State Briefs 3/31/08
Peoria police use pepper balls to break up crowd
PEORIA - Police launched pepper balls into a rowdy crowd Sunday morning after fights erupted at a South Peoria club.
At least one person received stitches after being cut by a beer bottle thrown in the ruckus, which prompted police to shoot more than 25 rounds from a pepper ball launcher into the crowds. No one was arrested.
Officers were called about 3:15 a.m. to Club Apollo, where they saw about 50 to 75 people in a parking lot and overflowing onto Jefferson, according to a police report.
Officers launched pepper balls into the crowd to disperse it and were told by security more people were fighting in a parking lot south of the business and also inside. Officers entered the club, where they saw several groups of people fighting on the dance floor.
About eight rounds of pepper balls were shot inside to disperse the group.
By the time officers returned outside, the crowd had swelled to about 100 people, many of whom were clashing, the report stated. An officer shot about 20 rounds from the pepper ball launcher into groups that were "refusing to leave" or "fighting," according to the report.
Journal Star, Peoria
Birthday party halted by fire
ROANOKE - Firefighters battled fierce winds that fueled a devastating blaze at a two-story farmhouse in Roanoke on Saturday.
The home, about four miles northwest of Roanoke, was destroyed in the fire, which started about 6 p.m. in an attic above the garage.
The homeowners told authorities they were having a birthday party in the garage when they heard a crackling and popping noise above them. They quickly escaped, where they saw heavy smoke seeping out from underneath the home's eaves.
By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had spread to more of the house.
"The wind did not pay us a favor," said Roanoke Fire Chief Jeff Smith. "As we approached the house, we were looking for smoke but didn't see any. There was smoke, but the wind was blowing it horizontal."
The homeowner's name could not be confirmed, but Smith said he believes two people lived there.
The blaze was extinguished about 11 p.m., and firefighters from eight area departments assisted. Smith speculated the cause was an electrical malfunction in the attic. The house was declared a total loss.
Journal Star, Peoria
Parolee busted after allegedly breaking into Coca-Cola machine
SPRINGFIELD – A 37-year-old parolee was arrested for various offenses after he was allegedly caught breaking into a soda machine outside Henry's Washer Service early Sunday.
Jerome police said Gary D. McDonald is a repeat offender who is on parole for burglary to vending machines.
A Jerome officer was sent to the business at 12:40 a.m. for a report of a break-in to the Coca-Cola machine. When the officer arrived, a man later identified as McDonald took off running, Jerome police said.
The officer followed and during the foot chase, McDonald allegedly dropped a crow bar. The officer eventually caught up to McDonald and arrested him after a struggle, Jerome police said.
McDonald was searched and found to be carrying less than 10 grams of marijuana and a pipe, police said.
The Sangamon County Sheriff's Office, Springfield police and Southern View police assisted with the call.
Allegiant offers refund or detour for canceled routes
ROCKFORD — Allegiant Air is giving passengers booked on canceled flights between Rockford and Fort Lauderdale two choices: a full refund or an out-of the-way detour. Airline officials expect most will take the refund.
The route ends May 31 because of high fuel costs, airline officials announced last week.
The options they’re giving customers are in line with the airline’s “contract of carriage” and are consistent with what other airlines do in such situations.
The airline is offering to fly passengers from its nearest Florida airport -- St. Petersburg/Clearwater, about four hours from Fort Lauderdale -- to either Rockford or Peoria. However, passengers have to pay their own travel costs to get to and from those alternative airports.
Rockford Register Star