Partly Cloudy
H 92° L 77°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 92° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    Partly Cloudy. H 92° L 77°
  • cloudy-day
    Partly Cloudy. H 93° L 76°

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00


The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00


The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Student held in Alabama school shooting that killed 17-year-old girl

Student held in Alabama school shooting that killed 17-year-old girl

Student In Custody In Alleged Alabama School Shooting That Killed 17-Year-Old Girl

Student held in Alabama school shooting that killed 17-year-old girl

A 17-year-old student has been taken into custody in connection with a Wednesday afternoon shooting at an Alabama high school that left one girl dead. 

Birmingham police officials have not named the student, but they issued a statement Thursday morning that gave scant information on the investigation into the shooting at Huffman High School that left Courtlin La’shawn Arrington, also 17, dead. 

“Detectives of the Birmingham Police Department have been working through the night reviewing evidence, video and statements on the tragic incident that took place at Huffman High School yesterday,” read the statement, obtained by AL.com. “Due to their diligent work, a person of interest has been taken into custody.”

The shooting took place around 3:45 p.m., during afternoon dismissal. Arrington, who AL.com reported received CPR at the scene, was taken to UAB Hospital, where she was pronounced dead about 30 minutes later. 

Charges are pending a review by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, the statement read. Because no charges have been filed, the department will not release information on the person in custody.

AL.com reported that, although police officials initially reported that the shooting appeared to be accidental, that classification came into question when it was discovered that the shooting was caught on video.

The video led investigators to pursue charges against the student, a boy who suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg in the incident, AL.com said. He was treated and released from an emergency room before being taken in for questioning. 

Arrington, who was due to graduate in two months, planned to study nursing. Her Facebook page includes an introduction that reads, “SEN18R. Dream come true, gotta chase it. Future RN.”

Her last photo that she posted of herself appeared to be taken in the hallway of the school. It was posted the day before she was killed. 

Her photos also include images of her wearing scrubs. 

During a news conference held inside the school Wednesday night, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin spoke of the grief of losing a girl with a bright future. 

“I know that there’s an active investigation going on, but I just want to remind all of us we lost a person today, and not just a person, a student,” Woodfin said. “But I’m quickly reminded this is not just a student, this is someone’s daughter. Someone’s niece. Someone’s best friend. Someone’s granddaughter we lost. 

“This is a 17-year-old who, 30 days from now, would be 18. A graduating senior who had been accepted into college already, who had aspirations and dreams to be a nurse. So, we’re not just talking about some person. We’re talking about losing a part of our future. And our hearts are heavy.”

Birmingham police Chief Orlando Wilson offered condolences to the families of both teens, who at the time of the news conference were both classified as victims. 

“We have an ongoing investigation. With that investigation, we are going to sort out the information as it comes,” Wilson said. “Wherever (that information) takes us, then we’ll act accordingly. Right now, we have a lot of unanswered questions.”

Wilson choked up when asked about the task of telling a parent that their child was killed at school, where students are supposed to be safe. 

“The best I can say is that’s a hard one, and we had to do it,” Wilson said after pausing to collect his thoughts. “It has been done. That parent now knows what happened to their child.”

He paused again before shaking his head.

“I don’t know how you tell a parent,” Wilson said. 

Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Lisa Herring spoke about losing two of the city’s students, Arrington to her wounds and the other teen to the consequences of the shooting. 

“Our goal is to reassure our parents that, as much as we can, we’ll work to keep our schools safe,” Herring said. “But our hearts and our minds are on the families tonight.”

Herring questioned how school district officials can reassure parents, faculty and students that a school is safe following a shooting inside its walls, but said she and her staff would work to do so every day, including heightening security at Huffman and the city’s other 40-plus public schools. 

She also praised the response of Huffman’s administrators, faculty and staff. 

“Our principal and the staff here at Huffman High School, for as much as they have been able to tackle a very difficult day, have done an exceptional job of trying to provide care and concern for those who were in the building and those who exited out,” Herring said.  

>> Read more trending news

Though Herring initially said that the school would be open Thursday, and that a crisis team would be on hand to help students and staff through the day, district officials announced just before midnight that the school would be closed instead. 

“The magnitude of this event causes us to pause. I have decided to close Huffman High School tomorrow for students and staff,” Herring said in a statement. “This delay will provide us an opportunity to provide a thorough safety sweep of the school. This will also allow us to coordinate with organizations in the community to provide counseling support to both students and staff. 

“During this time, we will continue to collaborate with the chief of police and the Birmingham Police Department to implement additional safety precautions and provide additional police presence at the school when students return. We want to assure our parents, students, staff and community that safety and security are a top priority for Birmingham City Schools.”

