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Charlotte minister accused of real estate scheme

Some people are accusing a Charlotte minister, Jerry Woodruff, of going to churches and using religion to gain their trust and money. 

Some know him as "Bishop" Woodruff. 

Action 9 first investigated Woodruff about ten years ago. 

In 2005, more than ten people came forward.  They told Action 9 they gave Woodruff money to help them find grants for their businesses, but believe it was a ploy to get their money.  They said Woodruff would play up his faith to make them feel more comfortable. 

At the time, Woodruff denied doing anything wrong. 

Woodruff told Action 9, "No, we're not a scam.  We wouldn't do something like that." 

Years passed.  Mecklenburg County prosecutors told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke Woodruff started hitting up people for money to invest in bogus real estate ventures.  Investigators charged him with a felony in February of this year.  He ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge, misdemeanor larceny, in June. 

But the very same month, a new alleged victim, in the Charlotte area, says Woodruff was back at it.  He filed a police report and a complaint with the N.C. Attorney General, saying Woodruff convinced him to invest $20,000 in foreclosures, but that he was "swindled."

Beverly Thomas says she never gave Woodruff money-- that she didn't have any to invest-- but that she sent dozens of other people his way, much to her regret. 

"He uses Jesus.  He uses God.  He uses Christ," she said. 

Stoogenke asked her, "Do you think he's a con man or do you think he's a legitimate business man who just isn't very good at it?"

Thomas said, "No, he's a straight con man.  He's a straight con man that's good in business and he knows exactly what he's doing."

Now she keeps a laundry basket full of paperwork about Woodruff, documents she hopes investigators can one day use to put him behind bars. 

Stoogenke contacted Woodruff to get his side of the story.  He responded after about a month and seemed willing to do an interview, if his lawyer could be with him. 

Stoogenke agreed and asked multiple times for a date and time that works, but, almost three weeks later, had not heard back.

Sat, 28 Nov 2015 14:44:02 -0500

5 things to know about Robert Lewis Dear, suspected Planned Parenthood gunman

On Friday, a gunman burst into a Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs and opened fire. The deadly attack and lengthy standoff gripped the nation. Here's what we know so far about the suspected gunman, Robert Lewis Dear.

What Dear is accused of:

Robert Lewis Dear, 57, is accused of opening fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, killing three people, including a police officer, and wounding nine others. People were trapped in the building for hours while a standoff between Dear and authorities ensued.

>>Read more about the attack

>>Read more about the officer killed

How was Dear captured?

After exchanging gunfire with authorities, Dear surrendered early Friday evening, several hours after the ordeal began. The scene took additional time to secure because Dear left behind items that had to be examined for signs of explosives.

>>Photos from the scene

Was there a motive?

Authorities are not ready to reveal a motive for the shootings. The investigation is ongoing, and Dear’s mental state is being evaluated. The mayor of Colorado Springs says that while authorities aren't ready to discuss a possible motive, people can make "inferences from where it took place."

What is known about Dear?

Dear is believed to have been living most recently in  North Carolina. Neighbors said he spent time in a shack near Asheville with no electricity or running water. Neighbors said that Dear mostly kept to himself, avoided eye contact and when he did speak to others, it was in a rambling way on a wide range of topics. A neighbor told the Associated Press that he never heard Dear discuss religion or abortion.

According to The Daily Beast, police records indicate that Dear was accused of a wide range of incidents in South Carolina, ranging from domestic violence to animal cruelty. Dear was reportedly arrested in 2002 on a peeping tom charge, which was later dismissed, and was arrested in 2003 on an animal cruelty charge, for which Dear was found not guilty. According to police records, Dear had a lengthy record of disputes with neighbors.

What’s next for Dear?

According to the Associated Press, Dear will have a court appearance Monday. 

The Associated Press contibuted to this report.

Sat, 28 Nov 2015 12:47:47 -0500

Wall of tumbleweeds creates bizarre traffic hazard

Drivers in Albuquerque are used to seeing the occasional tumbleweed, but an incident Friday near Kirtland Air Force Base brought traffic to a halt.

A wall of tumbleweeds, approximately 7 feet tall and spanning two lanes of traffic appeared near the military base Friday afternoon, according to KRQE.

>> Read more trending stories

High winds are blamed for the unusual event.

Drivers were forced to maneuver around the rogue tumbleweeds until a landscaping crew could remove them. Traffic slowed as many drivers stopped to take photos.

KRQE reported that the tumbleweeds were removed with pitchforks and placed into a garbage compactor.

It was a weird scene in Albuquerque. Did any of you see the “tumbleweed wall?” http://ow.ly/VbJ22

Posted by KRQE News 13 on Friday, November 27, 2015

Sat, 28 Nov 2015 11:39:42 -0500

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