ATLANTA — As we get ready to ring in 2020, it is also time to say goodbye to the second decade of the 21st century. From snowstorms to the rise of a new championship team, here is a look back at some of the biggest stories that helped shape the news in metro Atlanta over the last 10 years.
[RELATED: Moments that defined Georgia sports in 2010s]
It was a story that would grip metro Atlanta for years: The murder of Rusty Sneiderman.
Sneiderman was gunned down outside his children’s Dunwoody day care as he went to pick his kids up from school. The man behind the gun – Hemy Neuman – was said to be having an affair with Rusty’s wife, Andrea.
The story would go on to gain national attention as Neuman fought for his innocence and Andrea Sneiderman would fight to prove she had nothing to do with her husband’s death.
A year later was one metro Atlantans won’t soon forget…
2011 began in with a heck of a snow storm, which was dubbed “Snomageddon 2011.”
The storm crippled transportation across the metro, with its affects rippling across the country because no one could leave Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
In March 2011, a man shot and killed veteran Athens-Clarke County police officer Buddy Christian. Senior Police Officer Tony Howard was wounded in the attack.
Jamie Hood went on the run and was eventually found holed-up in a home, with several hostages. After hours of negotiations, Hood surrendered to police on live TV – actually in the middle of the Channel 2 Action News Nightbeat at 11 p.m.
In July 2011, Atlanta Public Schools was thrust into the national spotlight when an 800-page report was released, implicating 178 teachers and administrators in a massive cheating scandal, saying an investigation found cheating on the state CRCT exam throughout the district.
In December 2011, the search for a missing 7-year-old girl came to a tragic end. Jorelys Rivera had been missing for several days. Then word came that the girl’s body had been found. Police arrested Ryan Brunn, 20, a maintenance worker at the family’s apartment complex, charging him with the girl’s murder. He pleaded guilty in her death and a couple days later, he hung himself in his prison cell.
In August 2012, Andrea Sneiderman was indicted in her husband’s death on charges of murder, attempted murder, racketeering, insurance fraud, two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements. A jury would later find her guilty of nine of 13 felony counts, including perjury and making false statements to police. The judge would sentence her to 5 years in prison, including time served.
In November of that year, as Superstorm Sandy dumped massive amounts of rain across the northern part of the country, the storm brought high winds the metro area, downing trees and power lines.
A massive branch fell at a daycare in Winder, hitting then 2-year-old Tripp Halstead in the head, severely injuring him. His journey through recovery caught the internet by storm and remained a social media superstorm, inspiring other across the world as his family shared their continued journey.
Also in November 2012, two Atlanta police officers were tracking some suspects near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Hamilton E. Holmes Drive when the helicopter got tangled in powerlines and crashed, killing both officers onboard.
A new era for the Atlanta Falcons came in March, with the announcement that a new home was going to be built for the team next to the Georgia Dome, set to open in time for their 2017 season.
In June 2013, after months of investigation, DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis was indicted on corruption charges. Ellis’ first trial would end in a mistrial in 2014.
Then prosecutors would try him again in 2015, with a jury convicting Ellis of perjury for lying to a special purpose grand jury and of attempted extortion for meddling with a vendor's contract after that vendor refused to give him a campaign contribution. In Nov. 2016, the Georgia Supreme Court would overturn that conviction saying a special grand juror should not have been allowed to give his opinion about how relevant Ellis’ statements were to their investigation.
On Aug. 20, 2013, a gunman walked into the office of McNair High School, armed with multiple guns. Michael Brandon Hill opened fire on officers responding the school after police said he went into the main office and fired off shots there. Hill told Bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff to call the local media. Tuff called the Channel 2 Action News newsroom and spoke to an assignment editor as the situation unfolded. Police were eventually able to arrest Hill before anyone was hurt.
In November, the Atlanta Braves announced they were moving out of downtown and would be building a brand-new stadium on the edge of Cobb County, along with an entertainment district that would lead the way into the ball park.
January 2014 brought another round of nasty weather to the metro area, again in the form of snow.
Snowmageddon 2014 wreaked havoc on metro roadways, leaving people stranded on metro interstates for upwards of 24 hours. Channel 2 Action News stayed on the air for hours on end as transportation crews worked to clear the roads.
Also in January, word would come on a quiet weekend that the daughter of Bobby Brown and the late-Whitney Houston, was found unconscious, face-down in the bathtub of her Roswell home. Bobbi Kristina Brown would be put on life-support for months on end, until July 2015, when she passed away.
