Afternoon Observer | Teacher killed trying to rob drug cartel + McCrory running for Senate in 2022

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Kristen Kornbluth
·4 min read
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Happy Wednesday, Charlotte. Kristen here. Our reporters have been busy these last two weeks, working after hours to bring you the news you need. It was no different last night — the Observer’s Devna Bose reports that CMS will have in-person graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2021, but there will be a limit to how many guests can attend the ceremonies. Learn more here.

Now, let’s talk about today’s other headlines:

1. NC teacher killed trying to rob drug cartel, sheriff says

A popular Union County teacher, Barney Dale Harris, was fatally wounded in a shootout when he and his brother-in-law tried to rob members of a Mexican drug cartel, Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said Wednesday.

The details:

  • Harris taught Spanish and was head coach of the boys’ varsity basketball and track teams at Union Academy Charter School.

  • He was found dead Thursday in the bedroom of an Alamance County mobile home.

  • Johnson calls the home drug “stash house” for a Mexican cartel.

  • He was shot numerous times during what the sheriff described as an “old Western shootout.”

Learn more about the grisly event here with the Observer’s Joe Marusak.

2. McCrory announces bid for US Senate seat in 2022

Former Gov. Pat McCrory on Nov. 1, 2016 at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh.
Former Gov. Pat McCrory on Nov. 1, 2016 at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh.

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is stepping into a new political arena. McCrory, who served one term as the state’s chief executive and 14 years as Charlotte’s mayor, has launched a campaign website announcing his plan to run for North Carolina’s U.S. Senate in 2022. He also made the official announcement on his WBT radio show Wednesday morning.

The stakes are high to fill a open seat in North Carolina, which last had a vacancy in 2008, as reported by Brian Murphy and Théoden Janes.

“I’m in. I’m in. I’m going to run for the U.S. Senate because I’m simply the best for the job,” McCrory said. “Of all the candidates that are considering to run for the U.S. Senate — Republicans and Democrats — I am the best for the job, and if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t run.”

3. Swedish plastics company coming to Charlotte area

A Swedish company that creates plastic compounds destined for auto parts and household interiors is building its North American headquarters in Gastonia, according to a statement from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office. The company, Polykemi AB, is a third-generation family firm started in 1968, as reported by the Observer’s Catherine Muccigrosso.

Here’s what to know so far:

  • The company is investing $11.8 million in the new center.

  • The plant will open at the Gastonia Technology Park — about 1 mile from I-85 in Gastonia.

  • It’s not yet known when the headquarters will open.

4. Atrium opens new center blocks from future med school site

Atrium Health opened its newest Midtown Charlotte development.
Atrium Health opened its newest Midtown Charlotte development.

Atrium Health, Charlotte’s largest hospital system, has opened its latest development in Midtown — less than a mile from the future medical school.

The breakdown, with the Observer’s Hannah Smoot:

  • The more than 400,000 square-foot place cost $228.1 million, according to Atrium.

  • The plaza offers a 13,000-square-foot cardiac rehabilitation and wellness center, along with the Center for Sports Cardiology and a demonstration kitchen.

The hospital system will hold a virtual grand opening at 11 a.m. Saturday.

5. Today’s sports updates

Here’s what’s happening in Charlotte sports today:

  • The Panthers’ offseason schedule is set, as reported by the Observer’s Alaina Getzenberg.

  • The Charlotte Hornets will likely get one of their starters back from injury Wednesday. Here’s more from the Observer’s Rick Bonnell.

  • Charlotte FC matches will be on 3 local TV stations. Here’s how you can watch, from the Observer’s Alex Andrejev.

Find all of our sports coverage here.

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