Abingdon woman dies in traffic collision near Monmouth

MONMOUTH, Illinois — A 21-year-old Abingdon, Illinois woman died from injuries sustained in a traffic crash that happened shortly before 8 a.m. on Wednesday, April 25 in rural Warren County northeast of Monmouth.

According to Illinois State Police, Katelyn A. Katzell, 21, was travelling west on 245th Avenue when she failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of 120th Street. Her vehicle was struck by a pickup truck that was heading south on 120th Street, which hit Katzell’s front passenger side and sent her vehicle into a field.

Paramedics responded to the scene and transported Katzell as well as the driver of the truck, Christopher B. Carson, 33 of Gerlaw, Illinois, to the hospital in Galesburg.

Katzell succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. Carson was treated and released.

The police report noted Katzell was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. No charges have been filed as a result. The crash remains under investigation.

Bill to expunge marijuana convictions goes to Illinois House floor

Illinois is one step closer to allowing people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana or paraphernalia to expunge their criminal convictions.

Before 2016, those caught in possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana could face jail time. Such offenses are now civil infractions rather than criminal ones thanks to a change in state law.

With the 2016 change allowing civil penalties instead of criminal charges for low level pot offenses, law enforcement agencies that issued a citation are supposed to expunge such citations on or before Jan. 1 and July 1 of each year.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford’s House Bill 2367 would allow those with criminal convictions before the law change in 2016 to ask a judge to have the conviction expunged.

“And law enforcement would have a right to object to it and I think that’s fair,” Ford, D-Chicago, said. “You have to go before a judge, the judge will look at it, and ultimately grant a ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ ”

Ford’s measure says a petitioner may ask the circuit court to expunge records of a conviction or plea of guilty for an offense from before July 29, 2016, if three years or more have passed since the petitioner has completed their sentence.

Ford’s measure passed out of committee Tuesday with two of the three Republicans voting in opposition.

State Rep. Steven Reick, R-Woodstock, said he sides with the Sheriff’s Association, which wants to keep the existing expungement processes.

“I’m willing to give it more time,” Reick said.

State Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst, R-Kankakee, supported the measure. She said it makes sense.

“If it’s a petty offense, you should be able to have it off your record,” Parkhurst said.

Ford said his bill allowing previous criminal convictions to be expunged will help people better themselves.

“If we can find ways in Illinois to put more people in the tax bracket, that’s what we should be doing and not having people stuck with felonies on their record that probably shouldn’t have been a felony in the first place,” Ford said.

Parkhurst agreed.

“It seemed that that would be an appropriate thing to do so that people can get jobs and raise their family,” Parkhurst said.

In California, San Francisco prosecutors are in the process of throwing out thousands of pot-related convictions dating back to 1975 with no action necessary from those who were convicted.

Bailiff on administrative leave & suspect in custody after altercation at Scott County Courthouse

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- A bailiff is on administrative leave after discharging his firearm while responding to a suspect with a blunt object in front of the Scott County Courthouse the morning of April 25th.

Two courthouse bailiffs and a Davenport police officer responded to a suspect causing a disturbance near the building's main entrance around 9:35 a.m.

As they approached the suspect, the situation escalated and the bailiffs discharged a firearm and a less lethal device.

A short foot chase ensued before the subject was taken into custody at W 6th St and Western Ave.

Both the subject and a bailiff were transported to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries and evaluation.

The bailiff who discharged the firearm is being placed on administrative leave, per policy, pending the results of the investigation.

The investigation is being turned over to the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) with the assistance of the Davenport Police Department. All further updates on the investigation will come from those agencies.

This is a developing story. WQAD will add more information as it becomes available.

Outdoor plans a go for the rest of the week into the weekend.

Just some filtered sun we’ve been seeing throughout our skies.  Otherwise, temperatures have been looking nice with lower 60s… just cooler compared to past days but who’s complaining.  Come tonight, skies will become more clear and thus temperatures will dip a bit more with lows in the upper 30s.

Highs for your Thursday will get a slight bump upwards with temperatures in the upper 60s before a weak front slides through that night and cools off numbers by a few degrees on Friday.

That front won’t have much moisture to work with, so a few sprinkles are only expected that night.

