A teenager is in custody in Florida after bringing a handgun onto a school bus last month, according to authorities.
Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis announced during a news conference Thursday that a 16-year-old boy was arrested in connection with reports of a gun on a school bus and at Springstead High School on Jan. 12.
Nienhuis said the campus’ school resource deputy was informed by students on Jan. 16 of the gun on campus four days prior.
Deputies began looking into surveillance footage from the bus and the school, and discovered the teenager did appear to have a handgun on the bus and was showing it to other riders.
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Neinhuis also shared that the sheriff’s office had actually encountered the boy at around 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 12 while investigating a stolen vehicle at Mariner’s Cay Apartments. When he was approached by deputies, the teen allegedly pushed one of them out of the way and then fled on foot before ultimately fleeing in the car and crashing it on Mariner Boulevard.
While working to determine if the gun seen in the surveillance footage from the bus was real and functional, deputies learned of a 17-year-old wounded in an unintentional shooting on Jan. 31. Though the shooter in that incident was not the teenager who brought the gun to school, Nienhuis said the gun had the same markings as the one seen in surveillance footage.
The sheriff’s office also said the gun had been in the possession of several people between the day it was on the school bus and the day it was used in the shooting.
“We are obviously concerned it may have been stolen,” Nienhuis said of the gun in question, adding that the department is still trying to determine where it came from.
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During the news conference, the sheriff applauded the students who came forward and reported the weapon on school grounds, but stressed the importance of coming forward immediately instead of waiting a few days.
Nienhuis said the shooting of the 17-year-old, who he described as a “good student” who was never getting into trouble, might have been prevented had authorities been informed of the gun earlier.
“Now he is the victim of a gunshot wound because of a gun that was being passed around,” the sheriff said. “The bottom line is students need to step up and let us know when something like this happens.”
Hernando School District Superintendent John Stratton also addressed the incident at the news conference, adding that weapons on campus “will not be tolerated.”
“If you’re bringing a weapon onto any of our campuses or properties you will be expelled, and you will face possible arrest in that process,” Stratton said.
The 16-year-old was arrested on Wednesday and charged with possessing or discharging weapons or firearms in school-sponsored events or on school property. He was transferred to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Ocala, where he remains in custody.
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Nikki Haley commits 7-figure ad-buy to underscore fight for Super Tuesday: 'Get our country back on track'
Nikki Haley’s team has given its strongest indication yet that the former ambassador plans to stay in the race for the Republican nomination through Super Tuesday by announcing a seven-figure ad-buy in various states.
“Nikki is moving full steam ahead to Super Tuesday states because 70 percent of Americans don’t want to see two grumpy old men duke it out in November, and they deserve a real choice in this election,” Haley campaign spokeswoman AnnMarie Graham-Barnes told Fox News Digital. “Her message is resonating, and she’s got the resources to keep fighting.”
Former President Donald Trump continues to lead as voters head to the polls in Haley’s home state of South Carolina, with Haley trying to prove her viability with a competitive finish. Polling ahead of the primary indicated Trump has commanding double-digit lead.
Haley made clear in the days ahead of the primary that she planned to stay in no matter the outcome of Saturday’s primary, saying she would “refuse to quit” and that “on Sunday, I’ll still be running for president. I’m not going anywhere.”
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In a separate interview this week with NPR, Haley once again raised her concerns about Trump as president, arguing that Trump brought “chaos” and “division.” She made clear that she has “even more concerns about Joe Biden being president.”
Her fight has brought her significant financial backing, with her campaign managing to pull around 5,200 donors who had backed President Biden in the 2020 election, including over 1,600 donors who gave more than $500,000 to Biden, according to Politico.
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Haley’s campaign highlighted the “large dollar” donations of $200 or more from over 55,000 individuals in January alone as proof of her backing. She also siphoned more than 10,000 donors who had supported Trump in 2020.
Haley’s refusal to back down has infuriated the Trump campaign: A memo from the campaign argued that Haley would face an “a—kicking in the making in South Carolina” and predicted “the end is near” for her campaign.
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Lara Trump, daughter-in-law to former President Trump, blasted Haley in an interview with Fox News Digital for staying in despite “obvious” proof that Haley has “no path.”
“Why stay in the race? Why fight against the Republican nominee, the person who is leading the party?” Lara Trump said. She also suggested that Haley might bank on Trump’s legal struggles to hinder his ability to run.
“I will say that any person who is not standing up and fighting back in the face of that, calling it out for exactly what it is – election interference – should not be running for President of the United States,” Lara Trump said.
Nikki Haley’s campaign team did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment by time of publication.
Fox News Digital Remy Numa and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.
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Kentucky college student dead after being found unresponsive in dorm room
A Kentucky college student was pronounced dead Saturday after being found unresponsive in his dorm room.
The student, whose name has yet to be released, was found unresponsive “in the early morning hours on Saturday,” according to a statement released by Campbellsville University, a private Christian university approximately 85 miles southeast of Louisville. The student was then transferred to Taylor Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A cause of death has yet to be determined.
