A chase, a deputy-involved fatal shooting in Clemmons and a woman’s body found in her Winston-Salem home are all connected, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and Winston-Salem Police Department.
On Tuesday, just after midnight, Winston-Salem police reported 46-year-old Toni Renee Handy was missing, saying she might be travelling with a male companion. Handy had last been seen Friday at the Murphy Express gas station at 3820 Oxford Station Way, where she worked, police said. The station is just off Hanes Mall Boulevard
On Tuesday evening, Winston-Salem police investigators found Handy’s body in her home. The case is being investigated as a homicide, police said.
About 1:50 p.m. Tuesday, a Forsyth County sheriff’s deputy on patrol in Clemmons saw what was believed to be Handy’s truck near the intersection of Clemmons and Hampton roads, according to the sheriff’s office. After checking the truck’s license plates, the deputy tried to pull the driver over.
The driver didn’t stop and led deputies on about a mile-long chase through the area, including the shopping center parking lot on Lewisville-Clemmons Road where the Lowes Foods and Staples office supply stores are located, Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said,
The driver of the truck, later identified as 45-year-old Christopher Joel Mock, went through the parking lot, hopped a curb and collided with another truck at the shopping center’s entrance.
Deputies approached Mock, and the shooting began, Kimbrough said. The deputies shot Mock, and first responders took him to a hospital in an ambulance. Medical personnel declared Mock dead in the ambulance, then were able to revive him at the hospital, Kimbrough said. Mock went into emergency surgery, and later died at the hospital.
Tuesday’s deputy-involved shooting is the county’s first since 2008. The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting to determine if the use of force was lawful. The SBI investigates all officer-involved shootings in the state.
It’s not clear who shot first or if Mock shot at all. Christina Howell, the public-affairs officer for the sheriff’s office, said that would be officially determined after the investigation. All deputies involved — the sheriff’s office didn’t specify how many — are on administrative leave until the SBI’s investigation is complete.
Howell said deputies found a gun at the scene.
The truck had multiple bullet holes in it, and both windows on the driver’s side appeared to be shot out.
At least five shell casings could be seen in the road.
In total, four other vehicles were damaged in Mock’s crash, and one person went to the hospital with undisclosed injuries.
As sheriff’s deputies dealt with the scene in Clemmons, forensic services and detectives with the police department’s criminal investigations division executed a search warrant on Handy’s home, 4502 Kimball Lane, where she lived with Mock, according to police.
Investigators who found her body were following up on evidence related to Handy’s disappearance, police Lt. Gregory Dorn said.
Handy’s is the fifth homicide in Winston-Salem this year, compared with three for the same period in 2019.
Authorities ask that anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Winston-Salem police at 336-773-7700 or Crime Stoppers of Winston Salem Forsyth County at 336-727-2800 or on Facebook.
As the COVID-19 outbreak puts people out of work, restaurant employees — many of whom are out of work themselves — are stepping up to help.
Jeff Bacon, the vice president and executive director of Providence, sent out an email last week to about 100 culinary professionals in the area to brainstorm about ways to help restaurant and other hospitality workers. Many of those workers have been laid off with no paid sick leave and no health benefits.
“It first popped into my head because Adam Barnett (of the Katharine Brasserie), Tim Grandinetti (of Spring House and Quanto Basta) and a few other people were calling me saying, ‘How can I help? We have all this food in our coolers, and it’s going to go to waste,’” Bacon said.
During a conference call Friday, he and other chefs hashed out a plan. Bacon got Truist Financial Corp., the landlord of Providence Kitchen's recently closed location in the BB&T Building to allow volunteers to use its kitchen. Chefs at closed restaurants and elsewhere donated food.
Beginning today, from 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for the foreseeable future, Bacon and other volunteers will serve boxed meals to hospitality workers — those put out of work by affected restaurants, bars and hotels.
Today, the team plans to serve 100 boxed meals, limited to four per person, to hospitality workers.
Chef Dion Sprenkle, the executive banquet chef for the now-empty Benton Convention Center, spent much of Tuesday prepping chicken and Italian-style potatoes for distribution today.
Bacon said that every day will have one lead chef, three other kitchen workers, two prep cooks and two customer-service workers.
Lead chefs include Grandinetti; James Naquin of Krankies; Sammy Gianopoulos of Fratellis Italian Steakhouse, Sammy G’s Tavern and Three Bulls Steakhouse; and John Bobby of Bobby Boy Bakeshop. Niki Farrington of SILO Bistro & Bar and Vanessa Lanier of Providence Kitchen also are helping out.
Recipients will not be allowed inside the restaurant at 200 W. Second St. in downtown Winston-Salem. Instead, they will be handed their boxed food on the side patio or in their cars at the curbside. In case of a crowd or a line, Bacon said, they have a plan to enforce social distancing.
“And I’m hoping that we’ll pretty much have the same crew working every Wednesday, the same team every Thursday,” he said. “It may not work out that way perfectly, but we’ll have the same people working together as much as possible.”
