HYDE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - An Eastern Carolina man is dead after his wife says he tried to kill her.
Denise Blount called 911 as she said the man chased her with a gun through her home in Swan Quarter.
Blount says her husband’s behavior follows a pattern. On March 4th he was arrested for assaulting her. Per his release he was ordered to eliminate contact and stay off of her property.
The woman says her husband camped out across the street from her home for at least 30 days, stalking her.
Domestic violence advocates in Hyde County say that controlling behavior is a sign of abuse.
“I know it’s hard for some people. They’re scared, they don’t have anywhere to go, they can’t support themselves,” said Debbie Douglas, a Hyde County Hotline domestic violence advocate.
One in every four women experience severe intimate partner violence across the country. The Hyde County Hotline tries to plant seeds of hope in victims.
“People would probably be surprised at what goes on behind closed doors,” said Douglas.
Denise and Nat Blount were married for 48 years., but Denise says she thought Nat was going to kill her on Tuesday. Hyde County Sheriff’s deputies say in a standoff with the man, he aimed his gun toward them. Ten year sheriff’s deputy veteran William Waters then fatally shot the man.
“We do what we can, but transportation, jobs, housing, is a problem down here,” said Douglas.
With Hyde County’s rural landscape and sometimes limited resources, domestic violence advocates stress the importance of identifying signs of abuse.
“If they’re bossy, if they’re trying to control everything, isolate them from their friends and family, those are signs of domestic violence,” advised Douglas. “Domestic violence isn’t always hitting. There’s also emotional abuse.”
Using these signs, the hope is to save survivors from further harm.
Nat Blount’s shooting death is being investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation, per the Hyde County sheriff’s request.
The SBI’s findings will be sent to District Attorney Seth Edwards’ office for final review. Until then, Deputy Waters will remain on paid administrative leave.
If you or someone you know is struggling with domestic violence, you can call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
You can also visit the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website at nccadv.org.
PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - The state is imposing new suspensions for the poultry industry as High Path Avian Influenza infections are on the rise.
Tuesday, North Carolina’s state veterinarian, Dr. Michael Martin, put a pause on all poultry shows and mass public sales.
More than 350,000 birds have been euthanized this week in the state, but the total number of birds affected is still unknown as with each new positive site, the state broadens its testing parameters.
Martin is tightening the reigns on bird gatherings, all in an attempt to beat the clock on migration patterns of infected wild birds out of the state and to keep cross-contamination as subdued as possible.
Feed store owners now wonder what this might mean for their industry.
“If there was a ban on commercial sales, that’s going to impact us pretty heavily,” said Greg Cannon, the owner of a hardware and feed store in Farmville.
Cannon sold the last chick of his most recent order, but with high path bird flu ripping through the country he wonders if it is safe to order more.
“We certainly have been concerned about it, but we’ve sold some chicks this year,” said Cannon. “We usually sell about 600 chicks a year out of the store.”
Seven commercial farming operations across Johnston and Wayne Counties euthanized more than 90,000 turkeys and more than 280,000 chickens in the past week.
“What we’re seeing with the spread of this virus in our commercial birds and also what we’re seeing nationally, shows that there’s a lot that we still have not learned about how this virus actually sheds,” said Martin.
His office most recently placed a suspension on all poultry shows and live public sales of birds but relief came for Cannon and other feed store owners.
“This is not for, like say pet stores and that type of thing, but we’re talking about open sales, auctions, swaps, poultry shows,” explained Martin, “Those types of things, where we have a large group of people that are coming together with maybe a mixed group of birds.”
Cannon acts diligently to keep his product safe from infection saying, “I want to make sure when we order our [hatchlings] that we get them immunized before they come here.”
All the while, he tries to keep the local industries afloat through the threat.
“I do have some farmers that have chicken houses and they are concerned about it,” continued Cannon. “They obviously don’t handle my chickens and don’t get around my chickens when they are here.”
Biosecurity is essential to containing bird flu.
Humans are safe from contracting the virus, but they can easily transmit infection if say they handle a sick bird and then touch other birds without washing up first.
The best thing for commercial and backyard flock owners to do is to limit their flock’s contact with other birds as much as possible.
At one time that excluded common backyard songbirds, but now the state says to err on the side of caution and quarantine your flocks whenever you can.
Infected birds do not pose a threat to the food supply, but Martin says no contaminated flocks will make it to processing centers because the risk of further infecting more flocks is too high.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Pregame coverage of the NCAA Basketball Championship is underway as bars and restaurants across the East prepare for a busy night of UNC vs. Kansas action.
Monday night’s game is the finale of the weekend for Uptown Greenville spots. Doggie Jams and the Final Four match-up kept bartenders and servers on their feet.
“It’s a great game. We’re supporting local restaurants,” said Terence Green, a self-proclaimed UNC super-fan. “Everybody, we have a good time. I’m a little nervous, but guess what, I wore my jersey. We’re gonna see how it works out.”
Yet, that won’t stop the televisions from staying on and the doors staying open late once the UNC Tar Heels and Kansas Jayhawks tip-off at 9:20 ET.
“We’re doing really well actually. This was a really good weekend for us,” said Blackened Kraken bartender Julianne Hughes. “All of the events brought a lot of people in, a lot of families and college students, so we are very stocked behind the bar.”
Calling in more staff to have on hand than they typically would on a Monday night, Hughes’ team is ready for a full house and a long line of bar tickets to fulfill.
“I’m a bartenders and like we get big crowds at my job, but this is a huge crowd right now,” said New Bern resident Sidney Legette ”We’ve got a lot of UNC fans.”
Hughes will be mixing up a special menu item just for tonight’s match, a Tar Heel shot.
“A Tar Heel shot is also known as a Blue Kamikaze. It’s equal parts vodka, blue curacao, and lime juice,” said Hughes, “and it’s a light blue color.”
For the 12th time, the Tar Heels will battle the Jayhawks for the championship title. UNC is hoping to continue its winning streak for a seventh overall win.
“Everything has been prepped either this morning or last night. So, we are ready for as many people as possible to come in,” added Hughes.
Good food, good drinks, and good times aren’t the only things expected out of the East for the game. Former ECU basketball coach Jeff Lebo and former Kinston High Viking Dontrez Stylez will represent the Tar Heels in the Big Easy.
TARBORO, N.C. (WITN) - One man is under arrest for the high-speed chase that left a Tarboro police cruiser wrecked upside down at a busy intersection. The woman driving the other car says the officer blindsided her without lights or sirens.
“We were just driving through the light then, boom!” said Megan Miracco, the driver behind the wheel of the car that was involved in the crash. “All I remember hearing was, ‘Megan!’ and I seen Tarboro police and we just spun.”
While Miracco was trying to keep her car from hitting others, Taylor Smith in the passenger seat was focused on her daughter
“I really didn’t worry about me. She was buckled in, thank God for that,” said Smith. “We got out alive basically, I was more praying for that than anything.”
The pair said they were hit by a Tarboro police officer. That officer was in a high-speed chase of a different driver in Rocky Mount.
Later Monday evening, that driver was identified as Major Perry and charged with several offences, including felony flee to elude arrest.
Perry was given a $15,000 secured bond.
Miracco and Smith say their fate could have been avoided if the officer used his lights or sirens.
“It would have helped if we had heard the sirens. I respect police, I respect the fire department, I respect everybody that works for the city,” said Miracco. “We would have stopped, but if only we heard the sirens. I didn’t hear anything.”
Smith echoed that statement, “I didn’t see no blue lights and if we would have known that he was coming I think we would have reacted differently, or at least he would have reacted differently.”
Grateful to be dealing with soreness and scrapes over something worse, but now out of her only vehicle, Miracco has some demands for those responsible.
“We could have been gone. We wouldn’t be able to do this little interview. We wouldn’t have been here and people are taking it like, ‘Oh, you know, officer involved,’ but we were involved too,” said Miracco. “We’re definitely part of the victims. We just want justice for us. Not for it to go again. Be careful out there.”