Fast forward to June of that year, and the world would learn of the tragic death of Cooper Harris. The toddler was left in the back of his father’s SUV four hours on a hot June day. His father, Ross Harris, was charged and eventually convicted in the toddler’s death.
In July, as the battle against the deadly disease Ebola came to a fever pitch, word came from health officials that two Americans had contracted the disease while overseas on missionary work. The two were brought to Emory Hospital in DeKalb County, where they recovered from the disease.
One of the most heated debates of 2015 revolved around the carving of the Confederate generals at Stone Mountain. The NAACP said it was time for it, and all other symbols of the confederacy, to go. However, a state law makes it unlikely the sculpture will ever come down.
In April 2015, the end of the APS Cheating Scandal finally arrived. After months of tribunals and plea bargains, a final round of 12 educators would go to trial in the scandal, with a jury convicting 11 of the 12 educators.
In July, Marietta Marine Skip Wells was one of four servicemen killed during an attack at a military facility in Chattanooga. Wells graduated from Sprayberry High School. Weeks later, hundreds of people lined interstates, overpasses and more holding American flags as Wells’ body was driven home to Cobb County.
In August that year, President Jimmy Carter announced he had been diagnosed with cancer. Carter said doctors had found four small melanoma lesions on his brain. The discovery followed the removal of a lesion on his liver that took about ten percent of the organ. Months later, in December, he announced during Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church that his cancer was gone.
Just days before graduation, Four UGA students were killed in a car wreck, and one more was critically injured. The head-on crash happened along a rural highway just south of Watkinsville in Oconee County in April.
The survivor in the car with the UGA students, Agnes Kim, suffered a serious brain injury. The driver of the other car suffered serious injuries.
More than 1,000 protesters took to the streets of Atlanta in July, demonstrating after deadly police-involved shootings and shootings that targeted officers. The group began marching from Centennial Olympic Park to Connector where the demonstrators faced off with police and troopers. Several people were arrested but the protests were mainly peaceful.
In August 2016, the man accused of physically killing Rusty Sneiderman, Hemy Neuman, was found guilty of murder after nearly 6 years.
Hurricane Matthew brushed the southern and coastal portion of the state in October. Winds topped 100 mph when the storm made landfall, forcing portions of the coast to evacuate. The storm left dozens of people dead across the Caribbean and U.S. coast and caused millions of damage.
In November 2016, after a trial that lasted several weeks, Ross Harris was found guilty in the death of his son Cooper, more than 2 years after the child’s death. Harris showed little emotion when the verdict was read on Nov. 14, 2016. He was sentenced to life in prison.
We cheered our Atlanta Falcons through the playoffs and all the way to the Super Bowl. It was a fun ride that didn’t end the way we would have liked.
In February, a long-time Georgia mystery finally started to get some answers. The Tara Grinstead case baffled south Georgia for nearly a decade, until 2017, when authorities made a series of arrests. Bo Dukes and Ryan Duke were arrested but detectives are still looking for the teacher’s body.
On the evening of March 30, a massive plume of black smoke started to emerge from under the Interstate 85 overpass that stretched across Piedmont Road. As the fire raged on, the overpass eventually collapsed, paralyzing Atlanta-area roadways for the 6 weeks it would take crews to build a new overpass bridge.
Georgia was thrown into the political spotlight when two high-profiled races garnered national attention. The District 6 race, between Karen Handel and Jon Ossoff, became the most expensive House race in U.S. history. Handel won. For the mayoral race, two women were forced into a runoff to lead Atlanta into 2018. Mary Norwood lost to Keisha Lance Bottoms by less than 1,000 votes.
In June, as a prison transport bus was driving through Putnam County, two inmates managed to make their way through the secured area of the bus, killing two corrections officers. The men then led police on a two-day manhunt, eventually being found in Tennessee.
A major breach at an Atlanta-based credit reporting and technology company may have exposed the personal information of 143 million people. Equifax said the breach happened during the summer and the data may have exposed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses.
In July, a man held police on a standoff for hours at a Cobb County bank. The suspect ended up calling the Channel 2 Action News newsroom, telling one of our assignment editors he was a homeless Marine veteran, that he was unhappy with his experiences with the VA and had no money to buy food or water. Police said a member of the tactical team ended up shooting the man to end the situation.
An iconic piece of Atlanta’s sports history came crashing down in November as crews imploded the Georgia Dome following the completion of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. People across the metro watch the implosion LIVE on Channel 2 Action News as we had cameras all over the area to capture the historic moment.
