Originally created 07/24/99

Across the area



Heat wave sparks blaze at duplex

A Martinez duplex fire Friday evening was the apparent result of yesterday's high outdoor temperatures, said Martinez Fire Department Public Information Officer Honey Shore.

The fire at 230 A and B Pin Court began around 6:48 p.m. and originated from the duplex's back patio, Ms. Shore said.

The occupant of the B complex, Willie H. Wright, said he had been in his back yard cutting his grass when he accidentally spilled gasoline on his patio. He was the only occupant of both complexes.

Minutes later, the heat caused the gasoline to burst into flames. Mr. Wright said he threw water on the blaze, quickly putting it out. However, seconds later after going back into the duplex, he began to smell smoke.

This time, the gasoline blazed up, catching a back room on fire and sending flames into the duplex's attic, Ms. Shore said.

There were no injuries, and firefighters from the Martinez Fire Department were able to contain the fire within 10 minutes after arriving.

"I've never heard of anything like that before," said Ms. Shore. "It just goes to show that you should always call us anytime you have a fire even if you think you have it under control."

Ms. Shore said the fire caused extensive attic damage, but the home's lower section stayed intact.

Barr confident of F-22 funding

MARIETTA -- Despite the House of Representative's $1.8 billion cut in funds for the F-22 fighter program, Rep. Bob Barr is confident the money will be restored.

Mr. Barr, a Georgia Republican whose district includes Cobb County, where the F-22 is assembled at Lockheed Martin Corp., was one of many representatives arguing for full funding of the $3 billion program.

He said Friday he's confident the funds will be restored.

The House on Thursday approved a $266 billion defense spending bill that included a $1.8 billion cut in production funds for the F-22 program while retaining $1.2 billion for research and development on the project.

Man charged in toddler's death

THOMASVILLE -- A 21-year-old Thomasville man has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter, who died after being hospitalized for about a week.

James C. McVeigh had been charged with aggravated battery and child abuse. Those charges were upgraded to murder after the child, Amber Howell, was removed from life support Thursday.

Police said the toddler, who was taken to the hospital July 16, had received a blow to the head or had been shaken.

The girl had been alone with the suspect for most of that day, said Lt. Mark Scott of the Thomasville Police Department.

Man charged in motel slaying

COLUMBIA -- A Midlands man has been charged with murder in connection with an early-morning shooting at a motel.

Shots were still being fired early Friday morning when officers arrived at the Day's Inn on Bush River Road.

A 29-year-old North Carolina man in a wheelchair was killed. He has not been identified.

Authorities are holding 39-year-old Thomas "T.J." Bryant. Mr. Bryant's attorney said the two men had argued at a nearby strip club.

Family loses two children

ROCK HILL -- Tragedy struck a local family twice with the deaths of two children, including a day-old infant, on the same day while they were in Florida.

Five-year-old Cory Andrew Wilson died Wednesday when his 6-year-old brother accidentally shot him as the two handled a gun in their grandparents' home in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The same afternoon, Richard and Tammy Wilson's fourth child, Amber, died a day after being born three months premature at St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach.

The three boys were staying with their grandmother, Shelia Rowe, in Lake Park when Tammy Wilson went into labor and went to the hospital, said Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokesman Paul Miller.

The two boys found the shotgun under a bed as their grandmother watched television. They found ammunition in separate room, Mr. Miller said.

The older boy, whose name was not released, loaded the gun and accidentally fired once.

State to get money for corridor

COLUMBIA -- South Carolina will receive $150,000 from the federal government to develop an action plan for upgrading crossings in the high-speed rail corridors.

The money is part of $6.95 million in financial assistance grants to eliminate hazards at public and private highway-rail grade crossings in eight, federally designated high-speed rail corridors.

Company to build two facilities

COLUMBIA -- Palmetto Health Alliance will buy more than eight acres north of the city to build a health care center for the elderly and an assisted-living facility, agency officials say.

The $6.8 million complex will replace two Palmetto SeniorCare centers in Eau Claire and Columbia that have outgrown their capacity, the agency said. The 13,500-square-foot health center will accommodate 120 people daily. The 24,000-square-foot assisted-living facility will have 40 beds, available only to Palmetto SeniorCare participants.

Palmetto SeniorCare is a managed-care program for people 55 and older who would qualify to be in a nursing home. Participants pay their Medicare premiums and other fees to the Palmetto program in exchange for daily care at one of its centers, including transportation to and from the center.

Despondent man attacks police

GREENVILLE -- An Upstate man repeatedly told police he wanted to die before lunging at one officer with a knife and being shot in the stomach by another.

Joseph Leon Brown, 38, of Piedmont was taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital on Thursday with two gunshot wounds to the stomach, a hospital spokesman said.

Authorities say Mr. Brown was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill a police officer, resisting arrest and criminal domestic violence.

The officers had responded to a domestic dispute at a restaurant late Wednesday. Mr. Brown told patrons that "he had a knife and was going to make the officers shoot him," according to the police report. Mr. Brown told officers he wanted to die because of problems with his wife, the report said.