Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

Interior Gas Leak Causes Ballantyne Explosion in Weekly News Roundup
June 30-July 6, 2019

By Ryan Pitkin

July 6, 2019

 

The destruction of a gas leak explosion on James Jack Lane. (Photo by Morgan Fogarty)

Gas Leak Caused Explosion That Killed Ballantyne Woman

Officials now believe a gas leak inside a home in Ballantyne caused an explosion that killed a woman and sent a man to the hospital on Tuesday. Rania Karam, 58, was killed and the large home she owned on Jack James Lane leveled on Tuesday.

Rania’s husband, 59-year-old Dr. Jebran Karam, was also inside the home at the time of the explosion. He was able to call 911 from under the rubble using his Apple Watch, and was eventually able to help direct rescue crews to his location in a stairwell of the home. Rania’s body was recovered about 60 feet from Jebran’s about seven hours after the explosion. 

Jebran, a cardiologist at a hospital in West Virginia, was seriously injured but is expected to make a full recovery.

At a press conference on Wednesday, officials said that they believed the explosion was caused by an interior gas leak. They confirmed that Jebran, who was conscious and alert when they pulled him from the rubble, told rescuers that he and his wife had smelled gas. Officials could not comment further on what caused the leak. 


Fireworks Store Explodes on July 4

A fire in Fort Mill early on July 4 caused a different type of explosion — or explosions — at a fireworks store just over the Carolina border. After spending about an hour extinguishing the fire, which started in the fireworks storage containers at Davey Jones Fireworks just before 6 a.m. on Thursday, investigators found signs that they believe point to an arson. 

Contrary to reports, the stores themselves did not burn, only storage containers between two different stores. Investigators would not comment further on why they believe the incident was the cause of an arson. 


County Commissioners Approve Sales Tax Hike for the Arts

“Pillars of Dreams” in west Charlotte was funded by Arts & Science Council, which will benefit if voters approve a quarter-cent sales tax hike. (Photo by Jayme Johnson)

After about a month of debate, Mecklenburg County Commissioners voted 7-2 to place a quarter-cent sales tax increase on the ballot this November, but not before making some changes to where the expected $50 million in yearly revenue would go. 

Due to changes made before the vote at Tuesday’s meeting, revenue from the new tax would be split up according to the following percentages: 45% to the Arts & Science Council, 34% to parks and greenways, 16% to supplemental teacher salary boosts and 5% to individual towns to use on parks or culture. 

The two opposing votes came from Elaine Powell and Pat Cotham. 

“I’m an arts supporter and I contribute to the arts,” Cotham said at Tuesday’s meeting, “but I have yet to have a single mother come to me — a struggling single mother who’s working two jobs — saying ‘If we could just have money for the arts, you know, my life would be so much better.'”

The sales tax hike will still need to be decided on by voters in November before it’s enacted. 


Beloved Panthers Superfan Passes Away

Greg “Catman” Good

WXII anchor Chris Lea broke the news on Twitter Friday that renowned Carolina Panthers superfan Greg Good has died at age 62. Good was known for the elaborate get-ups he wore to Panthers home games at Bank of America Stadium.

Personalities from around the Charlotte sports scene paid their respects on social media. In a tweet this morning, longtime Charlotte Observer columnist Scott Fowler called Good the Panthers’ first real superfan.

“Good was so well-known to some Panthers players that [Muhsin] Moose Muhammad mentioned Good in his retirement news conference, thanking him,” Fowler wrote. 

Good’s sister told the Winston-Salem Journal that Good, who lived in Winston-Salem, died at Trellis Supportive Care there after battling a lengthy illness. 


Three Homicides Bring Yearly Number to 60

Charlotte saw three homicides this week, bringing the total for 2019 to 60. 

Just after 9:30 a.m. on Monday, police responded to a shooting call at the intersection of Evanshire Drive and Feldbank Road near Hornets Nest Park in north Charlotte and found 40-year-old Eugene Williams dead from a gunshot wound. Police said investigators found an “additional crime scene” near the intersection but did not comment further on how it was related. 

Aliyah Terry

The murder of 35-year-old Aliyah Terry early Tuesday was believed to be a domestic violence incident. Police say officers responded to Terry’s house on Gold Pan Road in northeast Charlotte house just before 10 p.m. on Monday after receiving a call about a verbal dispute between Terry and her live-in boyfriend. Officers left after determining no crime had been committed. Police returned to the home just before 2 a.m. on Tuesday and found Terry suffering from a stab wound. She was rushed to the hospital, where she later died. Police quickly identified Terry’s boyfriend, 32-year-old Isaih Henderson, as the suspect. Henderson later turned himself in and was charged with murder. 

Police responded to a gunshot call on Oakwinds Court in north Charlotte at 8:42 a.m. on Thursday and found 23-year-old Khira McKinley dead in a car. No arrests have yet been made. 

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