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NW today: Man robs convenience store with hot cocoa

What’s news in the Northwest today:

BILLINGS, Mont. — Yellowstone County officials say they have arrested a man suspected of robbing a Billings convenience store using a cup of hot chocolate. Officers say the man walked into the convenience store about 8:30 p.m. Friday and filled up a cup of hot chocolate. When the clerk opened cash register, surveillance video shows the man threw the hot chocolate in her face, took cash from the register and fled in a pickup truck. The clerk suffered minor burns and did not require medical attention. A suspect was arrested Sunday morning.

Clark County road rage chase ends in suicide

BRUSH PRAIRIE, Wash. — The Clark County sheriff’s office says a suspect in a road rage shooting near Brush Prairie shot and killed himself after he was chased down by deputies. The incident began Sunday night when a woman driving on Highway 503 in Brush Prairie reported a man in a pickup truck had shot out her rear windows. She got the license number and saw the truck pull off the highway at Battle Ground. A deputy was going to truck owner’s home when he saw the vehicle speed off. It was stopped with spike strips and a PIT ramming maneuver. At this point, the sheriff’s office said the driver shot himself.

Flooded Western Washington rivers cresting

SEATTLE — Heavy rains that hit Western Washington over the weekend have eased, and rivers that flooded roads and houses are on their way down or cresting, the National Weather Service said today. Flood warnings remained in effect on nine rivers. Most damage has been from landslides and minor flooding in valleys and in some residential and urban areas. The rainfall Sunday set a record at Sea-Tac Airport of 2.19 inches, breaking the mark for the date of 1.70 set in 1966. Other records set Sunday were 1.8 inches at Olympia, 1.61 inches at Bellingham, 1.18 inches at Port Angeles and 1.92 inches at Renton.

Kennewick man pleads innocent to strangling pregnant girlfriend

KENNEWICK, Wash. – A 35-year-old Kennewick man has pleaded innocent to allegations he tried to strangle his girlfriend, who is seven months pregnant with his child. David Mendoza Simiano faces a Jan. 24 trial in Benton County Superior Court for one count of second-degree domestic violence assault – attempted strangulation. Simiano is being held in the Benton County jail on $15,000 bail. Kennewick police were called to the woman’s home on the 1800 block of West Fifth Avenue by her 14-year-old daughter, who said there was a “psychopath in the house choking her mother,” court documents said.

Truck crashes into fallen rock near Tri-Cities

WALLULA, Wash. — A rock that fell on Highway 730 along the Columbia River south of the Tri-Cities caused an accident that damaged two semi-trucks. The Washington State Patrol says one truck hit the large rock in the roadway Sunday night near Wallula. The truck was forced into the shoulder and hit a barrier where a trailer axle tore loose and landed back on the highway. The second truck hit the axle. The patrol says the driver of the first truck suffered minor injuries. The driver of the second truck was not injured.

Former North Idaho deputy files claim over firing

SANDPOINT — A former Bonner County Sheriff’s deputy fired after his Taser shocked his son has filed a tort claim against the county contending he was wrongfully terminated. The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that Corey Cotter is seeking $500,000 in the tort claim filed late last month. A tort claim is a precursor to a lawsuit. Cotter in the claim says his 4-year-old son suffered a “brief shock” when he kicked the Taser while Cotter was testing it on April 26. The claim says Cotter reported the incident to superiors and was fired following an administrative investigation. Cotter contends Bonner county Sheriff Daryl Wheeler and Lt. Bill McAuliffe conducted a negligent internal investigation that lacked thoroughness and objectivity. The county declined to comment.

Few Oregon hospitals for mentally ill kids

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Health officials in Oregon say there is a shortage of hospital space for mentally ill children. The Corvallis Gazette-Times reports that Legacy Emanuel Hospital and Providence Medical Center, both in Portland, are the only two care facilities in the state that offer such services. Legacy Emanuel has 17 beds for patients under 18, while Providence has 15 beds for adolescents and 10 beds for younger children. Dr. John Paisley, clinical director of the pediatric inpatient unit at Legacy Emanuel, says it’s hard to find money to pay for more services. He says it’s sad to have kids who need psychological help to essentially have nowhere to go.

