Thursday, April 30, 2015

Marine Indicted for Stealing, Selling Guns and Body Armor

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 1:48 PM

A Memphis Marine Corps reservist has been indicted on charges of stealing and selling government assault rifles, ammunition, and body armor.

A federal grand jury indicted Armando Jaime Vazquez, Jr., 21, of Memphis, of selling nearly $24,000 worth of government property this year.

According to the indictment, he stole and sold:

• a Marine Corps issued Improved Load Bearing Equipment (ILBE) pack
• desert tan body armor
• ammunition magazines for M-16 style rifles;
• a Quiet Pro communications headset
• a ballistic helmet with camouflage cover
• 2 Beretta M9 inert training aids
• a Bushmaster Blue Fire M4
• a Bushmaster Blue Fire M-16 A4 with an accompanying magazine

Also, the indictment said that back in January, Vazquez illegally removed an $89,000 military-issued Hummer and a $150,000 Tractor, Rubber Tired, Articulated Steering, Multipurpose Vehicle (TRAM) from the USMC Reserve Center in Memphis.

He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Flinn Resigns Council Seat

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 3:11 PM

Shea Flinn has resigned from his post on the Memphis City Council for a job as the senior vice president for the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle.

Flinn tendered his resignation to council chair Myron Lowery Wednesday in a letter.

“While it has been an honor and privilege to serve on the city council, when opportunity knocks, you have to answer,” Flinn wrote. “Therefore, I am tendering my resignation immediately.”

Flinn’s interest in the chamber position has been known for some time and he decided not to run for re-election to his District 9 council seat. Flinn will start his new job at the Chamber on Monday, May 4.

“Shea has demonstrated his passion for making transformational change in Memphis and that is the core focus of our Chairman’s Circle,” Phil Trenary, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, said in a statement. “Our team is eager to work with Shea and get him engaged with our Chairman’s Circle members.”

In that news release from the Chamber, Flinn said the defeat of the pre-k sales tax referendum in fall 2013 was a turning point for him, calling it a “wake up call.”

“The Chairman’s Circle continued to work on it and eventually found alternative resources,” Flinn said in a statement. “It made me realize they had the leadership and ability to prioritize an important initiative like this and make it happen.”

Candidates to fill his seat may be nominated by council members, the general public, or “interested parties,” according to a statement from Lowery’s office Wednesday. Candidates can pick up registration packets beginning Friday, May 1 but no later than May 14 at noon. Candidates will have to submit proof of residency, a sworn affidavit, and a nominating petition with a miming of 25 signatures of registered voters who reside in District 9.

The council will vote on the appointment of a new council member no later than May 19.

Flinn served as a member of the Memphis City Council since 2007 and serves as the general counsel for Flinn Broadcasting. Flinn graduated from Rhodes College with a degree in theater. He got a law degree from the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law. He is married with a son. 

VIDEO: Wanna See the Top of the Pyramid?

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 12:11 PM

The top of the Pyramid is now a restaurant and bar called the Mile High Catfish Cabin. From up top, the view of Memphis can't be beat.

If the views from the windows aren't enough, step out onto The Lookout (at about the 1:00 mark in the video), an observation deck with a glass floor that takes you over the Pyramid's edge for an immersive view of the city skyline and the Mississippi River.

When Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid opens, the elevator ride to the top will cost $10 for adults and $5 for children (until 5 p.m.). Family memberships can be purchased for $100. That'll get you a year's worth of rides up and down the largest freestanding elevator in the country.


Guide to the Bass Pro Grand Opening

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 11:40 AM


Here are the top five things you need to know to get to the big grand opening party for Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid tonight.

#1. The event is free and open to the public.

#2. Times:

2 p.m. Bass Pro Shops parking lot opens, city of Memphis and MATA free parking and free shuttle service begins. See the map above and/or download your own right here: 

4 p.m. Exhibits open and live music begins

5:30 p.m. Country star John Anderson performs

6 p.m. - 9 p.m. Opening remarks, ribbon cutting, celebrity meet-and-greet opportunities and store opens to customers

1 a.m. City of Memphis and MATA free parking lots and free shuttle service ends

#3. There’ll be tons of celebrity appearances, well, celebrities for those in the Bass Pro universe.

