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Jacksonville motel evacuated after maintenance worker finds apparent meth lab

Police are investigating after maintenance workers found a possible methamphetamine lab in a motel.

Guests at the Diamond Inn were evacuated from their rooms for several hours as police investigated.

Oklahoma restaurant fires 12 employees who participated in protest

A maintenance worker told Action News Jax reporter Kevin Clark that he found the paraphernalia inside a corner room near an exit sign on the second floor at the Diamond Inn

“I went in, I noticed some suspicious looking powders in a jar and one was in a Gatorade jug I believe,” Louis Blacknell said.

Diamond Inn has been evacuated. Police say it will be another 3 hours before people can return to their rooms. @ActionNewsJax— Beth Rousseau (@BethANJax) February 19, 2017

He said he saw Gatorade bottles, white powder residue and other ingredients.

The entire inn was cleared out until police deemed the motel safe.

Almost 100 people waited in a parking lot across the street for hours before the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office gave the all-clear.

#Jacksonville motel evacuated after maintenance worker finds apparent meth lab— ActionNewsJax (@ActionNewsJax) February 20, 2017

“I was trying to get my wife and dogs before any explosions or stuff like that happened,” Richard Bailey, who stays in the room downstairs, said.

Motel employees said a man and woman checked into the room for about a week.

Woman removed from home was 'molded to chair'

No one was in the room when the lab was discovered. JSO said no one has been arrested yet.

They said ownership recently hired JSO officers as the motel tries to clean up its image.

“Drugs and prostitution, them days are over here,” Blacknell said.

JSO responding to scene of reported meth lab at Diamond Inn on Ramona Blvd. @ActionNewsJax— Beth Rousseau (@BethANJax) February 19, 2017

Families sift through debris after Jacksonville apartment fire

Families displaced by a fire at a Southside apartment complex returned Sunday and sifted through the debris.

On Saturday night, flames erupted from a building at Bentley Green Apartments.

Joey Soares tells Action News Jax he was inside one of the units with his daughter when the fire started.

"All of a sudden we started hearing people scream outside so I opened the back patio door and it was just a huge ball of white smoke,” he said.

Firefighters say a stove fire spread quickly through several units in the building.

Soares never heard the fire alarm going off.

“I just immediately grabbed my daughter and ran out. I didn’t really think too much until we got out," he recalled.

While Soares and his little girl made it out unscathed, he can’t say the same for their belongings.

Charred debris is all that’s left.

Neighbors describe similar devastation to their apartments and are just as shaken up.

“I broke down crying. It’s so devastating. The whole building is gone. You can look up through the ceiling and see the sky,” Laurie Peace, who also lives in the building, said in describing the scene. 

Despite the damage, people and pets are all OK. The tenants say that’s what matters most.

Father, son killed by each other in head-on collision

A father and son are dead after their trucks collided head-on early Sunday, according to

Alcohol was a factor when Jeffrey Brasher lost control of his truck and hit his son Austin Brasher's pickup around 4:10 a.m., Alabama state troopers said.

>> Read more trending news 

Neither man was wearing a seat belt.

Jeffrey Brasher, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene, investigators said. Austin Brasher, 22, died about five hours later at the University of Alabama hospital in Birmingham.

State troopers continue to investigate.

Against warnings from China, the U.S. Navy sets out for South China Sea

The United States has deployed the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to the South China Sea, the vital trade route and resource-rich waters in which China is building and weaponizing islands to claim as its own, USA Today reports.

The South China Sea hosts some $5.3 billion in trade annually.

According to the Navy, Saturday's deployment encompassed “routine operations” in the South China Sea for the aircraft carrier.

>> Read more trending news 

China doesn't see it that way. Geng Shuang, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, spoke out against the mission.

“China respects and upholds the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea which countries enjoy under international law, but firmly opposes any country’s attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and security in the name of the freedom of navigation and overflight,” the Chinese official said.

The United States has kept an eye on China's moves in the South China Sea but has not formally condoned or opposed them. The Navy has, however, conducted “freedom of navigation” operations to ensure safe passage. Those have been interpreted by China as shows of force, and have often warranted warnings from Beijing. Last year, a Chinese admiral said these moves could lead to “disaster.”