As we head into the upcoming weekend nothing but mostly sunny skies as 60s for highs on Saturday will warm into the lower 70s on Sunday.

Warmest of the air is still on track for early next week with highs around 80 before showers and maybe a few thunderstorms make their appearance by the middle of next week.

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

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St. Ambrose internship program for students with disabilities helps them secure jobs after high school

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- A program that helps Davenport high school students with disabilities find work is coming up on its first graduating class.

The program, Project Search, gives the students real-world work experience that will translate into a job.

Project Search is an international program that came to Davenport a year ago.

There are five students in the program that's run right here at St. Ambrose University. One year ago, these special education students started the program that would change their lives.

Students work at three different internships at St. Ambrose, rotating every ten weeks. They can work at places like the cafeteria, library, and the children's campus. These opportunities show them hard work it takes to succeed.

"Many people with disabilities have been told that they're less than and that the disability is a barrier. But I think with this program and what we try and make sure that we encourage is that it just means that you learn different," said Ryan Saddler, a business liaison for the program.

The internships give them the experience to later find a job.

"It's nice because they learn the skills and now I get to see them gain employment. Especially when they start to get paid and they get that first paycheck it's really cool," said Steve Claeys, a Project Search instructor.

At the beginning of each day, students work with instructors to learn basic life skills.

"I do like it a lot and I think it's a big experience to go into," said Madison Wright, one of the students.

With two internships under her belt, Madison will soon be bringing in a paycheck from her new job at a local retirement home.

The program is still growing. Next year, they have seven students signed up. Their goal is to have between six and twelve students.

The current class will graduate at the end of next month.

A teen made a promposal with a joke about blacks ‘picking cotton.’ People aren’t laughing

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Creative “promposals” are all the rage these days among high schoolers. But this one didn’t go so well.

A senior at Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida, recently decided to ask a girl to the prom by holding up a sign.

It read, “If I was black I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white so I’m picking u 4 Prom?”

A picture of the unidentified student holding the sign was posted to social media — where people love to have nuanced conversations on race — over the weekend. It immediately sparked outrage, with someone on Snapchat asking, “Whooo said this was OK?”

The school didn’t think it was OK. Acting principal Kathy Wilks sent a letter to parents Monday saying the school is investigating and “absolutely does not condone or support the message conveyed in this post,” according to CNN affiliate WFLA.

The Sarasota County School District weighed in too. It sent in counselors to Riverview High School in case students wanted to talk about the controversy and said it would work with civil rights groups such as the NAACP to develop a roundtable forum to talk about race.

“Many who saw the post … are understandably upset with its contents and commentary,” the school district said in a statement. “This incident remains an ongoing investigation and any disciplinary action and recommendation will be made accordingly.

“Although this message is one student’s opinion, we take the matter of racial relations and school safety seriously, and we look forward to working with our students and these outside groups to have a meaningful and informative dialogue and expanded curriculum related to this important national topic.”

The promposal sign also caught the attention of the local NAACP chapter, which condemned its message.

“A strong statement needs to be made to their student body that this type of behavior will not be tolerated on any of our campuses throughout the school district, and, if so, there are going to be severe consequences,” Trevor Harvey, president of the NAACP’s Sarasota chapter, told WFLA.

The student who made the promposal sign has since posted an apology on social media, according to WFLA.

Riverview High School’s prom is scheduled for May 5.

Riverview student Erin Williams, who posted a photo of the sign to Facebook, felt the promposal was a joke that went too far.

“I think it was something that he thought was gonna be funny, but its not,” Williams, who is black, told WFLA. “So this is a good thing to talk about, because you have to recognize something to change it, and then you have to keep it that way,” she added.

Fire breaks out at barn behind Wapsi Willy’s in Long Grove

LONG GROVE, Iowa -- A fire broke out at a barn near Wapsi Willy's restaurant in Long Grove around midday on Wednesday, April 25th.

Fire crews from Dewitt, McCausland, and Long Grove were still battling heavy smoke around 11 a.m.

No one was inside the barn at the time, but injuries cannot be confirmed at this time.

A woman passerby told WQAD that she knows the owners of the barn, who live next door. She said that they had to build a new home after their previous one flooded a few years ago.

