Originally created 06/09/01

Across the area

Man gets 12-year jail term in robbery

A 23-year-old Augusta man who shot himself as he attempted a holdup at an ATM pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Ernest Johnson shoved a pistol into the chest of Theodore Gilyard on June 1, 2000, as the Augusta State Medical Prison corrections officer was making a withdrawal from an automated teller machine on Broad Street. Mr. Gilyard gave the masked assailant his cash, but as the robber stood counting the money, Mr. Gilyard grabbed for the gun.

Mr. Johnson was arrested a short time later at Medical College of Georgia Hospital. He had a bullet wound to his hand, and he was carrying a wad of cash with a bullet hole.

On Friday in Richmond County Superior Court, Mr. Johnson pleaded guilty to armed robbery, apologizing for his actions a year ago. Mr. Johnson has a long history of mental illness, his attorney, Paul David, told the judge.

Two gunmen rob couple in home

Whoever robbed a couple in a home invasion at Marks Church Commons Apartments had a key to their door, according to a Richmond County sheriff's investigator.

Two men, at least one armed with a pistol, let themselves into the unit off Augusta West Parkway around 6 p.m. Friday, Investigator JoAnn Nutter said. The husband, 61, heard the doorknob turning and thought it was his wife returning home. When he emerged from a back room, he found two men waiting for him. One pulled a gun, ordered him to the floor, put his foot on the man's back and the gun to his head and demanded money, the investigator said.

The man's wife, 45, arrived home during the ordeal. She tried to run away, but the robbers ordered the husband to order her back inside, which he did, Investigator Nutter said. She fell and scraped her arm.

After taking an undisclosed amount of cash from the couple, the robbers locked them in a bedroom and fled. The men were in their mid-20s to early 30s.

Anyone with information should call investigators at 821-1080.

Pilots will show children the sky

The world's largest airplane logbook will be added to today when the area's children are invited to Young Eagles Day at Daniel Field.

The Experimental Aircraft Association, chapter 172, is sponsoring the event locally to give children ages 8 to 17 a chance to fly for free in a small aircraft.

"The goal is to fly 1 million kids by the 100th year of flight," said Larry Garner, the local Young Eagles coordinator.

So far, the international organization has flown about 700,000 children in about eight years. They have until the end of 2003 to reach their goal.

Licensed pilots take two to three children at a time flying for about 10 to 15 minutes before landing again.

Young Eagles will receive a certificate, and their names will be sent off to the world's largest logbook at a museum in Oshkosh, Wis.

Children's flights are free, and Augusta Aviation will offer adult flights for $5.

The event will be held at Daniel Field from 8 a.m. to noon, weather permitting. For more information, call (706) 841-5705.

House fire deemed suspicious

Authorities are investigating a suspicious fire early Friday that destroyed a home in the Harrisburg community of Augusta.

The fire at 1928 Greene St. was reported just before 5 a.m., said Lt. G.B. Hannon with the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department.

Firefighters arrived to find the home engulfed in flames but were able to prevent it from spreading to a dwelling next door.

The home was under renovation, and oil-based paints stored in the front room might have fueled the fire, Lt. Hannon said.

But neighbors said transients had been using unlocked windows to enter the home and could have started the blaze. No one was injured in the fire.

Cameras probe older sewer lines

Contractors using closed-circuit cameras are inspecting Augusta's largest sewer line for deterioration and damage that might warrant replacing portions of the pipe.

Allan Saxon, assistant director of wastewater treatment, said varying degrees of deterioration were found in the city's main interceptor line, which links downtown with the Messerly Wastewater Plant off New Savannah Road.

The concrete line varies from 54 to 72 inches and was installed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The camera inspection is part of a broad effort to assess and upgrade many components in Augusta's water and sewer system.

Utilities officials expect a formal report from the inspections in about three weeks, Mr. Saxon said.

Man dies in head-on collision

MOUNT CARMEL - An Augusta man died early Friday when his 1986 Buick crossed the center line on South Carolina Highway 81 and struck an oncoming pickup truck.

Brian Anthony Strickland, 19, of 2244 Broad St. apparently died on impact with a 2001 Ford Ranger, said Lt. W.M. Brooks of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

Michael Burdette, 28, of Anderson, who was driving the pickup, was taken to Anderson Area Medical Center with what were thought to be life-threatening in juries, Lt. Brooks said. A hospital spokesman said Friday night that Mr. Burdette was in good condition.

The wreck occurred at 6:06 a.m., two miles south of the McCormick County town of Mount Carmel, near the Abbeville County line.

Energy meeting slated for public

ATLANTA - The U.S. Department of Energy will hold a public meeting Tuesday in Atlanta to gather public comment about its research into energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

The meeting, one of several to be held across the country, is part of a review of such programs ordered by President Bush as part of his national energy policy.

The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the main auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Federal Building and Courthouse, 75 Spring St. S.W.

Written comments will be accepted until June 29. Comments may be mailed to Bonny Overton, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, EE 3.1, 1000 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20585.

Comments also can be e-mailed to EERENEP.comments@ee.doe.gov.

Officer charged with speeding

ATLANTA - An Atlanta police officer who slammed into a 9-year-old boy riding a bicycle and left him with serious injuries has been charged with speeding, authorities said.

Officer Lorenzo J. Lockett was driving 48 mph in a 35 mph zone without emergency lights and siren when the accident occurred on an Atlanta residential street May 11, said Atlanta police Maj. Calvin Moss.

Officer Lockett, 38, plowed into Erick Gonzalez, knocking him out of his shoes. Erick, who wasn't wearing a helmet, suffered a broken leg and a badly bruised back.

Officer Lockett, a 12-year-veteran who works for the auto-theft task force, must appear before the city's traffic court June 28.

If he is convicted of the speeding charge, the department will further penalize him. Police officials won't specify what action they might take.

Angler drowns in spillway pipe

ROSWELL - A Duluth man trying to retrieve a snagged fishing line was sucked into a spillway pipe and drowned, authorities said.

Chad Edward Flitz, 27, was fishing with friends at Lake Cheerful on the Fulton County-Cherokee County line Thursday when he attempted to free the line, slipped and fell into the spillway, said Capt. Pete Piccirilli of the Roswell Fire Department.

Despite rescue efforts by his friends, Mr. Flitz was sucked into the 2-foot-wide pipe and was washed out the other side of the 20-foot dam.

Hundreds of pot plants seized

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett County police seized about 500 pounds of marijuana Thursday in three separate incidents. Officers said the marijuana was worth more than $1.2 million.

Some of the marijuana was found during two unrelated traffic stops on Interstate 85. Police pulled over two cars with Tennessee license plates for minor violations about five miles apart and discovered 150 pounds of marijuana in one car and 250 pounds in the other.

In the third incident, police recovered the drugs from a delivery service. No one has been arrested in that case, Cpl. Dunlap said.


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