Developer converting abandoned St. Paul high-rise into downtown housing

A part of St. Paul’s skyline that has been sitting empty for years will soon be converted into downtown housing.

A real estate company from Illinois recently purchased the former Ecolab University building and plans to turn the vacant high-rise into 178 housing units by the middle of the next year.

Inland Real Estate Acquisitions cited the property’s ideal downtown location and skyway access as the primary draw.

As 5 INVESTIGATES first reported, the 16-story building was abandoned by a previous developer and nearly condemned by the city last year.

John E. Thomas, a convicted felon from Chicago, had also planned to turn it into luxury apartments.

But Thomas was accused of defaulting on a $12-million loan and not paying numerous local contractors hired to renovate the property.

A Ramsey County judge eventually took the high-rise away from Thomas’ company after city inspectors said the building had no electricity, no heat, and broken windows, which “nearly resulted in the condemnation of the property.”

Thomas’s company bought the high-rise shortly after he was released from federal prison in 2017.

He was convicted of stealing more than $370,000 in taxpayer money from a south Chicago suburb after promising to redevelop the town’s marina. Prosecutors called him a “serial con man.”

During an interview inside his office in downtown Chicago last year, Thomas told 5 INVESTIGATES he was working to secure more funding to “re-acquire” the former Ecolab building and was not planning to walk away from the project.

Once Inland began the process of acquiring the property, Thomas offered a different response.

“I hope the project is (a) success for the next buyer,” Thomas said in an email last summer.

Kaeding Development Group of Bloomington will serve as the new developer on the project, according to a news release.

New data shows growth in downtown Minneapolis

The Minneapolis Downtown Council released new data showing growth in the heart of the city.

According to city data, 671 new residents moved downtown in 2022.

In 2021, 2,984 people moved to the heart of the city.

“Like Rocky in all those movies. Our community, our downtown has also been pummeled these last three years,” Steve Cramer, Minneapolis Downtown Council CEO and president, said.

The heart of Minneapolis is still fighting for revival — that was one of the main messages at the city’s 67th Downtown Council Annual Meeting.

“Downtown is still standing, like Rocky, but the rest of that fight is still ahead of us,” Cramer said.

The council said some of the vibrancy seen downtown is fueled by workers coming back to the office.

According to city data, in 2022, about 64% of employees worked from the office at some point during the week. That’s a 56% jump from 2021.

“We want our employees to show up every day and collaborate. We have to have a healthy downtown so that they feel that they’re coming to an environment where they can be at their best,” Greg Cunningham. U.S. Bank, said.

City leaders said public safety plays a big role in attracting people to the area.

In 2022, there was an overall 4% increase in violent crime downtown.

But the city credits Operation Endeavor, a public safety project, for progress in certain areas.

There was a 35% drop in crime in the entertainment district and a 15% decrease in Loring Park, according to city data.

“I get off work at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning sometimes and when I walk home, I feel safe,” Mitchell Brustad, who works at The Local on Nicolett Mall, said.

Brustad also lives downtown and explained he’s seen the changes to the area over time.

“As people stopped working remote and start working in the office again, which we appreciate, lunches and happy hours are picking back up,” he said.

But he explained the late nights and weekends are still slower than normal.

Brustad said there’s one simple fix to bring back downtown, but it’s up the community to make it happen.

“Just getting people to come back out and join us downtown for some fun,” he said.

More people are also traveling to Downtown Minneapolis. Hotel occupancy is up 56% compared to 2021.

Body camera footage shows Minneapolis police officers rescuing couple from fire

Two officers from the Minneapolis Police Department rescued a couple from a house fire Tuesday morning on 34th Street.

Zachery Randall and Jamal Mitchell got the couple out before the home was engulfed in flames.

RELATED: 2 adults escape East Bde Maka Ska house fire

“Once we called out and we heard those voices, we knew we had to go in there,” Mitchell said.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Joe Mazan obtained body camera footage of the rescue and spoke with the officers involved, which can be viewed in the video player above.

Woman found guilty on all counts in murder of 6-year-old son

A jury has found a west metro woman guilty of murder in the death of her 6-year-old son, Eli Hart.

Julissa Thaler, 28, was convicted of first- and second-degree murder on Wednesday following less than two hours of deliberation.

Per Minnesota law, a first-degree murder sentence carries an automatic life term in prison with no possibility of parole. Thaler’s sentencing is set for Feb. 16.

Just after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, prosecutors rested their case against Thaler, according to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Eric Chaloux, who was in the courtroom. The defense rested without calling any witnesses.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Dan Allard told the jury that Eli “probably thought he was going on a late-night adventure” and that “the person he trusted the most killed him.”

Thaler is charged with fatally shooting her son with a shotgun after they left their Spring Lake condo last May.

Prosecutors say the next morning, the boy was found dead in the trunk of her car, along with a shotgun, after Thaler was pulled over during a traffic stop in Mound. The child’s DNA and blood were found in her hair, investigators add.

Prosecutors told the jury they don’t know exactly where Eli was killed, as Thaler drove around the west metro for hours.

The prosecution never specified a motive, only telling the jury during closing arguments that she recently bought life insurance policies and was dealing with child custody involving Eli.

Thaler told the court she would not take the stand, on the advice of her lawyers.

Her defense attorney, Bryan Leary, told the jury, “she’s guilty of something” but not of the first- and second-degree murder charges.

Leary added the state hasn’t shown that she alone “hefted the gun” and shot Eli multiple times.

Closing arguments wrapped up around 2:20 p.m., and the jury reached a verdict just after 4 p.m.

The case was filled with graphic evidence, and at least one juror left with tears in her eyes after the judge read the verdict in court.

Eli’s father, Tory Hart, didn’t stop to talk after the verdict came down.

As previously reported, opening statements began last Friday after a nearly week-long jury selection.

Minnesota becomes first state to universally test newborns for congenital cytomegalovirus

Minnesota this week became the first state in the country to make screening for congenital cytomegalovirus (cCMV) available to every newborn.

1 in 200 babies are born with cCMV, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those babies born with it, 1 in 5 will have long term health problems as a result, making it the most common infection to cause birth defects. Despite that, most expecting parents have never heard about it.

Steph Steidl is a mother of two. Her youngest child, Hank, was born with cCMV four-and-a-half years ago.

Hank’s birth was rather uneventful. He passed all of his screenings, and he was deemed a healthy baby, Steidl said.

“The day after he was born, a student from the U of M came in telling us about a study that the U and the Minnesota Department of Health were doing to test newborns and screen them for cytomegalovirus, she shared. “And I remember asking her, ‘If he has it, is there something that can be done?’ And she said yes.”

That moment, after her second pregnancy, was the first she’d heard of cCMV.

She learned Hank was positive a couple of weeks later.

“It turned out there was quite a bit going on underneath the surface,” Steidl explained. “So he had a retinal scar, like a blind spot in one of his eyes, he had an abnormal brain MRI and he had neutropenia, which is dangerously low white blood cell counts that landed him in the hospital at a couple of months old.”

