Georgia officer shot, killed during traffic stop, K-9 critically wounded, police say

A police officer in DeKalb County, Georgia, was fatally shot during a traffic stop Thursday, officials said. The deadly incident occurred after the officer attempted to stop a vehicle. The operator got out of the car and ran, DeKalb County Police Chief James Conroy told reporters, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. A foot chase ultimately ensued, during … Continue reading “Georgia officer shot, killed during traffic stop, K-9 critically wounded, police say”

A police officer in DeKalb County, Georgia, was fatally shot during a traffic stop Thursday, officials said.

The deadly incident occurred after the officer attempted to stop a vehicle. The operator got out of the car and ran, DeKalb County Police Chief James Conroy told reporters, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. A foot chase ultimately ensued, during which "the suspect produced a handgun and shot the officer," Conroy said.

The police chief confirmed that the officer had died as a result of the injuries.

"I have sad news to report this evening," Conroy said. "Tonight a DeKalb County police officer died in the line of duty serving the citizens of DeKalb County."

A K-9 unit was among the responders who later arrived at the scene, Conroy said. The suspect shot the K-9 after law enforcement located him behind a business, the police chief said.

"Several officers returned fire" on the suspect, who "received several gunshot wounds," Conroy said.

The suspect, described as an adult male in their 20s to 30s, also died, the police chief said.

Neither the officer, who Conroy said had been on the force for less than two years, or the suspect was immediately identified.

The K-9 was taken to a nearby veterinarian for treatment and listed as in critical condition, Conroy said.

Aerial video showed a swath of police vehicles that arrived at the scene.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) was called to investigate the shooting, the agency tweeted.

Georgia Gov.-elect Brian Kemp expressed condolences in a Twitter message.

"We are forever grateful for his service and sacrifice," Kemp wrote about the officer. "Our prayers are with those who mourn."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Georgia’s Stacey Abrams plans to run for office again: ‘Stay tuned’

Stacey Abrams may have lost the Georgia gubernatorial race this year – but she doesn't think her political career is over.

“Yes, I’m going to run again,” Abrams said when asked during Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen summit Tuesday, adding: “Stay tuned!”

She said she hasn’t yet decided what office she’ll seek next because she wants to avoid making “decisions out of anger.” She also said the next job should have a “mission” that aligns with her skillset.

“I care about policy,” Abrams said. “I’m driven by a commitment to justice, to ending poverty, to addressing social needs and using public policy as a tool to improve the lives around us.”

Abrams, who had hoped to make history as the first black governor of Georgia and first female black governor of any state, lost November’s gubernatorial election to Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

The race was one of the most closely watched gubernatorial contests nationally in the 2018 midterm elections. It was also marked with drama and intrigue as Democrats, including Abrams, raised concerns of voter suppression.

MIDTERM WINNERS MAKE HISTORY ON ELECTION NIGHT, FROM YOUNGEST WOMAN ELECTED TO CONGRESS TO RICHEST GOVERNOR

Abrams has famously declined to officially concede the election and said she would not call Kemp the legitimate governor-elect. On Tuesday, Abrams said she refused to concede the race “because words matter.”

“For me, concession – there’s a legal and moral nature to conceding. It means you’ve accepted something is right, that it is just, that it is proper,” Abrams said. “What happened was not just. And it’s not about whether I get to be inaugurated as governor; it’s about thousands of people who were denied the right to vote in the most remarkable democracy ever put on this earth.”

Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Georgia this year, says she plans to run for office again in the future.  (Getty Images/Jessica McGowan)

“So, yes, [Kemp] is going to become the governor. Yes, for four years he will be responsible. But no, I do not concede that what happened to me and to others,” she continued. “I will not accept that that is true and a good and proper thing.”

GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE STACEY ABRAMS HELPED TORCH STATE FLAG DURING COLLEGE PROTEST

As secretary of state, part of Kemp’s duties included the responsibility of “the administration of secure, accessible, and fair elections,” according to his website. He touted Georgia’s so-called “exact match” law, which flags discrepancies between voter registrations and official identification documents. If there are any differences – such as a missing hyphen – voters had to clear the matter up with a state official before voting.

But those restrictions were estimated to affect only approximately 3,000 voters – far short of the nearly 55,000-vote margin that Kemp obtained on his way to victory. He also resigned as secretary of state shortly after the election.

Despite the loss, Abrams said she considered her race to be “successful” because of her campaign’s ability to “turn out voters who had never been engaged” in politics before, pointing specifically to African Americans and younger voters.

