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In brief: Plaza explosion injures 8 people

An explosion possibly caused by a gas leak ripped through a shopping plaza Thursday, injuring at least eight people and rattling nearby buildings, fire officials said.

Five people were taken to Vista East Medical Center, none with life-threatening injuries, and four were discharged by Thursday evening, hospital spokesman Adam Beeson said.

Three people were treated for injuries at the scene, Deputy Fire Chief Dan Young said. Authorities believe the incident was caused by a gas explosion, and some shop owners said they smelled gas for the last couple of days, he said.

Officials were “99.99 percent” sure the rubble had been cleared, and there was no reason to believe anyone was missing, Young said.

“The whole back of the building was pancaked,” Young said.

The blast struck around lunchtime in the business district about 40 miles north of Chicago, shattering windows and collapsing the roof of the plaza, which housed a cell phone shop, a tuxedo store and a hair salon, among other businesses.


Police arrest shooting suspect

A man suspected of shooting into a crowd at a South Los Angeles bus stop, wounding five children and three adults, was arrested Thursday, police said.

Billy Ray Hines, 24, was taken into custody while walking on a street less than a half-mile from Wednesday’s attack after detectives recognized him in security surveillance video that recorded the scene, Police Chief Bill Bratton said.

“We believe the incident … was sparked by a dispute between the shooter and two other individuals who we believe were the intended victims,” Bratton said. During the assault, “eight innocent individuals, including five children, were struck.”

Hines is a member of the Crips gang and has one burglary conviction, said Lt. Paul Stalker, a detective commander.


Papal visit tickets are a hot item

With seven weeks until Pope Benedict XVI lands in Washington, the hunt is on for tickets to the Mass he will offer at Nationals Park on April 17.

Pleading letters and e-mails are flooding into the offices of parish priests. Requests for tickets are appearing on eBay and Craigslist. Diocese officials are fielding phone calls from Catholics as far away as Australia. All in all, 45,000 people will crowd into the stadium for the pope’s celebration of the Eucharist.

The Washington Archdiocese, which controls the tickets to the Mass, is still working on how to distribute them. So far, it has announced that it will give 14,000 tickets to 120 other archdioceses. Arlington, Va., will receive the most: 6,000.


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