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State Briefs

By the Associated Press • Oct 3, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Governor calls for flags at half-staff after Las Vegas shooting

LANSING (AP) — Gov. Rick Snyder is calling for U.S. and Michigan flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

The governor on Monday encouraged residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations to display the flags at half-staff through sunset on Friday.

In a statement, Snyder asked Michiganders to pray for those injured and those fighting for their lives.

At least 58 people died when a gunman on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel-casino rained heavy fire down on a crowd of more than 22,000 at an outdoor country music festival. At least 515 people were injured.

13 Michigan schools receive National Blue Ribbon honors

DETROIT (AP) — Thirteen schools in Michigan have received National Blue Ribbon honors for 2017.

The program recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.

The program is in its 35th year and more than 8,500 schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools. An awards ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 6-7 in Washington.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said, "National Blue Ribbon Schools are active demonstrations of preparing every child for a bright future."

The Michigan schools are in Rochester Hills, Byron Center, Otsego, Boon, Canton, Saginaw, Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Grosse Pointe, Jenison and St. Joseph.

Teen charged in 2016 slaying to avoid no-parole sentence

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — A plea agreement is expected to allow a teenager to avoid a no-parole sentence in the strangulation death of his 18-year-old half-sister in West Michigan.

Savon Schmus, 17, entered a guilty plea Monday to a murder charge. Prosecutors will recommend a minimum sentence of 30-40 years. He'd earlier been charged as an adult with open murder and faced life in prison without parole.

Sentencing is Oct. 30.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said the decision was based on U.S. Supreme Court decisions about mandatory no-parole sentences for juveniles.

A person walking a dog found McKenna Hilton's body Aug. 18, 2016, in a wooded area near Emerald Lake in Grand Rapids Township.

Schmus and Hilton shared the same father. Police believe Hilton was strangled by the then-16-year-old Schmus in their father's apartment.

Authorities suspect Michigan man fatally shot wife, self

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) — Authorities say they believe an elderly man fatally shot his wife before killing himself in their home in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula.

The bodies of 75-year-old Thomas Tracy and 76-year-old Sharon Tracy were found by relatives Saturday in the Grand Traverse County community of Williamsburg, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

Lt. Chris Barsheff of the Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department said an autopsy determined that both died of gunshot wounds. The newspaper said a shotgun was found near their bodies.

Barsheff said there's "no definitive motive," and described the deaths as "a huge tragedy for the family and for the community."

The investigation is ongoing.

Man dies, grandson hurt after Michigan helicopter crash

LEE TWP. (AP) — A 76-year-old man has died and his 16-year-old grandson was injured after the helicopter they were riding in crashed in mid-Michigan, police said.

The Midland County Sheriff's Department said Paul Pangborn of Midland was piloting the helicopter on Sunday afternoon when it went down in a field in Lee Township. The department said Pangborn was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Sheriff Scott Stephenson told WJRT-TV that Pangborn had flown to his grandson's birthday party and picked him up before the crash.

The grandson was treated at a hospital for what were described as minor injuries before being released.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. The Sheriff's Department said the helicopter was flying when it rotated and slowly went down.

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