Feds use technology to track Dole listeria outbreak

Published: Monday, January 25, 2016 @ 5:18 PM
Updated: Monday, January 25, 2016 @ 6:17 PM


            Dole listeria outbreak still being investigated
Dole listeria outbreak still being investigated

Federal agencies are using a relatively new technology to track the recent listeria outbreak that was linked to Dole’s production facility in Springfield last week.

The CDC and FDA are using Pulsenet, a national laboratory network of public health and food regulatory agency labs, to track the outbreak, said to Kate Fowlie, a spokeswoman for the CDC.

The CDC used a technique called whole genome sequencing to link the outbreak to Springfield.

DNA fingerprints were pulled from samples of listeria from ill patients, Fowlie said. Public health labs across the U.S. upload the DNA fingerprints to Pulsenet, and the CDC can then review data to see if something unusual or unexpected is happening, indicating a possible outbreak, Fowlie said.

Whole genone sequencing shows the complete genetic makeup of an organism, said Lauren Kotwicki, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She likened it to a construction project. Instead of a building’s outline, the technique can show the building’s entire blueprint, Kotwicki said.

“Because the technology allows the FDA to identify the cause of an outbreak more quickly, the FDA is able to apply it in ways that have the potential to help reduce food-borne illnesses and deaths over the long term both in the U.S. and abroad,” Kotwicki said.

In this case, the listeria samples taken from sick patients were genetically similar, Fowlie said. The Ohio Department of Health later took samples of packaged salads produced in Springfield and found they shared many genetic traits with the samples from patients.

“Also, epidemiologic evidence showed of five people who were asked about eating packaged salad, all five had reported eating packaged salads in the month before their illness began, and two of two people who remembered the brand of packaged salad eaten said Dole brand,” Fowlie said. “This epidemiologic and lab information linked the illnesses to Dole brand packaged salads produced at the Dole processing facility in Springfield, Ohio.”

Dole voluntarily closed its Springfield facility Thursday, after one death and 12 illnesses in several states. The CDC has been investigating the cases since September last year, but they were not linked to the Springfield production site until this month.

So far, no deaths or illnesses have been reported in Ohio, according to state and local health officials.

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Uber Eats driver accused of shooting, killing customer claims self-defense, attorney says

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 2:50 AM

Uber Eats Driver Flees After Customer Shot, Police Say

An Uber Eats driver who police said shot and killed a customer in Atlanta turned himself in Monday afternoon and claims he acted in self-defense, his attorney said.

>> Watch the news report here

Only WSB-TV's Tom Jones was there when Robert Bivines, 37, arrived at the jail with his attorney. The Atlanta Police Department's Homicide Unit secured an arrest warrant for felony murder on Monday.

The shooting happened at a condominium on Pharr Road in Buckhead on Saturday night.

Police said Ryan Thornton ordered food from Uber Eats, and the driver delivered the food around 11:30 p.m. Authorities said words were exchanged between Thornton and the driver.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Uber Eats driver accused of killing customer turns himself in

The Uber Eats driver then shot the 30-year-old, police said.

Thornton died at Grady Memorial Hospital. 

Bivines' attorney, Jackie Patterson, calls this a case of self-defense.

"This is a case where my client had no choice but to defend himself," he said.

Patterson said Thornton was irate about the amount of time it took for his food to arrive. He said Thornton was aggressive, and as Bivines walked away, Thornton made a threatening move. 

"He turned around, put his hand in his pocket and said, 'I'm going to [expletive] you up,'" Patterson said.

Patterson said Bivines was afraid to wait to see what Thornton had in his pocket, so he said he defended himself.

Jones asked Patterson why his client, who had only been on the job less than a week, didn't just drive away.

>> Read more trending news 

"You can't drive away when someone is coming at you with your window down," Patterson said.

Bivines will be taken to the Fulton County Jail.

He will have a first appearance before a judge Tuesday.

Uber sent WSB-TV a statement Monday saying Bivens no longer has access to the app:

“We are shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence and our hearts go out to Ryan’s friends and family. We have been working with the Atlanta Police Department, and the driver can no longer access the app”

A spokesperson for Uber told WSB-TV that Bivens passed a background check. Bivens was an Uber Eats delivery partner only and did not drive passengers.

Uber is working with the Atlanta Police Department on this investigation.

Morehouse College sent the following statement

"The Morehouse College community is mourning the passing of Ryan Thornton who was was shot Saturday in Atlanta after ordering a late dinner from UberEATS, according to police reports.

"Thornton, 30, was a recent graduate of Morehouse College. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in May 2017, and had started a new job.

"Morehouse faculty, staff, and administrators on Monday were shocked and saddened by the news of Thornton’s death. Employees in Morehouse College’s admissions office said they worked closely with Thornton and described him as being friendly, hard-working, and determined to become a Morehouse Man. 

"President David A. Thomas said that the Morehouse community stands at the ready to support Thornton’s family during this difficult time.

“ ‘The loss of another young life to gun violence is tragic,' Thomas said. 'Ryan was an ambitious student with so much promise. He was well-respected by his peers and highly regarded by his professors. We at Morehouse College will keep Ryan's family in our thoughts and prayers.’ ”

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Uber Eats driver accused of killing customer was convicted of battery in 2010

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 3:17 AM

Uber Eats Driver Flees After Customer Shot, Police Say

Years before he was accused of killing one of his Uber Eats customers in Atlanta this past weekend, Robert Bivines had been arrested on aggravated assault charges in DeKalb County, Georgia, according to jail records. 