An attorney, Abrams was the first black leader in the Georgia state House, having previously served as the minority leader. She is also an award-winning romance novelist, penning eight books under the nom de plume Selena Montgomery.

Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn.

Federal government buying MLK’s childhood home for nearly $2M: report

The childhood home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reportedly has a new owner.

Atlanta's WGCL-TV reported that the federal government has purchased King’s home in Atlanta, which his grandparents purchased in 1909.

The King Center was unavailable for the station’s request for comment. Sources told the station the home was sold for $1.9 million.

Earlier this year President Trump signed the "Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act of 2017," which designated King's home as a national historical park and expanded the boundaries to include the Prince Hall Masonic Temple where King's group, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was once headquartered. 

"Through his life and work, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made America more just and free," White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters at the time. "This important historical park tells his story, and this bill will help ensure that the park continues to tell Dr. King’s story for generations to come."

King was one of the most iconic leaders of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He was instrumental in organizing the 1963 "March on Washington" in which he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in front of 250,000 people. He was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tenn.

Bradford Betz is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bradford_betz.

Earthquake, magnitude 4.4, rattles Tennessee, Georgia

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake was reported in Tennessee early Wednesday, officials said.

The quake hit about six miles north of Decatur around 4:15 a.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The shaking was felt by residents as far away as Atlanta — about 149 miles south of the epicenter.

A 3.3 magnitude aftershock struck about 10 minutes later, the Center for Earthquake Research and Information reported.

Signs of major damage or injuries have yet to be reported.

The 4.4 was the second strongest quake on record to strike eastern Tennessee, according to the USGS. The strongest ever registered was a 4.7 magnitude near Maryville in 1973.

Several smaller earthquakes have rippled through Georgia in recent years, including a 1.9 magnitude in Walker County in August and a 2.7 quake in Catoosa County in January, WSB-TV reported. Last year, a 2.3 rattled the small community of Trion in Chatooga County.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Orthodox Jew embraces unorthodox job as full-time Santa

His job may seem unorthodox to some, but for Rick Rosenthal, being Santa is just who he is.

The 66-year-old Jewish man from Atlanta, Georgia, better known as “Santa Rick,” stands out in his orthodox community with his beard white as snow, classic red suit, and jolly personality.

“I’m Santa all the time now,” Rosenthal said. “My whole orthodox neighborhood calls me Santa. I’m always in red. I wear a red shirt to shul. You know you’re looking at Santa, not a rabbi.”

To Rosenthal, Santa is not a religious figure but he is spiritual.

“Being Santa is truly a humbling experience and an honor because everybody loves you, everybody trusts you, everybody knows you, and you are universally accepted for two reasons: Santa is one of the most recognized faces in the world, the other is Jesus, and he is the most photographed person in the world – ahead of queens and presidents,” he said. “Because you’re Santa you have a unique opportunity because Santa is the one guy that makes everybody feel better.”

TOM SHILLUE: WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE DETERMINED TO SUCK ALL THE FUN OUT OF CHRISTMAS?

Rick Rosenthal, or "Santa Rick," is an Orthodox Jew who says it’s no secret he’s also a full-time Santa. (J Rosa Photography)

Being Orthodox and Santa does have its limits, though.

“I don’t drive on Sabbath, and every once in a while Christmas Eve is on Shabbos,” he explained. “I’ve walked to jobs on Sabbath…I’m really doing a mitzvah. I’m not getting paid. I don’t get paid on Sabbath.”

And it doesn’t come without criticism but Rosenthal said it falls in line with Judaism the same way orthodox doctors and other professions have exceptions and he believes it’s his way of making the world a better place as a light unto the world.

“For the naysayers, I say they should look inward and consider what their agenda is and then look out and see the light,” he said. “They should ask themselves ‘Why do I feel this way?’ I talk about hope and inspiration and toys.”

BLACK CHRISTMAS TREES BECOME HOTTEST NEW HOLIDAY TREND THIS SEASON

Rick Rosenthal views his job as a Santa as bringing light to the world. (J Rosa Photography)

Rosenthal started dressing up as a Santa when he was a teenager, 50 years ago, because he thought it would be fun and cute.

“I had a horrible designer beard because back in the 60s those beards looked like a run-over opossum,” he said.

But it all changed for him seven years ago after both his parents died. His beard grew in white, and he was at the checkout at Home Depot. It was spring – not Christmastime – and a little boy saw him as Santa.

“His reaction was so strong that I realized at that point that I’m just going to be Santa all year round,” Rosenthal said. “It was a life-changing experience.”

