NewsQuirks 482

Gunplay

Police in southern Egypt arrested Gamal Abdel-Gawad in August for celebrating his brother's marriage by firing an automatic rifle. The shots accidentally killed Ayman Abdel-Wahab, 22, a singer who was performing at the wedding.

A week earlier in the same region, a bride and groom were shot dead at their wedding, according to the Associated Press, when a guest tried to fire over their heads but misjudged his aim. The shots also wounded the bride's mother.

In the Ivory Coast town of Aboisso, Andre Gondo gave his cousin, army Col. Pascal Gbah, 49, a so-called magic belt, assuring him it would protect him from bullets. Gbah tested the belt by handing his service revolver to Gondo's 20-year-old son, who opened fire, killing Gbah on the spot.

Curses, Foiled Again

Several police detectives investigating a sexual assault in Centreville, Va., were passing out fliers with the suspect's photograph at a shopping center in July when the man strolled past them, prompting an immediate arrest. "They saw him walking along a sidewalk," Fairfax County police spokesperson Gretchen Lacharite said. "I'm sure he was surprised."

A string of armed robberies in Portland, Ore., ended at No. 19 for two teenagers when one of them, Ethan Thrower, 18, shot himself in the groin while sticking his gun back in his waistband. Even though Thrower had a 4.0 grade- point average in his senior year at Grant High School and his sidekick, Tom Curtis, was student body president, police Detective Sergeant Kelly Krohn said the pair "weren't sophisticated at all."

Son of HAL

Researchers at the Massacusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab said they have developed computers that recognize and respond to changes in users' emotions. Among the practical applications of such technology, according to Rosalind Picard, director of the lab's Affective Computing Group, are cars that react to a driver's temperament and VCRs that fast-forward automatically when a viewer is bored.

Lawn Rage

Robert McCrea, 50, was mowing his lawn in Pittsburgh, Pa., when he hit a stump left from a tree cut down by his neighbor, Jack Bouch, 66. He demanded that Bouch pay for the broken lawn mower. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that when Bouch refused, McCrea entered his neighbor's house with a .20-gauge shotgun and shot Florence Bouch, 69, twice. Jack Bouch, who was in another room, heard the shots and got his .22-caliber handgun, then exchanged shots with McCrea before shooting him dead. "He's done some goofy, damn dumb things," neighbor Clifford "Butch" Bergbigler said of McCrea, "but I've never seen him this carried away."

It Happened

Scientists announced they have discovered a chemical agent that will extract DNA fragments from the fossilized dung of extinct animals. "This is not 'Jurassic Park,'" said Hendrick N. Poinar, a researcher at the University of Munich. "It's more like 'Poop Park.'"

They Take a Licking

After implanting 14,560 pairs of hard polypropylene Neuticles artificial testicles in neutered dogs and cats, CTI Corp. announced that it had successfully implanted the first pair of its new and improved soft silicone implants, Neuticles Naturals, in a 16-month-old Chinese pug. CTI said the new product is meant to reduce the trauma of neutering by fooling the animal into thinking nothing has happened.

Oops! Encore

Rolando Sanchez, a Tampa, Fla., physician who was suspended for six months in 1995 after amputating the wrong foot of one patient and the toe of another without her consent, was barred from practicing medicine indefinitely in July for performing minor surgery on the wrong patient. The Tampa Tribune reported that Sanchez implanted a catheter into a shoulder of an 89-year-old woman with a brain disorder who couldn't speak, but it was the woman's roommate who was supposed to have the procedure.

Oliver E. Mattas Jr., a former district attorney and civil attorney in Blair County, Pa., who has lost his law license twice, was ordered to pay a former client $568,367, the amount of a settlement Judge J. Michael Williams calculated she might have won in a lawsuit that Mattas was supposed to file but didn't. For six years he told her he was working on a settlement, but when she finally checked court records, she found that so suit was ever filed.

Random Act of Kindness

After a 42-year-old woman saw a car that hit a tree in Nokesville, Va., she pulled over to make sure the driver was OK. While she was reporting the accident to police on her cellular phone, the driver approached and demanded to know whom she was talking to. When she told him, he stabbed her and demanded that she get out of the car so he could drive it. Instead, the wounded woman drove off and stopped at a nearby convenience store, where the clerk called police. After a four-hour search, police arrested Jetarri Demonte Lauderdale, 19.

Jerry's Kid

The board of the Oceanfront condominium in Jupiter, Fla., ordered the family of 12-year-old Dorian Couturier, who has muscular dystrophy, to leave because he damages property with his wheelchair, specifically running over lawn sprinklers and scratching walls. "Because he's in a wheelchair doesn't give him the right to break the rules," board member James Walden said.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Malke Pinter, 24, was charged with the death of her 4-month-old daughter after leaving the infant in the back seat of a car parked at her home in Lakewood, N.J., for more than three hours. Pinter had the baby with her when she dropped off her husband at work, then apparently forgot to take the child to a baby-sitter, instead leaving her in the hot car, according to Wendi Patella, a spokesperson for the State Division of Youth and Family Services, who explained, "Three-and-a-half hours later, she went to pick the child up at the baby-sitter and realized she was still in the car seat."

Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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