April 5 Only in America

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Florida: Gator found in backyard pool as reptiles warm to spring

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Florida homeowners beware: one big gator has been found splashing in a backyard swimming pool and it took a trapper to drag it away. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office posted images of the floating gator late Friday on Twitter, saying it measured 11 feet long. With temperatures warming, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warns that the state’s estimated 1.3 million gators are becoming more active — and should be treated with “caution and respect.” There’ve been at least two other gator sightings in yards recently, one mistaken for a burglar. Injuries from alligators are rare, but the commission urges swimming only in designated areas of rivers and lakes. As for backyard swimming pools, it makes no mention. But for some homeowners, that too is “swim at your own risk.”

‘BUSted’: Superintendent gets warning for passing school bus

MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Florida superintendent was pulled over for illegally passing a school bus as police were running a bus safety campaign. Florida Today reports that Superintendent of Brevard Public Schools Desmond Blackburn was driving his districtissued SUV the morning of March 27 when he was stopped and given a warning. Melbourne police had increased patrols around school buses from Feb. 26 until March 29 as part of “Operation BUSted.” A police spokeswoman says officers issued 115 tickets and 14 warnings for failure to stop for a school bus during the campaign. Blackburn acknowledged he was one of the drivers who needed a reminder and thanked police for their work. Florida law says vehicles traveling in both directions on an undivided roadway must stop for a stopped school bus.

Ohio police investigate reports of ‘zombie’ raccoons

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — Police are investigating reports of “zombie-like” raccoons in northeast Ohio. WKBN-TV reports Youngstown police have received more than a dozen calls in the past three weeks about raccoons acting strangely in the daytime. Photographer Robert Coggeshall says he was playing with his dogs outside his home last week when one such raccoon approached them. Coggeshall says the animal would stand on its hind legs, show its teeth and fall over backward. The raccoon Coggeshall saw and 14 others police responded to were euthanized. The state Department of Natural Resources says the animals were likely suffering from distemper, not rabies. The viral disease causes coughing, tremors and seizures and leads raccoons to lose their fear of humans. Authorities are asking residents to report raccoons behaving unusually to their local police station.

Out-of-control trash truck smashes vehicles in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An out-of-control trash truck smashed into a row of parked cars along a residential street in Philadelphia, but no injuries have been reported. Neighbors say they heard a series of loud booms around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday that caused them to bolt out of bed. Outside, they found a number of vehicles destroyed on the street in south Philadelphia. One station wagon had been pushed on top of the hood and windshield of a red Saab. KYW-TV says the private trash truck’s driver told police there was some kind of mechanical malfunction. Torono Welch, whose SUV was damaged, tells KYW-TV it “sounded like a train came off the track or something out here.” Police are still investigating. An email seeking comment from the Gold Medal Environmental, which owns the truck, wasn’t immediately returned Wednesday.

Prosecutor, accused of helping drug dealers for sex, resigns

BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania district attorney is resigning after being accused of tipping off female drug dealers and giving them lenient treatment in exchange for sex. Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a courthouse news conference Wednesday that Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins manipulated women for sexual favors, calling it a betrayal of the community. Higgins faces 31 counts, including witness intimidation, official oppression and obstruction. He is out on bail. Higgins’ defense attorney says he maintains his innocence and is raising questions about the credibility of the witnesses against his client. He says Higgins is “devastated.” Higgins says in a written statement he’s accused of conduct “unbecoming of a district attorney” and “unbecoming of a husband and father.” The 43-year-old Republican was sworn into office in 2004.

Officials: Man had meth packaged as Mexican candy in vehicle

ROCK MOUNTAIN LAKES, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say a Tennessee man pulled over in Alabama had 82 pounds of methamphetamine packaged as Mexican candy. AL.com reports that the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that 56-year-old James Robert Fields, of Memphis, was arrested March 29. Chief Deputy Randy Christian says Fields had given investigators permission to search his vehicle for drugs after he was pulled over for erratic driving. Investigators found a large bag of purported candy but noticed it felt granular. A closer examination revealed the packages contained meth, worth an estimated street value of $1.5 million. Fields is charged with trafficking methamphetamine and is being held on $200,000 bond. It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.