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Sun. Headlines: City Murders Rose in 2015; Man Shot to Death; Panthers host Bucs

There were 62 murders in Charlotte last year, a big increase from 2014. Meanwhile, the new year already has seen its first homicide, a fatal shooting off Beatties Ford Road early Sunday. And with temperatures forecast in the mid-50s, the Carolina Panthers will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4:25 today at Bank of America Stadium. 

MURDERS ROSE IN CHARLOTTE IN 2014

Homicides in Charlotte rose to a six-year high in 2015, with 62 people killed.  That’s  a nearly 50 percent increase over 2014, when killings fell to a historic low of 42. The Charlotte Observer reports authorities hope it's an anomaly after a decade-long drop in crime nationwide. Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts says the statistics are unsettling and should be a budget priority.   Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney has said he plans to request more officers to keep up with population growth and rising crime.

MAN CHARGED WITH BEATTIES FORD ROAD SHOOTING DEATH

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police have charged a 47-year-old man with murder after a fight turned deadly overnight off Beatties Ford Road. Shelton Kimble is charged in the shooting death of 45-year-oldTyrone Burch, who was found dead in a parking lot just after midnight. Police said the two men knew one another and had been in an altercation that led to the shooting. Kimble turned himself in at police headquarters early this morning.

GASTONIA MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING NEIGHBOR

A 48-year-old Gastonia man is accused of shooting his wife and killing his next-door neighbor on New Year's Day.  Joseph Zinna now is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Gastonia police say Zinna went to his neighbor's house and shot him more than once with a 12-gauge shotgun.  Arrest warrants say Zinna also shot his wife in the face and neck as she passed in a moving vehicle.

FLOOD AID DEADLINE MONDAY

Historic flooding across South Carolina in October brought a federal emergency declaration in 24 counties. That means businesses and home owners can apply for federal aid – and that deadline is Monday, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. Tomorrow is also the application deadline for US Small Business Administration disaster loans.   As of Thursday, FEMA had approved $78.7 million in grants to more than 30,000 applicants. About 97,000 people had applied for the limited financial assistance.   Homeowners may be eligible for low-interest loans of up to $200,000 to repair their primary homes. Homeowners and renters may also borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal items such as furniture and vehicles. Businesses can get up to $2 million in loans to repair or replace flood-damaged property.

BONES FOUND IN IREDELL COUNTY

Authorities are trying to identify human bones found in the woods of Iredell County.   Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell says the skeletal remains were found off Bethlehem Road Thursday. He says they were lying in the open, but it's possible the bones had been buried and were unearthed by recent heavy rains. The bones were sent to the medical examiner's office. Campbell says detectives are checking missing persons' reports.

MONKEY BREEDER INVESTIGATED IN S.C.

The federal government is investigating a South Carolina facility that breeds monkeys for research. The U.S. Department of Agriculture investigation began in May at Alpha Genesis, according to The Beaufort Gazette. A spokeswoman said there's no timetable. The company could get a warning, or have its license revoked.

SPORTS: PANTHERS HOST BUCS, CHECKERS WIN

The Carolina Panthers are back at home today, hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Panthers have the NFL’s best record, with 14 wins and just one loss. That came last weekend at Atlanta.  A win would mean the top seed and a home field advantage through the playoffs. The Panthers will be without wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. He’s out with an injured knee.  Today’s kickoff is 4:25pm.

The state Department of Transportation is encouraging Panthers fans to take the Amtrak train to the game.  A Panthers Train is scheduled to leave Raleigh at 11:45 a.m. and arrive in Charlotte around 3. Public buses will take fans from there to the stadium. The return train leaves Charlotte at 9 p.m. and arrives in Raleigh at midnight.  You can find information at ncbytrain.org.

In other sports action:

  • The Charlotte Hornets lost at Oklahoma City last night, 109 to 90.
  • In college basketball, seventh-ranked North Carolina beat Georgia Tech, 86-78.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes fell to the Nashville Predators, 2 to 1.
  • The Charlotte Checkers beat the Ontario Reign 4-2 last night in Toronto. The Checkers are in fourth place in the American Hockey League’s Central Division.