Casey Parks (thanks, Emily): MYRTLE CREEK — Walter Dickens weaved through his mother’s boxes to answer a knock at the door.
It was the fourth one that Sunday afternoon, two days since he’d met the president and 10 since he lost his mother, Sarena Moore, in the shootings at Umpqua Community College. Like all the rest, this latest visitor brought something other than answers.
“More dog food,” Dickens said, peeking through the blanket that served as blinds. “And trash bags.”
Bullet, his mother’s service dog, had been in the classroom when a gunman killed Moore and eight others. After the killings, people wanted to help, so Dickens told them to bring Purina. Now the Husky trailed Dickens through the apartment, back to the dark bedroom where Moore used to sleep. Dickens tossed the trash bags and the dog food onto his mother’s bed. He already had plenty of both.
Michael Brick: AUSTIN – The man behind the glass partition was famous. His photograph appeared on statewide news sites and national food blogs, wanted as the architect of a brazen scheme.
When officials requested public assistance in his capture last year, they accused him of stealing thousands of dollars worth of meat from at least 19 grocery stores. He most likely devised an ad-hoc black market, police said, among the legitimate middlemen who connect ranchers to trendy steakhouses and barbecue pits.
His name is James Cordell Avery. Headline writers called him the Brisket Bandit.
In an interview at the Travis County Correctional Complex, Avery slurred through the telephone. He looked disheveled and sounded confused. He wore a hard glare, a thick beard and a striped jumpsuit.
“I didn’t kill nobody, man,” he said.
That may be true. Homicide is not among the many crimes ascribed to his name. At a time of high beef prices and boundless culinary obsession, though, his case actually drew far more attention than most murders.
Jessica Contrera (thanks, Michael): When 13-year-old Caleb LeBlanc’s death made the news this week, millions of people already knew him. He wasn’t a pop star, an up-and-coming actor or a child prodigy. He was a boy who liked to wear his hair floppy, play baseball, and belt out nonsensical songs about being a baked potato — all for an audience usually bigger than the population of his home state.
Caleb, whose parents said he died of an “undetected medical condition,” was the oldest son of the “Bratayley” clan, the YouTube-famous Arnold, Md., family. Their lives and their income revolved around creating 10- to 20-minute clips of their unremarkable moments: bouncing on a backyard trampoline (15 million views), walking the Ocean City boardwalk (10 million) or roaming the aisles of Walmart (22 million). Compare it to the Nielsen estimates for the record-breaking season finale of “Game of Thrones”: only 8.11 million viewers.
With cameras seemingly always rolling, family vloggers such as the Bratayleys let viewers come along for errands, birthday parties and doctor appointments. They let them comment on the soothing of crying children, the hunt for a new house or the selection of a baby’s name. With each video, the line between YouTube and reality blurs; strangers watching from afar start to feel like part of the family.
But inevitably in any normal, happy life comes some kind of bad news: The sickness of a cat. A miscarriage. Or, tragically, an unexpected death.
This week, the Bratayleys are faced with a question the new world of family vloggers will all somehow confront: If you live in front of the cameras, how do you know when to turn them off?
Justin George: As massive protest marches continued across Baltimore, the pressure was building inside police headquarters, and Commissioner Anthony W. Batts wanted answers — fast. Near midnight on a cool April night, he pressed six top commanders sitting at a conference table for details about Freddie Gray’s death.
A 30-person task force was interviewing witnesses, reviewing video and searching records in the days after Gray died, but crucial questions remained. Did Gray suffer an injury before his spine was damaged in police custody? Was he hurt while being dragged to a police van or was he malingering? Did police beat him?
Batts asked his commanders if they were aware of the growing tension downtown, where swarms of protesters had halted rush hour traffic that day. Demonstrators yelled and swore at police officers, chanting “No justice, no peace!” To handle the crisis, the Police Department had canceled vacations and ordered all officers into duty; the Maryland State Police also was called in to help.
“Are you guys paying attention out here?” Batts said. “And it’s going to get worse if we don’t give them some answers to something.”
Batts’ words on Thursday, April 23, added to the pressure that commanders and task force members felt as they hustled to answer a question: How did Gray die?
Now, that question will be central to the trials of six police officers charged in the 25-year-old’s arrest and death. Prosecutors allege that officers did not put Gray in a seat belt after his arrest and failed to provide medical care that he requested — violations of department policy. The six officers, who are suspended, maintain their innocence.
As the first trial nears, authorities have not disclosed key evidence. But an exclusive look inside the police investigation — granted to The Baltimore Sun over the last nine days of April — reveals new details about the case.
AARON YOST and TROY BRYNELSON in the Roseburg, Ore. News-Review:
Hannah Miles sat on a plastic chair inside cavernous Douglas Hall, wrapped in a white Red Cross blanket, shaking.
A grief counselor spoke with her. Another approached with a cell phone and made a call for her. Ten minutes later, Miles was no longer alone.
Her sister Hailey wrapped her in a close hug. Her father, Gary Miles, a pastor at Christian Life Center in Roseburg, consoled her.
Hannah continued to cry, the shock from the shooting at Umpqua Community College still exerting a tight grip upon her.
She wasn’t alone among the displaced students, staff and children who were transported to the Douglas County Fairgrounds. Reunions — tearful, blessed, happy — were the general order of the day.