- - Wednesday, August 4, 2010

CALIFORNIA

2 charged in graduation brawl

VICTORVILLE | Two women have been charged with misdemeanors for a fight that led to a brawl during a Southern California kindergarten graduation ceremony.

San Bernardino County investigators say the women were arguing and it got physical in a field near the June ceremony at Puesta del Sol Elementary in Victorville.

Several men got involved and the incident turned into a brawl, forcing school officials to place the school on lockdown until deputies sorted things out. No one was hurt.

Court records show misdemeanor charges have been filed against Queiona Burt, 31, and Marina Ruth Vargas, 29.

Prosecutors say they face up to six months in jail if convicted for interference with peaceful conduct at a school and 90 days in jail for unlawful acts committed on school grounds.

FLORIDA

Disney to charge $82 for day pass

ORLANDO | Visitors to Walt Disney World will have to dig deeper into their pockets to get into the theme-park resort in Orlando.

Disney World is raising the price of a one-day, one-park adult ticket to $82 starting Thursday.

The change in ticket price is a 3.8 percent increase from the current $79.

Prices for multiday-ticket packages, which the resort sells in far greater volume than single-day tickets, also are increasing. It will now cost an extra $2, or $54, to get a “park hopper” pass, which allows a buyer of a regular ticket to get into multiple theme parks at Disney World in one day.

ILLINOIS

Man charged in terrorism plot

CHICAGO | A 26-year-old Chicago man who told an FBI informant that he didn’t expect to reach the age of 30 was charged with plotting to go to Somalia to become a suicide bomber for al Qaeda and another linked terror group, federal prosecutors alleged in court documents unsealed Wednesday.

During a brief hearing, prosecutors told a judge that Shaker Masri was taken into custody and charged Tuesday evening with trying to aid al Qaeda and al-Shabab, a violent extremist group in Somalia, and attempting to provide support through the use of a weapon of mass destruction outside the U.S.

Mr. Masri, who faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for each charge, was ordered to remain in custody after prosecutors called him a flight risk and a danger to the community. He told the judge he was a U.S. citizen, and court documents said he was born in Alabama and spent years overseas before returning to the U.S. when he was 18.

NEW JERSEY

Man killed at anti-violence party

PATERSON | A man attending a block party, police said, as part of the National Night Out anti-crime initiative was fatally shot in the state’s third-largest city.

Police said Robert Godfrey, 39, was shot in the head while arguing with another man on a crowded street Tuesday.

Police are searching for a 30-year-old man who has been charged with Mr. Godfrey’s murder and weapons offenses.

Lt. Ron Humphrey said witnesses saw the two men arguing loudly when the suspect pulled a gun and shot Mr. Godfrey once in the head.

National Night Out is observed across the U.S. as an annual event meant to heighten drug and crime-prevention awareness.

NEW YORK

Group sues to stop mosque near ground zero

NEW YORK | A conservative advocacy group founded by the Rev. Pat Robertson is suing to try to block a planned Islamic community center and mosque near ground zero.

The mosque proposal has become a fulcrum for balancing religious freedom and the legacy of the Sept. 11 attacks. It would be two blocks from ground zero.

The American Center for Law and Justice says it filed a petition Wednesday challenging a city panel’s decision to let developers tear down a building to make way for the mosque.

City lawyers say they’re confident the panel followed appropriate procedures. A spokesman for the mosque project declined to comment.

Opponents say the mosque plan insults the memory of those killed by Islamic terrorists in the 2001 attacks. Supporters see it as a monument to tolerance.

PENNSYLVANIA

Carnival game with Obama likeness yanked

ALLENTOWN | The head of an eastern Pennsylvania amusement company has yanked a carnival game in which players shot foam darts at an image resembling President Obama.

Irvin Good Jr. pulled the target-shooting game after receiving a complaint from a patron attending a fair in Roseto, about 65 miles north of Philadelphia. Mr. Good said Wednesday his company, Hellertown-based Goodtime Amusements, won’t offer the game again.

The game, dubbed “Alien Attack,” featured a large painted image of a black man wearing a belt buckle with the presidential seal and holding a scroll labeled “Health Bill.” Players could win prizes by hitting targets on the image’s head and heart.

The game was featured in late July at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Big Time Celebration, an annual fair that raises money for the Roman Catholic parish in Roseto.

VIRGINIA

Former Capitol officer pleads guilty to child porn

ALEXANDRIA | A former U.S. Capitol Police officer has pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography.

Dennis Craig Bell, 55, of Woodbridge, Va., entered the plea Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Court documents state that Bell used a peer-to-peer network to distribute child pornography. When law enforcement approached him in April, Bell claimed that he just wanted to see how readily available child pornography was on the Internet, but he deleted the images.

Prosecutors say Bell admitted that he had downloaded child pornography at homes in Woodbridge and Fairfax and at work and saved them.

More than 160 videos and 103 still images were found on his computer. Bell retired from the Capitol Police after his arrest.

Bell faces five to 20 years in prison at sentencing in October.

From wire dispatches and staff reports