Washington President Bush was rushed to a secure underground White House bunker and Vice President Dick Cheney was whisked outside the compound Wednesday because of a “radar anomaly” – perhaps a flock of birds or pocket of rain – that was mistaken for a plane flying in restricted airspace.
The late-morning scare was determined within minutes to be a false alarm, and business quickly returned to normal. Later in the day, security officials sent a robotic device to investigate what turned out to be a harmless bag left along Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
There have been similar alarms before, sparked by a blip on a radar screen that looks like an aircraft venturing into the area around the White House that is off-limits to aircraft.
In November 2003, the White House was briefly evacuated while Air Force fighter jets were scrambled to investigate a tripped radar alert that also triggered fears – also groundless – of an airspace violation. Bush was in Britain at the time.
This time, though, Bush was in the Oval Office when radar picked up something. Helicopters were sent to check it out and found there was no errant aircraft, said Brian Roehrkasse, a Homeland Security Department spokesman.
Before that could be confirmed, though, the Secret Service leapt into action.
They moved the president and vice president out of danger. Officers toting shotguns raced around the compound taking up positions. A surface-to-air missile battery recently installed on the roof of a nearby building was raised to fire position. Some White House staff members were evacuated from the West Wing. Tour groups were hustled out of the executive mansion, and a park across the street from the White House was cleared.
Some parts of the compound, such as the area where the press is housed, were not notified of the threat or moved.
Mom whose body kept in freezer died naturally
La Crosse, Wis. An elderly woman whose body was kept in the freezer for four years while her son continued to collect her Social Security checks appeared to have died of natural causes, according to autopsy results released Wednesday.
Sheriff Mike Weissenberger said it appeared that the woman died of kidney and heart failure, but pathologists were still awaiting toxicology tests.
The body was found packed in 200 to 300 pounds of ice inside a chest-style freezer in the woman’s basement Sunday after a 15-hour police standoff with her 52-year-old son, Philip Schuth, who was arrested on charges of shooting a neighbor.
Schuth told authorities that his mother died naturally in 2000 but that he was afraid he would be blamed.
Boy, 10, charged in father’s murder
Humboldt, Kan. Prosecutors brought a murder charge Wednesday against a 10-year-old boy who allegedly killed his father with a shotgun and then walked to a neighbor’s doorstep and said, “I done something really bad.”
Robert D. Hamlin, 43, was found dead Sunday night on the living room couch at his home near Humboldt. Sheriff’s deputies found the boy a quarter-mile away with a 20-gauge shotgun.
The boy, whose name was not released, was charged as a juvenile and could be held until age 23 if convicted. Authorities are trying to determine the motive.
Carolyn Moore said the boy appeared at her door Sunday night after the shooting, clad only in his underwear and holding a shotgun.
“There stood this poor, scared, half-naked little boy saying, ‘Help me, help me. Hide me. They’re after me,’ ” Moore said. “I could see the fear in his eye. He said, ‘They’re going to get me and spank me hard.’
“The child said, ‘I done something really bad,’ ” she said. “And I said, ‘What did you do?’ He said, ‘I shot my dad.’ “
Moore said the father “would do anything in the world for you. He was an extremely hard worker and took care of his family.” She said he worked at a local factory.
Group investigating film’s horse deaths
Simi Valley, Calif. Two days after a horse died during filming of a remake of the 1943 classic “My Friend Flicka,” an animal-welfare group said it has learned another horse had died on the set two weeks earlier.
A quarter horse tripped during a rodeo scene and broke a back leg April 11 at the Blue Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, American Humane Association spokeswoman Sara Spaulding said Wednesday.
The horse was put down after a veterinarian on the set determined the injury was untreatable, she said.
On Monday, a rodeo horse died after it broke away from handlers and tripped on its rope at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in the San Fernando Valley.
Spaulding said an investigation was being conducted to determine whether guidelines were being followed during filming. She said 20th Century Fox, which is producing the film, did not immediately report the death and that the association became aware of the incident Wednesday.
Deadline passes on winning lotto ticket
Olympia Time has run out on the biggest unclaimed prize in the Washington State Lottery.
No one presented the winning ticket, which was sold Oct. 27 at a Safeway store in Bremerton, by the deadline of 5 p.m. Monday.
As a result, the $1.2 million prize money reverted to an unclaimed prize fund, which is used to finance future jackpots.
Regular Lotto ticket buyers at the store scrambled to try to find the winning ticket, but no one succeeded, night manager Nick Waldbillig said.
One popular theory was that a sailor bought the winning ticket, then was sent to sea before he could redeem it, the store manager said.
“My personal opinion?” Waldbillig said. “Somebody bought it and forgot about it.”