A1 A1
News
New Year's Day shooting suspect tabbed as ‘Detroit’s Most Wanted’

HUNTINGTON — A man wanted in a New Year’s Day shooting that left seven injured in downtown Huntington earlier this month is now “Detroit’s Most Wanted,” according to a Detroit television news station.

In an interview with WXYZ-TV, Detroit’s ABC affiliate news station, Deputy U.S. Marshal Aaron Garcia named Kymonie Desean Davis, 30, the city’s most wanted fugitive.

Davis is the suspect in the Jan. 1 Kulture Hookah Bar shooting that left seven people injured. Huntington Interim Police Chief Ray Cornwell said authorities responded to the call of shots fired about 1:45 a.m. that day in the 1100 block of 4th Avenue to find several victims inside and outside the bar, many of whom were intoxicated. Davis was identified as the shooting suspect shortly after the incident occurred based on witness testimony and video surveillance.

Huntington authorities have been tight-lipped about the investigation, stating the incident was not a random or targeted act and that it was a result of a shooting between individuals. According to Garcia, Davis got into a verbal dispute with a security guard at the bar before he was kicked out. However, he returned a short time later with his hood on and began firing at patrons in the establishment.

The victims were transported by ambulance and private vehicles to area hospitals, where two remained in critical condition in the days after the shooting.

An active Cabell County warrant for Davis charges him with seven counts of wanton endangerment and one count of malicious wounding. He also has active warrants locally for burglary and domestic battery and is wanted for fraud in Illinois with no extradition.

Michigan authorities believe he could be hiding out somewhere in Detroit.

Cornwell said Huntington police have been working with other law enforcement agencies in an effort to secure Davis’ arrest. Cornwell said Davis should be considered armed and dangerous.

“We have identified the primary suspect, charged him and are sharing that information with other law enforcement agencies who can help us by following up on leads outside of our jurisdiction,” he said.

He declined to give other information, citing the ongoing investigation.

Garcia described Davis as standing 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 165 pounds. He goes by the names of “Money” or “Vinewood Money” and has a tattoo on his throat that says “Beast.”

Cornwell previously said multiple law enforcement agencies were investigating possible criminal activity at the bar prior to the shooting. The bar did not have an active liquor license and alcohol should not have been in the facility, state authorities said. Records released via a Freedom of Information Act request by The Herald-Dispatch showed at least eight police responses to the establishment from June to November 2019 for various reasons, most of which were for noise complaints.

Kulture’s co-owner, Charon Reese, had told the appeals board she wanted to open the bar to provide a place for people 25 and older to be together and be away from the college bar crowd. She also said the bar would be a calm location without music blaring on its speakers. However, flyers for the bar advertised the opposite.

Anyone with information about Davis’ location can contact the U.S. Marshals at 313-234-5656 or Huntington Police Department through its anonymous tip line at 304-696-4444.


News
Temperature record shattered in Huntington

HUNTINGTON — Looking out the window, Saturday appeared to be another gloomy winter day in Huntington, but taking one step outside into the late spring-like heat proved otherwise.

The record-setting warm day gave hundreds of area residents a rare chance to hit the parks and walking trails without worrying about bringing a jacket.

However, while the parks were full, Simone Lewis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, was watching a severe line of showers, which hit Huntington at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ending a day of outdoor play for the area.

Before the rain cooled the area off, a nearly 60-year-old temperature record was smashed Saturday. The previous Jan. 11 record of 66 degrees, which had been set in 1963, went away as Saturday’s highs reached 76 by the afternoon. The temperature was about a 50-degree temperature swing from Thursday morning, which reached lows in the 20s.

Friday’s high of 68 degrees in Huntington tied the same temperature reached in 2018. At a high of 71 degrees last year, Charleston set a record Jan. 11, but broke the record again Saturday with a high in the mid-70s.

Lewis said the warm weather was uncommon.

“It’s pretty rare. We have a really strong southern flow that has taken over,” she said. “That’s what’s doing it.”

The unique weather pattern was caused due to a strong low pressure system that moved into the area over the weekend. With the warm air, however, the system brought winds that topped the mid-30 mph mark by Saturday afternoon and were expected to reach the mid-40 mph mark by Saturday night. The system also brought scattered showers, which affected the area Friday and Saturday nights.

While rain stayed away in the morning, wind gusts did not waver and averaged about 35 to 40 mph throughout the morning and afternoon before rising as the showers came.

“If you’re outdoors (Saturday), you do need to be aware that wind gusts could get pretty high,” Lewis said. “That could bring down trees or something similar to that.”

While the showers were expected to bring wind gusts of about 50 mph with them, Lewis said the storms were not as severe as those hitting the south.

Across the South and Midwest, at least 11 people were reported to have died as severe weather swept through the region, bringing high winds and rain with it. Flooding caused roadways to be shut down and high winds moved mobile homes from their foundations, The Associated Press reported.

