Michael Jackson back-up dancer comes home

July 11, 2009 by  
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WEST PALM BEACH, FL–With every pop of his head, and move of his body, Kriyss Grant oozes energy, passion and raw talent.

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In the three short years since the G Star High School graduate left West Palm Beach, he has risen to the top of the dance world, most recently rehearsing along Michael Jackson as one of his dancers for his comeback tour.

He says he has gone through a whirlwind of emotions, rehearsing for Jackson’s comeback tour one week and his funeral the next.

“The thing I’ll miss most is his energy, his vibe and his passion,” Grant said.  “Before he even would walk into the room, you just feel his presence and know he’s there.”

Grant danced alongside Jackson for just three months,  rehearsing for the “This Is It” tour in Los Angeles.

He says he learned more from the superstar in that time than during a lifetime of dancing.

“If he wants you to do a move like this or whatever, you do it like this,” Grant said as he was demonstrating a signature Jackson move.  “You use your all. Your face and your body.”

Grant has been dancing since he could walk, without any real formal training, just a love for moving his body to music.

After a series of audtions in April, the virtual unknown was picked by the King of Pop to be one of twelve of his dancers.

“After the last audition, he shook my hand and said ‘Man, you are awesome,’ and I almost fell over,” Grant said.  “I was like I can’t believe this is Michael Jackson.”

The rehearsals were grueling, Grant said.  16 hour days, six days a week.  Still, he says Jackson was loving and encouraging.

“If he liked something we were doing, he would say, oh, lets do it like that,” Grant said.  “He was constantly evolving.  He wasn’t cocky.”

Grant says he rehearsed with the superstar the night before he died.

The next day, the dancers were tragically informed they would be performing for their idol’s funeral instead of the concert.

“When I want to cry, I think about what he taught me,” Grant said.

Jackson taught them to look at the world beyond themselves, he said

“It wasn’t really a comeback tour,” he said. “It was about a message.  The message was about healing the world.”

Source: WPTV.COM EXCLUSIVE

Former officer, teen arrested after Ga. standoff

January 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Crime, Latest Top Stories, National News

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MADISON, Ga. – A 13-hour hostage standoff at a Georgia motel ended peacefully Monday when a former South Carolina police officer and a teenage girl surrendered, freeing his estranged wife and infant son.

FBI spokesman Steve Lazarus said 25-year-old David Dietz surrendered around 9:15 a.m. at the Red Roof Inn off Interstate 20 about 60 miles east of Atlanta. Jamie Lynn Burgess, 17, was also taken into custody at the time.

The two had been holed up in a second floor room with the infant, Allim David Dietz, and Dietz’s estranged wife, 29-year-old Eva Arce-Perez. Two shots were fired at law enforcement agents from the room Sunday night.

The next morning, Dietz stepped onto the walkway outside the motel room holding the baby in his arms as he surrendered. Burgess exited the room with her hands in the air.

Burgess helped Dietz in the kidnapping, West Columbia, S.C., Police Major Jackie Brothers said.

“It’s our understanding they arrived together, they waited together and when the family and friends arrived home, she actively participated in the abduction,” Brothers said.

Police said Burgess and Dietz were acquaintances but wouldn’t elaborate on their relationship.

Burgess was set to return to South Carolina Monday night, where she would be charged with kidnapping, carjacking and assault with intent to kill, Brothers said. She won’t face federal charges because she’s a minor, Lazarus said.

Dietz, who wore a black uniform emblazoned with the word “police” during the abduction, was being held in federal custody in Macon and would face federal charges of kidnapping in South Carolina and federal charges of assaulting a federal officer in Georgia since shots were fired at FBI agents, Lazarus said. He said they hoped to bring Dietz before a federal magistrate on Tuesday.

He also faces state charges including kidnapping, assault with intent to kill and carjacking in South Carolina and five counts of aggravated assault in Georgia, authorities said.