Woodfin also ordered the flags at city facilities be flown at half-staff in mourning. 

The mayor said during Wednesday night’s news conference that it is important the public mourn with Arrington’s family and wrap its collective arms around the Huffman High School community. 

“The Birmingham City Schools system and our entire Birmingham community is in mourning and grief right now,” Woodfin said. 

Read More

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • A Colorado man who for days pleaded publicly for the return of his pregnant wife and two young daughters has been arrested and charged with killing them, police said.  Christopher Lee Watts, 33, of Frederick, was arrested just after 11 p.m. Wednesday night in connection with the slayings of his wife, Shanann Watts, and their two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. Shanann Watts, 34, was about 15 weeks pregnant. Bella Watts was days away from starting kindergarten.  John Camper, director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said during a media briefing Thursday afternoon that investigators were “quite certain” the body of Shanann Watts has been recovered. “We have strong reason to believe we know where the bodies of the children are, and recovery efforts are in process on that,” Camper said.  “This is absolutely the worst possible outcome that any of us could imagine. I think our hearts are broken for the town of Fredrick as much as anybody’s.” Chris Watts is being held in the Weld County Jail pending formal charges, Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said during the briefing. 9News in Denver reported earlier Thursday that Chris Watts faces three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with physical evidence. >> Related story: Report: Man with NC ties confesses to killing wife, 2 daughters in Colorado Fredrick police officials said they received a call just before 2 p.m. Monday reporting Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts missing. The report was made by a friend who went to the family’s home in the Wyndham Hill subdivision and found no sign of Shanann or the girls.  Chris Watts said in an interview Tuesday with 9News that he saw the woman at the front door, via the home’s doorbell camera, and realized his family was missing.  “I said, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ And she said, ‘I can’t get ahold of Shanann,’” Watts said. “That’s when I was just, like, ‘OK, something’s not right.’” He said he, too, had been unable to reach his wife via phone or text message. See Chris Watts’ entire interview with 9News below. Shanann Watts’ vehicle, as well as her purse and medication for the children, were all still at the house, authorities said. Police on Tuesday upgraded the missing persons report to an “Endangered Missing Alert” because of the potential medical concerns with the children.   Investigators conducted multiple interviews and officers canvassed the family’s neighborhood for witnesses and clues. News of the missing mother and daughters soon went national, and Watts did his interview with 9News on Tuesday, in which he described his family’s disappearance as “earth-shattering.”  “I don’t feel like this is even real right now. It’s like a nightmare that I just can’t wake up from,” Watts told a reporter. Watts spoke in loving terms of his daughters.  “Celeste, she’s just a bottle of energy,” he said. “I call her ‘Rampage’ because she's got two speeds: go, or she’s sleeping. She’s always the troublemaker, she’s always the one, like, jumping off things. Bella, she’s the more calm, cautious, mothering type, and she’s more like me -- she’s more calm. Celeste has definitely got her mom’s personality, where she’s all gung-ho, ready to go.” The young father also addressed those who might think he had a hand in his family’s disappearance. “Everybody’s going to have their own opinion on anything like this,” Watts said. “I just want people to know that I want my family back. I want them safe and I want them here. This house is not the same.” Less than 24 hours later, Watts was in custody. A law enforcement source told 9News that Watts confessed to killing his wife and children.  No motive has been established, though The Denver Post reported the couple had serious financial problems over the years. They filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in July 2015, citing liabilities of more than $400,000.  The Wyndham Hill Master Association filed a civil claim against the couple last month, but details of that claim were not immediately available, according to the Post.  >> Read more trending news Shanann Watts wrote on social media about the trips and vacations she had earned for her family through Le-Vel, a health and wellness company that sells nutritional products. The Post reported that Watts’ position with the company appeared to have rejuvenated the family’s finances.  “We have qualified for so many amazing trips in two years that we never otherwise would have been able to visit,” she wrote about trips to New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Diego, Toronto, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.  Chris Watts worked for Anadarko Petroleum Co., according to bankruptcy records.  Le-Vel officials wrote on Facebook Thursday morning that their hearts were broken for Shanann Watts and her daughters.  “Shanann was an amazing woman, mother, friend, and overall person,” the statement read. “She lit up every room and was a joy to be around. Our love, prayers, and support go out during this devastating time to her family, friends, and to all Thrivers who had the great fortune of knowing Shanann and her two beautiful daughters.” Shanann Watts’ brother, Frankie Rzucek, wrote that he just wants to know why his sister and nieces died.  “My precious family, my one and only sibling, my sister Shanann, two adorable nieces, Bella and Celeste, and her soon-to-be-found-out unborn son, Niko,” Rzucek wrote. “I just want 30 seconds alone with that heartless psychopath. May Satan have mercy on his soul.” Some of the more poignant social media posts come from the Facebook page of Shanann Watts herself. In a post that included a photo of one of her girls playing at the beach, the young mother wrote of her fears of letting her daughter out into the world.  “The world is a scary place,” Shanann Watts wrote on Aug. 4, just over a week before their disappearances. “I will do everything in my power to teach her right and to protect her, advocate, stand up for her and defend her. I pray every day that she never feels any less than the rest of the world. I pray that she’s protected when I’m not around to protect her.  “Nothing or no one will stop me.”