Bacon said he currently has food supplies to last at least a week.
“But it will be like a mystery-box competition every day, because I don’t know what supplies we’ll get,” he said.
The chefs already are looking further ahead. Gianopoulos has volunteered to be in charge of procuring donations of additional supplies, from food distributors and other sources.
Bacon said he also hopes to get some funding that not only will help pay for food but also could pay some of the laid-off workers who will be preparing and packaging the food.
A separate initiative to feed those in need is being spearheaded by Pete Strates, a co-owner of o’So Eats and The Sherwood, in coordination with Family Services.
Beginning Thursday, Strates and other restaurant volunteers will begin giving away boxed meals to Family Services’ Head Start clients from 1 to 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church at 700 N. Highland Ave.
“When all this started to hit, I was watching governors of other states talk about how sometimes when kids don’t go to school, they don’t eat and that really stuck with me,” Strates said.
He said that even before North Carolina schools closed, he had contacted the principal at Southwest Elementary School, which his son attends, about ways to help.
With the school-cafeteria food program in operation, Strates began looking around for other ways to help and eventually connected with Family Services.
“Pete called us and he was looking for a way to get food directly to people who needed it and to do it quickly,” said Michelle Speas, the chief development and public-relations officer for Family Services.
Family Services, founded in 1905 as Associated Charities, is Forsyth County’s oldest charity, and its mission is to help people experiencing poverty, unemployment and domestic upheaval.
“We were called in 1918 to help with the last pandemic, and here we are again,” Speas said, referring to the Spanish flu outbreak that year.
Strates has solicited donations from customers, relatives, fellow restaurateurs — just about anyone he could think of.
On Thursday, he plans to provide 500 meals of pasta with sauce, bread, salad and milk to Family Services’ Head Start clients. The food will be prepared Thursday morning at o’So and The Sherwood and sent by truck hot and ready to be distributed to First Baptist.
“We chose First Baptist partly because the Rev. Paul Robeson Ford is on our board,” Speas said. “It will be all drive-thru. ... We’re also recommending that people let us put the food in the trunk of their cars, just so we can be careful about social distancing.”
Strates said that Vernon Produce has agreed to donate some food. He also has received offers of help from fellow restaurateurs at Duke’s Restaurant, Camel City BBQ, Courtside Cafe, Greek Guy’s Grill, Johnny B's Grillhouse, Whitaker Square Pizza, Di Lisio’s Italian Restaurant and Mario’s Pizza.
Given the great response from the restaurant community, Strates said, he’s hoping he will be able to do this more in the coming weeks. He already has enough donations to serve another 500 meals.
“I can’t stress enough how the restaurants have stepped up,” he said. “Everyone is like, ‘Whatever you need.’”
The local fund for coronavirus relief has topped $3 million, less than a week since the fund was announced by Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines and other local officials.
The Truist Foundation gave $1 million to the fund as part of its Truist Cares Initiative, and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust gave $500,000 to the fund.
Kate B. Reynolds also gave $1 million to the North Carolina Healthcare Association Foundation for statewide coronavirus efforts.
The local fund is called the COVID-19 Response Fund for Forsyth County, and has a website, at https://app.mobilecause.com/vf/COVID19Forsyth, where people can donate to the fund or check on the growing total.
The fund is a joint project of the Winston-Salem and Forsyth County governments, the Winston-Salem Foundation, the United Way of Forsyth County and Community Organizations Active in Disaster.
“We know that $3 million is a tremendous start just a week into this,” said Scott Wierman, the president of the Winston-Salem Foundation. “We also know that the needs and demands of the community will far outstrip that $3 million. Our commitment is to leverage the generous gifts that have been given to us so that individuals who are impacted are helped as quickly as possible.”
Wierman said that the effort should also encourage others to “respond in ways that are appropriate to them.”
Dr Laura Gerald, the president of Kate B. Reynolds, said it is urgent to help people who will be the most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, including people living in “marginalized communities who are less likely to have access to quality health care, and more likely to suffer long-term consequences” from the outbreak.
The Healthcare Association that the trust is helping is a membership organization of hospitals, health systems and clinics. As the medical facilities regularly see Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured patients, the grant is intended to shore up the organizations and help fill gaps where state and federal funds fall short.
Of the $1 million in Healthcare Association funding, $500,000 will go to hospitals, $250,000 to the North Carolina Free and Charitable Clinics, and $250,000 to the North Carolina Community Health Center Association.
In Forsyth County, the application site was scheduled to go online Tuesday night for groups that want some of the money that is being raised by the local COVID-19 fund.
People who need help will not be getting money directly from the fund. The fund will distribute money to various nonprofit groups, which will then use the money to help people offset the coronavirus impact.
“I would anticipate that within the next 10 days or so we will be announcing the first grants,” Wierman said.
Individuals who need help should call 211, an information and referral service operated by United Way.
Calls for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr to resign following two COVID-19-related developments are supported by half of North Carolinians, according to a Public Policy Polling poll released Tuesday.
Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem, is facing pressure following disclosures Thursday that he gave a stark warning about COVID-19 at a Feb. 27 private event that he has not repeated publicly.
Burr’s comments carry significant weight in part because he is author of the federal Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006.
Separately, U.S. Senate financial-disclosure documents showed Burr and his wife, Brooke, sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his stock holdings in 33 separate transactions on Feb. 13, a week before the stock market began its sharp decline. The publication Roll Call listed his net worth at $1.7 million as of 2018.
National polling firm PPP interviewed 896 N.C. voters Saturday and Sunday on behalf of two left-leaning advocacy groups: Piedmont Rising, which is focused on state health-care issues; and Progress NC Action. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3%.
Half of those surveyed said Burr should resign, compared with 24% who said he should remain in office.
Among Democrats, 63% think Burr should resign compared with 15% who said he should stay, while 53% of independents think he should resign and 18% said stay.
“What might be most surprising is that even Republicans (38% stay, 31% resign) only narrowly say Burr doesn’t need to resign,” according to the pollsters.
Other results found just 22% approve of the job Burr is doing, compared with 54% who disapprove.
When the firm conducted a poll on Burr in June, he had a 36% disapproval and 32% approval rating.
When voters are informed later in the poll inquiry about his up to $1.7 million in stock sales, 69% said that news gives them “very serious” concerns about him.
Support for his resignation at that point increased to 60%, with 22% saying he should stay.
The poll was one of three recent developments involving Burr.
A Wyndham Hotels and Resorts shareholder has sued Burr in federal court, accusing him of committing securities fraud.
Alan Jacobson’s lawsuit was filed Monday in the District of Columbia. He is requesting compensatory damages “for all damages sustained as a result of defendant’s wrongdoing.”
On Feb. 13, Burr sold stock in Wyndham in separate transactions valued at between $15,001 and $50,000, and between $50,001 and $100,000. The Feb. 13 share price was $60.23, and it was at $60.20 when the market began to decline Feb. 20.
The share price hit $14.50 on March 18. Wyndham benefited from Tuesday’s rally to climb to $28.83.
The lawsuit claims Burr “exploited material information unavailable to the public ... for his personal gain.”
“In doing so, he injured shareholders who purchased and/or continued to hold securities in those same companies.”
The lawsuit cited as evidence of that level of damage that “Wyndham’s stock dropped precipitously as the market was belatedly informed of the severity of COVID-19, as well as its potential expected impact on the economy.”
“In particular, Wyndham, as a hotel chain, obviously stood to lose substantial business as a result of quarantine measures, border closures and substantial reductions in tourism.”
“This suit targets Senator Burr’s self-enrichment at the expense of members of the public. ... this is a case of elementary securities fraud.”
Burr’s U.S. Senate office could not be reached for comment about the lawsuit.
Burr took to social media Thursday night for an eight-part Twitter response to denounce as “a tabloid-style hit piece” National Public Radio’s Thursday report.
On Friday, Burr spokeswoman Caitlin Carroll sent a statement from Burr on the stock selling.
“I relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks on Feb. 13,” Burr wrote. “Specifically, I closely followed CNBC’s daily health and science reporting out of its Asia bureaus at the time.
“Understanding the assumption many could make in hindsight however, I spoke this morning with the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and asked him to open a complete review of the matter with full transparency.”
Among the most vocal voices calling for Burr to step down is outspoken U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., one of President Trump’s fiercest defenders.
Gaetz tweeted Friday: “Crazy thought: instead of watching CNBC & then deciding to ‘get yours’ and sell off hotel stock, why not ‘go on’ TV and share your insights with all Americans?”
He also said Burr is getting favorable treatment by being allowed to stay as Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, compared with former Fla. Democratic Rep. Katie Hill, who resigned over having an inappropriate affair with a staffer.
“@SenatorBurr stays as Intelligence Chairman after screwing all Americans by falsely reassuring us w(ith) op-eds on #COVID while he dumped his stock portfolio early.”
Gaetz tweeted in response to U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., saying Burr owes North Carolinians an explanation that it was “such a low-energy establishment Senate response. “Self-referral” to “Senate Ethics” is the safe space where Senators can judge their own w/o real culpability.
“You, Senator Tillis, referring Burr to the DOJ (U.S. Justice Department) for prosecution would evidence a sincere concern for North Carolinians.”
Gaetz’ comments are being viewed with suspicion by some Democrats and never-Trump supporters.
Gaetz also tweeted “Worth noting that Chairman Burr was swampily complicit in dragging an innocent @DonaldJTrumpJr before Senate Intel time & time again.”
Those groups believe Gaetz is trying to force Burr’s removal as committee chairman as payback for Burr’s role in allowing the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
A Twitter comment comes from SomethingStinkshere: “(Burr) voted to subpoena Don Jr. Everyone cheering Tucker and Gaetz don’t realize they have been after Burr for a while for not being sufficiently loyal to the president.”