Here’s who:

Top Draws
John Anderson, “Seminole Wind,” “Swingin’”
Ernie Brown, Jr. (“Turtleman”), host of Animal Planet’s hit show, “Call of the Wildman”
Bill Dance, bass angler and host of NBC Sports Network’s “Bill Dance Outdoors”
Tony Stewart, NASCAR driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Chevrolet SS
Kiara Young, 2015 Miss Tennessee USA

Phillip Crowe, award winning wildlife artist representing Ducks Unlimited
Fred Zink, Zink Calls/Avian-X Decoys owner
Buck Gardner, world champion duck caller and founder of Buck Gardner Calls
Jimmy Houston, host of World Fishing Network’s “Jimmy Houston Outdoors”
Field Hudnall, host of Outdoor Channel’s “DU TV,” Field Proven Calls owner
Rob Keck, RedHead Pro Hunting team member and host of “Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World” radio show
Doug Koenig (World’s Best All Around Shooter), competitive shooter
Jerry Martin, RedHead Head Pro Hunting team member and The Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame member
Nick Mundt, Travis ‘T-Bone’ Turner, and Michael Waddell hosts of Outdoor Channel’s “Bone Collector”
Rusty Sellars, True Timber founder and CEO
John Stephens, Duck Calling World Champion
Brenda Valentine, First Lady of Hunting and RedHead Pro Hunting team member

Hugh Freeze, head football coach, University of Mississippi
Jeanette Lee (“The Black Widow”), professional billiards star
Kendall Newson, former Miami Dolphin and Bass Pro Shops NITRO Pro Team member

Richard Childress, Richard Childress Racing chairman and CEO
Austin Dillon, NASCAR driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Chevrolet Camaro
Kerry Earnhardt, former NASCAR driver, outdoor personality and co-founder of the Earnhardt Collection and Earnhardt Outdoors
Kelley Earnhardt Miller, JR Motorsports general manager and co-owner, co-founder of Earnhardt Outdoors

#4. Parking is going to be tricky. Bass Pro Shops advises against trying to park at the Pyramid. Instead, the city of Memphis and MATA have teamed up to provide free parking (at some lots), and a free shuttle service. The shuttle will run up and down A.W. Willis and along the Main Street and Riverside trolley loop routes from 2 p.m.-1 a.m. 

Know what? Let's put that downloadable map right here one more time: 

Called the “Evening for Conservation,” the event is a fundraiser for conservation organizations, including Duck Unlimited. Half of the proceeds from the event will go to those organizations. 

Sheriff's Office Looking for Armed Robber

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 10:55 AM

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office needs your help identifying this unknown suspect. He is shown here approaching a gas station on Hwy 14 armed with a rifle. What the would be robber did not know, was that an employee was coming out of the front door as he was trying to enter the business. The two began to struggle over the rifle and the fight continued out into the parking lot. During the struggle the employee was shot in the shoulder, non-critical. The suspect fled when the getaway driver arrived in a small sedan. If you have any information on who was involved in this shooting/attempted robbery, please call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH or Sgt. Keaton at 901-568-5645.

Posted by Shelby County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office is looking for an unknown suspect who tried to rob a gas station with a rifle on Austin Peay Highway earlier this month.

The suspect was pushing his way through the front door as an employee was walking out. The two struggle for control of the firearm in a fight that spills across the parking lot. During the struggle, the employee was shot in shoulder but was not critically injured.

A getaway driver collects the would-be robber in a small sedan and the two escape.

As they get away, someone from inside the store walks toward the robbers' car and throws something at the car. The person looks warily at the injured employee but the two walk back into the store.

The sheriff's office asks anyone with information about the crime or the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH or Sgt. Keaton at (901) 568-5645. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

VIDEO: Tour of Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 7:39 PM

Bass Pro Shops gave tours Tuesday of the Pyramid's sales floor, General Store, Uncle Buck's Fish Bowl & Grill, and more.

