Marion police said all three search warrants were the result of a months-long narcotics investigation conducted by the drug enforcement unit, with the warrant granted by Marion Municipal Court Judge Teresa Ballinger.

"This investigation removed a significant amount of drugs and a weapon off our street
and Marion is safer because of it," said Marion Police Chief Jay McDonald.

Categories: Ohio News

Flu cases "circulating" in central Ohio, health officials report

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 14:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) - It's flu season and health experts are seeing a rise in cases in Ohio.

According to Columbus Public Health, cases are circulating in the community. Dr. Mysheika Roberts, health commissioner with CPH, noted that flu activity can start as early as October and can go late into April, but said it's not unusual to see a peak in February or early March.

"I anticipate that we could see another peak, Roberts said. "This peak might settle down and we could see another peak before flu season is officially over."

Central Ohio’s first rapid transit bus corridors are coming through a $2 billion project

Some flu symptoms to watch for include fatigue, body aches, fever, cough, headache, sore throat and more. If symptoms worsen, you are urged to seek medical care, especially for those who are 65 and older or have underlying health conditions.

"You'll know if you're sick enough, if you're not able to take fluids or if you're not able to eat anything … those are some of the signs that you need to seek some medical attention," Roberts said. "There is some medication that can be prescribed to you that can shorten the duration of your symptoms."

When it comes to getting a flu vaccine, Roberts recommends getting the flu shot in the early fall but noted it's not too late to get vaccinated if you still haven't. Anyone six months and older is eligible to receive a flu vaccine.

"The CDC is very clear, if you still see flu in your community, you should still get vaccinated against the flu," said Dr. Roberts.

To watch the full interview with Dr. Roberts, you can view it in the video player below.

Categories: Ohio News

Jelly Roll to bring Beautifully Broken Tour to Columbus

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 13:14

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Jelly Roll has announced details of his Beautifully Broken Tour with a stop in Columbus.

The Nashville native's 2024 tour will kick off in August in Salt Lake City and arrive in Ohio on Oct. 9, with just one stop in the Buckeye State at Nationwide Arena. Other major cities on the tour include New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New Orleans, and more.

"This is the biggest tour of my life y’all and I’m going to do it really really big this year— I can’t wait to see y’all at a show," Jelly Roll wrote in a social media post. "Come party with us!"

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Opening for the multi-genre hitmaker will be Warren Zeiders and Alexandra Kay.

Tickets will be available starting with various presales beginning Monday, Feb. 26. Additional presales will run throughout the week ahead of the general sale beginning on Friday, March 1 at 10 a.m. on jellyroll615.com.

VIP Packages will also be available and may include premium seats, backstage tour and group photo, VIP lounge, limited edition tour poster, merchandise and more. Details can be found at vipnation.com.

Photo Credit: Andy Pollitt

Jelly Roll's album, Whitsitt Chapel, released in 2023, debuted at #2 on the Top Country Album charts, earning the biggest Country debut album in Billboard Consumption Chart history.

Top concerts, shows coming to central Ohio this spring

At the 2023 CMT Music Awards he earned three awards to become the most awarded artist of the night. He was also selected as Billboard Country Power List Cover star and “country’s ‘most authentic’ new artist,” by The New Yorker. Additionally, he received Billboard’s 2023 Breakthrough Award and the People’s Choice Award for Male Country Artist of the Year.

In 2024 he was Grammy-nominated for Best New Artist and Best Duo/Group Performance for “Save Me (with Lainey Wilson).”

Categories: Ohio News

Ex-deputy Jason Meade to be retried for murder in death of Casey Goodson Jr.

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 12:46

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Former deputy Jason Meade will be tried a second time for the death of Casey Goodson Jr., prosecutors announced Thursday afternoon.

Nearly a week after a deadlocked jury forced a mistrial in the murder case against Meade, special prosecutors assigned to the case announced they will seek a new trial date for Meade. Meade faces two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide for killing Goodson at the door of his grandmother's house in 2020.

"The Special Prosecutors have concluded that is in the best interest of all involved and the community that they move forward with a second trial on the indictment," the statement from Gary Shroyer, Tim Merkle and Montgomery County Prosecutor Joshua Shaw read.

Woman accused of kidnapping, suffocating boy in Amber Alert issued $4 million in total bonds

The jury returned deadlocked last Friday after nearly three full days of deliberations, conversations that happened in fits and starts after three jurors were replaced by alternates.

Throughout the trial, Meade asserted he feared for his life on Dec. 4, 2020, when he shot Goodson six times in the back. Meade was coming off an assignment with the U.S. Marshals Service and claimed to see Goodson waving a gun while driving. After pursuing Goodson to his grandmother’s house on Estates Place in north Columbus, Meade said Goodson was standing in the doorway of the house when he pointed his gun back at Meade.

The state, meanwhile, had argued that the shooting was unjustified, citing a lack of corroboration that Goodson pointed his gun, either in his car or at his door, as well as the fact that Goodson was wearing AirPods at the time of the shooting. Goodson was shot six times, five of which hit his back.

Central Ohio’s first rapid transit bus corridors are coming through a $2 billion project

Meade's case was assigned to outside counsel because the Franklin County prosecutor's office represents the sheriff's office in court.

The decision to retry Meade came after a chorus of calls from community organizations -- and some candidates for Franklin County prosecutor -- to seek a new trial. Activist groups, including Justice, Unity, and Social Transformation, have held several rallies since the mistrial to demand a second prosecution.

In a statement, Meade's attorneys said said that "political pressure to move forward with this case" jeopardizes Meade's right to a fair trial, citing public statements by Columbus elected officials calling for re-prosecution.