Police said Arce-Perez and the baby were abducted from their home in Columbia, S.C., Saturday evening. A missing child alert was issued, and authorities learned Dietz might be headed toward Atlanta.

The standoff started Sunday night after Georgia State Patrol officers spotted the car mentioned in the alert in the motel parking lot.

It wasn’t the former police officer‘s first run-in with the law. South Carolina police reports showed authorities were called twice last year to domestic disturbances between Dietz and Arce-Perez.

Police in West Columbia were called to the home where Arce-Perez lived in December after the woman claimed Dietz threatened her.

“She stated that he called her wanting to see the baby even if he had to kick the door in,” West Columbia chief Dennis Tyndall said.

An incident report filed in May by the Richland County, S.C. Sheriff’s Department says Dietz was arrested for criminal domestic violence after he tried to force then-pregnant Arce-Perez to leave her apartment with him and pointed a gun at her brother, threatening to shoot if he tried to intervene. A judge dismissed charges in that case when Arce-Perez didn’t show up for a hearing, said department spokesman Chris Cowan.

Columbia police spokesman Brick Lewis said Dietz was hired by the department in June 2006 but resigned in October 2006 without giving a reason and on good terms.

Dietz also worked as a probation officer until August 2007, said Pete O’Boyle, a spokesman for the state’s probation department.

Bitter cold, snow put chill on end of 2008

December 31, 2008 by  
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NEW YORK – Winter storm warnings and plummeting temperatures put a chill on New Year’s Eve plans for hundreds of thousands of revelers. Thousands of homes and businesses in the Midwest had no electric lights for the holiday because of wind damage. Temperatures in the teens — with wind chills below zero — were forecast for midnight and the annual ball drop in New York’s Times Square and for the First Night celebration in Boston, where up to 11 inches of snow was forecast with wind gusting to 45 mph.

However, that was almost mild compared to the upper Midwest, which started the day with temperatures as low as 33 below zero at Wahpeton, N.D., and 24 below at Brainerd, Minn.

Up to a million revelers, jammed tightly together by intense security, were expected to hunker down against the icy wind in Times Square to watch a five-minute blizzard of balloons and more than a ton of confetti.

But the weather put a crimp in the festivities for some. New Bedford, Mass., put its fireworks display off until Jan. 8 because of the wind, but said other New Year’s Eve activities would go on as planned.

The National Weather Service posted winter storm warnings and advisories for parts of New England, upstate New York, northern Ohio, northern Minnesota and North Dakota, and sections of Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

In western New York state, at least 8 inches of snow had fallen by midday in the Buffalo and Rochester areas, and morning rush hour traffic crept at a near standstill on the New York State Thruway south of Albany.

“It’s really affecting the entire state,” said weather service meteorologist Dave Zaff in Buffalo.

Single-digit temperatures and sustained wind of up to 20 mph were expected to combine to produce wind chills as low as 25 below zero during the night in parts of New York state, meteorologists said.

More snow fell Wednesday in parts of Michigan as utility crews endured morning temperatures in the teens to restore power to customers still without service since a weekend wind storm knocked down trees and power lines. The state’s major utilities said about 13,200 homes and businesses were still blacked out Wednesday.

In the Ohio Valley, Duke Energy said nearly 11,700 homes and business were blacked out by wind damage during the night in southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky, but most were back on line Wednesday morning.

Up to 5 inches of snow was likely Wednesday in northern sections of North Dakota and Minnesota, on top of the foot or more that fell Tuesday, the weather service said.

December was already a record month for snow in North Dakota, with 33.3 inches at Bismarck. In Minnesota, Tuesday was the 16th day in December in which measurable snow had fallen at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Juanita Grosz didn’t even bother to measure the snow at her home in Garrison, N.D., northwest of Bismarck.

“It doesn’t matter — I just know that it’s a lot,” Grosz said Tuesday. “Everything is solid white; there isn’t a track anywhere.”