Today he runs a school, the Northern Lights Santa Academy, in Atlanta, where they train people to be the jolly old fellow, Mrs. Claus, or elves.

The Northern Lights Santa Academy class of September 2018. (Nick Cardello)

“America grew up with a guy in a red suit – that’s not what Santa is anymore – but Santa today is professionally trained and educated, and rather than as a prop…he’s engaging and entertaining and magical because Santa can do anything because he’s Santa.”

Rosenthal’s academy is the only school that offers a special needs workshop and has more instructors than any other school as well as bringing in experts from the field, including lawyers, professional storytellers, and a rocket scientist, who actually explained how Santa gets around the world in one day.

The first thing they learn is how to look like Santa. Next, they learn how to talk like Santa.

Rick Rosenthal, better known as "Santa Rick," said the role of Santa has changed over the years from a man in a red suit to a professionally educated and trained vocation. (J Rosa Photography)

“Santa has to talk in a way that people can understand him whether they’re four or 94 – if he’s not believable then he’s not Santa. It doesn’t mean you have to believe what I say – I can explain how reindeer fly in a logical way – but if it’s not believable it’s not Santa,” he said. “The truth of the matter is little children and senior citizens know that Santa’s real – it’s the middle-aged people that get confused but that’s ok, you don’t have to be a believer, you just have to stay on the nice list rather than the naughty list, to get your presents.”

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

5 white Georgia police officers could face trial in deaths of unarmed black men next year: report

As many as five police officers in Georgia – all of whom are white – are likely to stand trial in the deaths of unarmed black men next year, a noteworthy number of prosecutions in a state which has historically had a high bar for trying cops.

All five officers – including DeKalb County Police Officer Robert Olsen who killed Afghanistan war veteran Anthony Hill in 2015 – were indicted under new state grand jury rules that went into effect in 2015, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The new rules no longer allow officers to look at the prosecution’s case and then testify — without being cross-examined — privileges historically available only to cops in Georgia.

“There was a long period where there weren’t any [prosecutions of police officers], so five is worth noting,” former DeKalb District Attorney Robert James told the newspaper.

The new rules, he said, “somewhere leveled the playing field,” in getting a murder charge against Olsen and the other police officers.

“There were some incidents that I thought were wrong, that I was very upset about, but under the laws at the time, the officers were protected and there was no way we were going to win those cases,” James added.

Olsen’s trial is expected first. He is accused of shooting Hall on March 9, 2015, while responding to a call about a naked man behaving erratically outside a suburban Atlanta apartment complex.

Earlier this year, during an immunity hearing, Olsen claimed self-defense and that he believed he was going to get “pummeled and pounded” by the unarmed U.S. Air Force veteran’

Left to right: Former Washington County deputies Henry Copeland, Michael Howell, and Rhett Scott. (Washington County Jail)

Three police officers – Washington County deputies Michael Howell, Henry L. Copeland, and Rhett Scott – were indicted for allegedly Tasing victim Eurie Lee Martin, 59, to death in July 2017.

According to the newspaper, the fatal incident began with a request for water on a hot July afternoon.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations concluded that Martin, who suffered from schizophrenia and was walking some 20 miles to see relatives in Sandersville, broke no laws when he was questioned by Howell.

Prosecutors said Eurie Lee Martin was Tased to death by with Washington County deputies. (AP)

Cellphone video shot by a passing motorist showed Martin face down, handcuffed and drying of respiratory distress, according to the Journal-Constitution.

Meanwhile, former Atlanta Police Officer James Burns was re-indicted in September for the death of Deravis Rogers.

Former Atlanta Police Officer James Burns is accused in the death of Deravis Rogers. (Atlanta Police Dept/Go Fund Me)

Prosecutors say Burns was responding to a suspicious person call in June 2016 when he fired shots into a car driven by the 22-year-old Rogers, killing him. Investigators said they concluded the officer wasn't in danger when he opened fire, and that he had no way to identify Rogers as the reported suspicious person.

Trial dates have not been set for the officers, but prosecutors expect them to happen sometime in 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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

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.

Air Force lieutenant colonel faces child exploitation charge after FBI sex sting

An FBI sting has snared a high-ranking lieutenant colonel in the Air Force who was accused of trying to meet a girl at a hotel in Georgia after the two spoke online.

LT. Col. Willie Newson, 47, was arrested Tuesday at a hotel in Marietta, Ga., on charges of child exploitation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He was placed on leave pending the investigation’s outcome. It was not immediately clear if he has a lawyer.

