New details are emerging in this weekâs bar shooting in Tuscaloosa. Brian Felton lives at the house where authorities say suspect Nathan Van Wilkins (above) wounded the first of his 18 victims. Felton says there was a knock at his door late Monday night. One of his roommates, who is white, answered the door and the gunman asked for another roommate, who's black. Felton says he heard a gunshot and found his white roommate wounded. Later, his roommate told him the gunman had used a racial epithet. Felton says his black roommate wasn't home and had been at the bar where the later shooting happened. A sheriffâs detective says they haven't gotten concrete information to show there were racial motives behind the shooting.
Birmingham schools superintendent Craig Witherspoon is back in his job. A Jefferson County circuit judge reinstated Witherspoon yesterday, just a day after the school board fired him. The judge also granted a temporary restraining order against the school board's vote to fire Witherspoon. Birmingham News columnist John Archibald says he expects the legal tussle to continue, but it's clear who's in charge.
The Birmingham School Board was to have voted on a $12 million cost cutting plan Tuesday night. It recessed without taking any action on that plan, but has scheduled another meeting for 5:30 p.m. Friday (7/20) in the auditorium at Carver High School (3900 24th St. North.) -- UPDATE: Meeting canceled. You can hear the full interview with John Archibald here and follow this developing story here.
In Other News:
Researchers say snowmelt that chilled coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico may have contributed to baby dolphin deaths in the winter of 2011. A new research paper says 86 baby dolphins are known to have been aborted or died shortly after birth during the period. Researcher Ruth Carmichael of Alabama's Dauphin Island Sea Lab says she can't say definitively that colder water caused the deaths. But, she says it may have been a deadly contributing factor. The deaths were among more than 700 recorded since February 2010, nearly two months before the BP oil spill began.
Montgomery's city council has approved a controversial plan to change the name of the Rosa Parks Avenue Branch Library, but her name will be kept on the sign. The Montgomery Advertiser reports the city council approved the plan unanimously this week. The library will be renamed the Bertha Pleasant Williams Library in honor of the city's first black librarian. Beneath the new name on the building's sign will be "Rosa Parks Avenue Branch." State Rep. Alvin Holmes had argued that changing the name would send the wrong message to the world.
Auburn football coach Gene Chizik says his team is still healing from the shooting deaths of Former players Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips and the wounding of current offensive lineman Eric Mack. Chizik says he had a long conversation with Mack this week and heâs doing OK physically. Another player is trying to come back from disciplinary action. Chizik says freshman quarterback Zeke Pike has "a lot to do" to rejoin the team. He sent Pike home following the player's arrest on a charge of public intoxication in June. Pike enrolled in January and participated in spring practice.
Attorney General Luther Strange is expected to speak at the graduation ceremony for a new crop of law enforcement officers today. The Anniston Star reports the Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy will graduate 60 students.
First lady Michelle Obama spent yesterday visiting a Birmingham summer camp for children impacted by last year's deadly tornadoes. She talked with the kids as they made trail mix snacks as part of her push for healthier American eating habits. She also attended a fundraiser last night for her husband's reelection bid.
~ July 19, 2012