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Burglary at Bellagio Hotel and Casino prompts lockdown on Vegas strip

Las Vegas police are investigating a burglary at a retail store in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino after an incident that occurred overnight Friday, The Associated Press reported. 

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Police said Saturday they believe at least three people entered the store.

It was not immediately clear what items were stolen. The store was closed at the time of the burglary. 

Authorities said the suspects broke into a high-end jewelry and watch store, where they may have used sledgehammers to break into the shop's jewelry cases.

A witness said she saw an armed burglar wearing a pig mask near a Rolex store. Authorities said they are reviewing surveillance tape, where they saw multiple suspects wearing “character masks,” ABC News reported.

According to ABC News, the Bellagio was on lockdown for approximately a half-hour after the incident.

Police initially thought at least one of the theives may have fired gunshots during the burglary, but later said they believed the sound of the sledgehammers breaking the jewelry cases may have been confused for gunshots.

Guests fled the hotel and casino in the midst of the incident. No one was injured. 

Police have taken one suspect into custody. 

Portions of the Bellagio were closed Saturday as police continue to investigate.

Couple accused of killing deaf son, lighting house on fire to destroy evidence

A couple has been indicted on accusations that they murdered their deaf teenage son and then burned down their house to cover up the crime, the Associated Press reported.

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According to the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office in New York, Ernest F. Franklin II, 35, and his wife, Heather Franklin, 33, of Guilford, New York, were charged with second-degree murder, arson and tampering with physical evidence.

The two were indicted Friday on charges of second-degree murder in the death of their adopted son, 16-year-old Jeffrey Franklin, People magazine reported.

Following an investigation of a fire on March 1 at the family’s 1,300-square-foot home, the couple was arrested. Investigators believe they set fire to their home to cover up the killing of their son. An autopsy determined he died prior to the fire, according to the sheriff’s office.

Local law authorities have not said how or when the boy was killed.

The Franklins got married in 2011 and adopted Jeffrey six or seven years ago, the sheriff’s office said. According to People magazine, Ernest is an Iraq War veteran. Heather wrote in posts on her Facebook page that she is pregnant.

The Franklins are being held without bail. They entered a plea of not guilty.

“People are asking themselves, ‘How could this happen?'” Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting Jr. told People magazine. “Certainly for the public here, it’s a mix of anger and frustration and disappointment.”

Just days before Heather Franklin was arrested, she posted an update on her Facebook page about how much she missed her son, who she called JR. She also informed friends and family that she and her husband had added their “needs” and “wants” to the CheckedTwice.com Family Gift Registry because they lost everything in the fire.

A GoFundMe page was also established, but it has been taken down.

The Associated Press reported that police who responded to a 911 call about 1:15 a.m. on March 1 found the Franklin’s house, located about an hour away from Syracuse, engulfed in flames. Jeffrey was inside and unable to escape the fire, according to the sheriff’s office.

Authorities initially said the cause of the fire appeared to be a wood stove, the residence’s main heating source.

“People are wondering how anybody could do something so brutal to a developmentally disabled and handicapped 16-year-old boy,” Cutting told People. “There are a lot of people who would have taken him. There are organizations that would have taken care of him. Why resort to that? … It’s just a terrible, terrible tragedy.”

Chicago teacher fired for telling student to stand for Pledge of Allegiance

A Chicago-area teacher was fired this month for telling a student to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Vince Ziebarth, a full-time driver’s ed teacher at Eisenhower High School in Blue Island, Illinois, was upset when one of his students wouldn’t stand for the pledge. He told the student to either get on his feet or forgo that day’s driving lesson.

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“I told him he can make a choice to sit, but as long as you choose to sit, you will not sit in my [driver’s ed] vehicle,” Ziebarth said, arguing that he gave the student a choice. “I did not tell him what to do.”

However, when the student, Shemar Cooper, told his mother about the incident, she wasn’t pleased.

