Monday, April 27, 2009

Today's News-Monday, April 27, 2009

Security will be very tight at the Schuylkill County Courthouse as the trial of two Shenandoah teens begins today. Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak will be tried on charges connected to the beating death of a Mexican illegal immigrant last July in Shenandoah. Police are expecting protestors to make a stand a quarter of a mile from the courthouse, while the pair are tried. Pottsville police chief Joseph Murton says his force is ready to keep order.Piekarsky is charged with third degree murder, while Donchak is charged with aggravated assault and related counts in the beating death of Luis Ramirez. Both are charged with ethnic intimidation as well. Six men and six women will hear the case, which is expected to last two weeks. The two teens were reportedly drinking with others and yelled racial slurs during the fight. WPPA News will cover the trial from start to finish and provide updates on our news website.

The region got a taste of summer weather this past weekend. But with that warm weather, brush fires sparked up, keeping crews busy. Sunday afternoon, approximately 20 acres were burned in an area near Fountain Springs. Lisa LaSalle of the Bureau of Forestry told WPPA/T102 last night that multiple aerial drops of water were made to battle the blaze, aiding those who were working on the ground. LaSalle says the fire was contained around 7pm Sunday night. Residents are reminded to avoid outdoor burning during these dry periods. The cause of the brush fire is undetermined.

A borough man was arrested Sunday afternoon after a drug deal apparently went awry in Mahanoy City. According to the Republican and Herald, officers were called to the 200 block of West Centre Street, where two women were fighting and a group of several dozen people shouting. After the fight broke up, officers learned that 29 year old Randy Lawson had threatened another man with a shotgun. Lawson fled the scene, but was quickly taken into custody. Drugs and paraphernalia were found in the vehicle and Lawson was charged with a host of drug related counts last night.

Schuylkill Haven state police are looking for vandals who damaged four vehicles with a BB gun over the weekend. The cars were parked in the 400 block of West Grand Avenue, causing several hundred dollars in damage. Troopers are looking for your help in the investigation, by calling 593-2000.

A late Saturday night fire damaged a restaurant in North Manheim Township. Crews were called to the Crossroads Inn where smoke was pouring from the basement. Quick work by firefighters from Landingville and surrounding communities kept it contained to lower floors. No one was in the building at the time of the fire. Investigators determined that the blaze was accidental.

A five thousand dollar reward is being offered for information on an arson fire that struck a fire company president's home early Saturday morning. The fire around 1:30 a.m. at the home of Paul Kennedy, in Branch Township, near Minersville, caused more than $40-thousand dollars in damage. Kennedy is president of Good Intent Hose Company No. 1, Llewellyn, and also serves as deputy county coroner. A state police fire marshal determined the fire to be arson and believe it may be connected to several other recent fires in the area. Other recent arsons in the area include last month's torching of the former Llewellyn Hotel at Route 209 and Phoenix Park Road.

2 arrested in murders of 2 Philly teens
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia police say two suspects charged with killing a pair of South Philadelphia teenagers a week ago knew they had the wrong targets - but took the lives of the youths anyway. Homicide Captain James Clark told reporters on Sunday afternoon that the pair intended to confront two other males when they raced toward 15-year-old Harvey Lewis and 18-year-old Dominique Smith on April 19. Clark says they realized they had the wrong victims but shot both in the back of the head. Police say two suspects, 16 and 19 years old, were arrested early Sunday. Lewis was a cadet with the police Explorers program, and Clark says his handcuffs were used to cuff the suspected shooter. Services for Lewis and Smith are scheduled Monday at Yesha Ministries Worship Center.

5 killed in NJ Turnpike crash were in their 70s
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) - Five people killed when their car was struck by a tractor-trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike and burst into flames included a husband and wife in their 70s.
Their car had been stopped in traffic Saturday in the right southbound lane in Mount Laurel, a Philadelphia suburb. It shot into the center lane with them trapped inside, triggering crashes
involving six other vehicles. State police identify the victims as Passaic residents Jeanette
and Salvatore Urbano and Kearny residents Anna Kane, Rose Kane and Francis Kane. All were in their 70s. A woman at the home of the Urbanos' son calls it "a horrific tragedy." Three people from the New York City area were seriously injured. The crash forced the closure of 25 miles of southbound roadway on the turnpike, one of the nation's busiest. The cause is undetermined.

Reactor at oldest US nuclear plant is shut down
LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - The operator of the nation's oldest nuclear power plant has manually shut down its reactor after equipment failed on one of its two transformers. Officials at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey say Saturday night's shutdown occurred without incident. But they won't say how long it's expected to last or when repairs will
be completed at the facility in Lacey Township, about 60 miles east of Philadelphia and 75 miles south of New York City. Plant spokesman David Benson says the shutdown caused no risk to
the public and no radiation was released. Oyster Creek opened in December 1969 and just received a new 20-year operating license. It generates enough electricity to power 600,000 homes a year. Anti-nuclear and environmental groups say the plant is unsafe.