It was scary, but all of that was treatable (or at least manageable) with a change in care plans. The scarier part, Steidl said, was realizing that without that one student’s suggestion, she wouldn’t have known and wouldn’t have been able to get Hank the medical care he needed.

“He was asymptomatic at birth. And the really tricky and kind of devastating thing with [c]CMV is oftentimes complications are delayed onset,” she added.

The Steidels are not alone. 91% of women have never heard of it, according to data from the National CMV Foundation.

“And it causes thousands of birth defects very year in the United States,” CMV Foundation program director Amanda Devereaux said at a press conference at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday announcing the availability of screenings in-state.

Some of the biggest complications are vision and hearing loss.

“In comparison, a pregnant mom avoids lunchmeat and the chance of listeriosis impacting your baby is about one in 20,000,” Steidl mused. “So I just couldn’t believe the lack of awareness and the prominence of [c]CMV.”

“We expect about 300 infants will be born with congenital CMV each year in Minnesota,” Jill Simonetti,
manager of the Newborn Screening Program at the Minnesota Public Health Laboratory, added.

One additional drop of blood for the lab is all that’s needed for the initial cCMV screening, professor of pediatrics Dr. Mark Schleiss said.

The University of Minnesota Medical School professor headed up the research that led to the development of the cCMV screen that was just added to the Minnesota Public Health Laboratory’s Newborn Screening Program.

The additional test will be included in the existing $235 cost of newborn screenings in Minnesota. It doesn’t detect every case, Simonetti said, but Minnesota Public Health is working with the CDC to track its effectiveness and make improvements over time.

As for Hank, Steidl said these days he’s a typical 4-year-old, “running wild, loves football, just experienced his first Vikings’ devastating loss. He’s totally on track with his peers.”

Keep tabs on key legislation with our Legislative Tracker

The 2023 session of the Minnesota Legislature could be one of the most consequential in state history.

A good example is the Protect Reproductive Options Act signed into law by Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday. It puts in state law the “fundamental” right to abortion, contraception and other reproductive health measures.

“The message that we’re sending to the people of Minnesota today is very clear,” the governor said before signing the bill. “Your rights are protected in this state.”

It’s just one of potentially a dozen or more major pieces of legislation that could reshape Minnesota in many ways. Among the measures making their way through the legislature are bills legalizing recreational marijuana; paid family and medical leave; restoring voting rights for felons after their release; gun control laws, legalized sports betting and many more.

Now you can follow all this legislation on our new online Legislative Tracker. You will find links to the bills along with their status in the House and Senate and whether or not they’ve made it to the governor’s desk for his signature or veto.

The site will be updated frequently, and we hope you find it helpful.

Jury starts deliberating in trial of man charged in Truck Park bar shooting

Jurors have begun deliberating in the case of a man charged in the deadly mass shooting at a St. Paul bar in 2021.

Wednesday morning, prosecutors continued cross-examination of 30-year-old Devondre Trevon Phillips. His testimony began Tuesday in Ramsey County court.

RELATED: Man on trial for Truck Park bar shooting begins testimony

Phillips is charged with eight counts of attempted second-degree murder in connection to the Oct. 10, 2021, shooting at Truck Park.

Marquisha Wiley, 27, was killed in the shooting and more than a dozen other people were hurt.

Tuesday, Phillips detailed the many prior altercations he had that summer with Terry Brown — who is charged with one count of second-degree murder and four counts of second-degree attempted murder and is set to go on trial starting April 3 — as well as Brown’s friends. He and his attorney also tried to paint Brown and his friends as the aggressors, saying they offered him no choice but to fire shots inside the bar that night.

“I wish I could’ve done something different,” Phillips said Tuesday, adding, “I know that if I didn’t fire when I did, I’d be dead. It’s not a question, but I do feel bad” about injuring others.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, noted that Phillips didn’t contact the police after any of the prior altercations, didn’t ask for help before the shooting and had plenty of other options instead of opening fire.

When questioning continued shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday, Phillips admitted “it’s highly likely” he shot the eight people he’s charged with shooting but wouldn’t agree that any evidence showed he definitely shot anyone. He also disputed what several clips of evidence seemed to show.

“The way I see it is you guys are seeing what you choose to see,” Phillips told the prosecutor Wednesday morning.

Some of his responses even drew some audible reactions from family members of the victims who were seated in the courtroom.

Closing arguments were presented Wednesday afternoon, with prosecutors painting Phillips as living by his own set of rules — “Devondre’s rules” — than everyone else instead of being a reasonable person.

“We are all required to live by the same rules. That doesn’t mean everyone does … This isn’t the wild west,” Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Treye Kettwick told jurors.

Kettwick added that Phillips didn’t report any of the prior incidents to police, made no attempt to leave or retreat and, therefore, shouldn’t be able to claim self-defense.

“He knows they’re going to ‘press up on him.’ … Leave, get outta there, don’t let 14 people get shot because you wanna handle it yourself,” Kettwick said in his closing argument. “But that’s not Devondre’s rules.”

Phillips’ attorney, John Lesch, on the other hand, fought back against that notion and sowed doubt that Phillips intended to shoot anyone.

“In order to get a conviction in the case, they have to show that he’s the aggressor,” Lesch told jurors. He added that there can only be one aggressor and said the state will “flip-flop” and paint Brown as the aggressor at his trial in April.

Lesch also reiterated that Phillips was a victim himself and was left no other choice because of the actions of Brown and his friends.

“You don’t need someone running at you with a knife to stab you to have a reasonable claim to self-defense,” Lesch said.

Jurors were handed the case shortly before 5 p.m. and, because they are sequestered, will deliberate until around 9 p.m. Wednesday before restarting, if necessary, Thursday morning.

Group proposes transformation of Richfield American Legion Post into veteran housing, community space

There could soon be a new future for the American Legion Post 435 in Richfield after the building was forced to close back in 2020 due to financial issues.

Members of American Legion Post 435 have been forced to make tough decisions – their building had served the community since 1957, but they couldn’t keep up with the costs.

“This is where we as a Post would hold our meetings, we would rent out banquet space if people wanted to hold weddings here, class reunions, stuff like that,” said Adam Seamans, Commander of American Legion Post 435.

Instead of letting the Post close down, members came together to save the building and to create an even bigger vision for its future.

“We ran into financial difficulties and then the double whammy with the COVID and everything coming up, it just wasn’t financially viable for us to keep maintaining this building and operating it,” Seamans said.

The group is proposing a full renovation project called Veterans Village 435.

“It’s a multi-use facility that we think serves veterans well, serves the community well and it’s a very exciting project,” Elwyn Tinklenberg, development coordinator for Post 435 said.

The project would include the renovated meeting spaces and banquet halls that the previous building had, but it would also include a restaurant and housing for veterans.

