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Earthquake hits Augusta: ‘What was that?’

A 3.2 magnitude earthquake hit Augusta on Tuesday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reports.

There were no immediate reports of damage, according to Augusta-Richmond County Emergency Management Agency. The agency’s disaster preparedness coordinator, Mie Lucas, said the 911 center got a lot of calls with residents asking: “What was that?”

The quake was centered roughly four miles southwest of downtown Augusta and went eight miles deep at 11:14 a.m., the U.S. Geological Survey said. About 1,800 people have reported feeling the earthquake, from all around Augusta and the Aiken, South Carolina area.

Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. warned residents on Facebook that there could be aftershocks or another more serious earthquake. 

Preliminary analysis put the center of Tuesday’s event off Peach Orchard Road, in a commercial area. 

Employees at Augusta Kawasaki Suzuki felt the earthquake, which follows a lower-magnitude one near Augusta in April, but saw no damage. At Peach Orchard Drugs, workers had a similar experience.

"It was like thunder. It just kind of shook the windows in the back," pharmacy technician Alyssa Rodriguez said. 

RELATED: Where earthquakes have happened in Georgia RELATED: Earthquake near downtown Atlanta RELATED: Another recent earthquake in Augusta

She was working at a counter and felt the shaking. It’d been raining, so thunder seemed an obvious explanation.

“I just kept on working and got a notification on my phone that it was an earthquake," she said. 

Since, Rodriguez and others have been perplexed by the rare earthquake.

It’s the same at Johnny’s Fish Market down the street. 

Lisa Zheng, who works at the family business, said her dad and another worker felt it.

“They didn’t think anything of it because we don’t really have earthquakes in Augusta," she said. 

The father told her about his days back in his home country of Nicaragua, where earthquakes used to wake him up in the morning.

Zheng, for her part, could use some help in the mornings. She said it always takes her hours to wake up, which is why she figures she didn’t feel the shudder Tuesday morning. 

Please return to for updates.

In other news:

NEW: Baby born on flight gets free tickets for life

A plane had to make an unexpected landing when a woman went into labor during an international flight and gave birth to a baby boy, news reports state.

The boy’s first present: free flights for life. 

» Woman who didn’t know she was pregnant gives birth on sidewalk

Jet Airways gave the baby free tickets for life after he was born prematurely Sunday on the flight from Saudi Arabia to India, according to CNN

A paramedic, who was a passenger on the plane, and flight crew members helped deliver the  boy, CNN said. The plane stopped at Mumbai to let the mother and baby off, so they could be taken to a hospital.

» Squirrels run wild on Florida woman’s home after baby saved 

The woman, in her 20s, was not identified. 

Read more at CNN or Punch Newspapers

'It's out of control:' Father warns about minors using ride-share apps

A father has a warning about teenagers and ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. He said young people are getting rides, even though it's against policy. "These kids want to get out. They don't want to sit in their house all day," the father said. He said his 14-year-old daughter was recently out with friends who were about to hop in a car that they called up on an app. "My daughter chose not to go because I've told her not to get in cars with people you don't know. The other child left with the company and got in the car," the father said. "My daughter was left on the side of the road." Uber and Lyft both have policies that state that minors are not allowed to ride alone, but sometimes teens call up cars without parental permission. "It's happening every day," said Uber driver Andre Bolton. He said the problem is that every time a minor tried to get in his car, the responsibility and liability shift to him. Policies for Uber and Lyft both state that it's up to the driver to screen riders and deny them if needed. "It's starting to be a problem not only with the drivers, but in the future it's going to be a problem," Bolton said. The problem is so common that Uber is rolling out "Uber Teen" in some markets to provided a safe option for parents. It's not yet available in metro Atlanta. "It's all about knowing where your kids are and what they're doing," the father said. "I just pray that nothing happens to anyone else's kid.

Gymboree closing up to 450 stores; metro Atlanta shops’ fate unknown

Kids’ clothing store Gymboree has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and plans to close between 375 and 450 of its 1,281 stores, the company announced Monday.

