Guard members held at gunpoint
LUBBOCK, Texas — An Arizona man is accused of forcing off the road a National Guard convoy that was transporting COVID-19 vaccines in West Texas and then holding 11 guard members at gunpoint. Larry Harris, 66, of Wilcox, Arizona, told police that he stopped three vans because he believed people inside them had kidnapped a woman and child. None of the National Guard members were injured, and Harris was arrested Tuesday morning when police responded to the scene. Police say Harris followed the three National Guard vans from a gas station and tried multiple times to run them off the roadway before turning his vehicle into oncoming traffic to stop them. “Harris pointed a gun at a National Guard Soldier, identified himself as a detective, and demanded to search the vehicles,” according to a statement from Idalou Police Chief Eric C. Williams. He then ordered the guard members out of their vehicles at gunpoint, police said. Idalou police and deputies from the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. Police say Harris had three loaded guns. Harris was arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, unlawful restraint of 11 National Guard members, unlawful carrying of a weapon, impersonating a public servant, and interference with Texas military forces.
Fire destroys New York care home
SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. — A fire swept through a suburban New York assisted living home and caused a partial collapse early Tuesday, killing one resident and leaving a firefighter missing. Two other firefighters and multiple other residents were sent to hospitals. A second resident thought for several hours to be missing was later found unharmed. Flames gutted the Evergreen Court Home for Adults in the Rockland County community of Spring Valley, about 30 miles north of New York City, that its operator said housed 112 residents. “This was a devastating loss,” said Rockland County Fire coordinator Chris Kear. Rescuers searched through rubble for a firefighter who issued a mayday call from the third floor, Kear said. Other firefighters rushed to try to help their colleague, but the flames were too intense.
Harry joins coaching startup
NEW YORK — Prince Harry has joined the corporate world as employee coaching and mental health firm BetterUp Inc.’s chief impact officer. Financial terms of his employment were undisclosed. BetterUp, based in San Francisco, works with employees from companies including Mars, AB InBev and LinkedIn on coaching and mental health services. BetterUp CEO Alexi Robichaux said the Duke of Sussex is a good fit for the company because of “his model of inspiration and impact through action.” Robichaux cited Harry’s efforts founding the Invictus Games, which gives sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports, and founding Sentebale, an Africa-based charity supporting young people affected by HIV. In a blog post, Harry said he is joining BetterUp because he believes in the company’s mission of being proactive about mental health. “Being attuned with your mind, and having a support structure around you, are critical to finding your own version of peak performance,” he wrote.
Marine commander fired
SAN DIEGO — A U.S. Marine Corps commander was fired Tuesday following an investigation into the sinking of an amphibious assault vehicle in the ocean off Southern California that killed nine service members last year. Col. Christopher J. Bronzi was relieved of command of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit by Lt. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, a statement said. Rudder relieved Bronzi “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command,” the statement said. The amphibious assault vehicle had 16 people aboard when it sank rapidly in 385 feet of water off the coast of San Clemente Island on July 30, 2020, while it was returning to a Navy ship. In October, Lt. Col. Michael J. Regner was relieved of command of the landing team of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th MEU, based on “a substantial amount of information and data,” according to a statement that also cited loss of trust. A report on the cause of the sinking has yet to be released.
Banksy painting raises $23M
LONDON — A Banksy painting honoring Britain’s health workers in the pandemic has sold for a record 16.8 million pounds ($23.2 million), auction house Christie’s said Tuesday. Proceeds from the sale will be used to fund health organizations and charities across the U.K., it said. The work by the mystery street artist, titled “Game Changer,” first appeared on a wall at Southampton General Hospital in southern England in May, during the first wave of the pandemic. The black-and-white picture depicts a young boy sitting on the floor playing with a nurse superhero toy, as Batman and Spiderman toy figures lie in a wastepaper basket next to him. At the time it went up, the hospital said Banksy left a note for workers there saying: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.” Christie’s said the sale price was a world auction record for Banksy. The auction house said it will donate a “significant portion” of the buyer’s premium to health organizations. A reproduction of the picture will stay at the hospital for patients, visitors and staff, Christie’s added. The sale came on the day Britain held a minute’s silence to mark one year since Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the first national lockdown.
First airplane on Mars chopper
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A piece of the Wright brothers’ first airplane is on Mars. NASA’s experimental Martian helicopter holds a small swatch of fabric from the 1903 Wright Flyer. The helicopter, named Ingenuity, hitched a ride to the red planet with the Perseverance rover, arriving last month. Ingenuity will attempt the first powered, controlled flight on another planet no sooner than April 8. It will mark a “Wright brothers’ moment,” noted Bobby Braun, director for planetary science at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Carillon Historical Park in Dayton, Ohio, the Wrights’ hometown, donated the postage-size piece of muslin from the plane’s bottom left wing, at NASA’s request. The swatch made the 300 million-mile journey to Mars with the blessing of the Wright brothers’ great-grandniece and great-grandnephew, said park curator Steve Lucht. “Wilbur and Orville Wright would be pleased to know that a little piece of their 1903 Wright Flyer I, the machine that launched the Space Age by barely one quarter of a mile, is going to soar into history again on Mars!” Amanda Wright Lane and Stephen Wright said in a statement provided by the park. Orville Wright was on board for the world’s first powered, controlled flight on Dec. 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The brothers took turns, making four flights that day. A fragment of Wright Flyer wood and fabric flew to the moon with Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong in 1969. A swatch also accompanied John Glenn into orbit aboard space shuttle Discovery in 1998. Both astronauts were from Ohio. NASA’s 4-pound helicopter will attempt to rise 10 feet into the extremely thin Martian air on its first hop.
$1M ticket found in parking lot
SPARTA, Tenn. — A Tennessee man was able to turn his luck around after finding his missing $1 million winning lottery ticket in a parking lot — remaining where he dropped it even on a blustery afternoon. Sparta resident Nick Slatten learned on March 11 that he won a drawing with all matching numbers on a ticket worth $1,178,746, the Tennessee Education Lottery said in a statement. “I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it,” said Slatten, who bought the winning ticket at a local grocery store March 10 after a day of laying tile. Slatten rushed to his fiancee’s workplace to share the news, then continued running errands, including taking his brother to buy a car part, followed by a stop for lunch. Within an hour, Slatten went from ecstatic to panicked when he realized he didn’t have the ticket anymore. To make matters worse, if a player loses an unsigned ticket, anyone can claim it, the lottery said. So Slatten immediately began retracing his steps, eventually leading him back to the auto parts store where he saw the ticket lying in the parking lot. “It’s a million-dollar ticket, and someone stepped right over it,” Slatten said. He was able to retrieve the ticket — which somehow didn’t get blown away — and claim his prize. With the winnings, Slatten said he and his fiancee plan to continue working, upgrade their cars and buy a house of their own, as well as make investments. He said the couple hopes to live life without “a whole lot of worries.”
Democrats vow vote on gun bills
WASHINGTON — Democrats said Tuesday that they are pushing toward a vote on expanded gun control measures as the nation reels from its second mass shooting in a week. President Joe Biden said “we have to act,” but prospects for any major changes were dim, for now, in the closely divided Congress. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed to bring to the Senate floor legislation passed by the House that would require background checks for most gun sales and transfers. He said the Senate “must confront a devastating truth” after a lack of congressional action on the issue for almost three decades. Democrats do not have the votes to pass any significant reform. They are not even united themselves, as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he opposes the House legislation on background checks.
HGTV scammed in house deal
DETROIT — The star of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict Rescue” apparently was “scammed” when she bought a blighted Detroit home from someone who wasn’t the owner, the mayor said. The Detroit Land Bank Authority holds the title to the house. Nicole Curtis said she paid $17,000 for the property in 2017 and has spent $60,000 in repairs and other costs so far. The land bank has put the house on the market for $40,000. Curtis filed a lawsuit last week, seeking to keep the property or be reimbursed. “I feel bad for Nicole,” Mayor Mike Duggan said Monday. “It appears she was scammed. It appears she paid somebody who didn’t own the house and paid them to buy it. But the land bank can’t legally just give her the property.” Duggan said courts have already ruled that the land bank is the owner. But he wants Curtis to stick with the project and hopes she can make a deal. “They can’t turn the property over without getting value,” the mayor said of the land bank. Curtis’ Detroit Renovations LLC apparently didn’t know that the house had returned to the land bank’s control after the previous owners failed to fixed it up. Those owners executed a quit claim deed to Detroit Renovations in 2017. Curtis, a native of suburban Detroit, said it would be wrong for the land bank to benefit from her investment. “I didn’t become so successful in business by being somebody who backs down,” she said.
Ash closes Guatemala airport
GUATEMALA CITY — A shift in wind blew ash from an eruption at the Pacaya volcano over Guatemala City on Tuesday, and authorities closed the airport as ash coated planes and planes parked at the terminal. The 8,373-foot volcano, just 30 miles south of Guatemala’s capital, has been active since early February. Civil Aviation Director Francis Argueta did not say how long the closure would last. Volcanic ash is highly abrasive and can damage airplane engines and other mechanical devices. Tourists frequently hike up to visit Pacaya’s peak, but those trips have been temporarily cancelled. Pacaya has a clear view of the nearby Volcano of Fire, which erupted in 2018, emitting a fast-moving avalanche of super-heated muck that killed at least 110 people and left about 200 missing. Pacaya had an explosive blast in 2010 that killed a reporter and two local people.
Inmate attack at prison, 2 dead
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A nurse and a correctional officer at a prison housing some of Iowa’s most dangerous offenders died on Tuesday after an inmate carried out an attack on staff members and other inmate. The attack happened at around 10:15 a.m. in the prison infirmary at the state penitentiary in the eastern Iowa city of Anamosa, according to a statement from the Iowa Department of Corrections. The department said that additional security staff arrived after the attack and restrained the inmate,. Employees began attempting first aid on those injured until paramedics arrived. No other details were immediately available, including whether any other staff or inmates were injured. The deaths are believed to be the first time an Iowa prison staff member has been killed by an inmate since 1969, when Iowa State Penitentiary officer Sam Reed was assaulted and stabbed by inmate Edward N. Clark. Inmates took a dozen staff members hostage during a 1981 riot at that prison but none were killed.
Jury set for former cop’s trial
MINNEAPOLIS — A jury has been seated for the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd’s death, with opening statements set for Monday in a case that led to weeks of protests and a national soul-searching about racial justice. The final juror was chosen Tuesday, wrapping up a process that took more than two weeks and was complicated by worldwide attention to Floyd’s death, even before the city of Minneapolis announced a $27 million settlement to his family during the fourth day of jury selection. Attorneys and the judge worked through more than 100 people, dismissing most because they acknowledged strong views about an encounter that was captured on bystander video.
The panel now includes 15 jurors. Twelve will deliberate, with two alternates; Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill has said he will excuse the extra juror when opening statements begin on Monday if the 14 others still are able to serve.
Colleges hope for new normal
TOLEDO — Colleges throughout the U.S. are assuring students that the fall semester will bring a return to in-person classes, intramural sports and mostly full dormitories. But those promises come with asterisks. Administrators say how quickly campus life comes back will depend on the success of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts and the ability to avoid widespread outbreaks. Universities saw their budgets hammered during the coronavirus pandemic, which emptied dorms and led to declines in enrollment, and are facing pressure to reopen fully. A flood of announcements from schools describing their plans has begun as high school seniors and returning students are making decisions about where they will be next fall. Some students are waiting to decide until they know what to expect on campus, and others are still worried about the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Casey Knutson skipped spring semester after starting her first year of college at Ohio University taking classes on Zoom from home in Tiffin last fall. Her grades were good, but “I realized I wasn’t learning a single thing. It wasn’t worth the money.” She’s hopeful that she’ll be on campus next fall for a somewhat normal college experience. “I really don’t want to be stuck in my hometown. I think a lot of students feel like that.”