David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Westboro Protesters Met With Loud Opposition in Terre Haute

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Sunday, October 3, 2010

CLICK HERE for video

TERRE HAUTE — Protesters converged on Terre Haute Sunday as members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church picketed two churches in our area.

Members of the Westboro group are known for protesting funerals of homosexuals and fallen soldiers.

Sunday, they protested St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Bible Baptist Church, both in Terre Haute, for an unknown reason.

Bible Baptist’s pastor, Bob Parker, said, “It’s just a fiasco in all honesty. It’s just a disregard to all the Lord Jesus Christ is all about.  They have a right to what they’re doing. I disagree with their platform.”

The group from Westboro admits they hate America.  One of their signs prays for more dead soldiers.

Brian Frye is a veteran of the Armed Forces.  He said, “We went over there, our boys died in those wars so we can be where we are now. It’s just ridiculous.”

Their signs bare their messages; messages that were not well received from the group of counter protesters who gathered to show their disapproval of the Westboro group’s demonstration. 

“They’re all about hate,” said counter protester Jonathan Conrow.  “They claim to be Christians but I’ve been a Christian my whole life

Counter protesters drown out Westboro's hateful message with one of the love of God.

 and I never saw words like these in the Bible.”

The members of Westboro say they hate America because Americans harbor homosexuality.  Sunday, they took that hate out on an American flag.  One of the members of the group put the flag on the ground and crushed it under his feet. 

“The only thing that bothers me, really big, is they need to get the flag out of the gutter. That’s my problem right this instant,” explained neighbor David Kelty, who saw the protests.

The counter protesters came from different backgrounds, different walks of life and different points of view but they united to send the Westboro group their own message.

Counter protester Walter Beck said, “We’re out here showing them that Terre Haute is not a city of hate but we’re a city of love.”

Counter protester Kristian Holmes held a sign that read “Smile if you’re gay.”  He said, “It invokes anger for me. I personally feel that it’s wrong that they’re spreading messages of hate.”

The group may have ruffled some feathers but they packed up and moved on to the next stop on their tour without incident. 

Terre Haute city police were out in full force for Sunday’s protests in an effort to keep the peace.


October 3, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A City Councilman and an Attorney Erupt Over Trees; Unfolds With Our Cameras Rolling

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]


A fight over city trees is drawing big attention.

Mike Ellis recently purchased a vacant building at the intersection of 6th and Wabash in Terre Haute.

Ellis says he hired someone to trim the trees outside of his building.

“We’re trying to spruce up downtown.  I was hoping someone would send us a a thank you card.”

But Ellis didn’t get a thank you card.  Instead, he was confronted by angry city leaders and members of the city police department.

Police responded Saturday when the work began, issued the worker a warning and told him to leave.  But he was out Sunday…trimming

Tempers Flair

 again…again without a permit.

(David Shepherd) :”So you need a permit to do this?

(Mike Ellis): “To trim them down?  I don’t so.”

(Shepherd): “They say you do.  So do the police.”

(Ellis): “Well, I don’t know.”

A sergeant with the Terre Haute Police Department told me the man hired by Ellis to do the work was issued a citation Sunday and will

Both Sides Go Head-To-Head

 need to appear in court.  A sign this dispute is far fromover.

(Ellis): “You’re a downtown businessman.  You ought to be happy…nuts.”

(Todd Nation, downtown business owner and city councilman): “The eight public trees at 6th and Wabash that have been illegally cut on in the last 48 hours, that’s happened without permits.”

(Ellis): “He’s a tree hugger.  He’s never met a tree he didn’t like.”

(Nation): “What would change this current situation is if the rules were followed, that are on the books, that everyone else follows.”

(Kal Ellis): “There are also rules on the books that you can’t have two foot weeds growing.  Yet, we have two foot weeds growing in downtown Terre Haute on City property.  The city should be cited for having two food weeds in Terre Haute.”

Ellis says he’s trying to improve the city…something he claims city leaders are not doing.  Nation says there is a right way and wrong way to do it.

(Shepherd): “What’s going to make this go away?  What’s going to make this stop?”

(Mike Ellis): “The city finding the budget that will pay for the things that need to be done and the citizens not having to do it themselves.”

August 23, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WTWO Special Report: Inside the K2 Craze, Part 2

By: DAVID SHEPHERD [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Monday, August 16, 2010

David Shepherd's Video Report (Click Here)


TERRE HAUTE, IN – In part one of our special report on K-2,  we introduced you to a new craze that is sweeping the nation; using a chemically altered herb to get high and in some states, like Indiana, it’s legal.  Or is it?

