News in 5: Eastern State Hospital escapee taken into custody in James City County

Plus: Uptown Alley is one step closer to moving into the former Yankee Candle site in Williamsburg, WRL is planning to relocate to a new building and 8 firefighters were injured in a Hampton blaze.

Good morning!

We’re starting our day off with another gloomy morning. Nonetheless, today will be the warmest day of the week, with highs warming to around 70.

A cold front will move in overnight, and the end of our workweek will be noticeably cooler and windier, according to Myles Henderson of WTKR News 3. We’ll also have to keep an eye out for the possibility of rain on Monday (Halloween).

Now to the news.

-Christin

1. A man who escaped Eastern State Hospital was found in James City County and taken into custody.

  • A man who escaped from Eastern State Hospital early Monday morning was arrested Tuesday afternoon and is now in custody. Michael Lee Corey Malone, 32, was apprehended by James City County Police at the Wawa on Richmond Road. Officials say the man was going by the name Christopher Feagin, one of his many aliases.
    • A cashier at the Wawa told 13NewsNow Malone walked in and asked for money, and she recognized him as the person police were looking for. She notified her managers, who immediately called James City Police.
    • Malone was detained without incident and taken to Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail, according to the Virginia State Police. He’s now being processed on a felony warrant for escaping the hospital.
  • According to Virginia State Police, Malone escaped from Eastern State Hospital around 1:40 am Monday. An emergency alert was issued at the nearby College of William & Mary soon after. Students were advised not to approach the man as he was considered dangerous and may have been armed. Search efforts were conducted throughout the night and on Tuesday. The U.S Marshals Service, James City County Police and Virginia State Police collaborated in the effort.
  • Malone has a long history of run-ins with the law, according to Virginia Beach court records. He’s been charged multiple times with possession of a deadly weapon while under incarceration, but prosecutors ultimately dropped those charges.
    • Other charges on Malone’s record include grand larceny, destruction of property and assault of a law enforcement officer.
  • The investigation into the incident remains ongoing, and few details about the man’s escape have been available so far. Malone was initially arrested in August by City of Virginia Beach Police and has ties to Lexington, S.C, state police say.
  • Malone is the third person to escape Eastern State Hospital this year. In April, two other men escaped after damaging the interior wall of the facility. Both men were later found – one in Chesapeake and the other in Norfolk – and then taken into custody. This is a developing story, and The Triangle is working to gain additional information about Malone’s escape.

Michael Lee Corey Malone, also known as Christopher Feagin, was taken into custody at a Wawa in James City County on Tuesday after escaping from Eastern State Hospital. (Photo courtesy of Virginia State Police).

2. Uptown Alley – a family entertainment center – has been approved by the Williamsburg Planning Commission for the former Yankee Candle site in Williamsburg.

  • The Williamsburg Planning Commission has approved two special use permit requests to allow Uptown Alley to move into the former site of Yankee Candle Village on Richmond Road. The decision came during the commission’s meeting on October 19.
  • Uptown Alley – a Richmond-based family entertainment venue featuring bowling, an arcade, virtual reality, laser tag, event space and more – submitted the special use permit requests to the Williamsburg Planning Commission last month. The two-story former Yankee Candle site, located at 2200 Richmond Road, consists of 64,000 square feet and includes 6.5 acres of land.
    • The first permit request was for a text amendment to add a family entertainment center to the City’s B-2 Zoning District. The district’s allowable uses have traditionally included only restaurants, outdoor miniature golf warehouses, museums and art galleries and wholesale business microbreweries.
    • The second request sought permission to revamp the Yankee Candle Village building into a family entertainment facility. Both requests garnered unanimous support from the commission.
  • In spite of the approvals, some concerns were expressed about the new facility. Commission member Marcia Liebel said she’s worried about potential issues with traffic, especially at night. She noted that the addition of a stoplight may be needed.

“I’m concerned about the amount of traffic at peak times, particularly after dark, that you might see coming out of this facility,” Liebel said. “Even if [a person is] turning right, there could be some hazard, and certainly turning left, there could be some hazard to people. I looked at where traffic lights are on Richmond Road, and there is nothing between the outlet mall and the Ironbound Kentucky Fried Chicken stoplight.”

  • One local resident who spoke at the meeting also raised concerns about noise levels at the facility. But Stephen Moore, a co-founder of Uptown Alley, said that all of the center’s activities would be contained indoors, which would significantly buffer the sound. While some Uptown Alley locations feature outdoor go-karts, Moore said there are no plans to have outdoor go-karts at the Williamsburg site.
    • The commissioners noted that the City’s current noise ordinance would apply to the property and that there are processes in place for enforcing it.
  • Greg Granger, the 2nd Vice-Chair, said he supports the proposed use for the site because he believes it aligns with the City’s mission to boost tourism.

“I think it’s a great idea to have some more family entertainment in our community. We’re a family-friendly destination, and having activities for families to do is an important part of that,” Granger said, noting the project could help with the city’s tourism struggle.

The Williamsburg Planning Commission approved two special use permit requests to allow Uptown Alley – a family entertainment center – to move into the former Yankee Candle site in Williamsburg. Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle.

3. Williamsburg Regional Library is making plans to relocate to a new building.

  • The Williamsburg Regional Library (WRL) announced plans to create a new, expanded library space to serve current and future populations in the area. According to the library, the population in the region has increased by 300% since the library’s downtown location was constructed in 1973. The site hasn’t been expanded since 1998, and a new building is needed to meet growing demand.
  • The WRL system is jointly funded by the City of Williamsburg, James City County and York County under a regional contract. Funding contributions by each locality are determined by the number of items checked out by its residents, and the library’s Board of Trustees consists of appointees from each jurisdiction.
    • Currently, the lion’s share of the library’s budget – $4,933,357 – comes from James City County. That’s because James City County residents account for more than 70% of the checkouts from the main Williamsburg Library building.
  • The library’s plans are guided in part by the results of a community-wide survey conducted in 2018. The results showed that the public, across all three jurisdictions, strongly supports a new, expanded downtown facility. This year, the Library Board also shared its preference to have the City of Williamsburg and James City County build a new, 55,000-square-foot joint facility located on the current Williamsburg Library site at 515 Scotland Street.