Miracco sought legal representation to lead any future cases that come of this crash.
WITN has contacted Tarboro Police but have not heard back.
CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - A baby boy in Bridgeton made an unconventional entrance to the world, but his mother says the traumatic birth event could have been avoided.
“Without a doubt, she was in labor,” said the baby’s father. “Anybody could tell that.”
Lauren and Steve Banks were ready to bring their son into the world. At 39 weeks pregnant and contracting, the parents headed to CarolinaEast Medical Center for delivery.
“She was denied admittance to labor and delivery a couple of times, and she was in obvious pain and labor, and within 30 minutes of her being home her water broke,” said Steve Banks.
The couple rushed back to CarolinaEast an hour after being turned away from the hospital.
The family’s home is about a half-hour from the hospital. But Baby Banks had no intentions of holding back.
“Thankfully, I was able to get a neighbor to come and watch the girls who were asleep upstairs,” said Banks. “We had to go, right then.”
Baby Banks was born in-between pumps four and five at the Handy Mart gas station, his dad and a Bridgeton EMT handling the delivery.
“I watched my wife give birth to my son right there in the parking lot,” said Banks. “He came out and he was purple, and he wasn’t making a lot of noise. I was concerned on top of everything else going on.”
Just as he made his arrival, emergency services pulled into the parking lot.
“They came up and saw what was happening and jumped into action,” recalled Banks. “I’m sure that they are a large part of the reason to why everything went as smoothly as it did and there were no complications. I can’t thank them enough.”
The family was then taken to CarolinaEast by ambulance. When the parents questioned the hospital’s prior judgment, they say the hospital offered to detail their car in return.
WITN asked CarolinaEast about what happened.
The hospital system said in part, “CarolinaEast Health System cannot legally comment on patient matters or concerns. We internally follow all protocols and guidelines for such concerns but cannot publicly comment on them.”
On Tuesday the hospital system added that they would not turn anyone away and that an obstetrician evaluated the pregnant woman.
“Unfortunately babies don’t always cooperate with expectations…we’ve all heard stories of newborns making debuts in homes, cars, restaurants, and even gas stations. The Banks’ baby certainly made an unexpected entrance but we are so happy he is healthy and precious and absolutely wish the family all the best!” they said.
"Someone just please explain to me why this happened,” Banks said.
Now a few days recovered from the traumatic birth, the parents are holding their son tightly.
“He’s great. He’s healthy,” beamed Banks. “We’re happy he’s home.”
This baby is Lauren Banks’ second child. When she tried to get a bed at CarolinaEast she says she was four centimeters dilated, but until she reached five centimeters, she wouldn’t be considered for admittance.
As far as the car detailing, Banks says they did take the hospital up on the offer, as the car really needed it.
Banks says the boy has some jaundice currently being treated, otherwise, their son is a healthy newborn.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Dozens of Eastern Carolina breweries pitched a tent and iced down a few kegs to introduce themselves to people in Greenville.
Dickinson Avenue After Dark brought in hundreds of friends and families to sample out the food and drinks of the East.
Before the Sun went down in Greenville, brewers prepared their booths in anticipation for thirsty customers.
“It’s just really high quality, Eastern North Carolina beer, and I think everybody’s excited to try it,” said Benjamin Self, a brewer at Local Oak Brewery.
Each festival goer brought their own game plan to tackle this season’s festival.
“We got a few sample tickets,” said Dan Glazewski. “I think we’re going to walk around and sample everything and then get a full one at the end.”
It is just as fun for those on the other side of the tap.
“And as a brewer, that’s why I like coming to events like this,” said Self. “We tend to attract a lot of beer geeks. These are people that want to talk about the beers they love so this is the perfect place to engage with these folks.”
After trying out some local brews, food trucks are to the rescue. All of the East’s household names lined the road to serve hot dogs, tacos, pizza, barbeque, ice cream, and more.
“I passed Anita’s, and I pass it every day on my way home from work, so I’m definitely going to try that one,” said Glazewski. It’s a chance for drinkers to branch out.
