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Missouri State Highway Patrol sees increase in school threats on anonymous hotline app

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says it’s received more than 90 threats against schools so far this year through its app “Courage2Report.”

Students, parents, community members, and even educators can report any type of threat at the touch of a finger on their phone. With a large increase in reports since last year, the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) said it’s now more important than ever to use the program. 

“Sometimes we will have two or three tips a day that require immediate action of law enforcement,” said Lt. Eric Brown with MSHP. “Local law enforcement is advised of every tip that comes in, even if it appears to be something low level.”

It was a tragic scene last month as dozens of students and teachers ran from the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis as police said a gunman opened fire. Police said 19-year-old Orlando Harris used an AR-15 style rifle, shooting and killing 16-year-old Alexandria Bell and 61-year-old PE teacher Jean Kuczka. 

Brown said the “Courage2Report” app has prevented tragedies in the past and hopes more people will use the program. 

“We do receive a lot of threats of school shootings or a targeted act of violence towards certain children, but a lot of the tips that we receive are related to bullying,” Brown said. 

MSHP, the Department of Social Services and the Missouri School Board Association released the program in 2019, and it’s free for schools. It allows a family member, student or teacher to anonymously report a threat or bullying. 

According to MSHP, so far this year, more than 900 tips have been reported. That’s a 51% increase from 2021. There’s also been 87 school shooting threats and 4 planned attacks. Since the program went live, bullying and cyberbullying make up for nearly 30% of the 2,225 tips MSHP has received. There’s also been 170 reports of school shootings, 97 reports of threat to kill others, 84 reports of sex offenses and 81 tips of someone being in possession of a gun. 

“People are becoming more aware of the threats of violence in schools, and they are also becoming more aware of the various things you can use that system for,” Brown said.

Compared to 2021 when there were only 897 tips in all, MSHP believes since the system debuted during COVID-19, there wasn’t much advertising. Now, with the number of tips doubling in a year and multiple reports of school threats a day, Brown encourages everyone to download the app. 

“Hopefully, we are seeing an increase in reports because people just became more aware and are more concerned about the safety of their schools,” Brown said. “They are more concerned about the safety of their children that are there, and they are concerned about the safety of their staff and are choosing to make the decision to report something.”

Brown said it has become an issue where people are reporting threats that are fake, but no matter if it’s real or a prank, law enforcement investigates all tips. 

“For anyone that’s thinking about taking those type of steps and making false threats, it is a crime, and it has serious repercussions,” Brown said. “Just by causing that scare in the community, they can be guilty of a crime such as making a terroristic threat, but they are also putting the greater public at harm.”

The program works like this. First, the parent or student reports the problem on the app, hotline or online. The administration, school resource officer, local law enforcement and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are notified of the report. Then, they can take action to stop the threat and offer services to the student. 

Since 2016, MSHP also has been using a school walkthrough initiative. It allows troopers to enter schools at random times throughout the day and school year, helping grow relationships because of officers and the school community. 

“It gets our troopers the knowledge of the layout of the building if there ever is an act of violence there, they know that building and they know where to go,” Brown said. “It also allows our troopers to have more contact with young kids and build a rapport with them, so they are comfortable around law enforcement. 

Every Missouri school is registered on the “Courage2Report” app. Courage2Report operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you don’t want to download the free app, you can submit a report by phone (866-748-7047) or on the website.

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Thanksgiving MSHP holiday statistics

MISSOURI. — The “Missouri State Highway Patrol” has released its latest holiday numbers.

There were a total of 414 crashes over the “Thanksgiving Holiday Counting Period.”

Eight people died in those crashes, and 115 were injured.

Troopers also arrested 113 people for drunk driving and 35 people for drugs.

The agency did not respond to any boat crashes, but did report two drownings.

Overall, numbers were down from what troopers saw during last year’s counting period.

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Kansas City charter school teacher under investigation for alleged racial slur

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A University Academy high school teacher is on administrative leave pending an investigation with the school.

The teacher is accused of using the N-word in front of students and it was caught on camera two weeks ago.

“That’s just a word that should never be used,” parent Melissa Robinson said, “in a district that predominately serves African American children.”

