Originally created 01/06/01

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Police arrest man in home invasions

A man accused of invading two of his neighbors' apartments was arrested Friday during a visit with his parole officer.

Ricarico White, 27, of Lincoln Square Apartments, was taken into custody at 11 a.m. at the Augusta Parole Office at 3112 Washington Road. His parole officer notified authorities after he stated he was wanted by police, Richmond County Sheriff's Investigator Richard Roundtree said.

The department is still looking for another man who the investigator said held the single-barreled sawed-off shotgun when two men burst into a unit in the 100 building at about 3 a.m. Thursday. A 20-year-old woman and an 18-year-old man were held at gunpoint. One robber looked through the kitchen, but police said the men took only $2 from the man's pocket.

A half-hour later, two men kicked in the back door of another apartment in the 300 building. They searched rooms, but fled when a sleeping man turned on his bedroom light.

Neighbor warns family of fire

A neighbor saved a toddler from a fire that started with a faulty space heater Friday, according to the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department. By the time firefighters quenched the flames, the house off Walton Way was destroyed, Battalion Chief Ron Shirey said.

The fire started at about 4 p.m. on the 600 block of Wrights Avenue. A family was inside, but it was neighbor Carey Johnson who warned them that their house was ablaze, the battalion chief said. The baby's mother was taking a bath at the time, and Ms. Johnson entered the room where the 18-month-old was sleeping and carried the child to safety.

Heavy smoke was pouring from the house when firefighters arrived. The fire was knocked out in about 15 minutes, but it later rekindled within the walls. Firefighters were on the scene three hours, Battalion Chief Shirey said.

The department believes a valve malfunctioned in a gas space heater, which had been placed in the room where the baby was sleeping, he said.

The Red Cross has placed the family - including a father, mother, 6-year-old boy and the baby - at an Augusta hotel.

Credit union robbery suspect charged

The Richmond County Sheriff's Department says it has caught the man who robbed the Veterans Administration Federal Credit Union at gunpoint last month and got away on a 10-speed bicycle.

After questioning, Callus Lefont Latimore, 26, of the 2500 block of Clifton Drive, was arrested late Thursday at the Richmond County Law Enforcement Center, Investigator Scott Peebles said.

Mr. Latimore is charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and probation violation. He is being held in the Richmond County jail.

Police say a man wearing a scarf over his face and armed with a handgun entered the credit union on Freedom Way off Wrightsboro Road the morning of Dec. 5. He hopped over the counter, grabbed money from three cash drawers, exited the building and fled on a silver bicycle, according to investigators.

Witnesses helped a Georgia Bureau of Investigation forensic artist draw a composite sketch. One thing they remembered was the man having an earring stud under his lower lip.

Investigator Peebles said the release of the sketch spawned tips from the public, which were instrumental in catching the thief.

Man sentenced in kidnapping

A plea negotiation approved by the judge Friday resulted in a 10-year prison sentence for an Augusta man who shoved a woman into a car trunk and drove around for an hour.

Cornelius Howard, 30, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to the charge of kidnapping, punishable by 10 years to life in prison. On June 11 at a Smile Gas station on Wrightsboro Road, Mr. Howard accosted the victim as she talked with his ex-girlfriend, taking her out of the store and forcing her into the trunk of his vehicle.

Mary Lee told the judge Friday that she was terrified, believing Mr. Howard was going to kill her. He let her go on Damascus Road about an hour later.

Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr. accepted the prosecutor's recommendation to sentence Mr. Howard to 10 years in prison. Under current guidelines, Mr. Howard will not be eligible for early release on parole.

Air Force honors Augusta man

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE - An Augusta resident Friday was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross at Shaw Air Force Base 56 years after an event he remembers as a nightmare and a miracle.

Charles H. Bonner, a retired major, was a co-pilot on the B-17 Flying Fortress "Take It Easy" when the plane came under heavy anti-aircraft fire during a 1944 mission over Germany in World War II.

The attack left the plane with shattered control cables and no internal communication, Chicago newspapers reported. The wings were ripped, and the vertical stabilizer was nearly annihilated. A German shell entered through the tail and, 74 feet later, passed through the nose.

"A lot of people on board thought that ship was going down," he said.

Mr. Bonner, a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps at the time, said he took over flying the 27-ton plane for pilot Lt. Donald H. Sparkman shortly after the attack and flew to a bomber station in England.

Mr. Sparkman received the U.S. Air Force's highest medal for extraordinary achievement in aerial flight after the attack, but Mr. Bonner was not honored.

In 1999, Mr. Bonner submitted a package of newspaper clippings and other information about his feat to the Air Force.

Boards weigh higher bus fares

The Finance and Public Services committees of the Augusta Commission will vote Monday on an increase in public transit fares. The panels meet at 1 and 4 p.m., respectively, and - if passed at the committee level - the fare increase would move on to the full commission for approval at its Jan. 16 meeting.

A recommendation from Transit Director Heyward Johnson would increase regular passenger fares 25 cents, from 75 cents to $1. Senior citizen, disabled and student fares would be increased from 35 to 50 cents. And the base fare for para-transit vehicles would increase 50 cents, from $1.50 to $2.

The fare increase, if approved, would raise an estimated $130,000 in additional revenue for the city. The city has not raised transit fares since 1991.

Republican chairman steps down

ATLANTA - Georgia Republican Chairman Chuck Clay announced Friday that he will step down from the leadership post when his two-year term expires in May.

In a memo to party members across the state, the Marietta lawyer and former state senator cited several Republican successes on his watch, including President-elect George W. Bush's solid victory margin last November in Georgia, a gain of two GOP seats in the state Senate and the defeat of Republican-turned-Democrat Randy Sauder of Smyrna for re-election to the Georgia House.

"When I was elected, my first and most important stated goal was to help unite this party," he wrote. "Because of your hard work, I feel that this party is now more united than it has been in years."

Boy, 15, charged in slaying

MOULTRIE - A 15-year-old has been charged with killing another Moultrie teen-ager on New Year's Eve.

Authorities said Jerrod Waldon will be tried as an adult on murder and other charges in the slaying of Atticus Jones, 14. Mr. Waldon is being held at the Regional Youth Detention Center in Thomasville.

Atticus was shot in the back of the head with a .22-caliber revolver at about 9 p.m. Sunday, and police said Mr. Waldon was holding the gun when officers arrived to investigate. Mr. Waldon has maintained that Atticus shot himself, but police said the evidence does not support that.

Authorities said it was unclear what led to the shooting.

"We've got some theories we're working on and some facts that we're working on," police Investigator Roger Linsday said Thursday. "We're still trying to put it all together."

Worker saved in scaffold collapse

ATLANTA - Firefighters were called to a high-rise apartment building in Atlanta on Friday to rescue a maintenance worker left dangling from his safety harness when some scaffolding collapsed.

The man was working on the exterior of the Oakwood apartment building when the scaffolding on which he was standing broke in two, leaving him dangling between the 22nd and 23rd floors, witnesses said.

Firefighters were called at about 1:15 p.m. and were able to rescue the man, said John Quigley, a spokesman for Atlanta police.


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