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Mom killed shielding children from car on 1st day of school

The first day of class at a Texas elementary school quickly went from a day of excitement to one of tragedy Monday as a mother was killed shielding several children from a car in the school’s parking lot. 

Kharisma Ashlee James, 33, died at the scene at Mary N. Tippin Elementary School, in El Paso. Three students were also injured, including two of the James’ children, school officials said. They were taken to the hospital for treatment. 

Victor Araiza, chief of the El Paso Independent School District’s police force, said at a media briefing Tuesday morning that the victim’s 6-year-old daughter, her 7-year-old son and the third child, a 10-year-old fellow student, are in serious condition but are getting better.

“All of those children are expected to survive,” Araiza said. 

Araiza told reporters at the scene Monday afternoon that James was walking through the parking lot with the children around 3:30 p.m. when Roger Hawking, 58, started to back the car he was driving out of a parking spot. Hawking was picking his grandchildren up from school. 

After backing into another car, Hawking apparently hit the accelerator instead of the brake. James tried to get in front of the children so they would not be struck, school district officials said. 

“The parent attempted to get the attention of the driver and intervene, and that parent was also struck by the vehicle,” Araiza said.  

Victoria Bruce, another parent who was friends with James, told KFOX-TV she heard the collision take place. 

“You heard the metal crash so loud that you knew that something awful had happened,” Bruce told the news station Tuesday morning. “Everybody went running over. I kept my kids back because I knew at that point there was nothing I could do and I didn’t want ... (my children) to see whatever had happened. You could hear people shouting, ‘Is there a doctor or nurse?’”

Bruce said she found out later that it was a friend who was killed and that she died protecting her children.

James’ Facebook page indicated that she was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq. After eight years in the service, she went back to school with the help of a scholarship from the Women’s Fund of El Paso, according to a May 2017 blog post on the organization’s website.  

A May 2017 graduate of the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, she started working at the Hospitals of Providence in November, her Facebook page said

The Women’s Fund of El Paso shared photos from James’ graduation on its own Facebook page, including pictures of the beaming graduate with her children and other family members. 

Araiza said Tuesday that investigators were trying to determine if Hawking was suffering a medical issue when the accident happened. 

“We just don’t know yet,” Araiza said. 

The chief said school administrators are doing everything in their power to ensure traffic moves smoothly in the school’s parking lot. 

“It’s difficult to describe how this could have been prevented,” Araiza said. “The actuality is that the responsible person for this is the driver of that vehicle. The fault does not rest on the school administration. The fault rests on the individual who was operating that vehicle and was not familiar with it.”

It was not clear why Hawking was not familiar with the vehicle. He could face charges in the accident. 

Counselors were provided almost immediately after the collision to help students, faculty and parents who witnessed the accident. Araiza said police and school officials worked through the night Monday to ensure that the school was ready for its students to arrive on the second day of class. 

Counselors will be on hand the remainder of this week, as well as next week. 

“We want to make sure that our kids are able to get through this and that our parents that are bringing their kids to our schools understand that we’re doing everything that we possibly can to keep them safe,” Araiza said. “This is a very tragic accident.”

>> Read more trending news

School resumed Tuesday morning, with several police officers on the scene as parents arrived to drop their children off. One motorcycle officer could be seen issuing traffic citations, according to the El Paso Times

El Paso Superintendent Juan Cabrera was also at the school, where he told reporters an accident like the one that took place is something no one could ever prepare for. 

“We literally do thousands and thousands of pickups and drop-offs every week across the city with 92 schools,” Cabrera said. “We are right now just really focused on the students.”

He said there were an extra 50 adults on campus to help care for the children. 

“Our No. 1 priority is to take care of the kids,” Cabrera said. “What we’re trying to make sure of is that the buses are running on time and the kids feel safe and secure.

“This is the second day of school. It should be one of the most joyous times of the year. All of us have kids; many of us have kids here at the district, so we know how important the start of school is.”

Man charged with assaulting wife crashes plane into own home hours later

A Utah man who hours before had been arrested on domestic violence charges crashed a plane into the front of his home Monday, killing himself.

Duane Youd, 47, of Payson, died when the Cesna 525 CitationJet struck the house, exploding and setting the house on fire, according to Payson police officials. Youd was killed in the crash, but two people inside -- identified by the Salt Lake Tribune as Youd’s wife and her son -- escaped uninjured through the back of the home. 

