WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ Links Links en-us Copyright 2016, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Fri, 29 Jul 2016 00:07:44 GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 Temporary library open due to River Center branch upgrades http://www.wbrz.com/news/temporary-library-open-due-to-river-center-branch-upgrades/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/temporary-library-open-due-to-river-center-branch-upgrades/ Links Thu, 28 Jul 2016 2:10:31 PM Brock Sues Temporary library open due to River Center branch upgrades

BATON ROUGE - A temporary library has been opened on Third Street during upgrades at the River Center Branch Library.

The interim facility is located at the Kress Building at 447 Third Street across from the Matherne’s Market downtown.

Library books, computers and other materials from the River Center branch have been relocated there until the permanent branch reopens.

Among the technology available at the temporary branch are “robust” WiFi, 17 computers with free web access (including the EBRPL Digital Library) and free public printing of up to 20 black-and-white pages per day.

The temporary library site’s hours are as follows:

Monday thru Thursday — 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday & Saturday — 9 am to 6 p.m.
Sunday — 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

More information is available at EBRPL.com.

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Dozens of area restaurants participate in #25onthe25th http://www.wbrz.com/news/dozens-of-area-restaurants-participate-in-25onthe25th/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/dozens-of-area-restaurants-participate-in-25onthe25th/ Links Mon, 25 Jul 2016 2:27:20 PM Brock Sues Dozens of area restaurants participate in #25onthe25th

BATON ROUGE - Restaurants throughout the Capital Area are donating 25 percent of their sales on July 25th with the cash going to help support the families of recently fallen Baton Rouge officers.

Dozens of restaurants in the Baton Rouge area have connected with the effort, which propagated largely via social media via the #25onthe25th.

All proceeds generated during the day will be forwarded to a Baton Rouge Area Foundation fund that has been set up for the families of Officers Matthew Gerald, Brad Garafola and Montrell Jackson. They were killed during an ambush shooting outside of an Airline Highway convenience store on July 17.

Restaurants participating are as follows:

Another Broken Egg ( both locations)
Beausoleil ( Mon dinner 5-8)
Big Heads
Bistro Byronz ( Government location)
Brew Bachers ( all three locations)
Brick Yard South
Boil & Roux
Buffalo Wild Wings
Cafe Phenicia
City Cafe
Capital CIty Grill (downtown)
City Pork ( all three locations)
Cheesecake Bistro
Cracker Barrel ( 7 Churchs Chicken locations)
Cracker Barrel ( 3 Subway locations)
Cracker Barrel ( 2 Blimpies)
Draft House
Doe's Eat Place (mid city)
Downtown Grocery
El Rio Grande
French Quarter Daiquiri's
Hello Sushi
Hookd Up
Huey's ( downtown)
Ichiban's (Essen)
Indigo Hotel (downtown)
Juban's Restaurant 
Las Palmas
Lava Cantina
Mason's Grill
Mansurs on the Boulevard
Mellow Mushroom
Melting Pot
Mestizo Restaurant with Cupcake Allie
Nothing Bundt Cakes
On the Half Shell (Praireville)
Pastime Restaurant
P Beaus
PoBoy Express (all five locations)
Portobellos Grill
Rock N Sake
Santa Fe Cattle Company (Hammond)
Stroube's ( downtown)
The Station
Superior Grill
Tin Roof
Tio Javi's
Tsunami (downtown)
Twin Peaks
Uncle Earls
Velvet Cactus
Voodoo Barbeque
Walk On's
1913 downtown


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Restaurants plan to donate to families of slain officers, first responders http://www.wbrz.com/news/restaurants-plan-to-donate-to-families-of-slain-officers-first-responders/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/restaurants-plan-to-donate-to-families-of-slain-officers-first-responders/ Links Tue, 19 Jul 2016 6:21:23 PM Brittany Weiss Restaurants plan to donate to families of slain officers, first responders

BATON ROUGE – The Baton Rouge community along with area restaurants have been finding ways to give back to the families of the slain officers involved in Sunday's shooting on Airline Highway.

Thousands of dollars have already been collected to help, and more restaurants are contributing to the effort.

On Monday, July 25, restaurants plan to donate 25 percent of their sales to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation's Fund for police and first responders.

The money will provide relief to the officers who were wounded and to the families of the fallen officers, Deputy Brad Garafola, Officer Montrell Jackson and Officer Matthew Gerald.

Mestizo Restaurant owner Jim Urdiales spear-headed the idea of #25onthe25th.

"I just felt like this is a good way to heal people in general. People eat - you know I always think about my dad whenever someone's ill or down we cook food and bring it to their house and as restauranteurs, well, we do that every day," Urdiales said.

A number of restaurants are participating, including Capital City Grill.

"They sacrificed their lives -- their family sacrificed their lives, they gave up a lot so that they can protect and serve all of us here and we just want to show that we are one, we are a family," Y'zell Williamson, chef at Capital City Grill, said.

Williamson said that many officers dine in at restaurants downtown and around the city.

BPRD Officers Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald frequently ate breakfast at Another Broken Egg restaurant and were even there Sunday morning with other officers before the shooting took place. That is one of the reasons why both Another Broken Egg restaurants in Baton Rouge plan to participate, donating 100 percent of sales Monday to help the families.

Table Kitchen and Bar at 4205 Perkins Road is holding a barbeque with pick-up plates available from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. All proceeds will go into a fund to aid area first responders and is administered by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

Established in 1988, the East Baton Rouge First Responders Fund raises money for law enforcement officers and first responders who may be injured or killed in the line of duty and for their families.

The Fund is designed to help survivors who will require much time and assistance to recover from their wounds and the families of those who have fallen in the line of duty. Funds raised are used to cover unexpected expenses, such as health care, therapy, lost wages, and to pay for funeral expenses.

The Fund assists officers and their families who need help now, and also in the future.

Overseen by East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr., Baton Rouge Fire Chief Ed Smith and Louisiana State Police Major Mike Noel, the Fund has nearly a three-decade history of helping first responders who protect our communities.

Tsunami at 100 Lafayette Street will participate on Tuesday, July 26th since it is not opened on Mondays.

This is the full list of participating restaurants: 

Draft House
Brickyard South
City Pork Deli & Charcuterie
City Pork Brasserie & Bar
City Pork Kitchen & Pie
Rock N Sake
TJ ribs
Tio Javis
French Quarter Daiquiris
Does Eat Place
Santa Fe
Capitol City Grill
Hook'd Up
Twin Peaks
Another Broken Egg
Uncle Earls
Red White & Que
Hotel Indigo

A Jambalaya Benefit has been planned for Deputy Nick Tullier, one of the officers involved in Sunday's shooting on Airline Highway.

Tullier remains in critical condition in the hospital after sustianing gunshot wounds to the head and torso.
The benefit will be held on Monday, July 25th, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the United Rentals at 8700 South Choctaw. A plate of Jambalaya with salad, a roll and drink can be purchased for $7. A $10 raffle will also be held.

