November 6, 2012 in Nation/World

In brief: Boy survived fall, died during attack

From Wire Reports
 

PITTSBURGH – A zoo where a 2-year-old boy fell into an exhibit and was fatally mauled by African wild dogs had met or exceeded all safety standards for animals and visitors, proving that no exhibit is “fail-proof,” the zoo’s president said Monday.

Nearby staff responded “within seconds” on Sunday but quickly determined the dog attack was fatal and didn’t send handlers into the enclosure to intervene, Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium President Barbara Baker said.

Instead, the dogs were recalled into an indoor enclosure as they’ve been trained to respond, though four of the 11 lingered near the boy even after blank anesthetic darts, used out of an abundance of caution for the boy’s safety, were fired to shoo them away. One of the dogs, which are endangered, was fatally shot by police.

The boy’s mother had put him on a wooden railing at the edge of a viewing deck before he fell late Sunday morning. He bounced out of netting below before dropping more than 10 feet into the dogs’ enclosure.

Baker said the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office determined the boy survived the plunge. The medical examiner’s office has not publicly confirmed its findings or released the boy’s name.

The exhibit is closed indefinitely, and the dogs have been quarantined, though Baker said they will not be euthanized. The zoo also has been closed since the boy’s death but will reopen today, Baker said.

Highway reopens after fire threat

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Traffic is flowing again after the all-day shutdown of a major interstate linking Southern California and Las Vegas, and homes are no longer threatened after a wildfire erupted in a mountain pass.

The 350-acre fire in Cajon Pass was 5 percent surrounded by late Monday afternoon. Video from news helicopters overhead showed little smoke.

California transportation officials say they have slowly begun reopening lanes in both directions of Interstate 15.

The fire broke out as the region baked under the influence of a Santa Ana condition producing hot, dry air, and wind gusts of about 25 mph.

Evacuations had been ordered in an area known as Mathews Ranch.

Despite the progress, firefighters expect that the blaze won’t be fully contained until tonight.

Man charged in USC shootings

LOS ANGELES – A reputed gang member pleaded not guilty Monday to four counts of attempted murder for allegedly opening fire outside a Halloween party on the University of Southern California campus.

Brandon Spencer, of Inglewood, made a brief court appearance and was ordered held on $2.4 million bail. The 22-year-old was named in a complaint filed Monday by Los Angeles County prosecutors.

His lawyer, James M. Simmons, said his client has no criminal record and had been scheduled to begin classes Monday at UCLA in a nursing and EMT program. He declined to comment on whether he was a gang member.

Four people were wounded, one critically, at the party attended by hundreds of people. It was sponsored by a student organization but neither the shooter nor the victims were students at USC.

The felony complaint says the shootings were committed for the benefit and at the direction of a criminal street gang. If convicted, Spencer could go to prison for life.

Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba set his preliminary hearing for Dec. 6.


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