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American Scene

- - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

GEORGIA

Police: Victims related in Korean spa shooting

NORCROSS — A gunman walked into the Su Jung Health Sauna on Tuesday evening, argued with someone and then opened fire, killing two of his sisters and their husbands, then himself, authorities said Wednesday.

According to police, the gunman was asked to leave the spa after creating a disturbance earlier and he returned with the .45-caliber gun used in the shooting. Su Jung is one of several day spas about 15 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta, where there is a large Korean population.

OREGON

Teen flier praising bin Laden is indicted

PORTLAND — A teenager on a flight from Portland, Ore., to Houston who caused a ruckus Tuesday by swinging at an attendant and praising Osama bin Laden was indicted Wednesday.

He was identified as 19-year-old Yazeed Mohammed A. Abunayyan.

Police said they believe he is the same teen who led police on a slow-speed chase in southern Oregon on Sunday, ramming two police cars and nearly hitting a pedestrian. He was accused of drunken driving and assaulting an officer. He was released on bail Monday.

NEW JERSEY

Mayor: NYPD spying on Muslims improper

NEWARK — The mayor and police director of New Jersey's largest city said Wednesday the New York Police Department misled their city and never told them it was conducting a widespread spying operation on Newark's Muslim neighborhoods. Had they known, they said, they never would have allowed it.

"If anyone in my police department had known this was a blanket investigation of individuals based on nothing but their religion, that strikes at the core of our beliefs and my beliefs very personally, and it would have merited a far sterner response," Newark Mayor Cory Booker said.

In mid-2007, the NYPD's secretive Demographics Unit fanned out across Newark, photographing every mosque and eavesdropping in Muslim businesses. The findings were cataloged in a 60-page report, obtained by the Associated Press, that served as a police guidebook to Newark's Muslims. There was no mention of terrorism or any criminal wrongdoing.

NORTH CAROLINA

Terrorism convict faces new beheading plot case

RALEIGH — A North Carolina man convicted in a homegrown terrorism plot faces new charges of attempting to hire a hit man to behead three witnesses who testified against him.

Hysen Sherifi of Raleigh was indicted on nine counts Tuesday, accused of plotting with his younger brother and a female friend to pay a hit man to carry out the killings. Court records say an FBI informant accepted $5,000 in payment and then provided faked photos appearing to show a beheaded corpse as confirmation of the killing.

Shkumbin Sherifi and Nevine Aly Elshiekh were arrested last month. They face additional charges in the new indictment.

Hysen Sherifi was sentenced in January to 45 years in prison for a plot to attack the U.S. Marine base at Quantico, Va., and targets overseas.

PENNSYLVANIA

'Occupy' to hold national gathering July 4th week

PHILADELPHIA — A group of protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement plans to elect 876 "delegates" from across the country and hold a national "general assembly" during the Fourth of July week as part of ongoing protests about perceived corporate excess and economic inequality.

Delegates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories will meet in Philadelphia to draft and ratify a "petition for a redress of grievances," convening during the week of July 2 and holding a news conference in front of Independence Hall on the Fourth of July.

OREGON

Teenage girl dies after inhaling helium at party

EAGLE POINT — She was going to a slumber party, 14-year-old Ashley Long told her parents. Instead she piled into a car with friends and rode to a booze, marijuana and helium party at a condo in Medford, Ore.

After drinking during the drive and in the condo, the teenager was encouraged to take her turn on the tank of helium the crowd was using to make their voices sound funny.

"My daughter didn't want to do it. It was peer pressure. They put a mask up to her face. They said it would be OK. 'It's not gonna hurt you,' " said stepfather, Justin Earp, who learned what happened from talking to Ashley's friends.

Instead, she passed out and later died at a hospital, the result of an obstruction in a blood vessel caused by inhaling helium from a pressurized tank.

MICHIGAN

Man pleads guilty in explosives case

TRAVERSE CITY — A man accused of buying and hiding more than 4,000 pounds of explosives with enough potential firepower to equal the Oklahoma City bombing pleaded guilty to one count, though his attorney insisted Wednesday that his client had no violent intentions.

In exchange for his plea, four other counts were dropped against John Francis Lechner, 64. He could get up to 10 years in prison when sentenced May 25.

He was arrested in September.

NEBRASKA

Tribe seeks order to limit beer sales in adjacent town

LINCOLN — Leaders of an American Indian tribe in South Dakota who are suing beer makers, distributors and retailers are now asking a judge to limit alcohol sales in a tiny Nebraska town near their reservation.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe added the request late last week to a federal lawsuit that seeks $500 million in damages for the alcohol-related problems on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.