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Shooting death of Alton Sterling - Everything We Know http://www.wbrz.com/news/shooting-death-of-alton-sterling-everything-we-know/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/shooting-death-of-alton-sterling-everything-we-know/ Links Wed, 6 Jul 2016 1:34:24 PM WBRZ Staff Shooting death of Alton Sterling - Everything We Know

BATON ROUGE – One man is dead after an officer-involved shooting in Baton Rouge Tuesday morning. Video of the shooting sparked a wildfire of public outcry from around the nation. Here is everything we know about the shooting death of Alton Sterling:

Two Videos of officer-involved shooting released

Two video clips recorded by witnesses outside the Triple S convenience store on North Foster Drive Tuesday morning captured an altercation that resulted in police killing 37-year-old Alton Sterling.

One video showed two Baton Rouge Police officers pin down Sterling before shooting him as he was on the ground.

Below is a recording of the Baton Rouge Police scanners from Tuesday morning:

Footage shows two officers interacting with Sterling and appears to have their guns drawn. About 14 seconds into the video, the officers tackle Sterling to the ground and shots are heard about 19 seconds later, 33 seconds into the video.

In the entire video, as many as three or more shots are heard and people scream.

A second, more graphic video emerged Wednesday afternoon shows the shooting of Alton Sterling from a slightly different angle.

The second video, recorded by the store owner, Abdullah Muflahi, shows the officers on top of Sterling and the shots being fired. The camera moves away at one point and when it returns, Sterling can be seen lying on the ground with what appears to be blood on his chest.

One officer is lying on the ground on his side with his weapon pointed toward Sterling, who appears to still be alive as his arm moves up to his chest. A voice can be heard saying "Shots fired! Shots fired!" The video then shows a second officer reaching into Sterling's pocket and pulling out an object.

It's not clear from the murky video what it is, but the store owner says it was Sterling's gun.

Muflahi said Sterling seemed "confused" and was trying to figure out why authorities were trying to arrest him before he was shot.

Muflahi said he saw Sterling being thrown on top of a car hood. He said Sterling appeared confused and kept asking, "What did I do wrong?"

A witness said police used Tasers at least twice before Sterling was tackled.  The witness said the Tasers did not have any effect on Sterling. 

The man who says he shot the first video says he has been distributing the footage on social media as a service to the community.

Arthur "Silky Slim" Reed told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he and a team from his company, Stop the Killing Inc., made the video. Reed says his company shoots documentary-style videos about killings in Baton Rouge.

Reed says that on the day of Sterling's death, two teams of people drove to the scene, outside a convenience store, after hearing about the incident on police radio.

Reed described the scene: "They were already messing with him, and it escalated. After the shots, we left."

Over the past decade, Reed's organization filmed the aftermath of more than 30 deadly shootings in the city.

Baton Rouge Police names involved officers

During an 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday morning, Baton Rouge Police released the names of the two officers involved in the shooting.

According to BRPD, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II responded to a the Triple-S convenience store on North Foster Drive early Tuesday morning after a 911 caller reported a man threatening them with a gun.

Salamoni is a four-year veteran of the force. Lake has been with BRPD for three years. Both officers work in the Uniform Patrol Division and were placed on administrative leave Tuesday morning following the shooting.

Officers confirmed that Sterling was armed with a gun when they arrived on the scene.

Video captured from witnesses at the scene show the two officers wrestle Sterling to the ground. Nearly 20 seconds later Salamoni shot him, according to The Advocate.

Baton Rouge Police say they have dash-cam video, body-cam video and store surveillance video of the police shooting death of a black man outside a convenience store.

Police Lt. Jonny Dunnam says the body-cam footage may not be as good as investigators hoped for because the cameras became dislodged during the altercation.

Louisiana ACLU executive director Marjorie Esman wants to know if the officers were trained in how to properly fasten the cameras. She says right when they were needed the most is when two of them malfunctioned in the same way.

Dunnam noted that even though federal investigators are taking the lead, there will be an internal investigation and the officers will be entitled to hearings before any disciplinary actions are taken.

She also says authorities also should investigate whether police could have used some other means of subduing Sterling and "if it was necessary to subdue him at all."

Court documents say Lake was previously involved in a shooting with an armed man.

The documents say Lake was among the police officers who exchanged fire with a man who fled police on Dec. 13, 2014.

Lake told detectives he fired six or seven shots when Kevin Knight refused to drop his gun, threatened to kill himself and pointed his revolver at officers.

Knight was wounded. His trial is scheduled for next month. Knight's attorney said he didn't have access to the court documents and couldn't immediately comment on Lake's role in the shooting.

Lake was placed on administrative leave. It wasn't clear from a summary of his statement to detectives whether he was disciplined.

Wednesday morning, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. called the shooting a tragedy.

"Like you, there is a lot that we do not understand,” Dabadie Jr. said. “And at this point, like you, I am demanding answers."

A preliminary autopsy from the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office confirmed that Sterling died from gunshot wounds to the chest and back.

Edwards: Department of Justice will investigate

Gov. John Bel Edwards says the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division is taking the lead on the shooting investigation.

Edwards held a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday on the steps of the Governor’s Mansion. Edwards said the incident will be investigated thoroughly. He also expressed condolences to the family and urged residents to keep protests peaceful.

Edwards said he spoke with the White House, Louisiana State Police Superintendent, District Attorney and U.S. Attorney ahead of the press conference. Edwards said he spoke with Sterling’s family and has seen the both videos of the shooting.

"The video is disturbing to say the least," said Gov. Edwards.

Edwards did not comment on the Baton Rouge Police's role in the shooting.

Baton Rouge Police say they turned over surveillance footage along with audio and video from the officers’ body cameras to the Department of Justice.

The federal probe into the incident will be transparent and independent, according to BRPD Chief Dabadie.

Attorney General Jeff Landry says he will follow the federal investigation and provide all necessary resources to fulfill requests by any agency involved in the "tragic incident."

The following statement was issued by the FBI Wednesday morning:

“The FBI's New Orleans Division, the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Louisiana have opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Alton Sterling. The Justice Department will collect all available facts and evidence and conduct a fair, thorough and impartial investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time.”

Watch Edwards' full press conference here:

Outcry as community demands answers

Friends and family of a slain Baton Rouge man are remembering Sterling as a friendly man who tried to make a living selling music at a local convenience store.

Larry Sterling, Alton Sterling's cousin, said every time he would see Alton he was smiling.

Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the store, said he called Sterling "Big Boy" and said he was always laughing or joking around. Muflahi said Sterling had been selling CDs for years outside his store and never created any problems.

Community activists met Wednesday morning demanding an independent investigation into Sterling’s death. Activists gathered at 8 a.m. on the steps of Baton Rouge City Hall promised their protests would not end until they feel justice has been served.

“We’re actually here today to speak to the culture of the Baton Rouge Police Department,” said Edmond Jordan, the family's attorney. “We’re going to root out the 1-percent of police officers that act as judge, jury and executioner.”

A member of Sterling's family said the man was "killed without regard for the lives that he had raised" as the man's 15-year-old son stood on the podium.

Denise Marcelle, a candidate for mayor who attended the rally, said black city leaders should demand answers and provide them.

Community leaders called for Mayor Kip Holden and Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie to resign. Both Holden and Dabadie said Wednesday that they do not plan on resigning.

