- - Thursday, April 12, 2012

ALASKA

KODIAK — Two Coast Guard members were fatally shot at a communications station on an island off Alaska, officials said Thursday.

Officials said it remained unclear if the deaths at the Coast Guard station on Kodiak Island were a double homicide or murder-suicide. Capt. Jesse Moore said it was “possible that the suspect remains at large.”

The Coast Guard said the identities of the victims would be released after family members were notified. Officials did not yet know whether the shootings took place Wednesday or earlier Thursday.

The FBI said agents were headed to Kodiak from Anchorage, about 250 miles away.

CALIFORNIA

Toy grenade prompts NYC building evacuation

NEW YORK — A toy grenade was to blame for an evacuation Thursday at a building near ground zero, authorities said.

The police bomb squad was called to 2 World Financial Center in lower Manhattan at midday when a security guard reported a package that seemed suspicious. Brookfield Properties, which runs the property, ordered an evacuation as a precaution.

Employees in business suits filed calmly back into the building after the New York Police Department declared the situation all clear about 90 minutes later.

The bomb squad determined the package was a fake explosive that looked like a 1940s-style grenade. It was mounted on a plaque that said “Complaint department: Take a number,” with a number attached to the pin.

PENNSYLVANIA

Church could have gone to police, expert testifies

PHILADELPHIA — An expert on Roman Catholicism told jurors Thursday that no church law prevented the Philadelphia archdiocese from relaying to police the scores of complaints coming in about priests molesting children.

The Rev. Thomas Doyle also described internal laws that make it a church crime to harbor criminals or fail to act in certain situations.

He testified for the prosecution in the child-endangerment trial of Monsignor William Lynn, who served as secretary for clergy in Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004.

Mr. Lynn, 61, is the first Catholic church official in the U.S. charged with child endangerment for allegedly failing to protect children from suspected priest-predators.

NEW YORK

N.Y. group to organize PTA for gay students

GARDEN CITY —A New York group has won approval to organize what would be the only Parent Teacher Association unit in the country currently dedicated to the needs of gay and lesbian youths.

An official with the national PTA says a Washington group formed a gay parent-teacher-student association in Puget Sound in 1999, but it later disbanded.

Organizers said anyone is welcome to join the new group.

PENNSYLVANIA

Judge refuses to dismiss charges against Sandusky

BELLEFONTE — A judge has refused to throw out child sex abuse charges against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Judge John Cleland rejected an argument by Mr. Sandusky’s lawyer that the statute of limitations may have run out for 8 of the 10 alleged victims.

Judge Cleland also rejected defense motions that some of the charges against Mr. Sandusky were not specific enough and that evidence was lacking in others. But the judge said Thursday that Mr. Sandusky can make those arguments again before a June trial.

Mr. Sandusky is charged with more than 50 criminal counts that allege sexual abuse of 10 boys over 15 years. He has denied the accusations.

ILLINOIS

Chicago homicides up 60 percent in 3 months

CHICAGO — Homicides in Chicago spiked by 60 percent during the first three months of the year despite an increase in police resources in some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods, according to new police crime statistics.

The Chicago Police Department data showed that nonfatal shootings also rose sharply in the first quarter compared with the same three months in 2011.

Chicago police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel say the city has increased efforts to combat gang crime, including adding officers and other resources in trouble spots such as the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side. Police blame much of the violence on the city’s more than 70 active gangs and their tens of thousands of members. The mayor has urged residents to take a stand against gangs in their communities.

The police statistics show 120 homicides from Jan. 1 through April 1, compared with 75 over the same period in 2011.

WASHINGTON

Bus driver who collapsed during school commute dies

MILTON — A Washington school bus driver has died two days after he suffered a heart attack at the wheel, prompting students to take over.

Fife School District Deputy Superintendent Jeff Short says 43-year-old Ryan Callis died Wednesday evening.

Bus footage shows 13-year-old Jeremy Wuitschick rushing down the aisle to the unconscious driver and grabbing the wheel Monday morning as other students yell: “Call 911!”

Paramedics who rushed to Surprise Lake Middle School in Milton, Wash., said the Tacoma man suffered a heart attack.

TEXAS

JetBlue pilot indicted for flight disruption

LUBBOCK — A JetBlue Airways captain accused of disrupting a Las Vegas-bound flight when he left the cockpit screaming about religion and terrorists has been indicted, according to court documents posted Thursday.

A grand jury in Lubbock indicted Clayton F. Osbon on one count of interference of a flight crew - the same charge he’s been held on since shortly after the March 27 incident.

Witnesses on Flight 191 say Mr. Osbon ran through the cabin yelling about Jesus and al Qaeda. The first officer locked him out of the cockpit and passengers wrestled the captain to the floor. They restrained him with seat-belt extenders and zip tie handcuffs while the first officer diverted the flight to land in Amarillo.

INDIANA

Review: State fair stage failed to meet code

INDIANAPOLIS — An engineering review released Thursday found that the stage rigging that collapsed and killed seven people during last summer’s Indiana State Fair wasn’t built strong enough to meet state building codes.

Scott Nacheman, a vice president of engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti, told the state fair commission that the metal rigging structure didn’t meet requirements that it withstand wind gusts of 68 mph.

Mr. Nacheman said gusts reached an estimated 59 mph when the rigging collapsed onto fans awaiting a concert by the country duo Sugarland. Dozens of people were also injured in the Aug. 13 collapse.

The firm’s analysis found that parts of the rigging’s support system began to give way at gusts of 33 mph.

CALIFORNIA

Deputy killed while serving eviction notice

MODESTO — A sheriff’s deputy was killed Thursday when gunfire broke out as authorities tried to serve an eviction notice at a California apartment complex, authorities said. A civilian also died.

The shooter was believed to be holed up inside an apartment. A SWAT team was called in, and authorities evacuated residents in surrounding homes.

From wire dispatches and staff reports