- The Washington Times - Monday, April 13, 2009


Faithful gather after deadly twisters

MENA | Easter Sunday prayers were offered for victims of deadly storms that hit western Arkansas and the Southeast last week, with signs of damage done by a tornado evident throughout St. Agnes Church.

A stained-glass window gaped open in broken spots, and rainwater leaked down the back of a display showing Christ being led to the cross. Even among the bread wafers offered for Holy Communion, a small twig stuck out — a remnant of the tornado Thursday night that blew through the Catholic parish and the rest of Mena, killing three people and injuring 30 more.

Residents of Rutherford County in central Tennessee also were cleaning up Sunday from Friday's storms, which left two dead, seven hospitalized in critical condition and more than 40 injured, according to officials.

A fund was set up for the Bryant family in Murfreesboro. Kori Bryant and her 9-week-old daughter, Olivia, were both killed, and husband John was hospitalized with a broken back, officials said.


SWAT tactics reviewed after killings

SAN FRANCISCO | Law enforcement experts call residential entryways the “fatal funnel,” and that is where two Oakland police officers met death when they confronted a barricaded gunman, who purportedly had killed two other officers hours earlier.

The SWAT team's decision to rush an apartment rather than wait out an armed man is expected to be the subject of Special Weapons and Tactics training classes across the country, experts said.

The Oakland Police Department said Friday that its internal investigation of the March 21 killings will include a review by outside SWAT experts.

Lawyers, police trainers and others expect the examination to determine whether police followed departmental guidelines and whether they made tactical or procedural mistakes.

Police said parolee Lovelle Mixon shot motorcycle patrolmen Mark Dunakin and John Hege with a handgun during a traffic stop, then later killed SWAT team members Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai with an assault weapon. Another SWAT officer was injured, and Mixon was killed.


Cardinal celebrates final Easter Mass

NEW YORK | Cardinal Edward Egan, who will retire as head of New York City's Roman Catholic Archdiocese on Wednesday, told worshippers at his last Easter Mass that mortal life is fleeting and “we are here for a moment in eternity.”

Cardinal Egan, who had been hoåspitalized for several days with a stomach ailment and missed Palm Sunday services, appeared robust, though at times he leaned heavily on his staff.

A standing-room-only crowd of about 2,700 attended Sunday's Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.

Afterward, he said he felt fine. “I don't know what in the world happened to me last Saturday,” he said. “I got this virus or something or other in my stomach, and things weren't operating.”

Cardinal Egan, 77, was released from St. Vincent's Hospital on Tuesday. While he was there, doctors said he would need to have a pacemaker implanted.

“I've got plenty of time to do that,” he said Sunday. “The heart is still ticking.”


Police: Motorist kills 1, hurts 4

FOREST HILLS | The pastor of a western Pennsylvania church said a retired priest is in a state of shock after police and witnesses said he drove into a group of churchgoers following a Good Friday service, killing an elderly woman and injuring four others.

Police and witnesses said the priest had just finished assisting with an afternoon service and was driving around to the church entrance when his car sped into a small group standing under a shelter.

The Rev. John W. Skirtich, pastor of St. Maurice Church in Forest Hills, said during services Friday night that Madeline Romell, 89, died of her injuries five hours after the crash.


2 firefighters die in house fire

HOUSTON | Two firefighters in Texas have died in an Easter Sunday house fire.

Houston Fire Department District Chief Tommy Dowdy said the department responded to a house fire call early Sunday.

Chief Dowdy would not release additional details pending notification of the victims' families.

Neighbors said firefighters entered the house after the blaze appeared to be dying down. But witnesses said flames suddenly shot through the roof and erupted sideways through the house.

Authorities said firefighters were then ordered out of the house, but two failed to answer roll call.

Officials said the cause of the fire had not been determined.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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