This is a developing story. More information will be added as it becomes available.

Charges reduced in Clinton antique shop pickaxe attack

CLINTON, Iowa -- Cassandra Doran, the Clinton woman accused of attacking an antique store owner with a pickaxe and putting him in critical condition, is no longer facing attempted murder charges after entering a guilty plea in Clinton County district court on Tuesday, April 24.

Doran - who entered Gazebo Antiques and Collectibles on Feb. 10, 2017, grabbed a pickaxe on display and attacked store owner Bill Conley after he told her to let go of it while she was swinging it around wildly - pleaded guilty to willful injury causing serious injury, use of a dangerous weapon and three counts of criminal mischief.

The attack left Conley in critical condition with head wounds, a broken jaw and six or seven stab wounds and his wife, Becky, suffered a minor heart attack in the altercation.

Watch an interview with attack victim Bill Conley here:

Both Conleys recovered and re-opened the store - which suffered extensive damage - on May 4 of last year.

Yesterday's news from court was bittersweet for Bill, who said he believes attempted murder charges are warranted, but understands why the plea deal was made.

"The charge was well-founded, because she was going to kill me," Conley said Wednesday, while filling out his victim impact statement. "However, being able to prove what was in her mind would be difficult."

Conley said both he and his wife have "good days and not-so-good days."

" I have a hand that is numb all of the time. I have a life sentence with that," he said. "Becky had a stress-induced heart attack and now she seems to be getting along fairly well, although both of us relive it on an intermittent basis. It's something that never goes away."

Conley said he and his wife will be present for Doran's sentencing on May 31. He thanked Clinton County Assistant D.A. Ross Barlow for keeping he and Becky in the loop on the case and seeking their input on the plea agreement.

"We have no intention of missing (the sentencing)," he said. "This way, there is justice."


Bow-legged rescue puppy gets new lease on life with special family

SAN DIEGO - A German Shepherd-mix puppy who was so badly bow-legged that he couldn't walk has come a long way since veterinarians began treating him at a California animal shelter, and now he has a permanent home.

Antilles the rescue dog has definitely had his share of trials, but his luck changed when he was brought to the Helen Woodward Animal Center on March 1st, according to KSWB.  A birth defect and possible overfeeding left his furry little legs extremely bowed. They could barely support his body weight. 

The vets at the Helen Woodward center monitored him and fitted him with special splints. Those splints were removed last month.

“First 30 minutes that the news story went out nationally, we just started getting calls from all over,” said Helen Woodward Animal Center spokeswoman Jessica Gercke. The Otsuka family sent in an application that stood out and even included a PowerPoint presentation, Gercke said.  Their daughter Cassidy has some health challenges of her own and Helen Woodward officials decided that she and Antilles would be a perfect match.

“We’re super excited and happy haha,” said Cassidy's mother, Desiree Otsuka. "I’m so happy I could do my happy dance.”

Otsuka says she is grateful that Antilles is now part of their special family. She says the dog is a reminder that trials that don’t break us make us stronger.

“Everyone has their challenges and my own daughter, she actually suffers from absence epilepsy, which is a very unique condition," Otsuka said. "She’s a little bit different, and she knows what it’s like to be a little bit different. And because of that, that really drew her to Antilles too, because he’s a little bit different.”

The news about Antilles went viral, and when the Blue Buffalo Dog Food company heard about him, they sent his new family a year's supply of dog food.

“I think he’s going to live a very happy life and be able to run around like other puppies,”  Gercke said.

Think you can bake the best pie? ‘Whiteside County Relay For Life’ is looking for you

STERLING, Illinois- Leaders in Whiteside County are looking for the best pie baker around, and it is all for a good cause.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Whiteside County is holding a “Celebrity” Pie Auction Friday, April 27, and they’re looking for you to take part.

All you have to do is “bake or purchase the best pie Whiteside County and take bids on your creation.” You’re also asked to do a 15 minute segment live on WSDR A.M. radio Friday morning. The station is located at 3101 Freeport Road in Sterling.