"The events of December 4, 2020 were tragic, there is no doubt about that," Mark Collins, Kailtyn Stephens and Steve Nolder said in their statement. "What is equally tragic is for our elected officials to desert the jobs for which they were elected and exert political pressure to retry Jason Meade."

Sean Walton, the Goodson family's civil attorney, said in a statement that the Goodson family appreciated the special prosecutors "and their dedication to ensuring a jury of Franklin County residents reviews the facts and evidence of this tragic killing."

"We all believe in law and order, and we believe that the justice system has the power to provide redress for victims and to hold wrongdoers accountable," Walton said. "We look forward to the next trial and that trial date cannot come soon enough. "

A status conference is scheduled for early June.

Categories: Ohio News

Central Ohio's first rapid transit bus corridors are coming through a $2 billion project

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 10:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- A rapid transit corridor could land in downtown Columbus as one of multiple bus rapid transit systems coming to central Ohio.

The corridor, aimed for West Broad Street, would run along 9.3 miles of the street, stretching from downtown Columbus to Prairie Township and traveling through areas like Franklinton and Hilltop. The corridor is part of the LinkUS project, first introduced in 2022 as a proactive plan to bring rapid transit solutions and transportation options to central Ohio.

The plan is intended to accommodate major population growth and, according to its website, will bring the area the following:

  • Faster, more reliable public transportation
  • Safe and expanded bike and pedestrian paths
  • Walkable communities with more affordable access to work, home and entertainment

The corridors are coming thanks to a yearly draft list written by the Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC). This group picks projects like LinkUS to receive funding through the Ohio Department of Transportation's Major New Capacity Program. Included in the draft list was $127.3 million in new funding commitments for 18 projects throughout the state over the next four years. The W. Broad corridor will cost $314 million in total, with $15 million coming from TRAC. But that's not the only funding that LinkUS needs.

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Columbus City Councilmember Lourdes Barroso de Padilla, chair of the Public Service & Transportation Committee, said that there will be a sales tax levy on the ballot in November to help fund the LinkUS plan -- which was said to cost nearly $2 billion when announced. She gave a more detailed explanation of what the LinkUS bus rapid transit will bring to Columbus and central Ohio, including changes to the bus fleet. The councilwoman said articulated buses -- often referred to as slinky buses, accordion buses or tandem buses -- would come into play, and offer a higher passenger capacity than other buses.

"Bus rapid transit is very similar to a train in terms of its feel," Barroso de Padilla said. "There's some things in terms of efficiency around the bus itself."

Specifically in the West Broad Street corridor's case, the majority of it will be made up of dedicated transit lanes. The bus corridor will also include a newly introduced center lane that is exclusively reserved for the new buses. So, drivers getting stuck behind a COTA bus will become a less common occurrence on certain roads.

It will include 17 stations that are located near high ridership and key development nodes. Intersections along the route will be retrofitted so that traffic signals will be altered when a vehicle is approaching, reducing the amount of time the vehicle waits at a stop light.

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Barroso de Padilla said that these new buses being introduced throughout the city will have multiple ways to pay before boarding, more accessible entrances for those who may have problems with mobility, in addition to holding more space for passengers to carry on things like bikes and strollers.

The councilwoman recalled that when she was growing up, anywhere she needed to go was typically found within a three to four-mile radius of her house. Today, she said that's not the reality. This is why she said LinkUS needs to help central Ohio become less car-centric and more people-centric.

"I mean, think about your day, you might go across town to go to the doctor, across town to go to work, across town to run errands," Barroso de Padilla said. "So, we know that people need to get to all of those places. And we know that we need to move from being a car-centric city to really being people-centric."

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She said LinkUS can help the city work towards its Vision Zero plan that seeks to get to zero serious and fatal crashes in Columbus by 2035. Additionally, she made sure to point out that the bus rapid transit projects coming to the area are about more than transportation, but that they will lead to economic development and other opportunities.

The West Broad project is currently going through environmental approval and design phases simultaneously, which are both slated for completion in 2024, based on a TRAC project information sheet. There are currently two other corridors in the planning stages -- on East Main Street and Northwest. Read the LinkUS Community Action Plan here.

The public can comment on the TRAC draft list by emailing trac@dot.ohio.gov, until Feb. 23. TRAC will then vote on the final list at a Feb. 28 meeting.

Categories: Ohio News

National Margarita Day: Where to find deals in central Ohio

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 09:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) - Thursday, Feb. 22 is National Margarita Day, and many local spots and chain restaurants are celebrating with specials all day. Below is a list of locations offering deals.

Cazuela's Mexican Cantina

2321 N. High St., 1542 N. High St. and 8134 E. Broad St.

  • Customers can celebrate at Cazuela's with all-day specials including margarita pitchers. $18.99 for lime margarita's and $19.99 for any other flavor. The restaurant is also giving away t-shirts.
Chili's

3675 W. Dublin Granville Rd., 1170 Gemini Pl. and 5990 N. Hamilton Rd.

  • The chain is offering its fan-favorite margaritas with special cups that customers can take home.
Chuy's

4154 Seward St. and 1481 Polaris Pkwy

  • Upgrade margarita to Grande size for $2, along with a giveaway cup. Customers can also top their margarita with a $1 floater of extra tequila or orange liquer.
Condado Tacos

Six locations across central Ohio

  • Celebrating with Happy Hour priced margarita pitchers all day.
El Vaquero Mexican Restaurant

18 locations across Ohio

  • Offering 10-ounce any flavor margaritas for $4.99 when customers dine in.
Local Cantina

13 central Ohio locations

  • The restaurant is offering $7 margaritas, $30 margarita pitchers and more.
Torchy's Tacos

6042 N. Hamilton Rd., 3726 W. Dublin-Granville Rd. and 1478 Gemini Pl.

  • $2 off all house margaritas
Categories: Ohio News

Rain, few rumbles, colder weekend

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 08:33
Columbus and Central Ohio Weather

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- A disturbance will slide east along a frontal boundary across central Ohio, drawing moisture northward from the Gulf of Mexico.