  • With Florida's Primary Election Day quickly approaching, WOKV is breaking down everything you need to know ahead of August 28th. VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE:  In order to vote in the primaries, the Florida Division of Election says you needed to register to vote ahead of the July 30, 2018, deadline. If you missed that, you can register to vote between now and October 9, 2018, in order to vote in the General Election on November 6th.  SAMPLE BALLOTS:  Florida is a closed primary election state-- meaning only voters who are registered members of a political party can vote for that party's candidates or nominees. That means your sample ballot will vary, depending on which political party you're registered in. Ballots will also vary by county.  You can access sample ballots, by visiting the Supervisor of Elections website for your specific county. Links are posted below: Baker County Clay County Duval County Nassau County St. Johns County Sample ballots have also been mailed out. WHAT TO BRING: In order to cast your ballot, you’ll need to bring a photo and signature ID. This can include a Florida Driver’s License, Florida ID, a US passport, a military ID, a student ID, among other options. You can read more about ID requirements HERE. If you fail to bring proper identification, you will be issued a provisional ballot. HOW TO FIND YOUR PRECINCT Baker County voters, click HERE Clay County voters, click HERE Duval County, click HERE Nassau County, click HERE St. Johns County, click HERE EARLY VOTING DATES: Baker County  August 16, 2018 - August 25, 2018  Clay County  August 18, 2018 - August 25, 2018  Duval County August 13, 2018- August 26, 2018 Nassau County  August 17, 2018 - August 25, 2018  St. Johns County  August 18, 2018 - August 25, 2018
  • If you want to avoid the crowd on Florida's Primary Election Day, early voting kicks off on Monday in Duval County.  According to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections website, early voting for Duval County residents will begin Monday, August 13th, and run through Sunday, August 26th.  The county will be opening 18 early voting sites 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM each of the days:  The Supervisor of Elections Main Office will also be open, but the hours run 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sundays are from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  For early voting you will need to present a photo and signature ID. If you don't have an acceptable ID, you will be issued a provisional ballot.  To find a sample ballot, click HERE. Florida's Primary Election Day is August 28th.  Early voting dates for other Northeast Florida counties:  Baker County  August 16, 2018 - August 25, 2018  Clay County  August 18, 2018 - August 25, 2018  Nassau County  August 17, 2018 - August 25, 2018  St. Johns County  August 18, 2018 - August 25, 2018
  • Jacksonville Public Library needs your help to secure $25,000 worth of children’s books for our city.  JetBlue is giving out that prize, and a reading room makeover, to one of its destination cities. Right now, Jacksonville is in the lead, but Cleveland is a strong second, and voting continues through the end of the month.  Voting is unlimited, through the JetBlue Soar with Reading/Book With Us contest website. 16 cities are in the running, as finalists. Share this post on Facebook to help spread the word! 
  • As Jacksonville’s public library system sees the possibility of expanded hours and real movement on adding a new location, they’re keeping focus on how to make the most of the City’s money, and how to make sure you are safe. The $1.2 billion City budget proposal from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry includes expanded hours for Jacksonville Public Library. The decision was immediately cheered by supporters and some on the City Council- including one literally cheering the announcement as the Mayor unveiled the plan. The proposal must still be approved by the City Council.  WOKV has learned the expansion would add a day at nine of the systems 21 locations, which means all of the City’s Branch libraries would be open six days a week, excluding Sundays. In addition to the five days a week they’re already open, Argyle Branch, Beaches Branch, Murray Hill Branch, San Marco Branch, South Mandarin Branch, West Branch, and Willowbranch Branch would all now be open Mondays; and Mandarin Branch and Maxville Branch would be open Fridays.  “We do see this as a huge step up for services for all of Jacksonville, but certainly for the nine communities that will be affected by the change,” says Jacksonville Public Library Director Tim Rogers.  JPL’s other branch libraries- Bradham and Brooks Branch, Brentwood Branch, Brown Eastside Branch, Dallas Graham Branch, Regency Square Branch, University Park Branch, and Westbrook Branch- are already open six days a week. The Regional libraries- the Main Library in Downtown, Highlands Regional, Pablo Creek Regional, Southeast Regional, and Charles Webb Wesconnett Regional- are open seven days a week  The expanded hours would also mean JPL would hire 13 additional employees, bringing their cap up to 310 people, according to the budget proposal.  