The auction starts at 6:15 a.m. and goes until around noon. To reserve a time, you’re asked to call 815-441-1086. To make a pledge to Relay For Life of Whiteside County, benefiting the American Cancer Society, call 815-625-3400 during Friday’s event. I will be there live Friday during WQAD News 8 at 11 raising money for the group. To donate online, click here.

The Relay For Life Walk is taking place Saturday, June 2. It starts at 5 p.m. at Hinders Field in Rock Falls. To join the relay, click here.

Man who disarmed Waffle House shooter hailed by lawmakers

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The man who snatched an AR-15 rifle away from a gunman at a Nashville restaurant told Tennessee lawmakers Tuesday he faced "the true test of a man," drawing a standing ovation during his brief address.

As the House hailed him as a hero, James Shaw Jr. said he acted to save his own life early Sunday at a Waffle House, and saved others in the process.

"I never thought I'd be in a room with all the eyes on me, but you know, I'm very grateful to be here," Shaw told House members. The 29-year-old said he has since gone to see some of the shooting victims in the hospital and they all remembered him. He apologized to the people whose loved ones died in the attack.

The Senate also honored Shaw on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the co-owner of a Colorado crane company where Travis Reinking once worked says she urged federal officials to keep Reinking in custody after he was arrested at the White House last July.

Darlene Sustrich said: "We told them, 'Hang onto him if you can. Help him if you can.'"

Federal officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said Tuesday that Reinking, 29, has been "compliant" and "cooperative" since he was transferred to the jail late Monday after he was captured near the apartment where he lived. Reinking is wearing a vest known informally as a "suicide smock" and will remain under close observation at a maximum-security facility in Nashville.

Also on Tuesday, a Nashville judge revoked the shooting suspect's bond.

Court records show that a judge struck Reinking's $2 million bond until a hearing can be held in May.

An attorney listed as Reinking's lawyer did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Reinking has been charged with four counts of criminal homicide. And a tweet from the Metro Nashville Police Department said he also faces four counts of attempted murder and one count of unlawful possession in the commission of a violent felony.

Police say he opened fire outside the Waffle House with an AR-15 rifle and then stormed the restaurant, wearing only a green jacket. Four other people were wounded in the shooting.

Reinking escaped on foot from the restaurant and shed his only item of clothing. By the time he was captured in the woods nearby, police had searched his apartment, and found the key fob to a stolen BMW they had recovered in the parking lot days earlier. The BMW theft had not initially been tied to Reinking.

Police seized multiple items from his apartment including: a Remington rifle with a magazine, cartridges for different calibers of guns, two rifle scopes and gun cleaning equipment. Police also found three books on patents in the apartment, along with a sketchbook, two iPhones and a number of pieces of computer equipment, court records show.

Nashville Police Department Lt. Carlos Lara told reporters Reinking was arrested Monday after detectives were tipped to the suspect's presence by some construction workers. He carried a black backpack with a silver semi-automatic weapon and .45-caliber ammunition.

The arrest ended a 24-hour manhunt involving more than 160 law enforcement officers, but it left troubling unanswered questions about official responses to months of bizarre behavior before the restaurant attack, including encounters with police in Illinois and Colorado and an arrest at the White House that raised red flags.

Darlene Sustrich, Reinking's former boss, described him as appearing paranoid and delusional at times. A former co-worker told a Salida, Colorado, police detective Reinking was infatuated with Taylor Swift and claimed to be a sovereign citizen.

Last July, Reinking was arrested by the U.S. Secret Service after he entered a restricted area near the White House and refused to leave, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump.

The suspect told Washington, D.C., police he was a sovereign citizen and had a right to inspect the grounds, according to an incident report.

Reinking was not armed at the time, but at the FBI's request, Illinois police revoked his state firearms card. Four guns, including the AR-15 used in the shootings, were transferred to his father, a procedure allowed under Illinois law.

Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston said Jeffrey Reinking pledged he would "keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis." Don Aaron, a Nashville Police spokesman, said Reinking's father "has now acknowledged giving them back" to his son.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special Agent Marcus Watson said Monday that his father's action is "potentially a violation of federal law."

Phone calls to a number listed for the father went unanswered.