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Local police are currently looking for an individual considered a person of interest, according to the statement. Campbellsville city police had not identified a particular threat to the student community as of Saturday morning.
“Campbellsville University is grieving the loss of one of our family. We have lost a student and our hearts are broken,” Campbellsville University President, Joseph Hopkins, said in the statement.
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“During this devastating time, the continued safety of our students and the residents of our community are our primary concern. With consultation from local law enforcement, we will continue to implement every measure necessary to protect and support students and our community,” he continued.
The university advised students to remain cautious and announced on social media that all campus events and sports were canceled for the day. Student resources open to the community were announced, including the on-campus student counseling center and the chapel.
Students were prompted to gather and pray at the chapel.
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Southern Baptists shun church with female pastor, two others for defying sex abuse policy
The Southern Baptist Convention’s top administrative body voted Tuesday to oust four congregations — one for having a woman as senior minister, two for what it said were failures related to the denomination’s sexual-abuse policy and one for lack of financial participation.
The SBC’s Executive Committee announced the decision after a closed-door session at the end of its two-day meeting in Nashville. These are the latest in a series of expulsions in recent years, most notably when it ousted one of its largest, California’s Saddleback Church, and a Louisville, Kentucky congregation for having women in ministry leadership roles.
On Tuesday, the committee ousted Immanuel Baptist Church of Paducah, Kentucky, whose senior minister is a woman. The SBC’s official statement of faith says the office of pastor is open only to men.
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Immanuel said in a Facebook statement that it affirmed its “decision to call Rev. Katie McKown to serve with and among us.” It cited Baptist tenets emphasizing the autonomy of congregations and individuals, and it offered prayers that the SBC “be blessed with wisdom and discernment as it moves forward.”
Each Southern Baptist church is independent, so the denomination can’t tell churches what to do. But it can decide whether churches can be members or be ousted.
The committee ousted Grove Road Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, for allegedly showing a “lack of intent to cooperate in resolving a concern regarding the pastor’s mishandling of an allegation of sexual abuse.”
It also expelled West Hendersonville Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina, for allegedly failing to comply with the denomination’s beliefs about sexual abuse by having a “biblically disqualified” pastor.
The fourth church, New Hope Baptist of Gastonia, North Carolina, had failed to participate financially in the convention and showed no intent “to resolve a question of faith and practice,” the committee said without elaboration.
The churches have the right of appeal to the full annual meeting of the SBC in June in Indianapolis.
The conservative denomination has previously ousted congregations for pro-LGBTQ+ stances and having women in ministry. It’s also expelled churches over alleged racism and failure to address abuse, an area the denomination has long faced pressure to address.
On Monday, the committee learned of plans for an independent commission that would keep track of clergy predators. It’s the latest plan by leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention in their halting efforts to safeguard against sexual abuse by ministers — but the new nonprofit needs funding from the denomination to get up and running.
The new Abuse Response Commission would create a database listing ministers who have been found to be sexually abusive through criminal convictions and civil judgments.
The “Ministry Watch” database has been seen as essential in a denomination in which each congregation is self-governing, meaning that a clergy predator could be ousted from one church but go to work at another that may not know the minister’s background.
“An independent organization will have more credibility with survivors,” Josh Wester, chairman of the SBC’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force, told the denomination’s Executive Committee on Monday. “It will have more flexibility to help our churches and more success in accomplishing the mandate given to us by the messengers.”
To become a reality, Wester said, the task force is asking agencies of the SBC to help find the money needed to operate.
The nation’s largest Protestant denomination has faced a reckoning over its handling of sexual abuse since a 2019 report by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express News, documenting hundreds of abuse cases in Southern Baptist churches. That led to a 2022 independent consultant’s report saying top SBC leaders responded to abuse survivors with “resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility.”
The 2022 SBC annual meeting called for a series of reforms, including the database creation. That faced delays, including a backlash from many in the conservative denomination over the company originally designated to oversee it, due to its posting of a pro-LGBTQ+ message on social media.
Survivors of sexual abuse and their advocates have noted other reasons to be skeptical of Southern Baptist leaders’ commitment to reform.
The controversy flared up last year with news that the Executive Committee and other SBC entities filed a brief before the Kentucky Supreme Court in favor of dismissing an abuse-related lawsuit against the city of Louisville.
Although the SBC wasn’t involved in that case, its entities face similar litigation, and it argued the case should be dismissed as being filed too late under the statute of limitations. The court ultimately agreed.
That controversy prompted the Executive Committee to create a study group to review what the SBC believes about the justice system, including statutes of limitations, and how it makes its legal decisions. It’s seeking “input from leading biblical scholars, trauma consultants and legal experts,” said Josh Hetzler, chair of the Executive Committee’s Legal Strategies Committee.
Southern Baptist sex abuse survivor Christa Brown, who has long criticized the SBC’s response to abuse as more theater than substance, noted that the denomination hasn’t yet provided funding for the new independent commission.
“So I’m gonna wait for real-deal deeds before I cheer… and I’m NOT optimistic,” she posted on X, formerly Twitter.
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