To most she’s Councilwoman Robinson, but the most recent event at University Academy hits close to home because her kids attend the school.

The video shows a high school teacher at the school saying the N-word in front of students and then explaining to the students why he said it.

FOX4 has seen the video in which the teacher said, “just like African Americans call themselves N****.”

A student in the classroom told FOX4 the teacher used the word in one his classes earlier that day and said it again to another class explaining why he said it.

“He’s not the one to deliver that point to students,” parent Carly Mitchell said. “Like he would not be the one that I would want my Black or brown children to get that point across to.”

Parents like Mitchell said there’s no excuse for using the racial slur.

In the video, the teacher said it was used in educational context saying, “It was said for the purpose of talking about empowerment. So you can either like it, not like it, be upset about it all you like, but ultimately this is a ridiculous conversation.”

University Academy sent a statement to parents that said:

“Parents and Students, University Academy leadership is aware of the discussion that is reported to have occurred in a high school classroom over two weeks ago. Although we are limited in our comments while we look into the matter, the teacher in question has been placed on administrative leave. We recognize the community’s interest in such classroom discussions and share in the expectation for awareness and inclusivity in our schools.

While we continue investigating the situation and will address the matter in a manner consistent with our goal of ensuring a safe and secure learning environment for the children of our community.

We welcome any and all information you may have about this matter and ask that you come forward and provide all information you might have. It has been and will always be UA’s Mission to serve as positive role models and valuable members of the community for our students. To that end we will continue our commitment to maintaining a learning environment inclusive of all students.”

“But when you do things of that nature is on video, it’s on tape, that person doesn’t need to receive another penny of taxpayer dollars, not one penny,” Robinson said.

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Missouri inmate's last words before execution

Kevin Johnson

KSNF/KODE — The State of Missouri has executed a man convicted of killing a police officer, despite attorneys arguing that the case was infused with racism.

37-year-old Kevin Johnson died at 7:40 p.m. Tuesday night (11/29) at the state prison in Bonne Terre, after an injection of Pentobarbital.

As a first for modern executions in Missouri, Johnson was not alone in the execution chamber, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

According to the AP, Johnson spoke softly with his spiritual advisor, Reverend Darryl Gray, until the lethal drug was administered.

“He apologized again. He apologized to the victim’s family. He apologized to his family. He said he was looking forward to seeing his baby brother. And he said he was ready,” said Rev. Gray.

Kevin Johnson’s attorney, Shawn Nolan said his client had always accepted responsibility for killing Kirkwood police officer, William McEntee in 2005, but that his death sentence was, “the product of blatant racism.”

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request for a stay on Tuesday evening, a day after Missouri’s Supreme Court did the same. Missouri Governor, Mike Parson declined to step in and stop the execution.

“Tonight, the state of Missouri killed Kevin Johnson, an amazing father to his daughter Khorry, and a completely rehabilitated man. Make no mistake about it, Missouri capitally prosecuted, sentenced to death, and killed Kevin because he is Black,” Nolan said in a statement.

During the final moment’s of Kevin Johnson’s life, Rev. Gray read from the Bible as Johnson shut his eyes for the last time.

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New memorial honors victims of the 2011 Joplin Tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. – Active Lifestyle Events Inc. today unveiled and dedicated a Joplin Memorial Sculpture that honors the victims of the 2011 Joplin Tornado.

Officials say the artwork, located at the Harry M. Cornell Arts & Entertainment Complex, features the names of the 161 residents who lost their lives on May 22nd, 2011.

“This sculpture captures our organizations dream of providing something significant to the community that also honors those we lost on May 22nd, 2011. This beautiful sculpture not only honors them, but the banner depicted recognizes the role the runners played in helping this happen. It is a fantastic piece of art, placed on the lawn of our arts and entertainment center that will lead our city into the future,” said Audie Dennis, Active Lifestyle Events, Inc. President

ALE Inc. hosted the dedication at 10:00 a.m.

Watch KOAM & Fox 14 to see the whole story live or check back later for additional content.

Click here to learn more.

