Life-size animatronic T-Rex bursts into flames at Colorado theme park (video)

In a Thursday, March 22, 2018 photo provided by the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience, a life-sized animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience in Canon City, Colo., is ablaze after an electrical issue, according to Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience personnel. T-Rex was a total loss, but Zach Reynolds, co-owner of Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience, hopes to have a replacement T-Rex before summer. (Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience via AP)

CANON CITY, Colo. (AP) — The co-owner of a dinosaur-themed park in southern Colorado thinks an electrical malfunction caused a life-size animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex to burst into flames.

Zach Reynolds says the T-Rex at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience smoldered for about 10 minutes before it caught fire Thursday morning. Visitors watched as the inferno spread through the dinosaur, which appeared at times to be breathing flames.

Reynolds joked, "We knew he had a temper, but today he blew his top."

The 24-foot-tall (7-meter-tall) T-Rex, which moved and made sounds, was one of 16 dinosaurs that line the park’s Wild Walk exhibit. Reynolds says it was a total loss but at least "it made for some spectacular imagery along the way."

He hopes to have a replacement T-Rex installed by the summer.

Dino…BBQ? A T-Rex at an attraction in Colorado burns after an electrical malfunction. Wow! pic.twitter.com/XulcwCaH9P

— Rob Wu (@IAmRobWu) March 23, 2018
Protesters block the door of the Golden 1 Center during a demonstration, Thursday, March 22, 2018 in Sacramento, Calif. Protesters decrying this week’s fatal shooting on an unarmed black man marched through downtown Sacramento, disrupting rush hour traffic, blocking Interstate 5 for awhile and forcing the Golden 1 Center to lock its doors, leaving hundreds of ticket holders unable to enter. The Kings NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks was delayed for a while but play was started with hundreds of empty seats. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A protest over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man briefly shut down a major California freeway and disrupted the start of an NBA game Thursday.

The game between the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks got underway about 20 minutes late as thousands of frustrated fans waited outside. Protesters shouting "Shut it down" formed a human chain blocking fans from entering Golden 1 Center while dozens of police initially attempted to clear entrances before fans were told to go home.

There was shouting but no apparent violence.

Kings officials moved the few hundred fans inside to courtside seats and offered them free non-alcoholic beverages before the game began in the largely empty arena. A half-hour after the delayed tipoff, officials announced no more fans would be admitted.

Fan Doug Hillblon said he thought protesters upset at the Sunday’s shooting of 22-year-old Stephon Clark went too far in blocking the entrances.

"Their rights don’t supersede everyone else’s," he told The Sacramento Bee as he waited with his wife and a family friend outside the arena.

But season ticket holder Barbara Mitchell, who is black, told the newspaper she was "appalled by what happened to the young man. It was a travesty. So as much as I love basketball, it’s OK. I’m not angry. I admire them for taking the time to protest an injustice."

Earlier, the several hundred protesters marched from Sacramento City Hall onto a nearby freeway, disrupting rush hour traffic and holding signs with messages like "Sac PD: Stop killing us!"

They were upset that Clark was shot in the backyard of his grandparents’ home. Police say they feared he had a handgun when they confronted him after reports that he had been breaking windows in the South Sacramento neighborhood.

But police found only a cellphone.

"We are at a place of deep pain" because of recent violence directed at black people in Sacramento and elsewhere, said the Rev. Les Simmons, a community leader. He said the city’s first black police chief, Daniel Hahn, is doing what he can but protested the actions of Hahn’s officers.

Clinton Primm said he was friends with Clark for about six years and fears others are also at risk at being shot by police.

"He was a great dad," he recalled of Clark, the father of sons ages 1 and 3. "He loved both of them to death."

Sacramento resident Vanessa Cullars said she has lost two family members to police violence.

"I’m fed up with this," she said at the protest. "I feel like our lives don’t matter to them."

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg earlier said he was horrified but won’t second-guess the "split-second decisions" of the officers. He praised Hahn for quickly releasing videos of the shooting and said the department has improved its policies since the fatal shooting of a mentally ill black man in 2016.

But independent experts said the footage from body cameras and an overhead helicopter raises more questions than it answers.

The officers appeared to believe they were in danger, they said, and if so the shooting was likely legally justified.

One officer is heard "doing a mental inventory to make sure there’s no holes in his body" because the officers appear to think Clark may have shot at them and missed, said Peter Moskos, a former police officer and assistant professor in the Department of Law and Police Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

But Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina and an expert on police use of force, said the officers may have a tough time explaining why they jumped to the conclusion that Clark had a gun.

He also questioned why an arriving backup officer had the two original officers turn off the microphones on their body cameras, eliminating what he called "important evidence."

In an ideal world, the two officers should have immediately provided first aid instead of waiting five minutes for backup, said Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "But that could be more the product of hope than reality," he said, with the officers still in shock and worried about their own safety.

The Sacramento Police Department said officers were responding to reports of a man seen breaking into at least three vehicles and later into a neighbor’s home. The police said deputies in the helicopter saw Clark break a neighbor’s sliding glass door before jumping a fence.

As a result, "their threat radar is really high," said Plumas County sheriff’s deputy and special prosecutor Ed Obayashi, who trains officers and testifies in court on police use of force.

"They have to assume that their lives are in danger at that very second," he said.

Girl shot at Maryland school is ‘brain dead,’ being taken off life support
This undated photo provided by the Willey family shows Jaelynn Willey. A teenager armed with a handgun shot Willey inside a Maryland school on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, and the shooter was killed when a school resource officer confronted him moments after the gunfire erupted. (Courtesy of the Willey family via AP)

GREAT MILLS, Md. (AP) — A teenage girl who was shot when a classmate opened fire inside their Maryland high school is brain dead and is being removed from life support, her mother said Thursday

Melissa Willey told news reporters Thursday night that her daughter, 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey has "no life left in her." She said Jaelynn would be removed from life support during the evening.

The teen was shot Tuesday by 17-year-old Austin Rollins at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County.

Rollins died after shooting Willey. A school resource officer got there within a minute and fired a shot at Rollins, but it’s not yet clear whether Rollins was killed by the officer’s bullet or took his own life.

The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday Rollins and the girl had been in a relationship that recently ended.

"All indications suggest the shooting was not a random act of violence," police said in a statement.

Willey had been in critical condition at the University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center. A fundraising page to help her family has raised more than $59,000.

A 14-year-old boy who was shot in the thigh during the encounter was released Wednesday from a hospital.

Attempts to reach Rollins’ family have been unsuccessful.

St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron credited Deputy First Class Blaine Gaskill with preventing any more loss of life.

Cameron said Gaskill, a six-year veteran with SWAT team training, responded within a minute and fired his weapon simultaneously with a final shot fired by Rollins. The officer was unharmed.

On Wednesday, authorities said the Glock handgun used in the shooting was legally owned by Rollins’ father. In Maryland it is illegal for anyone under age 21 to possess a handgun unless it is required for their employment.

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