It is the latest major retailer facing financial problems and significant store closures this year.

34 retailers likely to close or go broke before the end of 2017 Gander Mountain closing in Gwinnett after company files for bankruptcy

Gymboree signed a restructuring support agreement with a majority of its lenders in hopes of cutting its $1.4 billion debt by more than $900 million, a press release said. Cutting the number of stores will allow the company to reach the “right size store footprint,” President and CEO Daniel Griesemer said in the release.

The company hasn’t determined which stores will close. There are a dozen Gymboree stores in metro Atlanta:

  • Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Rd. N.E. No. 4060, Atlanta
  • Cumberland Mall, 1331 Cumberland Mall No. 220, Atlanta
  • Perimeter Mall, 4400 Ashford-Dunwoody Rd. N. 1610, Atlanta
  • Avenue at East Cobb, 4475 Roswell Rd. No. 930, Marietta
  • The Forum at Peachtree Parkway, 5155 Peachtree Pkwy. No. 323, Norcross
  • Gwinnett Place Mall, 2100 Pleasant Hill Rd. No. 226, Duluth
  • Town Center at Cobb, 400 Ernest W. Barrett Pkwy. No. 167, Kennesaw
  • Avenue at West Cobb, 3625 Dallas Hwy. No. 450, Marietta
  • Avalon, 4140 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta
  • Sugarloaf Mills, 5900 Sugarloaf Pkwy. No. 585, Lawrenceville
  • Shoppes at Webb Gin, 1350 Scenic Hwy. No. 616, Snellville
  • Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Dr. No. 1082, Buford

Credit consulting service F&D Reports said earlier this year that Gymboree was one of 34 corporations likely to close or go bankrupt in 2017

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In April, electronics and appliance retailer HHGregg announced it was closing all its stores, including 12 in metro Atlanta. Payless ShoeSource announced it was closing four of its metro Atlanta stores. And last week Ascena Retail group — which owns Ann Taylor, Dress Barn, Loft, Lane Bryant, Justice, Maurices and Catherines — announced its plans to close 250 locations.

Department stores including Macy’sKmart, Sears and JCPenney have also all announced store closures.

In other news

Miss Georgia 2017: Meet the metro Atlanta women vying for the crown

Nearly 100 young women are in Columbus this week, hoping to strut, sing and speak their way to the Miss Georgia and Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen crowns. 

Metro Atlanta is well represented, with 17 of 54 Miss Georgia contestants from or representing the area. Meet some of your hometown girls, and maybe you’ll find a favorite to cheer on to the Miss Georgia crown on Saturday.

The pageant’s preliminary and final competition can be live streamed on WRBL-TV’s website for free. Preliminary competition starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Miss Georgia finals begin at 7 p.m. Saturday.

RELATED: Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen 2017: Meet metro Atlanta contestants

Miss Atlanta, Paula Smith

Hometown: Atlanta

Age: 20

School: Savannah College of Art and Design

Talent: Vocal

Fun fact: Although she’s getting her degree in fashion design, Paula has a “secret love” for astronomy.

Miss Augusta University, Dejah Johnson

Hometown: Loganville

Age: 20

School: Augusta University

Talent: Spoken word

Fun fact: She plans on becoming a neurologist.

Miss Capital City, Jameson Kenerly

Hometown: Jesup

Age: 21

School: University of Georgia

Talent: Lyrical baton twirling

Fun fact: She is a feature twirler at UGA.

Miss Cherokee Rose, Charlotte Hinton

Hometown: Marietta

Age: 20

School: Kennesaw State University

Talent: Tap dance

Fun fact: Her talent is dancing, but she loves singing showtunes in the car.

Miss Coastal Empire, Stephanie Gargiulo

Hometown: Snellville

Age: 23

School: Kennesaw State University

Talent: Tae Kwan Do

Fun fact: Her family parades around Atlanta with their goat every year.