4th death reported in Illinois linked to synthetic marijuana

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois public health officials say a fourth person has died after using synthetic marijuana.The Illinois Department of Public Health said Tuesday afternoon that the most recent victim was a woman in her 30s from central Illinois. Her death comes as the state deals with an outbreak of people experiencing severe bleeding after using synthetic marijuana. More than 150 people in Illinois in 13 counties have been sickened and three others have died. Those include a Chicago-area man in his 20s and two central Illinois men, one in his 20s and the other in his 40s.

State health officials say the products are deadly and urge people not to use them. Those who have become sick have reported coughing up blood, severe bloody noses and internal bleeding.


Even with weekend warm-up, conditions still dangerous for boaters

A nice, mild weekend may make us think about getting out on the water, but it may be a week too soon. This morning, Mississippi River water temperatures are only in the lower 50s. They are running cooler than normal, thanks to a quick snow melt across Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

While that's way too cold to go swimming, most boaters don't think about it since fishing and pleasure boating will keep people out of the water.

But what happens if there's a worse-case scenario where someone ends up on the river? There's actually a rule of thumb called the "Boaters' Safety Rule," that determines when its safe to be out on the water. If the air temperature (in Fahrenheit), added to the temperature of the water (in Fahrenheit) doesn't surpass 120, it's unsafe to be on the water without a wet or dry suit. Case in point, if you're in the middle of the river and fall in, you will receive hypothermia before you're able to swim to shore. 

This weekend's projected temperatures of 70 degrees with water temperatures in the 50s barely meet that criteria. It's best to wait another week when a fall into the river will still be dangerous, but not deadly.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen


Cop apologizes to firefighter with ‘sorry I tased you’ cake

MAINEVILLE, Ohio – A police officer in Ohio who accidentally shocked a firefighter with a Taser has made amends with cake.

The Hamilton Township Police Department in Maineville, Ohio, outside Cincinnati, posted the story on its Facebook page on Saturday.

“Ofc. Workman was assisting our FD on an EMS call. When they arrived at the hospital an altercation ensued with the patient in the life squad,” the post read.

The police department said Workman used her Taser to subdue the person but accidentally shocked firefighter Rickey Wagoner.

So, as one does in these situations, the officer gave Wagoner a cake that said, “Sorry I tased you!”

It seemed to have smoothed things over.

Police continue to hunt for man who shot two officers, one civilian at Dallas Home Depot

(CNN) -- Two Dallas police officers were shot and critically wounded Tuesday, the city's police department said.

A civilian also was wounded, the department said, but that person's condition was not known.

Dallas police are looking for a 29-year-old Hispanic man named Armando Luis Juárez in connection with the shooting at a Home Depot, Chief Reneé Hall told reporters Tuesday night.

The man fled in a white pickup, she said.

The truck is a Ford, possibly F250, police said on Facebook. The back fender has "GX4" on it and the truck bed has a ladder rack and large exhaust pipes rising from the front.

The incident began Tuesday afternoon, she said, when an off-duty officer at the Home Depot called to request backup officers for an arrest.

**Embargo: Dallas, Texas**
Dallas police are looking for a 29-year-old Hispanic man in connection with the shooting of two police officers and a loss prevention officer at a Home Depot, Chief Reneé Hall told reporters Tuesday night.

The chief asked for people to keep the officers, their families and department in their prayers.

"We need you right now, our hearts are very heavy," she said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings also tweeted on the shooting: "We are closely monitoring the situation in northeast Dallas and praying for our officers and their families."

No further details were immediately available.

Five Dallas officers were killed and seven others injured in July 2016 when a military veteran who had served in Afghanistan fired on them. The shooter, Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, of Mesquite, Texas, was killed after a lengthy standoff with police.

Union representing faculty at WIU getting closer to reaching contract deal

Macomb, Illinois - The union representing faculty at Western Illinois University has announced it's getting closer to reaching a deal on a new contract.

The union said it made progress during the last meeting with a mediator on April 23. While that meeting was happening, students and staff held a march for mediation at the Macomb Campus.

On April 24, a statement from university officials said they are closer to making a deal that was "subject to finalizing the specific language contained within the new contract."

The statement said that details of the contract will not be disclosed until the final language has been approved by both sides.


Related: Union supporters march during WIU contract negotiations