4. Newport News broke ground on an early childhood center that is expected to ‘become a state and national model.’

  • The City of Newport News held a groundbreaking event Tuesday for the Newport News Early Childhood Center, which is set to open in the summer of 2024. The site will aim to make early childhood education more accessible, enhance educational outcomes and develop “a world-class workforce and community leaders for the next generation,” according to the City.
  • The project leverages the expertise of community partners who are working to ensure children between the ages of six weeks and five years have access to the quality education and care they need to learn, grow and thrive.
    • Daily operations and programming will be carried out by The Peake Childhood Center. Virginia Peninsula Community College’s (VPCC) Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Learning and Development will also be based at the Newport News Early Childhood Center, and VPCC students will work with the children at the center to fill Virginia’s overwhelming shortage of early childhood teachers and caregivers.
  • The innovative project is expected to become “a state and national model as a best practice on how to care for a community’s youngest residents,” according to the City. The center will serve about 200 children ages six weeks through five years of age. While it’s located in the Southeast Community of Newport News, the facility will support children and families from throughout the region.

“Nationwide, 56% of children who come from economically-disadvantaged homes are not ready when they begin school,” said Newport News Mayor McKinley L. Price. “High quality early education programs increase student achievement from kindergarten through graduation and beyond.”

5. A total of 12 people – including eight firefighters – were injured in a Hampton apartment building blaze.

  • A massive fire at a Hampton apartment complex that broke out early Friday morning injured 12 people, including eight firefighters. The firefighters received minor to moderate burns while battling the blaze, according to officials.
  • A total of fifty residents were displaced from the Township in Hampton Woods Apartments, according to WAVY News. Four residents were transferred to local hospitals, including a woman and child who received moderate to severe thermal burn injuries. They were transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital via Nightingale air ambulance.
  • 24 apartments were damaged by the fire, and none of the units in the building are habitable. The Red Cross and the apartment complex’s management team are assisting the residents. The origin of the fire is still under investigation, but it does not appear to have been malicious in nature, according to officials.

6. William & Mary students were told to ‘shelter in place’ after a threat was made toward the campus.

  • A shelter in place order was issued at William & Mary over the weekend after campus police received an anonymous threat through social media.
    • The college’s Office of News and Media sent out a Tweet at 2:44 pm Saturday warning that an “anonymous threat” was made against the university and that everyone on campus should immediately shelter inside a secure location. An additional Tweet was sent out a short time later clarifying that the shelter in place order was not a drill. Students were informed that the threat did not involve an active shooter.
  • An all clear was issued about a half hour later, at 3:18 pm, after the suspect who made the threat was taken into custody.
    • In a statement issued at 4:44 pm, the college said the lockdown was issued out of “an abundance of caution while William & Mary and Williamsburg Police attempted to locate a person of interest.” According to the statement, the joint efforts by the two departments made it possible to swiftly apprehend the suspect.
  • No additional information on the situation has been released. John Heilman, a spokesperson for the Williamsburg Police Department, told The Triangle the incident remains under investigation and no charges have been filed in the case.

Lowest Gas Prices Today

All prices listed are per GasBuddy. To check the latest prices based on zip code, click here.

Local Covid-19 Update

New cases:VDH reports that an additional 7,142 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week (down from 7,047 cases reported during the previous week). The biggest increases in new cases on the Peninsula were reported in Newport News (142) and Hampton (107), according to WTVR News 6.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 200 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (up from 173 the week before), according to VDH data. 76 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (down from 75 reported in the week before).

Vaccination rate: 73.0% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (up from 72.8% last week).

In the National News

  • St. Louis High School Shooter Kills 2, Wounds 7: A gunman opened fire at a St. Louis high school Monday, killing a teacher and a 15-year-old girl, the AP reports. Seven students were also injured. The suspect, who was killed by police, was identified as 19-year-old Orlando Harris, a former student at the school. Authorities found a handwritten note from the suspect in which he wrote, “I don’t have any friends. I don’t have any family… I’ve been an isolated loner my entire life. This was the perfect storm for a mass shooting.” Harris reportedly used an AR-15-style rifle and brought in 600 rounds of ammunition to carry out the shooting.
  • Consumer Confidence Dips: U.S consumer confidence fell this month amid increasing concerns about inflation, ABC News reports. The Conference Board announced Tuesday that its consumer confidence index tumbled to 102.5 in October, down from 107.8 in September. Lynn Franco, the Conference Board’s senior director of economic indicators, said the reduced confidence could “result in a challenging holiday season for retailers.”
  • The U.K Replaces its PM – Again: After less than two months in office, U.K Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned Tuesday and was replaced with Rishi Sunak, the United Kingdom’s first prime minister of color. Sunak, a former hedge-fund manager and U.K Treasury chief, warned the nation faces a “profound economic crisis” due to stagflation, the Wall Street Journal reports. Sunak is Britain’s third PM in seven weeks.
  • Gas Shortage Looms for New England: Power producers in New England are preparing for potential gas shortages this winter. All six New England states face the risk of shortages and potential blackouts, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the top federal energy regulator. Strong demand is keeping prices high, and New England is competing with European countries for shipments of liquefied natural gas amid Russia’s decision to stop supplying pipeline gas to Europe, Bloomberg reports.

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