Miss Cobb County, Chari Guzman

Hometown: Hiram

Age: 22

School: Georgia State University — Perimeter College

Talent: Vocal

Fun fact: She is a Beyoncé superfan and has been to almost all of the singer’s concerts in Atlanta.

Miss Conyers, Nia Simone Hampton

Hometown: Snellville

Age: 21

School: University of Georgia

Talent: Lyrical dance

Fun fact: She gets her best ideas between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.

Miss Coweta County, Gabriy’ela Garner

Hometown: Stone Mountain

Age: 19

School: Georgia State University

Talent: Piano

Fun fact: She’s a tennis player.

Miss Fitzgerald, Kelly Donoghue

Hometown: Marietta

Age: 21

School: University of Georgia

Talent: Vocal

Fun fact: She wants to be an attorney for the NFL.

Miss Fulton County, Alexa Gilomen

Hometown: Suwanee

Age: 20

School: University of Georgia

Talent: Vocal

Fun fact: She dreams of being a Christian music singer.

Miss Gwinnett County, Emily Harlow

Hometown: Snellville

Age: 20

School: University of North Georgia

Talent: Clogging

Fun fact: She loves hiking, especially at Preacher’s Rock in Lumpkin County.

Miss Harris County, Holly Haynes

Hometown: Suwanee

Age: 21

School: University of Georgia

Talent: Vocal

Fun fact: She wants to be a real-life Disney princess.

Miss Historic Buford, Annie Jorgensen

Hometown: Athens

Age: 21

School: University of Georgia

Talent: Jazz dance

Fun fact: Her goal is to be an anchor on “Good Morning America.”

Miss Kennesaw, Shannon Murphy

Hometown: Marietta

Age: 20

School: Kennesaw State University

Talent: Vocal

Fun fact: She wants to be a New York City taxi driver.

Miss Lake Lanier, Savanna Little

Hometown: Macon

Age: 23

School: Georgia Southern University

Fun fact: She loves crab legs.

Miss Magnolia, Courtney Hinesley

Hometown: Grayson

Age: 22

School: Kennesaw State University

Talent: Vocal

Fun fact: She is “obsessed” with pasta.

Miss Stone Mountain, Rosa Karina Campos

Hometown: Buford

Age: 22

School: University of North Georgia

Talent: Vocal

Fun fact: She dreams of having her own makeup line.

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How your next Chipotle meal could save an animal’s life

Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants across Georgia will donate half of every sale to the Atlanta Humane Society on Thursday, June 8. 

Here are three easy ways to ensure 50 percent of your total bill at Chipotle goes to the AHS:  

1. Bring in a copy of the fundraiser flyer, which are also available on the AHS’ website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page. 

2. Show your cashier at Chipotle the fundraiser social media posts that the AHS has posted. 

3. Or simply let your cashier know you are there for the fundraiser before you pay. 

Committed to improving animal welfare in the southeastern U.S., the Atlanta Humane Society is the oldest nonprofit in Atlanta. 

The money you spend at Chipotle on Thursday will help the AHS serve around 30,000 animals, and place approximately 9,000 dogs and cats into forever homes each year. 

For more information, visit

After wild saga, old Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles is boarded up

About a year after the owner of Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles was arrested on felony theft charges, the downtown Atlanta restaurant sits boarded up, with trash in its doorway. 

It’s unclear whether the restaurant is permanently closed; a call to owner Shanga Hankerson, the legendary singer’s son, was not returned immediately Friday.  

The original Gladys Knight’s Chicken & Waffles eatery opened in 1997 at 618 Ponce de Leon Ave., in Midtown. The opening was attended by then-Mayor Bill Campbell and R&B stars Aliyah and Ginuwine. 

It took hold as one of the city’s best-loved chains for the ensuing two decades. 

But in 2016, it began a fall marked by fighting in the family, accusations of theft, worker complaints and even rumors of sex parties.

Here’s an approximate timeline of the trouble:

February 2016: The Peachtree Street location, one of three around metro Atlanta, fails a health inspection with a score of 56 after Fulton County inspectors found 15 violations.