The plans include 200 apartment units, of which 20% would be affordable housing meant for veterans transitioning out of homelessness.

“Housing is a critical need for people in Minnesota, for veterans in Minnesota. And affordable housing in particular, this project provides that. For the community, for the veterans and that’s an exciting part of this,” adds Tinklenberg.

The space would also have rooms reserved for families with loved ones getting care at the nearby VA Hospital.

“We see this as a model that can be used in other communities around the state as a way of keeping the Post active and vibrant in their communities, but also performing their base function – which is supporting veterans in their community,” Tinklenberg said.

The group said this proposal not only brings Post 435 into the future, but it creates housing and living space for the veterans in the Richfield area.

“Post 435 is not this building. The buildings come and go. We as Post, as Post 435, we’re going to endure through this and come back in a much stronger position to serve our membership,” Seamans said.

Legion members say their plan could serve as a model for other locations across the country.

The group is asking the state for $10 million to help fund the project and are also partnering with other private investors.

If the project gets the funding it needs, they’re looking at breaking ground early this summer or possibly this fall.

Their goal is to have units ready for veterans to lease by 2025.

Disney to cut 7,000 jobs in Iger’s company ‘transformation’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. will cut about 7,000 jobs as part of an ambitious companywide cost-savings plan and “strategic reorganization” announced Wednesday by CEO Bob Iger.

The job cuts amount to about 3% of the entertainment giant’s global workforce and were unveiled after Disney reported quarterly results that topped Wall Street’s forecasts.

Iger returned as CEO in November following a challenging two-year tenure by his handpicked successor, Bob Chapek. The company said the job reductions are part of a targeted $5.5 billion cost savings across the company. As of Oct. 1, Disney employed 220,000 people, of which about 166,000 worked in the U.S. and 54,000 internationally.

In a statement, Iger said Disney is embarking on a “significant transformation” that management believes will lead to improved profitability at the company’s streaming business.

The company, which owns Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar, will focus more on its core brands and franchises, Iger said.

The executive also announced changes to how executives will operate Disney’s various divisions. Specifically, creative executives will now be responsible for determining what movies, TV series or other content to produce, as well as the marketing and distribution.

“Our new structure is aimed at returning greater authority to our creative leaders and making them accountable for how their content performs financially,” Iger said during a call with Wall Street analysts.

In its latest results, solid growth at Disney’s theme parks helped offset tepid performance in its video streaming and movie business.

Disney said Wednesday that it earned $1.28 billion, or 70 cents per share, in the three months through Dec. 31. That compares with net income of $1.1 billion, or 60 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Disney earned 99 cents per share. Analysts, on average, were expecting adjusted earnings of 78 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue grew 8% to $23.51 billion from $21.82 billion a year earlier. Analysts were expecting revenue of $23.44 billion.

Disney said sales at its parks, experiences and products segment grew 21% to $8.74 billion, from $7.23 billion a year earlier. While revenue for the segment that includes Disney’s movie business edged up 1% to $14.78 billion from $14.59 billion a year earlier.

The company’s direct-to-consumer business, which includes its streaming services, posted a $1.1 billion operating loss amid higher programming and production costs at Disney+ and Hulu.

Disney+ ended the quarter with 161.8 million subscribers, down 1% from since Oct. 1. Hulu and ESPN+ each posted a 2% increase in paid subscribers during the quarter.

The company rolled out new price tiers for its U.S. Disney+ service in December that raised the monthly price for ad-free viewing from $7.99 to $10.99 and created a new basic Disney+ service with ads that costs $7.99 a month.

Management said Wednesday that Disney+ plus will achieve profitability by the end of its next fiscal year in September 2024.

The latest results marked the first quarterly snapshot since Iger’s return as CEO.

The move to revamp the company and slash costs comes as Disney is under pressure to turn its business around.

Activist investor Nelson Peltz, CEO of Trian Fund Management, is vying for a seat on Disney’s board of directors, arguing that the company’s recent operating performance has been disappointing and the result of self-inflected problems stemming from failed succession planning efforts, a flawed direct-to-consumer strategy and “over-the-top” compensation practices, among other concerns.

Disney has urged shareholders to vote against Peltz and last month named board member Mark Parker as its chairman. Parker, who also serves as executive chairman at Nike Inc., has been tapped to head Disney’s newly created succession planning committee, which will advise the board on CEO succession planning.

Iger also announced Wednesday that he intends to ask the board to approve the reinstatement of a “modest” dividend by the end of this year. The company suspended its dividend in the spring of 2020, in the early days of the pandemic.

Shares in Disney, which is based in Burbank, California, rose almost 6% in after-hours trading.

___

This story has been updated to show that Disney earned $1.28 billion in the quarter, not $1.28 million.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Golden Valley may buy homes to build new fire station, department says new station needed to improve safety

In an effort to improve safety for residents, and firefighters, some homeowners in Golden Valley may lose their homes to make room for a new fire station.

The “Fire Station Location Project” would consolidate two of their three current fire stations and build a new one — but where it would be located is not sitting well with residents who were recently informed they could lose their homes to make the plan happen.

“It is absolutely our dream home,” Brook Simonson, whose home is under consideration, told city council members ahead of their meeting Tuesday.

Urging them to change course, Simonson said she understands the needs the fire department has, but hopes the city can find a way around displacing families.

“I’m trying to appeal to the human side to everyone on what it means to lose community, what it means to lose dreams, what it means to lose memories in the making because you want to take homes for a fire department,” Simonson said.

The Golden Valley Fire Department says their facilities are outdated and this plan is overdue.

“We just don’t fit in these buildings anymore,” Assistant Fire Chief Dominique Guzman said. “They weren’t designed for our modern apparatus [and] modern operations,” he added about their station.

Asst. Chief Guzman said the department wants to move from a paid-on-call operation to a 24/7 duty crew model to keep up with industry trends — the department says this would not only improve community safety with quick response times, but also help them maintain and retain quality staff.

A big reason they can’t move to that model right now is because the department does not have any sleeping quarters. A new fire station would also allow staff to train at the site, better accommodate female firefighters and make cancer prevention upgrades — including better ventilation along with ways to clean equipment and themselves.

“I think if you’d ask anyone in the department, a big reason why we need to do this is we got to keep each other healthy, we got to keep each other safe,” Guzman said.

Other challenges that the fire department faces are broken down in the city’s Municipal Facilities Study — it points out why the shift to an around-the-clock operation would be beneficial:

“Transitioning from a three station paid-on-call model to a two station duty crew model is critical for consistent staffing and will increase operational efficiency by improving response times by two-and-a-half minutes to four minutes overall.”

There are still other options on the table — including using park land or commercial properties. According to the city, after community input, the city council is being asked to “reconsider utilizing Scheid Park or consider Schaper Park rather than residential properties.”

As for commercial properties, the city says those did not rank well in the “selection criteria prepared by city consultants as other parcels due to response times” — also adding it is a more expensive option.