Periods of rain and a few rumbles of thunder will persist through the evening, as the boundary shifts southward behind low pressure. Some of the rain will be briefly heavy, and rain totals will approach one inch in some areas, before the deeper moisture moves east after midnight.

Clouds and drizzle will linger early Friday behind the cold front. Seasonably cold air will arrive on Friday, with northwesterly winds and a mix of sun and clouds.

The coldest air will arrive Friday night and Saturday, with some early flurries as an upper-level ripple drops southeast, with some added lake moisture. 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 Lower.com Field.

Sunday will bring a complete switch back to mild conditions, with a mix of clouds and sun and a small chance for an afternoon shower.

Even warmer weather next week could push readings to near 70 degrees on Tuesday, when rain will return.

Forecast
  • Thursday: Periods of rain, rumbles of thunder. High 53
  • Friday: Mix clouds and sun. High 49 (39)
  • Saturday: Early flurries, some sun, colder. High 34 (24)
  • Sunday: Clouds increase, breezy, milder, sprinkle. High 51 (24)
  • Monday: Partly cloudy, very mild. High 61 (39)
  • Tuesday: Showers p.m. High 67 (50)
  • Wednesday: Showers linger. High 61 (54)
Categories: Ohio News

One hospitalized after shooting involving a Columbus police officer on East Side

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 08:12

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – One person has been hospitalized with serious injuries Thursday morning after a reported shooting that involved a Columbus police officer on the east side of the city.

According to police dispatchers, one person was shot in the 500 block of North Nelson Road, near Nelson Park, at around 9:32 a.m. The unknown victim was taken to Grant Medical Center in life-threatening condition.

Woman accused of suffocating boy in Amber Alert issued $4 million in total bonds

The call was originally reported as a stabbing, but police said that they received two calls, the second of which reported that a person with a knife tried to attack them before they were able to escape.

Police confirmed that an officer was involved in the shooting, but do not know how the incident escalated, nor did they have any suspect information as of 10 a.m.

Categories: Ohio News

Woman accused of kidnapping, suffocating boy in Amber Alert issued $4 million in total bonds

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 07:38

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The woman accused of murdering a five-year-old boy faced a judge for the first time since an Ohio Amber Alert triggered a state-wide search eight days ago.

Pammy Maye, formally charged with murder, kidnapping, and endangering children, arrived in Franklin County Jail late Wednesday afternoon. She was extradited from Cuyahoga County Jail, where she had been in custody since Sunday afternoon on a fugitive warrant after an Amber Alert was issued on Feb. 14 for Darnell Taylor.

Unsolved Ohio: Columbus woman missing for 10 years after possible abduction

Thursday morning the prosecuting attorney said that while Maye has no prior record, she suffers from mental health issues, including bipolar and schizophrenia conditions. The attorney asked for a bond amount of $2 million based on the severity of the crime and potential flight risk as evidenced by the fact that Maye fled Columbus to the Cleveland area.

The judge issued Maye a $3 million bond for the murder charge and an additional $1 million for the kidnapping charge. Maye was also ordered to not have any possession of weapons or firearms, consumption of drugs or alcohol, or contact with any potential witnesses, including by way of mail, email, third-party, or social media.

Pammy Maye (Courtesy/Franklin County Municipal Court)

Maye, 48, is accused of suffocating Taylor, 5, on Feb. 13 at approximately 11 a.m. in their home in the 900 block of Reeb Avenue in the South Side of Columbus.

Court records state that Maye admitted to killing Taylor and disposed of the body in a sewer on the 1600 block of Marsdale Avenue, approximately five miles from their home.

During a 911 call, received at 3 a.m. on Feb. 14, Maye’s husband told operators that his wife said she had killed Taylor. Before the call ended, Maye fled the house.

Darnell Taylor, left, and Pammy MayeDarnell Taylor, left, and Pammy Maye

An Amber Alert was issued at 5:10 a.m., with initial reports believing Maye had abducted Taylor. Her vehicle was recovered hours later in Brooklyn with no sign of her or Taylor.

Brooklyn, Ohio police located Maye southwest of Cleveland on Feb. 15, and she provided the location of Taylor’s body. On Feb. 16 police found Taylor’s body shortly after 1 a.m.

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Taylor was referred to multiple service agencies, including behavioral health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and case management, according to children’s services, before Maye and her husband became legal guardians of him in May 2023.

Attorneys said they have tried to make contact with Maye's husband but have yet to get a hold of him.

Maye is next scheduled to appear in court on March 1 for a preliminary hearing.

Categories: Ohio News

Get out and do something this weekend in central Ohio, Feb. 22-26

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 06:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- From the Winter Wine Festival and the last weekend of the Home and Garden show to the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena, here are things to see and do this weekend in central Ohio.