June 21, 2016: The Georgia Department of Revenue shuts down all three locations due to theft charges against Hankerson. Hankerson is accused of taking  $650,000 in state sales and withholding taxes, which after penalties and interest totals more than $1 million.

June 22, 2016: Hankerson is released on $20,000 bond from Clayton County jail. Knight begins to distance herself. 

June 24, 2016: The restaurants reopen.

July 2016: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Hankerson’s employees told investigators he used the money for sex parties and marijuana. 

Aug. 21, 2016: The Lithonia location is closed again, seemingly for good. (The eateries had been operating under state receivership, and the receiver says it isn’t supporting itself.) 

Aug. 26, 2016: Gladys Knight, an Atlanta native, files suit to take her name off the restaurant, saying it’s hurting her reputation.

September 2016: Hankerson responds to Knight’s suit by saying her “lack of mental capacity” bars her from removing her name. She then accuses her son of trying to “extort” and “blackmail” her by threatening to falsely claim she has dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Oct. 6, 2016:  The Peachtreet Street location fails a surprise health inspection, scoring a 44 after dead and live roaches were seen in the kitchen. The location voluntarily closes.

Oct. 10, 2016: A theft of an estimated $9,000 from the safe of the Peachtree Street location is reported, but no locks are broken, a video camera at the business isn’t operating and there is no burglar alarm. 

Oct. 20, 2016: The AJC reports that a consultant concluded the owner should consider closing permanently because of the restaurants’ “grave” financial position and “unappealing” conditions. At some point this month, the Cascade area location closes. 

Nov. 3, 2016: The last remaining restaurant flunks a third inspection after an inspector observed dead roaches.

Nov. 17, 2016: The restaurant passes an inspection with a B.

Feb. 13, 2017: A worker tells the AJC the restaurant is now called The World Famous Chicken & Waffles, but no signage or branding has visibly changed. 

Feb. 23, 2017: The DOR shuts down the restaurant over tax issues.

March 3, 2017: The AJC reports Knight won her bid to sever ties to the business; Hankerson must phase out all uses of Knight’s name, likeness and memorabilia by April 26, 2017. 

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Additional reporting by AJC staff writer Willoughby Mariano and Ligaya Figueras. 

Actress, beauty queen found dead in Texas home

Former beauty queen and TV actress Margaret Ann Garza, 31, was found dead Tuesday at her Texas home.  

Police were called at 6:31 a.m. to a home near Austin, Texas, about a woman who was not breathing, according to Angelique Myers, a spokeswoman for the Round Rock Police Department.  

>> Read more trending news

Firefighters and medics were already at the scene when police arrived. Her death is under investigation and an autopsy is pending, Myers said.

Garza was crowned Miss Texas Belleza Latina in 2007 and Miss Belleza Latina International in 2008, according to an online obituary.  

She recently appeared in the AMC television series “The Son,” as well as in the movie “Mercury Plains” with Scott Eastwood, the obituary said. She is also in the movie “Pizza Joint,” which will premiere this month, according to her obituary.

Police: Oklahoma teen likely killed in horseback riding accident

An Oklahoma teen is dead after he left his home on a horse and didn't return, investigators said.

Family members said 13-year-old Cash Lawrence, of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, rode off to round up a herd of horses on the family's property on Tuesday. When the horse returned without Lawrence, family members and authorities started to search for him.

Deputies said a family friend found the boy's body late Tuesday night, according to Fox23 News.

>> Read more trending news

A medical examiner is working to confirm a cause of death; investigators believe it was an accident.

Family members say they believe the boy's horse was provoked by other horses, and likely threw him from the saddle and dragged him.

Lawrence and his brother were set to compete in a youth rodeo Wednesday. Family members said he wanted to become a bull rider.

Family members said Lawrence competed in track and field, and even made a pole vault out of supplies he found on the family's small ranch. They said Lawrence loved the outdoors and was looking forward to joining the seventh-grade basketball team in Kellyville.

His funeral will be held Monday.

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