Alabama girl, 9, commits suicide after racist taunting, family says

A 9-year-old girl committed suicide last week after she was allegedly bullied by students at her Alabama elementary school. The past week has been “an emotional roller-coaster” following the Dec. 3 death of McKenzie Adams, her aunt Edwinna Harris told The Columbus Dispatch. Adams’ grandmother reportedly found the fourth-grader after she hung herself in their … Continue reading “Alabama girl, 9, commits suicide after racist taunting, family says”

A 9-year-old girl committed suicide last week after she was allegedly bullied by students at her Alabama elementary school.

The past week has been “an emotional roller-coaster” following the Dec. 3 death of McKenzie Adams, her aunt Edwinna Harris told The Columbus Dispatch.

Adams’ grandmother reportedly found the fourth-grader after she hung herself in their Linden residence.

The 9-year-old’s decision to take her own life came months after the alleged harassment by her classmates at U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis began, her relatives told the outlet. Some of the tauntings stemmed from her being friends with a white boy, her aunt said.

“She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘black b—h,’ ‘just die,'” Harris told the outlet.

Adams was enrolled at U.S. Jones Elementary School after relatives went to the State Board of Education over concerns that the young girl was bullied at her previous school in Linden as well, Harris told The Dispatch.

Adam’s aunt works as a TV host in Georgia and has been vocal about the issue to help stop it from reoccurring.

“God has blessed me to help others with my platform, and now it’s time to help. There are so many voiceless kids,” Harris said. “God is opening great doors for justice for my niece.”

Demopolis City Schools Board Attorney Alex Brasswell addressed the death in a statement to Fox News.

"In response to the recent tragic loss of a Demopolis City School System student, The Demopolis City School System does extend its heartfelt wishes and condolences to the family, friends, students and teachers that have been affected," the statement said.

"We have concluded our internal investigation to the allegations of bullying which led to this senseless death. There have been no findings of any reports of bullying by either the student or family. The findings of this internal investigation are consistent with the results of the investigation of the Linden (Alabama) Police Department at this point in time," the statement continued. "The Linden Police Department investigation is still pending. All further results will be disseminated as they become available. The Demopolis City School System will continue to have grief counselors, crisis counselors and mental health professionals available to all of our students and teachers."

Adams’ funeral is scheduled for Saturday morning, the outlet said.

Mom charged after baby found in motel freezer

A woman arrested in connection with the death of her 6-month-old son last summer and leaving him in an Alabama motel room freezer has been indicted.

Amanda Gail Oakes, 36, is charged with manslaughter and abuse of a corpse, the Dothan Eagle reported.

Carlton James Mathis, 28, who was traveling with Oakes and her baby, Curtis James Oakes, was arrested in June after the baby’s body was found.

Investigators said the boy died while in Mathis’ care, and then Oakes allegedly placed him in a Dothan, Ala., motel room when the smell became unbearable.

The couple and infant ended up in the motel room after leaving Georgia when authorities there attempted to arrest Mathis on burglary and parole violation charges, according to prosecutors.

Carlton James Mathis, 28, was arrested in June after the baby’s body was found. (Levy County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office)

Oakes and Mathis checked into the motel room, then Oakes briefly returned to Georgia to get her teenage daughter. The infant died shortly after she left and the couple placed the boy in the freezer, authorities said.

After Georgia investigators contacted Dothan police about the infant's possible death, authorities learned the couple fled to Florida.

Florida law enforcement officers found and arrested Mathis. He was shot during the arrest after he allegedly held the driver of a vehicle at gunpoint. Investigators discovered the boy in the freezer in Alabama soon after.

Authorities determined he had been in the freezer for five to six days.

Mathis remained in jail on several charges. Oakes' arrangement is scheduled for Jan. 8.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Black man killed by Alabama police on Thanksgiving night in case of mistaken ID was shot in back, report says

A black man who was fatally shot by police responding to reports of a shooting at a crowded Alabama mall on Thanksgiving was struck three times in the back of his body, a forensic examination showed.

The results of a report commissioned by the family of Emantic "EJ" Bradford Jr. are “devastating” to relatives, their lawyer, Ben Crump, said at news conference Monday.

Emantic Bradford Jr. was shot three times in the back, a forensic examination showed. (Emantic Bradford, Sr. via AP)

Crump said the forensic pathologist hired by the family determined Bradford was struck by one shot that entered the rear of his skull; another that hit the back of his neck; and a third that penetrated his lower back. The report didn’t indicate the order of the shots, and the pathologist’s report did not indicate whether more than one person shot the 21-year-old man. Crump said any of the three shots could have killed Bradford.

MAN KILLED IN ALABAMA MALL SHOOTING WAS ‘LIKELY’ NOT GUNMAN, POLICE SAY

Bradford’s father, Emantic Bradford Sr., a former corrections officer, spoke at the news conference and questioned why the officers discharged their weapons.

