- Associated Press - Friday, March 7, 2014
Man critically wounded in Memphis mall shooting

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Police say a man was critically wounded in a shooting at a crowded Memphis mall.

A statement released by Memphis Police spokeswoman Sgt. Karen Rudolph says officers responded around 5:45 p.m. to a call about a shooting at the Oak Court Mall and found the victim. He was transported to a hospital.

According to the statement, four men were later detained but no charges had been filed as of late Thursday.

Police say it appears the victim and suspects knew each other and officers were told there was a verbal confrontation before the shooting.



The mall was crowded when the shooting happened, and patrons ran for cover.

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Senate passes Medicaid legislative approval bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Senate on Thursday voted to require Gov. Bill Haslam to secure legislative approval for any potential deal to expand Medicaid in Tennessee despite the Republican governor’s repeated assurances that he would first seek their OK for any arrangement.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown was approved 23-6. The House passed its version 69-24 last month, but would have to agree to changes made to the Senate bill before sending it for Haslam’s signature.

The governor told reporters after an economic development announcement in Dickson later Thursday that he’s unconcerned about the legislation.

“We said all along before we did anything we would seek the Legislature’s approval,” Haslam said. “And so we didn’t feel like the legislation really changed anything, and we’re still continuing to pursue an answer.”

Some Republican leaders acknowledged the bill might not have been necessary, but that it serves to get a point across.

“I think it sends a message to our constituents that we’re watching their money,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville.

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Sousa removed as Tennessee’s band director

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee has removed Gary Sousa as band director, five months after the band issued a statement saying it was in a “bitter battle” with the school’s athletic department and complaining about reduced travel and budget cuts.

In a letter sent to Sousa on Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, Tennessee provost and senior vice chancellor Susan Martin said Sousa’s own statements “demonstrate that you allowed your relationships with key university officials to deteriorate to the point that it is no longer possible for you to serve effectively as Director of Bands.”

Sousa’s removal as band director is effective March 31. Martin’s letter stated Sousa would remain a tenured professor. His salary drops from $155,000 to $105,000.

“It is my sincere hope that you find renewed energy and commitment to your field in your faculty role and that you will remain a productive and valued member of the School of Music faculty,” Martin wrote.

The school had relieved Sousa of his duties as band director on Oct. 14, a week after the band’s letter detailing its complaints came out, and had placed him on administrative leave for the rest of the fall semester. Don Ryder was named interim director of bands at that point and will continue to serve in that role. University spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen said Tennessee plans to conduct a national search for the position at some point.

Sousa had been Tennessee’s band director since 1997.

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Gay hiring fears hurt Baptist agency fundraising

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Uncertainty over a short-lived proposal to open employment to gays at Kentucky’s largest private child care agency prompted many of its supportive churches to withhold giving last year, causing a multi-million dollar shortfall.

Sunrise Children’s Services depends on giving from Baptist congregations in Kentucky, along with government funding. But Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director Paul Chitwood said those offerings dried up last year because donors were concerned that the proposal to allow gay workers might succeed.

The Sunrise board ultimately rejected the proposal introduced by Bill Smithwick, then CEO of Sunrise. But the flap left the agency that cares daily for about 600 children with a funding shortfall of about $7.5 million.

“Most of our churches decided not to take the annual offering for Sunrise because they feared that Smithwick was going to lead Sunrise away from” the Kentucky Baptist Convention, Chitwood said. The state convention, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and has about 2,400 member churches in Kentucky, is conservative on social issues and opposes gay marriage.

Chitwood and church leaders are hoping congregations statewide will be able to raise about $5 million during a drive in May to make up for the funding gap.

“Now we’re going back and asking them to make that up,” he said.

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