NewsQuirks 967

Curses, Foiled Again

Adam J. Kelly Jr., 34, an employee of the Dragon Garden Chinese Restaurant in Houma, La., broke into the restaurant after it had closed, but found the owner and another worker still inside. He grabbed a meat cleaver and threatened the two. He backed up his threat by throwing the cleaver at them, causing minor injuries but leaving himself without a weapon. The victims pounded Kelly with a chair and a pipe, then called the police.

Election Follies

After Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura complained about the nation's "pathetic" voter turnout and encouraged young voters to go to the polls during the Sept. 10 statewide primary, he failed to cast his own ballot. Ventura explained that he was too busy with official business, although the Pioneer Press reported that he found time to play a round of golf at his home course on election day.

Montana Republican Mike Taylor announced he was quitting his race against Democratic Sen. Max Baucus because a Democratic Party commercial implied he was a gay hairdresser. The ad, which questioned Taylor's ethics in handling student loans at a beauty school he once owned, was accompanied by footage from a Colorado TV beauty program that Taylor hosted in the 1980s, showing him massaging another man's face. "Mike Taylor," the announcer said. "Not the way we do business here in Montana."

Another of Baucus's opponents, Libertarian Stan Jones, 63, turned blue. He explained that his new skin color results from argyria, which is permanent but not serious. The condition was caused by colloidal silver, a natural anti-bacterial supplement that Jones began taking in 1999 because of fears that year-2000 disruptions might lead to a shortage of antibiotics. When his skin began turning blue last year, he stopped taking the supplement but continued his campaign. He noted that some voters have asked "if I'm dead."

No Surprise

Following the arrest of John Allen Muhammad, 41, in connection with October's Washington, D.C., ambush shootings, the New York Times reported that Muhammad purchased the 1990 Chevrolet Caprice he converted into a snipermobile from a Trenton, N.J., dealership named Sure Shot Auto.

Limited-Time Opportunity

Days after the so-called Washington sniper claimed his eighth victim in Stafford County, Va., authorities received an anonymous 911 call that a hooded gunman was on the roof of a store in a Stafford County shopping plaza.

Sheriff's deputies and state troopers stormed the area but found nothing. Meanwhile, dispatchers traced the call back to a cellular phone, which led them to Richard L. Jones, 25, manager of a Burger King store in the same shopping plaza. Jones told Deputy George Hernandez that he made the call hoping authorities would close his store because he had been working long hours and was living out of his car and "wanted the day off so he could find a place to live."

When Arthur L. Schroen, 37, called police during the middle of the sniper's shooting spree to say someone had shot at him near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Maryland State Police, agents from the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency, and about 30 Anne Arundel County police officers rushed to the scene. Investigators who examined the evidence concluded that Schroen had made up the story, and he eventually acknowledged that he tried to cover up breaking the window of his employer's van by reporting it as a shooting.

Instant Karma

Parole violator, Margie Stevens, age 35, was fleeing police in Wilmington, Del., in a rented van, which she used to plow a path through stopped cars at an intersection. Surrounded by police cars on Interstate 495, she braked, jumped out and ran toward a bridge over the Christiana River. Police said she was preparing to escape by jumping into the water 1,000 feet below when she was struck by her rolling van, which she had forgotten to put into park.

After volunteer firefighters Daniel Dreisbach and Ryan Campbell, both 18, used stolen road flares to set fire to an abandoned trailer home in Effort, Pa., they rushed back to the firehouse and drove off in a pickup truck to fight the blaze, according to Monroe County prosecutors. On the way, they crashed into a pole. Dreisbach died instantly, and Campbell suffered leg injuries.

Belgian police investigating the shooting death of an 80-year-old former chemical engineer in Aiseau-Presles concluded that the death resulted from booby traps, which the unidentified man had set throughout his house to keep out his children following a family dispute. A police officer told the RTBF television network that the hunting rifles and explosives were rigged to go off with the opening of a door or some other makeshift trigger.

Drinking-Class Heroes

Suspected drunk driver Kelly Faith Dougherty, 33, was arrested in Bainbridge Island, Wash., after she punched one officer, kicked another in the stomach and kicked out a patrol-car window, injuring a third officer. Detective Scott Anderson noted that the incident occurred as Dougherty was leaving an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

When Michael Kocur, 39, of Port Byron, N.Y., admitted driving a riding lawn mower on a public street while drunk, Cayuga County Judge Peter E. Corning ordered him to perform community service and avoid alcohol while serving a year's probation. Corning changed the sentence to a year in jail after Kocur showed up for his community service intoxicated.

Fire Power

When a passing police officer saw Sandra Petriello, 50, outside her home in Moosic, Pa., with a rifle and a stun gun, he said the woman threatened his life, so he called for backup. Officers noticed Joseph Petriello standing in the window with his hands in the air. He told them that his wife was holding a gun on him. After police resolved the situation and arrested Sandra Petriello, they entered the home and found more than 60 guns, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, Russian night vision goggles and other items. The husband told police that his wife spent more than $100,000 on her arsenal. "Some of these weapons I've never even seen before," Police Chief Charles Mauer said. "I can't imagine what she'd want to do with all this stuff."

Ultimate Protection

The Uttar Pradesh Cow Protection Commission, a Hindu nationalist group, began advising people to smear themselves with cow dung in the event of a nuclear war, insisting that it will protect them against radiation. The group also recommends daubing buildings with dung for protection against fallout.

Occupational Hazards

Yoni Cordon, 19, died after falling into a 1,200-gallon vat of liquefied milk chocolate at a factory in Hatfield, Pa. "It was just like quicksand," said Jim Viscusi of the Volunteer Medical Service Corps of nearby Lansdale.

A 34-year-old man died in the Vietnamese town of Phan Thiet when he and three coworkers at a fish-sauce factory tried to rescue a colleague, who fell into a 7-foot-deep vat of fish sauce, and all fell in themselves. The state-run newspaper Tuoi Tre reported that the five workers lost consciousness after inhaling gas from the fish being fermented to make the pungent sauce.

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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