"They shouldn't have waited this long to give us the answers that we are asking for," Marcelle said. "If you don't do that, then people continue to have questions," she said, warning that the situation could become more volatile if city officials do not start talking about the shooting.

Local NAACP leader Michael McClanahan said the city can't have a leader who "allows this type of action to take place."

Tuesday night, protesters took to the streets around the store where Sterling was shot and killed. Protesters chanted "Black lives matter" and shouted expletives about police.

Hundreds of protesters, mourners, friends and family ogathered in front of the convenience store Wednesday afternoon for a vigil. There were prayers, songs, a balloon release in Sterling's memory and calls for justice. Many of those gathered held signs demanding action as participants chanted "Black Lives Matter."

Some of the protesters' signs read "No Justice, No Peace," ''Black Out Downtown!" and "Who is supposed to protect us?"

Sandra Augustus, an aunt who helped raise Sterling after his mother died, spoke to the crowds with a broken voice, tearful. She said a second video that emerged Wednesday showing the moments before her nephew was shot left her angry.

Still, she pleaded for protesters and those gathered not to allow the vigil to be marred by violence.

At one point during the vigil, protesters marched down a busy street near the site of the shooting, blocking traffic. Little to no police presence was seen near the peaceful gathering but police were nearby if needed.

A protest in Philadelphia blocked a highway on-ramp. Police have arrested about a dozen people. Wednesday's protest took place at an on-ramp for Interstate 676, a major thoroughfare through the downtown Philadelphia area.

About 75 people took part. Many chanted "This is what democracy looks like" and "No justice, no peace, no racist police."

The angry protests comes at a time when law enforcement officers across the country are being scrutinized over what critics see as indiscriminate use of deadly force against blacks.

Local politicians comment on shooting

Gov. John Bel Edwards is attending a vigil and meeting with federal officials for an update on the investigation into the police shooting death of a Baton Rouge man.

The governor's office said Edwards will attend a 6 p.m. prayer vigil with community and faith leaders as well as other elected officials.

In a statement Wednesday, Clinton says something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that their country doesn't consider them as precious as others because of the color of their skin. Clinton says incidents such as the Sterling shooting have undermined the trust between police departments and the communities they serve.

In saying that trust needs to be rebuilt and justice served, Clinton cites what she calls "commonsense reforms" like ending racial profiling and providing better training on de-escalation and implicit bias.

Clinton says that all over America, there are police officers demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force - and that everyone needs to learn from and build on those examples.

Baton Rouge Mayoral candidate Sharon Weston Broome said the situation is tragic and disturbing.

"We must demand justice and the facts and then we must come together to act decisively," Broom said.

"Our entire community should be concerned about what has occurred," Broome said.  "This incident has to be a lightning rod for change, but not for violence and unrest like we have seen in other cities."

In a phone conversation with Mayor Kip Holden around 6 p.m. Tuesday, Holden said there will be no cover-up. Holden assured a full, fair investigation.

Holden was also present at the Baton Rouge Police press conference Wednesday morning. Holden said he received calls offering support, including calls from the Mayor of Baltimore and the President's Office.

Holden cautioned against making political statements in the wake of the shooting. Residents were again urged to remain peaceful and to try to suspend passing judgment until the ongoing investigation is completed.

"While we wait, we must unite under the rule of law. If we gather in protest, it must be peaceful. The world is watching to see if we devolve into chaos or unite and emerge with an ever stronger commitment to justice. I have faith. I believe in the people of Baton Rouge. Let us come together now. Let us seek answers and learn the facts.  And once the truth is known, we will take action - together, as one Baton Rouge," said a statement from Baton Rouge Metro Councilman John Delgado released on Wednesday morning.

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Annual "Beat the Heat" fan and A/C unit donation drive for seniors starts http://www.wbrz.com/news/annual-beat-the-heat-fan-and-a-c-unit-donation-drive-for-seniors-starts/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/annual-beat-the-heat-fan-and-a-c-unit-donation-drive-for-seniors-starts/ Links Thu, 23 Jun 2016 4:38:54 PM Brock Sues Annual

BATON ROUGE - The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging has announced they’ll begin the distribution of fans and air conditioner units as part of its annual “Beat the Heat” drive.

Last year, the agency says they collected more than 800 fans and A/C units to distribute to needy senior citizens in the parish. Estimates for this year’s drive easily exceed that number.


Criteria in place for being eligible to receive the donated items include the following:

  • Only one fan or A/C unit will be distributed per household
  • Agency Care Managers must perform an assessment within the home

Once eligibility is confirmed, the agency will distribute the donated items at the EBR Council on Aging’s main location at 5790 Florida Blvd. from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. beginning on Thursday, June 23. The distribution drive will continue until the end of summer.

Individuals coming to collect items must bring proper identification. The agency says they are also still accepting donations of new fans and A/C units. They may be dropped off at the same location as pickup for the drive on Florida Boulevard.

For more information on the Beat the Heat Fan and Air Conditioner Drive, visit www.ebrcoa.org or call 225-923-8000. More details about the drive are also available on the Beat the Heat drive Facebook page.

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Who will pay? A look at tax bills approved by lawmakers http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-will-pay-a-look-at-tax-bills-approved-by-lawmakers-85585/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-will-pay-a-look-at-tax-bills-approved-by-lawmakers-85585/ Links Wed, 22 Jun 2016 1:57:40 PM ApNewsNow Who will pay? A look at tax bills approved by lawmakers

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana lawmakers were nearing the Thursday end of a special session aimed at raising more money for next year's budget through tax changes. Here's a look at bills that passed and those that failed to win support (revenue figures are estimates):


-Lessen the tax break for homeowners and renters who are charged an assessment on property insurance to cover debts of the state-run Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Currently, the rebate is 72 percent of the Citizens assessment charged on property insurance bills. That drops to 25 percent, retroactive to Jan. 1. Revenue raised: $17 million for the financial year that begins July 1 and $139.6 million over five years. House Bill 25.

-Change the calculation of interest on tax overpayments. Revenue raised: $16.3 million in state general fund money for the financial year that begins July 1 and $94.3 million over five years. House Bill 29.

-Increase the annual tax on certain health care organizations known as HMOs from 2.25 percent to 5.5 percent. Revenue raised: $157.4 million in the financial year that begins July 1 and more than $600 million over five years. House Bill 35.

-Increase a tax credit for HMOs. Revenue lost: $1.3 million in the financial year that begins July 1 and another $1.3 million the following year. House Bill 24.

-Address a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling that could have manufacturers lessen their state and local tax payments. No revenue estimated to be raised or lost. The bill is aimed at keeping the status quo in place before the ruling. House Bill 27.

-Change the method for calculating corporate income taxes for certain industries. Revenue raised: The bill is expected to raise more money, but the amount was uncertain. House Bill 20.

-Reduce the individual income tax deduction for net capital gains. Revenue raised: The bill is expected to raise more money, but the amount was uncertain. House Bill 50.