“People are always looking for a new place to come out for afternoons or evenings,” said Self, “and brewery taprooms are a big part of that.”
The local-vendor-exclusive experience allows for changing up the routine and rotating the flavors, each one brewed with intension.
“Because we’re small and local, we always have new things to try on tap. So, that’s what people are going to be looking for tonight. What have you got that’s new? Show me something new,” said Self.
Dickinson Avenue After Dark was inspired by a trip to New Orleans where organizers stumbled upon a beer and art festival and took the concept back home with them to the East.
NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - About 100 voices were lifted in prayer in New Bern when a crowd gathered calling for peace in Ukraine.
Faith leaders at Christ Episcopal Church led members of their congregation, as well as folks just enjoying the day and stumbling on the vigil, in prayer at Union Point Park Friday afternoon.
Handing out scripture and bouquets of sunflowers, the group showed that New Bern, and all of Eastern North Carolina, support Ukrainians in their fight against destruction and violence from Russian military forces.
“I am incredibly angry about what’s happening,” said New Bern resident Eugene Simon, Jr. “I think it’s so unfair, but this is really all we can do as individuals right now.”
With long stem sunflowers in their hands, park-goers reflected on what they are grateful for.
“The people in New Bern, I believe, realize how truly blessed we are. We are all here by choice. We are all very lucky,” said Christie Wineholt. “We do not have to worry about war or fear or any of those things. The flower is just a great symbol, as they said in the service. The flowers turn their light to the Sun.”
Though they spoke in unison at the park, each person has a special prayer in their heart that they carry with them.
“Just seeing the devastation and seeing how it’s going to have to be rebuilt, that is what I have said to God on multiple occasions. ‘You will make a way.’ We’ll see how it happens but we know that it will,” said Rev. Paul Canady, Christ Episcopal Church rector.
As they chanted the scripture, they hoped to send a blanket of protection to Europe.
“Well, it’s everyone. It’s the refugees, it’s the children and it’s the brave people that are fighting a mighty army,” said Simon.
The church is accepting money to donate to humanitarian efforts in the war-stricken country.
“It will be a blessing to be able to help the small children, the hospitals, what we see on television, how sad it is,” said Wineholt, “but the heroic efforts of those people. Our people are willing to step up; there’s nothing we won’t do.”
Along with giving to the church system, United Way chapters across the East are accepting donations for their United for Ukraine Fund.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Dozens of Greenville worshipers gathered at the Immanuel Baptist Church to pray for Ukraine as Russian attacks surpass a two week long mark.
For each person in the pews of the church, there was a candle and as flames burned, faith leaders from across the Greenville area called for seven special prayers-- each focused on a specific group of Ukrainians affected by Russian war efforts.
What was common through each call was a wish for peace.
With each heart feeling for those fleeing their homes for refuge, one person has a deep connection to the invaded country.
“We’ve had 15 different foreign exchange students over the years and two were Ukrainian students,” said Rev. Rod Debs.
Candle flames burned as prayers were spoken and sung. Greenville residents are doing what they can.
“I think that this is a moment where we all should come together and understand some of the atrocities that are taking place over seas,” said Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly. “This is a great way for us to be able to show compassion for those that are suffering right now. I think the community coming together and having a prayer vigil is really showing that.”
Debs held relics of his former exchange students. He feels grateful to be able to share them at the vigil Friday night.
“This was a special gift that she gave us when we visited,” Debs said holding a doll. “My wife does Facebook with them. Right now they are very much concerned about protecting their skies.”
Many in the east are wondering how they can help Ukrainian families from this corner of the world.
“The tragedy the world sees unfolding in Europe feels devastating and the feeling of not being able to help often feels hopeless,” said Rev. Asher Panton of Immanuel Baptist Church.
Friday night, Greenville stood united with Ukraine.
Mayor Connelly suggests that if you weren’t able to make it out to the vigil, you can still contribute in prayer. He says to pray at home and keep those suffering at the forefront of your mind as the crisis continues to displace millions.
