- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2008

ARIZONA

Man arrested in park beating

PHOENIX | Two Phoenix boys have been found severely beaten in a park and police arrested a man suspected of following them to the playground.

The 7- and 10-year-old cousins were in extremely critical condition Wednesday after the attack Tuesday.

Police said the beatings appeared to be random.

Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said officers going door to door in the neighborhood in search of clues arrested Joe Sauceda Gallegos after he appeared nervous when they showed up.

Sgt. Thompson said the 36-year-old Mr. Gallegos was booked into Maricopa County Jail on two counts of child abuse and dangerous crimes against children. Sgt. Thompson didn’t know whether he had retained a lawyer.

GEORGIA

Muslim scarf arrest prompts training

ATLANTA | City court workers in an Atlanta suburb will undergo sensitivity training and post courtroom dress code signs after police arrested a Muslim woman for refusing to remove her religious head scarf before attending a hearing.

Douglasville Municipal Court Judge Keith Rollins ordered 40-year-old Lisa Valentine to serve 10 days in jail for contempt of court after the Dec. 16 incident. She was released in less than a day, after Muslim activists urged a federal investigation.

In a press release this week, police dispute the details of the incident, but acknowledged an officer should have offered Miss Valentine the option of an alternate hearing at a different location.

KENTUCKY

3 brothers, cousin died in house fire

MOUNT STERLING | Authorities in Kentucky say three young brothers and their teenage cousin have died in a house fire in the eastern part of the state.

Montgomery County Coroner Wally Johnson said the boys were 3, 5 and 7 years old. Their cousin also died in the fire Wednesday. She was 17.

Mr. Johnson said the four appear to have died from smoke inhalation. He has not released their identities.

Kentucky Fire Marshal spokesman Jim Carroll said investigators are looking into what caused the fire in Mount Sterling, which is about 40 miles east of Lexington.

MASSACHUSETTS

Disgraced senator asks for pension

BOSTON | A former state senator in Massachusetts who resigned after he was charged with harassing women is trying to double his pension.

James Marzilli Jr. cites a law that allows elected officials under age 55 with more than 20 years of service to boost their pensions if they fail to win re-election.

The 50-year-old Democrat wants a pension of $27,000 a year. He requested the increase from the state Board of Retirement, but the board postponed the matter until Mr. Marzilli’s criminal case is resolved.

Mr. Marzilli pleaded not guilty to multiple charges and was treated at a psychiatric hospital for bipolar (affective) disorder. He goes to trial in April.

MINNESOTA

Thief gives away stolen holiday trees

WEST ST. PAUL | A holiday version of Robin Hood purportedly stole Christmas trees from an outdoor lot and plunked them down in area yards, police said.

John Christian Bradley, 36, was arrested on suspicion of theft after eight trees were reported stolen from the lot and showed up in the front yards of area homes, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Wednesday.

“He was in the holiday giving mood but didn’t want to pay for them,” West St. Paul police Lt. Brian Sturgeon said.

Police said they didn’t think twice when they first saw Mr. Bradley hauling a tree down the street last week. But when a tree lot attendant reported the theft, officers caught Mr. Bradley - who admitted filching the fir - in the front yard of a nearby home, the Pioneer Press said.

A breath test administered when Mr. Bradley was arrested indicated he had been drinking, police said.

“He said he was going to give everybody a Christmas tree and that no one can sell Christmas,” Lt. Sturgeon said.

NORTH CAROLINA

Store emptied after bullet fired

CHARLOTTE | Christmas shoppers were evacuated from a North Carolina store after a customer dropped several bullets onto a moving escalator and a round went off.

The Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday that a customer accidentally dropped the .22-caliber bullets on the escalator at Dick’s Sporting Goods at Northlake Mall in Charlotte.

Police spokesman Bob Fey said the customer had just bought a box of bullets Tuesday and dropped them on the moving stairs. He said the back of one bullet was compressed by the escalator and fired.

No one was hurt. Northlake Mall general manager Phil Morosco said the store reopened after police checked the escalator to make sure no more bullets were lodged.

Holiday shopping was delayed about an hour.

UTAH

2 snowmobilers die in avalanche

LOGAN | Authorities say an avalanche has killed two snowmobilers in northern Utah as new snowfall has made the slopes increasingly unstable.

Cache County sheriff’s Lt. Matt Bilodeau said the slide occurred Wednesday in the Rockies near the Utah-Idaho state line.

Lt. Bilodeau said search teams didn’t think anyone else was caught in the avalanche.

The Utah Avalanche Center has cautioned people not to venture into the backcountry in the region north of Salt Lake City.

WASHINGTON

De-icer fumes affect plane passengers

SEATAC | Fumes from a chemical used to de-ice airplanes got into the passenger cabin of an Alaska Airlines plane Wednesday at Sea-Tac Airport and irritated the eyes of passengers and the crew, officials said.

Paramedics treated 26 people and seven - all five crew members and two other airline employees on board - decided to go to a hospital, said airline spokeswoman Caroline Boren.

None of the injuries appeared serious.

All 143 passengers decided to board another plane and continue their flight, she said.

The problem developed as Flight 528 was preparing to take off for a flight to Burbank, Calif. Ms. Boren said there have been no other de-icer problems during a week of snow in the Seattle area.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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