“If my son didn’t say anything to me, [the teacher] would have continued — and that’s bullying,” Cooper’s mother, Kelley Porter Turner, told the Tribune. “He violated my son’s First Amendment rights.”

Ziebarth, whose grandfather served in World War II, and his uncle in Vietnam, said he explained to Cooper why standing for the pledge is so important.

“I told him I stand to honor the sacrifice and bravery of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It doesn’t mean America is perfect, or that we agree with everything going on,” he told the Tribune. “We had an understanding. He was making a choice, and I was making a choice. His name never appeared on my sign-up sheet again, so I thought it was over.”

The school employs seven other driver’s ed teachers, and students are allowed to choose which teacher they want to ride with. After their first conversation, Ziebarth said he and Cooper often “joked” about the ordeal, but Porter didn’t find it funny and complained to the school.

“I was given no options. Had the principal told me I had to allow Shemar in my car, I would have,” Ziebarth said of the day he was fired. “The punishment does not fit the crime.”

At the beginning of the school year, another teacher at the school was suspended for one day after grabbing Cooper’s arm during the pledge in an effort to get him to stand.

Cooper, whose uncle served in the Army and grandfather served in World War II, said he made the decision to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance as an act of defiance against the rise of reported incidents of police brutality against black Americans last year. 

Read the full story at the The Chicago Tribune.

Class assignment leads 8-year-old to become bestselling author

What started off as a school assignment led one 8-year-old girl to land on Amazon’s Best Seller list.

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Nia Mya Reese is a student in Hoover, Alabama. She has an “annoying” little brother who constantly keeps her on her toes.

“He won’t always listen,” Nia told CBS News.

Nia Mya wrote a book about her experiences as a big sister titled, “How to Deal With and Care For Your Annoying Little Brother.” The book has since landed at the top of Amazon’s Best Seller list for parenting under the sibling relationships subsection.

The book began as a first-grade class assignment last year.

“Nia Mya shared that she was a great big sister to an annoying little brother,” teacher Beth Hankins told CBS News.

Nia Mya’s mom, Cherinita, turned the book into a summer assignment, encouraging Nia Mya to work on getting the words and sentences just right.

Now, Nia Mya has a fan base and attends book signing for her book. She said she learned something very valuable from the whole experience.

“I learned to follow my own dreams,” she said. 

Man plans ‘celebration of life’ party, dies the next day

The day after gathering with his friends and family one last time to celebrate his life, a Michigan man died.

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Earlier this month, Robert J. Eleveld wrote an article that appeared in the obituary section of the Grand Rapids Press.

“As I write this notice, I am still with you, although my doctors have informed me that this status will change in the near future,” wrote Eleveld.

In his “obituary” he asked his friends and family to join him for a “celebration of life.”

“I have decided ... to eschew the normal process of others celebrating my life after I die, and instead, would like to celebrate your lives with me,” he wrote. “We’d be honored if you would drop in, say hi, share a glass of red and a laugh ... Please know that the end of my life is the ultimate ‘peanut item’ in comparison to how much I have enjoyed my life with all of you”

Eleveld, a successful attorney and local political figure in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, gathered with his friends on March 18.

“It was just sort of an outpouring of love for my father in that room,” his daughter, Kerry Eleveld, told MLive. “And celebratory in most ways. Of course there were some sentimental moments. But the party, for the most part, was celebratory through and through.”

The next day, Eleveld died peacefully in his bed, according to MLive. He was surrounded by family, who were reading loving notes to him left by the attendees of the previous day’s celebration.

“They were quite beautiful, actually,” Kerry Eleveld said.

Kerry Eleveld said his last celebration was the perfect last day.

“For him, I don’t think it was so much about him as it was about bringing people together,” she said.

2 North Carolina children found stabbed to death

North Carolina police said they have found the bodies of two missing children Saturday morning in Hoke County.

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Fayetteville police had been searching for 2-year-old Serenity and 4-day-old Genesis Freeman overnight Friday.

