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Waffle House shooting: Remembering the victims

Four people were killed when a nearly nude gunman, armed with an AR-15, opened fire at a Nashville, Tennessee, Waffle House Sunday.

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Travis Reinking, is the suspected shooter, was arrested Monday afternoon after police got a tip about a man crossing into a wooded area near the Waffle House.

Related: Who is James Shaw Jr., the man who disarmed the Waffle House shooter?

Those killed have been identified as Akilah DaSilva, 23, DeEbony Groves, 21, Joe R. Perez, 20, and Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29. Two others, Shanita Waggoner, 21, and Sharita Henderson, 24, were injured. 

Here is what we know about the victims.

Akilah DaSilva

DaSilva was at the restaurant with his older brother and Waggonner, his girlfriend of five years. He was critically wounded at the restaurant and later died at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

The 23-year-old was a musical engineering student at Middle Tennessee State University and a musician who went by the stage name Natrix, his mother, Shaundell Brooks, told WTVF.

The family released the following statement on DaSilva:

“Akilah DaSilva also known as Natrix (his stage name) was a humble kind and well respected young man. His character spoke volumes. One of 6 loving siblings, Akilah was passionate about his music, family, and life. He was pursuing a career in musical engineering at MTSU. He had a smile that could light up a room and a laugh that would warm your heart. He embodied compassion and had a zeal for life. A loving son and selfless friend, he was a beacon of hope, love, and strength in his family. “His family hopes that in the midst of this senseless act of terrorism and hate, his life will not be in vain. We hope that this tremendous loss will spark tangible action in true gun law reform so no other family would ever have to experience this sort of tragedy. “In the wake of this tragic event, The DaSilva Family welcomes prayers, words of comfort, and any contribution during their time of grief.”

GoFundMe page has been created by the family. It has surpassed its $10,000 goal.

DeEbony Groves

A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Groves was with some of her sorority sisters, including Henderson, at the Waffle House, WKRN reported. She was fatally shot in the restaurant. The New York Times reported she was a senior sociology major at Belmont University and worked two jobs

“The entire campus community is shocked and devastated by how such senseless violence has taken the life of this young woman, an individual full of immense potential,” the school said in a statement. “We extend our thoughts and prayers to her family and friends as they come to terms with unimaginable grief.”

Groves’ grandmother, Carolyn Groves, told the NYT she would always find time to visit her. 

“She was a sweetheart,” Groves said of her granddaughter.

Police told The Tennessean Henderson is in critical but stable condition.

Delta Sigma Theta president Beverly E. Smith said in a statement that the sorority will mourn the injuries and loss of life.

“Sorors, we will honor those who have lost their lives or who have been affected by gun violence by raising our voices, casting our votes and standing on the side of justice in our communities,” Smith said. “We mourn this loss today, but we will not let this act of violence silence our will to do what is right.”

Joe R. Perez

The Associated Press reported that, according to a police statement, Perez, 20, was killed in the parking lot of the Waffle House with Taurean Sanderlin, 29.

The Austin American-Statesman reported that Perez was from Texas and had family in Austin. Patricia Perez, who is reportedly the victim’s mother, posted on Facebook Sunday asking for prayers.

“Please say a prayer for my family for today is the hardest day of my life,” the post said. “Me, my husband and sons are broken right now with this loss. Our lives are shattered.”

The New York Times reported that Perez moved to Nashville to work with one of his two older brothers after graduating from Hays High School in 2016. He was supposed to pick up his mother from the airport Wednesday when she visited him in Nashville. She last spoke to him Saturday night.

“I will never see him again,” Patricia Perez aid. “He was my baby.”

Taurean C. Sanderlin

Sanderlin, a Waffle House employee, was killed in the restaurant parking lot with Joe Perez, The AP reported

According to The New York Times, Walter G. Ehmer, the chief executive of Waffle House, said Sanderlin had worked at the chain for five years. The Goodlettsville, Tennessee, resident, was slain as he stood outside the restaurant while taking a break, The Tennessean reported.

Las Vegas shooting survivors from California announce engagement 

A California couple who survived the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October has announced their engagement, KNBC reported.

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Mykenzie Lane, 22, and Brandon Helmick, 21, were in attendance at the Route 91 Harvest music festival on Oct. 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds.

Lane was hit by a bullet, but was saved from further injury when Helmick used his body to shield her, KNBC reported. Lane was wounded in her left foot, The Orange County Register reported.

The couple has been dating for three years, and Helmick proposed on Friday.

The wedding date is set for Aug. 3, KNBC reported.

Mississippi sorority hosts 'last dance' for WWII Navy veteran

A sorority at the University of Southern Mississippi saved the last dance for a 92-year-old World War II Navy veteran.

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Members of Phi Mu hosted a dance for Paul Sonnier, who recently told a social work intern at SouthernCare Hospice Services in Hattiesburg that his final wish would be “to dance with a beautiful woman,” WDAM reported.