A major factor in deciding what residential properties are under consideration by the city is the response time for fire calls.

While nothing is set, dozens of homes are under the city’s consideration — including Brian Wade’s home that sits on the north side of the city, near Duluth Street.

“We’re fully supportive of a new fire station, the mentality around why, and then shifting to a full-time model and just a bigger location makes sense. However, we feel that displacing residents is not the right move,” Wade said.

If the council approves the plans to obtain residential parcels, the city said, “staff and consultants will contact the owners to discuss their interest in selling. If a property owner expresses interest, the City would provide fair market value for the property acquisition and relocation costs.”

There have been two open houses for residents to learn about this project and question city leaders. One more is set for Thursday, this one is virtual and starts at 6 p.m.

The city council will address this project during their work session on Tuesday, Feb. 14 starting at 6:30 p.m. No decisions will be made, but people are free to attend and listen.  

Turkish leader acknowledges ‘shortcomings’ in quake response

GAZIANTEP, Turkey (AP) — The president of Turkey on Wednesday acknowledged “shortcomings” in his country’s response to the world’s deadliest earthquake in more than a decade as hope dwindled that more survivors would emerge from the rubble of thousands of toppled buildings.

With the confirmed death toll approaching 12,000, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the especially hard-hit Hatay province, where more than 3,300 people died and entire neighborhoods were destroyed. Residents there have criticized the government’s efforts, saying rescuers were slow to arrive.

Erdogan, who faces a tough battle for reelection in May, reacted to the mounting frustration by acknowledging problems with the emergency response to Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake but said the winter weather had been a factor. The earthquake also destroyed the runway at Hatay’s airport, further disrupting the response.

“It is not possible to be prepared for such a disaster,” Erdogan said. “We will not leave any of our citizens uncared for.” He also hit back at critics, saying “dishonorable people” were spreading “lies and slander” about the government’s actions.

Turkish authorities said they were targeting disinformation, and an internet monitoring group said access to Twitter was restricted despite it being used by survivors to alert rescuers.

Meanwhile, rescue teams in Turkey and Syria searched for signs of life in the rubble. Teams from more than two dozen countries have joined tens of thousands of local emergency personnel in the effort. But the scale of destruction from the quake and its powerful aftershocks was so immense and spread over such a wide area that many people were still awaiting help.

Experts said the survival window for those trapped under the rubble or otherwise unable to obtain basic necessities was closing rapidly. At the same time, they said it was too soon to abandon hope.

“The first 72 hours are considered to be critical,” said Steven Godby, a natural hazards expert at Nottingham Trent University in England. “The survival ratio on average within 24 hours is 74%, after 72 hours it is 22% and by the fifth day it is 6%.”

Rescuers at times used excavators or picked gingerly through debris. It was not clear how many people might still be trapped.

In the Turkish city of Malatya, bodies were placed side by side on the ground and covered in blankets while rescuers waited for vehicles to pick them up, according to former journalist Ozel Pikal, who said he saw eight bodies pulled from the ruins of a building.

Pikal, who took part in the rescue efforts, said he thinks at least some of the victims froze to death as temperatures dipped to minus 6 degrees Celsius (21 Fahrenheit).

“As of today, there is no hope left in Malatya,” Pikal said by telephone. “No one is coming out alive from the rubble.”

Road closures and damage in the region made it hard to access all the areas that need help, he said, and there was a shortage of rescuers where he was.

“Our hands cannot pick up anything because of the cold,” Pikal said. “Work machines are needed.”

The region was already beset by more than a decade of civil war in Syria. Millions have been displaced within Syria itself, and millions more have sought refuge in Turkey.

Erdogan said Turkey’s death toll passed 9,000. The Syrian Health Ministry reported that the death toll in government-held areas climbed past 1,200. And at least 1,600 people have died in Syria’s rebel-held northwest, according to the volunteer first responders known as the White Helmets.

That brought the overall total to nearly 12,000. Tens of thousands more are injured.

Stories of rescues continued to provide hope that some people still trapped might be found alive. A crying newborn still connected by the umbilical cord to her deceased mother was rescued Monday in Syria. In Turkey’s Kahramanmaras, rescuers pulled a 3-year-old boy from the rubble, and rescuers sent by the Israeli military saved a 2-year-old boy.

But David Alexander, a professor of emergency planning and management at University College London, said data from past earthquakes suggested the likelihood of survival was now slim, particularly for seriously injured individuals.

“Statistically, today is the day when we’re going to stop finding people,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we should stop searching.”

Alexander cautioned that the final death toll may not be known for weeks because of the sheer amount of rubble.

The earthquake’s toll has already outstripped that of a 7.8-magnitude quake in Nepal in 2015, when 8,800 died. A 2011 earthquake in Japan triggered a tsunami, killing nearly 20,000 people.

Many of those who survived this week’s quake lost their homes and were forced to sleep in cars, government shelters or outdoors amid rain and snowfall in some areas.

“We don’t have a tent, we don’t have a heating stove, we don’t have anything. Our children are in bad shape,” Aysan Kurt, 27, said. “We did not die from hunger or the earthquake, but we will die freezing from the cold.”

Some families began mourning their dead. In the Turkish city of Gaziantep, relatives who rushed to Kahramanmaras to rescue 21-year-old Mustafa Sonmez instead buried him Wednesday.

“May God have mercy on those who died. I wish patience for those who remain alive,” said relative Mustafa Caymaz.

The disaster comes at a sensitive time for Erdogan, who faces an economic downturn and high inflation. Perceptions that his government mismanaged the crisis could hurt his standing. He said the government would distribute 10,000 Turkish lira ($532) to affected families.

Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu blamed the devastation on Erdogan’s two-decade rule, saying he had not prepared the country for a disaster and accusing him of misspending funds.

In their effort to crack down on disinformation related to the earthquake response, police said they had detained 18 people and identified more than 200 social media accounts suspected of “spreading fear and panic.”

Global internet monitor NetBlocks said multiple internet providers restricted access to Twitter in Turkey. Some trapped survivors have used Twitter to alert rescuers and loved ones, while others have used it to criticize the government’s response.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said a government official held a video conference with a Twitter official to remind him of the company’s responsibilities on disinformation and obligations under a strict new social media law.

Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company was “reaching out to understand more,” and later that it had ben informed by Turkey’s government that access would be restored soon.

Musk did not offer an explanation for why Turkey had restricted access in the first place.

The government has periodically restricted access to social media during national emergencies and terror attacks, citing national security.

In Syria, aid efforts have been hampered by the ongoing war and the isolation of the rebel-held region along the border, which is surrounded by Russia-backed government forces. Syria itself is an international pariah under Western sanctions linked to the war.

Ahmad Idris, a Syrian now living in Saraqib after being displaced by the war, cried in agony as he looked at the bodies of 25 family members.

“We came here on the basis of finding a safe shelter for us and our children,” he said. “But in the end, look how fate has caught up to us here.”

