- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2007


Moderate quake rattles Bay Area

SAN JOSE — The San Francisco Bay Area’s largest earthquake in nearly two decades rattled homes and nerves, but the magnitude-5.6 temblor caused no serious damage or injuries.

Tuesday’s tremor, centered about 9 miles northeast of San Jose, was the strongest to hit the Bay Area since October 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake caused 62 deaths and nearly $6 billion in damage.

Though, the latest quake was far less of a threat, its was widely felt within an 80-mile radius and reminded Northern Californians of the eight major faults in the region capable of producing a significant shake.

The temblor came from Calaveras fault.


Policeman shot on doughnut run

PHILADELPHIA — A police officer walked into a doughnut shop yesterday while it was being robbed and was shot in the head, authorities said.

The robber left the Dunkin’ Donuts shop, returned to pick up the officer’s gun and then fled, Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson said. Police swarmed the North Philadelphia neighborhood in a search for the gunman.

The 54-year-old officer, Charles Cassidy, had surgery and remained in “extremely critical” condition, said Alexis Moore, a spokeswoman for Albert Einstein Medical Center.

The shooting came about 12 hours after a masked gunman shot Traffic Officer Mario Santiago in the shoulder during a chase.


Tot dies in car; mother arrested

PHOENIX — A woman who found her 1-year-old son dead in her hot, stuffy car after she worked her seven-hour shift as a Hooters waitress has been arrested, police said.

Ashly Duchene, 22, was booked into the Maricopa County Jail yesterday on a felony count of negligent homicide.

She usually dropped off the boy at a day-care center on her way to work, but failed to do so on Tuesday, police Sgt. Joel Tranter said.

Instead, she left her son, Ryan Gallagher, in the car when she arrived at the restaurant about 10 a.m., police said. When she returned after her shift at about 5 p.m., he was dead.

Temperatures hit nearly 90 degrees Tuesday, but it would have been more than 100 degrees inside the car, Sgt. Tranter said.

The mother said that her son recently spent a few weeks out of town with his grandfather and that she was out of the habit of dropping him off before work, according to a Maricopa County Superior Court document.


Artist denies reports of her death

ATLANTA — Alabama artist Myrtice West says she is slowing down and her eyesight is not what it used to be, but she is not dead despite reports to the contrary.

“You tell ‘em I’m alive down here in Centre, Alabama, and still have a heart and am still painting,” the 84-year-old artist said from her home Tuesday evening.

A painting by Mrs. West is featured prominently in “Amazing Grace: Self-Taught Artists From the Mullis Collection,” an exhibition at the Georgia Museum of Art.

The catalog for the show incorrectly lists Mrs. West as having died in 2005, a detail that was picked up in press accounts. She learned about the error on Sunday in church.


State begins taxing pumpkins

DES MOINES — The taxman in Iowa is going after jack-o’-lanterns.

The department policy was implemented after officials decided that pumpkins are used primarily for Halloween decorations, not food, and should be taxed, department spokeswoman Renee Mulvey said.

Pumpkins had been considered an edible squash and exempted from the tax. The department ruled this year that pumpkins are taxable — with some exceptions — if they are advertised for use as jack-o’-lanterns or decorations.

Iowans planning to eat pumpkins still can get a tax exemption if they fill out a form.


Escaped inmates, ex-guard caught

EL DORADO — Two escaped inmates and the former guard who is thought to have helped them flee have been caught in New Mexico, authorities said yesterday. The guard apparently had a relationship with one of the men.

The two inmates, Steven A. Ford and Jesse L. Bell, and former guard Amber Goff were arrested early yesterday in Grants, N.M., about 75 miles west of Albuquerque, after one of the escapees shot at police, said Detective Moses Marquez of the Grants Police Department.

Police in Grants received a call about “a suspicious guy looking into cars” at an apartment complex, Detective Marquez said.

Ford and Bell escaped Sunday night from a recreation yard at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, near Wichita. The guard worked at the facility from September 2006 until this month. A vehicle traced to her that was found 15 miles away contained items linked to the escape, prison officials said.

Authorities suspect that she developed “an inappropriate relationship” with Ford while she was employed at the facility, prison spokesman Dale Call told the Wichita Eagle.


No charges filed in Katrina blockade

NEW ORLEANS — A grand jury will not charge anyone in a police blockade that kept hundreds of evacuees from crossing a Mississippi River bridge on foot after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, authorities said yesterday.

Several hundred people said police from suburban Gretna blocked them as they tried to flee New Orleans three days after the storm hit.

Many evacuees, who had been stranded at the New Orleans convention center without food and water, said they were told to cross the bridge to flee the city, only to be forced to turn around upon reaching the other side.

Police later said they blocked the evacuees because there were no supplies or services for them on the other side of the river. Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson also acknowledged that his officers fired shots into the air during the blockade in an attempt to quell what he described as unrest among the evacuees.


Pig owner accuses sitter of abuse

WINONA — A woman wants abuse charges filed against an acquaintance who was pet-sitting for her potbellied pig and allowed the animal to get fat.

Michelle Schmitz said her pig, Alaina Templeton, weighed 50 pounds when she left her with a co-worker who offered to care for the animal in February, when she went on medical leave to recover from ankle surgeries.

Nine months later, the pig weighed 150 pounds and it took veterinarians 4½ hours to surgically remove the animal’s collar, the Winona Daily News reported.

Officers are investigating whether Alaina was abused by the sitter’s neglect and overfeeding.

Investigator Jeff Mueller of the Winona County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday that no charges had been filed against the pig sitter, whose name was not released.

The pig now wears bandages and is healing from a pressure wound and neck infection.


Lost boarding pass leads to evacuation

NEW YORK — A passenger who caused an evacuation at John F. Kennedy International Airport has told authorities that he breached security after going outside to smoke and then misplacing his boarding pass.

William Contreras Ramos, 20, of San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, told Albany County sheriff’s deputies that he was running late on Tuesday and didn’t have his boarding pass, so he went through another door and was able to get to his flight’s gate.

The security breach caused two terminals to be evacuated and passengers to be rescreened, the federal Transportation Security Administration said. Thousands of passengers and dozens of flights were delayed for several hours during the evacuation and subsequent security rescreening.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport, called Albany County Sheriff James Campbell to say the man had boarded a plane to Albany.

Deputies there took him in for questioning. Mr. Ramos was being detained yesterday until the FBI could come get him, Sheriff Campbell said.


Gunman on campus was part of prank

SPRINGFIELD — Reports of a gunman entering a residence hall prompted Wittenberg University to text-message students with a security alert, but it turned out to be a prank.

Tuesday night’s scare was supposed to be a birthday joke, and the gun fired only soft foam projectiles, police said. But because the gun violated the university’s zero-tolerance policy, five students were arrested.

Authorities did not say whether charges would be filed.

Wittenberg began the text-messaging service after the April shootings at Virginia Tech, where a student killed 32 persons before killing himself.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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