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News Quirks 04.04.07 

Curses, Foiled Again When Sheriff's Deputy Dave Perrapato cited a man he nabbed for jaywalking during a zero-tolerance campaign in San Diego, the man signed the ticket with a name different from the one he had already given Perrapato. When Perrapato asked why, the man explained the other was his "rap name." Perrapato arrested the man on suspicion of signing a false name. He learned the man was Larenzo Dixon, 22, wanted in Louisiana for murder and murder for hire.

* After police arrested a 34-year-old drunken-driving suspect in Madison, Wis., they called his lawyer, Rick Petri, 64, around 2 a.m. to pick up his client. When Petri arrived, he was given a preliminary breath test, in compliance with department policy that anyone picking up someone arrested for first-offense drunken driving be sober. Petri failed the test and was placed under arrest.

Fire Prevention Follies Two weeks after a Jan. 6 blaze closed a Philadelphia firehouse, private contractors making repairs accidentally ignited ceiling insulation with a welder's torch. Battalion Chief William Dell said the Jan. 19 fire damaged the ceiling and roof of the station's garage area.

Lucky Days Ron Killian was watching television in the living room of his home in Independence, Wis., when a car crashed through the window and headed straight for him. "I braced up when I saw it, and it was airborne," Killian told the Leader-Telegram. "The car landed right on top of the recliner with me on it." Killian injured his leg and suffered a scrape across his chest from a front tire of the 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix but was otherwise unhurt, thanks, he said, to his wife's "two decorative milk cans, one on each side of the TV" that helped hold the car up. The crash destroyed the living room, dining room and kitchen, according to Independence Police Chief Derrick Vold, who added that if the car "would have hit 3 inches over, it would have hit the gas line and blew up the whole house."

* Egged on by a group of youths in Staffordshire, England, Shane John White, 22, leapt from a footbridge and hung on to a railroad cable before letting go when his cap blew off. He escaped electrocution only because he unwittingly picked a 7-minute period when the power was turned off for the first time in 15 months, due to an unrelated incident farther down the track.

* While horsing around with two friends on the 17th floor of a downtown Minneapolis hotel, Joshua Hanson, 29, apparently lost his balance and crashed through a floor-to-ceiling window. He fell 16 stories but stopped short of hitting the concrete pavement by landing feet first on a metal roof overhang, which had more give. Hanson survived with only broken bones and internal injuries.

Maternal Instinct An elementary school in Wales banned pupils from making Mother's Day cards to avoid upsetting the "more than 5 percent of children" who don't have a mother, according to Helen Starkey, head teacher of the 357-pupil Johnstown Primary School in Carmarthen. "In all our dealings with these children, we have to exercise great sensitivity."

* Police broke up a melee at Woonsocket (R.I.) Middle School that began when a mother drove her 13-year-old daughter to the school to fight another 13-year-old girl, whose mother also showed up, according to Lt. Timothy Paul, "to see that her daughter doesn't get into trouble." The two feuding girls began fighting, but when school officials tried to separate them, the mothers joined the fray. One mother accused the other daughter of slashing her with a razor, and the other mother reportedly punched the vice principal in the face. Police arrested Ana Rivera, 44, Maribel Santiago, 34, their daughters and two other 13-year-old girls who threatened one of the girls as she was being taken into custody. "It is the Police Department's belief that Woonsocket Middle School is a learning institution," Paul said, "and not to be used as grounds for tumultuous behavior."

The Horns of a Dilemma The National Rifle Association acknowledged that its members are calling on the organization to oppose President Bush because they think his energy policies have opened more public land for oil and gas drilling while limiting access to hunters.

Nonprofit and Loss Cheryl Crawford, 58, former Citizen of the Year in Derry, N.H., pleaded guilty to stealing more than $250,000 from the nonprofit agency she ran. Police said that while Crawford was head of the Derry Economic Development Corp., she gambled the money away on the Internet.

Crime Stoppers of the Week One way to fight crime, according to British Member of Parliament Tony McNulty, is for victims to jump up and down until help arrives. Asked on the BBC-TV newsmagazine program "Panorama" to comment on a suggestion by a Home Office minister that people "distract" potential criminals, McNulty agreed that "shouting at them, blowing your horn or whatever else deters them," adding, "try some distinctive activities, whatever else." Interviewer Jeremy Vine asked, "What, jump up and down?" McNulty answered, "But I would say, you know, sometimes that may well work."

* A British housing association in Carlisle has hired a team of former special-forces soldiers to combat anti-social behavior. The soldiers, members of The Surveillance Group, use their training to get close to anti-social incidents and use hidden cameras to film them. Noting that lack of respect for police and the general public "seems to be reaching epidemic proportions," the group's Tim Young said team members are "just as likely to get injured on the streets of a major UK conurbation as they were in Afghanistan or Iraq."

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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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