___

Alsayed reported from Bab al-Hawa, Syria. Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey. Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul. Associated Press journalists David Rising in Bangkok, Danica Kirka in London, Frank Jordans in Berlin, Robert Badendieck in Istanbul, and Kareem Chehayeb and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Minnesota non-profit helps with emergency response after Turkey-Syria earthquake

Collapsing buildings, giant piles of rubble, and heroic rescues.

“What we have seen, it’s something unpredictable,” says Roy Moussali, the executive director of Questscope, a global humanitarian non-profit. “Waking up at four in the morning, with the whole building shaking.”

This is the new reality, in the aftermath of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that stretched hundreds of miles across southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria, killing thousands.

“It’s not only the destroyed buildings, but also the lack of resources,” explains Muthanna Khriesat, Questscope’s CEO. “Lack of rescue teams, lack of rescue equipment, and the lack of water, we also have to take care of.”

For seven years, Khriesat and his family have called Minnesota home.

But now, he’s back in his native country Jordan, trying to help those suffering in Syria.

“Yesterday, we opened up three shelters, and now we are hosting 1,000 people in those shelters, providing them with essential things,” Khriesat says. “We are blessed with what we have and to think about our brothers and sisters, that they have nothing. They are freezing cold, with no support and no shelter, with all the trauma they are facing.”

Clothes, blankets, food, and water are desperately needed, Khriesat notes.

Questscope is teaming up with Alight, the Minnesota-based humanitarian organization — which is providing fundraising and tech support, and helping to build temporary shelters.

The bitterly cold weather in the region is not helping.

“We have freezing temperatures, and it has been snowing in some parts of Aleppo, so it was very cold, no food, no shelter,” Moussali declares. “So there is a need for heating, there is no fuel, very little fuel, no power. We only have one hour of electricity per day.”

Moussali is in charge of about 1,400 Questscope staffers — all Syrians — and about 3,000 volunteers.

He says the country’s 12-year civil war has exacted a heavy price on Aleppo.

Beyond the widespread destruction to the city buildings and infrastructure, there’s been a cholera outbreak, massive water shortages — and now, an earthquake.

“We are called to have empathy and compassion for each other, and this is what’s happening in the humanitarian community here,” Moussali says. “Everyone is working for the common good.”

Alight is calling this an open-ended mission, with thousands of buildings either damaged or destroyed.

Among the most urgent needs, Moussali says, is heavy duty equipment to lift pieces of concrete and free people who are trapped under all that rubble.

For his part, Khriesat says he’s planning to travel to Syria next week.

He’s already thinking about the challenges that lay ahead.

“Moving forward, we have to deal with bigger problems, we have to think about the trauma with kids, with the people who have lost their families,” Khriesat says. “Also, we have to think about home repairs and people not spending their lives in those shelters. We have to see what kind of plans we will have to send them back home and put them back into their houses.”

You can find out more information about Alight here.

More information about Questscope is available here.

8-year-old gets surprise trip to Super Bowl courtesy of Thielen Foundation

An 8-year-old boy from Minnesota who has overcome several hurdles in his life now has two tickets to the Super Bowl.

The Thielen Foundation surprised Devin Dee of St. Louis Park with the chance of a lifetime.

Devin is a patient at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital and receives support through the Pediatric Mental Health Unit, a unit of the hospital that partners with the Thielen Foundation.

Last month the foundation thought Devin and his uncle Mark were the best fit for a Super Bowl surprise by giving them two tickets and $5,000 in travel expenses.

“For about two to three days I had to keep it a secret,” Devin’s uncle, Mark Erickson, said. “Every once in a while I almost slipped about when we go to Arizona all that kind of stuff. It is really special they recognized us.”

The trip to Arizona for the big game will be Devin’s first time on a plane.

North Minneapolis ALDI set to close, leaving residents with few options for healthy food

In North Minneapolis, grocery stores are few and far between… and the problem is about to get worse.  The ALDI store on Penn Avenue North is about to close on Sunday, leaving residents with even fewer options.

Aldi announced the closure in a statement:

“ALDI has made the difficult decision to close our store at 3120 Penn Avenue North due to the inability to renovate the store to accommodate our larger product range and our current lease term expiring.”

A spokesperson for Aldi

“I’m very concerned because this is the only place within walking distance for us to buy fresh produce and meat,” said resident Sheree Bochenek.

“It’s just a huge loss to the neighborhood because we are in a food desert to begin with, “ added Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw with the Minneapolis City Council. “I’ve talked to the owners of that space and they’ve committed to figuring out how to get another grocery store in there.”

After ALDI closes, there will be only two major grocery stores left in North Minneapolis — an area that serves more than 70,000 residents.

IRS urges special refund recipients to delay filing taxes

NEW YORK (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service is recommending that taxpayers hold off on filing their tax returns for 2022 if they received a special tax refund or payment from their state last year.

Last year, 19 states offered diverse programs that offered inflation relief payments or refunds for taxpayers. The IRS issued the guidance Friday due to the agency’s uncertainty about the taxability of the payments.

“We are working with state tax officials as quickly as possible to provide additional information and clarity for taxpayers,” the IRS said in its statement.

For residents from states such as California and Illinois, the agency is recommending that they hold off on filing their tax returns until they receive further instruction from the IRS.

If you received a state tax refund last year, here is what you need to know.

I GOT A TAX REFUND FROM MY STATE. WHAT DOES THE IRS STATEMENT MEAN FOR ME?

If you got a tax refund from your state in 2022, the IRS is recommending you hold off on filing your tax return until the agency gives further instructions. Certain states that provided these refunds have determined that these payments are not taxable for most people. What needs to be determined is if these refunds are taxable on the federal level, said Tom O’Saben, director of tax content and government relations at the National Association of Tax Professionals.

In some states, people would get taxed if they received a tax refund in 2022 only if they itemize their deductions, said Keith Hall, president and CEO of the National Association for the Self-Employed. An example of a state that is taking this route is Virginia, which has stated that taxpayers that filed a standard deduction will not be taxed for their tax rebate. However, not all states have issued guidance on tax rebates.

WHY SHOULD I WAIT TO FILE MY RETURN?

Following the IRS recommendations is key if taxpayers want to avoid having to amend a previously filed tax return, said Hall.

“I think the IRS is trying to help people save another filing, if they had to do an amended return,” he said.

I RECEIVED A REFUND AND ALREADY FILED MY TAXES. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

The IRS is recommending that you don’t file an amended return yet. If you believe you need to file an amended return, the IRS advises you to wait until further instructions are given.

WHICH STATES OFFERED SPECIAL TAX REFUNDS IN 2022?

Special tax refunds were offered by 19 states in 2022. The list includes Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.

WHAT IF I’M NOT SURE IF THIS APPLIES TO ME?