“He is an experienced pilot,” Sgt. Noemi Sandoval, a Payson police spokeswoman, told the news media. “He flew from Spanish Fork Airport directly here, into the home.”

Sandoval said the toll could have been worse. Youd, who was able to fly below power lines, clipped a shed and a car before the plane hit the house. 

“I can’t believe he was able to fly in like that,” Youd’s friend, Alan Herbert, said at the crash scene. “If he hadn’t hit the car, I wonder how much more damage this would have done to the house.”

Payson police officials said that Youd was arrested Sunday night and charged with assault for allegedly abusing his wife. That incident took place in American Fork Canyon, where the couple reportedly went to discuss their marital problems. 

Witnesses who saw the assault called the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. 

“It was not just a slap or a shove,” Utah County sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon told the Tribune. “It was an ongoing thing described by witnesses.”

>> Read more trending news

Youd was booked into the Utah County Jail at 9:18 p.m. on an assault charge, jail records show. He was released around 12:30 a.m. Monday after signing an agreement to stay away from his wife and posting $1,940 bond. 

Payson police officials said Youd requested assistance from police officers there to accompany him to his home so he could pick up some belongings and his vehicle. The trip to the house took place without incident.

Less than two hours later, he crashed the plane into the home, authorities said. The Payson Fire Department responded, and firefighters extinguished the blaze. 

Youd’s son from a prior marriage, Parker Youd, spoke to reporters at the scene. The 17-year-old, who was at his mother’s house when the crash took place, said his father told him things were going to be “rough for a little bit,” but gave no indication that he would hurt himself or others. 

Parker Youd was likely the last person to talk to his father, who he described as “the best dad (he) could ask for.”

“I said, ‘I love you. Good luck. I’ll see you tomorrow,’” Parker Youd said. “He said, ‘I love you, too,’ got in his truck, and drove away.”

Joslyn Youd, 21, posted a photo of her father, smiling and holding a caught fish in his hands, on Facebook. The caption read, “I’ll love you forever.”

Neighbors and friends who knew Duane Youd said they, too, were shocked by the events that took place. Zach Linch, who lives next door to the crime scene, said Youd was always a good neighbor.

“I would never have have expected anything like this,” Linch told the Tribune. “He seemed like a normal guy to me.”

Herbert, who had known Youd since they were teenagers, said the crash was not something he would have expected from his friend. 

“He was an exciting guy to be around,” Herbert told the newspaper. “Always positive, never negative. If you were feeling bad, he’d always make sure you were feeling good when you left.”

Parliament car crash: Man arrested, pedestrians injured in 'terrorist incident,' police say

Investigators have arrested a man “on suspicion of terrorist offenses” and said they are treating a Tuesday morning crash outside the Houses of Parliament as a “terrorist incident,” London police said.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 9:10 a.m. EDT Aug. 14: President Donald Trump responded to Tuesday’s attack in a tweet.

“Another terrorist attack in London,” the president wrote. “These animals are crazy and must be dealt with through toughness and strength!”

Authorities said three people suffered injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening on Tuesday morning after a man in his late 20s slammed a silver Ford Fiesta into cyclists and pedestrians in front of the Houses of Parliament. The car stopped when it hit a barrier, police said.

The man, who has not been identified, was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offenses.

“Given that this appears to be a deliberate act, the method and this being an iconic site, we are treating it as a terrorist incident and the investigation is being led by officers from the Counter Terrorism Command,” Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said.

Authorities do not believe any other suspects were involved in the incident.

Update 7:08 a.m. EDT Aug. 14: Three people were injured when a man drove through security barriers outside the U.K. Houses of Parliament, the London Ambulance Service tweeted Tuesday.

“Two patients were treated at the scene and taken to hospital, and a third patient with minor injuries was assessed at the scene,” the tweet read.

Prime Minister Theresa May thanked first responders and expressed sympathy for the victims.

“My thoughts are with those injured in the incident in Westminster and my thanks to the emergency services for their immediate and courageous response,” she tweeted.

Meanwhile, Britain’s emergency COBRA committee announced it would be meeting in response to the suspected terrorist attack, The Associated Press reported.

Update 5:46 a.m. EDT Aug. 14: A man in his late 20s has been arrested “on suspicion of terrorist offenses” in connection with the crash that left “a number of people” injured, London police said in a news release. The injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

The man, who was driving a silver Ford Fiesta, struck cyclists and pedestrians before hitting security barriers in the area, police said.