“My son was murdered by this officer and that was cowardice," Bradford Sr. said, according to NBC News. "You shot a 21-year-old person running away from gunfire. Never posed you a threat, never had nothing in his hand. Why did you shoot him? You can’t explain that to me, 'cause that ain’t training. That’s cowardice."

Police initially described Bradford as the person who was believed to have opened fire on Nov. 22 at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, about 10 miles from Birmingham. Authorities at first hailed the officer who shot him for his swift response — but then backtracked when it became clear Bradford was not the suspect.

Police said Bradford had a handgun visible after the initial gunfire, however, The New York Times reported Bradford was legally carrying the gun and had been helping shoppers run to safety.

April Pipkins holds a photograph of her son Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. who was shot to death by a police officer in a mall on Thanksgiving night. (AP)

Protests have occurred almost daily since the shooting, and the Hoover City Council meeting Monday night was packed. Council members adjourned the meeting after demonstrators in the audience repeatedly shouted "EJ" and "no justice, no peace."

FUNERAL HELD FOR ALABAMA MAN KILLED AMID MALL SHOOTING: REPORT

Erron Martez Dequan Brown, 20, of Bessemer was arrested last week in Georgia on charges of shooting a teenager who was wounded at the mall, 18-year-old Brian Xavier Wilson of Birmingham. Authorities transferred him from Atlanta to the county jail in Birmingham on Monday. A girl also was shot and wounded, but authorities haven't filed charges related to that incident.

Police in Hoover said they would not release officer video or other evidence about the killing until the state investigation is complete.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.

Funeral held for Alabama man killed amid mall shooting: report

A funeral was held in Alabama Saturday for Emantic "EJ" Fitzgerald Bradford Jr., the 21-year-old who was fatally shot when police responded to a mall shooting on Thanksgiving night.

The service took place at Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, which was filled with more than 1,000 people, according to The Associated Press.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson stood before the crowd to deliver the eulogy for Bradford, who law enforcement initially suspected was the gunman in the shooting at Riverchase Galleria Mall, the outlet said.

This undated image provided by Emantic Bradford, Sr. shows Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr., 21, posing for a picture at his father’s home near Birmingham, Ala., in his senior year of high school. (Emantic Bradford, Sr. via AP)

Shots were fired inside the mall after two men got into an altercation. One of the men pulled out a handgun and shot an 18-year-old twice. A 12-year-old girl standing nearby was also shot.

MAN KILLED IN ALABAMA MALL SHOOTING WAS ‘LIKELY’ NOT GUNMAN, POLICE SAY

Police responded to the scene and spotted Bradford brandishing a pistol. Officers shot and killed Bradford and said the 21-year-old was the one who'd shot the 18-year-old man.

Authorities later retracted the accusation and launched a search for the actual shooter.

The suspected gunman, Erron Brown, 20, was reportedly arrested earlier this week.

Erron Brown was arrested in connection with the Alabama mall shooting. (Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department)

In his address, Jackson asserted that law enforcement needed to release tapes that captured the violence, according to AP.

"We will have the tape made public," Jackson said. "We want transparency, not cover-up. Tell the whole story, tell it now. We want justice now. We want fairness now."

SUSPECTED GUNMAN IN THANKSGIVING ALABAMA MALL SHOOTING ARRESTED, OFFICIALS SAY

The officer who shot Bradford – who was reportedly placed on inactive duty amid an investigation into the imatter – “must face justice,” Jackson said.

Family and friends of the 21-year-old attended the funeral, and described Bradford as a considerate individual who could be counted on, the outlet said.

His father, Emantic Bradford Sr., became emotional while talking about his son, saying he was “always going to be my hero.”

“The years that I had with him were 21 good years,” he said. “I miss my baby and his mama miss him, too.”

Fox News’ Katherine Lam and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alabama National Guardsman, 18, helps save 12-year-old shooting victim: ‘God put me there’

Rashad Billingsley was at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama, to buy a pair of sneakers on Thanksgiving night.

"Not a minute after we got in the store the gunshots were fired,” Billingsley told FOX 6.

And that’s when his military training kicked in. While everyone was fleeing the situation, the 18-year-old Alabama National Guardsman went toward the action.

SUSPECTED GUNMAN IN THANKSGIVING ALABAMA MALL SHOOTING ARRESTED, OFFICIALS SAY

His snap decision helped him save 12-year-old Molly Bennet's life, a decision that Molly's mother, Julie, say makes him a "hero".

But Billingsley was quick to credit his military training and his faith.

“Let me just say first all thanks to God for me being in that store,” Billingsley wrote on Facebook. “I’m a strong believer and believe everything happens for a reason…and my reason for being there was to help little Molly.”

