- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2007


Crews contain 2,000-acre blaze

HESPERIA — A Southern California wildfire that prompted the evacuation of 230 homes was 50 percent contained yesterday after charring 2,000 acres, authorities said.

About 150 firefighters and two water-dropping helicopters were aided by lighter wind and lower temperatures.

Full containment was expected later in the day, said San Bernardino County Fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez.

The blaze burned a shed and damaged the roof of a house, but no injuries were reported. Evacuations were lifted for about 200 homes late Saturday, and residents of the other 30 homes were allowed to return early yesterday, Miss Martinez said.

The blaze began as a small brush fire Saturday morning. The cause was under investigation.


Sharks bite two near island beaches

FORT PIERCE — A 9-year-old boy and an adult were apparently bitten by sharks off the beaches of a barrier island, authorities said. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The attacks happened within an hour of each other Saturday in the water along Hutchinson Island in St. Lucie County on Florida’s east coast.

The boy was bitten on his right buttock and thigh at Waveland Park, St. Lucie County Fire District spokeswoman Catherine Whitaker said. He was released after treatment at a local hospital.

About an hour later, a 30-year-old surfer at Normandy Beach was bitten on his right ankle, causing a deep wound serious enough that he was hospitalized for observation, Miss Whitaker said.

Last year, 23 shark attacks were recorded along the Florida coast, maintaining the state’s position as the world’s shark-attack capital, according to a University of Florida study. Florida’s last recorded fatal shark attack was in 2005.


3 persons shot in mall robbery try

ATLANTA — Authorities were searching yesterday for three men after three persons were shot during an attempted robbery at a shopping mall, police said.

One person was critically wounded in the melee.

Authorities were still piecing together what happened, but said that the shootings happened about 5:15 p.m. in a store at Greenbriar Mall. One of the injured people was a security guard, police said.

The assailants got away in a sport utility vehicle, police said.

All three of the injured were taken to a hospital, where two persons were listed in stable condition, police said.


Cough gets girl kicked off plane

HONOLULU — A 16-year-old girl who caught a cold during a school trip to New York was kicked off her flight home because she was coughing.

Rachel Collier was removed from the Continental Airlines plane as it was about to leave Newark, N.J., for Honolulu last week. She had fallen asleep after boarding the plane with about three dozen classmates and woke up coughing and gasping for breath.

The flight attendants gave her water, and a doctor on the flight said she would be OK to make the 10-hour flight. But the captain returned the aircraft to the gate to drop off the girl and one of her teachers. Continental said, “The captain felt he was acting in the best interest of the passenger and other passengers on the flight.”

Rachel said she started crying when the captain told her to leave. She and the teacher finally made it home the next day.

Teacher Maile Kawamura, a chaperone for the spring break trip to New York and Washington, said she was shocked. The two didn’t know what to do or where to stay, she said. They finally found accommodations in New York and bought clothes and toiletries.

Rachel’s mother, Stephanie Collier, said Continental has agreed to reimburse her daughter’s expenses incurred during the extra day, including the cost of the hotel.


Man arrested as gin-and-tonic bandit

BLOOMINGTON — A scofflaw who came to be known as the gin-and-tonic bandit went to the same restaurant each Wednesday for weeks, ordered two drinks and a rib-eye steak, then skipped out on his $25.96 bill.

Police arrested the man on preliminary charges of theft and resisting law enforcement. He was being held early Friday at the Monroe County Jail on $2,000 bail, authorities said.

Each Wednesday night for four weeks running, the same man came into the same O’Charley’s restaurant and ordered the two drinks and the steak, restaurant manager Teresa Tolbert told police. The wait staff would present him with his bill, and he would excuse himself to use the restroom, then skip out without paying.

The man appeared a fifth time Wednesday night, but the restaurant was ready for him, police said. When his server presented the bill, he again claimed he needed to use the bathroom. But when he walked out of the restaurant, four employees were waiting for him. They confronted him about the unpaid bill, which he offered to pay with a check, police said.

After he was told that the restaurant didn’t accept checks, the man “got nervous and ran,” according to the police report. Officer Randy Gehlhausen caught up with the man as he was trying to open his car door.


Most Wanted woman captured, charged

KANSAS CITY — The lone woman on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list was captured and charged with one count of second-degree murder, authorities said.

Shauntay L. Henderson, 24, was arrested Saturday when she answered the door at an apartment, police said. Authorities had gone to the apartment in search of someone she knew, authorities said.

The reputed gang member is charged with the September shooting death of DeAndre M. Parker, 20, who was killed as he sat in a pickup truck outside a convenience store. Court documents did not give a motive for the shooting.

She also is charged in a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. She was caught Saturday night just before the television show “America’s Most Wanted” announced her inclusion on the list.


Bello the clown offers bike reward

NEW YORK — There was a $1,000 reward, a toll-free tip line and a press conference — all for a lost little bike.

The foot-high, 6-inch-wide contraption belongs to Bello Nock, the daredevil clown star of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, appearing at Madison Square Garden.

The bitty bike was taken from a Manhattan street Friday, while Bello, well, clowned around. He and two fellow clowns had put on an impromptu show for a passing camera crew, when Bello rested his bike against a street sign and forgetfully walked away.

The orange-haired, Florida-born clown said he can’t replace his trademark bike, which was built in Mexico City and has been in his family of circus performers for a dozen years.

The bike, which is about as high as his foot is long, “is not something I can go buy in a store,” the 38-year-old performer once named “America’s Best Clown” by Time magazine said. “I’d have to find someone willing and able to make it.”

Anyone with information about the bike is urged to call 877/606-3052.


Amish students given New Hope

NICKEL MINES — Amish students who survived a shooting that killed five classmates planned to attend school in a new building yesterday, exactly six months after the massacre, authorities said.

On Friday, boys and girls played in the sun-drenched schoolyard while Amish adults put finishing touches on the new one-room schoolhouse, which comes with a new name — the New Hope Amish School.

The building is more secure than the old one was, with more sophisticated locks and a location reachable only by a private drive.

The new school is within eyesight of the site of the West Nickel Mines Amish School, which was torn down Oct. 12. Ten days earlier, milk truck driver Charles Carl Roberts IV shot 10 girls inside the school and then committed suicide as police closed in.

Students have been attending classes in a garage since the shooting.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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