Freighter crewman recounts struggle with pirates
MERION, Pa. (AP) - Sailors have a short list of what to grab in an emergency. When the urgent long-short-long-short din of the Maersk Alabama's alarm bell woke third engineer John Cronan on April 8, he didn't hesitate. He says he grabbed a pocketknife, a flashlight and a photo of his fiancee's daughters. The 46-year-old carried the photo through tense days of huddling with crewmen in a stifling hideout, launching lifeboats, scuffling with one pirate and finally celebrating after Capt. Richard Phillips was freed. Now back home in the leafy suburbs of Philadelphia, Cronan weaves a tale of tense moments and long waits while a standoff with Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean grabbed international attention. He says he'll take the summer off before deciding whether to sign up for another trip.

Suspect 'could be anywhere'
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Police are on the lookout for a suspect in the deadly shootings near the University of Georgia, but admit "he could be anywhere." Professor George Zinkhan is suspected of killing his ex-wife and two other men outside a community theater near the Athens, Ga. campus. The coroner says the victims were shot multiple times. Zinkhan later left his two young children with a neighbor, and hasn't been seen since. The 57-year-old is described as an introverted, respected professor. Authorities are monitoring airports in case he heads for
Amsterdam, where he owns a home, or Texas, where he has relatives. They say Zinkhan hasn't used his credit card or any ATMs. Meanwhile, the university is advising students to use their
"best judgment in taking precautions" while the suspect remains at large. Zinkhan has held academic positions at the universities of Houston and Pittsburgh.

Pa. prof denies leading alleged Ethiopia coup plot
LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An economics professor at a Pennsylvania university says he supports efforts to spread democracy in his native Ethiopia. But he denies backing an alleged coup attempt there that led to the arrests of 35 people by the government. Bucknell economics professor Berhanu Nega says he is suspicious about the government's allegations of a coup plot. He says he does not know who may have been arrested, and said it could have easily been some sort of overreaction. The 51-year-old says he came to the U.S. as a young man in 1980, is married to an American citizen and has two sons. In 2005, he became the country's first elected mayor when he won the mayoral race in Addis Ababa, the nation's capital. But post-election violence over the election results led the Ethiopian government to shoot 193 protesters and to later jail Berhanu and other opposition leaders. They were pardoned in 2007 and Berhanu rejoined Bucknell in the spring of last year.

3 charged in theft from benefit for sick NJ boy
BUENA, N.J. (AP) - Three people face charges in the theft of an autographed photo of an NBA player that was being auctioned off to benefit an ailing New Jersey boy. The arrests came after a local newspaper published an article Thursday about the incident, which occurred during an April 18 charity event for 9-year-old Michael Barner, a Vineland resident recently diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. Authorities said the suspects - a Vineland couple and their friend - told the boy's relatives that someone had mistakenly put the framed photo into a prize basket one of them had won. That person then tried to return the photo of Philadelphia 76ers player Willie Green, which the team had donated for the event. But police said all three eventually admitted their roles in the theft.

Barbaro Memorial dedicated outside Churchill Downs
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Barbaro is back home at the track where he became a legend.
A bronze statue honoring the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner was unveiled on Sunday morning at Churchill Downs, nearly three years after the colt became an icon following a breakdown at the
Preakness. Sculptor Alexa King designed the 1,500-pound. statue, which shows Barbaro in midstride with jockey Edgar Prado aboard as the two pulled away from the rest of the 20-horse field. The horse broke down during the Preakness and spent the next eight months battling for his life at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa. His struggles brought renewed attention to track safety and breeding practices. Owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson attended the ceremony as did hundreds of fans who were moved by the horse's battle for survival.

LONDON (AP) - Attorney General Eric Holder is in London, the first of several stops where he will meet with European leaders to discuss terrorism, drugs, and cyber-crime. He's toured a famous torture site, the Tower of London, as he considers the disposition of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

NEW YORK (AP) - All of the 20 known victims of swine flu in the U.S. are recovering or have recovered. Authorities can't yet explain the stark difference with Mexico, where more than 100
people may have died. The outbreak has sickened people in New York, Kansas, California, Texas and Ohio.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Parts of the Midwest are recovering today from two days of strong thunderstorms packing possible tornadoes. But flash flood watches are in effect through this
morning for southwest through northeast Iowa.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The father of an American journalist jailed in Iran says his daughter's hunger strike has made her "very weak and pale." Reza Saberi and his wife met with their daughter today. Roxana Saberi has been jailed for alleged spying for the U.S. She's been sentenced to eight-years behind bars.

ISLAMABAD (AP) - A regional peace deal between Taliban militants and the Pakistani government is showing cracks today. The Taliban is calling it "worthless" after authorities sent helicopters and artillery against guerillas seeking to extend their grip along the Afghan border.


Post a Comment

<< Home