December 25, 2008 in Nation/World

Gas leak leads to house blast

 

At least five people were injured Wednesday when a home in a Sacramento suburb was leveled during an explosion that officials believe was caused by a natural gas leak.

Charred remnants were all that remained of the house, which sat at the end of a cul-de-sac beside a busy highway. Debris littered the street.

Homes on both sides of the leveled home also were damaged.

“One house is completely destroyed, just devastated. Both the other ones have major, major damage,” Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District spokesman Christian Pebbles said.

Three of the five victims were in critical condition, fire and hospital officials said.

Officials believe the explosion was caused by a natural gas leak, prompting them to issue voluntary evacuations for about 40 nearby homes.

EL MONTE, Calif.

Man in standoff had criminal past

A call to police to investigate a gaunt, seedy-looking man with a boy was the beginning of a deadly end to four years on the run for Manuel Benitez, a former child actor who authorities say used a dumbbell to beat his girlfriend to death in 2004.

Benitez was shot and killed by police Tuesday night about two hours after he holed up in the back of a Chinese restaurant where he’d taken his 7-year-old son hostage. He was armed with two handguns and had threatened to harm the boy, police said.

Benjamin Everett, whose mother was slain when he was 3, was shot in the thigh as a SWAT team burst into the locked bathroom, but his wound was not considered life-threatening.

Benitez, 38, was a child actor who had small roles under the name Mark Everett in such 1980s fare as “Galactica 1980” and “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.” He was credited as “heavy metal boy” in the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver.”

CHARLOTTE, N.C.

Escalator fires errant bullets

Christmas shoppers were evacuated from a North Carolina store after a customer dropped several bullets onto a moving escalator and a round went off.

The Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday that a customer accidentally dropped the .22-caliber bullets on the escalator at Dick’s Sporting Goods at Northlake Mall in Charlotte.

Police spokesman Bob Fey said the customer had just bought a box of bullets Tuesday and dropped them on the moving stairs. He said the back of one bullet was compressed by the escalator and fired.

No one was hurt. Northlake Mall general manager Phil Morosco said the store reopened after police checked the escalator to make sure no more bullets were lodged.

From wire reports


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