The car was not carrying any passengers, police said.

“At this stage, we are treating this as a terrorist incident and the Met's Counter Terrorism Command is now leading the investigation,” the news release said.

Authorities are requesting anyone with photos, videos or information about the incident to contact police.

Read more here.

Original report: London’s Counter-Terrorism Command is leading the probe into a Tuesday morning crash outside the U.K. Houses of Parliament, The Associated Press is reporting.

Police said a man driving a car slammed into security barriers in the area about 7:37 a.m., hurting pedestrians. None of the injured “are in life-threatening condition,” the AP reported. Police arrested the man.

Metropolitan police tweeted that authorities are “keeping an open mind” about the investigation.

In March 2017, four people were killed in a terror attack in the same area, the AP reported.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Car wash's billboard promoting QAnon conspiracy theory sparks controversy

A Georgia car wash has aligned its business with a group that believes a government insider is publicly uncovering a vast left-wing plot against President Donald Trump.

The billboard reads “#QANON” — citing a group many have said espouse conspiracy theories — and has a logo with the name of Car Nutz Car Wash in the bottom left corner. 

>> Read more trending news 

Car wash co-owner Cleve Meredith said the sign is about a mile away from his business in Acworth.

He said he let his employees know before putting up the sign in June.

“We all support Freedom and independent thought,” he wrote in an email response to questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.

Meredith said he put up the billboard because he’s “a patriot among the millions who love this country.”

>> On AJC.com: Two jailers fired for online comments

In October 2017, an anonymous user posted on 4chan, a shadowy part of the internet that has been used as a breeding ground for extreme ideas. The poster, under the moniker “Q,” claimed to have a high-level government clearance.

The right-wing group believes debunked myths, including those surrounding Pizzagate — the false notion that Democratic party officials were running a child-sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza shop. In 2016, a man who went to the store to “self-investigate” the fabrication fired three shots from an AR-15 in the shop. 

In June, an armed man drove an armored vehicle to the Hoover Dam claiming to be on a mission from QAnon.

Trump has not explicitly discussed Q in public, but the group’s followers divine meaning from actions and phrases used by the president. For the most part, they appear to be Trump supporters.

Dozens of people at a Trump rally in Tampa on July 31 had Q signs and T-shirts and spoke to reporters about their beliefs.

>> On AJC.com: What happened at Charlottesville: Looking back on the anniversary of the deadly rally 

Q has been amplified by people like actor Roseanne Barr, who was banished from her self-titled television reboot after comparing former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is black, to an ape. She claims she didn’t mean to evoke racism.

The Acworth business, which records show incorporated in the state in 2013, has received mixed reviews online. 

On Yelp, the business has been bombarded with one-star reviews that appear to be because of the sign. One reads: “The sign is rasict (sic) and basically conspiracy theories that prey on people's fears.”

In the reviews section of Google, the business has been flooded with five-star reviews like this one: “Thank you for your wonderful #QANON billboard. A true patriotic business - please patronize these wonderful people!!”

Meredith, the car wash co-owner, said “common sense” drew him to QAnon. He refuted calling it a group, instead describing it as “a wake-up call."

He said he felt the reviews created a "zero sum net gain" because "individuals have their own opinions and should express them freely."

When asked if he understood why some people would be offended by the sign, he simply responded: “Misinformation.”

Toddler died during religious 'ritual' at New Mexico compound, prosecutors say

When a 3-year-old boy from Clayton County, Georgia, died in a ritual in the northern New Mexico desert, the other children there were allegedly told he would come back to life as Jesus and tell them who to kill.

>> Remains of child found at New Mexico compound identified as missing Georgia boy, grandfather says

That’s among the jarring allegations leveled Monday by prosecutors, who are accusing the child’s father and four other adults of setting up a squalid isolated compound and plotting violence. Police raided the property in Taos County on Aug. 3 and say they have evidence the occupants were Muslim extremists training their children to become killers with high-powered weapons.

>> Atlanta dad planned ‘exorcism’ on son before desert camp found, police say

Authorities initially went to the compound looking for Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, who is accused of taking his son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, from the child’s mother in late November after claiming he was taking the boy to a Jonesboro-area park. A month earlier, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj made a trip to Saudi Arabia and came home wanting to stop his son’s medicine and perform rituals to rid him of “demonic spirits,” the father’s family told authorities. The child suffered from brain damage caused during birth, as well as seizures.