>> Uber Eats driver accused of shooting, killing customer claims self-defense, attorney says

But the nearly decade-old offense wouldn’t have been flagged by Uber’s driver pre-screening process because it only tracks criminal records as far back as seven years, according to the company’s website.

Potential employees are subject to a driving history screening and, if cleared, undergo a criminal background check in national, state and local databases, according to the Uber website.

The company said Bivines passed a background check and had been with the delivery company for only a week before the deadly shooting. 

>> On MyAJC.com: Court upholds young mother’s conviction for killing newborn

“We are shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence and our hearts go out to (Ryan Thornton’s) friends and family,” Uber Eats said in a statement. “We have been working with the Atlanta Police Department, and the driver can no longer access the app.”

Details of the 2009 assault case were not immediately available Monday, but Bivines pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of battery in May 2010, according to court records. 

>> On MyAJC.com: R. Kelly evicted from N. Fulton homes, owes $30K, court documents show

He was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to have no contact with his victim. Bivines was also banned from the five-county metropolitan area. Online court records do not indicate how long the ban was enforced. 

Bivines, 36, turned himself in Monday afternoon, two days after Atlanta police say he shot and killed Thornton, a recent Morehouse College graduate, after delivering food to the 30-year-old’s Pharr Court South condominium. The shooting was caught on surveillance video. 

About 10:45 p.m. Saturday, Thornton placed an order with Tin Lizzy’s on Piedmont Road through the Uber Eats app, according to an Atlanta police report. Bivines was listed as the delivery driver. 

“The victim went down to meet the driver, received his order and began walking away from the vehicle,” Atlanta police spokesman Carlos Campos said in a statement. “As the victim was walking away, it appears words may have been exchanged between he and the delivery driver.” 

Thornton went back to Bivines’ car, and that’s when things turned deadly. 

Atlanta police said four shots were fired through the passenger-side window. Bullets landed in Thornton’s torso. 

>> Uber Eats driver accused of killing customer turns himself in

As Thornton fell to the ground, Bivines drove away in his white Volkswagen, police said.

Thornton called his girlfriend, who administered aid. He was pronounced dead at Grady Memorial Hospital. 

Thornton graduated from Morehouse in May 2017 with a political science degree and had recently started a new job, a spokeswoman for the school, D. Aileen Dodd, said in a statement. While there, he worked closely with those in the admission’s office, who described him as “friendly, hard-working and determined to become a Morehouse Man.” 

Morehouse President David A. Thomas said the college “stands at the ready to support Thornton’s family during this difficult time.”

“Ryan was an ambitious student with so much promise. He was well-respected by his peers and highly regarded by his professors,” Thomas said. “We at Morehouse College will keep Ryan's family in our thoughts and prayers.”

>> Read more trending news 

Bivines’ attorney, Jackie Patterson, said the surveillance video doesn’t tell the full story. 

Patterson told WSB-TV that Thornton — upset about the delivery time — threatened his client and motioned toward his pockets: “My client had no choice but to defend himself.” 

Bivines is due in court at 11 a.m. Tuesday. 

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VIDEO: Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz shown fighting students in 2016

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 1:59 AM

WATCH: Suspected Florida High School Shooter Nikolas Cruz Appears In Court

The man allegedly behind the fatal Florida high school shooting apparently has a disturbing past that is coming to light. A school fight that was captured on camera a little more than a year ago is the latest development.

>> Click here to watch

Authorities said 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Cruz was formerly a member of the school’s JROTC program before being expelled.

>> Florida school shooting: Teacher of the year's emotional Facebook post goes viral

A September 2016 video shared by ABC News shows Cruz wearing a white shirt and khakis while fighting with other students. Cruz was reportedly handed a two-day suspension following the incident.

>> Family who took in Nikolas Cruz: 'We just didn't know'

According to ABC, the fight was one of five documented incidents that caused school administrators to expel Cruz, mandating his transfer to another high school in February 2017.

>> WATCH: Florida school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez slams politicians, NRA in emotional speech

Another incident that reportedly contributed to Cruz’s expulsion was his alleged fight with his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Cruz was allegedly abusive toward her before they broke up.

>> Read more trending news 

The massacre at the high school marked the 25th U.S. school shooting in which someone was killed since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.

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Uber Eats driver accused of killing customer turns himself in

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 5:21 PM
Updated: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 5:21 PM

Uber Eats Driver Flees After Customer Shot, Police Say

An Uber Eats driver who police said shot and killed a customer turned himself in Monday afternoon.

>> Read more trending news

According to WSB-TV, Robert Bivens, 37, arrived at the jail with his attorney. The Atlanta Police Department's Homicide Unit secured an arrest warrant for felony murder Monday.

The shooting happened Saturday night at a condominium on Pharr Road in Buckhead, Georgia.

Police said Ryan Thornton ordered food from Uber Eats and the driver delivered the food around 11:30 p.m. At some point, authorities said words were exchanged between Thornton and the driver.

The Uber Eats driver then shot the 30-year-old, police said.

Thornton died at Grady Memorial Hospital. 

Uber said in a statement on Monday, saying Bivens no longer has access to the app:

“We are shocked and saddened by this senseless act of violence and our hearts go out to Ryan’s friends and family. We have been working with the Atlanta Police Department, and the driver can no longer access the app.”

A spokesperson for Uber told WSB-TV Bivens passed a background check and had only been an Uber Eats driver for about a week. Bivens was an Uber Eats delivery partner only and did not drive passengers.

Uber is working closely with the Atlanta Police Department on this investigation.

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