It was at a side door exit where people were fleeing the mall that Billingsley met the wounded girl.

“Molly was complaining that her back hurt,” he said. “I saw she had blood on her shirt and when I lifted it up, I saw she had a bullet wound.”

Billingsley used a shirt off a store rack to apply pressure to the gunshot wound, and stayed with her until paramedics arrived.

For Molly, it wasn’t until her grandmother called her mother to say she had been shot, that she realized what happened to her.

“She’s a strong, brave little girl,” he said. “I’m glad she made it through.”

MAN'S SPLIT-SECOND DECISION LEADS TO LIFE-SAVING KIDNEY TRANSPLANT: 'ALL THIS IS WAS GOD'

Two more people were shot that evening, one fatally. Emantic “EJ” Bradford was shot by a Hoover Police Officer responding to the shooting. Police admitted the following day that Bradford was "likely" not the gunman who shot Molly.

"It could have been me,” Billingsley said. “He was in the army like I am. I send prayers to his family.”

Molly was discharged from the hospital and is thankful for the community’s prayers and support.

NICU NURSES DONATE MEGAN MILLIONS WINNINGS TO COLLEAGUES IN NEED

“Yeah, bad guys are out there,” Bennett wrote on the night after the shooting. “But what I learned from this is that there are so many more good guys and girls who are willing to go above and beyond to help a stranger in need.”

Billingsley and Bennett are making plans to meet up one day.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

Voters faced with hundreds of state referendums across the country

For many Americans, Election Day will involve more than just voting for representatives in Congress. Some 38 states this November will offer some form of direct democracy — generally speaking, the initiative and referendum system, under which citizens can vote for a specific rule, if enough registered voters have signed petitions to put the question on the ballot.

The idea has actually been around from the beginning — Georgia's constitution in 1777 allowed for initiatives. The modern initiative and referendum system began in Oregon in 1902, and has since been adopted, in one fashion or another, by numerous states.

Video

As common as it is, many are concerned about the system, feeling that citizens' votes are, in essence, being bought by the wealthy. One such citizen is David Trahan, a political activist and former state legislator in Maine. Formerly, he supported dozens of measures on the Maine ballot, but he has now changed his mind about referendums. He says he's seen how the money flows, and doesn't like it.

"They pour their money into a little state like Maine and these billionaires can buy a law," Trahen said. He believes outside groups with money deform a system that's supposed to be the direct voice of the people.

Good or bad, there's no denying a lot of hot button issues are being determined by initiative. For instance, this November:

Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia will vote on abortion rights.Idaho, Nebraska and Utah will vote on health care policies.Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Utah will vote on gerrymandering rules.

Other issues in which the voters will have their say include tax policy and energy policy. All in all, there will be over 160 ballot measures considered by various states.

Video

But, if people like Trahan are concerned the system has been hijacked by money, others see it as part of the rough and tumble of politics, not to mention a chance for the public to be heard.

There's Paul Jacob, for instance, who's a long-time supporter of the ballot measure process. He's worked on over 100 initiative and referendum campaigns across the country. As he puts it, "what better way …than to let the people vote directly on the issues at hand?"

CLICK FOR COMPLETE FOX NEWS MIDTERMS COVERAGE

Jacob admits money — sometimes outside money — comes into play, but adds that money is already part of politics, so better to give the power to the people and not just the politicians.

For Trahan, this won't do.

"Direct democracy," he maintains, "is Maine people passing laws that govern Maine people."

CRUZ COULD SEE MIDTERM BOOST FROM STRAIGHT-TICKET VOTING

Jacob believes that "people who don't like direct democracy don't want the people to be in charge."

Steve Kurtz is a producer for the Fox News Channel, and author of “Steve’s America (the perfect gift for people named Steve)”.

Voters faced with hundreds of state referendums across the country

For many Americans, Election Day will involve more than just voting for representatives in Congress. Some 38 states this November will offer some form of direct democracy — generally speaking, the initiative and referendum system, under which citizens can vote for a specific rule, if enough registered voters have signed petitions to put the question on the ballot.

The idea has actually been around from the beginning — Georgia's constitution in 1777 allowed for initiatives. The modern initiative and referendum system began in Oregon in 1902, and has since been adopted, in one fashion or another, by numerous states.

Video

As common as it is, many are concerned about the system, feeling that citizens' votes are, in essence, being bought by the wealthy. One such citizen is David Trahan, a political activist and former state legislator in Maine. Formerly, he supported dozens of measures on the Maine ballot, but he has now changed his mind about referendums. He says he's seen how the money flows, and doesn't like it.

"They pour their money into a little state like Maine and these billionaires can buy a law," Trahen said. He believes outside groups with money deform a system that's supposed to be the direct voice of the people.