>> On AJC.com: Death in the desert: What led to Atlanta dad’s mysterious journey?

The father and son had apparently arrived at the compound in January, along with four adult relatives and 11 of their children. The adults are each charged with 11 counts of child cruelty (none relating to Abdul-Ghani) and were in court for a bond hearing, which was streamed online by Albuquerque news station KOB.

Judge Sarah Backus said the testimony was troubling, but she wasn’t convinced the suspects were a danger to the community. She granted each $20,000 bond to be released from jail, with the conditions that they wear an ankle monitor until they get stable housing in the county and have only supervised visits with their children.

One of the children told an FBI agent the boy would foam at the mouth during the rituals, which consisted of the father reading from the Quran and placing a hand on the boy’s head. The agent said the rituals began before the dad left Georgia and continued in New Mexico at the urging of another of the compound’s occupants, Jany Leveille.

Leveille is the “Islamic wife” of Wahhaj and believed that she was originally supposed to be the toddler’s mother, according to FBI agent Travis Taylor.

Taylor testified that Leveille believed Wahhaj’s legal wife in Georgia used “black magic” to steal the child from Leveille’s womb.

During the final ritual on Abdul-Ghani, his heart stopped, the agent said. Leveille allegedly said she believed the child had already been dead and was only still animated because he was possessed by demons.

After his death, the boy reportedly was washed, prayed over, wrapped in a sheet and placed in a tunnel near the camp.

At least one child told authorities that the adults led them to believe Abdul-Ghani would come back as Jesus and instruct them on what “corrupt institutions they needed to get rid of,” authorities said. The institutions were expected to include teachers, law enforcement and the military.

When police searched the site, they allegedly found a shooting range and a number of firearms, as well as a document with instructions about how to build an untraceable AR-15. Some guns were in the tunnel. Prosecutors said Siraj Ibn Wahhaj had also taken extensive firearms training in Georgia.

While the group was at the compound, relatives and friends were trying to locate them, including Wahhaj’s father, the well-known New York City imam also named Siraj Wahhaj. The father has said something must have gone wrong mentally for the group to cut ties suddenly and travel west. In addition to his namesake, the group includes two of the imam’s daughters and his son-in-law.

>> Read more trending news 

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s brother, Muhammad, received a letter from someone at the compound (authorities aren’t sure who wrote it) instructing him to bring all his money and weapons to the site, prosecutor Timothy Hasson said. The letter said not to tell his father.

“Allah says he will protect you always,” the letter reportedly said in part, “so follow until he makes you a martyr.”

That martyrdom, Hasson said, was supposed to come after Muhammad joined the group in New Mexico.

Further details about the trip to Saudi Arabia weren’t revealed. Hasson conceded that countless Muslims make the hajj pilgrimage to the country, which could be a logical explanation for the trip.

“The evidence as a whole says this family was on a mission, a dangerous one and a violent one,” the prosecutor said.

Woman accused of killing boyfriend's toddler daughter

A Pennsylvania woman who police say is responsible for the death of a 23-month-old girl in Clairton turned herself in on Monday.

>> Watch the news report here

Deasha Ringgold is charged with homicide and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the death of Aubree Sherrell, Allegheny County police said Monday.

>> More on WPXI.com: Woman accused of killing toddler taken into custody

An unresponsive Sherrell was taken to a hospital on April 27 and later pronounced dead, police said. An investigation determined Aug. 10 that Sherrell’s death was a homicide, and a warrant was issued for Ringgold on Monday.

Police said the girl died from strangulation and had bruises around her neck.

Ringgold was dating Sherrell's father and was babysitting her the day she died, police said.

Ringgold allegedly told police that she put the girl to bed in her apartment on Glenn Drive in Clairton and went to sleep herself. According to investigators, she told them she found Sherrell lying on her back and her lips were blue. 

>> Read more trending news 

Police said Ringgold told them she took Sherrell to the hospital right away, but cellphone records show that an hour before she did, she allegedly Googled the following:

  • "How to do CPR on a baby?" 
  • "How to wake up a knocked out person"
  • "My friend got choked out, what do I do?" 

The girl died in April, but Ringgold was charged after the autopsy and police investigation.

According to the complaint, the baby's father was at work during the incident and has not been charged. 