“He’d always ask me if I wanted to go to Ropers, the local bar,” Jessica Moreau, a social work intern at SouthernCare, told WDAM. "He says ‘I'll teach you how to jitterbug and the waltz.’"

Moreau, who is a member of Phi Mu, relayed that wish to her sorority sisters. They organized a dance for the ages.

"We as a chapter always like to get involved with the community," Phi Mu President Cameron Ponder told WDAM. "Since one of our members is a social work major at the University of Southern Mississippi, we just found this to be a great way to honor someone that has done so much for our country."

Because Sonnier is bedridden, he had to be brought to the dance on a gurney, WDAM reported.

Family members who watched the dance found it heartwarming. 

“We're super grateful, because he hasn't been out the house in so long," Sonnier’s granddaughter, Samantha Owen, told WDAM. “All these ‘pretty women’ get to come around him. He gets to hand out flowers and just be himself. He hasn't been himself for awhile. So, he's super happy.”

Sonnier said he regretted that he could not get up and dance, but appreciated the gesture. 

"It feels good to be with all these beautiful women," he told WDAM.

Why did free apple cost a woman $500?

A Colorado woman is paying the price for forgetting an apple in her bag when flying internationally.

Crystal Tadlock recently was returning to Arvada from Paris when flight attendants on the international flight handed out apples in sealed plastic bags, KDVR reported.

She said she didn’t want it at the time, so she tossed it in her bag, intending to eat it on her second flight to Denver, KDVR reported.

When she landed in Minneapolis, she went through U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Minneapolis, where she was supposed to declare fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, meat, animal products or live animals, the Washington Post reported.

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That free apple ended up costing Tadlock $500, a fine for not declaring the fruit and bringing it into the U.S., KDVR reported.

Tadlock says she shouldn’t have been fined for a mistake. She’s also saying that Delta Airlines should have told passengers not to take the fruit with them.

She also told KDVR that she asked the agent if she could throw the apple away or eat it. She said the agent said no before handing her the ticket.

Delta officials told The Washington Post that food given during a flight “is given with the intention you consume it on board.”

She told KDVR that she’s upset that she got the ticket when the fruit came from Delta and was marked with the Delta logo.

She says she plans to fight the citation in court, KDVR reported.

Court rules against monkey in copyright infringement case

Monkey see, monkey can’t sue.

A federal appeals court, in a unanimous decision, ruled Monday that animals cannot sue for copyright protection, The Los Angeles Times reported.

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The ruling came in the case of Naruto, a 7-year-old crested macaque living in a reserve in Indonesia. In 2011, the monkey allegedly took selfies with a wildlife photographer's camera when it was left unattended, the Times reported. Photographer David Slater later published the pictures.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued Slater in 2015, arguing the copyright belonged to Naruto. PETA and Slater later settled the case out of court, but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided to rule on the case.

"We must determine whether a monkey may sue humans, corporations, and companies for damages and injunctive relief arising from claims of copyright infringement," Judge Carlos Bea, wrote for the three-judge panel. "We conclude that this monkey — and all animals, since they are not human — lacks statutory standing under the Copyright Act.”

Judge N. Randy Smith, who concurred with Bea’s opinion, said PETA's suit was "frivolous" and that federal courts lacked the authority to hear a lawsuit filed on an animal’s behalf.

"The concept of expanding actual property rights -- and rights broadly -- to animals necessitates resolving what duties also come with those rights," Smith wrote, "and, because animals cannot communicate in our language, who stands in their shoes?"

Bronx fire: Huge blaze engulfs several New York City businesses

A huge four-alarm fire broke out in New York City's Bronx borough early Tuesday, blazing through businesses in Fordham.

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Florida student makes racist prom proposal 

There are many inventive ways to ask someone to the prom, but a Florida teenager is being criticized after he used a racist sign to invite his girlfriend.

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The sign created by Noah Crowley, 18, of Sarasota, read “If I was black, I’d be picking cotton, but I’m white, so I’m picking u 4 prom,” the Herald-Tribune of Sarasota reported.

Crowley’s fellow students at Riverview High School found a photograph of the sign on the female student’s Snapchat. The girl put two heart-eye emojis in her caption for her Snapchat post.

Students responded on social media, saying they were “disgusted” by the sign.

“Come on Noah. We have to do better than this,” one person tweeted. “This is why racism is still a thing, ‘let me see what I can get away with.’”

Another student tweeted the image and said, “He seems to not know about America’s history. Racism is a problem. Definitely should not be allowed to go to the prom!!”

Riverview senior Anton Kernohan said while the sign was racist, it revealed an important point.

“I think it is actually important that this issue occurred on some level,” Kernohan told the Herald-Tribune. “It shows that racism is still alive and well in our society, and it shows that racism is still alive in my generation and it is something that we as the youth will have to continue to fight against.”

Sarasota County Schools released a statement Monday saying it did not “condone” the sign, the Herald-Tribune reported.