If you are not sure if you need to wait to file your taxes, Hall recommends you consult with a tax professional about your specific situation.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Tele-NICU program helps physicians safely deliver babies across Minnesota

A new program is helping physicians safely deliver more babies across Minnesota. M Health Fairview launched its Tele-NICU program at Ridges Hospital in June and it’s been expanding to other facilities.

It allows doctors at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital to connect virtually to delivery rooms across the state. A high-definition camera brings them into the room with a physician at a remote location who requests assistance.

“We can help walk them through the next steps that need to happen and hopefully anticipate some of the challenges that might be coming down the pipeline if we were able to see they weren’t able to respond to those treatments,” said Dr. Ellen Diego, a neonatologist for M Health Fairview.

In December, Jessie Johnson experienced the benefits of this technology first-hand.

She had a cesarean section scheduled for Jan. 25 at a hospital in Duluth, which was more than an hour from their Hill City home but equipped to handle her high-risk pregnancy.

Eight years ago, Johnson was diagnosed with a benign pituitary tumor. She had three surgeries and was the first Mayo Clinic patient to undergo a targeted radiation treatment called proton beam therapy. At the time, her neurosurgeon told her it might not be possible to become a mother.

She later married Adam Johnson and during the pandemic underwent years of IVF, which finally resulted in her pregnancy.

On Dec. 13, Johnson went into labor at about seven and a half months pregnant. They rushed to nearby Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital as snowflakes started to fall.

“I was working in one of our after-hours clinics and I got a phone call from our OB that we had someone here in labor who had a really complicated pregnancy,” said Dr. Tim Pehl, a family physician at Grand Itasca.

A snow storm made her delivery even more complicated.

“We weren’t going to be able to transfer this woman to Duluth, where we’d normally transfer her,” said Dr. Pehl. “The helicopters weren’t flying anywhere so the NICU team was coming by ground transport in an ambulance so that was going to take several hours.”

“I was a little nervous to deliver at Grand Itasca, one with my medical condition and then also with him because they didn’t have the NICU set up,” Johnson remembers.

Six weeks earlier, the hospital received Tele-NICU training. Dr. Pehl explained they called Masonic Children’s Hospital and asked for help with Johnson’s case.

“They were prepping the mom to be able to deliver the baby,” said Dr. Diego, who picked up the call. “We just had a couple of minutes to kind of prep the team and make some calls to get the medical crew who would hopefully be able to come pick up [the baby] in the event that he needed to be transferred to another facility.”

She was able to monitor newborn baby Teddy’s vitals from the Twin Cities office. The technology allows physicians to pan the camera around the room and zoom in on the patient, monitors, or family members in the room.

“We can assess the baby and really see what these providers are seeing at these outside facilities,” said Dr. Diego. “We might be helping with thermoregulation, helping keep their temperature up. We might be helping with their breathing, we might be helping walk them through how to support their cardiac function, how to support their heart, all of the other organ systems in their body.”

One of the biggest concerns with premature babies is often their breathing.

“If we have to put a breathing tube in an infant she can read the numbers of the breathing tube and say ‘Woah that looks like it’s in too far’ or ‘That looks like it’s not in enough’,” said Dr. Pehl. “It’s kind of an all hands on deck approach.”

Fortunately, Teddy was born healthy and didn’t need a breathing tube.

“I could hear the Tele-NICU people saying ‘He’s breathing, he’s warm and he’s doing all of this stuff’,” said Adam Johnson. “It was pretty reassuring to hear what they were doing.”

The Tele-NICU program is available 24/7 and it’s meeting an increased need.

“In rural Minnesota, a lot of small town hospitals have stopped delivering babies and we’re sort of a small-medium town hospital so we’re delivering more babies,” said Dr. Pehl. “We’re far enough from a NICU that we’ve always known that there are scenarios when we have to do the best we can and rely on our training the best we can and hope there’s a good outcome but now having a neonatologist in the room virtually just is a complete game changer.”

“When we can visually be inside of a delivery room and see what the providers are seeing who are in some of these facilities that might be in an area we can’t get to, that is potentially life-changing for those patients,” Dr. Diego added.

The medical transport finally arrived at Grand Itasca three hours after Teddy was born. He was brought to a Duluth hospital where he was in the NICU before heading home just before New Year’s Day.

“Without the tele-NICU, I don’t know where we would’ve been on that night,” said Adam Johnson. “I was just grateful that they have this not only for us at the time but for others in the future.”

Biden in State of Union promises to ‘finish the job’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden exhorted Republicans over and over Tuesday night to work with him to “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy and uniting the nation as he delivered a State of the Union address meant to reassure to a country beset by pessimism and fraught political divisions.

The backdrop for the annual address was markedly different from the previous two years, with a Republican speaker sitting expressionless behind Biden and GOP lawmakers in the audience preparing to scrutinize both his administration and his policies.

But Biden sought to portray a nation dramatically different in positive ways from the one he took charge of two years ago: from a reeling economy to one prosperous with new jobs; from a crippled, pandemic-weary nation to one that has now opened up and a democracy that has survived its biggest test since the Civil War.

“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience. Of always moving forward. Of never giving up. A story that is unique among all nations,” Biden said. “We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it. That is what we are doing again.”

He added: “We’re not finished yet by any stretch of the imagination.”

Biden sought to reassure the nation that his stewardship of the country has delivered results both at home and abroad, as he also set out to prove his fitness for a likely re-election bid.

But the challenges for Biden are many: economic uncertainty, a wearying war in Ukraine, growing tensions with China and more. And signs of the past trauma at the Capitol, most notably the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the Capitol, was unavoidable, with a large fence encircling the complex as lawmakers and those in attendance faced tighter-than-usual security measures.

From the start, the partisan divisions were clear. Democrats — including Vice President Kamala Harris — jumped to applause as Biden began his speech. New Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, though he had greeted the president warmly when he entered the chamber, stayed in his seat.

Rather than rolling out flashy policy proposals, the president set out to offer a reassuring assessment of the nation’s condition, declaring that two years after the Capitol attack, America’s democracy was “unbowed and unbroken.”

“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience,” he said, highlighting record job creation during his tenure as the country has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden also pointed to areas of bipartisan progress in his first two years in office, including on states’ vital infrastructure and high tech manufacturing. And he says, “There is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress.”

“The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere,” Biden said. “And that’s always been my vision for the country: to restore the soul of the nation, to rebuild the backbone of America — the middle class — to unite the country.”

“We’ve been sent here to finish the job!”

The president took to the House rostrum at a time when just a quarter of U.S. adults say things in the country are headed in the right direction, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About three-quarters say things are on the wrong track. And a majority of Democrats don’t want Biden to seek another term.

He sought to confront those sentiments head-on.

“You wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away, I get it,” Biden said. “That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind. Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years.”

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who gained a national profile as Trump’s press secretary, was to deliver the Republican response to Biden’s speech.

She was to focus much of her remarks on social issues, including race in business and education and alleged big-tech censorship of conservatives.