Staples manager fired after accusing woman pregnant with twins of shoplifting

Staples said in a statement Monday that it has fired the manager who assumed an expecting mother had shoplifted at one of its stores in North Carolina.

>> Watch the news report here

Shirell Bates told WSOC-TV that she now regrets leaving her home on Friday for back-to-school shopping at the Pineville store.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Pregnant Staples shopper says she was wrongfully accused of shoplifting, hiding items under shirt

"Being pregnant is already high-risk, and having to deal with that, just additional stress that I don't need,” Bates said.

Bates said she learned that the manager was fired on social media.

Bates said a police officer asked her if she was shoplifting while she was checking out of the store.

"Mid-transaction, a police officer approached me and insisted he wanted to speak with me,” Bates said. “He asked what was under my shirt.”

Bates is pregnant with twins.

"Initially, I thought he was joking, so my response was, 'Twins,’” Bates said. “I'm 34 weeks with twins. I'm having a boy and a girl."

Bates said the officer didn’t believe her the first time, and he asked her again.

"At that point, to avoid him asking me again, I actually lifted my shirt just a little bit, just to expose my belly, so he could see that I'm just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies,” Bates said.

Pineville police said a Staples manager approached the officer and asked him to speak with Bates because the manager believed Bates may have been “concealing merchandise.”

>> More on WSOCTV.com: Manager at North Carolina Staples fired after accusing pregnant woman of shoplifting

"When I confronted her about what happened, she admitted that, 'In the past, we've had a lot of people putting school supplies or merchandise in their clothes and hiding, so I asked the officer to reach out to you,’” Bates said.

Staples issued the following statement:

“On Friday at our Pineville location a Staples’ manager mistakenly assumed a customer was shoplifting and reported this assumption to a police officer visiting the store. The police officer questioned the customer and quickly confirmed there was no theft. Based on the outcome, Staples’ issued a full refund to the customer.

Staples has since conducted a full investigation into the matter, and determined that the manager in question did not follow correct protocol and also failed to adhere to our existing policy on how to interact with our customers. As a result of this finding, the manager has been terminated and Staples has apologized to the customer. At Staples, we want all customers to feel welcome in our stores, and work with our associates to foster an inclusive culture. As an organization, we would like to apologize to the customer as that was not the case in this instance.”

Bates said she planned to contact Staples' corporate office and possibly seek legal action.

"You pretty much jumped the gun without any type of evidence, except my stomach is large,” Bates said. “That’s not fair. No mom should have to go through that."

>> Read more trending news 

Staples said Monday that the manager did not follow the correct protocol and did not adhere to the company's policy on interacting with customers.

The company said it has since apologized to Bates.

Bates said she would like Staples to provide sensitivity training for all employees.

She also hopes Staples improves its communication with customers who submit formal complaints.

‘Daddy, I’m sorry,’ 8-year-old boy cries as father slits his, 1-year-old sister’s throat

A Congolese man living in Houston listened to his 8-year-old son beg for his life before slitting the boy’s throat, as well as that of his toddler daughter, and leaving their lifeless bodies as “a present” for his estranged wife, police said. 

Jean Pierre Ndossoka, 61, is charged with two counts of capital murder in the Aug. 4 slayings of Marcel Ndossoka, 8, and Anna-Belle Faith Ndossoka, 1, at his Houston home. Ndossoka was found early the following morning in Pasadena, Texas, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Ndossoka was taken to Clear Lake Regional Hospital in stable condition, Houston police officials said. He was booked into the Harris County Jail two days later, where he remained Monday. Ndossoka is being held without bail.

>> Read more trending news

Court records depict the heartbreaking moments before Ndossoka is accused of killing his children inside his apartment at The Willows Apartment Homes. The Houston Chronicle, which obtained the records, reported that Ndossoka’s wife, Sabine Ntongo, dropped Marcel and Anna-Belle off at their father’s home the morning of the slayings for a scheduled visitation. 

The couple, who married six years ago, had recently separated, police said. Ndossoka, a native of Congo, is a U.S. citizen. 

Ndossoka called Ntongo repeatedly throughout the day while she was at work, the Chronicle reported. That afternoon, he told her that she needed to come to his apartment because he’d killed the children and “left her a present.”

Ndossoka told her she could use a key left under the doormat to get inside, the court documents said. 

