Dateline: Colombia—According to a report on the Hispanically Speaking News website, performance artist John Jairo Villamil asphyxiated in the middle of a performance art piece about his hometown of Bogotá. Villamil, 25, tied a garbage bag around his head, removed his shoes and put his feet in a bucket of water, all while holding a chain with bills in his left hand and a leaf in his right hand. The young artist had performed this “happening” on several previous occasions with no problems. While re-creating the piece for students at Bogotá’s Universidad El Bosque, however, Villamil became agitated inside the plastic bag and soon collapsed to the floor. Onlookers assumed it was all part of Villamil’s “performance.” Paramedics were eventually called when it became apparent Villamil was not moving. The artist died five days later in the ICU of a nearby hospital. Villamil’s family is suing the university, saying the institution was negligent for allowing “irresponsible activities” on campus.
Dateline: Massachusetts—An empty house in Marblehead endured a leaking pipe that flooded its floors and saturated its ceilings for months before miraculously calling 911 for help. The Salem News reports the emergency call went out to police after water short-circuited the house’s phone system. Police dispatchers recorded the call as a hang up and were unable to raise anything other than static when returning the 911 call. Inside the empty, two-story, six-room residence, police found pools of standing water and potentially toxic mold from a pipe that had evidently burst during the winter. Firemen had to pump more than 5 feet of water out of the basement. The “floors have buckled, the ceilings are sagging,” Health Director Wayne Attridge told the newspaper. “It’s a horrific mess.” The home’s owner, who was out of town, could not be immediately located. Town officials say the residence was heavily damaged and will have to be gutted.
Dateline: New York—A gang of robbery suspects was arrested after one of the men accidentally “butt dialed” 911 on his cell phone and tipped off police. Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh said a dispatcher overheard the men discussing a series of break-ins in upstate New York after receiving a 911 call on April 26. The dispatcher relayed the phone call to deputies in the field, who were able to hear the men discussing their plans and even describing their surroundings as they passed the scene of a previous burglary. At one point, someone was heard to remark, “There go the cops now.” That comment was all a deputy needed to turn his vehicle around and pull over a suspicious Kia Sportage he had just passed. Inside were the three larceny suspects and a collection of tools recently stolen from a business in the Syracuse suburb of Clay. The dispatcher, still listening in on the misdialed cell phone, was able to hear the deputy asking the driver for his license and registration. The men were arrested and now face grand larceny and stolen property charges.
Dateline: New Jersey—According to the Hunterdon County Democrat, 19-year-old Brandon C. Pyzik wasn’t trying to burn down the county jail—he was only trying to tell his girlfriend he loved her. At about 11:30 p.m. on the night of Monday, May 2, Corrections Officer Ed Pawlak was taking out the trash at the county jail when he saw a man holding a lighted candle on the edge of jail property. When the corrections officer told the teenager from Raritan Township to stay put, the boy panicked and dropped his candle. That ignited a small grassfire along the jail’s chain-link perimeter. Pawlak was able to stamp out the fire before handcuffing Pyzik. Patrolman Bradley Bullman arrived shortly thereafter and spoke to Pyzik. According to Bullman’s report, the teen admitted he was “trying to get the attention of his girlfriend who is currently lodged in the jail.” With his candlelight vigil, Pyzik simply “wanted to show her that he still loves her.” The teen was ticketed for disorderly conduct and trespassing.
Dateline: South Carolina—WCSC-TV reports that a 41-year-old man was arrested in North Charleston late last month after he called 911 to inform police he had not been given the correct change after buying crack cocaine from a drug dealer. The incident started around 4:30 a.m. on a Friday morning when Dexter White called police to let them know he had given $60 to a drug dealer and only received $20 worth of crack in exchange. White said the drug dealer refused to give him his $40 change. According to the police report, White walked away from the dealer, smoked his $20 worth of crack and then dialed 911. White was subsequently arrested for disorderly conduct.