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News Quirks 06.01.05 

Curses, Foiled Again

When employees were closing a supermarket in Slidell, Louisiana, they confronted a customer whom they had seen take several items off the shelves. The man, later identified as Devyn Coleman, 19, bolted but ran face-first into an automatic door that did not open because it had been locked. Several employees took the dazed suspect to an office and called police. Before the officers arrived, the man climbed into a crawl space between the roof and the ceiling, then scrambled along a maze of steel support beams looking for a way out. He finally fell through some ceiling tiles and landed in an open meat case, where a police dog latched onto his leg. Police who searched Coleman found $60.33 worth of stolen merchandise, including a few packages of hair dye, six cigarette lighters, several black markers and a 40-watt nightlight. "We have no idea what he planned to do with all that stuff," police Capt. Rob Callahan said. "It's just another weird twist in an already bizarre case."

The Real Deal

Harold David Goldstein, 59, who was convicted of posing as a lawyer in Newport Beach, California, pointed out at his sentencing hearing that he had won 25 cases in eight months. "I lied about being a lawyer," he said, "but other than the lie, everything else was totally legit."

Open-and-Shut Case

A panel of Commonwealth Court judges in Pennsylvania rejected an appeal by Billy Reed, 49, who objected to being required to keep his eyes open for his driver's license photo. After having his eyes closed in a previous license photo, he said that a state transportation department technician told him he needed to have another photo taken. When he questioned her, she pushed a silent alarm, and four police officers promptly surrounded him.

Waste Not, Want Not

The demise of the once-trendy low-carb diet has meant a nutritional boon for hungry people in Appalachia. Since last Septem-ber, charities that distribute free food to poor people have received 14 truckloads of unsold Atkins diet bars, shakes and breakfast mixes. "For diet food, it tastes good," said Eileen Mullins of Paintsville, Kentucky, whose ministry provides food for families of inmates at a federal prison, "but it's not like having a milkshake or a Pepsi."

Homeland Insecurity

When someone alerted authorities after seeing a boy carrying something long and wrapped up into a middle school in Clovis, New Mexico, police, concerned that it might be a weapon, locked down the school, closed nearby streets and placed armed officers on rooftops. Two hours later, the item was identified as a 30-inch burrito, which eighth-grader Michael Morrissey had made and brought to class for an extra-credit assignment to create commercial advertising for a product. "I have a new nickname now," the student said afterwards. "It's Burrito Boy."

Bad-Hair Day

Authorities in Richland, Washington, said that Julie A. Anderson, 48, waited in the parking lot at a hair salon until the stylist who had cut her hair arrived, pulled a gun on her, led her into the salon and demanded $100. Witnesses in the salon said that after the suspect left, she started to drive away but stopped and fired at least one round at a window of the stylist's car, then threw the gun through the shattered glass and fled. Explaining that Anderson apparently was "dissatisfied" with her hair cut, police Capt. Mike Cobb said that officers arrested her about 45 minutes later coming out of another hair salon, where she paid for a trim with part of the loot from the robbery.

Accidents Will Happen

A woman cooking at her stove in Poinciana, Florida, when the grease in a pan caught fire tried to carry the burning pan outside through the living room. "Once the sliding door opened, the wind blew the flames back into the house, burning her and burning our couch," Ryan O'Neill, the victim's son, said after his mother was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center for treatment.

- Jane Fromal, 75, was trapped in her bathtub for five days after she climbed in but couldn't lift herself back out. A neighbor who noticed newspapers piling up in her driveway called Fromal's relatives, who broke through a locked storm door and rescued the woman. Instead of food, the first things she asked for were a cigarette and a Coke.

Sporting Chance

Boston police reported that a middle-aged man robbed a Beacon Hill liquor store of about $1000, claiming that he had a gun and two accomplices waiting outside. Store owner Rebecca Beraldi said that after she handed over the money, the robber told her, "Give me 60 seconds" to run before calling the police, "or I'll send my friends in." He sealed the deal by shaking hands with Beraldi, then fled.

King of Thrones

Paul Moghadan, 55, said that he receives an average of 20 compliments a day for the bathroom at the Chevron gas station he owns in West Covina, California. He adorned the 10-foot-wide room with a chandelier, silver columns and a marble counter, and decorated the walls with rich earth tones and blue stone tiles, pointing out that he spent $5000 more than a standard bathroom would have cost when he built it 13 years ago. "I wanted to give the restroom the greatest look I could. I wanted to show how much I respect my customers," he said. "I started with Chevron in 1966, and they trained us back then that the No. 1 priority was the station bathroom." Elizabeth Harryman, travel editor of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Westways magazine, lauded Moghadan's creation: "It makes you feel like there's hope for America when people take that much pride in their restroom."

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

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


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