- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2006

CALIFORNIA

Ford goes home from hospital

RANCHO MIRAGE — Former President Gerald Ford was released from a hospital yesterday, 12 days after he was admitted for treatment of pneumonia, his chief of staff said.

Mr. Ford, 92, returned to his nearby home before noon, spokeswoman Penny Circle said. “He is doing well,” she added.

Mr. Ford had been admitted to Eisenhower Medical Center on Jan. 14. He had been expected to be released after five days.

FLORIDA

Dad hits school aide over daughter

TAMPA — A father marched into a classroom and punched a teacher’s assistant in the face after his teenage daughter accused the man of inappropriately touching her, authorities say.

“I’m not real proud of what I did,” Dave F. Swafford, 42, said yesterday. “You have to protect your children, and my daughter does not lie to me.”

Mr. Swafford was charged with felony battery on a school employee after he hit the 35-year-old aide in front of a full class at Lakewood Ranch High near Bradenton on Tuesday, authorities said.

A Tampa radio station named him “Father of the Year,” offering Mr. Swafford and his family Daytona 500 race tickets. The school placed the aide on paid leave Tuesday because of the accusation, said district spokeswoman Margi Nanney. The sheriff’s office is investigating.

GEORGIA

Evacuees’ deaths likely murder-suicide

AUSTELL — A New Orleans couple who had been chased from their home by Hurricane Katrina died in an apparent murder-suicide, leaving behind an infant and a severely injured 4-year-old boy.

Police entered the couple’s rented home in the Atlanta suburb of Austell yesterday after a call from a relative in New Orleans.

The woman “said that her nephew had called her and stated that he had an argument with his wife and that she was hurt pretty bad, and in fact she was dead,” said police Chief Bob Starrett.

Chief Starrett initially said the boy had been beaten so severely that his eyes were shut, but authorities later said he might have been shot. The boy, who police Lt. Gordon Firth said is autistic, underwent surgery yesterday at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. A 5-month old girl was uninjured, Chief Starrett said.

ILLINOIS

Lands’ End founder donates $42 million

CHICAGO — The founder of the Lands’ End clothing company has given the University of Chicago $42 million to create a specialty-care pediatric center, the largest single gift in the school’s 116-year history, the university announced yesterday.

Gary Comer, a Chicago native, said he and his wife wanted to give back to his old neighborhood.

The couple has donated more than $84 million to the school for children’s services, including yesterday’s donation and $21 million given earlier to build the Comer Children’s Hospital, university officials said.

MISSOURI

Authorities arrest shooting suspect

SPRINGFIELD — A man charged in connection with a hotel shooting that injured nine persons was arrested early yesterday at his sister’s apartment in Texas, said police and U.S. marshals.

Curtis B. Sharp, 25, had been a fugitive since the Jan. 15 shooting at the Motel 7 in Springfield, a university town in south-central Missouri. He is charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and two counts of armed criminal action.

Four men and five women, all in their early 20s, were wounded in the shooting.

Police have not identified the victims, citing concerns for their safety. One, a 22-year-old man who was shot in the leg, identified Mr. Sharp as the shooter, according to court records. The man told police he heard Mr. Sharp and another victim arguing shortly before the shots rang out about 3 a.m.

NEW YORK

Crocodile ancestor found in storage

NEW YORK — A toothless, two-legged crocodile ancestor that walked upright and had a beak instead of teeth was discovered in the basement of New York’s American Museum of Natural History, according to a report published yesterday.

The 210-million-year-old fossil had sat in storage at the museum for nearly 60 years and was found by accident, the paleontologists said.

The animal is interesting because it closely resembles a completely unrelated dinosaur called an ostrich dinosaur that lived 80 million years later, they report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a British science journal.

OREGON

U.S. wants cuts in salmon harvests

PORTLAND — Conceding that using hatcheries to supplement dwindling salmon populations is harming wild salmon species in some cases, the Bush administration plans to move away from the practice in favor of a more direct solution: catch fewer fish.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, announced the new policy yesterday at a meeting of salmon scientists, many of whom have concluded that wild Pacific salmon will become extinct this century without big changes in how the harvest is managed.

Scientists have long criticized hatcheries as producers of salmon that dilute the gene pool, spread disease and compete with wild fish for food and habitat, while being less able to survive in the wild.

Mr. Connaughton did not say by how much the administration wants to reduce the wild salmon harvest or how many of the 180 federal, state, tribal and private salmon hatcheries in the Columbia Basin it wants closed. He said change will require the collaboration of regional federal regulators, Canada, Oregon, Washington and Indian tribes.

PENNSYLVANIA

Teen denies killing girlfriend’s parents

HARRISBURG — A teenager accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend’s parents in their home and then fleeing the state with the girl has pleaded not guilty to two counts of criminal homicide.

David Ludwig, 18, also waived his right to an arraignment, which had been scheduled for yesterday, according to papers filed late Tuesday.

Mr. Ludwig is accused of fatally shooting Michael and Cathryn Borden inside their Lititz home on Nov. 13 after they ordered him to stop seeing their daughter, Kara Beth. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

TEXAS

Agents arrest MS-13 members

McALLEN — U.S. Border Patrol agents here have arrested five Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang members in law-enforcement actions across the Rio Grande Valley Sector. The five were detained, prosecuted for illegal entry and processed for deportation proceedings.

Border Patrol officials said the arrests occurred at several sites — west of the Brownsville Gateway International Bridge, near Rivera, near Combes and north of Corpus Christi.

The officials said that during processing in one of the arrests, agents observed several tattoos on a 20-year-old man from El Salvador consistent with potential involvement in the MS-13 gang. The man’s fingerprints were checked and showed that he had a prior deportation and a criminal history for weapons violations in Los Angeles.

Records checks on other detainees also turned up extensive criminal histories and deportation orders, including an MS-13 member from El Salvador with weapons violations and charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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