- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2007


Actress-activist Wyler dies at 75

LOS ANGELES — Gretchen Wyler, the actress-turned-animal rights activist who drew national attention to the plight of captive animals, died of breast cancer yesterday at her home in Camarillo, Calif. She was 75.

Miss Wyler had been battling cancer for four years, said Catherine Doyle, campaign director for In Defense of Animals.

Pressuring officials to arrange this month’s transfer of African elephant Ruby from tight quarters at the Los Angeles Zoo to a 2,300-acre preserve in central California was among Miss Wyler’s proudest achievements, friends say.

A Broadway and television actress whose career spanned more than five decades, Miss Wyler created the Genesis Award in 1986. Using celebrities such as Judd Nelson, Brooke Shields and Betty White, Miss Wyler pulled together a Hollywood-style awards ceremony to honor activists.

Miss Wyler appeared in dozens of television shows such as “Dallas,” and also appeared in the original Broadway production of “Guys and Dolls,” “Silk Stockings,” “Damn Yankees” and “Bye Bye Birdie.”


Policeman arrested in teen’s beating

CHICAGO — A police officer has been arrested in the off-duty beating of a 15-year-old high-school student, the Chicago Police Department said yesterday.

Robert Gallegos, who is charged with aggravated battery, appeared on closed-circuit television yesterday afternoon in a Cook County courtroom, where a judge set bond at $100,000.

The officer, who was assigned to the department’s mass-transit unit, was arrested on Saturday, four days after the Juarez High School student suffered a broken jaw and other injuries in the attack, according to a police statement.

Mr. Gallegos’ son was involved in a “verbal altercation” with the teen, which reportedly prompted the attack, police said. Prosecutors told the court that Mr. Gallegos approached the teen in an alley, hit him and then threw him against a garage. A lawyer representing Mr. Gallegos at yesterday’s hearing, Jim Thompson, said the student had made threats.

Mr. Gallegos has been relieved of his police powers, police said.


Dad’s stabbing called defense of mom

ST. PAUL — A 10-year-old boy who may have been trying to protect his mother during a domestic dispute Friday reportedly stabbed and killed his father with a kitchen knife.

Officers were called to an apartment complex by a neighbor and found the body, police spokesman Tom Walsh said.

Witnesses said the boy was in the apartment with two siblings and tried to defend his mother from his father, who was drunk and threatening his family with a pipe.


Employees lose gossiping appeal

HOOKSETT — Two town employees fired for gossiping about their boss have lost an appeal to get their jobs back.

Four women were fired in April after a closed-door vote of the Town Council. Two administrative assistants appealed their firings earlier this month, but Jessica Skorupski and Joanne Drewniak learned late Friday night that the council had rejected their bid to be reinstated.

“I was not surprised at all. I didn’t think they would give us our jobs back,” Miss Skorupski said Saturday. “Their minds were made up even before we had the hearing.”

According to an attorney’s fact-finding report, the women lost their jobs because one of them referred to the town administrator in derogatory terms and because they discussed a rumor that he was having an affair with a female employee.

The women say they neither started nor spread the rumor and had merely questioned why another employee seemed to be getting preferential treatment. No one has said there is any truth to the rumor.


UFO theme park under consideration

ROSWELL — Businesses here have been cashing in on the UFO craze for years — paintings and replicas of UFOs and space aliens adorn downtown buildings, and even the McDonald’s and Wal-Mart are UFO- and space-themed.

Now city officials want to take it to another level with a UFO-themed amusement park, complete with an indoor roller coaster that would take passengers on a simulated alien abduction.

The park, dubbed Alien Apex Resort, could open as early as 2010. The city has received a $245,000 legislative appropriation for initial planning, but the park would be privately built and managed. Requests for proposals will be advertised next month.

“It’s not just about the Roswell incident and did it happen,” concept designer Bryan Temmer, of Land O’ Lakes, Fla., said Friday.

The Roswell incident centers on rumors of a UFO crash on a nearby ranch in July 1947, which the military later said was a top-secret weather balloon.


Plane crash kills 3 at mountain resort

BURNSVILLE — A small plane trying to land Saturday at a private mountain airstrip hit two planes on the ground, killing three persons, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The crash occurred about 10:15 a.m. at Mountain Air, a private golf development north of Asheville. The Mountain Air Web site said the resort is 4,400 feet above sea level and has a 2,875-foot runway.

“A single-engine plane bounced on landing and struck two other aircraft and all three caught on fire,” said Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokeswoman.

Freddy A. Camuzzi and Charles R. Freeble III, both doctors at St. Petersburg General Hospital, were killed, the hospital told the St. Petersburg Times. The name of the third victim wasn’t available.


Use of stun guns by police questioned

HOUSTON — Advocates for the mentally ill are questioning Houston police officers’ use of stun guns on suspects with mental health problems, many of whom were unarmed and then never charged with a crime.

Since officers started carrying Tasers in December 2004, nearly 130 people known or suspected to be mentally ill were shocked by officers responding to calls, according to a Houston Chronicle review of more than 1,000 incidents involving the stun gun.

The department also had its first Taser-related death recently that involved a mentally ill man, the newspaper reported yesterday.

Often, police knew that they were responding to calls involving people with mental health issues but rarely called officers who are specially trained to deal with the mentally ill, according to police records.

Some of those stunned had committed violent crimes, threatened others or harmed themselves. But most were people who failed to follow officers’ orders in the fog of their mental confusion, records show.


Bobblehead doll causes bomb panic

TUMWATER — Talk about a blunder. A bomb technician discovered that a suspicious package that forced more than 300 workers to evacuate a state building contained a bobblehead doll awarded to public officials for perceived errors.

The package, sent by an intern at KOMO-TV in Seattle, was addressed to Department of Corrections Secretary Harold Clarke at the department’s headquarters.

It didn’t have a return address, and the mailing label was handwritten. It also had stains on the outside, which could have indicated that the item inside had leaked, said Washington State Patrol Sgt. Ted DeHart.

“It had the classic indicators of a suspicious package,” Sgt. DeHart said.

A bomb technician from the State Patrol who opened the box Friday found a “Schrammie,” which television commentator Ken Schram hands out to public officials whom he thinks have done wrong. Jimm Brown, a KOMO spokesman, said Mr. Schram sent the doll to Mr. Clarke because he was upset about the announcement earlier this year that the state had released 83 felons from jails early.

“I’m going to have to wind up giving myself a ‘Schrammie,’ for crying out loud,” Mr. Schram said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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