Jessa O'Connor

Assistant Digital News Editor

Jessa O’Connor is the Assistant Editor, Digital News and Engagement for WFAE. She joined the team in 2018 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a degree in broadcast journalism and worked for her college radio news station. Jessa won national awards for her college news coverage, including “First Place in Radio” from the Hearst Journalism Awards Program and “Best Radio News Reporting” from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Ways to Connect

UNC Charlotte student Drew Pescaro is back in the hospital battling an infection related to injuries he sustained during a deadly campus shooting last month. The 19-year-old from Apex had been discharged from the hospital Monday.

One of the students injured when a gunman opened fire inside a UNC Charlotte classroom last month took his first steps without a walker Monday.

Drew Pescaro, 19, tweeted a 21-second video of the milestone that shows him in a hospital gown, rolling an IV stand as he walks aided by a hospital worker.

Charlotte city planners working to rewrite outdated zoning codes are exploring a controversial and bold idea of eliminating single-family zoning. Leaders are following cues from other cities like Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, which have taken the step in an effort to undo decades of racial segregation and income inequality in housing.

Leigh Walther Photography

Updated: 12:15 p.m.

Mooresville Police and the community are mourning the death of 32-year old K-9 officer Jordan Harris Sheldon. Police say Sheldon was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop on West Plaza Drive around 10 p.m. Saturday night. 

The professor of the UNC Charlotte class in which a gunman opened fire, killing two and injuring four others, said in a blog post Thursday that the gunman had been a student in his class. Anthropology professor Adam Johnson said the gunman withdrew from the course early in the semester.

Chris Crews / Niner Times

Updated: Monday at 2:30 p.m.

It was the last day of classes for UNC Charlotte students when a shooter opened fire in a classroom building during an anthropology class, killing two students and injuring four others. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have taken over the investigation into the shooting and more details are sure to emerge in the coming days. But here’s what we know:

Chris Crews / Niner Times

Updated: Friday at 2:45 p.m.

Friends and family members remembered the two students killed in Tuesday’s shooting UNC Charlotte – 19-year-old Ellis Reed Parlier of Midland, and 21-year-old Riley Howell of Waynesville.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Wednesday that Howell charged the shooter in the classroom, helping save lives.

Jessa O'Connor / WFAE

Updated 12:30 a.m.

A shooting on the campus of the University of North Carolina Charlotte left two people dead and four wounded Tuesday, prompting a lockdown on campus.


Additional video related to the shooting of Danquirs Franklin shows officer Wende Kerl saying Franklin's gun was in his jacket before he moved his hand to pull the weapon out. Kerl shot him, as Franklin seemed to be holding the gun by the barrel with the butt facing outward and not pointing at the officers. 


Charlotte-Mecklenburg police released body camera footage Wednesday capturing a fatal officer-involved shooting from January.


Only Republican candidates will be on the ballot for the primary, which takes place May 14. Candidates for the Democratic, Libertarian and Green parties are already set. Early voting allows eligible voters to cast ballots in person prior to election day.

Daniel Coston

Population has boomed in the Lake Norman area towns of Davidson, Huntersville and Cornelius. In 1990, the three towns had a total population of about 10,000. Nearly 30 years later, the number of residents has grown tenfold – to more than 100,000.

Gwendolyn Glenn/ WFAE

Protesters gathered peacefully around Charlotte Monday night in response to the body-cam video CMPD released earlier in the day, capturing the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin.


Updated: 7:50 p.m.

Video of the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Danquirs Franklin on March 25 shows that he did have a gun, but it appears it was not pointed at officers or a person next to him.

Earlier today ahead of the video's release, Mayor Vi Lyles was emotional as she addressed the media Monday morning, ahead of the release of body-cam footage capturing the March 25 fatal shooting of Danquirs Franklin by CMPD Officer Wende Kerl at a Burger King on Beatties Ford Road in west Charlotte

Updated: Thursday at 10:45 a.m.

In Durham Thursday, multiple streets remain closed after a gas explosion rocked the city's downtown Wednesday morning. The explosion reduced a two-story brick building into rubble and sent plumes of smoke billowing over the city.

Backed by North Carolina Republican lawmakers, a bill that would require local sheriff's offices to hold immigrant defendants in county jails is advancing through the General Assembly. The move comes after newly elected sheriffs have come through on campaign promises to sever ties with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Former UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt will become the first female president of the University of Southern California.

A Mecklenburg jury found Rayquan Borum guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 26-year-old protester Justin Carr.

Borum also was found guilty of possession of a firearm. He decided not to take the stand in the case.

A Mecklenburg County jury found Rayquan Borum guilty of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon in the shooting death of 26-year-old Justin Carr.

Bladen County Sheriff's Office

More than three months have passed since the 2018 midterm elections and North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District is still without a representative in the U.S. House. After an investigation and an eventful four-day hearing found evidence of ballot fraud in the midterm race, the state elections board decided that there will be a new election in the district come this fall.

North Carolina State Board of Elections and Enforcement Facebook

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced his appointments to the new state board of elections Jan. 31. The new board now consists of five members instead of the previous nine.

Jessa O'Connor / WFAE

For some, All-Star weekend is a chance to experience a celebrity sighting or buy merchandise representing their favorite NBA player. For others, it's all about the dunk contest or Sunday’s game. But for a few families, the weekend comes down to one simple thing: a love of the game that spans generations.

Spectrum Center

For the first time in nearly 30 years, Charlotte’s hosting the NBA All-Star Game. The event, which will last four days from Friday to Monday (Feb. 14 to Feb. 17) and is expected to have a $100 million economic impact on the city, is set to take over uptown. With more than 150,000 expected visitors and numerous parties, Charlotteans will undoubtedly feel the game’s presence as they try to navigate their weekends.

Brookings Institution / Flickr

Gov. Roy Cooper today appointed Justice Cheri Beasley to serve as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, making her the first African-American woman to hold the position.

Police cars are stationed outside of Butler High School after a shooting Monday morning.

In an effort to bolster school security measures, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has now launched safety screenings in the district’s 19 high schools.

North Carolina Gun Memorial

Charlotte saw a nearly 35 percent decrease in homicides last year. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say there were 57 homicides in 2018, down from 87 in the previous year.


The past year was chock full of news, and in 2019 we know the news won’t slow down. We expect more breaking news and impactful stories, a host of which will be rolling over from 2018. Here are the stories our team already knows we’ll be following in the new year.

Jessa O'Connor / WFAE

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles marked the end of 2018 in office Monday morning. Lyles said in a news conference she counts the year as a success and highlighted the more than $200 million of bond money passed in November to address a shortage of affordable housing and city infrastructure needs, and the 3,500 jobs brought to Charlotte in December alone.