The warm weather in the Tri-State is expected to last into the new week before tapering off with a high in the low 40s on Thursday.


Special
Hornbuckle misses start of session to save sister's life

HUNTINGTON — When the West Virginia legislative session began Wednesday, one face was missing from the sea of local delegates.

Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, was confined to his bed for the week, per doctors’ orders, as he continues to recover from surgery to donate his kidney to his sister Kara Hornbuckle.

The Huntington delegate said he plans to return to Charleston this week to continue work to ensure quality education for all, support small business and to make West Virginia socially progressive.

“My main concern was being able to help her,” Hornbuckle said. “That was the biggest thing. It’s in my nature to help anyway.”

Hornbuckle ran for office because he wants to help people, but as a friend pointed out to him recently, saving someone’s life is a lot bigger than helping them.

Kara Hornbuckle was diagnosed with diabetes as a preteen, her brother said. At 25, the disease had wreaked enough havoc on her kidneys that she was moving toward kidney failure. For the past 2 1/2 years, she has been on dialysis. At first, she was able to do it at home, but her condition progressed to needing to visit a dialysis center two to three times a week until she was told she needed a transplant.

“Dialysis wears on people,” Sean Hornbuckle said. “You get tired and run down. You’re not able to do the things you are accustomed to. It changes everything up, even from the standpoint of work and being able to work, which messes with you financially. It’s a lot on a person.”

So Sean Hornbuckle started the testing to see if he was a match. Once that was confirmed, he did more testing to ensure he was physically and mentally fit enough to undergo the surgery. Doctors also tested to see if kidney disease was hereditary (the siblings’ mother also is on dialysis), but it was found it was not. That put him at ease, he said.

He also had concerns about his 12-year-old son, his No. 1 priority.

“We had the conversation that if anything were to happen, my son would be taken care of,” he said. “Once I had that, I was ready to do it. In the meantime it had become a more pressing need, and we scheduled it ASAP to ensure she could have quality of life and that she would live.”

The siblings had their surgeries Dec. 19 at the University of Kentucky. It was a success. His sister is now off dialysis and even had a reduction in medications.

Doctors said the surgery is harder on the donor than the recipient. After 12 weeks, Sean Hornbuckle will be able to start physical activity like running again, but it will take a year until he is back to normal — albeit without one kidney.

He will hit the marble floor running when he returns to the Capitol.

He will reintroduce some legislation he believes will promote population growth in the fastest shrinking state in the nation.

“The state is in dire need of population,” Hornbuckle said. “Population would cure a lot of our ills.”

One bill would reduce the state income tax for adults with student loan debt. Another would extend a tax credit to businesses that hire women and people of color to executive positions.

He will also reintroduce a bill to legalize adult recreational cannabis use.

“This time I have bipartisan sponsorship on the bill,” he said. “It aims to use the revenue toward education, different preventative substance abuse measures, infrastructure and back to underserved populations. Lots of good stuff can come out of that legislation. It would help the population and tourism.”

Hornbuckle said he will also continue to focus on education, and ensuring students, teachers and parents are supported, including with mental health services. He also will continue to promote vocational training and other avenues to the workforce, he said.


News
Bankrupt coal company Blackjewel accuses former CEO of fraud

HUNTINGTON — Attorneys for bankrupt coal company Blackjewel LLC and its creditors are asking a federal judge to let them examine the finances of former CEO Jeff Hoops, alleging that he took millions of dollars for personal gain, according to court documents.

In documents filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, lawyers for West Virginia-based Blackjewel said the company was “woefully insolvent” by the time it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July, the Casper Star-Tribune newspaper in Casper, Wyoming, reported.

“This level of insolvency and inevitable bankruptcy filings were the result of a years-long effort by Mr. Hoops to transfer tens of millions of dollars of the Debtors’ assets for his benefit and the benefit of his family and other Hoops-Related Entities,” the filing said.

Hoops said he had been advised by his attorney not to comment on the allegations.

The bankruptcy filing followed by the loss of a crucial creditor shut down operations at Blackjewel’s 32 coal mines in Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

At the time of its bankruptcy filing, Blackjewel owed about $146 million in unpaid taxes and also owed workers unpaid wages and retirement funding.

The vast majority of former Blackjewel workers have not received the full compensation they were promised, according to investigations by Wyoming’s Labor Standards Office. Only 33 workers out of 506 owed money have filed a compensation claim with the state.

Hoops, of Milton, owns the Hoops Family Foundation, which has donated money to Marshall University and Cabell Huntington Hospital. The foundation donated $3 million in 2012 to help create the hospital’s children’s wing, which bears its name.

Hoops and his wife, Patricia, are also converting the old Morris Memorial Hospital in Milton into a 189-acre resort and hotel called The Grand Patrician.