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Shoveling Fines Issued By City Ordinance

An Omaha city ordinance stipulates all residents with public sidewalks must remove snow accumulation or face hefty shoveling fines.

Yesterday’s downfall laid a white blanket across Omaha neighborhoods. Now, if you fail to clear walkways in front of your home, the city bills you the cost of doing it themselves.

Though, to clarify, the city employs private contractors to complete the task. Shoveling fines pay the tab accrued by hiring these companies to remove snow from sidewalks.

Some residents perhaps recall once paying a local neighborhood youth a nominal fee for the service. The shoveling fines likely multiply that charge several times over.

Historically, the city use of private contractors to shovel sidewalks imposed bills of $300 to $700 dollars for Omaha homeowners. Those with lengthier sidewalks paid in excess of that. Though a fix to the ordinance forced Public Works to charge market rate, residents can still expect to pay hundreds.

Additionally, repeat offenders face a $300 dollar fine.

Shoveling Fines Amount to Hundreds Per Resident

During the 2018-2019 winter season, 184 property owners paid a combined $174,117 in shoveling fines. That averages to over $940 per property owner.

Effectively, the ordinance kicks in when neighbors report one another to either Public Works or the Mayor’s Hotline. Once reported, the city posts notice on a property, usually placed on the front door of a property.

If a homeowner fails to heed the written warning before the city’s hired contractors complete the work, the homeowner gets stuck with the bill.

The first written warnings went out Tuesday to some 30 homeowners. While the city hasn’t yet sent out their contractors to clean up the snow accumulation, property owners should expect them soon.

Cheaper contractor bids lower the prices this year. However, when years past saw residents paying nearly $1000 for sidewalk shoveling, a lower price may still be a financial hit.

Shooting New Years Eve Leaves 2 Dead, 1 Injured

A shooting followed a domestic dispute late Tuesday night. Omaha police responding to calls of a disturbance shot the suspect when he emerged from the apartment.

Three officers arrived at 10:10 pm on the fifth floor of Evans Tower, an Omaha Housing Authority property at 3600 N. 24th St, reports Omaha World-Herald. 911 received calls regarding a domestic dispute there involving an armed man. When they arrived, the officers heard cries of “No, Terry,” from behind the door.

The woman’s pleas and screams prompted the officers to kick in the door. Then they heard gunfire and moved away from the door.

When the suspect emerged into the hallway shouting, “Kill me,” two of the three police officers fired on him, killing him. The suspect has been identified as Terry Hudson, 57.

Inside the apartment, police discovered the first shooting victim’s body, Dana Wells, 58.

In addition to the two deaths, police report one of their own injured from a bullet to the leg. That officer has been treated and released from Nebraska Medical Center. While authorities haven’t spoken on the origin of the bullet, they didn’t report any return fire from the suspect as he entered the hallway.

Shooting Began as Verbal and Physical Row

In the ensuing investigation, witnesses reported to police Hudson having been physical with Wells. The reported seeing him place Wells in a chokehold in the hallway. Another reportedly saw Hudson retrieve the weapon from beneath a piece of furniture in the apartment.

That witness tried calming Hudson, until Hudson turned the gun on them.

Witness statements, as well as police body camera footage, corroborate the police hearing Hudson shout, “Kill me,” before they fired upon him. Police also found a small gun likely used to kill Wells.

This is the only officer-involved shooting for the Omaha Police Department in the year of 2019.

Authorities intend to make public more information once they complete an autopsy, ballistics tests, and officer interviews.

Snow Causes Pileups Throughout Omaha

OMAHA, NE – As snow moves into the metro area, the Omaha Police Department continues to warn motorists of the potential dangers. Additionally, because of the winter weather, police went on accident alert around 8:15 Monday morning.

Furthermore, police are asking drivers who are involved in noninjury crashes to document damages with photos. In addition to this, drivers should pull their vehicles over to a safe area before exchanging insurance information. As a result of the snow and inclement weather, several pileups in the metro area have been reported.

According to one onlooker’s photo, there was a seven-car pileup in the area of 42nd and Dodge streets.

Moreover, in the area of 60th and Center streets, another video captured a trooper crashing into a pileup.

