Stranger Than Fiction
Curses, foiled again
While neighboring groups of campers at Scotland's Loch Earn argued, Barry McCutcheon, 25, who was camping between them, asked them to calm down, prosecutor John Malpass told a Perth court, "and that wasn't received kindly." Then someone in one group yelled, "Bring the hatchets." McCutcheon fled but was stabbed in the back several times with a hatchet. Investigators identified Craig Shaw as the attacker after finding a receipt for the hatchets that led them to a store surveillance video, which showed Shaw. (Scotland's STV)
James Patrick Andrews, 43, tried to withdraw money from a Bank of America ATM in St. Petersburg, Fla., but after the machine informed him that his account had a negative balance, he robbed the bank. Police reported that Andrews made off with $1,000, but they had his photo from the ATM and the getaway car's license number and arrested him. (Tampa Bay Times)
The Glendale, Calif., school district paid a private firm $40,500 to monitor 14,000 middle and high school students' posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. School officials insist the purpose isn't snooping but student safety. The contractor, Geo Listening, which has other school clients, searches public postings, looking for possible violence, drug use, bullying, truancy and suicide threats. "We enforce the code of student conduct for every school we serve" by compiling a daily report to send each principal," CEO Chris Frydrych said. The firm employs 10 full-time staffers and hires freelance workers to work no more than four hours a day, Frydrych said, because "the content they read is so dark and heavy." The firm intends expanding its monitoring capacity by offering a smartphone app that lets students and parents notify school officials of conduct violations. (CNN)
After British police stopped a chartered party bus for carrying nine passengers instead of the allowed eight, driver Bash Ali, 41, objected, pointing out that the ninth passenger was actually a blow-up doll. Lacking money for a lawyer, however, Ali pleaded guilty in Manchester court, which ruled "that the vehicle was overloaded and that they were all human beings." Ordered to pay $688.86 in fines and cost, Ali declared, "I have no faith in the justice system." (United Press International)
• Earl Morgan III, 29, tried to kill himself by drilling into his head with a power drill, according to police in Anderson, Ind. Police official Joel Sandefur said that Morgan was in serious condition at an Indianapolis hospital. (Associated Press)
• After Steven Lowe, 41, resigned from the Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., police department because of allegations that he impersonated a teenage girl online to entice young boys to send him nude pictures, authorities said he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest "multiple times" with a nail gun. (Associated Press)
Revenge of the dead
A 51-year-old hunter who shot an elk outside Vernal, Utah, was trying to roll the 600- to 700-pound animal over when one of its antlers punctured his neck behind the jaw. Uintah County Undersheriff John Larson said the victim phoned for help and was airlifted to the hospital. (Associated Press)
Lest we remember
Among this year's ill-conceived attempts to honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks:
• AT&T published a photo on Twitter and Facebook showing the World Trade Center memorial lights through an AT&T-enabled smartphone with the message, "Never Forget." After being accused of tackiness, the company deleted the photo and apologized "to anyone who felt our post was in poor taste."
• The San Diego Marriott Mission Valley hotel posted a sign in the lobby: "In remembrance of those we lost on 9/11, the hotel will provide complimentary coffee and mini muffins from 8:45 to 9:15. The hotel apologized to anyone who "misunderstood the intent of the offer."
• Esquire magazine published a photo on its website of a World Trade Center victim falling from the building next to what it said was the wrong copy: "Making Your Morning Commute More Stylish: Look good on your way to work." The magazine pulled the photo and apologized.
• Tumbledown Trails Golf Course outside Madison, Wis., offered a September 11 special: nine holes (with cart) for $9.11. The golf course apologized, said it would honor the advertised rates and promised to donate a portion of sales to the 9/11 Memorial. Noting that this is the third year the course has offered these rates, general manager Marc Watts said, "This is the first time we've had any negative comments. So many people have come in and said, 'What a unique way to put that out there so people don't forget.'"
• Long Island-based Natasha's Equine Clipping Spa shaved the image of the Manhattan skyline on the side of a horse, with the World Trade Center towers on its hindquarters, and then posted the tribute on its Facebook page. (Yahoo)
A chess match between neighbors got out of hand when the host pulled a gun and threatened his guest, who fled the apartment in Bellevue, Wash. When police arrived, the man held them off for eight hours before finally waving a white flag out the window and surrendering. (Seattle Times)
Wal-Mart clerk Justine Boyd, 46, shot and wounded a 56-year-old co-worker in the store's liquor section because "the defendant was upset that the victim got a position in the liquor store, an easier cash register," Winnebago County, Wis., prosecutor Scott Ceman said. After shooting the victim, Boyd returned to her cash register and resumed working until she was arrested and charged. (Appleton Post-Crescent)
Douglas Yim, 33, was found guilty of shooting and killing a 25-year-old friend after the two argued over the existence of God. Yim was for; Dzuy Duhn Phan, against. (Associated Press)
Perils of publicity
When Joseph Derrico resigned from the Hamilton Township, N.J., police force after being indicted on a charge of receiving stolen property, he applied for and was granted a tax-free disability pension of $69,703 a year. New Jersey's Police and Firemen's Retirement System board of trustees voted unanimously to revoke Derrico's pension after he appeared on Bear Swamp Recovery, a truTV cable network reality show about vehicle repossessions by the "baddest towing team in Jersey." During one episode, Derrico runs after a truck, pulls a man down from the driver's seat, throws him to the ground and climbs into the cab. Another scene shows Derrico wrestling with opponents. (The Times of Trenton)
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