- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007


House approves slavery apology

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House approved a resolution yesterday apologizing for slavery and saying the tragedies will never be forgotten.

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Mary Moore, a Democrat, passed on an unrecorded voice vote and now goes to the Senate for consideration. The House voted one day after Alabama’s official state holiday for Confederate Memorial Day.

Legislatures in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina have approved similar slavery apologies this year.

Her resolution expresses “our deepest sympathies and solemn regrets to those who were enslaved and the descendants of slaves, who were deprived of life, human dignity, and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States.”

It also encourages “the remembrance and teaching about the history of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and modern day slavery, to ensure that these tragedies will neither be forgotten nor repeated.”


Storm brings snow, tornado, flooding

DENVER — A storm system piled more than a foot of snow on the Colorado foothills yesterday and hit the Plains with violent thunderstorms, flooding rainfall and hail.

A tornado damaged several buildings near the small town of Wild Horse about 110 miles southeast of Denver, but no injuries were reported, the Cheyenne County Sheriff’s Department said. The department did not have details on damage.

Evergreen, in the foothills west of Denver, reported 16 inches of snow, and other foothills towns had up to 14 inches.

Westbound Interstate 70 was closed in the mountains about 35 miles west of Denver because of snow and wrecks. I-25 was closed about 14 miles north of the New Mexico state line by a downed power line, but it was not clear whether that was caused by the storm.

Hail the diameter of quarters peppered parts of southeastern Colorado, and authorities said some rural roads were blocked by flooding from heavy rain in northeastern Colorado, northwestern Kansas and southwestern Nebraska.


Man arrested for butchering alligator

TAMPA — Police arrested a man who picked up a dead alligator and tried to butcher it on his front lawn, saying he only wanted a new belt.

Benjamin Hodges, 35, said he found the dead gator floating in the Hillsborough River on Sunday and took it home in a shopping cart.

Just as Mr. Hodges flopped the carcass onto the ground and started to cut it open, officers showed up and arrested him. Someone had reported him to the state wildlife agency.

He is charged with killing or possessing an alligator, a felony punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Although their numbers are growing, American alligators are still protected in Florida as a species of special concern.

“I didn’t think there was anything illegal about skinning a dead gator,” Mr. Hodges told the Tampa Tribune.

He was freed on $2,000 bail.


Fire breaks out in ‘Batman’ building

CHICAGO — Fire broke out in a vacant post office yesterday where a movie crew had been filming scenes for an upcoming “Batman” sequel.

District Fire Chief Jose Santiago said insulation inside the building’s “very old ventilation system” caught fire shortly before 11:30 a.m. and had nothing to do with the filming. There were no injuries, he said.

The fire was contained to the 16th-floor ventilation shaft in the 17-story building, and most of the flames were extinguished by a sprinkler system, officials said.

The movie crew had been filming there all week, said Pete Kearney, who works next door. Letters affixed to the side of the old post office read: “Gotham National Bank.”

“We assumed it was part of the movie,” Mr. Kearney said of the smoke yesterday morning.


Rioting inmates hurt staff, set fires

NEW CASTLE — Inmates staged a two-hour riot at a medium-security men’s prison yesterday, injuring two staff members and setting fires in a courtyard.

Indiana Department of Correction spokeswoman Java Ahmed said more than one cell house was involved in the disturbance at the New Castle Correctional Facility, about 43 miles east of Indianapolis.

Corrections officials sent emergency squads and county and state police to the prison. New Castle Mayor Tom Nipp said the entire city police force was activated.

Helicopter pictures showed officers in riot gear standing outside the prison fence and at least two fires burning in the courtyard. Authorities later secured the prison perimeter and confirmed that no inmates escaped, although some were still out of their cells, Indiana State Police Sgt. Rod Russell said.

The prison, built in 2002, can house about 2,200 inmates. It has about 1,000 prisoners from Indiana and 630 from Arizona.


DNA from bun helps nab car thief

EASTPOINTE — Norman O. Wheeler probably wishes that he had finished that cinnamon bun.

DNA evidence from the partly eaten pastry led to Wheeler’s arrest in a 2004 car theft.

The 40-year-old Detroit resident was serving time for another auto theft when authorities made the DNA match. Wheeler pleaded guilty earlier this month and will be sentenced May 22.

Eastpointe Officer Ed Lulko was investigating the car-theft report when a witness described seeing a man arrive in one car and then break out the windows of the other car and steal it, according to police in the Detroit suburb.

“Officer Lulko found the partially eaten pastry in the car and sent it to the Michigan State Police crime laboratory with hopes that the DNA left on the roll could lead to the identity of the perpetrator,” Detective Eric Keiser told the Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens. As a convict, Wheeler’s DNA was on file, leading to the match and arrest.


Mayoral attack on house described

JACKSON — Mayor Frank Melton and two police bodyguards used sticks and sledgehammers to destroy a duplex that the mayor considered a “crack house,” witnesses told jurors yesterday in the opening day of testimony in the trial of the mayor and officers.

Mr. Melton, a tough-talking former television executive elected on a platform of rooting out the city’s crime problems, faces five felony charges in the attack on the duplex in August.

Mr. Melton said the ramshackle structure was a “crack house” and a blight on the community. The property owners deny it was a drug haven.

Lawrence Cooper testified that he and another man were drinking beer and watching “Walking Tall” — a movie about a renegade sheriff whose weapon of choice is a large stick — when the mayor and his bodyguards burst in with large sticks.

Mr. Cooper testified that Mr. Melton repeatedly swore, and several witnesses testified that Mr. Melton directed at least two juveniles to participate in the attack on the duplex.

Former Mayor Dale Danks, one of Mr. Melton’s attorneys, said during opening arguments that the state couldn’t prove the involvement of malice, an element necessary for conviction.


Fourth-grader brings grenade to school

SOUTHLAKE — An elementary school was evacuated for more than an hour yesterday morning after a fourth-grader showed up with a hand grenade, authorities said.

The grenade still had the pin in it, but it was later determined to be inactive, school district spokeswoman Julie Thannum said. A bomb squad had been called to remove the grenade from a classroom.

“The boy wasn’t mad at anyone,” Cpl. Mike Bedrich of the Southlake Department of Public Safety told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He just thought it would be cool to bring it to school.”

Old Union Elementary school’s staff and 530 students were moved away from the building while authorities in the Fort Worth suburb investigated.

Miss Thannum declined to say whether any action would be taken against the student.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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