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State Briefs

• Aug 7, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Amber Alert was fake, infant was never in any danger, police say

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM-TV) — After an Amber Alert this past weekend for what was believed to be a missing 20-month-old girl, investigators have determined the report was fake and the child was never in any danger.

The original report of Jaionna Ross’ disappearance was made late Aug. 4. The child's mother told police that her car was stolen from a gas station with Jaionna inside.

Officers located the mother’s vehicle shortly after the initial report, but the child was not found. Based on the seriousness of the situation, Michigan State Police issued an Amber Alert at around 3 a.m. Aug. 5.

An overnight search ensued with multiple law enforcement agencies.

Jaionna Ross was eventually found hours after the Amber Alert was issued, unharmed, with an extended family member in Grand Rapids. She was taken to the Grand Rapids Police Department and kept in police custody.

After continued investigation and follow-up interviews, it was determined that Jaionna's mother made up the story about her car being stolen and Jaionna's abduction. The motive behind the fake report is unknown at this time.

The case will be presented to the Kent County Prosecutor's Office later this week to determine if and what criminal charges are going to be issued.

Police say man, parents died in Hastings shootings

HASTINGS (AP) — Authorities said a West Michigan man fatally shot his parents before turning the gun on himself.

Hastings Police Chief Jeff Pratt said officers found the bodies of 77-year-old Judith Wilson, 79-year-old Robert Wilson, and 54-year-old Richard Garrett Wilson on Sunday. Pratt said the son died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Officers were called the home the three shared after a friend discovered their bodies. The friend had gone to the home because the family didn't show up at church.

It's unclear what sparked the shootings.

Tons of sawmill debris being removed from Muskegon Lake

MUSKEGON (AP) — Sawmill debris from Michigan's early logging era is being removed from Muskegon Lake as part of a long-term environmental cleanup project.

Work began recently to retrieve almost 123,000 tons of wood dumped into the lake by 47 mills that operated there during the 1800s. It's expected to continue through September.

The Muskegon Chronicle reported the goal is to restore habitat for fish, including the endangered lake sturgeon.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is funding the $2.8 million project through a partnership with the Great Lakes Commission. It will restore 11.4 acres of open water and emergent wetlands.

Kathy Evans of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission said the cleanup will boost a multi-year effort to get Muskegon Lake off a list of the Great Lakes region's most highly polluted sites.

Resort community eliminates 'Christian persuasion' bylaw

BAY VIEW (AP) — Members of a northern Michigan resort community have eliminated a bylaw being challenged in court that requires homeowners to be of "Christian persuasion."

Members of the Bay View Association voted 69-31 percent Saturday to strike down the decades-old requirement, the Petoskey News-Review reported.

A newly adopted rule states applicants for membership must support the Bay View mission and "respect the principles of the United Methodist Church." It eliminates a requirement that applicants submit a letter of recommendation from their pastor or church leader.

A group of residents have filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the rule, alleging it violates the First Amendment. The U.S. Department of Federal Housing notified the associated in May that it failed to prove it's exempt from a law prohibiting discrimination.

Michigan man launches horse-and-buggy ride-hailing service

COLON (AP) — Look out Lyft, move over Uber: A southern Michigan man has launched a horse-and-buggy ride-hailing service.

WWMT-TV reported Timothy Hochstedler dubs his service "Amish Uber," but he's not affiliated with the San Francisco-based company. A sign on the side of his buggy reads "Amish Horse & Buggy Rides $5," and he offers trips around the St. Joseph County community of Colon.

With no app, would-be customers have to literally hail the buggy for a ride.

Hochstedler said he enjoys the conversations with customers. And his horse is friendly — "a people's horse."

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