Good or bad, there's no denying a lot of hot button issues are being determined by initiative. For instance, this November:

Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia will vote on abortion rights.Idaho, Nebraska and Utah will vote on health care policies.Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Utah will vote on gerrymandering rules.

Other issues in which the voters will have their say include tax policy and energy policy. All in all, there will be over 160 ballot measures considered by various states.

Video

But, if people like Trahan are concerned the system has been hijacked by money, others see it as part of the rough and tumble of politics, not to mention a chance for the public to be heard.

There's Paul Jacob, for instance, who's a long-time supporter of the ballot measure process. He's worked on over 100 initiative and referendum campaigns across the country. As he puts it, "what better way …than to let the people vote directly on the issues at hand?"

CLICK FOR COMPLETE FOX NEWS MIDTERMS COVERAGE

Jacob admits money — sometimes outside money — comes into play, but adds that money is already part of politics, so better to give the power to the people and not just the politicians.

For Trahan, this won't do.

"Direct democracy," he maintains, "is Maine people passing laws that govern Maine people."

CRUZ COULD SEE MIDTERM BOOST FROM STRAIGHT-TICKET VOTING

Jacob believes that "people who don't like direct democracy don't want the people to be in charge."

Steve Kurtz is a producer for the Fox News Channel, and author of “Steve’s America (the perfect gift for people named Steve)”.

‘Neck guy’ whose mugshot went viral arrested again

The Florida man whose mugshot went viral last week for his tree trunk-sized neck appeared to not have learned his lesson while behind bars — he was arrested again on Wednesday for allegedly leading police on a high-speed chase.

Charles Dion McDowell, 31, was arrested Wednesday morning in Alabama after police used spike strips to stop his car as he attempted to flee from police on Interstate 85, the Auburn Plainsman reported.

McDowell’s mugshot became a viral sensation last week after Escambia County Sheriff’s Office posted it on its Facebook page to announce his arrest – which including charges of eluding police.

“McDowell is currently a guest at the GoldStar Hotel with a bond of $57,000,” deputies wrote in the post at the time.

Record show he paid the bond and was released from jail.

After Wednesday’s arrest, McDowell is now facing five additional charges in Alabama: eluding police, second-degree marijuana possession, driving with a revoked license, reckless driving, and improper lane usage.

He was released Wednesday after posting a $5,400 bond.

It didn’t take long for jokes to start pouring in, with former WWE champ Sean “X-Pac” Waltman chiming in on Twitter.

“Keeps ending up in the wrong neck of the woods,” he wrote.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

Voters faced with hundreds of state referendums across the country

For many Americans, Election Day will involve more than just voting for representatives in Congress. Some 38 states this November will offer some form of direct democracy — generally speaking, the initiative and referendum system, under which citizens can vote for a specific rule, if enough registered voters have signed petitions to put the question on the ballot.

The idea has actually been around from the beginning — Georgia's constitution in 1777 allowed for initiatives. The modern initiative and referendum system began in Oregon in 1902, and has since been adopted, in one fashion or another, by numerous states.

Video

As common as it is, many are concerned about the system, feeling that citizens' votes are, in essence, being bought by the wealthy. One such citizen is David Trahan, a political activist and former state legislator in Maine. Formerly, he supported dozens of measures on the Maine ballot, but he has now changed his mind about referendums. He says he's seen how the money flows, and doesn't like it.

"They pour their money into a little state like Maine and these billionaires can buy a law," Trahen said. He believes outside groups with money deform a system that's supposed to be the direct voice of the people.

Good or bad, there's no denying a lot of hot button issues are being determined by initiative. For instance, this November:

Alabama, Oregon and West Virginia will vote on abortion rights.Idaho, Nebraska and Utah will vote on health care policies.Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Utah will vote on gerrymandering rules.

Other issues in which the voters will have their say include tax policy and energy policy. All in all, there will be over 160 ballot measures considered by various states.

Video

But, if people like Trahan are concerned the system has been hijacked by money, others see it as part of the rough and tumble of politics, not to mention a chance for the public to be heard.

There's Paul Jacob, for instance, who's a long-time supporter of the ballot measure process. He's worked on over 100 initiative and referendum campaigns across the country. As he puts it, "what better way …than to let the people vote directly on the issues at hand?"

CLICK FOR COMPLETE FOX NEWS MIDTERMS COVERAGE

Jacob admits money — sometimes outside money — comes into play, but adds that money is already part of politics, so better to give the power to the people and not just the politicians.

For Trahan, this won't do.

"Direct democracy," he maintains, "is Maine people passing laws that govern Maine people."

CRUZ COULD SEE MIDTERM BOOST FROM STRAIGHT-TICKET VOTING

Jacob believes that "people who don't like direct democracy don't want the people to be in charge."

Steve Kurtz is a producer for the Fox News Channel, and author of “Steve’s America (the perfect gift for people named Steve)”.