Senior members of the administration have taken hard lines against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea. In his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he’d tell China that “the island-building stops, and, second, your access to those islands is also not going to be allowed.” Though Defense Secretary James Mattis has said freedom of navigation is “absolute,” and that the Navy would “practice in international waters as appropriate,” he has said “at this time” there was no need for action.

Jacksonville homeowner shoots intruder, police say

A Jacksonville homeowner shot a man in the stomach after he found him inside his home on Saturday, officers said.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was called to the 7000 block of Moses Street at approximately 11:30 p.m. after reports that someone was shot.

A homeowner told police he shot a man, who was found several blocks away with a gunshot wound to his stomach.

The man was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition, officers said.

Officers did not say if the homeowner or intruder will face charges.

While we slept someone fired shots through a home and a 7 year-old was hit. Also, a homeowner shot an intruder. #jacksonville— Letisha Bereola (@LetishaANjax) February 19, 2017

Boy, 7, hit by gunfire on McQuade Street in Jacksonville

A 7-year-old boy is recovering after he was grazed by a bullet in Jacksonville.

Police said shots were fired into the little boy’s room in the 2100 block of McQuade Street just after 6 a.m.

“I heard 3 to 4 gunshots,” Darel Love, the boy's uncle, said.

He told Action News Jax that he woke up to shots fired in his house.

“The ceiling started to fall down and glass was a little bit everywhere,” he said.

He said he was fearful for his niece and nephew, who were sleeping upstairs.

“My nephew started screaming,” he said.

Love said he ran upstairs and found Markeith covered in blood.

The 7-year-old boy was sleeping when he was grazed by a bullet in the back.

There were at least four bullet holes in his room.

Police said someone either driving or walking by fired the shots.

Investigators said they don’t know why bullets were fired in the direction of the house.

Love said he doesn't know either.

“Innocent kids, that’s sad,” Bernard Winn said.

Winn and other neighbors said they are frustrated.

“Whoever out there, you better turn yourself in. Please stop the violence,” Winn said.

He and Love said they are thankful the little boy wasn’t seriously hurt.

“We are blessed and happy that he’s okay,” Love said.

Police don’t have a description of the person who fired the shots at this time, officials said.

You can see the bullet hole that grazed a 7yo boy this morning. He's now at the hospital. Shooter on the run.— Amber Krycka (@AmberANjax) February 19, 2017 RIGHT NOW: police say a 7-year-old boy was grazed by a bullet in his house. He's at hospital. Shooter on the run.— Amber Krycka (@AmberANjax) February 19, 2017 While we slept someone fired shots through a home and a 7 year-old was hit. Also, a homeowner shot an intruder. #jacksonville— Letisha Bereola (@LetishaANjax) February 19, 2017

Melania Trump stepping up as first lady at Florida rally

First lady Melania Trump, in one of her few public appearances since her husband took office, appeared by his side at a campaign-style rally this weekend in Melbourne, Florida.

Wearing a bright red dress, the first lady spoke before her husband, leading the crowd in the Lord’s Prayer before launching into a short introduction of the president.

>> Read more trending news 

 Mrs. Trump pledged to remain “truthful, no matter what the opposition is saying about me” and to work on behalf of women and children.

“I’m committed to creating and supporting initiatives dear to my heart, which will have impact on women and children all around the world,” she said.

So far Trump has not made public any specific initiatives as first lady, although she did reopen the White House visitor center and announce the decision to keep Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden.

She also made a passing reference to the ongoing protests over her husband’s presidency and his initiatives so far.

“The America that we envision is one that works for all Americans and where all Americans can work and succeed, a nation committed to a greater civility and unity between people from all sides of the political divide,” she said.

The first lady has not moved to Washington. She is remaining in New York until the Trumps’ 10-year-old son finishes out the school term.

Melania Trump: 'Honor' to Stand Before YouFirst lady Melania Trump introduces Pres. Donald J. Trump at Florida campaign-style rally: "The America we envision is one...committed to a greater civility and unity between people." by ABC News on Saturday, February 18, 2017


Murray Hill mural

Report: Crashes on Jacksonville highways are increasing at alarming rate

Is it the road construction?

The traffic shifts?

More distracted drivers?

More drivers, period?