Ntongo rushed to the scene and found the children lying on a bed with their throats slit. She called 911, the Chronicle reported

Responding officers found her screaming and crying at the scene, KPRC2 in Houston reported

Ndossoka left behind the bloody knife used in the slayings, as well as a handwritten note in French. He wrote in the note that Ntongo would “carry the burden of our souls, me and my two children,” KPRC2 said

“I am dying with my two children,” Ndossoka also wrote, according to the news station

Police put out a description of Ndossoka and his vehicle, a 2008 black Nissan Titan, which was found about 1 a.m. Aug. 5 in Pasadena. Ndossoka was inside, bleeding from a gunshot wound but still alive.

Though he initially told detectives he did not remember what had happened, Ndossoka eventually admitted he “did something bad,” the court documents said. 

“The defendant then admitted that he had done something to his children and when asked, ‘What?’ he motioned towards his neck,” the documents said, according to CBS46, which also obtained the court records

Ndossoka told investigators he first choked the children before using the knife, the news station said. 

“Daddy, I’m sorry,” Marcel reportedly pleaded before he was slain, the court documents said

Anna-Belle “just kept crying,” Ndossoka told investigators.  

If convicted of the murder charges, Ndossoka could be sentenced to death. 

Police investigating after sex offender allegedly got phone numbers, texted children

Police in Michigan are warning parents after a sex offender was able to get the phone numbers of two children through unknown means.

Update 2:35 p.m. EDT Aug. 13: Police initially said the phone numbers were obtained through the online game Roblox. In an update Friday, authorities said investigators were unable to determine how the numbers were obtained.

In a statement, officials with Roblox said the entertainment platform “supports imaginative play in a safe, supportive environment.”

“We can assure you that we take safety on our platform seriously and have features and processes in place to protect our community from sharing personally identifiable information,”  the statement said. 

Among other measures, the company uses automated technology to monitor and “when appropriate filter” the communication between users. The company also has restrictions surrounding what users under 13 years old can share.

>> On WSOCTV.com: Mom alarmed about gaming site after 7-year-old's virtual character sexually assaulted

Original report: According to the Marshall Police Department's Facebook page and WWMT, a "concerned parent" contacted authorities after the children, who are 9 and 10, began receiving text messages "from an unknown subject." Police described the conversations as "non-offensive and short," WWMT reported.

>> On WSBTV.com: Are your kids safe? Predators reaching children through online games

"Officers researched the number that was contacting the children and discovered it belonged to a subject on parole and who is also on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry," the department posted Saturday. "The suspect was arrested by local parole agents for the offense."

>> See the post here

Police also issued the following warning:

>> Read more trending news 

"Popular online cell phone games such as 'Roblox' and 'Minecraft,' when played online in public mode, allow other players to obtain personal information from each other," the department wrote. "Parents are encouraged to monitor their children’s online use of games, who they are speaking with, and the dangers of speaking with unknown subjects."

Read more here or here.

Police: Man chases, beats wallet thief to death with bare hands

A man whose wallet was stolen outside a New Orleans gas station is accused of chasing down the alleged thief and beating him to death Friday morning. 

Simon B. Morris, 31, is charged with manslaughter in the case, according to New Orleans police officials. The full name of the victim and his official cause of death had not been released Monday morning. 

Police officers were called at 8:19 a.m. Friday to an ongoing fight in the 4200 block of South Claiborne Avenue. When they arrived, they found an unresponsive man lying on the ground.

The victim was taken to University Medical Center, where he died, a police news release said. Witnesses pointed to Morris as the man who had beaten the man who died.

>> Read more trending news

The New Orleans Advocate reported that Morris was at an Express Mart on South Claiborne Avenue when the other man, identified in court records by his first name, Edwin, asked him for a dollar. Edwin then grabbed Morris’ wallet from his back pocket and ran, the newspaper reported. 

Morris caught up with the alleged pickpocket in the rear driveway of Hi Class Customs, an auto upholstery and window tinting shop across the street, and got his wallet back. That’s when the beating began, the Advocate reported

Witnesses who tried to restrain Morris told investigators he punched and kicked Edwin even as the man “was begging Morris to stop and was attempting to cover his face and body,” police officials said. The beating went on “for a duration of five minutes or more,” the Advocate reported

Bystanders were eventually able to pull Morris off the man.

Louisiana law defines manslaughter as a homicide “committed in sudden passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation sufficient to deprive an average person of his self-control and cool reflection.” 

If convicted, Morris faces up to 40 years in prison. 

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