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From Lynchburg Police: The Lynchburg Police Department is investigating a malicious wounding that occurred this afternoon.

On May 23, 2020 before 4:00 p.m., a juvenile male arrived at Lynchburg General Hospital with a gunshot wound that he reportedly received on D Street near Norwood Street. The gunshot wound is considered non-life threatening at this time. The LPD has not responded to any shots fired calls this afternoon.

This is an ongoing investigation. Any additional information will be released as an update to this news release.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Det. S. Bond at (434) 455-6161 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 798-5900. Enter a tip online at http://p3tips.com or use the P3 app on a mobile device.

The City of Lynchburg has closed the Percival’s Island urban trail and the beach because of a safety concern with the rising James River due to the recent excessive rainfall. Both will remain closed until further notice. The Department of Parks and Recreation is also recommending people exercise caution while using other urban trails throughout the city as creeks may also be overflowing their banks.

The City is also cautioning people who may want to use the river this weekend for recreation that the water is fast moving and can be extremely dangerous. This condition is expected to remain treacherous over the next several days. Please exercise extreme caution.

NEWS RELEASE: ROANOKE, Va., May 21, 2020 – Appalachian Power, operator of the Smith Mountain Project hydroelectric facility in southwest Virginia, is advising property owners and visitors that the Smith Mountain Reservoir will exceed its full pond level by three feet Friday morning.

Normal full pond level at Smith Mountain Lake is 795 feet. The project’s lower reservoir, Leesville Lake, has a full pond level of 613 feet.

Based on updated river predictions from the National Weather Service and continued rainfall, Smith Mountain reservoir will reach an elevation of 798 feet, or three feet above full pond. Allowing the reservoir to exceed full pond will assist in preventing additional flooding downstream.

The new anticipated pond level is typically one foot above the height of a stationary dock. Property owners are encouraged to remove unsecured items from the lower levels of their docks and relocate any items along the shoreline. Shoreline property owners should also secure water craft and floating docks and take caution when walking on docks.

Current lake levels and inflow/discharge information is available anytime at www.aep.com/recreation/hydro. The project website is www.SmithMountainProject.com

Smith Mountain Project is a 636-megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility on the Roanoke River that utilizes an upper reservoir (Smith Mountain Lake) and a lower reservoir (Leesville Lake). Combined, the project includes about 600 miles of shoreline. Water stored in Smith Mountain Lake first passes through turbine-generators in the powerhouse to produce electricity and is discharged into Leesville Lake. From there some water is released through the Leesville Dam or pumped back into Smith Mountain. The project is operated by Appalachian Power.

NEWS RELEASE: LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Lynchburg Police Department is investigating after a crash on Wards Ferry Road this afternoon that sent five people to the hospital.

On May 20, 2020 at 12:01 p.m., officers responded to the 1900-block of Wards Ferry Road for a report of a motor vehicle crash involving two vehicles.

When officers arrived, they located the vehicles and the Lynchburg Fire Department extricated individuals from one vehicle. As a result of the crash, two individuals were taken to Lynchburg General Hospital with serious injuries and three individuals were taken to Lynchburg General Hospital with minor injuries.

This is an ongoing investigation. Any additional information will be released as an update to this news release.

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call Officer N. Hertzog at (434) 455-6047.

According to numbers released this morning by the Virginia Department of Health, there are 763 new coronavirus cases statewide, bringing the overall total to 32,908. Over the same 24-hour period, health officials report there were 33 new coronavirus related deaths bringing the total number of dead statewide to 1,074.

Of particular local note, there are no new cases of coronavirus in the Lynchburg region. The VDH reports 75 confirmed or probable cases in Lynchburg, 25 in Amherst County, 24 in Appomattox County, 41 in Bedford County, and 13 in Campbell County for a total of 178.

The VDH is reporting one additional case in the Lynchburg region, that case was reported in Lynchburg City bringing the overall case count there to 75. Numbers from the four surrounding counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell remain unchanged.

The VDH is reporting there are 1,005 new coronavirus cases statewide bringing the commonwealth’s overall case count to 32,145. State health officials are also reporting over a 24 hour period, there were 27 new coronavirus related deaths bringing the overall number of dead in Virginia to 1,041

According to the latest numbers from the VDH, there are 752 new coronavirus cases bringing the statewide total to 31,140. State officials are reporting over a 24- hour period the number of people who have died as the result of coronavirus related symptoms has increased by 5, bringing to total number deaths across the state to 1,014.

Starting today, WLNI will also present daily numbers for Lynchburg and the four surrounding counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford and Campbell. The Department of Health reports a total of 178 confirmed or likely cases and six deaths in the Lynchburg region.

Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison has determined there were sufficient legal grounds to pursue trespassing charges against two journalists who worked on a story at Liberty University — but the case will not be prosecuted after Liberty President Jerry Falwell, Junior. University Police had filed arrest misdemeanor trespassing warrants against a New York Times photographer and a ProPublica reporter. Harrison said the journalists’ actions met the requirements to be prosecuted, but made the decision not to prosecute after “consultation and agreement” with Liberty President Jerry Falwell, Jr.

NEWS RELEASE:

On March 23, 2020, Liberty University (LU), a private institution in Lynchburg, VA, placed 20 temporary “no trespassing” signs sized 18” x 24” at the main entrances of its camp us. On March 24, 2020, LU placed copies of these same signs at off campus locations in the City of Lynchburg. The signs read “Liberty University Campus, Open ONLY to Students, Employees, & Those
Conducting University Business, Until Further Notice, NO TRESPASSING.” As part of their efforts to keep students safe, the university placed these signs in order to enforce the closure of campus and to limit the presence of unnecessary parties on campus during the state of emergency due to COVID-19.
On March 25, 2020, Stefan “Alec” MacGillis, a politics and government reporter for ProPublica, came onto LU’s campus. He took photographs and interviewed students. On March 26, 2020 MacGillis’ observations of the university and photographs were published by ProPublica. One of the photographs credited to MacGillis depicted a seat found inside a campus building with a sign
that read “Stop, Closed for Social Distancing.” On March 27, 2020, a LU student met Julia Rendleman, a freelance photojournalist, on campus. The student guided Rendleman around campus and posed for a picture in front of a university
building. The student reported he was unaware of the posted no trespassing signs. On March 29, 2020, photos credited to Rendleman were published in a New York Time s article. The photographs clearly depict areas of LU’s campus including a seating area inside of a university building that was taped off to prevent congregations of students or other persons.
On April 6, 2020, Detective Sergeant Alan Wilkins with the Liberty University Police Department sought and obtained warrants for Rendleman and MacGillis for 1 count of trespassing each in violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-119. The code provides in relevant part:  [i]f any person without authority of law goes upon or remains upon the lands, buildings or premises of another, or any portion or area thereof, after having been forbidden to do so, either orally or in writing, by the owner, lessee, custodian, or the agent of any such person, or other person lawfully in charge thereof, or after having been forbidden to do so by a sign or signs posted by or at the direction of such persons or the agent of any such person or by the holder of any easement or other right-of-way authorized by the instrument creating such interest to post such signs on such lands, structures, premises or portion or area thereof at a place or places where it or they may be reasonably seen…he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Given these facts and the law, Bethany Harrison, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Lynchburg, has concluded that Rendleman and MacGillis’ actions meet the statutory requirements of proof to support a charge of criminal trespass. However, after consultation and agreement with Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr.,  she elects not to pursue criminal prosecution and penalties against these journalists.
Rendleman and MacGillis issued statements to Mrs. Harrison through their legal counsel. Rendleman stated: Ms. Rendleman had been to Liberty University’s campus before to photograph Jerry Falwell, Jr. and was not aware that the University had changed any policies regarding campus access. It was later brought to Ms. Rendleman’s attention that Liberty University had posted signs restricting access to campus staff, students, and those conducting business with the university. Ms. Rendleman apologizes for the misunderstanding and for any concern caused by her presence on campus. Had she been aware of the new policies before arriving on campus that day, she would have requested to meet with the student at an off-campus location.
MacGillis’ statement read: On March 25, 2020, journalist Alec MacGillis went to Liberty University’s campus to report on a newsworthy story related to the health of the public and of university students, which involved assessing the situation on campus and seeking comment from university officials. Mr. MacGillis believed he had the right to report there based on a prior
conversation with the university president inviting him to campus and because such reporting constituted business with the university. Mr. MacGillis now understands that Liberty believes he should not have been on campus in light of newly posted signs
restricting certain access, and that it is the university’s position that for the duration of the public health emergency and while these signs remain posted, all news media are restricted from entry on campus without express invitation. Mr. MacGillis further understands that the university police have said that Mr. MacGillis is restricted from university property, events, and activities. Mr. MacGillis has enjoyed his time in Lynchburg over the years, and hopes to return to the city soon.
Julia Rendleman is represented by Lynchburg attorney Chuck Felmlee. Alec MacGillis is represented by Edward Ungvarsky of Alexandria, Virginia. The Commonwealth’s Attorney will move to nolle prosequi, or dismiss without prejudice, the charge against Rendleman. MacGillis had not yet been served with a warrant; therefore, the Commonwealth’s Attorney will recall his warrant.

According to numbers released this morning by the VDH, there are 859  new coronavirus cases bringing the statewide total to 28,672. Over the same 24-hour period the number of deaths trended downward for a fourth straight day, with 22 new COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the overall number of dead to 977.

VDH is reporting a second straight day of increased coronavirus case counts in Virginia, with 1,067 new cases reported as of this morning for a statewide total of  27,813.  Over that same 24-hr period the number of deaths trended downward for a third straight day, with 28 reported bringing the total number of dead to 955.

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