- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Man releases hostages after chase, standoff

LOPATCONG — A man abducted his 4-month-old daughter and her mother at gunpoint yesterday, then held them in a car surrounded by police for more than three hours before releasing them unharmed, authorities said.

Negotiations continued with the man, Almutah Saunders.

The standoff began just outside Newark in Irvington, when Mr. Saunders shot and wounded the baby’s grandfather in the leg, then seized the child and her mother, Erika Turner, and led police on a chase across the state, authorities said.

Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith said Mr. Saunders was wanted on charges of previously abducting Miss Turner and making threats against a relative of hers.


Public library system to sell art

NEW YORK — The city’s public library system will sell 19 works of art from its collection, including two portraits of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, to raise money to buy rare books and other collections.

The New York Public Library retained Sotheby’s to sell the 15 paintings and four busts. Sotheby’s officials estimate the works will sell for $50 million to $75 million.

The two portraits of Washington are on display through July 31 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington as part of a Stuart retrospective. One of them, painted in 1796, was commissioned as a gift to Alexander Hamilton.


$3 million pledged to renovate landmark

BIRMINGHAM — A campaign to renovate a civil rights landmark, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, has raised more than $3.2 million in pledges toward a $3.8 million goal. Four black girls were killed on Sept. 15, 1963, when a bomb exploded at the church.

Carolyn McKinstry, who was 14 when the bomb exploded, co-directs the fundraising. Supporters also are pushing for national historic landmark status.


Mobile home fire kills four children

BUCKEYE — Four children were killed in Arizona early yesterday when fire tore through their mobile home.

The blaze started before dawn in the Phoenix suburb of Buckeye. Maricopa County authorities were investigating.

Sheriff’s deputies told KPHO-TV in Phoenix that the mother, father and a toddler escaped safely, but two boys and two girls ages 7 to 12 were trapped and died.


New center to aidthe homeless

LOS ANGELES — A nearly century-old facility for the homeless opened a $17 million state-of-the-art center to help the estimated 6,000 to 8,000 homeless who live in downtown.

The new 123,000-square-foot Midnight Mission will have 360 recovery and emergency beds, up from 230. The facility also has a full-sized gym, a library and a playroom for the growing number of homeless children.


Teen dating turns family feud violent

CRESCENT CITY — A man was accused of wounding six members of a neighboring family after a long-running feud that victims said peaked when his daughter began dating a boy from their family.

Six persons ages 14 to 22 were hospitalized Sunday with gunshot wounds. The youngest was critically injured.

Baldemar Riojas, 46, was held on $15,000 bail on six counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.

Members of the Soliz and Ortiz family say their feud with the neighboring Riojas family has simmered for more than a year. The dispute became more heated when Mr. Riojas’ teenage daughter started dating Miguel Soliz, 15, who was among the wounded.

The violence had been building for hours. A fight erupted Saturday night among dozens of opposing family members, but the sheriff’s office said there was not enough information for an arrest. Early Sunday, a 911 caller reported people getting shot.


School offers cash for tips on crime

ROME — Model High School plans to use revenue from candy and soda sales to pay up to $100 for information about thefts and drug or gun possession on campus.

“It’s not that we feel there are any problems here,” said Principal Glenn White. “It’s a proactive move for getting information that will help deter any sort of illegal activity.”

Under the new policy, a student would receive $10 for information about a theft on campus, $25 or $50 for information about drug possession, and $100 for information about gun possession or other serious felonies.

No Model High students have received the reward, and some questioned the logic behind it. Jaime Parris, a senior, said most students already would tell faculty about anything that threatened safety.


Battery changer wins Goldberg contest

WEST LAFAYETTE — A team of Purdue University engineering students has won the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest with an absurdly complex contraption for changing the batteries in a flashlight.

The winning device Saturday employed 125 steps to change the batteries and turn on the flashlight.

The competition pays homage to the cartoonist Rube Goldberg, whose drawings depicted whimsically complicated machines for performing simple tasks. This year’s winning contraption by the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers included a simulated a rocket launch and a meteor impact on Earth.


Red Lake students return to school

RED LAKE — Two boys wounded in last month’s deadly shooting rampage at Red Lake High School led the way as students returned to the school yesterday to gather up their belongings and take part in a traditional Indian healing ceremony.

Classes will resume today at the school on the Red Lake Indian Reservation.

Ryan Auginash, 14, and Cody Thunder, 15, who survived the nation’s deadliest school shooting since Columbine in 1999, were at the front of a group of students, teachers and parents yesterday.

Some students said they were fearful but determined to return to class.

On March 21, Jeff Weise, a 16-year-old loner and admirer of Adolf Hitler, fatally shot his grandfather and the man’s girlfriend, then went to his school and killed seven persons, including five students and a teacher. He then committed suicide. Seven students were wounded, including two 15-year-old boys still in a Fargo, N.D., hospital.


48 immigrants found in trailer

LAS CRUCES — Authorities uncovered a trailer containing 48 suspected illegal immigrants outside an Interstate 10 truck stop. U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Doug Mosier said they are treating the discovery as an alien-smuggling case.

Forty-four immigrants are from Mexico and four came from Brazil. The suspected illegal immigrants were being sent home. Charges are pending against the driver.


Clay business built from the ground up

AKRON — For Bob Webb, dirt is about as good as gold.

The northeastern Ohio man built a business, Wessco Inc., selling his special blend of dirt to major league, minor league and collegiate baseball teams across the county. The company’s clay is used on pitcher’s mounds and batter’s boxes.

Wessco’s patented clay mix is called Klawog. The product is gummy, requiring less water, and it molds to itself well so pitchers can manipulate it to their liking.

Mr. Webb got into the business 13 years ago. He was selling bricks for a home-construction company when he received a call from a friend who worked for a distributor of sports-grounds maintenance materials looking for pitcher’s mound clay.

In a week, Mr. Webb and his business partner, David Derr, experimented with different types of clay and developed the formula for Klawog.


Bill would restrict Web cigarette sales

PIERRE — Sen. Clarence Kooistra is sponsoring a bill banning Internet cigarette sales to minors. The bill requires Internet cigarette vendors to verify buyers’ ages and file sales invoices with the state. It also requires purchasers to show photo identification and sign for shipments.

The law carries fines of up to five times the retail value of the sales and allows the state to destroy illegal cigarettes.


Fast-food worker sentenced for fraud

SALT LAKE CITY — A 21-year-old fast-food employee has been sentenced to probation and six months in jail for double-swiping the credit cards of customers who irritated him.

Travis Dominguez pleaded guilty to one count of credit card fraud, a third-degree felony. He was accused of doubled-swiping cards at the Taco Bell where he worked, putting in different amounts on the second swipe between $20 and $30.

Third District Judge Glenn Iwasaki ordered a psychological evaluation and $142.22 restitution, and barred Dominguez from employment involving financial transactions.

Dominguez faced five felony counts of unlawful use of a credit card and single misdemeanor counts of theft and obstruction of justice. He reportedly called police pretending to be a Taco Bell executive claiming to have solved the case.


Harriers host bridal run

MADISON — About 50 people gave new meaning to the term runaway bride when they donned matrimonial regalia and ran through town, sometimes stopping traffic.

Everyone from pretend priests to brides and grooms of both sexes took part in the first Running of the Brides on Saturday.

Liz Zelandais found the run difficult, and not just because of the champagne she drank.

“Pulling a train is one thing,” she said, tugging the $2 thrift-store gown over her tennis shoes. “But having to run with a train is unbelievable.”

The run was hosted by the Madison branch of the Hash House Harriers, an internationally known “drinking group with a running problem.”

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