Therefore, crews were called in around 4 a.m. to treat the roads, as reported by the Nebraska Department of Transportation. However, because of the low temperatures, they will have to treat the roads again today.

Importantly, snow at 7:00 in the morning isn’t ideal as it is during the rush hour commute. Officials called it a “mini blizzard.”  

Nevertheless, the city is still under a snow and wind advisory. Currently, wind speeds are around 45 mph at times.

Apart from this, around 7 a.m. snow began to move into the metro area, and subsequently conditions got worse. It should be noted that snow combined with high winds causes reduced visibility. As a result, the roads were covered, and visibility was decreased under ¼ mile at times.

According to officials, the snow in Omaha will end a little after 9 a.m. Additionally, it will accumulate between ½”-1.” However, high winds and extremely cold temperatures are expected to continue throughout the day. Temperatures will range from the teens and low 20s, while wind chills may reach below zero.

7 People Arrested In Shoplifting Spree

OMAHA, NE – 7 different suspects were arrested while allegedly shoplifting from 5 different stores in a 3-hour span this past week.

Lt. Charles Casey works for the burglary unit for the Omaha Police Department (OPD). This week he made a public announcement after detectives arrested 7 different shoplifting suspects on Monday.

He said, this past year, the city of Omaha, along with the Police Department, has organized a special operations program aimed to arrest shoplifters caught in the act.

Casey also noted that his unit is taking this duty very seriously. He also pointed to the importance of such a program as the holiday season beings.

The whole shoplifting spree took place in a four-hour time frame. Among the targeted stores Target, Walmart, and the Von Maur store at the Westroads Mall.

Detectives don’t believe the suspects worked together and they determined the shoplifting events were separate cases. However, several suspects targeted the same stores.  

Out of the 7 people arrested this Monday afternoon, the employees at an Omaha Target store flagged 2 of the suspects.

Annilee Gentry, 37, and Aniyah William-Smith, 18, were both spotted having suspicious behavior at the 72nd and Dodge Street Target. Both of them attempted to steal and were arrested in a two-hour span.

About an hour earlier, Kody Johnson, 21, and Angela Lilland, 27, were also flagged down by store staff at the Walmart on 50th Street and Ames Avenue. Both of them tried to leave with several unpaid items in their hands.

Upon their arrest, the authorities found a hidden knife on Johnson.

Meanwhile, shortly before 5 p.m., OPD stopped Makeasha Deramus, 24, at another Walmart store. He was allegedly trying to leave with unpaid food in the 72nd and Pine Street area.

The other two suspects arrested were Jerry Lewis Staten, 51, and Kellie Aunkst, 30. Staten was spotted swiping items by North Saddle Creek Road, while Aunkst was arrested for trying to steal clothing items at the Westroads Mall.

OPD declared that both suspects had notable separate warrants.

Casey acknowledged the important role store employees played in catching all these suspects. He also credited their good communication line with the OPD.

“They do have good teams of personnel. They know what to look for. They, again, are stores that routinely communicate with us. They do a good job, so it’s not surprising that they’re identifying what’s going on,” he said.

He also noted the importance of reporting shoplifters and getting them into custody.

“We see that as positive — that we’re identifying the right people who are stealing, we’re getting them in custody, and sending them to court to be held responsible for their actions,” Casey declared.

Omaha Man Sentenced For Day Care Sexual Assault

OMAHA, NE – An Omaha man has been sentenced to 30-34 years in prison for sexual assault charges that took place at his wife’s daycare.

William A. Harrison has faced his sentence today in court. The 63-year-old man took the chance to publicly apologize to the boy and his family, even though they weren’t present in court.

But prosecutor Beth Beninato made a point by stating that Harrison had continually abused the boy for four years since the child was 8.

“It happened routinely,” she said. “It happened almost every chance he had. He told the victim not to tell anyone because he was afraid of dying in prison.”

Beninato’s statement referred to the many times that Harrison, apparently, had begged the young boy not to tell anybody about the sexual encounters because he didn’t want to die in prison.

The truth came out earlier this year when the boy had an interview with Project Harmony. Then, the child described to the authorities how he had been sexually assaulted by Harrison for years. The boy went on to describe how Harrison performed oral sex on him and forced him to have oral and anal intercourse.

