Odds & Ends

Devin D. O'Leary
5 min read
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Dateline: England—Spider-Man, Superman and Batman came to blows on Christmas Day in Canterbury, southern England. Police were called in to break up a fight after three men in tights were seen brawling on the sidewalk in front of a fast food van. The three superheroes apparently decided to trade punches after the van experienced a sudden shortage of burgers. A 23-year-old man suffered facial injuries, but declined to press charges. It is assumed the three were on their way to a fancy dress party. Or not. A police spokesman told the press simply, “Spider-Man, Superman and Batman were involved in a minor altercation at 12:32 a.m. at Wincheap on Christmas Day. The injured party declined to take it further.”

Dateline: Finland—A squad of Finnish firefighters somehow managed to set their own sauna on fire, then, despite their training, failed to extinguish it. The sauna, located in Lappi, 140 miles west of Helsinki, was destroyed despite the volunteer firefighters' efforts. According to the Finnish news agency STT, no one was injured in the blaze.

Dateline: Australia—A Swiss student has been fined severely by Australian officials for playing a game of “hide the salami.” Dylan Pascal Graves, a Swiss national student studying English in Western Australia, was caught carrying a salami at Perth International Airport after a routine search by Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service officers. After declaring twice that he was not carrying any food, officers using an X-ray discovered a one-pound salami hidden in Graves' luggage. When asked why he had not declared the salami, Graves told AQIS officers that he had intended to eat it on the plane. Last week, Perth magistrate Graeme Calder fined Graves $4,000 on charges of knowingly making a misleading statement to an officer and knowingly importing a prohibited food into the country.

Dateline: Pennsylvania—A young man, angry that he didn't receive any presents for Christmas, burned down his parents' house early the next morning. Steven Murray, 21, of Feasterville, Pa., was charged with arson and risking a catastrophe in the blaze that broke out early Sunday. Police say a distraught Murray had himself committed to a hospital on Christmas Day, but then signed himself out, walked eight miles home and set his parents' house on fire. Murray claimed he had seen the flames from a distance. Police officers noted, however, that Murray's jacket smelled of smoke. A lighter was found in his pocket and a can of gas was left near the home's front door. “He was irritated that his family gave him no presents for Christmas,” Lower Southhampton police officer Peter Liese said. No one was hurt in the blaze. Murray is now jailed on a $1 million bond.

Dateline: Nebraska—A 40-year-old Grand Island man managed to commit suicide with a chain saw last Wednesday after a seven-hour standoff with police and state troopers. Police spokesperson Deb Collins told the Omaha World-Herald that the incident began Tuesday evening at the lawn care business of Paul E. Smidt Jr. Police were there to serve Smidt a federal warrant for being a felon in possession of a firearm, Collins said. Smidt refused access to the business and barricaded himself inside. A 10-person SWAT team from the State Patrol was called in to assist. Negotiations with Smidt continued until midnight, at which point officers gained entrance to the building. Smidt, carrying a chain saw, then barricaded himself in a bathroom at the back of the business. Police ordered Smidt to drop the chain saw. When he did not, an officer fired a single, nonlethal “beanbag” round. Smidt then lowered his neck onto the chain saw, killing himself. Collins insisted that Smidt did not “stumble or fall on the chain saw.” On Oct. 29, Smidt was involved in a similar police standoff in which he barricaded himself in his estranged wife's home with a shotgun. The federal warrant police were trying to serve stemmed from that earlier incident.

Dateline: Indiana—According to police in Lake Station, Ind., a robber identified as Dan Griggs broke into a lottery machine, stole $50 and walked out of a convenience store with three cartons of cigarettes he hadn't paid for. When he got to his car, Griggs realized that he had locked his keys in his getaway car. Naturally, the suspect went back into the store, grabbed a broom and smashed his car window. Police are pretty sure they've got the right man in custody, since Griggs' inept robbery was carried out directly across the street from a police station and was watched in its entirety by a group of police dispatchers. After the robbery, Griggs led police on a brief chase over snowy streets and hit a police car head-on, eventually getting stuck in a ditch. Officers say he was arrested after trying to run away. He's now being held without bond on a charge of robbery.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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