“While you reap the consequences of their failures, the Biden administration seems more interested in woke fantasies than the hard reality Americans face every day,” she was to say, according to excerpts released by her office. “Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace, but we are under attack in a left-wing culture war we didn’t start and never wanted to fight.”

With COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, the White House and legislators from both parties invited guests designed to drive home political messages with their presence in the House chamber. The parents of Tyre Nichols, who was severely beaten by police officers in Memphis and later died, are among those seated with first lady Jill Biden. Other Biden guests included the rock star/humanitarian Bono and the 26-year-old who disarmed a gunman in last month’s Monterey Park, California, shooting.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus invited family members of those involved in police incidents, as they sought to press for action on police reform in the wake of Nichols’ death. The White House, ahead of the speech, paired police reform with bringing down violence, suggesting that giving police better training tools could lead to less crime nationwide.

Biden was shifting his sights after spending his first two years pushing through major bills such as the bipartisan infrastructure package, legislation to promote high-tech manufacturing and climate measures. With Republicans now in control of the House, he is turning his focus to implementing those massive laws and making sure voters credit him for the improvements.

Biden, not known for his oratory, appeared relaxed and confident as he delivered his address. He casually adlibbed remarks, fed off the responses from Democratic lawmakers who frequently stood up with thunderous ovations and playfully engaged with his Republican critics.

Addressing Republicans who voted against the big bipartisan infrastructure law, Biden said he’d still ensure their pet projects received federal support. “I promised to be the president for all Americans,” he said. “We’ll fund these projects. And I’ll see you at the ground-breaking.”

The switch is largely by necessity. The newly empowered GOP is itching to undo many of his achievements and vowing to pursue a multitude of investigations — including looking into the recent discoveries of classified documents from his time as vice president at his home and former office.

Though he pledged bipartisanship where possible, Biden also underscored the sharp tensions that exist between him and House Republicans: He discussed GOP efforts to repeal Democrats’ 2022 climate change and healthcare law and their reluctance to increase the federal debt limit, the nation’s legal borrowing authority that must be raised later this year or risk default.

Stressing that the “full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned,” Biden accused congressional Republicans of threatening to hold the U.S. economy hostage to their policy demands.

“Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years. That means if Congress doesn’t vote to keep them, those programs will go away,” Biden said. “Other Republicans say if we don’t cut Social Security and Medicare, they’ll let America default on its debt for the first time in our history.

“I won’t let that happen.”

On the eve of the president’s address, McCarthy challenged Biden to come to the negotiating table with House Republicans to slash spending as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

“We must move towards a balanced budget and insist on genuine accountability for every dollar we spend,” McCarthy said.

While hopes for large-scale bipartisanship are slim, Biden reissued his 2022 appeal for Congress to get behind his “unity agenda” of actions to address the opioid epidemic, mental health, veterans’ health and cancer. He announced new executive action and call for lawmakers to act to support new measures to support cancer research, address housing needs and suicide among veterans, boost access to mental health care, and move to further crack down on deadly trafficking in fentanyl.

The president also called for extending the new $35 per month price cap on insulin for people on Medicare to everyone in the country. And he pushed Congress to quadruple the 1% tax on corporate share buybacks that was enacted in the Democrats’ climate and health care bill passed last year known as the Inflation Reduction Act.

The speech comes days after Biden ordered the military to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew brazenly across the country, captivating the nation and serving as a reminder of tense relations between the two global powers.

“Make no mistake: as we made clear last week, if China’s threatens our sovereignty, we will act to protect our country,” Biden said. “And we did.”

Last year’s address occurred just days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine and as many in the West doubted Kyiv’s ability to withstand the onslaught. Over the past year, the U.S. and other allies have sent tens of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance to bolster Ukraine’s defenses. Now, Biden must make the case — both at home and abroad — for sustaining that coalition as the war drags on.

Man on trial for Truck Park bar shooting begins testimony

The man who is currently on trial in connection to the deadly mass shooting at the Seventh Street Truck Park bar in 2021 took the stand Tuesday.

After a two-day jury selection process, 30-year-old Devondre Trevon Phillips’ trial officially started Wednesday of last week. He’s charged with eight counts of attempted second-degree murder in connection to the Oct. 10, 2021, shooting.

Phillips’ alleged accomplice, 34-year-old Terry Brown, is charged with one count of second-degree murder and four counts of second-degree attempted murder. Brown’s trial is now scheduled to start on April 3. It was previously scheduled to begin at the same time as Phillips’ trial.

RELATED: Monday marks 1 year since fatal mass shooting at St. Paul’s Seventh Street Truck Park Bar

Tuesday morning, Phillips described multiple altercations with Brown and his friends in the spring and summer of 2021. One of those was an incident in June at Flameburger, where Phillips said he and his cousin — who was dating Brown — were waiting in line when Brown approached. Phillips said Brown grabbed his cousin and made threats, so he intervened.

When asked why he intervened, Phillips explained that he’d previously lost another cousin to a domestic violence incident and felt compelled to defend his cousin at Flameburger. However, when he stepped in, he said Brown started making threats toward him and, when they stepped outside, Brown and several of his friends pulled guns on Phillips.

While they ran away without harming him, Phillips said Brown and his friends soon started calling him to mock him and threaten to kill him when they caught him again.

In several subsequent encounters, Phillips described being shot at by Brown and his friends.

Due to those encounters, Phillips said he decided to not stay in Minnesota for the whole summer as initially planned and went back to Las Vegas.

“To see somebody that frequently means it’s getting too hot,” Phillips told jurors.

It wasn’t until the night of the Truck Park shooting in October that Phillips returned, adding that he didn’t tell anyone and wanted to lay low so he didn’t post anything on social media, either. Phillips said he wanted to go from the airport straight home and rest but his nephew wanted to get a drink so he agreed.

Phillips said he wasn’t armed when they went to the bar but then he saw an old friend from high school outside who said he’d heard Phillips was possibly in some trouble and sold Phillips his gun.

Still, Phillips testified that he wasn’t looking for Brown and his friends and didn’t think they’d be trying to find him.

Before lunch Tuesday, Phillips didn’t get into the shooting but did walk through some surveillance footage from inside the bar just prior to the shooting and pointed out that when he saw Brown and his friends by the doors, he got nervous and hoped they’d move so he could escape. However, “in a blink of an eye,” the started approaching him.

He added that, when he saw Brown and his friends, he was thinking, “Am I gonna get outta here alive?” When asked by his lawyer about injuring innocent bystanders, Phillips said, “I wish I could’ve done something different” to avoid the shooting but added, “I know that if I didn’t fire when I did, I’d be dead. It’s not a question but I do feel bad” about injuring others.

Marquisha Wiley, 27, was killed in the shooting and more than a dozen other people were hurt.

Prosecutors say Phillips fired the first shot that night, although Phillips and his attorney laid out how Brown was the aggressor and Phillips was simply trying to defend himself.