-Place new limits on the inventory tax credit for businesses that also get an exemption from paying local property taxes on their facilities. Those businesses wouldn't be able to get a rebate check, but instead would only be able to apply the inventory tax credit to their actual tax liabilities. The change would affect large manufacturers. Revenue raised: $57 million for the financial year that begins July 1 and $285 million over five years. Senate Bill 10.

-Rework the inventory tax credit in a way that favors small businesses, but also lessens its cost to the state. Revenue raised: $12 million in the financial year that begins July 1 and $60 million over five years. Senate Bill 6.

-End the unintentional charging of state sales taxes on items like school lunches, tickets to school athletic events, firefighting equipment and prosthetic devices. The cleanup bill was aimed at sales tax increases passed in a special session earlier this year that swept in items that weren't meant to be taxed. House Bill 51.



-Increase the state individual income tax for the 23 percent of taxpayers who itemize deductions on their personal income tax forms, by cutting the percentage or type of federal excess itemized deductions they can deduct. House Bills 11 and 38.

-Increase the state individual income tax on people with taxable income of $17,500 or more, by changing the middle and upper income brackets for calculating the tax. House Bill 40.

-Make across-the-board cuts to a list of tax break programs. House Bills 31, 32 and 34.

-Delay the statewide vote on a proposal to rewrite Louisiana's corporate tax laws until 2017. Instead, voters will be asked to consider the business tax revamp on the November ballot as initially planned. House Bill 5.

-Increase the amount of a state tax credit for the working poor, called the Earned Income Tax Credit. Senate Bill 7.

-Eliminate the state tax deduction for federal income taxes in exchange for a lower, flat individual tax rate. House Bills 7, 17 and 33.


Revenue estimates sources: Legislative Fiscal Office, House Fiscal Division and Senate Fiscal Services.

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50 dead, 5 in critical condition after Orlando nightclub shooting http://www.wbrz.com/news/50-dead-5-in-critical-condition-after-orlando-nightclub-shooting/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/50-dead-5-in-critical-condition-after-orlando-nightclub-shooting/ Links Sun, 12 Jun 2016 6:51:45 AM WBRZ Staff 50 dead, 5 in critical condition after Orlando nightclub shooting

ORLANDO - A gunman opened fire at a gay night club in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday, killing 50 people and wounding 53 more before he was killed in a shootout with SWAT team members. Authorities say he may have had a connection with radical Islamic terrorism. Here's what we know about the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history:


At least 50 people are dead, and 53 were hospitalized, most in critical condition, officials said. A surgeon at Orlando Regional Medical Center said the death toll was likely to climb.

The city of Orlando is publishing the names of those killed on its website after their families have been contacted. The city's website includes the #PrayforOrlando hashtag and says officials are "working tirelessly" to get information to families. The list can be found here.

Sunday night, workers brought four bodies on stretchers out of club Pulse and loaded them into white vans. The action was repeated over and over.

The bodies were then taken to the Orange County Medical Examiner's office.


Authorities identified the shooter as 29-year-old Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida. His father, Seddique Mateen, told NBC News that his son got angry when he recently saw two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago. Seddique said the attack had nothing to do with religion.

Mateen's father is a native of Afghanistan who appears on a television program on broadcast on a California channel.

The show is known for "its anti-US tirades" and "pro-Taliban" remarks that are broadcast in the Dari language, according to a former Afghan official. 

Omar Mateen had been licensed as a private security officer in Florida. Records show he held the firearms license since at least 2011.

Ronald Hopper of the FBI says Mateen was an American citizen. Hopper says Mateen purchased at least two firearms legally within the last week or so.

A law enforcement official says Mateen made a 911 call from the club, professing allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Hopper says some 911 calls involving the shooter and the massacre have become federal evidence. He says the conversations involved the Islamic State.

Hopper says the shooter in 2013 made inflammatory comments to co-workers , and that Mateen was interviewed twice. Hopper calls those interviews inconclusive.

In 2014, Hopper says, officials found that Mateen had ties to an American suicide bomber. Hopper describes the contact as minimal; it did not constitute a threat at that time.

He was cleared after both investigations.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says investigators have not yet found evidence of direct communication between Mateen and Islamic State members overseas. Rep. Adam Schiff says it is possible that Omar Mateen was self-radicalized but not "under the command and control of ISIS."

Mateen's ex-wife, Sitora Yusifiy says Mateen was bipolar and also had a history with steroids.

She says that in the four months they were together he cut her off from her family and regularly beat her. She says that her family visited her and saw she wasn't OK and rescued her from the situation.

Yusifiy says they literally pulled her out of his arms. She says she left all her belongings and has had no contact with him for seven or eight years.

She says Mateen was religious, but she saw no signs of radicalism.

Of the nightclub massacre she says, "there was no sign of any of this at all."


During a press conference Sunday afternoon, President Obama called the attack an "act of terror" and called it "the most deadly shooting in American history.

Obama ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and federal buildings until sunset Thursday "as a mark of respect for victims of the act of hatred and terror." He's also directing the same observance at embassies and other U.S. government facilities abroad.

At a news conference Sunday morning, authorities labeled the situation as a domestic terrorism situation. CNN reported investigators are considering the attack a possible hate crime.


The rampage started around 2 a.m. Orlando time Sunday at Pulse nightclub, a club that bills itself as a gay nightclub in the downtown area.  About 300 people were likely inside the club at the time of the shooting.

Police say Mateen opened fire on patrons early Sunday. He also exchanged fire with an officer working at the club. Police say Mateen then went back inside and took hostages. Police sent in a SWAT team to rescue hostages about 5 a.m. and Mateen died in an exchange of gunfire with SWAT officers. Thirty people were rescued from inside the club.

Police say 11 officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter. Also, officials say three deputy sheriffs actively engaged, and fired their weapons. They're relieved of duties pending an investigation. That's typical procedure in such cases.


The attack follows the fatal shooting late Friday of 22-year-old singer Christina Grimmie, who was killed after her concert in Orlando by a 27-year-old Florida man who later killed himself. Grimmie was a YouTube sensation and former contestant on "The Voice."


Donald Trump isn't pausing his political commentary for the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history.

Trump tweeted as Obama began speaking: "Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn't he should immediately resign in disgrace!"

The shooting has thrust the topic of gun control back into focus as a presidential election nears.

Obama says shooting is a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get a weapon that allows them to shoot people in a school, in a house of worship, a movie theater or a gay nightclub. Speaking from the White House, Obama says the United States has to decide if that is the "country we want to be." He says that doing nothing is a decision as well.

Hillary Clinton has called for expanding background checks to sales at gun shows and online purchases, and for reinstating a ban on assault weapons. Trump said the existing background check system should be fixed, not expanded, and that assault-weapons bans do not work.


Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards released a statement about the shooting:

"There are no words that will comfort the survivors and families of the victims of this tragic incident, but it is our hope that the people of Florida will find solace in this scripture during this very difficult time. This is a senseless tragedy of unimaginable scale. In the face of adversity, as we always do, we stand united against acts of terrorism that threaten our people and our way of life. Donna and I, along with every citizen in Louisiana, send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. We stand ready to support the State of Florida in any way that we can to bring justice for those whose lives were lost."

