Lead Story

Michael Smith, 29, was arrested in Rochester, New York, in December for a failed robbery. Using a realistic toy gun, he demanded money from a couple getting out of their car. The woman then pulled her own toy gun, causing Smith to drop his gun and start begging her not to shoot him. Smith ran when the couple started to scream, but a neighbor who’d heard the screams came out of his house and threw a baseball bat at Smith, knocking him down.

Police Blotter

Roy Koutsky, 25, surrendered quietly to police in Los Angeles in November after a four-hour standoff in which he fired more than 70 shotgun blasts. Said Sergeant Pat Findley, “He just said he was shooting through his house and he couldn’t see any reason why he couldn’t do it.”

Adrian Popovici, a University of Montreal law professor and author, with his locally well-known lawyer wife, of the popular newspaper column “Love and the Law,” was arrested in October after reportedly threatening to kill her.

Danny Simpson, 24, was convicted of robbing a bank in Prince Albert, Canada, of $6,000 in March. Police later informed him that the gun he had used was a collector’s item worth as much as $100,000.

A man made off with $1,570 at Provident National Bank in Philadelphia in September. He had originally walked into nearby Mellon Bank and presented a holdup note to a teller, who froze, causing the robber to flee. In his first try at Provident Bank, he was informed by a teller before he presented his note that he was in the wrong line and should move to the other. After switching lines and working his way up to a teller, he presented his note, got the money, and fled.

George Juan Kuehme, 20, a cook at a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant in Phoenix, was arrested in December for “adding a harmful substance to food” after he admitted blowing his nose into a hamburger ordered by a police officer at the drive-through window. The officer said he had taken three bites from the burger before noticing “nasal mucus” on his hands.

Elijah Lawrence was sentenced to one year in prison in Raleigh, North Carolina, in December. While a mounted police officer was trying to arrest him for drunk and disorderly conduct, Lawrence kicked the horse in the thigh twice, whereupon he was charged with assaulting a police officer.

A 14-year-old boy was referred to juvenile authorities in Salt Lake City in December after having distributed photocopies of his genitals and other body parts to residents of his apartment complex. (He was able to be identified because he also made photocopies of his face that showed his distinctively chipped tooth.)

Arnold Heller, 64, was arrested in a strip joint near Camp Pendleton, California, in September. He was fishing through his pants pockets for money to give the stripper performing in front of him when a World War II-era hand grenade (a dud he says he keeps to scare off panhandlers) fell to the floor and sent dancers running for the exits. Said assistant manager Dave Galaviz, “Guys get out of line with the girls all the time, but I’d never seen one pull an explosive device out of his pants.”

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Four teenagers were arrested in the parking lot of a large mall in Lakeland, Florida, just before Christmas when, attempting to steal an automobile at random, they tried to break into a police van that was being used by three officers on a stakeout.

Gene Robinson, 24, was arrested in Dayton, Tennessee, after having sat through part of a session as a member of a grand jury hearing drug cases. He had already voted on 20 indictments when the next name that came up was his. He raised his hand, said, “That’s me,” and excused himself. His fellow members indicted him, and police arrested him at his home a short time later.

The bodies of more than 800 dead, radioactive beagles–used in 27 years of government experiments–were shipped for burial in October to the Hanford (Washington) Nuclear Reservation. Also arriving was more than 17 tons of the beagles’ radioactive excrement.

Dave Lee Smith got a year in jail in Saint Louis in September (instead of the customary sentence of probation for first-time marijuana offenders) because he arrived for his hearing at 10:20 AM, mistakenly believing he was scheduled for 10:30 instead of 10.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.