News briefs

Tribune Content Agency

Mother of Virginia elementary school shooter charged in federal court with gun, marijuana charges

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The mother of the 6-year-old student who shot his teacher at Richneck Elementary School has been charged in federal court with felony gun charges related to marijuana use.

Deja Nicole Taylor — whose son shot 25-year-old Abby Zwerner during class on Jan. 6 — is charged with possession of a controlled substance — marijuana — while armed with a handgun.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, began investigating Taylor after the Richneck shooting.

Though several states have moved to legalize marijuana in recent years — including Virginia in 2021 — the drug remains illegal under federal law. Marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law, just like heroin and cocaine, and such crimes can arise to felonies if they include guns.

Moreover, Taylor stands accused of lying on a federal background check form when she purchased a handgun in 2021.

She was charged in U.S. District Court in Newport News on Monday by way of a criminal information rather than an indictment by a grand jury. Her attorney, James Ellenson, said he’s been in discussions with prosecutors about the charges.

The maximum federal sentence for the two charges is 25 years, though Ellenson said discretionary sentencing guidelines would be significantly less. Taylor, he said, is expected to plead guilty.

— Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)

More than 5,300 postal workers attacked by dogs while delivering mail in 2022, USPS says

More than 5,300 employees of the U.S. Postal Service were attacked by dogs while delivering mail in 2022, the agency said.

The number represented a slight drop from 2021 when more than 5,400, and 2020 when more than 5,800 were attacked. Dog bites remain one of the chief occupational hazards for letter carriers.

Dog bites can lead to a number of other health effects, including dangerous infections.

The figures were announced as part of the agency’s annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week public service campaign, which runs from June 4 to June 10.

“When letter carriers deliver mail in our communities, dogs that are not secured or leashed can become a nemesis and unpredictable and attack,” Leeann Theriault, USPS employee safety and health awareness manager, said. “Help us deliver your mail safely by keeping your dog secure and out of the way before your carrier arrives.”

The theme of this year’s campaign: “Even good dogs have bad days.”

—New York Daily News

As opioid crisis claims more lives, NYC unveils vending machine stocking overdose-reversing naloxone

From a distance, it looks like a normal vending machine. But a closer look reveals that instead of stocking candy bars and bags of chips, its racks are filled with drug-test strips and the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

The free public health vending machine will be unveiled Monday in Brooklyn by the city Health and Mental Hygiene Department — the first such machine in New York City.

The machine, at 1676 Broadway in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, is the city’s latest attempt to beat back a pandemic-fueled drug overdose epidemic that has killed thousands, devastated families and communities and contributed to a lower life expectancy.

“We’re in the midst of an overdose crisis,” city Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan told the Daily News. “In the city, every three hours, a New Yorker dies from an overdose.”

The machine is the first of four slated to come this year, according to the Health Department. The city-funded machine will be available for use 24/7, and all you have to do to access the supplies is punch in your New York City zip code.

In addition to fentanyl test strips and naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses, the machine will stock hygiene kits, maxi pads, Vitamin C, first aid kits, wound care kits, COVID-19 tests and supplies to smoke, snort and inject drugs more safely. It won’t include syringes.

—New York Daily News

At least 42 dead, thousands homeless in Haiti after a weekend of heavy rains, flooding

A weekend of torrential rains and widespread flooding in Haiti have left at least 42 people dead, 11 missing and some 19,000 homeless, the government’s disaster response agency said.

The Office of Civil Protection said the weather has left at least 7,475 families affected, and flooded at least 13,633 homes across several regional departments. The city of Léogâne, just south of Port-au-Prince, was most affected. The city also registered at least 11 deaths, Jerry Chandler, the head of the Office of Civil Protection, said Monday when the death toll still stood at about 30 and he cautioned the casualties were still preliminary.

By Monday afternoon, the numbers were updated to show that the damage is even more extensive than initially thought. At least 85 people have also been injured, authorities said, across seven of the country’s 10 regional departments.

“The biggest impact was in the West” region, Chandler said, referring to the area that encompasses the capital.

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, told reporters during the world body’s daily noon briefing in New York that “the situation is extremely worrying, given the hurricane season is only just beginning.”

—Miami Herald