Edwards, Senate President John Alario, House Speaker Taylor Barras, and members of the Louisiana Legislature will participate in a “Moment of Unity."  The event will take place at 1 p.m. Monday in the rotunda of the Louisiana State Capitol.

Capital City Alliance and other LGBT organizations plan to hold a vigil to pay respect to the shooting victims. The event is planned for Monday night between 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.


On Monday, the city released a list containing the names and ages of the victims of the nightclub shooting who have had their next of kin notified. The list will be periodically updated on www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/ as those who died are identified and families and loved ones notified. The city gave no additional information other than the names.

- Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
- Stanley Almodovar III, 23
- Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
- Juan Ramon Guerroro, 22
- Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
- Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
- Luis S. Vielma, 22
- Kimberly Morris, 37
- Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
- Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
- Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
- Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
- Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25
- Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
-Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
- Amanda Alvear, 25
- Martin Benitez Torres, 33
- Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
- Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
- Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
- Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
- Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
- Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
- Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25
- Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
- Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
- Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
- Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
- Cory James Connell, 21
- Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
- Luis Daniel Conde, 39
- Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
- Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
- Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
- Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
- Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25

Hospital officials in Florida listed five people in "grave condition" late Monday morning after they were wounded in the attack at the nightclub. According to Orlando Regional Medical Center, 29 people remain at the hospital in total with a number of the patients remaining critically ill or in a state of shock. Monday will see doctors carry out six more surgeries a day after the shooting that took the lives of 50 people including the shooter.

News 2 will carry the 1 p.m. "Moment of Unity" mentioned earlier in this story on Facebook Live. Check back with this story throughout the day as more details are released.

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8-month-old's death a tragic reminder of hot car danger http://www.wbrz.com/news/8-month-old-s-death-a-tragic-reminder-of-hot-car-danger/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/8-month-old-s-death-a-tragic-reminder-of-hot-car-danger/ Links Wed, 8 Jun 2016 5:14:40 PM Brock Sues 8-month-old's death a tragic reminder of hot car danger

BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission says Wednesday’s tragic death of an 8-month-old girl in a hot car highlights just how dangerous it can be to leave children in a parked vehicle.

"While we don't yet know all the details about the heartbreaking death of Raylee Mercer, we do know she had been left in a hot car for two hours," said John LeBlanc of the LHSC. "It is vitally important to understand that children are more vulnerable to heatstroke than adults. If anyone notices a child alone in a car, they should take immediate action.”

According to the NHTSC, parents, babysitters or bystanders should take the following steps immediately in the event that they spot a child left alone in a car who is not responsive or appears to be in distress:

- Call 911
- Get the child out of the car
- Spray the child with cool water (not an ice bath)

The warning signs of heat stroke include red, hot and moist or dry skin, no sweating, strong and rapid pulse or slow and weak pulse, confusion and strange behavior.

LeBlanc also advises parents and babysitters to get into the habit of checking the back seat of their vehicles before locking the car and walking away. One tip is to keep a stuffed animal or another reminder in the child’s car seat when it is empty and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when a child occupying the backseat.

In an instance of cruel coincidence, the girl’s death fell on the day that had officially been declared by the NHTSA as Child Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention Day. The NHTSA says 671 children have died from heatstroke in cars in the U.S. since 1998.

For more tips and info on preventing vehicular heatstroke, please visit: www.kidsandcars.org/userfiles/dangers/heat-stroke/heat-stroke-safety-tips.pdf or www.safercar.gov/parents/InandAroundtheCar/heatstroke.htm.

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Enrollment for Louisiana's Medicaid expansion opens Wed. http://www.wbrz.com/news/enrollment-for-louisiana-s-medicaid-expansion-opens-wed-/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/enrollment-for-louisiana-s-medicaid-expansion-opens-wed-/ Links Tue, 31 May 2016 12:22:03 PM AP News Now Enrollment for Louisiana's Medicaid expansion opens Wed.

BATON ROUGE - People interested in getting insurance coverage through Louisiana's new Medicaid expansion can begin signing up Wednesday.
Residents can apply online at www.healthy.la.gov or by phone at 1-888-342-6207. Gov. John Bel Edwards and Health and Hospitals Secretary Rebekah Gee also are expected to announce local application centers at an enrollment kickoff event Wednesday in New Orleans.
Louisiana will become the 32nd state to expand the government-financed health insurance program to the working poor when the new coverage begins July 1.
Medicaid expansion will cover adults ages 19 to 64 making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $16,200 for a single adult or $33,400 for a family of four.
The Edwards administration estimates 375,000 people will get insurance from the expansion over the next year.

Below is an embed of a spreadsheet that lists facilities enrolling people in Medicaid for the Baton Rouge area:

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Everything you need to know for Bayou Country SuperFest http://www.wbrz.com/news/everything-you-need-to-know-for-bayou-country-superfest/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/everything-you-need-to-know-for-bayou-country-superfest/ Links Fri, 27 May 2016 10:45:08 AM Kevin Dupuy Everything you need to know for Bayou Country SuperFest

BATON ROUGE – The annual Bayou Country Superfest kicks off Friday night at LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

The three-day event will feature performances by Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Little Big Town and several others.

The Lineup

Friday, May 27:

Randy Rogers Band - 7 p.m.

Little Big Town - 7:45 p.m.

Lady Antebellum - 9:05 p.m.

Luke Bryan - 10:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 28

Brothers Osborne - 5 p.m.

Frankie Ballard 5:40 p.m.

Cole Swindell - 6:35 p.m. 

Darius Rucker - 7:45 p.m.

Eric Church - 9:35 p.m.

Sunday, May 29

A Thousand Horses - 5 p.m.

Dustin Lynch - 5:45 p.m.

Thomas Rhett - 6:50 p.m.

Dierks Bently - 8:15 p.m.

Jason Aldean - 10:10 p.m.

Free Fan Fest and Tailgating

Event organizers and LSU invite fans to come early to enjoy tailgating outside of Tiger stadium. Fan Fest is free and open to the public will take place at Lot 101 (Tiger Stadium at Nicholson Drive) Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Activities and attractions for Fan Fest include:

LSU football tailgating

Musical performances on the Bud Light Stage

Tents selling official festival merchandise

Artist meet and greet area for fans to meet Bayou Country Superfest Performers

LSU Facilities Services will distribute trash bags throughout campus for convenience. First aid stations will be staffed throughout the stadium for festival goers that need assistance.

More information about tailgating restrictions can be found at the official Bayou Country Superfest Website.


Tickets can be purchased online at bayoucountrysuperfest.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

The Bayou Country Superfest Box Office will be located at Fan Fest outside of Tiger Stadium and will be open from May 27-29 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Children under 2-years-old are admitted free; no seat provided.

Weather Radars

Parking and Traffic

Parking will be available for first-come first-served purchase on event days. Parking is cash only.

Vehicle parking lots will be open on event days starting at 9 a.m. There is no overnight parking in the parking lots and vehicles will be towed if left overnight.

ADA parking spaces will be available in Lot 108 for $30. Shuttle transportation from Lot 108 to the stadium will be available for ADA Festival goers.

Stay tuned to WBRZ News 2 online and on Facebook and Twitter for traffic and weather updates throughout the event.


