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News Briefs

Boy Wounds Fellow Students in Oklahoma School Shooting


He wasn’t a loner. Neither was he a scapegoat, a poor student or even, at least to outside appearances, a child in any distress at all.

Although he didn’t fit the labels appended to other perpetrators of school violence, yet another public school student opened fire Monday on his classmates -- this time in Fort Gibson, Okla. It was the seventh school shooting in two years.

Blank-faced and calm, the skinny 13-year-old emptied a 9mm semiautomatic handgun into a crowd of schoolmates Monday morning, hitting four children. Wounded in the arms, legs or face, all the students were reported to be out of danger Monday night, although one underwent surgery. A fifth student reportedly suffered abrasions and bruises.

School superintendent Steve Wilmoth said the boy began shooting outside the school around 7:45 a.m. The child was still trying to shoot when science teacher and school safety officer Ronnie Holuby approached and pinned him against a wall. Well-trained in school disaster management, Fort Gibson Middle School teachers promptly ushered unhurt students into the cafeteria after the shots. Injured students were whisked to hospitals in Muskogee and Tulsa.

ValuJet Contractor Guilty of Hazardous Material Violations


A federal jury on Monday found an airline maintenance company guilty of nine hazardous materials violations in connection with the handling of oxygen containers blamed for the 1996 crash of ValuJet Flight 592, which killed 110 people.

SabreTech was cleared of the more serious charges of conspiracy and causing a destructive device to be put aboard an airplane.

The company -- which no longer exists as such -- faces possible fines of up to $2.25 million and may have to compensate the victims’ families as well.

However, SabreTech lawyer Ken Quinn said that the company had “a negative net worth” and was unable to pay anything. He said the verdicts would be appealed.

The jury also found two former SabreTech employees -- mechanic Eugene Florence and Daniel Gonzalez, then a maintenance vice president -- not guilty of falsifying records and mishandling a dangerous cargo of oxygen generators, which investigators said caught fire and led to the crash of the DC-9.

Government Lawyers Failed To Preserve Evidence in Lawsuit


A court-appointed special master on Monday released a blistering report accusing federal government lawyers of failing to preserve potential evidence in a class action lawsuit brought by Native Americans and then keeping the destruction a secret for more than three months.

The 162 boxes of documents included papers that could have been relevant to a suit challenging the government’s management of Indian trust funds, special master Alan L. Balaran reported. They were apparently shredded as part of a routine housecleaning at a Treasury Department facility in the Washington suburb of Hyattsville, Md. The suit alleges that the Treasury and Interior Departments have mismanaged the trusts for decades.

Besides condemning the conduct of Treasury attorneys, Balaran said the actions were “part of a general pattern of obfuscation” by government officials involved in the litigation.