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News Quirks (01/28/15) 

Curses, Foiled Again

Police said Eric Frey, 29, handed a pizza shop employee in Uniontown, Pa., a note written on toilet paper. "I have a gun," it read. "Give me $300." The worker hit the silent alarm, summoning police before Frey could leave. He explained that a bearded man had confronted him in a nearby alley and forced his action, but officers who searched Frey's apartment found a newly opened roll of toilet paper with a pen impression from Frey's note on the top sheet. (Associated Press)

A masked man tried to rob a convenience store in New Haven, Conn., by pointing a finger at the clerk to "simulate" that he had a gun, police officer David Hartman reported, noting, "But he didn't have his hand in his pocket." The clerk "grabbed the man's finger and told him he'd break it if he didn't get out of his shop," Hartman said after the would-be robber fled. (New Haven Independent)

Non-Surprise of the Week

The Central Intelligence Agency admitted that at least half of the reported UFO sightings in the 1950s and 1960s were actually test flights of its super-secret U-2 spy plane. (United Press International)

Second-Amendment Follies

Veronica J. Rutledge, 29, died after her 2-year-old son reached into her purse, grabbed her concealed gun and shot her in the head at a Wal-Mart store in Hayden, Idaho. (Associated Press)

Tony Roe, 23, was shot in the chest at a home in Largo, Fla., while he and Dylan Harvey, 19, were playing a game with a loaded revolver. It involved rolling the chamber and then taking turns pointing the gun at each other, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Deputies said Harvey was holding the weapon when it fired. (Tampa Bay Times)

Authorities said that Michael Foster, 43, saw Clarence Daniels, 62, getting out of his vehicle in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store in Brandon, Fla., and noticed he had a gun in a hip holster under his coat. Foster followed Daniels inside, put him in a chokehold and yelled that Daniels had a gun. Daniels shouted that he had a permit. Sheriff's deputies arrested Foster and charged him with battery. "We understand it's alarming for people to see other people with guns, sheriff's official Larry McKinnon said, "but Florida has a large population of concealed weapons permit holders." (Tampa Bay Times)

Saving Butter

Researchers investigating reports of Canadian lobsters off England's northern coast concluded that passengers on cruise ships have been ordering live lobsters and then, in an animal-rights gesture, asking their waiters to throw the shellfish overboard. Local fishermen have even found some of the lobsters with rubber bands around their claws. Removed from their native habitat, however, the lobsters "won't last much longer than if the passengers had eaten them for dinner," according to Mike Cohen of Holderness Fishing Industry Group. (Britain's Daily Mail)

When Guns Are Outlawed

Irish police Detective Paul Johnson thwarted two men he observed robbing a convenience store in Dublin by arming himself with a traffic cone, which he used to push the men down when they exited. (Irish Times)

An Alabama middle school principal asked students to bring canned food to school to throw at possible intruders. In a letter to parents, Priscilla Holley of W.F. Burns Middle School in Valley said an 8-ounce can of peas or corn "could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive. The canned food item will give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves." (Associated Press)

Police arrested Jeremiah Genesis Taylor, 25, after he argued with his pregnant girlfriend in Millington, Tenn., and hit her in the face and chest with some steaks. (Memphis's WHBQ-TV)

Workers at a reptile pet shop in Delray Beach, Fla., accused owner Benjamin Siegel, 40, of slapping them with a bearded dragon lizard. The victims said Siegel placed the lizard in his mouth and began hitting them with it. He also threw Gatorade at them, and tossed the large lizard into the air and swung it around. Siegel was arrested on battery and animal cruelty charges. (Broward-Palm Beach New Times)

Fruits of Their Labors

Oklahoma lawmakers are at odds over the state's produce. Sen. Nathan Dahm introduced a measure to repeal watermelon's title as Oklahoma's official vegetable, an honor lawmakers bestowed in 2007. Dahm pointed out watermelon is a fruit, not a vegetable, but the state fruit title isn't available because it was awarded to the strawberry. Dahm said watermelon could be named the state's seasonal fruit or the state's melon, but Rep. Scooter Park denounced such a move, declaring, "We will defend, support and make sure it is upheld as the state vegetable for Oklahoma." (Tulsa World)

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Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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