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Monday, February 14, 2005; Page A05

Anti-Terror Gas Masks for Police Taken Out of Service in N.C., N.Y.

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina and New York are withdrawing from service thousands of Australian-made gas masks bought for police after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because they do not meet federal standards for protection against nerve gas, anthrax bacteria and other toxins.

Three weeks ago, the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety began removing the 2,400 masks it bought for $675,000 from Safety Equipment Australia. The company had missed several deadlines to get them certified, said Bryan E. Beatty, the department's secretary.

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The move came after nearly two years of warnings from the state's labor and health departments that the masks lacked federal certification. If certified, the masks will be redistributed. Meanwhile, the state has spent about $45,000 on 300 masks that meet standards for emergency personnel.

New York also bought 4,500 of the Australian company's side-mounted masks for its state police when there were few standards for terrorism-level equipment, said the agency's health and safety officer, Sgt. Phil Bache. The state police are buying replacements and giving the masks to agencies that do not need to deal with toxic gas compounds, he said.

KINGSTON, N.Y. -- A 24-year-old gunman opened fire with an assault rifle Sunday in a crowded shopping mall, seriously wounding an Army recruiter before running out of ammunition and being subdued by mall employees, authorities said. Police did not name the shooter and said the recruiter probably was not his target. An Albany hospital said the recruiter was in critical condition after being shot in the leg.

SAUSALITO, Calif. -- A Southern California investment counselor received Little Gizmo, the second cloned cat, last week after paying $50,000 to replicate his former cat, Gizmo, who died in March at age 13. The cloning company, Genetic Savings and Clone, said it will roll out three more kittens in the next few months and is researching dog cloning with the goal of producing the first cloned dog this year.

NEWARK -- A security screener at Newark Liberty International Airport failed to spot a butcher knife in a passenger's handbag and was removed from the post for retraining, officials said. Katrina Bell, 27, had cleared security and was waiting with her sister, Tikisha Bell Gowens, 30, to board a flight Saturday morning when she discovered she was carrying a knife she had put in her purse "just in case" before going on a blind date, her sister said. The North Carolina women told airport personnel, who summoned police and officials of the Transportation Security Administration, which employs the screeners.

PHOENIX -- A threat of flooding forced about 50 residents to evacuate part of one southeastern Arizona community Sunday after a winter storm that pushed streams out of their banks in the midst of a drought. The Gila River was headed toward a crest near the New Mexico state line, and authorities were concerned about houses in the town of Duncan.

ROSELAND, La. -- An Amtrak passenger train slammed into a pickup truck in southeast Louisiana, killing Chris Crowe, 31, his 6-year-old daughter, his 8-year-old son and his fiancee's 12-year-old daughter, police said. Crowe's fiancee was following in her vehicle and saw the collision at the crossing, which has stop signs but no traffic signals.

CRESCENT CITY, Calif. -- The prison that houses some of California's most violent inmates will remain locked down for several weeks as authorities investigate what one called a "very sophisticated" plot to kill three guards. Pelican Bay State Prison's 1,400 inmates have been confined to their cells since Feb. 4, when inmates alerted prison officials to the plot, spokesman Lt. Steven Perez said.

-- From News Services

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