It was a nightmare situation for thousands of travelers when a fire caused a massive power outage at the world’s busiest airport. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport came to a screeching halt in December 2017 and the ripple effects were felt world-wide. Thousands of airplane passengers became stranded or had their flight canceled or delayed.
After a grueling and contentious race for Georgia governor, Republican Brian Kemp emerged victorious over challenger Stacey Abrams, a Democrat. Abrams had come within about 60,000 votes of becoming the nation’s first black woman governor. Abrams said the race was not a fair election, and her supporters alleged that minority voters had been suppressed. Kemp denied those allegations.
Hurricane Michael slammed southwest Georgia as a powerful Category 3 hurricane after crossing the Florida Panhandle, still packing more than enough force to shred homes and ruin valuable cash crops in a destructive march toward the Carolinas. The hurricane is blamed for more than $1.6 billion in lost cotton, pecans, and other crops. The Georgia Legislature later approved $470 million in hurricane aid.
A cyberattack that disabled vital city computer systems in Atlanta disrupted city operations and caused millions of dollars in losses. Authorities say the suspects demanded a ransom payment. Prosecutors say two Iranian men already indicted in New Jersey in connection with a broad scheme targeting multiple government agencies, face multiple charges in connection with the Atlanta crime and others.
In August, a former government contractor who pleaded guilty in Georgia to mailing a classified U.S. report to a news organization was sentenced to five years and three months in prison. Reality Winner, a former Air Force linguist, had worked as a translator for the National Security Agency. Prosecutors say it is the longest sentence ever imposed for a federal crime involving leaks to the media.
Nine airmen from the Puerto Rico National Guard were killed when their C-130 cargo plane dropped from the sky and crashed into the blacktop of a busy highway outside Savannah. The airmen belonged to the 156th Airlift Wing in Muniz Air Base from Puerto Rico. An Air Force investigation blamed human error, saying the crew failed to follow standard procedures to deal with an engine problem in the air.
To round out the year, Atlanta United won the Major League Soccer championship with a 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers. The victory gave the city its first major league title since the Atlanta Braves won the 1995 World Series. The team, in just its second season, shattered attendance records.
With the beginning of the new year, Georgia got a new governor. Gov. Brian Kemp was sworn in as the state’s 83rd governor on Jan. 14 in front of a packed crowd at McCamish Pavilion at Georgia Tech.
In February, metro Atlanta took center stage as Mercedes-Benz Stadium played host to Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the L.A. Rams. The Patriots would dominate the game to win their third Super Bowl in just five years.
After a contentious battle for governor, former state lawmaker Stacey Abrams was chosen to give the Democratic Response to the State of the Union. Abrams spoke from an undisclosed location in Atlanta following President Donald Trump’s 82-minute speech.
In February, drivers along Peachtree Street in midtown were rocked by a series of underground explosions that blew off manhole covers and sent smoke billowing into the air. Fire officials said the chaos unfolded when an underground transformer caught on fire. The incident shutdown the street for most of the day.
February also brought the end of the longtime career of one of the Channel 2 family members: Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton. After 33 years in business, Karen bid a fond farewell to all our Channel 2 viewers and passed the baton onto Meteorologist Brian Monahan. We still miss her, but Brian has done a fantastic job stepping into Karen’s shoes.
In April, Gov. Kemp also signed a bill that allows medical marijuana patients to buy the cannabis oil they’re already legally allowed to use. House Bill 324, allows for legal cultivation and sale of cannabis oil in Georgia. State laws already let patients with specific medical conditions to possess and use the oil to treat symptoms, but they had no legal way to get it in Georgia.
After months of heated debate in the state Legislature, Gov. Kemp signed the controversial Heartbeat Bill into law in May. Georgia joined several other states to vote on bills that put constraints on abortions. The law bans abortions at the first sign of a fetal heartbeat, essentially six weeks into a pregnancy. Several groups have filed lawsuits against the bill that was set to take effect in January. A federal judge has put a hold on the law from taking effect until it can be heard in court.
In October, Atlanta media mogul Tyler Perry made history with the grand opening of Tyler Perry Studios on the grounds of the old Fort McPherson in southwest Atlanta. The 330-acre filming is the only major film studio in the nation owned by an African-American.
In November, Atlanta was thrust into the political spotlight once more as Tyler Perry Studios played host to a Democratic debate among 10 of the top candidates running for president in 2020. Many in the party believe Georgia will be in play in the next presidential election, while Republicans in the state say Georgia is still a solidly red state.
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