Nation briefs 04/14/03

Monday, April 14, 2003

Bouncer stabbed in brawl over NYC smoking ban

NEW YORK -- A bouncer at a Manhattan nightclub died Sunday after he was stabbed in a brawl that police said began when he tried to enforce the city's new ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.

Dana Blake, 32, died about 11 hours after the late-night fight in an East Village nightclub.

Police arrested two brothers, Johnathan and Ching Chan, shortly after the fight and charged them with assault. Prosecutors had not decided Sunday whether to upgrade the charges because of Blake's death.

Blake approached the men about 2:30 a.m. to tell them they could not smoke in the bar, police spokesman Michael O'Looney said. It was unclear whether one or both men were smoking, he said.

Harsh words were exchanged and the brawl began when Blake tried to eject Johnathan Chan for disorderly behavior, witnesses told police. Blake was stabbed in the fight, but it was unclear who stabbed him or with what, O'Looney said.

The smoking ban took effect late last month.

Man arrested in deaths of five prostitutesPHOENIX -- Hours after a woman's decomposing body was discovered in a backyard camper, police arrested a man who sometimes lived there in the deaths of at least five prostitutes found dumped in the neighborhood over the past nine months.

Police said the man arrested Saturday, Corey Morris, 24, admitted involvement in five deaths, including the body his uncle found in the RV. He was being held on suspicion of murder and charges were pending.

Since July, the bodies of six women have been found in the Garfield neighborhood north of the Arizona Diamondbacks' stadium -- just blocks from Phoenix's red light district on East Van Buren Street.

Autopsies on four of the women show they died of cocaine overdoses.

Suspect in four killings indicted for murder

NEW YORK -- A man accused of killing four people during a shooting spree allegedly because he was angry about Sept. 11 was indicted on three counts of first-degree murder, including one that charges him as a serial killer.

Larme Price, who has a history of mental illness, confessed to the killings on March 29 after he walked into a police station and offered to help track down the suspect. He told authorities that he intended to exact revenge for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by targeting people he believed were of Middle Eastern descent.

Price, 30, was not in court Friday when prosecutors announced the indictment charging him with three counts of first-degree murder, including the one that charges him as a serial killer. The other two first-degree murder counts are for committing murder during a robbery.

He was also indicted on multiple counts of second-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and several other charges stemming from the killings.

Cypress Gardens opens its gates for final time

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Cypress Gardens, which billed itself as Florida's oldest theme park and served as the backdrop for Esther Williams movies during its heyday, opened its gates for the last time on Sunday.

The park, which opened in 1936, has seen a steady decline in attendance since 1995. Park president Bill Reynolds says owners have lost $6 million in the last eight years.

More than 15,000 people passed through the park's gates Sunday, a far cry from the daily norm of a few hundred people.

In addition to water-skiing, the park boasts 8,000 varieties of plants, canal rides, educational shows, and children's rides and games.

Officials have already found new homes for most of the park's animals and recruiters from other theme parks plan to interview its 350 employees.

"It's like the death of a family member," said Cherie Hare, who's in charge of tickets and turnstiles. "I've been here for 14 years, and I've seen a lot of skiers come out of here and get married."-- From wire reports

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