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Nation in brief: N.M. wildfire leads to towns’ evacuation

Mon., April 21, 2008

High winds grounded air tankers and fanned the flames of a wildfire Sunday, sending it racing between two towns where hundreds of residents had ignored suggestions to evacuate. No one was reported injured.

Residents of about 130 homes in the towns of Manzano and Torreon, near the Manzano Mountains southeast of Albuquerque, had been asked to leave, said Torrance County Emergency Manager John Cordova. He called the threat “severe.”

The wind was blowing at 20 mph and gusting at 35 mph, with very low humidity. Windy conditions were forecast for the next few days, said Deanna Younger, fire information officer.

Fire crews were working on rugged terrain on the east side of the blaze, but high winds grounded air tankers and helicopters that had been dropping fire retardant on the blaze earlier in the day.


Teen charged with planning bombing

A high school senior collected supplies to carry out a bomb attack on his school and detailed the plot in a hate-filled diary that included maps of the building and admiring notations about the Columbine killers, authorities said Sunday.

Ryan Schallenberger, 18, was arrested Saturday after his parents called police when 10 pounds of ammonium nitrate was delivered to their home in Chesterfield, and they discovered the journal, said the town’s police chief, Randall Lear.

The teen planned to make several bombs and had all the supplies needed to kill dozens at Chesterfield High School, Lear said. Ammonium nitrate was used in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 that killed 168 people.

“The only thing left was delivering the bombs,” the police chief said.

Schallenberger kept a journal for more than a year that detailed his plans for a suicide attack and included maps of the school, police said. The writings did not include a specific time for the attack or the intended targets.


Message in bottle found near NASA

A Bahamian girl’s seaborne school project has landed on the sandy doorstep of NASA.

United Space Alliance worker Jill Vogel found a message in a bottle from a student at the Holy Name Catholic School in Bimini, about 220 miles southeast of Titusville and closest to Florida of all the Bahamas islands.

Vogel recently found the bottle while volunteering for a beach cleanup near the space shuttle launch pads at Kennedy Space Center.

“Dear Sea penpal,” the note began, going on to explain that the bottle was a Columbus Day project. “I hope you respond to my letter.”

Respond they will.

Vogel and others have collected space memorabilia – crew photos, pins, stickers and other NASA gear – to send to the 9-year-old girl and her classmates.


Man investigated in 3 shootings

A gunman shot a driver stopped at a traffic light and killed a pedestrian early Sunday, and the same man may be responsible for shooting a police sergeant in his patrol car, authorities said.

The three shootings took place within minutes in the same general area of Irvington, in northern New Jersey, about 3 a.m. Sunday, said Paul Loriquet, Essex County prosecutor’s office spokesman.

Police later accused Shaquan Johnson, 27, of Newark of shooting the police officer, and authorities were investigating his possible involvement in the other two shootings.


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