- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2006

ARIZONA

Police pursuit ends in death

PHOENIX — An armed man hijacked a Krispy Kreme delivery truck and led police on a chase across the city and into a shopping center, where officers killed him after he took a hostage.

The hostage, a 76-year-old man, was treated for injuries caused by police bullet fragments.

The pursuit started early Sunday in Peoria, on the west side of Phoenix, where an officer confronted the man for reputedly driving a stolen vehicle, said Peoria police spokesman Mike Tellef.

ARKANSAS

Man pleads guilty in cross-burning case

TEXARKANA — A cross burning near a black man’s home last year has prompted an investigation of at least four white men, and one of them has pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal.

Christopher Baird surrendered Friday and pleaded guilty in federal district court in connection with the cross burning near the home of Anthony Briggins, a black man who shared his Fouke home with his white girlfriend and their child.

The Justice Department said as many as three other men could be indicted.

CALIFORNIA

Sinkhole kills man in middle of home

ALTA — A large sinkhole opened in the middle of a house, killing a 27-year-old man who plummeted 10 feet and was covered by the rubble, officials said Sunday.

The two-story home, built in the 1980s, might have been sitting atop a decades-old underground mine, authorities said. Recent rains might have softened the ground under the home, in an isolated area near Lake Alta, northeast of Sacramento.

The victim was on the ground floor about 9:30 p.m. Friday when the concrete foundation near the kitchen gave way, Placer County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Dena Erwin said.

The man’s wife also was in the house at the time and called 911. She was not injured, Miss Erwin said.

FLORIDA

Teens avoid life in fatal beating

DAYTONA BEACH — Four teenagers who pleaded guilty to beating a homeless man to death last spring were sentenced to more than 20 years in prison yesterday.

The teens pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of Michael Roberts, 53. Authorities said Mr. Roberts was beaten, kicked and crushed when his attackers jumped on a log on his chest.

Jeffrey Spurgeon, 19, and Chris Scamahorn, 15, each was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Justin Stearns, 18, will serve 27 years, and Warren Messner, 16, was sentenced to nearly 23 years. All four will be on probation for the rest of their lives, court spokeswoman Linda Pruitt said.

IDAHO

Chinook salmon runs look disappointing

BOISE — Chinook salmon runs are smaller than expected and the fish are returning to Idaho rivers later than normal.

Bill Horton, a manager for Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said it looks like state anglers won’t have a robust season. Officials in Oregon and Washington have closed salmon fishing in the lower Columbia River because of the low returns.

IOWA

Planning Association honors beautification

DES MOINES — A state program that helps beautify some of Iowa’s small towns is being recognized on a national level. Iowa’s Living Roadways Community Visioning Program won an award from the American Planning Association.

Under the program, small towns get financial and planning help with things such as new entrance signs, roadside parks, recreational trails and tree plantings.

KANSAS

5 teens charged in school plot

COLUMBUS — Five teenage boys were charged yesterday with threatening to carry out a shooting spree at their high school on the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

The defendants, ages 16 to 18, each was charged with incitement to riot and making a criminal threat.

A judge set bail at $50,000 for Charles New, 18, who was charged as an adult. The four juveniles were ordered held for a hearing May 3.

The teenagers were arrested Thursday — the seventh anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado — after a message about the suspected plot appeared on the Web site Myspace.com.

NEW YORK

Transit union boss marches to jail

NEW YORK — The union chief whose illegal strike shut down the nation’s largest mass-transit system for three days was headed to jail yesterday to start a 10-day sentence.

The walkout crippled the city just before Christmas last year and violated a state law banning strikes by public employees. A judge ruled that union leader Roger Toussaint should be jailed for 10 days and fined $1,000 for contempt.

Mr. Toussaint yesterday planned to march across the Brooklyn Bridge with workers before surrendering at a Department of Correction facility in Manhattan.

The 60-hour strike ended without a contract between Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the bus and subway system. Union members voted last week to approve an offer they had rejected in January, but the MTA has said it doesn’t have to accept the vote because the dispute is in binding arbitration.

PENNSYLVANIA

Firefighters shocked while battling blaze

PHILADELPHIA — Five firefighters battling a row house fire suffered electric shocks from downed wires early yesterday.

All five were in stable condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Fire Chief Daniel Williams said. It wasn’t clear how the five came into contact with the wires.

About 100 firefighters were battling the blaze, reported about 6 a.m. The flames spread from a vacant home to several other vacant buildings before crews could get the fire under control. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

WEST VIRGINIA

Paisley to raise funds for flag exhibit

WHEELING — Country music star Brad Paisley will help raise money for a permanent exhibit of rare Civil War battle flags at the West Virginia Independence Hall Museum.

The Glen Dale native will serve as celebrity chairman of the Rally ‘Round the Flag drive, appearing on brochures and in public service announcements. He also will include donor information on his Web site (www.bradpaisley.com).

“He has a true sense of history and pride in the state,” said John Wiater, spokesman for the fundraising committee.

The Independence Hall Foundation and the state Division of Culture and History are trying to raise $500,000 to build two display rooms for 13 flags.

Once among the most popular items at the West Virginia State Museum in Charleston, the flags have been in dark storage for two decades. Textile Preservation Associates of Maryland performed the restoration at an average cost of about $20,000 per flag.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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