The massive outdoor retail destination opens Wednesday, April 29 with a grand opening celebration starting at 6 p.m.

Before that, though, they'll give media tours of The Lookout, the new viewing post at the top of the Pyramid, as well as a tour of the Mile High Catfish Cabin, the new restaurant and bar at the apex. So, check back here tomorrow for more photos and a video. 


Bass Pro Unveils Retail Space, Restaurant, and More

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 3:51 PM

MPD Recovers Elton John's Glasses for Rock 'n' Soul Museum

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2015 at 3:30 PM

The bitch is back. Well, his glasses are at least.

Glasses that once belonged to Sir Elton John were were stolen from the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum last week. They were recovered Tuesday by the Memphis Police Department. 

The glasses are on loan to the museum from Hard Rock Cafe International. The glasses are heart-shaped blue prescription glasses from Anglo-American-Apparel glasses of England. Also stolen (and also recovered) was a red glasses sleeve from L.A. Eyeworks. The glasses and the case will go back on display Wednesday. 

“We are grateful to the Memphis Police Department for their swift action, hard work, and expertise in securing the return of the stolen item,” said John Doyle, the museum's executive director. "Special thanks to Sgt. Alexander McGowan of the Investigative Bureau of the Memphis Police Department for his leadership in this case.”

Doyle said police used fingerprint evidence to identify a suspect and recover the items.

Also, Doyle wanted to commend his employees as "obviously and expectedly, they all immediately fell under suspicion." But they followed museum procedures "quickly and professionally." The suspect was a visitor to the museum, Doyle said, an has no ties to the museum or any of its employees. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Central Station Plan Gets MATA Approval

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 5:04 PM

A $55 million re-development for South Main's Central Station got the green light from the board of the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) Monday. 

The plan includes a hotel, movie theater, restaurant, new apartments, shops, and maybe a grocery store coming to the century-old Central Station.

Henry Turley Co. and Community Capital have been working for more than a year on a plan for the South Main campus that is now home to an Amtrak station, apartments, the Memphis Railroad and Trolley museum, event space, and the Memphis Farmers Market. The companies plan to bring more activity to the area by building new access to trolleys, trains, housing, entertainment, shopping, buses, and for cyclists and pedestrians.

Arhcie Willis said not trying to create a brand new "huge" entertainment district and is not trying to compete with Beale Street, Overton Square, or other such districts. Instead, his groups is simply trying to "do what is best for the area."

The approval gives MATA staff authority to begin negotiations with private partners involved in the project.  


Big Day on Beale Street

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 4:25 PM

Photographer Frank Chin caught all the action on Beale Street Sunday, including the Queen of the Vine Contest, the Grape Stomp, the Wine Race Parade, and the disaster-filled Wine Race itself.

$23 Robbery Gets Man More Than 25 Years in Prison

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 3:51 PM

  • Ash
A Memphis man was convicted of attempted first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery and other charges stemming from a 2013 attack that netted him $23, according to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.   

Cordelle Ash faces more than 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 15. He is now housed at the Shelby County Jail.

Ash pistol whipped and robbed a man on the night of Jan. 13, 2013 as the victim walked along the 500 block of Lucy in south Memphis.

The victim testified in criminal court that two masked men also pulled off his pants and went through his pockets. During the struggle, one man's mask fell off and the victim recognized him as Ash, known as "L'il Cord." The second suspect was not identified.

As the gunmen walked away, the victim said they turned and shot him several times in the upper leg and groin. 

Inmate Walks Off Work Crew

Posted By on Mon, Apr 27, 2015 at 3:10 PM

  • Jackson
An inmate walked off a work crew detail near south Memphis Monday and police are asking for help finding him.

Bobby Lee Jackson, 26, was working at Drexel Chemical Monday morning, part of a work release detail. After noon, a supervisor saw Jackson walk away from the building and join a woman wearing a black jacket, who have Jackson a gray hoodie sweatshirt. The two were last seen walking north on Third Street.