All the assaults took place at Harrison’s home, where his wife operated a children’s daycare. Deb’s Day Care was located near 83rd Street and Bedford Avenue. William Harrison was listed as the secondary caregiver in all department records. The daycare had a license to take care of up to 12 children.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services declared that Debra A. Harrison, now Michael’s ex-wife, will no longer be allowed to provide childcare, apart from her own children.

When detectives interviewed Michael Harrison at his home, he didn’t deny the boy’s accusations and admitted to the assaults.

The original charges that Harrison faced were two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child. However, he was prosecuted today for two counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child. He reached this deal by pleading no contest to the charges.

Harrison initially faced life in prison but was finally sentenced to 30 to 34 years. State sentencing guidelines usually cut jail time in about half, though. For Harrison, this would mean a mandatory period of 15 years of incarceration before being able to qualify for a parole hearing. Nonetheless, he will get a mandatory release after having served 17 years. By that time, he would be 80.

Lyft Driver Threatens to Kill Female Passenger

OMAHA, NE – According to Omaha police a Lyft driver made a threat to kill his passenger while he ran after the woman and tried to clutch her.

Detectives say that Joseph Kujath, 34, was charged with a single count of making terrorist threats. Presently, the accused is being held at the Douglas County Jail where he’s being detained on $250,000 bail.

“We want to make sure that person, if the allegations are accurate and true, can’t do anything to anybody else,” Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said.

The Omaha Police Department said that during their interview with the 24-year-old woman who called in the attack, they noticed she was “visibly shaken.” Luckily, she reacted quickly by using pepper spray and was able to fend off the enraged driver.

Based on police records, the victim left a Midtown bar at approximately three in the morning on August 24. She then ordered a ride home through the Lyft app and was picked up by a black Chrysler 300 driven by the suspect.

Court records indicate that once they arrived at the woman’s home, Kujath supposedly got out of his car, followed right behind her and threatened to kill her.

Law enforcement as well as the prosecutors view the nature of these threats as indicative of a “very dangerous” individual.

Always Be Prepared

The Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine took the opportunity to urge all ride-share passengers to consider carrying some kind of protection. He went on to say that since passengers don’t know the person escorting them around then it’s wise to carry some form of protection.

In this situation, the pepper spray temporarily blinded the suspect so he couldn’t snatch the woman. Consequently, he got back into his car and drove away.

Omaha police were able to track Kujath’s car back to his apartment where they found his eyes red and swollen up.

Boy Arrested for Crime Spree

OMAHA, NE – Omaha Police arrested an 11-year-old boy after he allegedly committed a series of crimes in the North Omaha area. With the implementation of a new law which went into affect on July 1, the child cannot be detained in a juvenile detention facility.

A victim of the crime has referred to the child as ruthless and claims she doesn’t think the boy at all takes his misdeeds seriously. However, she also doesn’t want him put into the system. Instead, she’s urging for him to the help he needs.

The incident happened right off of 30th street at Martin Avenue. Here the BP gas station is typically very busy. On Thursday, this was in fact the case. People in cars continually pulled up to the pump. But this fact became an opening for a crime.

Sierra Porter said, “He was right here! He literally just pulled on the handle and looked at me.”

Porter then reports that an 11-year-old boy leaped into her car, with her grandmother, and 2-year-old daughter inside.

Porter recalled, “He tried to put my car in drive. So my grandma starts pushing him. And when I run up to the car like, ‘What you doin?’ he grabs my phone and tries to run. My first instinct is to trip him. So I trip him and get my phone back. But it’s broken.”

She then says the kid ran. She also mentions that she was the 2nd target of his crimes.

“The lady next to me, he tried to take her car, but her daughter was in the back seat,” Porter said.

Porter immediately called the police and located the boy’s mother on social media.

Police are frustrated by the incident and feel like they’re in a no-win situation. In fact, they connected the boy to a burglary at 28th and Ida. Here, the home was upturned and laptops and shoes were taken.

Police charged the boy with three felonies, though due to his age, he was turned back over to his mother while he waits for his hearing.