Prosecutors also tried to push back on the idea that Phillips didn’t have any other options, noting he never called the police after any of the prior incidents involving Brown and his friends and he didn’t call the police, security or ask anyone else for help between the time he saw Brown and his group at Truck Park and when the first shots were fired.

Additionally, the prosecution tried to imply that Phillips should’ve known Brown and his group would be there even before he saw them because Phillips had talked to his cousin, who was dating Brown, earlier at the bar. Phillips said he didn’t have any indication Brown was still dating his cousin and never asked her if Brown would show up that night.

Prosecutors will continue questioning Phillips Wednesday morning. When that is finished, closing arguments are expected to take place Wednesday before the case is handed to the jury, which will be sequestered during deliberations.

Scoring King: James passes Abdul-Jabbar for NBA points mark

LeBron James got the first official statistic of his NBA career on a rebound. His next entry on the stat sheet was an assist.

Even then, points weren’t the priority. They never were.

Somehow, he became the most prolific scorer in NBA history anyway. It finally happened Tuesday night, the kid from Akron, Ohio, connecting on a step-back jumper to push his career total to 38,388 points and break the record that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar held for nearly 39 years.

James outstretched his arms after his 36th point of the night for the Los Angeles Lakers, threw both hands in the air, then smiled. Abdul-Jabbar rose from his seat and clapped. The game was stopped as members of James’ family, including his mother, his wife and their three children, took the floor for a ceremony recognizing the moment.

“It’s never gotten my juices flowing,” James told The Associated Press, when asked what the scoring record means to him. “I’m there now because I never, ever thought about it. The only thing I ever thought about was winning championships, maybe a couple MVPs, maybe defensive player of the year. But scoring championships and records, I’m telling you, that was never on my mind.”

Abdul-Jabbar — a longtime Laker and one of many celebrities and sports stars who made sure they were there to see history — became the league’s all-time leading scorer on April 5, 1984 and wound up retiring in 1989 with 38,387 points. It was a record that some thought would last forever, with very few even coming close. Karl Malone retired 1,459 points behind Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant was 4,744 points shy, and Michael Jordan was 6,095 points away.

James passed them all, then caught Abdul-Jabbar, too. The 38-year-old — who finished with 38 points in the Lakers’ 133-130 loss — did it in his 20th season. Abdul-Jabbar also played 20 NBA seasons.

“You’ve got to give him credit for just the way that he planned to last and to dominate,” Abdul-Jabbar told TNT.

And now, King James — a moniker he’s had since high school, when he was just a kid from Akron — is the NBA’s scoring king, with 38,390 points and counting.

“A record that has stood for nearly 40 years, which many people thought would never be broken,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

Abdul-Jabbar held the ball aloft, then handed it to James, the ceremonial passing of the torch. They posed for photos with Silver, then with one another. James wiped away tears from his eyes, then addressed the crowd.

“I just want to say, thank you to the Laker faithful. You guys are one of a kind,” James said. “To be able to be in the presence of such a legend as great as Kareem, it’s very humbling. Please give a standing ovation to the Captain, please.”

James then thanked his family and those who have supported him, including Silver and the late NBA Commissioner David Stern.

“I thank you guys so much for allowing me to be a part of something I’ve always dreamed about,” James said.

At least 16 different players have, technically, been the all-time leading scorer in league history — most of those coming in the opening month of the league’s existence in 1946, when everybody was starting from zero and nine different players were atop the scoring list in the first 16 days.

But only six have ended a season officially as the all-time leader: Joe Fulks, George Mikan, Dolph Schayes, Bob Pettit, Wilt Chamberlain and Abdul-Jabbar.

James will be the seventh name on that list, and he’s likely to stay there for a long time. No active player is within 10,000 points of James, who is under contract for two more years and is on pace to become the league’s first 40,000-point scorer sometime next season.

“Nobody will ever, ever touch it,” said Cleveland forward Kevin Love, a teammate of James on the 2016 title team. “The scoring record now will never be eclipsed. I don’t care. It will never, ever be touched. It will never happen again.”

James could have had the scoring record long ago, if so inclined. But he always preferred passing. James is behind only John Stockton, Jason Kidd and Chris Paul on the all-time assists list. None of them were, or are, close to the scorer that James is. Of that group, Paul comes closest, ranking 38th in NBA history.

And Paul is 17,000 points behind the new scoring king.

“I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that is very true,” Silver told AP in advance of the record-setting night. “I think it even adds — right? — to this this accomplishment for a guy who became a scorer because he determined that’s what was necessary to win. And you’re right, he probably doesn’t get enough credit for his selfless play, because there’s so much focus and attention on him. … I think it makes it that much more special, that he’d rather be known for his assists than his baskets.”

James is the only member of the NBA’s triple-quintuple club: at least 10,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 10,000 assists. There are 44 players to reach five digits in two of those categories.

He’ll almost certainly be the NBA’s all-time leader in earnings whenever he retires; when adding in the $97 million he’ll make over the next two seasons, he’ll be past $500 million in on-court salary alone. He’s a 19-time All-Star selection, tying an Abdul-Jabbar record. If he plays in the game on Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City, he’ll set a record for appearances.

Others, maybe, have been this good. That’s always a debate. But no one has ever been this good, for this long. James — a two-time champion in Miami, a champion in Cleveland in 2016 and a champion with the Lakers in 2020 — is averaging 30 points per game in his 20th season; only three other players have averaged more than 10 points per game this deep into their careers, none of those averaging more than Bryant’s 17.6 in his 20th and final season.

“I never did the, ‘OK, if I play this amount of time and I average this’ thing,” James said. “I’ve never done that with anything in my career. I always said, ‘If it happens, it happens.’”

It happened.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Charges: Man shot, killed cousin at Newport Transit Center

A man has been arrested and charged after he admitted to shooting and killing his cousin Monday at the Newport Transit Center.

Sylvester Tremaine Jones, 37, faces one count of second-degree intentional murder in connection with the death of 39-year-old Terrell McIntyre.

According to a criminal complaint, a 911 caller reported a man slumped over and unresponsive in an SUV in the transit center parking lot around 11 a.m. Monday morning. Washington County sheriff’s deputies called to the scene found McIntyre in the vehicle dead with multiple gunshot wounds.

The witness who called 911 told deputies he saw a man walking away from the area about 20 minutes earlier. Using surveillance video and speaking with businesses in the area, investigators tracked the man to a home on the 1700 block of First Avenue, a few blocks south of the shooting scene, according to the complaint.

Deputies served a search warrant at the home Monday night and arrested Jones. Authorities say he admitted to shooting his cousin, McIntyre. Deputies also recovered a gun that matched the .22-caliber rounds found at the crime scene.

Jones told deputies he had arranged for McIntyre to pick him up at the parking lot and take him to Target and that he had shot his cousin “between eight and ten times,” the criminal complaint states.

Jones remains in custody and is set to make his first court appearance on Wednesday.