North Stadium Drive and South Stadium Dive will be closed to traffic. North Stadium Drive between the PMAC and Tiger Stadium will be closed to pedestrians.

Hotel shuttles/Uber/Taxis can drop-off and pick-up passengers in the front part of Lot 406 on Skip Bertman Drive.

Information about the Baton Rouge Capitol Area Transit System can be found at www.brcats.com or by calling 225-929-7740.


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A trip through the history of Mike the Tiger http://www.wbrz.com/news/a-trip-through-the-history-of-mike-the-tiger/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/a-trip-through-the-history-of-mike-the-tiger/ Links Mon, 23 May 2016 1:55:52 PM Brock Sues A trip through the history of Mike the Tiger

BATON ROUGE - Despite the announcement Monday that LSU's live tiger mascot is to be treated for a rare form of cancer, Mike VI will remain one of just two live tigers left representing U.S. universities in the country. LSU's first tiger arrived in the fall of 1936 after nearly two years of planning by university officials. Through the years, LSU has had to replace the mascot a total of five teams, giving LSU a roster of six "Mikes" that have represented the school.

As the current Mike iteration prepares to receive medical attention from LSU veterinarians and Mary Bird Perkins - Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center, here's a trip through all of the generations of LSU live tiger mascots.

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Businesses in three parishes eligible for federal disaster assistance http://www.wbrz.com/news/businesses-in-three-parishes-eligible-for-federal-disaster-assistance/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/businesses-in-three-parishes-eligible-for-federal-disaster-assistance/ Links Fri, 6 May 2016 2:20:58 PM Brock Sues Businesses in three parishes eligible for federal disaster assistance

BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration has granted his request that three parishes qualify for disaster assistance loans as a result of tornadoes that caused swaths of damage in February.

The relief aid will apply to businesses damaged by the high winds of Feb. 23-24. Assumption, St. James and St. John parishes are covered.

The SBA provides low-interest, long-term loans for physical and economic damage caused by a declared disaster. The SBA issued the declaration after the state’s appeal for major disaster declaration was denied on Apr. 29.

“After meeting the families and seeing the devastation left in the wake of the tornadoes that passed through these three parishes, I promised to do everything within my power to ensure that they would get access to the resources needed to rebuild,” Gov. Edwards said. “My team and I are doing all we can to follow through on that promise. This decision by the SBA is another step toward their recovery. It is my hope and prayer that these families will be able to get back to their normal lives as soon as possible.”

The three parishes that qualify are now eligible for three different types of disaster assistance loans:

1) Home and Personal Property Loans: If you are in a declared disaster area and are the victim of a disaster, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the SBA, even if you don't own a business.
2) Business Physical Disaster Loans: Any business or organization located in a declared disaster area and that incurred damage during the disaster may apply for a loan to help replace or restore damaged property.
3) Economic Injury Disaster Loans: If you are in a declared disaster area and have suffered economic injury regardless of physical damage, you may qualify for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

Note that businesses in any parish that borders the three affected parishes qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans only. The eligible parishes include Ascension, Assumption, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, Tangipahoa and Terrebonne.

The SBA says businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA can only lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from happening in the future.

SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to help meet working capital needs caused by disasters. EIDL aid is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. More details can be obtained by calling SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. You can also find more information at sba.gov/disaster.

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State health officials offer tips to prevent Zika virus transmission http://www.wbrz.com/news/state-health-officials-offer-tips-to-prevent-zika-virus-transmission/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/state-health-officials-offer-tips-to-prevent-zika-virus-transmission/ Links Tue, 3 May 2016 10:13:28 AM Alicia Serrano State health officials offer tips to prevent Zika virus transmission

BATON ROUGE - Officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals have developed a plan to protect the public should a Zika outbreak occur in the state.

The plan is to reduce mosquito populations and mobilize against transmission of the virus.

Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary for DHH, said that the state has the emergency management, public health and health care infrastructures to respond if Zika transmission begin to occur,

“Louisiana is home to the particular mosquitoes that can transmit the Zika virus if they become infected with it.” Gee said.

“With mosquito season well on its way, our goal is to mitigate the risk of our own mosquitoes biting individuals returning from areas where Zika is active and to be prepared to respond to any transmissions that might occur if that happens,” she said.

Gee said that she is especially concerned with the spread of Zika from a pregnant woman to her fetus, given the conclusions reached by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the effects of infection on babies.

“The CDC has stated that there is a clear link between Zika virus and microcephaly in babies. I strongly recommend that pregnant women take all appropriate precautions regarding Zika virus to prevent this serious birth defect,” Gee said.

Precautions and Prevention:

Current CDC guidance states that women and men who desire pregnancy and live in an area with active Zika virus transmission should talk to their health care provider and strictly follow steps to prevent both mosquito bites and sexual transmission of the virus.

Pregnant women or women who could be pregnant should consider postponing any travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading and talk to their health care provider if they must do so. They should take strict precautions to prevent mosquito bites during their stay in areas where active transmission is occurring.

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Louisianans should take precautions against mosquito bites to prevent any possible transmissions of both Zika and other mosquito-borne infections, especially during summer months when mosquitoes are most active. Recommended precautions include wearing long sleeves and pants, keeping window and door screens in good repair, using EPA-registered insect repellants and removing standing water from around homes and workplaces.

To date, four cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in Louisiana residents who traveled to Caribbean and South American countries, but no cases of Zika virus transmitted locally by mosquito have been detected. More information on Zika virus is available from the CDC at www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.

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Interactive event allows children to experience big trucks up close http://www.wbrz.com/news/interactive-event-allows-children-to-experience-big-trucks-up-close/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/interactive-event-allows-children-to-experience-big-trucks-up-close/ Links Thu, 28 Apr 2016 3:47:32 PM WBRZ Staff Interactive event allows children to experience big trucks up close

BATON ROUGE - The Junior League of Baton Rouge has announced a unique, interactive event called “Touch A Truck” that will allow children to see, touch and explore their favorite big trucks, vehicles and heavy equipment.

They’ll also have a chance to meet the individuals who operate the equipment and get to hear from multiple community partners about topics like car seat safety, CPR and fire safety.

The event will be held at BREC’s Fairgrounds at Airline Highway Park on Apr. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those who are sensitive to noise can take advantage of what will be a “silent hour” from 9 to 10 a.m. when horns and sirens will be prohibited. Special events will happen at the top of each hour.

General admission tickets are $10. You can learn more and buy tickets by clicking here.

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La. sales, cigarette and alcohol tax hikes kick in Friday http://www.wbrz.com/news/la-sales-cigarette-and-alcohol-tax-hikes-kick-in-friday/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/la-sales-cigarette-and-alcohol-tax-hikes-kick-in-friday/ Links Wed, 30 Mar 2016 10:11:48 AM Melinda Deslatte La. sales, cigarette and alcohol tax hikes kick in Friday

BATON ROUGE - Smokers, drinkers, car renters and every shopper around Louisiana will be paying more for their purchases beginning Friday.
Tax hikes on cigarettes, alcohol and car rentals are among many tax changes that take hold April 1.
The biggest tax increase will hit nearly every person and business. The 1 percent increase in the state sales tax will boost Louisiana's average state and local sales tax rate to more than 10 percent, the highest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.
In addition, a long list of purchases usually free from state sales tax will temporarily lose some of those exemptions.