Rogers says the expanded hours are important not only for people who rely on library computers, internet, and meeting space, but to JPL’s ability to compete for certain grant funding. He says they host literacy and afterschool programs, but when they seek money for those programs, they are a lower priority than systems that offer programming every week day.  “Public library service- the vast majority of that- should always come from the public dollar. But I think, to enhance the services that we can offer and certainly to try out new services, we want to use whatever means and mechanisms we can to fund those things in a future facing way,” he says.  Whatever you use the library for, Rogers wants you to fee safe. They recently hired a Safety and Security Manager, as they strive to create “Community Safe Learning Zones”, where you don’t have to question your personal safety, your data integrity, your property security, and other factors.  “The library is a really clean, safe, and secure environment within the community that we want folks to feel comfortable visiting,” he says.  To that end, they recently started piloting a program where, instead of relying only on contracted security, they staff a uniformed Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officer at two libraries many afternoons. The officer interacts with people in the library, checks around it outside, and parks his or her car near the front to show there is a presence at the location. This pilot started at Bradham and Brooks on May 21st and at Brown Eastside on July 16th.  “We want to show that this is a safe place,” Rogers says.  While the program is early on, Rogers says they’ve already seen success not only in deterring incidents at the libraries, but in boosting relations between officers and library patrons. He says this setting provides the officers a way to directly interact with children and community members in a non-threatening environment, which they believe will have a positive impact in the community.  They’re hoping to expand this pilot in to two or three other locations- potentially including Dallas Graham and Charles Webb Wesconnett- in the upcoming fiscal year, based on the number of incidents taking place at and around the libraries. Rogers says they’ve already identified funds within their budget that could be shifted to accomplish this expansion, so they did not request any additional funding for it.  Another area where they are not getting additional funding, but Rogers is nonetheless cheering, is in materials. The budget proposal shows the funding for that flat, at almost $3.8 million. But, Rogers says $850,000 of their materials funding has been non-recurring until now, meaning they’ve had to ask to secure it each year. He says Curry’s budget proposal moves that to a recurring line, which will keep the funding going in future years.  Instead of asking for more, Rogers says they’re looking at how to get the most return for each dollar.  To do that, Rogers say they’re forming a “Data Analytics Unit” on how resources can best be spent to meet community needs, and how people are using the libraries. Rogers says eBook usage continues to climb, as an example, so they are considering how to meet the needs of patrons who want to go beyond traditional books. By doing that, he expects they will not only have satisfied customers, but be able to stretch funding even further.  Another study-driven component the library is pursuing is an examination of four urban core libraries, to see how they can be moved in to the 21st century. The Mayor’s Capital Improvement Program- which is put forward in conjunction with the budget- asks for $330,000 to determine how to bring the same level of service that newer libraries have, to some of the City’s older branches. The focus of the study is Brentwood, Brown Eastside, Dallas Graham, and Westbook.  “The report will define changes needed to enable the libraries in these neighborhoods to deepen their reach as community anchor institutions, jumpstarting redevelopment, acting as economic catalysts, and enhancing the quality of life for residents of all ages. The study will provide a path to design technologically advanced libraries that will help bridge the digital divide and ensure that all students, workers and business owners- regardless of ZIP code- have an equal opportunity for educational and economic success,” the CIP says.  This budget proposal also sets the stage for a brand new location in Oceanway. The CIP proposes borrowing $2.5 million in the upcoming fiscal year, to be used to conduct design and acquire land for the branch, although the exact location is not clear.  “That’s a community that has long wanted a library. We definitely are seeing a lot of growth up there, so that’s certainly a great add for the library,” Rogers says.  The CIP says it’s believed about 300,000 visits would take place at that library each year. The proposal says the funding is being requested this year “while good locations for a library remain available”. The total proposal for the project is listed in the CIP as around $11.85 million, and the anticipated operating costs would be around $1.3 million annually, including to staff 21 employees. Those costs are not being clearly committed at this time, however, only the funding for the land acquisition and design.  Neither the urban core study nor the Oceanway branch will be quick, but Rogers says they’re incredibly important.  “That’s our investment in the future for Jacksonville Public Library,” he says.  The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee will spend the next few weeks vetting and debating the Mayor’s budget proposal and CIP, before passing a final version of both ahead of the start of the fiscal year October 1st. WOKV continues to work through the budget proposal and will bring you updates as we learn more about how your tax dollars are being spent.

The Latest News Videos