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Nation in brief: NASA shooter feared being fired

Sun., April 22, 2007, midnight

The shooter in an apparent murder-suicide at the Johnson Space Center had received a poor job review and feared being fired, police said Saturday.

William Phillips, 60, smuggled a snub-nosed revolver into the space center Friday, shot David Beverly, 62, and barricaded himself with a hostage before shooting himself in a building that houses communications and tracking systems for the space shuttle, officials said.

Phillips bought the .38-caliber revolver March 18, two days after receiving an e-mail citing deficiencies in his job performance and saying that he was going to be reviewed, police said. A copy of the e-mail was found in Phillips’ lunch bag on the day of the shootings.

On Friday, Phillips had lunch with Beverly and another man, police said. Then, early that afternoon, Phillips entered Beverly’s office with the gun in his hand and said, “You’re the one who’s going to get me fired.”

After Beverly talked with Phillips for several minutes, Phillips shot him twice. He then returned and shot Beverly twice more, officials said.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

2 small planes crash; 8 missing

Two small planes carrying a total of eight people crashed in separate incidents off the coast of Florida, authorities said. No survivors had been found by late Saturday.

A Piper Aztec carrying five people crashed off the coast of Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, officials said.

Authorities lost radar contact with the plane at 9:20 a.m. while it was on its way to the Bahamas, Coast Guard Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson said. A rescue helicopter spotted the debris about 17 miles east of Fort Lauderdale, Johnson said.

It was not immediately known what caused the crash.

Three others were believed dead after their small plane hit a blimp’s wire tether and crashed off the Florida Keys, officials said.

Kansas City, Mo.

Man drowns in casino moat

A man fleeing security drowned early Saturday after he leaped over a railing into a moat surrounding a casino, authorities said.

Police said the man, identified as Anthony D. Swopes, 21, of Kansas City, fled while being questioned about his identification at the Isle of Capri casino. A check of the card revealed an outstanding bench warrant.

Authorities were called around 12:30 a.m., and firefighters recovered Swopes about 45 minutes later. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

It was the second death of its kind at the casino in recent years. In July 2005, police said, a woman apparently jumped into the Isle of Capri moat and later died.

Moats are common fixtures at Missouri casinos. Casino gambling in the state initially was restricted to floating riverboats, but the state’s constitution was amended to allow riverboat casinos to float within manmade moats.


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