The owner of Pam's Capitol Corner Market in Baton Rouge, Pam Robertson says the tax increase will impact her profits. "I have to sale six cartons in order buy one carton clear" the store owner said.

The cigarette tax increase is expected to generate 46-millon dollars a year, to help the state reduce it's budget deficit and smokers are not happy with that cost being passed on to them.

Laura Borgelon of Baton Rouge is a smoker for 35-years and she said "We enjoy our cigartettes and it's going to put a strain on everyone who does smoke."  The $1.08 tax is still less than the average state tax accoss the country of $1.61 on a pack of cigarettes.

The cigarette tax isn't the only increase. Sales taxes increases by a penny on the dollar. Taxes will go up on alcohol as well. Lawmakers upped taxes in a special session last month in order to balance the state budget. It was almost one-billion dollars short for the current fiscal year and two billion short for next year.
Lawmakers passed the tax increases to help balance Louisiana's budget. They are estimated to raise $300 million by June 30 - and much more for next year's budget.

A breakdown of the taxes are below:

- Increasing the state sales tax from four cents to five cents; the extra penny remains in effect until June 30, 2018, in most cases, but expires on July 1, 2016, for manufacturing equipment and machinery
-  Most current exemptions and exclusions on the 4 percent state sales tax are eliminated; all exclusions will be restored by July 1, 2018

- An automobile rental tax, which had expired, is reinstated on gross proceeds at the rate of 2.5 percent (state) and 0.5 percent (local)
 - A hotel tax, with revenue flowing to local governments, is expanded to include residential locations such as houses, apartments and condominiums
- Sales made in Louisiana by dealers outside the state (such as over the Internet) are subject to the collection and remittance of sales and use tax
- The excise tax on cigarettes increases to $1.08
 The excise tax on alcoholic beverages increases to:

- Liquor - $0.80 per liter

- Sparkling wine - $0.55 per liter

- Still wines with 14-24 percent alcoholic volume - $0.35 per liter

- Still wines with more than 24 percent alcoholic volume - $0.55 per liter

- Malt beverages - $12.50 per barrel

- Low alcoholic content beverages - $12.50 per barrel

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Who can apply? FEMA Disaster Assistance FAQs http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-can-apply-fema-disaster-assistance-faqs/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/who-can-apply-fema-disaster-assistance-faqs/ Links Thu, 17 Mar 2016 5:40:40 PM WBRZ Staff Who can apply? FEMA Disaster Assistance FAQs

Who should apply for federal disaster assistance?
Louisiana homeowners, renters and business owners in disaster-designated parishes who sustained damage to their homes, vehicles, personal property, business or its inventory as a result of the ongoing severe storms and floods may apply for disaster assistance.

How do I apply?
Survivors in the designated Louisiana parishes can register online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3361. Disaster survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585. If survivors use 711 or VRS (Video Relay Service) or require accommodations while visiting a center, call 800-621- 3362. All disaster recovery centers are accessible and equipped with tools to accommodate survivors who need disability-related communication aids.  

What kinds of assistance are available?
Disaster assistance may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses and medical, and dental and funeral expenses caused by the disaster, along with other serious disaster-related expenses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters. These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

Am I eligible for disaster assistance if I already have insurance?
You should apply for assistance even if you have insurance because you may find that you have unmet needs after you receive your settlement. If you have not already contacted your insurance agent to file a claim, do so right away. Insurance is your main source for money to put your life back in order after a disaster. But insurance does not cover many expenses, so disaster programs may be able to help. You should not wait for your insurance settlement to apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the SBA.

I have applied. What happens next?
After you apply, FEMA will send you a copy of your application and a copy of "Help After a Disaster: Applicant's Guide to the Individuals and Households Program," which will answer many of your questions. This useful publication explains how FEMA's disaster assistance program works; describes additional kinds of help you may qualify for from other federal, state and voluntary agencies; and gives you many important tips on how best to make all these programs work for you. If your home or its contents are damaged and you are uninsured or underinsured, a FEMA inspector may contact you within about 10 days after you apply to schedule a time to meet with you at your damaged home. All inspectors carry photo ID that shows they are affiliated with the U.S. government.

What kinds of low-interest disaster loans does SBA offer and for how much?
If you're a homeowner, you may borrow up to $200,000 from SBA to repair or replace your primary residence. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace personal property. Businesses may borrow up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury. SBA offers low-interest working capital loans (called Economic Injury Disaster Loans) to small businesses, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of all sizes having difficulty meeting obligations as a result of the disaster.

FEMA's temporary housing assistance and grants that help pay for medical, dental and funeral expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, homeowners or renters must complete and submit an SBA loan application to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.

Do I have to be a legal U.S. resident to receive Individual Assistance?
Yes. To be eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance grants you must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or a qualified alien. A qualified alien generally includes individuals who are lawful permanent residents or those with refugee or asylum status. Qualified aliens include those permitted in the United States for at least one year for humanitarian purposes, those with conditional entry, those who are Cuban-Haitian entrants and those with petitions for relief based on battery or extreme cruelty by a family member. Check with an immigration expert if you have questions about your legal status.

Is there any assistance available for undocumented immigrants?
If you have a child living at home who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien, you may apply for Individual Assistance on that child's behalf and you may be eligible to receive Individual Assistance. You may also be eligible for various programs run by state, local or voluntary agencies. FEMA may provide undocumented, eligible immigrants with short-term, non-cash emergency aid.

How can I check the status of my case?
You may go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call the toll-free FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585.

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UPDATE: Some rivers to remain in flood stage until Thursday http://www.wbrz.com/news/update-some-rivers-to-remain-in-flood-stage-until-thursday/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/update-some-rivers-to-remain-in-flood-stage-until-thursday/ Links Sat, 12 Mar 2016 7:46:57 PM Kevin Dupuy; Meteorologist Robert Gauthreaux III UPDATE: Some rivers to remain in flood stage until Thursday

BATON ROUGE – Many river systems near the Capital City remain in major flood stage Sunday after thunderstorms brought record rainfall to the area this week. While the Tickfaw River has already crested, the Amite River is expected to rise in some areas until it crests as late as Tuesday

Officials in Ascension Parish say residents should expect more flooding before the Amite River crests Monday afternoon.

Below are river level forecasts from the National Weather Service: (Note: As with any weather forecast, this information is subject to change. Stay tuned to WBRZ News 2 for updates as more information becomes available).

The Comite River near Joor Road crested at 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon at 26.16 feet. The river will remain in minor flood stage until Monday afternoon. Subdivisions between the Comite River and Beaver Bayou are expected to have moderate flooding until Monday morning.

The Amite River near Denham Springs crested early Sunday morning at 36.09 ft. Sunday morning. The river will remain in moderate flood stage until Monday morning. The NWS predicts possible flooding around Clay Cut Bayou, Jones Creek and Honey Cut Bayou until Sunday evening. Also, areas in Denham Springs west of Florida Avenue will be subject to flooding until Sunday evening.