Blue Jackets vs. Sabres

Nationwide Arena at 7 p.m. on Friday

  • The Columbus Blue Jackets face the Buffalo Sabres.
Columbus Symphony performs Tchaikovsky's 'Piano Concerto No. 1'

Ohio Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

  • Guest conductor Carl St. Clair leads the Columbus Symphony in a program featuring a recent work by John Wineglass that addresses the social issues faced during the pandemic. Pianist Claire Huangci returns with Tchaikovsky’s monumental first piano concerto. Brahms’ final symphony, the magnificent Symphony No. 4, completes the program.
Winter Wine Festival

Brewmasters Gate from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday

  • After debuting in 2020, the festival is back with two sessions -- noon to 4 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. -- and featuring more than 30 wines plus food trucks and artisan vendors. Presale tickets are available now for $30, while tickets at the gate can be purchased for $30.
  • (Courtesy Photo/Winter Wine Festival)
  • (Courtesy Photo/Winter Wine Festival)
Blue Jackets vs. Rangers

Ohio Theatre at 6 p.m. on Sunday

  • The Columbus Blue Jackets face the New York Rangers.
Central Ohio Home & Garden Show

Ohio Expo Center Bricker and Celeste buildings through Sunday

  • In addition to meeting with local home and garden experts face-to-face, guests will be able to explore the intimate landscapes and designs of eight gardens. The gardens will feature everything from outdoor bathtubs, swings, and courtyards, to plunge pools, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces and more.
Fury vs. Thrill

Nationwide Arena at 7 p.m. on Monday

  • The Columbus Fury face the Las Vegas Thrill.
Black History Month events
  • From the McConnell Arts Center and the Ohio History Center to the King Arts Complex and Drexel Theatre, many organizations are hosting events celebrating Black History Month.
Top spring concerts and shows
  • From the reimagined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey at the Schottenstein Center to Olivia Rodrigo and Bruce Springsteen at Nationwide Arena, more than two dozens top artists and shows are performing in central Ohio this spring.

For more events, view NBC4’s community calendar.

Categories: Ohio News

Judge running for reelection as a Republican after holding seat as a Democrat

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 05:00

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- Legal threats are flying in the race for Ohio's Fifth District Court of Appeals over questions about the incumbent's party affiliation.

Presiding Judge Patricia Delaney is running against Delaware Common Pleas Court Judge David Gormley to retain her seat. Since the pair both entered as Republicans and there are no Democratic candidates, they are going to head-to-head in the primary on March 19, and one will move uncontested to the November general election. Despite both running under the same party affiliation, Republicans in one of the district's counties are targeting the incumbent over her past.

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DemocratDelaney.com was launched by the Licking County Republican Party -- one of 15 counties in the Fifth District -- to show Delaney's previous ties to the Democratic Party. Included on the website is her voting record, showing Delaney voted in Democratic primaries seven times from 2010 to 2022. In Ohio, voters who participate in a party's primary automatically become registered as a members of that party. The only way to register with a different party is to vote in that party's primary in a later election. As it stands, Delaney is a registered Democrat.

The judge's connection to the party goes beyond what the GOP claimed on the website. Election records spanning more than a decade from the Ohio Secretary of State's office show how Delaney ran in at least two previous elections to keep the seat she's held since 2006. In ballots for the 2012 and 2018 primaries, Delaney was listed as a Democratic candidate for the appellate court.

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Before 2021, nominees running for judge appeared on general election ballots without a political party affiliation listed. But that year, Ohio Senate Bill 80 changed the law. If a candidate ran for the Ohio Supreme Court or a state court of appeals as a Republican, Democrat or other party member, that affiliation followed them to the ballot for the general election. In November, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner sued the state to remove party affiliations alongside judicial candidates' names on ballots. However, the law still stands.

In Delaware County -- one of the other counties in the appeals court's district -- residents filed legal challenges against Delaney's right to vote and file as a Republican. Three legal challenges were placed at the Delaware County Board of Elections, with all three resulting in deadlocked votes that were submitted to Secretary of State Frank LaRose for review. On two of the votes, LaRose had no authority to take further action, and on the final vote, he found that the election board had not taken necessary steps to get to the merits of the challenge, voting "aye" to break the tie and keep her on the ballot.

LaRose commented on his rulings and Delaney's status on the Republican primary ballot.

“While I respect the concerns expressed by the protester about the candidate’s political identity given a long history of voting in another party’s primary elections, I am duty-bound by the evidence presented to me and the law as it relates to this matter," LaRose said. "The protest to Judge Delaney’s candidacy was not properly before the Delaware County Board of Elections, and I am unable to take any further action.”

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However, the legal disputes didn't end at LaRose's office. Lawyers hired by Delaney sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Licking County Republican Party, threatening to sue over the website highlighting her past as a Democrat. The letter, as well as a response from Chairman of the Licking County Republican Executive Committee Matt Dole, went up as additions to the party's website attacking her.

Delaney's legal team did not respond to emailed questions from NBC4 and declined to comment in a phone call Wednesday night. However, in the original cease-and-desist letter signed by Stacie Roth, they accused Dole and the party of lying.

"It has been brought to our attention that your Executive Committee paid for and published blatantly false information regarding the party status of Judge Delaney."

Dole described the basis behind the dispute.

"There's only one way in Ohio somebody can become a Republican or a Democrat, and that is by voting in a partisan primary," Dole said. "We have a voter record going back to 2010, and she's only ever voted in Democrat partisan primaries."

Dole admitted that Delaney would become a Republican if she were to draw a ballot and vote in March's Republican primary, but that what was presented on the website is completely truthful. He thinks Delaney can't call herself a registered member of the GOP.

"And that's, I think, where the difference of opinion has developed," Dole said. "We're pointing out that she's a Democrat, and running in a Republican primary, which again, she has the right to do, but it's nefarious from my position as a Republican chairman."

