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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Chattanooga Police say social media and the easy availability of guns are 

partially responsible for the recent spike in the number of murders in the city.

The Times Free Press reports there were 132 shootings there in 2015 and 32 murders – the most seen since 2001. Much of the violence centers on local gangs, with 61 percent of the murders being gang related.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A Vanderbilt doctor says the number of people hospitalized with the flu has jumped dramatically since Christmas.


Infectious disease specialist William Schaffner tells WSMV-TV that he typically sees one or two hospitalized with the flu, but in the last few days 60 cases have been reported.


Doctor Schaffner suspects holiday travel has brought an especially severe strain of the flu into Middle Tennessee.


He notes that the old, the young and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A number of new state laws went into effect as the New Year began.

Among them, a provision that eliminates the possibility of parole for anyone convicted of a vehicular homicide involving drugs or alcohol.

Another new Tennessee law allows for reduced fees for lifetime handgun carry permits.

Students are now required to take a civics test to receive a high school diploma. The exam is based on the U.S. citizenship test and students have to score 60 percent or better to pass.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A federal lawsuit says the driver in a Chattanooga school bus wreck that killed six children had a "sadistic" habit of driving recklessly and slamming on the brakes to discipline the children.

News outlets report that a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Chattanooga federal court accuses Hamilton County Schools, district Transportation Supervisor Ben Coulter and Durham School Services of failing to take reasonable precautions to prevent the Nov. 21 crash and being "deliberately indifferent" to the students' constitutional rights.


HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Police are investigating exactly what led to two people being killed and one man stabbed at the home of the late Country Music Hall of Fame artist Jean Shepard.

Hendersonville Police Det. Sgt. Jim Vaughn tells news outlets that arriving officers found Shepard's husband, 79-year-old Benny Birchfield, wounded and bloody outside the home.