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Armed Robbery at McDonalds, Police seek help to identify individuals

AURORA, Mo. — Police and investigators responded late Tuesday night, November 29, 2022 to a report of an Armed Robbery at McDonalds, 1529 South Elliot in Aurora.

Investigators say two masked subjects entered the restaurant dressed in black, with  their faces covered (see security images).

One subject brandished a handgun and asked an employee to be given access to cash in the store.  An undisclosed amount of cash was taken and the suspects left the store on foot.”

AURORA-MARIONVILLE POLICE

If anyone has any information as to the identity of these individuals, you are asked to call AMPD at (417)678-5025.

No one was injured during the Armed Robbery.

This is a breaking news story, stay with Joplin News First on KOAM News Now as we continue to learn more. Scroll below and sign up for our JLNews email list so you don’t miss a story.

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Joplin lights up its Holiday Tree Trail attraction

JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin is continuing a new holiday tradition at Mercy Park this year.

The Holiday Tree Trail returns and many local businesses are decorating trees that guests can view during park hours.

On the evening of Nov. 29, the City lit 40 decorated trees along the park’s trail and guests enjoyed performances by Karen’s Dance Studio students.

Furthermore, Joplin Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with Mercy, will be hosting the third annual Roll-n-Stroll Activity Challenge during the same time as the Holiday Tree Trail.

Joplin Parks and Recreation, the City of Joplin, and Visit Joplin

Click here to register.

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Local mother donates extra breast milk

JOPLIN, Mo – One Joplin mother has been breastfeeding her 4-month-old son since birth.

Paige Karnes only pumps to make sure she knows how much milk her son Atlas is getting.

She wanted to start stocking up and realized she had an abundance of milk.

After deciding to make a post on Facebook saying she has extra and wanted to donate and sell some,  she never knew how much of a response she would have.

Taehler Pupo from Galeana is just one of many mothers who reached out to Paige for help.

With her milk supply decreasing and her daughter Ezra not being able to take formula she went through her freezer stock fast and needed help.

Paige started out with 4,300oz of milk, given or sold around 1,800oz, and has about 2,000 more ounces to donate.

 

If you want to reach out to Paige Karnes you can find her Facebook here.

You can always contact your local Health Department for a lactation consultant for any help when it comes to breastfeeding.

 

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Names of Baxter Springs shooting victims released

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. – Authorities have released the names of three people shot in Baxter Springs on Monday.

Jeremy Murphy, 47, of Anderson and Craig Guinn, 59, of Pineville died at the Baxter Springs residence by gunshot wounds, the Cherokee County Kan. Sheriff’s office said.

Kyle Butts, 41, of Independence is in custody in connection to the fatal shootings.

A third victim, Seth Guinn, 27, of Pineville was taken to Freeman Hospital where he is listed in critical condition, the sheriff’s office confirmed.

Murphy and Guinn’s bodies were released to the Cherokee County Coroner pending autopsies which should be this week.

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Missouri announces Career & Technical Education Grants for local institutions

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education awarded several local Career and Technical Education programs with grant funding.

Officials say the support will help ensure that Missouri students are prepared for success upon graduation and further contribute to developing Missouri’s workforce.

“Career and technical education are critical to our workforce development goals here in the State of Missouri,” Governor Parson said. “Every day the necessity for a post-secondary degree, trade, or industry-recognized credential is growing for good-paying jobs across the state, and we want to support Missourians as they seek to learn new skills, especially in our career and technical education programs.”

The following local institutions received funds:

  • Carthage Technical Center, Carthage, $400,000.00
  • Crowder College Technical Education Center, Neosho, $400,000.00
  • Franklin Technology Center, Joplin, $400,000.00
  • Lamar Career & Technical Center, Lamar, $323,500.00
  • Nevada Regional Technical Center, Nevada, $400,000.00

Institutions selected will use the funding for the following areas:

• Create new high-demand and emerging programs
• Construct a new area career center building
• Renovate or build an addition to an existing area career center
• Update or expand current CTE programs
• Improve infrastructure for safety and equipment needs
• Upgrade equipment and instructional technology

Watch KOAM & Fox 14 to see the whole story or check back later for additional content.