- - Sunday, December 25, 2011

TEXAS

Apartment shooting rampage leaves seven dead

GRAPEVINE | Seven people thought to be related had opened their Christmas gifts and started cleaning up the wrapping paper when they were fatally shot in a suburban Fort Worth apartment, police said Sunday.

Authorities said they think the shooter is among the dead.

Four women and three men, aged 18 to 60, were found in an adjoining kitchen and living room area when police entered the apartment around midday, said Grapevine Police Sgt. Robert Eberling.

Two handguns were found near the bodies in the apartment that was decorated for the holiday with a tree, he added.

“It appears they had just celebrated Christmas. They had opened their gifts,” Sgt. Eberling said.

CONNECTICUT

Stamford house fire kills five on Christmas

STAMFORD | Fire tore through a house in a tony neighborhood along the Connecticut shoreline on Christmas morning, killing five people, including three children, but sparing two whom firefighters managed to rescue.

Neighbors awakened to the sound of screaming and rushed outside to help, but they could only watch in horror as flames devoured the grand home in the pre-dawn darkness and the shocked, injured survivors were led away from the house.

“It is a terrible, terrible day,” Mayor Michael Pavia told reporters at a news briefing at the scene of the fire. “There probably has not been a worse Christmas Day in the city of Stamford.”

The fire was reported shortly before 5 a.m. Firefighters were able to rescue two adults from the house in Shippan Point, a neighborhood that juts into Long Island Sound, acting Fire Chief Antonio Conte said.

SOUTH CAROLINA

State voter-ID law rejected by Justice

COLUMBIA | The Justice Department on Friday rejected South Carolina’s law requiring voters to show photo identification, saying the law makes it harder for minorities to vote.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said the law didn’t meet the burden under the Voting Rights Act and tens of thousands of minorities in South Carolina might not be unable to cast ballots under the law.

Mr. Perez said non-whites make up about one-third of South Carolina’s registered voters. Minorities also are one-third of the registered voters who don’t have the right ID to vote.

South Carolina can sue over the rejection, pass a new law or submit more data to the Justice Department.

South Carolina’s new voter-ID law requires people casting ballots to show poll workers a state-issued driver’s license or ID card, a U.S. military ID or a U.S. passport.

ARIZONA

Judge punishes sheriff for document destruction

PHOENIX | A judge overseeing a lawsuit that alleges racial profiling in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration patrols issued punishments against the agency on Friday for its acknowledged destruction of records pertaining to the case.

The punishments issued by U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, a 2007 appointee of President George W. Bush, came in the form of “adverse inferences” against Sheriff Arpaio’s office that the judge may consider when deciding the case’s facts.

The judge, for instance, may assume that among the destroyed documents were citizen complaints - some of which were racially charged and didn’t allege actual criminal activity - that requested immigration patrols in spots where the sheriff’s office later conducted patrols.

The judge had found grounds in February 2010 to sanction the sheriff’s office for throwing away or shredding some records of traffic stops made during Sheriff Arpaio’s immigration patrols, but held off on actually imposing the punishment until Friday.

CALIFORNIA

Catholic church disinvites gay clergy

SAN FRANCISCO | A Roman Catholic church in San Francisco that canceled a series of pre-Christmas services featuring gay ministers from other denominations is being criticized for sending a negative message to its predominantly gay and lesbian congregation.

Pastor Steve Meriwether of Most Holy Redeemer Church late last month rescinded the invitations he had extended to the three ministers at the direction of San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

Archdiocese spokesman George Wesolek told the Chronicle the archbishop thought the speakers were “inappropriate for the season of Advent, which should be a time to reflect on the coming of Christ.”

NEW YORK

Murder charge for suspect in burning of woman

NEW YORK | A grand jury has indicted a New York City man on first-degree murder charges accusing him of killing a 73-year-old woman by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire, authorities said Friday.

The indictment also charges Jerome Isaac with arson. He was not in court Friday in Brooklyn when a prosecutor informed a judge of the formal charges.

Mr. Isaac, 47, is being held without bail.

A building camera captured Mr. Isaac cornering Miss Gillespie in an elevator and spraying her with gasoline as she cowered in the corner. He then used a barbecue-style lighter to ignite a Molotov cocktail, before tossing it into the elevator and leaving his victim to die in a fireball, police said.

PENNSYLVANIA

Student leaves $172,000 violin on Philly-bound bus

PHILADELPHIA | A student at a Boston conservatory left a rare violin worth $172,000 on a bus after arriving in Philadelphia, and police are asking for the public’s help in getting it back.

The New England Conservatory student got on a bus in Boston with the 176-year-old violin but got off without it late Tuesday, police said.

Muchen Hsieh told investigators that she left the instrument in an overhead bin and only realized she had forgotten it after she had been picked up.


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