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NEWS BRIEFS for Monday, May 13, 2019

Man fired multiple times at Cheyenne police in chase

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The man who was shot twice after leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase through Cheyenne on May 3 allegedly told investigators he fled because he was in possession of methamphetamine and had an outstanding warrant.

According to court documents, Dominique Childers told detectives from the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation he “freaked out” when a trooper from the Wyoming Highway Patrol tried to pull him over for speeding on southbound Interstate 25 near Cheyenne.

The trooper said Childers, who was allegedly driving a stolen 2016 Toyota Camry, reached a maximum speed of 115 mph while trying to avoid being pulled over on the interstate. 

It was near the governor’s residence on Central Avenue that Childers allegedly rolled down his window and fired several times at the state trooper. 

Throughout the chase, Childers fired at intervals at the trooper’s patrol car. At one point, he hit the trooper’s windshield in the upper right corner.

When Childers turned eastbound on 19th Street, a Cheyenne Police Department patrol car pulled alongside the Camry. Childers allegedly fired at the patrol car, shattering the passenger side window and spraying the officer with glass.

The CPD officer returned fire and struck Childers twice. The chase ended when the Camry struck a metal fence at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Childers currently is facing nine charges, including two counts of felony assault and battery-threatening with a weapon, one count of felony theft related to the stolen car and two counts of felony property destruction.

Police, FBI investigate threat against Riverton school

RIVERTON (WNE) — Riverton Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating a threat made over social media against Riverton High School, the department stated on its Facebook page Friday morning. 

According to the note posted on the department Facebook page and signed by Police Chief Eric Murphy, police became aware of a threat made to an “unknown account” on Instagram. Fremont County School District No. 25 Superintendent Terry Snyder said an anonymous account on the social media platform was posting “negative” things about students at Riverton High. Another student, who Snyder said was trying to help, replied to one of the anonymous kid’s posts and wrote that the negative comments were “a way to deal with stuff and that they were maybe (the anonymous student’s) way of keeping himself from ‘shooting up the school,’” Snyder said. 

“That was an unfortunate use of words, I believe,” Snyder added, though he stressed that the second student was just trying to help the anonymous kid. 

But in response to the second student’s “shoot up the school” comment, the anonymous student replied with an “eyewink emoji” and “May 15,” Snyder said. The district took that to be a threat. 

Snyder declined to say when the district and authorities became aware of the perceived threat, saying that may help them identify the anonymous student. While the second student has been identified, the student who replied with the emoji and the date has not yet been discovered; the Instagram account has since been deleted. 

Fewer than 1,700 Carbon County voters approve tax increase

RAWLINS (WNE) — They say those who show up decide the future, and in this case the saying rang true, with a 15- year increase in sales tax being decided by 1,637 voters, making up less than 29% of the county’s registered voters. 

Special elections have historically failed to draw the crowds often seen during general and primary voting events. Though County Clerk Gwynn Bartlett said both the county and the municipalities did extensive outreach to inform voters of the upcoming election. 

Bartlett further said the work by the Carbon County Infrastructure Improvement Coalition, a political action committee formed specifically to publicize the tax’s merits, helped reach even more residents. 

“I feel like the public had ample opportunity to participate in the election,” said Bartlett.

Despite the low turnout, Tuesday’s ballot saw more than 75% of all ballots cast accent to increasing the county’s sales tax. 

This outpouring of support may surprise some, as some western states are often famed for their resistance to new taxes. Yet, this year’s special election for the 6th penny tax showed that not all are so dismissive of tax as is often portrayed.

“I think the county is pleased with how the election came out,” said Bartlett. 

With the success of Tuesday’s vote, the county’s sales tax will increase from 5% to 6% beginning Oct.1. The tax will remain on bills throughout the county until the $67 million required for the various projects is collected. 

Jackson begins looking at child care challenges

JACKSON (WNE) — Elected officials last week took the first steps toward addressing child care challenges in Jackson, acknowledging a major stress point for parents.

Town councilors asked staff to recommend changes to regulations to make it easier for providers to operate in town and to research possibilities for promoting child care, including through public funding.

With a shortage of child care options in Teton County, waitlists have become a source of profound anxiety for many families with young children.

Planning Director Tyler Sinclair said the vast majority of aspiring providers abandon the idea after learning of the bureaucratic hurdles involved. Much of that is due to state licensing regulations, he said.

But there are likely ways the town can ease its own buildings codes, to spare providers the overwhelming costs of adapting their spaces to meet requirements for child care.

“We get a lot of people coming into our office hoping, thinking they will open a day care,” Sinclair said. “For every 10 people … maybe two of them make it.”

Councilors unanimously supported the effort to give child care a boost. Councilor Hailey Morton Levinson, who has a young child, equated early childhood education with K-12 education. But the federal government is unlikely to instate universal pre-K anytime soon, she said, leaving the responsibility at the local level.

“It’s on the municipalities and the counties and our local education system to make the difference,” she said.

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