MONDAY, JANUARY 2 The week begins exactly where we left off last week: in Mount Rainier National Park, where tragedy struck yesterday as 34-year-old park ranger Margaret Anderson was fatally shot, with the prime suspect in the shooting—24-year-old Benjamin Colton Barnes—fleeing with his firearm(s) into the 368-square-mile park. Today brought the humongous manhunt, with Pierce County officers and special agents from the US Forest Service joining forces to track down the shooter while protecting the untold number of campers, snowshoers, and other outdoorsy types out and about in the park, unaware of the armed-and-dangerous man in their midst. As the Seattle Times informs us, the first wave of warning involved officers in helicopters shouting messages through megaphones. "We thought we heard, 'A ranger has been shot and killed, shooter at large,'" camper Brian Vogt told the Times. The somewhat garbled verbal warning was followed by a clear text message, written on a paper coffee cup and dropped from the helicopter. The message on the first coffee cup dropped near Vogt: "A ranger has been shot. Shooter at large. Call on cell if able to Pierce Co Sheriff." The message on the second: "Take road to falls and sheriff. We will keep an eye on you. Do not drive from Paradise w/o armed escort." In response to these alarming messages, Vogt and his friends got the hell out of there and were soon intercepted by six members of the Forest Service tactical team. By the end of today, Barnes will have been found dead in an icy river, clad only in a T-shirt and jeans, killed by hypothermia. Mount Rainier National Park will remain closed until the weekend.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 3 In lighter news, the week continues with a story out of Chicago, where a 34-year-old man was trying to enjoy an afternoon screening of the new Chipmunks film, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, when police got all up in his face about his complete nakedness. Details come from the Smoking Gun, which identifies the alleged Chipmunks-appreciating nudist as Edward Brown, who according to authorities was 30 minutes into a 4 p.m. Chipwrecked screening at North Riverside Park Mall last Thursday when he allegedly removed all his clothes, stood up, and turned to face the other 96 moviegoers, who reportedly got an extravagant view of his junk. "According to cops, Brown claimed he had been let into the movie theater by an unknown woman who directed him to sit in the front row and remove his clothes," reports the Smoking Gun. "She purportedly said that she would return so that they could have sex and do drugs together." Charged with disorderly conduct and sexual exploitation of children, Brown remains jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4 In much better news, the week continues in Olympia, where today Governor Chris Gregoire made up for seven years of vague equivocation by pronouncing her support of marriage equality and a plan to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington State. Before we get to the specifics of today's pronouncement, some history, courtesy of the Seattle Times: "While running for governor in 2004, [Gregoire] said, 'I do not believe that Washington State is ready to support gay marriage.' When asked about the issue in 2008, Gregoire said, 'To me, the state's responsibility is to absolutely ensure equality. The other is a religious issue, and I leave it to the churches to make that call about marriage.'" Which brings us to today, when Gregoire stopped waffling: "I have been on my own journey. I will admit that. It has been a battle for me with my religion," said Gregoire ("who is Catholic," reports the Times). "I have always been uncomfortable with the position that I have taken publicly. And then I came to realize the religions can decide what they want to do but it is not okay for the state to discriminate... When someone asks me about my marriage to Mike, I don't tell them I have a contract with legal rights. I don't even think about that. What I say is I love my husband. I'm in a 36-year committed relationship... That's what marriage really means to human beings. [Gays and lesbians] have to have the same ability to say it's love, it's commitment, it's partnership, it's responsibility. It's not a contract. They want to be able to stand in front of their friends and express their love just like Mike and I did 36-plus years ago. To deny that equality is just wrong." With the wonderful words came a promise: to get a marriage bill passed in the next legislative session. Stay tuned.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 5 In much worse news, the week continues with Richard F. Nelson, the 50-year-old Seattle police officer whose day began with his arrest for cocaine possession amid accusations that he pilfered crack seized as evidence by the SPD and whose day ended on the John Wayne Trail near Rattlesnake Lake, where he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound this afternoon. The SPD kills again.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 6 Speaking of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, today brings the story of another one—also from yesterday, also involving a professional gun handler (spooky). The scene: a San Diego apartment to which Gene Clayton, a 22-year-old Navy Seal, had brought a young woman he'd just met in a bar. "San Diego police say Clayton had been showing his handgun to a woman in his apartment and in an attempt to prove it wasn't loaded, he put it to his head and pulled the trigger," reports WFMJ News. Tomorrow, Clayton will be taken off life support and pronounced dead at a San Diego hospital. Condolences to all.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 7 Nothing happened today.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 8 This week of unusually awful news ends in Russia, where today a 26-year-old woman in the city of Bryansk was pushing her 18-month-old child in a stroller when the sidewalk collapsed and the ground caved beneath them, plunging mother and child into the underground municipal sewage system. "Police say the woman was rescued, but the child was swept away by the current into a collecting tank for the sewage system and was presumed dead," reports the Associated Press. "Investigators say they are working to determine the cause of Sunday's accident but suspect faulty construction of the sewage system may be to blame."
Better news next week, I promise. Send Hot Tips to email@example.com.