State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2002

Fairbanks theater robbed again

FAIRBANKS - For the second time this year, the Regal Cinemas theater in Fairbanks has been robbed at gunpoint.

A man confronted the manager with a gun early Tuesday morning and ordered him to open the safe, then tied him up and gagged and blindfolded him, police said. The suspect got away with a substantial amount of cash and a few movie passes.

The manager was at the movie theater doing some repair work when he was accosted, police detective Aaron Ring told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

"Out of the corner of his eye, he was able to see the barrel of the pistol to the side of his face," Ring said. "He was told if he looked at the person, he'd shoot him."

Ring said the robber apparently had inside information on the theater because he knew to take the surveillance camera videotape from a VCR located in a locked case.

The manager remained tied up on the floor for about 30 minutes until another manager came in looking for him. The incident aggravated a pre-existing leg injury, Ring said.

Tanacross man charged with sexual assault

FAIRBANKS - A Tanacross man was arrested on charges he sexually assaulted a family member at a Tanacross residence Monday afternoon.

Alaska State Troopers said a 47-year-old woman reported she had been sexually assaulted. After an investigation, Gary J. John, 42, was arrested and charged with first-degree sexual assault.

John was being held on $5,000 bail at the Tok holding facility pending arraignment, troopers said.

Tanacross is located just off the Alaska Highway, about 165 miles southeast of Fairbanks.

Activists want feds to investigate fish kills

SEATTLE - A group representing government employees wants the federal government to investigate naval training exercises that kill thousands of fish in Puget Sound.

The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility contends that fish are killed when Navy divers practice locating and detonating underwater mines. The public employees group is urging investigations by the Navy's inspector general and by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, with recommendation that criminal charges be considered.

The Navy acknowledged that it had not reviewed the practice, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

Navy officials argue they agreed recently to do an environmental analysis, saying they have asked the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for advice on minimizing harm to fish protected under the Endangered Species Act.

In April 2001, NMFS and Fish and Wildlife officials said there was a "high likelihood" that chinook salmon, chum salmon and bull trout are harmed in the explosions.

Federal fisheries biologists have suggested relocating the tests where fewer fish would be hurt. The Navy said moving them "would incur high travel expenses and would not be feasible nor cost efficient in the long term."

Units from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and Bangor do the training about 20 times a year, but the practice blasts could be done as often as 60 times a year, the Navy said.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams remove mines but also are trained to disarm land-based explosives, sometimes aiding local civilian authorities.

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