Fayetteville police are withholding the name of the officer involved in a shooting death two weeks ago. “He will be publicly identified at a time when deemed appropriate based on our internal investigation,” said police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Glass. The officer has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. The State Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the probe. Gary Lee Tierney Sr., 73, of the 1300 block of Pamalee Drive, died after being admitted to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. Tierney fired several shots at police officers who had responded to a complaint March 4. Glass said Tierney was wounded “when he refused to comply with multiple attempts to de-escalate the situation, and eventually fired toward the officers.” Anyone with information regarding the investigation should contact Fayetteville/Cumberland County Crime Stoppers at 910-483-TIPS. Crime Stoppers information can also be submitted electronically at http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org or by downloading the FREE “P3 Tips” app.  

More children are staying in school

The dropout rate among Cumberland County school students continues to decline.  New data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction affirms the work being done to help students overcome the obstacles they face. Cumberland County Schools system’s 2018-2019 dropout rate was 1.67%, down from 2.01% in the 2017-2018 school year, which is below the state average. The school system has reduced its dropout rate for the third consecutive year. 

“We are making tremendous progress,” said CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. “We are very pleased to see our dropout numbers decreasing, but we have more work to do.” 

The state also released data on disciplinary offenses and suspensions. Last year, the number of short-term suspensions decreased to 9,084 from 9,363 the year before. Long-term suspensions increased slightly from 17 to 18. Overall reportable acts committed went down by 6%.

Why are veterans killing themselves?

More veterans die by suicide every two days than were killed in action last year. The suicide epidemic took center stage in Washington, D.C., earlier this month with veteran advocacy groups testifying before the Veterans Affairs Committees of both houses of Congress. 

Jan Brown, head of American Veterans, urged that Congress and the VA reevaluate mental health care. He called the system “horribly broken that ... regardless of billions spent, our suicide numbers haven’t budged an inch.” 

Nearly 20 veterans are dying by suicide every day, about one-and-a-half times as high as the civilian suicide rate, according to the most recent federal statistics. Lawmakers say they are frustrated by the lack of nontraditional approaches to the crisis. Brown praised some of the VA’s suicide prevention services but said there needs to be more attention paid to alternative approaches. 

Craig Bryan, executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies, said easy access to firearms increases the risk. According to the VA, 50% of veterans own guns. “We spend hardly any time talking about the role of firearms,” Bryan said. “The biggest blind spot involves continuing to view suicide only from the lens of mental health.”

 The Veteran Crisis Line is staffed 24 hours a day. The number is 800-273-8255. Select “1” for a Veterans Affairs staffer. 

GenX community forum

March 26, North Carolina Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, and Sen. Kirk deViere, D-Cumberland, will hold a public meeting on the latest research into PFAS and GenX contamination of drinking water supplies in southeastern Cumberland County. The meeting will be at Gray’s Creek High School, 5301 Celebration Dr. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Human Services began investigating the compound known as GenX in the Cape Fear River in June 2017. The Chemours plant near Fayetteville was determined to be the source of the chemical, which was used for industrial product development. The state’s investigation focused on the protection of public health and drinking water. The release into the Cape Fear River of GenX and two other fluorinated compounds has stopped. Water quality is now well within state health goals. State officials say they continue to develop information needed to protect North Carolina’s water quality and public health.

Field of Honor

The Cool Spring Downtown District is partnering with the Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation for the 13th Annual Field of Honor®. Since its inception in 2007, the Field of Honor® has been an annual tradition in downtown Fayetteville. Hundreds of flags will fly on the museum parade ground at 100 Bragg Blvd. Each flag has its own story and displays a tag identifying the person who sponsored the flag and the honoree. The display honors all who are currently serving, those who have served, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Flags may be purchased to honor the memory of a veteran or current service member of any branch for $35 at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum gift shop. An opening ceremony will be held at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 16. Flags will remain up until Friday, July 10.

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