- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 25, 2005

CALIFORNIA

Residents cash in on weapons swap

COMPTON — “Big Daddy” Willis came to Compton to turn an illegal homemade pistol into Christmas dinner. Charlene Watt planned to turn three shotguns into a plasma television.

The two were among dozens of gun-toting residents who converged on a shopping center parking lot this weekend for an anonymous swap of firearms for gift certificates as part of a program aimed at reducing violence in this crime-plagued city.

Each was rewarded with a $100 gift card for Circuit City or the Ralphs supermarket chain, the program’s co-sponsors.

In a line that snaked across a parking lot, participants from across Los Angeles County carried guns in cardboard boxes, plastic grocery bags and fancy leather cases.

“Hopefully and prayerfully, this will cut down on the shootings,” said Compton resident Ruther Daniels, 44, who turned in a .22-caliber handgun.

ILLINOIS

Court backs city on pet pigeon ban

CHICAGO — A federal appeals court has upheld the city’s ban on pet racing pigeons, rejecting assertions by some enthusiasts that the ordinance is unconstitutional.

The ban makes Chicago the only large U.S. city that outlaws pet pigeons, according to the American Racing Pigeon Union.

The pigeons coo excessively and scatter feathers and droppings, proponents of the ban said.

“We’re not hurting anybody,” said Karl Wollenhaupt, secretary and treasurer of the Greater Chicago Combine and Center Inc., a pigeon racing club. “This sport has been in existence for hundreds of years. … These are birds of pedigree.”

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a lower-court ruling that backed the city ordinance, which was passed more than a year ago.

MASSACHUSETTS

Student accused of slashing professor

CAMBRIDGE — Police have arrested and charged a student at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell of stabbing his science professor in the neck over his poor grades.

Mary Elizabeth Hooker was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.

Nikhil Dhar, 22, was arrested on charges of assault and battery and attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty Friday in Cambridge District Court and is being held without bail pending a Wednesday hearing.

A Boston Globe report based on police reports and court documents said Saturday that Mr. Dhar knocked on the professor’s door to discuss his failing grades and, after she suggested they go somewhere else to talk, started shouting at her. He then dragged her to the ground, and beat and stabbed her repeatedly, cutting a 4-inch slash into her neck and ripping off her shirt.

Mr. Dhar was apprehended by a neighbor and had “blood all over his hands” and on his sneakers, the police report said. The Globe also reported that police found a bloody note with the word “kill” in the student’s right coat pocket.

NEW JERSEY

Re-enactors perform Delaware crossing

WASHINGTON CROSSING — Hundreds of spectators along the Delaware River yesterday saw the first complete re-enactment since 2001 of Gen. George Washington’s historic crossing.

Unlike the past three attempts, when days of precipitation pushed water levels and speeds above safety levels, this Christmas Day presented a more placid route from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.

Jim Gibson, portraying Washington in a full uniform replete with sword and peaked cap, and about 60 of his fellow re-enactors made it across in two longboats just as a raw mist became a steady rain.

“Rain doesn’t stop us,” said Mr. Gibson, 53, of Fallsington, Pa., who has been part of the re-enactment for 15 years. “We do these things in all sorts of weather.”

The actual crossing took place in the dark, in driving sleet, starting on Christmas night 1776 and finishing early the next day. The sentries’ passwords: “Victory or death.” The army went on to victories in Trenton and Princeton, reversing the declining fortunes of the Continental Army.

NEW MEXICO

More items seized in explosives case

ALBUQUERQUE — Numerous firearms and a chop shop for stolen vehicles were discovered in the recovery of hundreds of pounds of stolen explosives, federal officials said Saturday.

Four men were arrested Friday in connection with the looted explosives that disappeared from Cherry Engineering’s storage depot eight miles southwest of Albuquerque earlier in the week, said a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Authorities didn’t say what the thieves planned to do with the explosives, which was enough to flatten a large building, but they thought the theft was not related to terrorism.

A tip led to the arrests of Leslie Brown, 44, of Ignacio, Colo.; David Brown, 49, of Bloomfield; and Eric Wayne Armstrong, 32, of Bloomfield, who all face federal charges that include possession of stolen explosives and being felons in possession of explosives, said Tom Mangan, ATF spokesman.

Authorities refused to release the identity of the fourth person arrested.

OREGON

Surfer survives shark attack

SEASIDE — A man attacked by a shark while surfing off the northern Oregon coast Saturday suffered lacerations on his ankle and calf, authorities said.

The 30-year-old surfer, Brian Anderson, was “conscious, alert and smiling” on the way to Providence Seaside Hospital, said Seaside Fire Department Chief Joe Dotson.

“There was quite a bit of blood, but he was not entered into the trauma center, so I assume he will be fine,” Chief Dotson said.

Nursing supervisor Greg Bench said the surfer would be released soon.

Witnesses told Chief Dotson the 10-foot great white shark attacked at about noon at the popular surfing spot near Tillamook Head.

“I think everybody got out of the water,” the chief said. “He didn’t get seconds.”

Chief Dotson said it was the first shark attack off Seaside in his 26 years with the department.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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