The people who run the Red Onion, a popular discotheque in Santa Ana, say they have to be very watchful at the door to make sure that people under the drinking age are kept out. Letting in someone under 21 can draw stiff penalties from the state, they say.
So driver licenses are checked closely. "We're tough on everybody," said Ron Newman, president of the Red Onion chain.
But Michael Fitzpatrick, 23, and Tauquir Rathor, 25, said the doorman is tougher on some than on others. They said they were kept out when doormen simply refused to accept their driver licenses as identification.
Fitzpatrick is black. Rathor is a Pakistani. Four others--another black, two Latinos and another Middle Easterner--have made similar complaints, prompting an investigation by the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing and mediation efforts by the Orange County Human Relations Commission.
Benedict Boyd, a staff member for the commission, said that there are so many similar complaints that it is "just ludicrous to believe that this isn't anything but racial prejudice."
Not so, said Ralph Saltzman, an attorney representing the Red Onion. "What we want is customers who are prepared to be responsible and have a good time. We certainly welcome everybody's patronage, assuming they are the right age."
Mike Bradbury of Huntington Beach, who has been leading the search for his daughter, Laura, since she disappeared from a desert campground in 1984, said the skull fragment found there last month not only is not his daughter's but was probably planted there by her kidnaper or an accomplice to throw off investigators.
He conceded that his belief is a theory, but he said he has received "very good information" in recent weeks that his daughter is living with a man who bought her from her kidnapers for $75,000.
He said informants are "coming out of the woodwork" with new information that is being "consistently verified." The kidnaper is known and being watched, he said. San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department investigators are following up the new leads "full bore," Bradbury said.
But a sheriff's spokesman, Capt. Dean Knadler, said deputies "do not have anyone under surveillance."
He said investigators are trying to locate people identified by Bradbury's informants, "but there's quite a divergence of opinion on what they're saying. (The Bradburys) say people have told them certain things, but when (the informants) are confronted with us, we find out that their statements have been misinterpreted and misunderstood. It's all very time consuming."
The woman said she was certain it was all a misunderstanding. Nonetheless, it cost Monty the Python his life.
Kathy Cramer, 26, of El Toro was baby-sitting Monty, a friend's 12-foot pet python that she described as "very friendly. He just didn't realize he was a big snake."
She had been gathering up the rabbits for his meal and had draped Monty over her shoulders when the snake, possibly excited by the scent of rabbit, clamped his jaws firmly onto the back of Cramer's neck.
Her screams brought four friends running but they couldn't pry Monty loose. Finally, one of the men, disregarding Cramer's screams not to hurt the snake, cut Monty's head off.
Afterward, Cramer said she had not been afraid and was certain she could have freed herself without help.
Her rescuers said they doubted it. "If no one had been here, the snake definitely would have killed her," one of the friends said.