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Stranger than fiction



Curses, foiled again

Less than an hour after a bank robbery in Orlando, Fla., police located suspect Johnathan L. Graves, 37, when an officer in police headquarters looked out his window and spotted the man hiding from a patrol car. The officer alerted other officers, who nabbed Graves as he tried to flee. (Orlando Sentinel)

While arguing with the mother of their 4-year-old son at her apartment in St. Clair Shores, Mich., Antonio Owens, 27, "grabbed a kitchen knife and said he is going to cut the gas line and burn down the place," police Detective James Wagner reported. "He tried to get the stove away from the wall to get to the gas line" before both parties realized the stove was electric. (Oakland County's Daily Tribune)

What, me worry?

Many reusable grocery bags contain high levels of lead, according to the Center for Consumer Freedom. Of the 44 retailers whose bags the consumer group tested, 16 contained lead in amounts higher than the limit many states set for heavy metals in packaging. The bags are made from "non-woven polypropylene," which comes from China. Noting that lawmakers nationwide are proposing to ban or tax paper and plastic bags, CCF Senior Research Analyst J. Justin Wilson said consumers "should have the option of using lead-free plastic and paper bags when they're bringing home their groceries." (United Press International)

Plastic trays used at shopping mall food courts contain as many germs as a gas station toilet seat, according to a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. investigation. Bob Hancock, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia, where swab samples from trays were analyzed, said that two of the trays were contaminated with "a fairly large number" of acinetobacter bacteria, which cause gastrointestinal illness and are highly resistant to antibiotics. The CBC said various officials at the three Vancouver shopping malls sampled pointed out the trays aren't intended to come into direct contact with food. (United Press International)

Man purse

Corrections officials said that during a "clothed pat-down search" of Antoine Banks, 25, after his arrest on drug charges in Louisville, Ky., they found a small bag of suspected crack cocaine tied to the waistband of his underpants. They proceeded with a strip search and found "another small baggie" containing crack rocks in the foreskin of his penis. (Louisville's WLKY-TV)

Piscine follies

Police who charged three teenage boys with residential burglary in Arlington Heights, Ill., also charged one of them with cruelty to animals after he admitted poisoning and killing three goldfish. "According to the police report," police Sgt. Mike Hernandez said, the 16-year-old boy "looked at the fish tank and said, 'We can't leave any witnesses.'" (suburban Chicago's Daily Herald)

Chinese animal rights groups objected to a television appearance by magician Fu Yandong, who performs a trick where six goldfish swim in formation. The protestors insisted the trick might involve the use of magnets and thus could injure the fish. The magician denied harming the fish, pointing out, "If I used magnets, the fish would stick together." (BBC News)

Fish swimming around big cities could be subjected to doses of anti-depressants, according to Canadian researchers, who discovered that significant quantities of Prozac are finding their way into the water around Montreal and into the brains of fish. Noting that a quarter of Montreal's human population consumes some type of anti-psychotic or anti-depressant drug, lead researcher Sebastian Sauve said his team observed that the pharmaceuticals reduced brain activity in brook trout exposed to Montreal's wastewater over a three-month period. Sauve warned that fish in other big cities could show similar effects. (The Canadian Press)

Slight provocation

Police arrested Consuela McCrobey, 19, and Laela Cross, 20, in Chattanooga, Tenn., after a dispute that began, McCrobey said, with Cross "spitting ice cream on my car." McCrobey responded by throwing eggs at Cross's porch, according to the police report, which stated that Cross retaliated a few hours later when McCrobey drove past her home by firing her semi-automatic pistol at McCrobey's car "once and then at least five more times." All six shots missed. "She wears glasses, she can't see," McCrobey said. "But I don't know what kind of anger she had for her to start shooting over some eggs." (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Kendall Anderson, 16, admitted hitting his mother 20 times with a claw hammer while she was asleep at their Philadelphia home. When the attack didn't kill her, he said he dragged her downstairs and tried to "cremate her" in the kitchen oven. That attempt failed, too, so he beat her in the head with a chair leg before dragging her body outside and hiding it under debris in an alley. Anderson blamed his mother for provoking the attack by taking away his PlayStation video game to punish him for getting into trouble. "I couldn't stand the arguing," Anderson explained to Homicide Detective Thorsten Lucke while confessing to the murder, but he added, "I really miss my mom. She was the only person who cared for me." (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

End of an error

The government of Alberta, Canada, announced it's issuing refunds to motorists ticketed for speeding by Edmonton's 47 speed cameras because it can't verify their accuracy. The action follows a motorist's objection to a ticket, denying that he was going 89 mph. Prosecutors found that every other vehicle traveling along that same road was also clocked at exactly 89 mph. (The A Journal of the Politics of Driving)

Change of plans

After convicted killer Tracy Province, 42, escaped from an Arizona prison, he decided to end what he called the fear and panic he experienced while on the lam by overdosing on heroin at Yellowstone National Park and letting bears eat him. He told Mohave County Detective Larry Matthews after his capture that as he was preparing the drug, a voice told him to abandon his suicide plan. "He called it divine intervention," Matthews reported. Province also told Matthews he'd been in prison so long he'd forgotten how to drive. "Everyone drives too fast now," Matthews quoted Province as saying. "When he went to prison, the speed limit was 55." (Associated Press)

Suspicious minds

Police locked down a Wal-Mart store in Kirksville, Mo., after receiving a report of a man in a truck in the store's parking lot holding a gun to his head. The gun turned out to be a cell phone the man was talking on. (Kirksville Daily Express)

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