- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014
Obama offers condolences to Tennessee school

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - President Barack Obama says he and the first lady are praying for the families affected by a fatal shooting between students at a Tennessee high school where he is speaking.

Obama says he knows the past few days have tested people’s spirits. But he says he wanted the McGavock High School community to know it is in his thoughts and prayers.

Obama visited the Nashville school Thursday to speak about education. He also met with the family of the deceased 15-year-old before his remarks.

Authorities say the off-campus shooting happened Tuesday when a 17-year-old was playing with a pistol. It discharged a bullet that struck his 15-year-old friend in the face.

Both were 10th-graders at McGavock.

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Haslam: Schedule conflict prevents Obama greeting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam’s office says plans to greet President Barack Obama on the tarmac in Nashville had to be canceled because of scheduling conflicts.

The Republican governor had already said he would have to miss the president’s speech at McGavock Comprehensive High School on Thursday afternoon because of out-of-state economic development meetings.

Haslam’s spokesman, David Smith, said the president’s later-than-expected arrival in Nashville also prevented their meeting at the Berry Field Air National Guard Base. Smith did not say where the governor was going.

Obama’s speech was expected to focus on the improving educational achievements in Nashville and Tennessee.

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Tenn. Senate passes supermarket wine bill 23-8

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Voters would decide whether their cities or counties allow wine to be sold in supermarkets and convenience stores, under a bill passed by the state Senate on Thursday.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro was approved on a 23-8 vote after the companion bill was revived in the House this week.

Ketron said the bill reflects a shift away from liquor laws that been in place in the state since Prohibition.

“Things have changed in our world,” he said. “The people of Tennessee want this opportunity.”

The proposal would allow cities and counties to vote on grocery store wine sales as early as November, but wouldn’t allow supermarkets to stock wine until at least July 2016.

The Senate version would require convenience stores to have at least 1,200 square feet to qualify for a wine sales license, while the House version would set that limit at 2,000 square feet.

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Mass. teen pleads not guilty to raping teacher

SALEM, Mass. (AP) - A 15-year-old Massachusetts boy charged with killing his math teacher pleaded not guilty Thursday to a second charge of raping her.

Phillip Chism, shackled at the feet, stood with his head bowed at Salem Superior Court as the judge read the latest charge against him in connection with the killing of 24-year-old Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer.

About two dozen people attended the brief hearing, including members of Ritzer’s family, who left without commenting. Chism’s attorney, Denise Regan, declined to comment after the hearing.

Ritzer, a math teacher, was found dead in the woods near the school in October. Her throat was slit and a note reading, “I hate you all” was found at the scene.

Authorities said Chism, then 14, killed Ritzer with a box cutter he had taken to school after she asked him to stay after for help. He had previously pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, robbery and murder.

In court documents released last week, state police said Chism confessed to killing Ritzer, but denied sexually assaulting her.

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