Man Arrested for Double Murder

OMAHA, NE – Omaha Police arrested a man Tuesday night who they’ve linked to the shooting death of two people in a Northeast Omaha home. Omaha Police reported this earlier in the week.

Authorities booked Nylr Kuek, 20 years old, into the Douglas County Corrections on two counts of first degree murder. Additionally, officials charged the suspect with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of the use of a weapon to commit felony, and another charge of use of a gun by a prohibited person.

The victims, Michael Sykora, 57, and Tracy Atkins, 50, were discovered dead by detectives investigating a call that came in at 12:03 a.m. Tuesday. It was from a residence in the 6900 block of Northridge Drive.

According to people in the neighborhood, they witnessed police banging on doors at sometime around 1 a.m. Neighbors say they inquired whether anybody had seen or heard anything.

Neighbor Christopher Philip said, “Our neighborhood is a little more subdued and quiet. The worst that we’ll have is an occasional domestic dispute or we’ll have speeders coming through. That’s really the only reason you’ll see police in the neighborhood.

Other neighbors allege that police had stopped by the house multiple times and at all hours of the day and night.

Omaha Police is urging the public to offer any information or help a they move forward with their investigation. They encourage anybody who has some relevant info to contact OPD’s homicide unit at 402-444-5656. Any tips that help identify a suspect will be rewarded with $25,000.

Men Responsible for Recent Break-ins Spotted on Camera

Omaha, NE – Omaha police are on the hunt for two men who broke into a home and stole in excess of $2,000 worth of goods. Unfortunately for the burglars, the entire incident was captured perfectly on camera.

The men illegally entered the home located near 15th and Martha streets. In fact, the homeowner, Adam Hosler, returned to the home and immediately noticed the front door had been damaged.

Hosler said, “The front door knob had been broken off. We had one of the lock boxes on there. They apparently broke that open and got the key out of it and apparently used that on the back of the door to get in.”

In the incriminating video, the men rifle through items in the house then eventually carry Hosler’s belongings to the back. As it turns out, many of the items taken by the thieves happened to be tools, because the house is being remodeled.

The video shows one of the men serving as kind of like a cover guy. Moreover, he stood at the back door like a lookout. At least, this was Hosler’s interpretation of what one of the men was doing in the video.

However, the man must not have been the greatest lookout as he neglected the sign indicating that cameras were inside the home.

According to the police report, the men proceeded to try to break into several nearby homes. In fact, one of the houses door was kicked in, but the structure was empty of any items altogether. Still, another home had a gaping hole in the garage with a lock yanked of, nevertheless, the men took none of their belongings.

The Omaha Police Department urges anybody who knows the men to call them right away.

Man fatally shot during church Mass

Police fatally shot a man Sunday morning inside of a small Catholic church in Northwest Nebraska.

Sheridan County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot a man near the entrance of the Rushville, Nebraska church. The incident happened as the pastor was reading the long Gospel narrative of Christ’s suffering.

Police later identified the man as Clarence Leading Fighter, 32. He was a suspect in a separate assault that occurred less than an hour earlier, the Nebraska state patrol said.

Authorities report that the officer used deadly force to protect him and the parishioners from potential serious harm. There were anywhere from 100 to 150 people attending the Palm Sunday mass at Immaculate Conception Church.

Deputies cleared the church out immediately after the shooting. The mass was ended abruptly. Rev. Joseph K. Joseph said the incident was traumatic for all those in attendance.

The pastor said that as he was reading the gospel, he heard something that sounded as If someone had passes out. His mind then went to the thought of a terrorist attack. He saw commotion near the glass and people who he didn’t initially recognize as law enforcement officers.

Joseph ducked under the alter. Many of the parishioners took cover in the pews or ran outside through side doors.

State Patrol said the victim in the earlier assault involving Leading Fighter suffered a broken arm. That assault occurred at a Rushville home at about 10:20 a.m. The shooting occurred at roughly 11 a.m.

Joseph said confessions for Sunday were also canceled. He hopes the church will be available for Holy Thursday. Catholics are now entering the holiest days of the year.

Joseph said that the head of the Grand Island Diocese was looking into whether the church would have to be reconsecrated after the fatal shooting.

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