The Fifth District includes several central Ohio counties, although the largest city in it is Canton in northeastern Ohio. Inside the district are Ashland, Coshocton, Delaware, Fairfield, Guernsey, Holmes, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Richland, Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

Categories: Ohio News

Unsolved Ohio: Columbus woman missing for 10 years after possible abduction

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 04:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ten years ago, Shaniece Briggs was seen for the last time when a neighbor reportedly saw her being pushed into a car near her Columbus home. Today, she remains missing, and her family is searching for closure.

“She was a good mother, she took care of her kids,” said Briggs’ mother, Melissa Williams. “She was just a loving person, always helped everybody even if she didn’t have it.”

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  • Shaniece Briggs
  • Shaniece Briggs
  • Shaniece Briggs
  • Shaniece Briggs
  • Shaniece Briggs

Briggs was a 26-year-old mother of four living in the 900 block of East Long Street in the King-Lincoln Bronzeville neighborhood at the time of her disappearance. She has been missing since June 19, 2013, according to a Columbus police report. 

Briggs reportedly walked out of the back door of her house at about 1 a.m. Two female friends had recently dropped her off at home at an unspecified time, according to Williams. The door was left unlocked and her keys and purse were left behind. Her four young kids, all below the age of 7, also remained in the home – she never returned. 

"It’s just like she disappeared off the face of the earth," Williams said.

At 6 a.m., about five hours later, Williams said she received a call from Briggs’ children’s father, who asked if Briggs was with her. He said Briggs hadn’t been home and the kids were at the residence without her. Williams said she and the children’s father sprung into action and made missing persons flyers and searched the neighborhood. 

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After the news of Briggs disappearance went public, a witness came forward saying that they saw Briggs being pushed into a black car parked near her home on the morning of her disappearance.

Now, 10 years have passed, and many questions have been left unanswered. Williams said she doesn’t feel this was a case of stranger abduction. 

““[There’s] a lot of things going on, human trafficking and all this stuff, but I don’t think that’s the case,” Williams said. “It’s somebody that she knew and that she was comfortable with.”

She also feels positive that Briggs did not leave on her own accord. 

“She loved her kids dearly,” Williams said. “She would’ve never left her kids. Ever.”

Woman charged with murdering five-year-old extradited to Columbus

Briggs' children are now between the ages of 12 and 17. Williams said whatever happened on that day in 2013, her family, and especially Briggs’ children, need closure. 

“It’s time,” Williams said. “Like I said, you know, I ask god whatever it is just let me be okay with it, good or bad. I just want closure, that’s all I want. Me and this family and her babies, definitely, most definitely them. We just want to know. That’s it.”

A spokesperson with the Columbus police said there is no new information or updates regarding Briggs’ case. 

At the time of her disappearance, Briggs was 5 feet 5 with brown hair and brown eyes. She had a tattoo of a king with a crown on her left side and a piercing above the right corner of her upper lip. On the day she went missing, she was wearing black sweatpants and a pink and gray shirt. As of Thursday, she would be 36 years old.

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Anyone with any information on the disappearance of Shaniece Briggs should contact the Columbus police at 614-645-4545 or the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 614-461-8477.

If you’re a family member of an individual with an unsolved missing persons or homicide case in Ohio, reach out to aboldizar@wcmh.com.

Categories: Ohio News

How should prosecutors handle cases against police officers? Candidates for Franklin County prosecutor disagree

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 03:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Whoever becomes Franklin County prosecutor later this year will inherit a bevy of cases against law enforcement officers who have killed – and decisions on how to prosecute them.

Days after a deadlocked jury forced a mistrial in the murder case of ex-Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy Jason Meade, four candidates vying for the county prosecutor role spoke at length during a forum on Tuesday about the role of the prosecutor’s office in handling criminal cases against officers who kill on duty.

While Meade, who killed 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. in 2020, was top-of-mind for candidates and community members alike, he is not the only officer whose fate rests ultimately with the Franklin County prosecutor. 

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Meade’s case was handled by special prosecutors because the county prosecutor represents the sheriff’s office in court. But the prosecutor’s office has appointed outside counsel in several high-profile deadly police shootings of Black people where no conflict of interest is apparent.

Special prosecutors Tim Merkle and Gary Shroyer, who presented the state’s case against Meade, will prosecute former Columbus police officer Ricky Anderson, who killed 20-year-old Donovan Lewis in his Hilltop apartment in 2022. The prosecutor’s office also quietly tapped the Montgomery County prosecutor to present to a grand jury the case against a Blendon Township officer who killed 21-year-old Ta’Kiya Young outside a Kroger this past fall.

Anthony Pierson, one of three Democrats running for county prosecutor and current deputy chief legal counsel of the prosecutor’s office, said assigning special counsel to handle officers’ criminal cases is a decision above his pay grade – current prosecutor Gary Tyack makes those calls. But he said referring cases to outside counsel can reduce the appearance of unfairness in the system.

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“We work with the Columbus police department, so if we prosecute an officer and the case doesn’t go well, people may claim, ‘Hey, you did this on purpose. You didn’t put your full force behind that prosecution because you work with them, you’re in it together,’” Pierson said.

Until Pierson joined the prosecutor’s office as its deputy chief legal counsel in May 2023, the case against former Columbus police officer Adam Coy, who killed Andre Hill weeks after Meade killed Goodson in 2020, was also assigned to a special prosecutor – Pierson. His move from the Ohio Attorney General’s office to the prosecutor's office happened because Pierson was promised he could take Coy’s case with him, he said.

“There appears to be inconsistencies on this policy when it’s convenient,” said Shayla Favor, a current Columbus city councilmember and Democrat running for the prosecutor position. She said whatever the office’s policy for using outside counsel for officers on trial, the most important thing is the community understood the office’s decisions.