They were in their father's custody when they disappeared and he reportedly refused to tell police where the children were.

Tillman Freeman, 30, was first charged with two counts of child abuse and child neglect. 

When their bodies were found in a wooded area off of Highway 211, two counts of first-degree murder were added to those charges.

The children's mother was in the hospital at the time the children went missing for an unrelated reason.

Florida man steals meat from supermarket

This could be called a high-steaks robbery.

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According to a release from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, authorities are looking for a man caught on camera stealing steaks from a South Florida Publix.

Deputies say that the man, donning “a short salt-and-pepper haircut,” a black shirt, black pants and black Nike shoes, stole from the meat department of a Weston Publix on Feb. 5. The man grabbed several skirt steaks and tenderloins, placing them in his cart and bagging them himself, without paying, before walking out with meat worth $151.

The store’s manager said the man has been known to steal meat from Publix markets in the area, but police have not been able to identify the suspect.

Shots fired at Las Vegas casino

Gunshots were fired during a burglary Saturday at a high-end retail store inside a Las Vegas, The Associated Press reported.

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Casino police said they are investigating the incident, which took place inside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino.

In a statement Saturday, police said that a preliminary investigation suggests that at least three people entered the store and one of them fired gunshots. No one was injured and a suspect was taken into custody.

Authorities said initial reports indicated there was an active shooter but that proved to be false. Parts of the casino property were closed as police investigated.

 

Parents question man who legally brought gun into trampoline park

A Georgia man who legally took his handgun into a popular trampoline fun building was not breaking the law, but some parents are questioning the man’s decision.

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Police were called to a Skyzone indoor trampoline park in Roswell on Sunday afternoon.

The general manager reported that a man brought a gun inside and proceeded to jump on the trampolines with the gun in his holster.

The manager said police were called because the man refused to store his weapon in his car.

The man, who is not being identified, said he keeps his gun on him at all times to protect his children.

“I guess the guy felt that since there wasn’t a sign up, that he could carry his gun in there,” resident Vincent Freeman said.

The father said he has a concealed carry permit and the business did not have a “no weapons” sign posted.

Roswell police said it’s up to individual businesses to post if they don’t want guns inside.

They said the man was not breaking any laws.

“The way the laws are now, I don’t suppose he was. I don’t think it was a wise decision on his part,” resident Georgia Kraff said.

Some customers said just because you can bring a gun doesn’t mean you should.

“I think there is no reason to have a gun in a place where there’s kids, and definitely no reason to have a gun while you’re jumping,” parent Judith Forgoston said.

The manager said this is a rare occasion and he does not plan on posting signs prohibiting guns.

Florida man buys pancakes, eats them in city crosswalk

A Florida man who went to an IHOP restaurant on Tuesday and ordered pancakes decided to enjoy his meal in the crosswalk of a busy street, the Lakeland Ledger reported. While the action drew plenty of laughter from witnesses, police in the Florida city located between Tampa and Orlando were not amused.

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Kiaron Thomas, 21, of Lakeland, was charged with placing an obstruction in the roadway and disrupting free flow of traffic, according to a Lakeland Police Department news release. He is due in court on April 25 to answer his charges.

Lakeland police originally responded to a call at 10:50 a.m. on March 21. The caller said Thomas was sitting in a chair in the crosswalk with a small TV table in front of him, eating what appeared to be pancakes, police said. Responding officers were unable to locate Thomas and determined that he had left the area prior to their arrival, according to the statement.

The chase might have ended there, but Thomas’ roadway seating arrangements led to a video that was posted on Facebook. “This man is a fool,” can be overheard at the beginning of the video as the person was laughing. As a tractor-trailer and a Jeep approach the crosswalk, Thomas begins to eat.

Vehicles on the highway drove around Thomas; the video is just under a minute long.

The Lakeland Police Department saw Thomas tagged in the video as the pancake eater. After his arrest, Thomas told investigators it was a prank and said he lives near the intersection.

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