Originally created 12/05/01

Across the area



Minister faces nudity charge

A field minister with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has been charged with exposing himself at a hotel in Augusta, police said Tuesday.

Bruce Evans Brinkman, 58, of Marietta, Ga., was arrested at Sleep Inn on Claussen Road and charged with public indecency.

A front-desk clerk told authorities Mr. Brinkman was naked on the second-floor stairway Monday afternoon when he motioned for her to come to his room. Another employee said he yelled at the man and saw him "fully naked attempting to get back to his room after exposing himself," a sheriff's report states.

Mr. Brinkman was booked into the Richmond County jail and released on bond.

Billy Graham association spokeswoman Kristel Bosshardt said Mr. Brinkman works as a representative for the Development Ministries department, and the ministry was investigating the charge.

A Web site for the association - www.billygraham.org - includes a profile of Mr. Brinkman and describes his job as "sharing about the ministries and activities of the Association."

Police arrest man released from hospital

A man was arrested Tuesday after he was released from the hospital, where he was treated for a gunshot wound received Oct. 25 in an attempted armed robbery, police said.

Edilberto Diaz, 22, is accused of holding five people at gunpoint Oct. 25 at a Pump-N-Shop store on Walton Way while he and another man, Joseph Cummings, took stereo equipment they say belonged to them, according to police.

The shooting occurred after a fight when the gun was dropped. Police said it was picked up by Christopher Walker, one of the people being held at gunpoint. Mr. Walker shot Mr. Diaz in the upper torso and Mr. Cummings in the neck, police said.

Mr. Diaz was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said.

He was being held at the Richmond County jail Tuesday without bail on charges of armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, jail officials said.

Police track leads in First Union robbery

Columbia County investigators spent Tuesday following leads in the investigation of a Monday bank robbery in Martinez.

"We have stepped up patrols at all financial institutions in Columbia County," said Columbia County Sheriff's Office Capt. Steve Morris. "And positive developments have been made in Monday's bank robbery."

Investigators from his department and the FBI are working the case.

The First Union branch at the corner of Washington and Davis roads was robbed Monday, and police said the robbery could be connected to a robbery Friday at the SouthTrust Bank branch on Peach Orchard Road in Richmond County. Monday's suspect was described as 6 foot 1, 180 pounds and clean-shaven. He was last seen fleeing on Davis Road in a 1970s-model black-and-red Ford truck.

Aiken man wanted in financial scheme

An Aiken man has been added to the list of Augusta's most wanted after police say he conned two Richmond County businessmen out of nearly $28,000.

Lee Hiers, 24, is said to be living in the Edgefield County area. He is wanted on two counts of felony theft by deception, according to Investigator Pat Stahler of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators say Mr. Hiers received $15,000 in August by selling a boat that had a bank lien on it. He also used a check on a closed account to purchase a $13,000 trailer from an Augusta business, Investigator Stahler said.

Mr. Hiers is white, 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 250 pounds. His last-known address was on Lake Shore Drive in Aiken.

Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator Stahler or Investigator Luther Gaskill at 821-1020.

Dirt bike rider gets his condition upgraded

The condition of a North Augusta man who wrecked his dirt bike improved Tuesday from critical to serious, hospital officials said.

Marcus Johnson, 19, of Bradleyville Road, is recovering at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, four days after he struck a vehicle on an unpaved portion of Powerhouse Road. Mr. Johnson was riding a Honda XR80 dirt bike Friday when he rounded a curve and struck the front of an oncoming vehicle, officials said.

The driver, Grady Walker, 29, of Augusta, was treated at MCG and released. No charges have been filed in the accident.

Middle school plans for golden anniversary

Next fall, Langford Middle School will celebrate its 50th birthday.

The event marks five decades the building has served Augusta as a junior high and middle school under the Richmond County Board of Education.

The school faculty, staff and pupils are planning a golden anniversary celebration and would like interested members of the community to join the committee to plan for the event.

Identifying former teachers, pupils, staff, administrators and board members during Langford's 50 years is important to the success of the celebration, planners said.

Anyone interested in participating is asked to contact the school at 737-7301.

Official delays choice of new jail director

AIKEN -A new director for the recently built county jail on Wire Road won't be chosen until sometime in the new year.

Aiken County Administrator Clay Killian said this week that he is revisiting some of the applications narrowed down by his predecessor, interim Administrator Eugene Klugh.

Mr. Killian said he wanted to avoid making a snap decision about who will get a job of such importance.

He said he is setting up personal interviews with at least four of the candidates.

When the candidate field is narrowed to three or fewer, under state law, the county has to reveal their names and qualifications.

Retailers will start training for lottery

AIKEN -Training on lottery terminals will begin Thursday in Columbia for the first group of 3,700 retailers who have been licensed.

The ongoing classes will be at various locations around the state, including Aiken on Dec. 13.

The Aiken-area class will begin at noon on the campus of University of South Carolina Aiken.

South Carolina Education Lottery officials, in association with technology provider Scientific Games, aim to have retailers ready by the lottery's Jan. 7 launch date.