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5 Things to Know: CMPD in the Market for Rook ‘Public Safety Vehicle’

...and four more stories from April 16-22, 2023

The Rook is an armored vehicle with tank legs and platforms like the one pictured here holding four law enforcement officers.
A look at The Rook, which is called a “public safety vehicle” in the Charlotte City Council agenda but an “armored critical incident vehicle” on the company website. (Photo courtesy of Ring Power Corp.)

CMPD in the Market for Rook ‘Public Safety Vehicle’

City staff released the agenda for Charlotte City Council’s April 24 business meeting on Friday, showing that CMPD is asking council’s permission to apply for a grant from the Department of Homeland Security that would fund a “Rook public safety vehicle” at the cost of about $500,000.

According to the agenda, the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Grant program provides funding that is meant “to aid in the prevention, protection, response, and recovery from terrorist attacks.”

“The Rook functions similar to a forklift built on a Caterpillar skid-steer platform and is equipped with attachments and plating to allow for a level of adaptability, maneuverability, and safety,” the agenda reads. Those attachments, according to The Rook website, include an armored deployment platform, a hydraulic breaching ram, a grapple claw and a vehicle extraction tool.

While The Rook could conceivably be used in the event of a terror attack, the “armored critical incident vehicle,” as it’s called on its website, can also be used for other incidents such as police standoffs, natural disasters and riot response. CMPD says it needs the vehicle to bring its bomb squad up to a Type I rating, the highest rating per standards set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Opponents have said the military style of the vehicle only serves to escalate any situation to which it arrives.

“I have never seen it used in support of our community or our safety,” said Carly Brannan with the Sacramento chapter of the Anti-Police Terror Project, addressing Sacramento City Council in January as that city prepared to vote on approving the same vehicle. “It’s used to terrorize communities. It’s used to harm the communities.”

The city would not be asked to provide any additional funding if CMPD were to be granted approval for a UASI Grant for The Rook.

Arrest Made in Gaston County Family Shooting

Police have arrested a man in the shooting of a 6-year-old Gaston County girl and her parents, the latest victims in a string of similar incidents that have been reported around the country after Ralph Yarl was shot for ringing the wrong doorbell in Missouri on April 13.

The suspect in the Gaston County shooting, 24-year-old Robert Singletary, turned himself in to police in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday. Police believe that Singletary opened fire on 6-year-old Kinsley White on Tuesday after she went into his yard to get a ball, then fired on the parents who came to her rescue. Kinsley was grazed in the cheek while her father, Robert White, was seriously wounded after being shot in the back. White’s mother was also grazed by a bullet.

The shooting occurred on April Drive in a neighborhood south of Gastonia near Crowder’s Mountain. Singletary faces charges on four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. At the time of the shooting he was out on bond stemming from a violent incident in which he allegedly struck his girlfriend with a mini-sledgehammer in December.

Ardey Kell High School Overrun with Bats

The bats were alive at Ardrey Kell High School this week, and we’re not referring to their varsity baseball team’s two impressive wins over Olympic and Butler. CMS confirmed Tuesday that students at the school would need to switch to “asynchronous instruction” (virtual learning) for the following two days as the school dealt with an infestation of bats in its buildings.

According to a release from CMS, “This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to protect the safety and health of students and staff at the school while bat eviction measures are underway.”

Ardrey Kell
This Black Lives Matter mural outside of Ardrey Kell High School had to be repainted after someone x-ed out the names on it in 2020. (Photo by Ryan Pitkin)

However, when students returned on Friday they found that the problem had not been fully solved, as early in the morning students began to report more sightings of dead bats.

CMPD’s Animal Care & Control (ACC) confirmed that they did respond to at least one call to pick up a single dead bat on Friday, bringing the total number of bat carcasses taken from the school to 21. It is not believed that any students or other people made contact with any of the bats.

According to ACC, “[All bats] have been sent to the state laboratory [for rabies testing], though testing is not required unless a human exposure is confirmed. ACC has now received test results from all 21 bats and can confirm that all were negative for rabies. ACC will continue working with Mecklenburg County Public Health and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to follow rabies testing protocol should there be any additional exposures or potential exposures.”

Anti-Trans Bills Continue to Move Forward in NCGA

The N.C. Senate on Thursday passed SB 631, which bans young trans people from participating in sports congruent with their gender identity. The bill was sent to the House, where the companion bill was already passed.

Anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the N.C. legislature include a drag ban and an anti-LGBTQ+ curriculum ban, as well as multiple gender-affirming care bans.

A release from Equality NC on Thursday read: “All of these bills share a common agenda — legislating queer and trans people out of existence. Trans sports bans are not about protecting girls or women. If legislators cared about the real issues facing girls and women in sports, they would be working to provide funding, resources, and protections that actually benefit female athletes. Instead, they are passing legislation to harm trans kids — sending the message to all queer and trans people that their identities are not valid and that they cannot live their lives fully as themselves in our state.”

One supporter of SB 631’s House companion bill HB 574 was Tricia Cotham, who ran on a platform that heavily included protecting the rights of LGBTQ kids before flipping to the Republican Party earlier this month.

Man Killed in Lakewood Neighborhood

A 26-year-old aspiring rapper became Charlotte’s 26th homicide victim this week. Police responded to a shooting call on Lakewood Avenue at around 9:30 p.m. on April 17 and found two people suffering from gunshot wounds. One of the victims, 26-year-old Lemuel Carr, was pronounced dead at the scene while the other was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Fortunately, no one was killed when two people were shot in broad daylight at Romare Bearden Park on Sunday afternoon, at a time when the recently ended Charlotte Knights game across the street and the end of Charlotte SHOUT! had more people in Uptown than the usual weekend.

The shooting call came in to CMPD just before 4 p.m., and responding officers found two people in the park suffering from gunshot wounds. They arrested a suspect nearby, according to a CMPD release. Both victims were transported to local hospitals by Medic.

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