Downstream at Bayou Manchac, the Amite River is expected to reach major flood stage Monday night. The river is expected to crest at 16.5 ft. Monday morning. The Amite River will remain in major flood stage until Tuesday morning.

Near Port Vincent, the Amite River is expected to reach major flood stage Monday afternoon. The river is expected to crest at 12 ft. and will remain in major flood stage until Tuesday morning. Expect minor flooding to residential areas.

The Tickfaw River has crested, but is expected to remain in moderate flood stage at Holden until Monday morning. In Montpelier, the Tickfaw River is dropping dramatically is below flood stage.

Downstream at Holden, the Tickfaw River is crested just short of the record of 21 ft. set in 1983. The river will remain in moderate flood stage until Monday morning. Property in low areas along the river from I-12 to Parish Road 1036 will likely remain flooded until Monday morning.

In Robert, the Tangipahoa River has already crested at 25.54 ft. but will remain in major flood stage until Tuesdayevening.

The NWS forecasts that the Amite River will reach 7.0 ft. by Tuesday afternoon at French Settlement. It is possible that flooding could cause La. Hwy 16 to close near Port Vincent and the Louisiana Trace will be impassable. Note: At the time of writing, the National Weather Service forecast only extends until 1 p.m. Tuesday for the French Settlement area. Click here to see the updated NWS information. 

For more information, or data from locations not listed in this story, visit the National Weather Service Website by clicking here. 

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to WBRZ Weather online and on Facebook and Twitter for updates as new information becomes available. River stages will be updated through the evening on the WBRZ News 2 24-hour weather channel.

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Sandbags available, waterways closed to recreational boat traffic in Livingston Parish http://www.wbrz.com/news/sandbags-available-waterways-closed-to-recreational-boat-traffic-in-livingston-parish/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/sandbags-available-waterways-closed-to-recreational-boat-traffic-in-livingston-parish/ Links Thu, 10 Mar 2016 2:59:42 PM Brock Sues Sandbags available, waterways closed to recreational boat traffic in Livingston Parish

LIVINGSTON PARISH - Parish officials in Livingston say all waterways will be closed to recreational traffic starting Thursday at 3 p.m. until further as water levels are on the rise due to heavy rainfall.

Sandbags will be available to parish residents at the following locations:

Fire District 1 - Station #2
32401 Hwy 43

Fire District 2 - Station #1
32280 Terry St.

Fire District 2 – Station #2 (Killian)
31447 Hwy 22

Fire District 2 - Station #3 (Lizard Creek)
Hwy 1037

Fire District 2 – Station #5 (Hutchinson)
25389 Hutchinson Rd.

Fire District 3 - Station #1
930 Government St.
Denham Springs

Fire District 4 – Station #1
29758 South Palmetto Dr.

Fire District 4 – Station #3
34893 Hwy 1019

Fire District 4 – Station #9
9100 Hillion Hood Rd.
Denham Springs

Fire District 5 – Station #1
8098 Florida Blvd.
Denham Springs

Fire District 6 - Station #1
20550 Circle Dr.

Fire District 7 –Station #1
19784 Hwy 42

Fire District 7- Station #2
19354 Perrilloux Rd

Fire District 8 – Station #1
15160 Hwy 16
French Settlement

Fire District 9 - Station #1
24564 Hwy 22

Fire District 9 - Station #2
20368 Hwy 22

Fire District 10 – Station #1
30928 Hwy 441

Fire District 11 – Station #1
33815 Hwy 43

Fire District 11- Station #2
31470 Horseshoe Rd North

Can back with this story for updates on further road closures in Livingston Parish as they are released.

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Area universities announce closures as severe storms move into BR http://www.wbrz.com/news/area-universities-announce-closures-as-severe-storms-move-into-br/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/area-universities-announce-closures-as-severe-storms-move-into-br/ Links Thu, 10 Mar 2016 2:15:16 PM Brock Sues Area universities announce closures as severe storms move into BR

BATON ROUGE - Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Community College and Southern University have announced closures as severe weather impacts the southeastern part of the state.

LSU has announced all classes starting at 3 p.m. are canceled, and the university will close at 3:30 p.m Thursday. The university says Campus Transit and LSU Dining Halls will maintain their regular hours of operation, but all other campus offices will be closed. The LSU Ag Center offices will remain open, according to LSU administration.

The university will open on Friday. All classes and university offices will be operating at normal business hours, according to the University. The University Laboratory School and the LSU Child Care Center will also be open and operate under normal hours..

BRCC announced it will close at 3 p.m. Thursday, and will remain closed on Friday. The college says it may be open on Saturday, but they have yet to make a final decision.

Southern University System campuses in Baton Rouge, including SUBR, SU Ag Center and the SU Law Center, announced they would also close at 3 p.m. Thursday and remain closed on Friday and Saturday due to inclement weather. All classes and activities are canceled.

Southeastern Louisiana University and Our Lady of the Lake College announced that classes will be canceled and the university will also close at 3:30 p.m. Thursday and will remain closed through Friday. 

Check back with this story for further updates about Friday closures.

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New app for smartphones allows citizens to request city services http://www.wbrz.com/news/new-app-for-smartphones-allows-citizens-to-request-city-services/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/new-app-for-smartphones-allows-citizens-to-request-city-services/ Links Wed, 9 Mar 2016 1:33:54 PM Alicia Serrano New app for smartphones allows citizens to request city services

BATON ROUGE - Baton Rouge Mayor Melvin “Kip” Holden announced the launch of a new web and smartphone app that aims to provide easy-to-use tools so residents can request government services and report issues in real-time.

The app, called Red Stick 311, allows users to create online accounts to request and then keep track of the status of service requests. Residents can even upload relevant images to go with those requests.

GPS-enabled location services attached to user requests provide an easy way for crews to be dispatched directly to the location of the problem. Crews will be able to leverage the app to save time by coordinating request dispatch with ongoing work based on the location data.

“We live in a world that runs on technology, and because of this, there is an expectation for all devices, platforms, and applications to keep pace,” Mayor Holden said.

The Mayor said the app is a step toward changing the way government has traditionally interacted with its citizens. It also represent the City-Parish's commitment to keeping up evolving technological trends, according to Holden.

Residents can continue to request services or report issues by dialing 311, but officials are encouraging residents to use the new apps.

“Our team at Information Services has been hard at work over the past several years to identify ways in which we can more easily connect citizens to government services, and engage residents in the daily operations of our City-Parish government in meaningful ways,”  Eric Romero, Interim Director of Information Services, said.

Whether it is reporting a pothole and drainage issues or allowing participation in signal studies, the Mayor's Office says they are excited to provide yet another way for residents to interact with government.

As a part of the launch, the City-Parish has also developed a citizen self-help knowledge base that is accessible on the Red Stick 311 home page at 311.brla.gov. The knowledge base will be updated on a regular basis to ensure citizens have access to common information needs that impact their daily lives.

Red Stick 311 is live and available online and in the App Store and Google Play Store as a free download.

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