More on that in a moment.  As I researched this story, I met some K-2 users who say they love the herb.

One marijuana smoker even told me he prefers the high he gets off of K-2 but without knowing what company is manufacturing it and exactly what’s in it, health officials say the risk greatly outweighs the reward.

Clay County’s Chief Deputy, Rob Gambill says, “There’s already been hundreds of cases of ER visits, calls to poison control and so fourth.”

On streets and in towns across Indiana, those who make the laws and those who enforce the laws are warning people about the effects of K-2.

“It’s also more dangerous than marijuana apparently so I imagine it’s going to be vigorously pursued,” explains Gambill.

State Representative Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute) says, “K-2, as I understand it, is a chemical that was developed in a lab.  It’s a synthetic marijuana and yet it’s legal to buy across the counter and teenagers have access to it.”

Stores and gas stations that sell K-2 say they don’t sell the herb to anyone under 18-years-old but Kersey says, just like cigarettes, the K-2 is getting into the hands of kids much younger.  “There’ve been young people as young as 14 that have been admitted to the hospital with the affects of K-2.”

And the warning from police:  before you spend your money on the chemically altered herbs, know that it may already be illegal.

“According to one of the Controlled Substances Acts in Indiana, any drug that mimics the effects of another drug is an illegal drug,” explains Gambill.  “This mimics the effects of marijuana which is already illegal.”

So if it may already be illegal, why don’t the police arrest the users and the sellers?

Some cops say, they don’t know if they can but they warn if you get caught smoking K-2, they will investigate it.

Gambill says, “[We’ll] make the report, let the prosecutor make that decision since it’s kind of a murky area right now.  We want to be more cleared up before we take somebody to jail.”

But those who enjoy smoking K-2 are happy it’s so easy to get their hands on and they’re giving it rave reviews on the internet, where blog post after blog post pour in from people who’ve tried the synthetic marijuana; and who like it.

But the easy access they welcome may not be around very long.  Lawmakers in Indiana are already talking about actions they can take to make K-2 illegal in the next legislative session.

Kersey says, “It should be banned at least until we know what the effects are and whether we want this drug on the market.”

This herb is sprayed with a chemical and there is not one source that can tell us what it actually is and while users may enjoy the high, without knowing what you’re putting in your body, it can be a dangerous gamble.  It’s definitely something law enforcement and legislators are trying to get a better understanding of.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Video Shows Hundreds of Asian Carp in the Wabash River (WTWO – NBC 2)

By David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Sunday, August 15, 2010

WTWO / David Shepherd Video Report (Click Here)

TERRE HAUTE, IN  –  It appears Asian Carp have invaded Valley waterways.  Video shot by an amateur photographer and river enthusiast shows how incredible and dangerous these aquatic nuisances can be.

“They’re strong,” says amateur photographer Brendan Kearns.  “They’re very healthy fish.  When they get on here they’re fighting for their own life.  They want to get off this boat.”

Kearns’ video shows dozens of carp flying through the air, hitting the boat and members of his crew.  While Kearns admits shooting these amazing images was fun, these fish can be very dangerous.

CLICK HERE to see the full video on purplepug.com

“You see fish jumping like that, yeah, it’s neat, but when you feel the energy of them hitting the boat, it sounds like, ‘BANG’ like that.  It scares you.”

As Kearns’ video spreads across the internet and TV,  many are getting an idea of why wildlife experts didn’t want these fish here in the first place.

Kearns explains, “It’s unfortunate we’re seeing it here on the Wabash.”

For tour boat companies, business is booming.  They say everyone wants to see the Asian Carp.

But for those, like Kearns, who fish along the banks of the Wabash, an Asian Carp is far from what they want to see.

Asian Carp

“If they start getting up in Mansfield, Raccoon Lake; If you start seeing these fish in public waters where people go to recreate:  I couldn’t imagine pulling your kids on a tube and these fish jump up and hit them.  It’s going to be bad.”

Kearns continued, “Imagine a 15 – 20 pound bean bag slugging you upside the face going that speed.  You’re going to be hurt.”

The Carp isn’t just dangerous for those who like to relax on the open water.  Kearns explains fish and wildlife can be affected as well.

“They multiply so fast they’re basically taking over the waterways.”

The Asian Carp has been cultivated in Chinese aquaculture for over a thousand years.

But here in the United States, the Carp take over waterways, eating anything it can,  and producing at a rate much higher than other fish.

August 15, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment