Capitol officer to lie in honor
WASHINGTON — The 18-year U.S. Capitol Police veteran killed in the line of duty is being remembered as a man with a sense of humor who loved baseball and golf and was most proud of one particular title: Dad. William “Billy” Evans, 41, was killed Friday when a vehicle rammed into Evans and another officer at a barricade just 100 yards from the Capitol. The driver, Noah Green, 25, came out of the car with a knife and was shot to death by police, officials said. Investigators believe Green had been delusional and increasingly having suicidal thoughts. Evans will lie in honor in the United States Capitol Rotunda on April 13, a tribute reserved for the nation’s most eminent private citizens. The U.S. Capitol Police also released a statement from Evans family, saying: “His death has left a gaping void in our lives that will never be filled.” Evans, a father of two, grew up in North Adams, Massachusetts, a close-knit town of about 13,000 in the northwest part of the state. Jason LaForest knew Evans for more than 30 years. He was a close friend of Evans’ older sister, Julie, and recalled Evans as a prankster who made sure the subjects of his jokes laughed as well. “As a young kid, Billy, of course, was the annoying little brother of one of my best friends, a title which he held on to for most of his life,” said LaForest.“But it was a joy to watch him grow up and become a talented athlete and a dedicated police officer, and, of course, the role in life that he loved the most, which was a dad.”
‘Pay-to-play’ report rebutted
ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed back aggressively Tuesday against a “60 Minutes” report that suggested he initially made a deal to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in a South Florida county at Publix Super Markets pharmacies because the company made a donation to his political action committee. “These are smear merchants,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Panama City. “They knew what they were doing was a lie.” The governor said his office had offered people to be interviewed about Florida’s vaccine rollout for the report but the news show declined. He called the “pay-to-play” allegations in the report, “lies built on lies.”
Man dies in taco eating contest
FRESNO, Calif. — The son of a California man who choked to death during an amateur taco eating contest at a minor league baseball game is suing the event’s organizers for negligence. Eighteen-year-old Marshall Hutchings’ lawsuit filed Monday alleges his father, Dana Hutchings, was not made aware of the risks and danger involved in an eating competition. The 41-year-old died after choking on tacos while competing in the contest during a Fresno Grizzlies game on Aug. 13, 2019. Participants competed to devour as many tacos as possible during a certain amount of time. The suit names Fresno Sports and Events, the owner of the Grizzlies.
Blind eye to Rwandan genocide
PARIS — France’s role before and during the 1994 Rwandan genocide was a “monumental failure” that the country must acknowledge, the lead author of a report commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron said, as the country is about to open its archives from this period to the public. The report, published in March, concluded that French authorities remained blind to the preparations for genocide as they supported the “racist” and “violent” government of then-Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and then reacted too slowly in appreciating the extent of the killings. But it cleared them of complicity in the slaughter that left over 800,000 people dead, mainly ethnic Tutsis and the Hutus who tried to protect them. Macron’s decision to commission the report — and open the archives to the public — are part of his efforts to more fully confront the French role in the genocide and to improve relations with Rwanda, including making April 7, the day the massacre began, a day of commemoration. While long overdue, the moves may finally help the two countries reconcile. Historian Vincent Duclert, who led the commission that studied France’s actions in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994,said “for 30 years, the debate on Rwanda was full of lies, violence, manipulations, threats of trials. That was a suffocating atmosphere.”
Deported for public debauchery
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Those involved in a naked photo shoot on a high-rise balcony in Dubai will be deported, authorities said Tuesday, after the footage went viral and prompted a crackdown in the Gulf Arab sheikhdom. Dubai authorities detained at least 11 Ukrainian women who posed naked in broad daylight along with a male Russian photographer on charges of public debauchery and producing pornography. Earlier this week, images and videos of the naked women splattered across social media and sent a wave of shock through the emirate, where a legal code based on Islamic law, or Shariah, has landed foreigners in jail for tamer offenses. After an unusually speedy investigation, Dubai’s Attorney General Essam Issa al-Humaidan announced that those behind the photo shoot would be sent back to their countries, without elaborating further. Dubai police have declined to identify those detained. More than a dozen women appeared in the widely shared video. Ukrainian and Russian authorities confirmed the arrest of their citizens Tuesday, but the nationalities of the others detained were not immediately known. Dubai is a top destination for the world’s Instagram influencers and models, who fill their social media feeds with slick bikini-clad selfies from the coastal emirate’s luxury hotels and artificial islands. But the city’s brand as a glitzy foreign tourist destination has at times provoked controversy and collided with the sheikhdom’s strict rules governing public behavior and expression.
$227M Ponzi involving films
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles man was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of running a $227 million Ponzi scheme that solicited investors for phony film licensing deals. Zachary Joseph Horwitz, 34, was charged with wire fraud, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Prosecutors said Horwitz told investors that their money would be used to purchase film distribution rights that would then be licensed to platforms such as HBO and Netflix. But instead of using the funds to make distribution deals, Horwitz allegedly operated his firm 1inMM Capital as a Ponzi scheme, using victims’ money to repay earlier investors and to fund his own lifestyle, including the purchase of a $6 million home, prosecutors said. Representatives for Netflix and HBO have denied that their companies engaged in any business with Horwitz.
FLA evacuation order lifted
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A mandatory evacuation order near a leaking Florida wastewater reservoir that affected more than 300 homes and additional businesses was lifted Tuesday as officials said the situation was under control. With the deployment of more than two dozen pumps and other equipment, fears have eased that the reservoir from an old phospate fertilizer plant would burst through its earthen walls and cause widespread flooding in Manatee County, just south of Tampa. The reservoir initially held about 480 million gallons of contaminated water, but much has been drained away once the leak was discovered.
Superman comic sells for $3.25M
NEW YORK — One of the few copies of the comic book that introduced Superman to the world has sold for a super-sized, record-setting price. The issue of Action Comics #1 went for $3.25 million in a private sale, ComicConnect.com, an online auction and consignment company, announced Tuesday. It narrowly bested the previous record for the comic, set in the auction of another copy in 2014 for slightly over $3.2 million. The comic, published in 1938, “really is the beginning of the superhero genre,” said ComicConnect.com COO Vincent Zurzolo, who brokered the sale. It told readers about the origins of Superman, how he came to Earth from another planet and went by Clark Kent. The seller of this particular issue bought the comic in 2018 for slightly more than $2 million. Zurzolo said that while there were hundreds of thousands of copies initially published, it’s estimated only about 100 exist today, and in varying conditions. He said this copy is among the best-kept ones. “There’s no comic book that you could value higher in terms of a comic book than Action Comics #1,” he said.
Man tried to help wife fake death
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A man accused of helping his wife try to fake her death to avoid being sentenced for health care fraud has been sentenced to eight months in prison. Rodney Wheeler of Beckley had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice. Wheeler and his wife, Julie M. Wheeler, came up with a plan to keep her out of prison. Rodney Wheeler told authorities in a phone call last May 31 that she had fallen from an overlook at the New River Gorge, prompting a massive search. He repeatedly gave false statements to state and federal investigators. State Police later found Julie Wheeler hiding in her home. She was sentenced last June to three years and six months for fraud related to overbilling. In February she received an additional year for conspiring to obstruct justice and will serve the sentences consecutively.
Death toll in Chicago climbs
CHICAGO — A 2-year-old boy was shot in the head Tuesday morning while riding in a car on Chicago’s famed Lake Shore Drive just hours after seven people were shot and wounded in a fight a few miles away, in what is shaping up to be one of the most violent years for the city in memory The shootings follow violence across Chicago on Easter Sunday that left seven people dead and at least 10 more with gunshot wounds. March ended as so many other months have ended: With more homicides and shootings than during the same month a year earlier. By the end of March there were 131 homicides compared with 98 for the same period last year. And the number of shooting victims in 2021 had already climbed past 700 — more than 200 more than had been recorded during the first three months of last year. Those totals and the weekend slayings puts Chicago on pace to eclipse the 769 homicides in 2020, which was the deadliest year in all but one year in the previous two decades.
Arrest in Van Gogh, Hals thefts
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch police arrested a suspect Tuesday in the theft last year of two valuable paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Frans Hals from different museums. The paintings, however, remain missing. Police spokeswoman Maren Wonder said a 58-year-old man was arrested at his home in the Dutch town of Baarn 25 miles southeast of Amsterdam. His identity was not released, in line with Dutch privacy guidelines. “Unfortunately, we haven’t yet recovered the paintings and the investigation is continuing,” Wonder said. She called the arrest “a really important step in the investigation.” Van Gogh’s “The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884” was snatched from the Singer Laren museum east of Amsterdam in the early hours of March 30, 2020. The museum was closed at the time due to a coronavirus lockdown. The 10-by-22-inch oil-on-paper painting shows a person standing in a garden surrounded by trees with a church tower in the background. The Hals work, “Two Laughing Boys,” was stolen some five months later from Museum Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden in Leerdam about 35 miles south of Amsterdam. The Van Gogh painting was on loan from the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands when a burglar smashed through reinforced glass doors to get into the Singer Laren, which is less than 6 miles from the town where the suspect was arrested. Singer Laren spokeswoman Esther Driessen welcomed the arrest and said she hopes it leads detectives to the painting. “The most important thing is that the painting returns as quickly as possible to the Groninger Museum, where it belongs,” she said. Police said last year that the same Hals painting was stolen in 1988 together with a work by Jacob van Ruisdael. Both were recovered three years later. In 2011, the two paintings were again stolen and recovered six months later.
Rodgers gets ‘Jep’ surprise
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got quite the surprise in his first episode as a guest host of “Jeopardy!” Contestant Scott Shewfelt was stumped on the final question of the episode that aired Monday. He decided to reply by referencing a controversial Packers strategic decision in last season’s NFC championship game as he wrote, “Who wanted to kick that field goal?” The Packers trailed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23 and had fourth-and-goal at the 8-yard line with just over two minutes when they opted to kick a field goal rather than going for the touchdown. Mason Crosby made the field goal, but the Bucs took the kickoff and maintained possession the rest of the way to win 31-26. When Shewfelt’s question appeared on the screen, Rodgers paused before saying, “That is a great question. It should be correct, but unfortunately for this game today, it’s incorrect.” The “Jeopardy!” Twitter account later posted a behind-the-scenes video in which Rodgers told Shewfelt, “I can see (your answer) out on the podium, and I was like, ‘Please put something about the field goal on there. You will always be all-time in my book, my friend.’ “ When Rodgers had been asked about the field-goal decision after the game, he said “I didn’t have a decision on that one.” Rodgers later added, “That wasn’t my decision, but I understand the thinking, above two minutes with all of our timeouts, but it wasn’t my decision.” Rodgers is hosting “Jeopardy!” for the next two weeks.
Trained to avoid neck pressure
MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police are taught to restrain combative suspects with a knee on their back or shoulders if necessary but are told to “stay away from the neck when possible,” a department use-of-force instructor testified Tuesday at former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. Lt. Johnny Mercil became the latest member of the Minneapolis force to take the stand as part of an effort by prosecutors to dismantle the argument that Chauvin was doing what he was trained to do when he put his knee on George Floyd’s neck last May.