“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 statement said.

District officials said they are reviewing whether any disciplinary action will be taken against the student, the Herald-Tribune reported.

Teacher's school messaging app hacked, sexual photos sent to students

A Tennessee school district is investigating how explicit photos were sent to parents and students from a teacher’s district messaging app.

In a press release, Fayette County Public Schools said the teacher's Remind account, an application used to message and parents and students, and his personal email were hacked. 

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The mother, who wanted us to protect her identity, told WHBQ her daughter received some inappropriate pictures from her teacher at Fayette Ware Comprehensive High School in Fayette County.

"If he has explicit pictures of his private area and he's sending them to students that is not right,” the mother said.

Investigators in Fayette County said they are investigating the origin and sender of the messages, while a mother said her daughter is bothered.

"She’s up and down. She's uncomfortable. She doesn’t want to go back to the school,” the mother said. 

"She didn’t know what was wrong with her teacher because he sent her inappropriate pictures,” the mother said.

The mother said she spoke with school administrators and she learned the messages were not just sent to her daughter.

WHBQ called school leaders several times to learn how many students received the messages and if the teacher involved is still in the classroom. As of Tuesday morning, our calls have not been returned. 

According to Fayette County Public Schools, police have gotten involved. 

WHBQ received the following statement on Monday: 

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Department has been contacted and an investigation is underway to determine the origin and sender of the content. If there was a violation of the Use of the Internet (FCPS policy 4.406), the person responsible will be disciplined according to school board policy. If it is determined that criminal activity has taken place, the person responsible will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

Teen accused of murdering mother with help of two friends

A 15-year-old and his friend drugged, strangled and stabbed his mother to death at a home in Maine, according to court documents.

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Kimberly Mironovas, 47, was found stabbed and strangled to death at her home in Litchfield, Maine, early on Sunday morning. 

Police say the woman, originally from Ashland, Massachusetts, was killed by her son and his 15-year-old friend. 

A third teenager, a 13-year-old friend, allegedly helped plan the murder.

According to prosecutors, the 13-year-old came up with a plan to kill Mironovas by crushing prescription pills and mixing them into a glass of wine, but court documents show the boys' attempt to secretly mix in the pills failed.

Mironovas’ son and his friend entered her bedroom wearing gloves and armed with a knife early Sunday morning, according to prosecutors.

Mironovas was found shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday, and police say she had been strangled and stabbed in the neck.

All three boys were arraigned at a juvenile court in Maine on Monday.

The 15-year-old suspects were charged with one count each of murder, and all three were charged with criminal conspiracy to commit murder.

Mironovas and her son had moved to Maine from their home in Ashland, Massachusetts, where former neighbors told Boston 25 News they hope her son gets help. 

"She was a quiet person," said Jim, a former neighbor. "I think her son was troubled a little bit, she had him in a special school."

Mironovas moved from Ashland to Maine about a year ago to attend cosmetology school.

Authorities continue to investigate the case.

Florida city says homeowners can’t have house painted like Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’

A Florida couple is fighting their city over the painting of their house.

Nancy Nemhauser and her husband Lubomir Jastrzebski had painted a wall that rings their property. They had permission to paint it from city officials. They had the plan to paint it as a mural for their son, who has autism. They hoped that if he was lost, it would be a beacon, or at least a landmark, to help him find his way home, the “Today” show reported

But after the mural was done, the family got a ticket from the city saying that the paint was graffiti and that it must match the house. The city then said that the paint scheme was a sign, and a code violation in a residential area, WFTV reported.

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So instead of covering up the painting, they took the Van Gogh tribute a step further and painted the entire house so the wall and home would match as they were told to do, “Today” reported.

But the city didn’t agree with what they did and has fined them more than $10,000 for the paint scheme. A local magistrate ruled in February that the city could fine the couple, WFTV reported. The fines were stopped at the end of February after a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against Mount Dora, WFTV reported.

But the family is now turning the tables on the city, suing the local government in federal court, saying their right to freedom of expression is being violated, “Today” reported.

"There's art on other homes, other buildings in the city, in the residential district as well, so why are we being chastised for ours when we did what we were told we had to do to keep the wall that our son loves," Nemhauser told WFTV.

The city did not respond to “Today’s” request for comment on the suit, but said in February that leaders are trying to “preserve the residential character of our neighborhoods.” They added that the house could be a distraction to drivers.

Both sides are trying to settle, but whether the painting will have to be covered has not been determined. But the family says they’re ready to stand up for their rights.

Reaction to the mural is split -- some love it, others don’t.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Ilka Zuijderland-Varnes told “Today.” “I think it’s art, and we’re an artsy town, and it should stay.”

But another resident, Tammy Swan Bacon, said she doesn’t like it, but says the city should not make the family take it down, “Today” reported.

City officials said in February that the city is also considering putting a lien on the property to "motivate" the homeowners to remove the mural, WFTV.com.

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