Immanuel Baptist Church collected donations from their congregation. The proceeds are being sent directly to UNICEF USA to support the food and medical needs of the children impacted by war.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Special attention to health has been on the minds of many East Carolinians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday nights, Joy Community Center tackled the most pressing health concerns of its community in fun ways.
Helping dancers of all ages, races, and skill levels, instructor Kimberly Ward has Pitt County working up a sweat for a good reason.
“I dance. I’ve always danced. It’s my passion. I’ve been dancing for many years,” Ward said. “It helps with losing weight, stress, just building relationships and working together with different people.”
Ward and her fellow Nulook Steppaz dancers have enjoyed their time leading at the community center so much, they’ve agreed to a monthly engagement.
“It’s a rainy night tonight. People would be sitting home, bored, but instead, they are down here dancing. I even danced a little tonight,” Owner Tom Quigley said.
Quigley said his vision for the center is to break down the stigma of West Greenville.
“It’s okay that I may not look like her, I might not talk like him,” Quigley said. “But I just had fun with these people and we all can come together.”
It takes a village to bring the community together to solve pressing health concerns.
Quigley utilizes local resources like the West Greenville Health Council which leads classes on some of those concerns, like diabetes support.
“COVID has certainly focused a lot of attention on health. It’s focused a lot of attention on health disparities as well,” Dr. Nancy Winterbauer said. “And West Greenville is an area that suffers that burden of unequal distribution of disease.”
Winterbauer and her team encourage group-based health education to erase some of the stigmas surrounding bettering one’s health.
“That’s the only way that we’re actually going to come together and be one, if we pour into each other,” Shay Whitlock, a dancer said.
The community center hosts classes and interactive opportunities for all ages. When the space isn’t a dance studio or a science lab, it provides hot meals for the Pitt County community as Joy Soup Kitchen.
Quigley cooks to bring flavors of the Northeast and his hometown of Boston to residents here in the East. He opens the door each weekday for anyone in need of a hot meal.
Through the community center events, the West Greenville Health Council hopes to further address some of the health disparities that Black residents face like strokes, obesity, heart disease, and depression.
More information on future community center events can be found here.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Seemingly overnight trees and bushes bloomed all across Eastern Carolina and while it sets the scene for a beautiful spring, cars are covered in pollen and the sniffles soon follow.
The CDC reports allergies as the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the country, affecting more than 50 million Americans annually.
Now, the season is starting in the East.
Greenville native Willie Moore could be speaking for most of the East when he says, “I’m not too much of a fan of allergy season.”
Many drivers woke up to a blanket of yellow pollen on their cars on Tuesday.
“You’ll come outside your house and it’ll be straight yellow one day,” said Moore. “It’s going to be that way for a while, at least until we get some rain.”
This all serves as a signal of the incoming allergy season, and protecting yourself from irritants is not quite the same as what you may be used to with COVID.
“You know, with allergens, depending on what type of mask you wear, the pollens are so small that you’ll probably still get exposed somewhat through a mask,” said Dr. Mott Blair with Vidant Health. “It might not protect you.”
Spring brings out the beauty of the East and the congestion of Alyssa Proulx.
“For me, it lasts until next winter, but that’s just me. I have fall allergies too,” said Proulx. “If you’re driving in the mountains and it looks like fog, it looks like that, but yellow.”
When Proulx feels those symptoms of headaches, runny noses, and itchy eyes set in, she heads to the drug store.
“I certainly recommend to my patients the over the counter allergy medicines and antihistamines,” said Blair. “I certainly like the Claritin, Allegra, and Zyrtecs of the world. They typically don’t make you very sleepy.”
Allergies can be either seasonal, triggered by pollens, grasses, weeds, or airborne mold spores in the spring, summer, and early fall, or they can be perennial, triggered year-round by a sensitivity to things like dust mites, pet dander, or food allergies.
Dr. Blair suggests the over-the-counter antihistamines work just fine, but if you have any pre-existing conditions like elevated blood pressure or hypertension, you’ll want to consult a doctor before loading up on decongestants.