- The Washington Times - Monday, April 5, 2010


Fatal shootings were not random

LOS ANGELES | Authorities on Sunday continued searching for a suspect in a deadly weekend shooting at a San Fernando Valley restaurant as more details emerged, including the identities of the four victims and the fact that police think the men were targeted.

“We don’t have a crazed gunman running around North Hollywood that presents an immediate threat to public safety, to anyone in their homes or businesses in the area,” Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said. “However, this is also not a random act of violence. This was an intentional act.”

The Hot Spot Cafe, a Mediterranean restaurant in North Hollywood, was filled with customers Saturday afternoon when at least one gunman walked in and opened fire, police said.

Three men died at the scene, and another later died at a hospital. Los Angeles police identified the victims as Harut Baburyan, 28; Sarkis Karadjian, 26; Vardan Tofalyan, 31; and Hayk Yegnanyan, 25. No other information was released.

Two other people were wounded, but were expected to survive. Their names were not released.


Police mull charges in fatal bus crash

DENVER | Investigators are considering charges against the driver of a Denver city bus that ran a red light and struck two vehicles, killing two people, police said Sunday.

At least 12 other people, including the bus driver, were injured in Saturday’s crash. Witnesses said the bus hit a Volkswagen Rabbit, then pushed a pickup into a parking lot and against a billboard pole.

A decision on charges was expected in the next several days, police spokesman Matthew Murray said.

The bus is owned by the Denver area’s Regional Transportation District and was driven by a worker contracted through Veolia Transportation. The company was working with police to determine what happened, Veolia spokeswoman Valerie Michael said.

The two people who died were riding in the Volkswagen, including 28-year-old passenger Carla Miranda of Denver, police said. The male driver of the car hasn’t been identified. Ten passengers of the bus were hurt, including four with serious injuries. The driver of the pickup was also seriously injured.


No drugs found in crash victims

MELBOURNE | Officials say they found no drugs in tests of the three teenage girls who were killed by a train as they crossed a railroad bridge in Florida earlier this year.

The Brevard County Medical Examiner’s Office released the autopsy and toxicology reports and listed the cause of death for each teen as multiple blunt-force injuries.

The three girls, along with a teenage boy, ignored “no trespassing” signs and walked out onto a railroad trestle in February in downtown Melbourne, about 50 miles southeast of Orlando.

Onlookers yelled at the teens to run or jump, but only the boy survived.


Rhode Island leads swine flu vaccinations

ATLANTA | Rhode Island leads the nation in swine flu vaccinations, thanks to an aggressive campaign.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 39 percent of people in the state were inoculated. Among children the rate was about 85 percent.

New England is the top region in the country for vaccinations, while the South has the lowest rates.

One CDC expert says the flu hit the Southeast before the vaccine was available. But there was an ample supply when the demand was high in New England.


‘No contest’ pleaded in 11th DUI offense

BILLINGS | A 49-year-old Montana man who apparently was intoxicated when he came to court for his trial on a felony drunken driving charge has pleaded no contest to his 11th DUI.

Thaylin Shawn Pierce, of Billings, entered the plea Thursday. He’s free on bond until his sentencing June 22.

Pierce was charged in November 2008 after he tried to drive after being kicked out of a casino. His trial was scheduled to begin Wednesday, but the judge suspected Pierce was intoxicated. A breath test showed Pierce had a blood alcohol level of 0.093 percent.

Negotiations for a plea agreement began. One of the conditions was that Pierce had to return to court sober the next morning to enter his plea.

Pierce has nine previous drunken driving convictions in Colorado and one in Wyoming.


Errant text leads cops to 3 drug suspects

PINE PLAINS | An errant text message is costing three New York drug-dealing suspects dearly.

Police say the suspects made a mistake when trying to text a potential buyer and instead reached a task force agent in Dutchess County, about 50 miles north of New York City.

The three were arrested after arranging a meeting with the agent, who pretended to be the buyer. Police say they recovered 60 bags of heroin. Task force Sgt. Brett Orlich says, “Their bad luck is our good luck.”

The three are due in town court in Pine Plains on Wednesday to face felony charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance.


$7.77 million won as 7-7-7-7 hits

PHILADELPHIA | The Pennsylvania Lottery proved to be seventh heaven for thousands of lottery players last week.

The lottery paid out a total of $7.77 million after the number 7-7-7-7 came up in the Big 4 drawing Wednesday. More than 3,100 tickets had the winning numbers. They won either $2,500 or $5,000, depending on whether the buyer wagered 50 cents or $1.

That set of numbers has only been a winner twice since 1980. The last set of quadruple numbers to win was 2-2-2-2 in September 2008.


Court to hear case of fired pot patient

OLYMPIA | The Washington Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of a medical marijuana patient who was fired for failing a drug test.

The woman is identified as Jane Roe to protect her identity. When she applied for a job in Kitsap County with TeleTech Customer Care Management, she told the company she was an authorized marijuana patient.

She was hired to answer e-mails and phone calls, but a week later, her pre-employment drug screen came back positive, and she was fired. She sued in 2006. An appeals court held that Washington’s medical marijuana law provides a defense to criminal prosecution, but does not protect patients in employment situations.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington urged the justices to review the ruling.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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