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News Quirks 

Published March 10, 2010 at 11:08 a.m.

Curses, Foiled Again

After stealing handcuffs, a Taser and other items from an unmarked police car in Ocoee, Fla., Shane Thomas Williams-Allen, 19, was apprehended when he “locked the handcuffs on himself and had to call the Clermont Police Department to respond to release him,” according to an arrest affidavit. Lake County authorities who took Williams-Allen into custody said he told them that while removing the Taser from the police car, “it discharged, hitting the floor and causing his foot to get shocked.” (Orlando Sentinel)

Just Can’t Get Enough

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma confirmed that he fathered the daughter of a woman who isn’t one of his three wives. Zuma has 19 other children. Brian Sokutu, a representative of Zuma’s African National Congress Party, said that the president’s relationship with the woman didn’t count as adulterous because the 67-year-old Zuma is a polygamist and may have been intending to marry the 39-year-old woman. “There is something called courtship,” Sokutu explained. “What that means is that before you do officially get married there is the courting period. And during that period anything can happen.” Sokutu wouldn’t confirm whether Zuma was actually planning a wedding. (Britain’s Daily Telegraph)

Ten Times Fast

Two 47-year-old men accused of stealing a $950 postal check in Hellertown, Pa., are named Richard A. Fluck and Bryan Flok. Police said Fluck and Flok took the check from the post office, cosigned it and cashed it. (Allentown’s Morning Call)

Irony Illustrated

A single-engine airplane used for rush-hour traffic reports in metropolitan Philadelphia caused a mile-and-a-half backup in both directions of the New Jersey Turnpike when it made an emergency landing in the northbound lanes near Cherry Hill. Noting no one was injured, New Jersey Turnpike Authority said the backups were due mostly to rubbernecking, adding, “For the first time in eight years, I can probably say you had a good reason to stop and look.” (Associated Press)

Not-So-Great Escapes

Police pursuing a gang of home invaders in Oakland, Calif., found four of the suspects wedged in a 6-by-12-inch space between buildings. “I heard someone come through my gate and run past, and they came to this cubby way,” local resident Dave Moore said. “It turns into a funnel at the end, so they tried to come back through and got stuck.” (KTVU-TV News)

Travis Copeland, 19, bolted from a courtroom during his bond hearing in Waukegan, Ill., and headed for a skyway that connects courtrooms in two buildings. As Lake County sheriff’s deputies closed in, Copeland, ignoring that he was two stories above a busy street, tried to shoulder block his way through a skyway window to make his escape. The bulletproof glass didn’t break when Copeland hit it with his head and shoulder, however. Instead, he bounced off the window and staggered to the floor, while nine deputies with guns drawn surrounded him. When Copeland was returned to the courtroom, his bail was raised from $50,000 to $1.5 million. (Arlington Heights’ Daily Herald)

Reasonable Explanation

A jury found Mark Zachary, 51, guilty of stealing an $80 slab of beef from a store in Orangeburg, S.C. Authorities said that when a store manager approached Zachary about the missing meat and the big bulge under his shirt, he fled — right into the arms of an off-duty police officer. He testified that he wasn’t stealing the meat, just “massaging” it. (Associated Press)

Incendiary Devices

Fire department officials investigating a rooftop blaze at a Houston shopping center identified the cause as an inflatable gorilla on the roof. After the remnants of the gorilla were found, District Chief Fred Hooker said the “blowup doll” had deflated and landed on some lights, sparking the fire. (KHOU-TV)

A 76-year-old German man trying to thaw out his car incinerated it instead. A police official in Hildesheim said the man left a blow heater next to the frozen windshield-washer tank and went inside to wait. Shortly afterwards, he heard two explosions and returned to find the vehicle on fire. Authorities estimated damages to the car and the man’s house at $56,240. (Reuters)

Bump in the Road

Four months into his attempt to travel around the world in a school bus powered by french-fry fat to highlight the benefits of using low-carbon energy, British eco-activist Andy Pag, 34, was arrested in northern India. His family said Pag faces antiterrorism charges and jail time for using a satellite phone without permission. (BBC News)

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About The Author

Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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