GEORGIA MURDER SUSPECT TAUNTS ALLEGED VICTIM’S FAMILY, ‘DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?’

Authorities said Newson was trying to meet with a teen girl he met on a dating app but she was really an undercover officer working for the FBI Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation Task Force. An arrest warrant stated the officer “gave Newson the opportunity to stop communicating several times,” Channel 2 Action News reported.

Georgia Department of Defense spokeswoman Desiree Bamba said Newson is on the command staff of the state Air National Guard.

FORMER IRS EMPLOYEE IN GEORGIA SENTENCED FOR IDENTITY THEFT

“Lt. Col. Newson’s alleged actions do not reflect the values we uphold in the Georgia National Guard,” Bamba said.

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.

Georgia posts private information of 300,000 absentee voters

The office of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp recently posted a public spreadsheet containing the home addresses and contact information of nearly 300,000 absentee voters, including disabled, elderly and active-duty military personnel. Shortly after releasing the information, he declared victory in his contentious race for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

The public disclosure of this private information is standard practice, according to Kemp’s office, but still raises the specter of voter intimidation just as his campaign for governor declares victory over Abrams.

Currently, Republican Brad Raffensperger and Democrat John Barrow are in a tight race that's headed to a Dec. 4 runoff election, over the vacated Secretary of State position.

In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Kemp came under fire for his controversial dual role as candidate and Georgia secretary of state. His office purged over 650,000 people from the rolls in 2017, and almost 90,000 in 2018, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The years-long practice of purging Georgia’s voter rolls is the backdrop to more recent scandals arising during Kemp’s tenure. In early November, days before the midterm elections, his office opened an investigation into allegations that Abrams’ campaign attempted to hack voter registration files. Kemp and his office cited no evidence, and drew criticism for the timing of his announcement.

Candace Broce, the spokeswoman for the secretary of state, said the office has been publishing the information for more than a decade – in compliance with state law. She said the office has never faced legal challenges or lawsuits for the practice.

Broce also said the state’s VoteSafe program, enacted in 2009, is a way for voters to maintain their privacy in the face of the intrusive law.

In 2017, Kemp's office again drew attention for security lapses at the state's election management center, according to The Associated Press. The researcher who originally blew the whistle on the vulnerabilities said the server may have been exposed to potential hacking for nearly seven months. A lawsuit against Kemp's office was ultimately dismissed.

Kemp, who was elected secretary of state in 2010, has been criticized for closing a number of polling places across Georgia during his tenure. An analysis by The Journal-Constitution found that nearly 8 percent of polling locations have shut their doors since 2012 — that's 214 fewer precincts for Georgia voters to cast their ballots in.

Georgia posts private information of 300,000 absentee voters

The office of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp recently posted a public spreadsheet containing the home addresses and contact information of nearly 300,000 absentee voters, including disabled, elderly and active-duty military personnel. Shortly after releasing the information, he declared victory in his contentious race for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

The public disclosure of this private information is standard practice, according to Kemp’s office, but still raises the specter of voter intimidation just as his campaign for governor declares victory over Abrams.

Currently, Republican Brad Raffensperger and Democrat John Barrow are in a tight race that's headed to a Dec. 4 runoff election, over the vacated Secretary of State position.

In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Kemp came under fire for his controversial dual role as candidate and Georgia secretary of state. His office purged over 650,000 people from the rolls in 2017, and almost 90,000 in 2018, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The years-long practice of purging Georgia’s voter rolls is the backdrop to more recent scandals arising during Kemp’s tenure. In early November, days before the midterm elections, his office opened an investigation into allegations that Abrams’ campaign attempted to hack voter registration files. Kemp and his office cited no evidence, and drew criticism for the timing of his announcement.

Candace Broce, the spokeswoman for the secretary of state, said the office has been publishing the information for more than a decade – in compliance with state law. She said the office has never faced legal challenges or lawsuits for the practice.

Broce also said the state’s VoteSafe program, enacted in 2009, is a way for voters to maintain their privacy in the face of the intrusive law.

In 2017, Kemp's office again drew attention for security lapses at the state's election management center, according to The Associated Press. The researcher who originally blew the whistle on the vulnerabilities said the server may have been exposed to potential hacking for nearly seven months. A lawsuit against Kemp's office was ultimately dismissed.

Kemp, who was elected secretary of state in 2010, has been criticized for closing a number of polling places across Georgia during his tenure. An analysis by The Journal-Constitution found that nearly 8 percent of polling locations have shut their doors since 2012 — that's 214 fewer precincts for Georgia voters to cast their ballots in.