- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2009


Sweat lodge victim was ‘in top shape’

PRESCOTT | Kirby Brown, one of two people who died after sitting in a saunalike sweat lodge at a scenic Arizona resort Thursday, was an avid surfer and hiker who was “in top shape,” took self-improvement seriously and had a passion for art, a family spokesman said.

Miss Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., died after being overcome in the crudely built hut during a spiritual cleansing ceremony. Authorities on Saturday identified the other victim as James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee, who served as director of business development at an Internet marketing company in his hometown.

Nineteen other people were taken to hospitals, suffering from burns, dehydration, respiratory arrest, kidney failure or elevated body temperature. Most were soon released, but one remained in critical condition.

Miss Brown had no pre-existing health conditions that would have kept her from participating in an otherwise safe activity, said cousin and family spokesman Tom McFeeley.


Professor speaks in stabbing case

LOS ANGELES | A professor said he told a University of California at Los Angeles administrator 10 months ago of his concerns about the mental health of a student now accused of stabbing a fellow student in the throat in a chemistry lab.

UCLA history professor Stephen Frank said he met the suspect - 20-year-old Damon Thompson - in his Western civilization class late last year.

Mr. Frank told the Los Angeles Times he became worried when Mr. Thompson sent several e-mails complaining that classmates sitting near him had made offensive comments to him while he was taking a written exam. In one e-mail, Mr. Thompson also accused Mr. Frank of taunting him.

“I believe I heard you, Professor Frank, say that I was ‘troubled’ and ‘crazy’ among other things,” Mr. Thompson wrote in one of the e-mails. “My outrage at this situation, coupled with the pressure of the very weighted examination dulled my concentration and detracted from my performance.”

Mr. Frank said he was present during the entire exam and saw nothing to support Mr. Thompson’s complaints. Several teaching assistants also said they saw nothing unusual, Mr. Frank said.

Detectives have been trying to discover a motive for the Thursday attack, in which stunned students watched in horror as blood gushed from the 20-year-old woman’s neck.


Instructor killed in bus accident

INKOM | A bus carrying a celebrated Utah high school band swerved off an Idaho interstate and crashed on its side, killing an instructor and injuring some students, police and a school official said.

Two students were rushed by helicopter Saturday night to a hospital in Pocatello, said John Miller, director of the American Fork, Utah, high school band. Twelve others were sent to a hospital by ambulance with serious injuries, and 30 students were taken to a hospital for minor injuries, he told the Associated Press.

The band was heading back to American Fork High School after a competition in Pocatello when the wreck occurred at about 9 p.m. Eastern time on Interstate 15, 50 miles north of the Utah border. Idaho State Police said a preliminary investigation showed the bus driver had a medical condition that caused the crash.

Police identified the person killed as 33-year-old Heather Christensen of Spanish Fork, Utah. She was the school’s woodwind instructor. Police said the students’ injuries were not life-threatening.


Iraq War veteran fires on police

LYNN | Andrew Ward, 26, a retired Marine who served in Iraq, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder of a police officer after firing on police.

Authorities say Mr. Ward fired four shotgun blasts at three officers Friday night at a rural farm house. None was hurt.

After that weapon and another malfunctioned, officers used a stun gun to subdue Mr. Ward. He was being held without bond Sunday, faces preliminary charges of criminal recklessness, battery and intimidation.

Relatives said Mr. Ward was discharged from the Marines last month and is seeking disability veterans benefits for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. An older brother who also served in Iraq killed himself in 2003.


Man faces charge in triple slaying

LEBANON | A 23-year-old man faces a murder charge after his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend and her father and stepmother were fatally shot.

Josh Reyes, 23, of Springfield, is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and armed criminal action in the death of the new boyfriend, Zachary Bryan Porter, 25, of Elkland. He died early Saturday at a Lebanon hospital.

Shortly afterward, Jeffery L. Smith, 51, and his wife, Glenda Smith, 48, were found dead at their Laclede County home. Mr. Reyes has not been charged in those deaths, but authorities think all three were connected.

Laclede County Jailer Tracy Lawson said Mr. Reyes was being held without bond Sunday.


Suspect sought in street shooting

OMAHA | Police officers with assault rifles and dogs were going door to door in north Omaha on Sunday, searching for the person who shot a man found lying in a street.

Residents in the neighborhood reported hearing gunshots about 3:10 p.m. Sunday. The man was found in the street with a gunshot wound in his chest and was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center, where he died.

The victim’s name has not been released.


Gotti described as evil killer

NEW YORK | As his sister Victoria Gotti began a book tour like a celebrity author, John “Junior” Gotti, 45, sat in court, portrayed as a merciless killer by federal prosecutors who want to show he was far different from his entrepreneurial sister.

Last week, the government used its star witness - childhood friend John Alite - to convince a Manhattan jury that Mr. Gotti was as lethal a threat to society as anyone else in the Gambino crime family once led by his late father, John Gotti Sr.

The testimony marked the first time in four racketeering trials for Mr. Gotti over the last four years that the government produced a witness who could so dramatically link Mr. Gotti to stabbings, murders and beatings in the 1980s and 1990s.

Prosecutors seem intent on taking a shine off the Gotti name that has resulted in part from his sister, who was on the “Growing Up Gotti” TV reality show and whose book, “This Family of Mine,” was published with a publicity blitz as her brother’s trial began last month.

Defense attorney Charles Carnesi says Mr. Gotti quit the Gambino family in 1999 when he pleaded guilty to federal charges and began serving a five-year prison sentence. He also says Mr. Gotti had nothing to do with killings.


5 gunmen hunted after bar shootout

TOLEDO | A wild shootout involving at least five gunmen sent patrons fleeing from a bar near the University of Toledo campus. No injuries were reported.

The gunfire inside and outside the Route 66 Kitchen lasted for several minutes Thursday night and was captured on a video surveillance system.

Footage from the three-minute video shows a fight breaking out at the crowded bar. The incident then turns into a shootout, with men pulling out guns and firing at people beyond the range of cameras. Video from the outside of the bar shows a man firing a gun inside the establishment through a door.

Seventeen shell casings were found on the ground or floor at the bar, and the front door was riddled with bullet holes.

The fight apparently began when a bar employee asked a man who was trying to sell marijuana to leave, Deputy Police Chief Don Kenney told the Toledo Blade newspaper.

Police were still looking for suspects Sunday and said no arrests had been made. Police said they didn’t think any University of Toledo students were involved in the shooting near the campus.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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