- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

MASSACHUSETTS

Man kills self, ex-girlfriend

LYNN — A man pulled his estranged girlfriend into an elevator in the office building where she worked and ignited a 2-gallon container of gasoline, killing them both, authorities and witnesses said.

Authorities found the bodies of a man and woman inside the elevator after the explosion on Wednesday, and police were investigating it as a murder-suicide. Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett identified the two dead as Raymond Echavarria, 23, and Xiomara Robles, 21.

Lawyer Phil Lamonica, whose law office shares the common area with a psychiatric clinic where Miss Robles worked as a secretary, said he bought lunch for her, her young son and another secretary Wednesday. Mr. Lamonica said Miss Robles and the boy were laughing and talking when they returned to work, but a short time later Mr. Echavarria drove up. Police said the pair apparently argued near or inside the elevator.

MINNESOTA

Girl gets her dog’s head in gift-wrapped box

ST. PAUL — A 17-year-old girl who spent weeks looking for her missing dog unwrapped a box left on her doorstep and found the pet’s severed head inside, authorities said.

Homicide investigators were looking into the case because of the “implied” terroristic threat, St. Paul Police Sgt. Jim Gray said. The Humane Society of the United States is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

After Chevy, Crystal Brown’s 4-year-old Australian shepherd mix, wandered away last month, she put up “missing” posters in her neighborhood and went door to door looking for him. Two weeks ago, a gift-wrapped box was left at the house Crystal shares with her grandmother. The box also contained Valentine’s Day candy.

Crystal now has a new puppy, another Australian shepherd she’s named Diesel

GEORGIA

Senate panel pushes Confederate month

ATLANTA — A panel of Georgia lawmakers yesterday signed off on a plan to create a Confederate heritage month, even as the legislature’s leaders were giving a cool reception to a push to apologize for the state’s role in slavery.

The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Mullis, a Republican whose family owned land on which the Civil War’s bloody Battle of Chickamauga was fought.

It would dub April as Confederate History and Heritage Month to honor the memory of the Confederacy and “all those millions of its citizens of various races and ethnic groups and religions who contributed in sundry and myriad ways to the cause of Southern Independence.”

The Senate Rules Committee, in a unanimous vote, sent the plan to the full Senate for consideration days after black lawmakers announced plans to ask the state to officially apologize for its role in slavery and segregation-era laws.

INDIANA

Father accused of stabbing baby

INDIANAPOLIS — A man stabbed his 11-month-old son in the back, threw the boy out the car window with the kitchen knife stuck in his back and then drove away, police said yesterday. His 5-year-old son managed to escape unharmed.

“He was conscious, but the knife was buried all the way to the handle,” said Speedway Detective Jim Thiele. The boy, Devin Chandler, was in stable condition at a hospital yesterday.

Officers had found Kevin Chandler’s car but were searching for him. Detective Thiele said Mr. Chandler is homeless and had been staying with friends or family.

Police think Mr. Chandler, 31, and the boy’s mother, Angela Limbrock, were arguing as they prepared to leave her apartment on the west side of Indianapolis Wednesday night.

NEBRASKA

3 injured by cats that invade house

NORTH PLATTE — Two stray cats got into a house and attacked three persons inside, then were euthanized and checked for rabies, authorities said.

The cats entered Melissa Breva’s house through an open front door on Monday, and attacked two female visitors and a boy, authorities said.

Animal control officer John Pettit responded to a call for help, Police Chief Martin Gutschenritter said.

One woman was scratched and bitten on her legs; the other woman was bitten on her right calf, authorities said. The boy was bitten on his forehead, nose, left ear and right cheek, Chief Gutschenritter said.

NEVADA

Priest pleads not guilty to singer’s beating

LAS VEGAS — A Roman Catholic priest pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges he beat and sexually assaulted a female soloist at a parish office, and his attorneys said they intend to show that the woman and their client had a romantic relationship.

No bail was set for the Rev. George Chaanine, 52, who has been jailed since his arrest Feb. 1 near Phoenix after nearly a week on the run. He faces life in prison if convicted of attempted murder, sexual assault and other felonies.

Father Chaanine’s accuser, a 54-year-old former Las Vegas Strip singer and church employee, said the priest hit her in the head with a wine bottle, groped and choked her until she began praying, then suddenly stopped and fled.

In a hearing last month where Father Chaanine was bound over for trial, the woman and her daughter testified that he seemed obsessed with wooing her, but his attorneys, Jeff Banks and Scott Coffee, said yesterday that the pair had been romantically involved.

NEW JERSEY

Suspect in death leads turnpike chase

MOUNT LAUREL — A man suspected of fatally beating a Russian traveler at a highway rest stop yesterday led troopers on a 90-mile chase before he stopped and was arrested, police said.

Brian K. White, 26, of Humble, Texas, likely will be charged with murder, State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones said. The victim, a 75-year-old Russian citizen, was declared dead at a hospital.

Police said Mr. White beat the man at the New Jersey Turnpike service plaza near Moorestown, then drove off.

Troopers caught up with the suspect near Trenton about 15 minutes later and chased him for about an hour before he exited onto another highway, jumped out of his vehicle and charged at them. Mr. White was quickly subdued and was not severely injured, Sgt. Jones said.

NEW YORK

Gunman slain after killing 3

NEW YORK — A gunman wearing a fake beard and carrying 100 rounds of ammunition fatally shot a pizzeria employee and two unarmed volunteer police officers in Greenwich Village before other officers fatally shot him, the mayor said yesterday.

Authorities were investigating why David Gavin, 32, went into a pizzeria about 9 p.m. Wednesday, asked for a menu and then shot an employee 15 times in the back before fleeing, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said.

A neighborhood resident, Tina Lourenco, said she saw the gunman and recognized him as a former employee of the pizzeria.

Nicholas Todd Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik, two of the city’s nearly 4,500 auxiliary police officers, responded to the shooting and approached Mr. Gavin, who crossed the street and fired at them.

WEST VIRGINIA

Roof friction blamed for Sago explosion

MORGANTOWN — Friction between rocks and the metal roof-support system of the Sago Mine — not lightning — probably sparked the methane gas explosion that killed 12 men last year, the United Mine Workers argued yesterday.

The union’s report differs from the conclusions of state investigators and the mine’s owner that a lightning strike somehow traveled two miles and ignited gas that had accumulated naturally in a mined-out and sealed-off area.

The report lashes out at the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for what it calls misguided decisions in the months and years preceding the explosion and accuses it of putting concern about coal companies’ profits ahead of miner safety.

MSHA has not released its own findings about Sago.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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