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News In Brief

65-Year-Old Newspaper Carrier Fatally Shot; Both Sides Unhappy With Cooper's HB2 Compromise

A 65-year-old newspaper carrier for the Charlotte Observer was shot and killed early in his route Wednesday morning. A second, unidentified man was also found wounded.

The newspaper says Walter "Wes" Scott Jr. of Lancaster County, SC, had worked as a newspaper delivery man for more than 40 years and was a familiar sight around the old Observer building. A former Observer employee was quoted saying "he always had a smile, always was very encouraging."  During the day, Scott worked as a South Carolina state constable.

He was less than a half hour into his delivery route when the shooting happened sometime after 2 a.m. Police say they received a call for service at 2:20 a.m., and when officers arrived at the scene on the 300 block of W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd near Romare Bearden Park, they found Scott lying dead in the street.

As more officers were traveling to the scene, a second man flagged officers down a few blocks away, telling them he, too, had been shot. The man was transported to Carolinas Medical Center to be treated for a minor gunshot wound.

Police have begun investigating, and ask anyone with information to call 704-432-8477 to speak with a Homicide Unit detective.

Gov. Cooper's HB2 Compromise Draws Criticism From Both Sides

Gay advocacy groups and the Republican leader of the North Carolina senate have all voiced displeasure with Governor Roy Cooper's proposal to repeal House Bill 2 combined with increased penalties for certain crimes committed in public restrooms.

Cooper announced the proposal at a morning press conference Tuesday, saying "it's time for Republican leaders to step up and lead their members - and for me to step up and lead the Democratic members - to a common sense solution that fixes the problem."

In addition to enacting harsher penalties for some crimes committed in public bathrooms, Cooper's proposal would also require local governments give at least 30 days notice before voting on any new anti-discrimination ordinances.

In response, the Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC, both gay advocacy groups, issued a joint statement saying the proposal includes unnecessary legislation that distracts from a "clean repeal."

"The Charlotte City Council went through a two-year process to pass its ordinance," the statement said, "and there is zero evidence that sexual predator penalties are insufficient, which the HRC and ENC say makes the new proposed language pointless at best."

Republican senate leader Phil Berger was similarly unimpressed. His office released a statement dismissing the proposal as a "so-called compromise," and saying it did "nothing to address the basic privacy concerns of women and young girls."

South Carolina State Rep. Joe Neal Of Columbia Dies At 66

South Carolina Rep. Joe Neal, a pastor and staunch, decades-long advocate for the poor at the Statehouse, has died. He was 66.

Rep. John King, whose funeral home is handling the services, said Neal died Tuesday night at a Columbia hospital.

His House desk was draped in black Wednesday and adorned with vases of white roses and lilies. Legislators in both the House and Senate rose for a moment of silent prayer.

Neal's death stunned legislators, who describe him as passionate yet never confrontational. Neal was first elected to represent rural Richland County in 1992. The Hopkins Democrat was also pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Chester.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said, "Joe spent every day of his life trying to help those that had nothing."