“The community has to know how to hold someone accountable,” Favor, who has no prosecutorial experience, added.

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John Rutan, the sole Republican running for the prosecutor’s seat, said he would “absolutely not” give officers’ deadly shooting cases to outside counsel unless there was an unquestionable conflict of interest, like the officer was his relative. With years of trial experience as a criminal defense attorney, he said he would want to be in the courtroom arguing for the state.

Natalia Harris, chief Delaware city attorney and former Delaware city prosecutor, said the office should not adopt a “blanket policy” either way – the decision to assign special counsel should happen on a case-by-case basis. Transparency in the process is key to building the community’s trust, she said.

Harris criticized the prosecutor’s office for not keeping the public abreast of its decisions, including its decision to hand over the Blendon Township police shooting to the Montgomery County prosecutor. 

“Just because the case is assigned to special prosecutors does not mean that the community cannot be informed about what’s going on,” Harris said.

What should happen with Jason Meade’s case?

While all candidates agreed that a mistrial in the Meade case was an undesirable result, they differed significantly on what they thought the next steps should be. 

Pierson said emphatically that the case needs to be retried. The special prosecutors shouldn’t back down because the jury was hung the first time, he said, adding he’s faced the same thing when prosecuting criminal cases.

“This case is far too important to the community to not have closure,” Pierson said. 

Rutan, on the other hand, said the decision depends on how the jury was split. If a majority voted to acquit Meade, he wouldn’t prosecute again, he said. He added he thought Meade, indicted on two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide, was overcharged to begin with.

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“It was never murder, it was manslaughter, reckless,” Rutan said. “And what happens when you start off with murder? You take away integrity from the jury.” 

Favor said justice for Goodson’s family meant reaching resolution “as quickly as possible,” but she did not say whether that meant retrying Meade or not.

Harris, meanwhile, disagreed with Rutan that the decision should be based on the jury split. She said she’s prosecuted cases that ended in two mistrials before a jury returned a guilty verdict. 

The best decision in Meade’s case, she said, is one that provides the quickest path to closure for the Goodson family.

“If the decision is made not to retry that case, there should be a very good reason for it, and we as a community need to know it, down to every detail,” Harris added.

Categories: Ohio News

Rainy Thursday ahead of brief weekend cool down

News Channel 4 - Thu, 02/22/2024 - 02:57
Columbus and Central Ohio Weather QUICK WEATHER FORECAST:
  • Today: Rainy, breezy, high 54
  • Tonight: Showers taper, low 39
  • Friday: Partly cloudy, flurries late, high 48
  • Saturday: AM flurries, clearing, high 36
  • Sunday: Breezy, iso. shower late, high 53
  • Monday: Partly cloudy, high 60
FORECAST DISCUSSION:

Happy Thursday!

Keep the rain gear handy today! We start the morning off with scattered shower activity, but it will become more widespread, and heavier, as we get into the afternoon. We will be looking at some decent rain totals from this system, with totals ranging from about 0.5" to 1" across the region. In addition to the rain, a few thunderstorms are expected as well. We'll still be mild, though, with highs in the middle 50s, and breezy conditions.

Showers then taper this evening, and clouds briefly break into parts of Friday. Highs drop back to the upper 40s Friday, and we will be fairly breezy. Clouds then return during the evening, as our next, quick system pushes in. This brings us a scattered wintry mix, and a few flurries overnight and into early Saturday morning.

Those flurries taper fairly early, then clouds gradually break. Saturday will be our coldest day of the extended, with highs only reaching the mid to upper 30s.

By Sunday, we rebound. We will be breezy, but highs warm back to the lower 50s with partly cloudy skies. We're looking at an isolated shower chance late Sunday, but a mainly dry day overall.

We start the workweek off on a mainly dry note Monday, before showers return Tuesday and Wednesday.

-McKenna

Categories: Ohio News

Data shows Columbus homicides cut in half in first seven weeks of 2024

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 21:22

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- An anti-violence effort three years in the making is showing its first report card of 2024.

Nearly a dozen community activist groups met alongside Columbus police, Franklin County Family Services, Franklin County Coroner's Office and others Wednesday night as part of Operation Under Triple Digits, the goal of which is to keep Columbus homicides below 100 for the first time in almost 10 years, since 2015.

Malissa Thomas-St. Clair started Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children and is spearheading the effort to unite government organizations, activist groups, and the community for the cause of stopping murder. 

"We're at 12 homicides; last year we were at 24,” Thomas-St. Clair said. “I never want to say that's encouraging because when you have 12 lives lost, that's a tragedy. The community needs to know that the work that they're doing, community advocates, it's working. If we put our pain to purpose and allow them to know, hey you can change, it's not too late, this will turn itself around and we can really reduce the crime.”

The numbers show Columbus homicides have been cut in half compared to this time last year. However, CPD and Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children aren't calling that a win. They know there's much more work to be done.

The community is seeing the results. They're showing up for the mission.

"Enough is enough. I wouldn't want any other parent or family have to go through losing a child," said Victoria Landrum. Her son Marcus was shot and killed in 2021. She grieves her son still, but after a year, decided she wanted to make a difference. She started What Would Marcus Do?, a non-profit that provides tangible resources, goods, and information to the Hilltop community. 

Landrum believes in meeting people where they are.

"If people know that you're caring about them and that you're giving them information they can use, I think that's a great help,” she said.

Terry Green is another leader working to make a difference in the lives of Columbus' youth.