Buhl man arrested for trying to suffocate woman

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — A 26-year-old Twin Falls man who is on supervised probation in a truck theft case has been charged with trying to strangle and suffocate a woman. Jonathan Dillard Guidi was arrested Thursday. Prosecutors allege Guidi tried to suffocate a woman twice at her residence in Buhl, once by placing his hands around her throat and once by covering her face with a towel. He is charged with attempted strangulation and faces a preliminary hearing on Dec. 17.

Police arrest man after E. Idaho bar shooting

MONTPELIER, Idaho — Police say a 34-year-old man who fired shots into an eastern Idaho bar after he was told to leave was arrested over the weekend. Montpelier Police Chief Greg Butler says more than a dozen patrons were inside the Hitching Post Bar in Montpelier when Steven Michael Stewart fired off a round from a rifle at about 1 a.m. on Sunday. No one was inured.

Customers of Butte banks reporting fraud

BUTTE, Mont. — Customers of several Butte banks and credit unions are reporting fraudulent activity on their accounts. Glacier Bank President Bob Nysteun says he has heard from a number of customers reporting some form of identity theft. Nysteun says it appears to be isolated to the Butte area. The Montana Standard reports accounts at First Montana, First Citizens and American Federal Savings Bank have been affected. Bank officers are asking Butte-area customers to check their accounts for any potential fraudulent activity.

Springfield police searching landfill for baby’s body

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Springfield police continue to search a landfill for the body of a baby they believe was killed by his mother after giving birth in October. Police say searchers have a good description of the material the boy was wrapped in and dropped in a trash bin. The Register-Guard said searchers probed a 2-acre section of the Short Mountain Landfill over the weekend without success. Detectives arrested 23-year-old Angelica May Swartout last week on an aggravated murder charge. She told family members her baby died at birth. When no record of the baby’s birth or death was found, police were notified.

Missing Oregon City woman, 72, found dead

OREGON CITY, Ore. — Police say a 72-year-old Oregon City woman who had been missing since Wednesday apparently died of hypothermia in her car on a Forest Service road past the Ripplebrook Ranger Station in Clackamas County. The body found Sunday by a snowmobiler matched the description of Joyce Loretta Speaker. Her car was stuck in deep snow. Police say her family has no idea why Speaker would drive to that area. She reportedly suffered from dementia.

Ski patroller died of heart attack, fell from lift

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Jefferson County officials say the ski patrolman who fell off a ski lift at Kelly Canyon Resort over the weekend died before he fell. Kelly Canyon Ski Resort officials tell KIFI-TV that Steve Yount died of a heart attack while on a ski lift Saturday. The resort posted a statement on its web site saying Yount was helping ready the hill for opening day when he was stricken. The resort said Yount took pride in being the first person on the powder and the last person off the hill, and that his dedication to the patrol and his friendly manner will be missed.

Idaho may fail waiver test on stimulus money

LEWISTON — An Idaho official says a request by the state to the federal government for a waiver concerning how much Idaho spends on education in exchange for receiving federal stimulus money could be rejected because the state might end up not spending enough on education. Paul Headlee, a legislative budget analyst for the state, says the state took and spent more than $200 million in stimulus funding for public schools and universities in fiscal year 2009. He tells the Lewiston Tribune that in return the state must spend at least as much on K-12 and higher education in 2009 as it did in 2006.

Commencement speaker advises students to ‘embrace failure’

MOSCOW – College of Science Dean Scott Wood had some unconventional advice for University of Idaho Winter Commencement graduates on Saturday. Embrace failure. Seek it out a little, even. And take away everything you can from those experiences to prepare for the successes of the future. Wood began teaching at the UI in 1992 and was appointed to his dean position in 2007. Some failure has value, he said. “My hope for you graduates that you set your goals high, carefully prepare yourself and work hard to achieve those goals,” he said. “Don’t expect failure, but if it comes be observant. Learn from it. Persevere and keep moving ahead.”

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