Law enforcement officers are searching for Jackson but has asked that anyone with information about his whereabouts contact Crime Stoppers at (901) 528-CASH (2274).

Jackson is African American, is 5’9”, weighs 165 pounds, and has short black hair, according to officials. A tattoo on his left arm reads, “Bobby Like Father Like Son.” The tattoo on his right arm reads, “Like Son.”  

Jackson is serving a three-year sentence for aggravated burglary. He was part of an eight-man crew assigned to the chemical plant.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Southern Hot Wing Festival 2015

Posted By on Sun, Apr 26, 2015 at 4:09 PM

Photographer Frank Chin captured all the messy fun and festivity at the Southern Hot Wing Festival in downtown Memphis, Saturday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wharton Proposes $656 Million Budget

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 4:10 PM

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton makes his way through the crowd at Memphis City Hall after he delivered his budget Tuesday. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • Memphis Mayor A C Wharton makes his way through the crowd at Memphis City Hall after he delivered his budget Tuesday.
Pensions, paving, public safety, fighting blight, and holding the current tax rate are the priorities of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton’s $656 million budget he delivered to the Memphis City Council Tuesday.

“I am pleased to report that the city of Memphis successfully emerged, bruised but not broken, from a perfect financial storm brought on by the recession, unfunded liabilities (in the pension and retiree health care funds) and high unemployment,” Wharton said Tuesday. “My proposed (fiscal year) 2016 budget should be viewed in this context.

“We had a financial crisis on our hands. We needed to act, and we did. While we still have financial challenges, we are now in a position to begin increasing investments in our city and our people, which is what our (fiscal year) 2016 budget is all about.”

As an example, Wharton pointed to new investments in police and fire recruiting classes.

“Although crime has been down over the past few years, and down 6 percent so far this year, we remain vigilant in our commitment to public safety,” Wharton said. “The tragic deaths of two of our precious children hammers home that all is not good, and that we cannot rest.”

For the blight fight, the budget calls for $3 million for the demolition of buildings “that are both eye sores and havens for crime.”

The city paving program will get a bump this year, getting $15 million in Wharton’s budget this year compared to $9 million last year. The city has also won $18 million in paving grants from various sources. All told, the city will have $33 million to pave nearly 100 miles of Memphis roads this year. It is “the most money we have spent on our roads in decades,” Wharton said.

Wharton’s budget proposes a $48 million payment to the employee pension fund in the next fiscal year, double the amount paid in 2014. The payment comes from savings garnered from reforms to the city’s pension and retiree health care systems.

Still, the budget has a $13 million hole. Projected revenues are only $643 million, not the total $656 million proposed in the mayor’s budget. Wharton said the shortfall is a result of keeping pre-65 retirees on the old retiree health care system until January 2016. The gap will be filled with reserve funding.

Wharton budget got started through the city council's three-vote approval process Tuesday. With that, the final vote on the budget could be taken as early as Tuesday, May 19.    

Bill Increasing Animal Fighting Penalties Passes Tennessee Legislature

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2015 at 11:38 AM

A bill that will increase penalties for attending an animal fight or bringing a child to an animal fight is headed to Governor Bill Haslam's desk after passing both the Tennessee House and Senate by an overwhelming majority vote in its favor.

The bill makes it a Class A misdemeanor to attend an animal fight or to bring a child to an animal fight. Both provisions carry maximum penalties of up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. The mandatory minimum penalty for bringing a child to a fight would be a $1,000 fine.

The bill passed the House in a 90-2 vote on Monday night, and it passed the Senate in a 24-1 vote last month.

“The General Assembly has spoken loud and clear, and the message is: Tennessee will no longer be a refuge for anyone who sets animals against each other in fights to the death," said Leighann Lassiter, the state director for the Humane Society of the United States. "Senator [Bill] Ketron and Representative [Jon] Lundberg, [the bill's sponsors], and 112 of their colleagues have made our state a more humane place with their good work.”

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