"A lot of young people are experiencing trauma right now today,” Green said. “Whether seeing a friend being incarcerated or seeing a friend be affected by the gun violence, or a family member.”

Green started Think Make Live Youth. He works with the city's youth to give them a place to be heard and heal.

The initiative to get homicides under triple digits hits home for Green. His brother was murdered, then six months ago, his nephew Imperial Stewart was murdered. He can speak to youth from a place of passion and experience.

"A family member being affected by gun violence can be real traumatic for our young people, and a lot of young people don't have a safe space where they can grow and heal through those traumatic experiences,” Green said. “Seeing organizations come together is a powerful shift, right? Because we have different organizations on a collaborative effort with one mission.”

Columbus Division of Police was not a sponsor of the event Wednesday, but there were badges all across the room. Homicide Unit Commander Mark Denner talked about the division's efforts to solve crime. He said they boasted a more than 90% solve rate overall in 2023. Assistant Chief Greg Bodker said that number is well above the national average. 

"One good barometer of community trust is how many tips we get on homicide cases. We get hundreds of tips on homicide cases. We are partners with the community," said Bodker.

Initiatives like Operation Under Triple Digits are an opportunity for CPD to build on existing relationships with the community and start new ones. But they agree that 50% fewer homicides at this point in 2024 than last year at the same time is not a win.

"I'm optimistic about where we sit today, keeping in mind that there are twelve people that have lost their lives. It's twelve too many. We are much better today than we were this time last year, but we have a lot of work to do. I think everyone working together we're beginning to see some results, violence decreases and homicide decrease hopefully as we stand here today. But way too early to declare victory," Bodker said.

Categories: Ohio News

Bexley program honors city's African-American leaders

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 20:44

BEXLEY, Ohio (WCMH) -- The city of Bexley is honoring its community members this Black History Month with an initiative designed to celebrate African Americans who have made a significant difference in the community.

There are 22 banners along Main Street, each showing the face and name of someone who has contributed or is contributing to Bexley. It’s a way to teach both the community and people visiting the city.

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"We had a committee from Capital, Bexley Minority Parent Alliance and a few other people just kind of sit down, like, who's been important, who's been critical in the African American community," Bexley Minority Parent Alliance Board (BMPA) member Bryan Drewry said. 

Drewry’s son came home one day talking about what he learned in a Hidden History of African Americans class. This helped inspire the idea for the inaugural Black History Month banner program.

Jonathan Baker is one of the people featured on a banner. 

"I thought, there's so many times that I was looking at other people for Black History Month and to see myself as part of this other group of people who are doing great things in the community, I felt honored," Baker, the Bexley Minority Parent Alliance founder and a Bexley Board of Education member said.

"I think it obviously adds a lot of visual interest to Main Street,” Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said. “Really, I think, opens people's eyes to Bexley today and Bexley of the past and kind of points towards our future, too.”

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The community has been having conversations around acceptance for a while.  Last February, a teacher resigned after a racist image was sent around during morning announcements.

"One thing we saw was more education opportunities and more ways for a policy to reflect an anti-racist community, an anti-racist school district and city overall," Baker said. 

Since then, the BMPA says people have come together to talk about how to make Bexley a better city. They also created One Bexley.

"One of the things they want to do is really, you know, dig deep in, you know, why are these things happening on a periodic basis, right? And how can we more, you know, get to know our neighbors," Drewry said. 

"What's been so powerful about One Bexley is it's a partnership. It's the city of Bexley, it's our library, it's our school district all coming together and saying, ‘We have got to be proactive leaders in making sure our community is welcoming to everybody, everyone who comes through it, everyone who lives in it, everyone who works in it,’" Kessler said. 

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The banners are about honoring those pictured and about continuing conversations.

"I think the progress is not dramatic, but it's little steps. And I think those little steps create positive influence," Drewry said. 

The bios for each of the people featured on the banners can be found online.

Categories: Ohio News

Columbus police announce progress in dismantling gang

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 17:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With more than 20 recent convictions or indictments of members of what the Columbus Division of Police (CPD) described as the city's most violent gang, the division said progress is being made but a lot more work is left. 

“We want to see federal time or state time for each individual who creates fear in our community. What we want the criminals to fear is us coming after them," Asst. Chief LaShanna Potts said.

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The stern message from Potts came at the beginning of a news conference Tuesday where the actions against BL-800 members were announced. Several years of work went into these convictions and indictments.

“These guys have been plaguing the community for a long time and we want them to know we’re working hard, and we’re not done. We’re going to keep coming after these guys," Det. Eric Clouse said.

Clouse said BL-800 is the most violent gang in the city. With about 250 members or associates, he also said it's the largest. Investigators saw a severe uptick in violent crime in the Wedgewood and Southpark apartments on the west side, according to CPD. They said they were able to quickly determine BL-800 was to blame. Clouse said it's unlike any gang he's dealt with in 20 years of work on the west side.

“They don't even have a flow of narcotics because the narcotics dealers aren't willing to deal with them because they’re so violent. They will actually rob the narcotics dealers. Therefore, they result to theft. Theft is their main income," he said.

All of those convicted were convicted of participating in a criminal gang along with other crimes. Clouse said they are likely involved in even more violent crime, but it was important to get them behind bars with these charges.

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“We still know that guy is a violent offender even if we don't have a cooperating victim we know what he did, and so we wanted to put charges on these guys and make sure we get them off the streets," he said.

These convictions and indictments are of gang leaders, according to detectives. They said more indictments are likely in the coming weeks.

“We’re going to have several other indictments coming in the near future and they’re going to keep coming and coming and coming and we’re going to be here until this gang’s gone and I want to reassure everybody of that," Clouse said.

