Latest Michigan news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. EST


Michigan governor issues state of emergency ahead of cold

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed an order declaring a state of emergency in Michigan ahead of dangerous subzero weather .

Whitmer said Tuesday her move will harness government resources and ensure the public “understands the seriousness” of the once-in-a-generation cold snap. She visited the Cristo Rey Community Center in Lansing — a warming house for residents.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor says the city’s homeless shelters are “overloaded.”

Whitmer has also activated the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinates efforts by state agencies and local governments.

Wind chill factors may drop to as low as negative 45 degrees from Tuesday night through Thursday morning. The University of Michigan canceled classes on its Ann Arbor campus Wednesday and Thursday, and Michigan State University suspended Wednesday classes. Some Grand Rapids-area highways were closed Tuesday from pileups.


This story has been corrected to show that the name of the facility is the Cristo Rey Community Center, not Christo Rey.


The Latest: Ranchers work to keep cattle safe from the cold

MILWAUKEE (AP) — This week’s life-threatening cold is dreaded even by hardy Northern Plains ranchers, who are used to weather extremes.

Northeastern North Dakota cattle rancher Dan Rorvig says cold temperatures are “a brutal, brutal thing” when they reach about minus 40 degrees (negative 40 degrees Celsius) — both for ranchers and their cattle.

Jeff Schafer ranches in the same part of the state, where the temperature Tuesday morning was as low as minus 26 (negative 32 degrees Celsius) and the wind chill was minus 58 (negative 50 degrees Celsius).

He says as long as cattle have shelter from the wind, they usually do just fine. Ranchers use trees, manmade windbreaks and buildings to provide that shelter. Schafer says another big concern is making sure their water supplies don’t freeze up.


Authorities identify man fatally shot by Jackson police

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — Authorities have identified a man killed in a gunfight with officers in southern Michigan.

Jackson County Undersheriff Chris Kuhl says 29-year-old Joey Duane Ramirez of Jackson was killed Monday by Jackson police officers investigating a domestic disturbance.

Jackson police said a woman called early Monday , saying an acquaintance was outside banging on her apartment door and wouldn’t leave. Police said officers spotted him with a handgun, running through the apartment complex, and exchanged fire with him. He died at the scene.

Jackson Director of Police and Fire Services Elmer Hitt says one of the officers involved was treated for a leg injury sustained in a fall at the scene.

MLive reports court records show Ramirez had a pending resisting and obstructing police charge from an incident that occurred Jan. 18.


Whitmer moves speech over conflict with Trump address

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will deliver her first State of the State address a week later than planned to avoid having it on the same night as President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.

The Democratic governor will speak Feb. 12 during a joint session of the Republican-led Legislature in Lansing. Her office proposed the new date Tuesday, and House Speaker Lee Chatfield agreed.

Whitmer’s address initially was scheduled for Feb. 5, but Trump’s speech was delayed due to the record-setting partial shutdown of the federal government. Whitmer said both speeches are “incredibly important,” and the public should have an opportunity to “absorb both.”

The yearly State of the State address is a chance for the new governor to unveil her policy agenda.


Detroit boosts work to deal with water main breaks amid cold

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is shifting its maintenance and repair staff to water main and fire hydrant repairs in anticipation of more line breaks due to the expected deep freeze .

The department says Tuesday that it’s also put its contractors and subcontractors on notice to ramp-up their staffing.

Officials note that extreme changes in temperatures increase the likelihood of water main breaks, especially in aging infrastructure like Detroit’s.

The department on Tuesday has 18 water main breaks being repaired and scheduled to be repaired. The public is asked to contact the department if they standing, running or gushing water on streets or outside of buildings.

The department is in the midst of a 5-year, roughly $500 million effort to deal with Detroit’s aging water and sewer system.


Deaf couple alleges discrimination by Delta Air Lines agent

ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) — A deaf couple from California alleges that a gate agent for Delta Air Lines discriminated against them at Detroit Metro Airport.

Socorro Garcia and Melissa Yingst say they tried to communicate with an agent Sunday about getting seats next to each other on a flight to Los Angeles. The couple says the agent threw away the paper they were writing on and rolled her eyes.

Garcia says in a Facebook video that he tried to retrieve the paper, but the agent called police and alleged that Garcia assaulted her. The couple was ultimately denied boarding.

A spokesman for Delta says the agent discarded the paper because she thought the conversation was over. The spokesman says the agent felt threatened because Garcia aggressively went behind the ticket counter, which isn’t permitted.

Delta says it’s reviewing the issue.


Man linked to child pornography ring enters plea in sex case

(Information from: Battle Creek Enquirer,

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — A man who authorities say was involved in a child pornography ring has pleaded no contest in a sexual assault case involving an infant girl.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports 32-year-old Matthew Toole, of Battle Creek, entered the plea Monday to two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. A no contest plea isn’t an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for sentencing. He’s scheduled to learn his punishment March 11.

Defense attorney Melissa Heffner says he decided to forego a trial. In exchange, several charges will be dismissed including child abuse and making and possessing child pornography.

Toole and his girlfriend were arrested last year on charges including sexual assault. She’s awaiting trial. They’re among four charged with conspiring to kidnap and kill a child in Branch County.



Detroit tries to undo $3.5M verdict in wrong arrest

DETROIT (AP) — Lawyers for Detroit are asking a judge to reduce a $3.5 million verdict for a man who was arrested in a case of mistaken identity.

Marvin Seales was in custody for two weeks in 2012 before the mistake was cleared up. The trial centered on the actions of a Detroit police officer, Tom Zberkot, who made the arrest and had Seales under his control for a few hours.

The officer’s lawyers say $3.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages is “greatly excessive.” They note there was no allegation of physical abuse. A hearing planned for Monday with federal Judge Gershwin Drain was postponed due to a snowstorm.

Seales’ lawyers say the jury’s verdict last summer should stand. They say there was a “callous disregard” for his freedom.


Shutdown halted crash probes, could cost critical evidence

DETROIT (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board says the partial government shutdown stopped it from sending investigators to 22 accidents involving 30 deaths.

The agency says it will now begin investigations, but evidence may have been lost that could prevent finding a cause.

The NTSB determines the cause of transportation accidents and makes recommendations to prevent them. It had to furlough 367 of 397 employees during the 35-day shutdown.

The accidents included 15 involving aircraft that caused 21 deaths, two on railroads resulting in two deaths and two highway crashes, one of which killed seven people.

The agency said it couldn’t evaluate six other accidents to figure out if it should send investigators.

The crash that killed seven people occurred Jan. 3 on Interstate 75 near Gainesville, Florida.