All of the above?

Whatever the reasons, one thing is undeniable. Jacksonville's highways are seeing a major increase in accidents.

A special WOKV News investigation has highlighted that growing trend on Interstates 10, 95 and 295 in Duval County.

Now new data gathered from the Florida Highway Patrol over the past two years shows just how much of a problem it's become.

There's a 24 percent pump in overall accidents on all three roads in 2016 compared to 2015. Just in sheer numbers, there were nearly 1,300 more accidents in 2016.

The one interstate that's seen the most accidents is I-95, especially recently. In the last four months of 2016, there's been a 43 percent rise in accidents on that road compared to the same time period in 2015.

Flies and temperature abuse plague restaurants

A @WOKVNews special investigation shows how accident numbers have grown on I-10 in #Duval. @ActionNewsJax #Jax— Robert Alonso (@RAlonsoWOKV) February 17, 2017

When the numbers for the first eight months of the year are added and then compared to the data from the year before, it shows a 30 percent accident increase overall on I-95 between St. Johns and Nassau counties.

While not as large of an increase as I-95, I-295 (23 percent) and I-10 (14 percent) also showed significant jumps in overall accidents over the past year compared to the years before.

16 fatal accidents were reported on all three interstates in Duval County just in the last four months of 2016. That's nearly double the amount reported during the same period the year before (9).

Plot graphs showing every accident on those three interstates over the last four months of 2016 show an increase in accidents around areas of construction, including the JTB-95 interchange and the Overland Bridge project.

FHP Sergeant Dylan Bryan says construction and traffic shifts likely are playing a role in the increase, but he also feels most of these accidents are preventable if drivers pay more attention and don't get as distracted.

"The metro Jacksonville area is a very popular place, not only to visit but also to go through," Bryan added. "I'm not going to say that the construction causes crashes. However, I will say that the drivers that are traversing through the areas of construction may not be aware of the pending hazards that are ahead [such as] lane shifts, lane closures, narrow roadways, lane clearances, that kind of thing."

Duval teacher's license suspended; accused of pulling chairs from under students

A @WOKVNews special investigation shows how accident numbers have grown on I-10 in #Duval. @ActionNewsJax #Jax— Robert Alonso (@RAlonsoWOKV) February 17, 2017

Bryan also attributed the rise in part to more drivers using FHP's website to self-report traffic crashes and to more drivers overall using Jacksonville's roads.

"The increases could be attributed to a lot of different factors," Bryan noted. "As part of our new 'Arrive Alive' campaign, we're basically taking all this data and kind of utilizing 'hot spot' areas where we see an increase in traffic crashes or congestion and we're reallocating resources [to focus on those areas more]."

The hope is that increased presence by FHP in those "hot spots" will lead to more drivers exercising caution, thus leading to a drop in accidents moving forward.

Officials at the Florida Department of Transportation deferred all comment on the story to FHP, including how much change there might be on how construction projects and traffic shifts are scheduled moving forward based on these increases.

Your smart TV may be spying on you: Here’s how to stop it

If you have a Vizio smart TV, your viewing history may have been collected without your knowledge.

The company has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges by the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General.

>> Read more trending news 

Vizio was charged with installing software on its TVs to collect viewing data on 11 million consumers.

Beginning in 2014, the FTC alleges that Vizio made TVs that automatically tracked what people were watching and even installed tracking software remotely on older models.

Examples of viewing data collected include the identity of your broadcast, cable or satellite television provider, television programs and commercials viewed and unique identifiers about your TV, including the IP address

Vizio then sold the data it gathered on consumers to advertisers and other groups, the FTC said.

Prior to the resolution with the FTC, Vizio said it began sending onscreen notifications to inform users about viewing data collection, reminding them of the choice to opt out.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here 

To settle the case, Vizio agreed to stop unauthorized tracking, prominently disclose its TV viewing collection practices, get consumers’ express consent before collecting and sharing viewing information, delete data collected before March 2016, and put a privacy program in place that evaluates Vizio’s practices.

To make sure that your Vizio smart TV isn’t spying on you, you’ll need to go to your settings and turn off “Smart Interactivity.” 

For non-Vizio TV sets, which may also be spying on you, check your menu settings to turn off the tracking feature.

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