Categories: Ohio News

Traffic on I-270 near east Columbus at standstill after deadly crash

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 16:47

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- A fatal crash on Interstate 270 near a major Columbus airport has brought traffic to a halt Wednesday evening.

All southbound lanes of I-270 were closed at the I-670 West interchange as of 6:40 p.m. All northbound lanes of I-270 were also closed at State Route 16 and Broad Street, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

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A highway camera showed a large backup of traffic on the highway, with emergency responders parked on both sides as well. Some cars were seen driving backward on the highway's shoulders to get out of the standstill.

(Courtesy Photo/Ohio Department of Transportation)

Authorities have not shared any information on the cause of the crash, but Columbus police dispatchers told NBC4 that emergency crews took two people to an area hospital with critical injuries. They later confirmed at 6:48 p.m. that one person had died there.

The crash is affecting a portion of I-270 southeast of John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

Categories: Ohio News

Suspect in Mifflin officer stabbing released on bond

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 16:30

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) -- The president of a local police union is frustrated over what he is calling a low bond.

Jeff Simpson, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge 9, is referring to a case that started Sunday night when police say a man repeatedly stabbed a Mifflin Township Police officer in the head. The suspect Bryan Benjamin is now out on bail.

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Simpson made a public statement about this, calling it a slap in the face. It reads in part:

“I wish to express our extreme displeasure with the decision made by Municipal Court Judge Cynthia Ebner to grant bail to Bryan Benjamin. Mr. Benjamin was clearly captured on a police body worn camera violently assaulting a Mifflin Township Police Officer with a knife. It should be noted that prior to the assault on the police officer, Mr. Benjamin also assaulted a citizen of Mifflin Township who ultimately called 911. Judge Ebner failed miserably in denying the prosecutors office request for no bond.”

He said Sunday's attack on the Mifflin Township officer was the worst assault he’s seen on an officer in his 26 years in law enforcement.

“He was in a lot of pain,” Simpson said. “Yeah, I'm emotional about it. I mean, enough is enough.”

Benjamin was in court on Tuesday, when the prosecution requested no bond be issued in the case. However, the judge gave him a $500,000 bond.

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In the statement, Simpson said the judge failed in her responsibility to keep the public safe. He said he wants to make a public statement because this community will not truly be safe without changes.

“It shows no respect for law and order and people see that,” Simpson said. “(Benjamin) has shown that he can't operate safely among the community and he gets $500,000. It doesn't make sense to me.”

The court docket shows Benjamin is out on bail. Criminal records state Benjamin has a decade-long criminal history with several assaults on officers.

The constitutional amendment Simpson cities in his statement was approved by voters in 2022. It calls for the courts to consider public safety, a person's criminal record, and the likelihood that person will return to court.

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Robert Barnhart, an assistant professor at Capital University Law School, said that in his experience, the judge's decision does line up with Ohio's constitution.

“The Ohio Constitution and the U.S. Constitution, you know, don't permit excessive bail, and at some point, you have to give folks are presumed innocent,” Barnhart said. “You have to give them a chance to be out until they're found guilty.”

Barnhart said he’s rarely seen a judge set a no-bond for a non-homicide case.

”That amount doesn't surprise me,” he said. “Surprises me when people make that amount. I was a public defender. For most of my clients, $500,000 might as well have been $500 million for as close as they could get to it.”

He said if the suspect is indicted, the state can file a motion to change the bond.

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“It's an evolving area of law and it's an interesting dance because it really is between the courts and the legislature, the legislature. And in the end, the voters ultimately control it,” Barnhart said.

We reach out to the judge in charge of this case for a response. She said they do not comment on pending cases.

Simpson said that Mifflin Township officer is still in the hospital recovering.

Categories: Ohio News

Court hands win to victims of OSU doctor Strauss

News Channel 4 - Wed, 02/21/2024 - 15:44

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Hundreds of victims of sexual assault at the hands of Ohio State University Dr. Richard Strauss are closer to getting what they’ve been asking for for five years: evidence.

The victims have claims pending in federal court against the university for Title IX violations and for failing to protect students from the predator doctor. This is known as the case management order.

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Each of the hundreds of plaintiffs who’ve filed claims against the university has to fill out a court-ordered fact sheet, detailing what happened to them. There is also a discovery order for the defendant – Ohio State University – and none other than the new university president Ted Carter has to swear the answers are true.

There are more than 500 men in five separate plaintiff groups with allegations against Ohio State and all of them have to fill out this detailed fact sheet.

Basic questions about marital status, education and, as most of the Strauss victims were Ohio State athletes, there are questions about scholarships, tuition, and school loans.

The section about "claimed interactions" with Strauss and the hostile environment at OSU might require extra pages.  Many of the men NBC4 has talked to over the past five years detailed multiple encounters --- repeated molestations, even rapes, that were reported to coaches and university officials who turned a blind eye.

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In 2019, then-Ohio State President Michael Drake apologized to Strauss’ victims. Now, OSU has to dig into the archives and fill out the defendant’s fact sheet.

Significantly, the university has to produce records, not just personnel policies, but medical records for plaintiffs treated by Strauss, and the names and positions of anyone working at OSU from 1978 to 1998 who received even informal complaints about the doctor.

The school must produce reports by OSU about sexual harassment, abuse or any other criminal act by Strauss made to the medical board or Department of Education. OSU must also produce job performance reviews for the doctor who now has Ohio State facing millions of dollars in claims.

Three people will have to sign that the production of information and documents is complete and true: the university’s president, the chairman of the board of trustees, and counsel for Ohio State.

Categories: Ohio News

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