It was a jungle in there, police SWAT team officers discovered when they stormed an alleged rock house in South Los Angeles--only to come face to face with two large pythons.
According to Lt. Bud Harper, undercover narcotics officers bought a little cocaine at the heavily fortified house in the 200 block of West 62nd Street on Tuesday afternoon, then moved in to arrest Willard King, 26, and a 17-year-old youth. A third suspect scrambled upstairs.
SWAT officers were called. They finally fired tear gas and charged inside. The man had escaped somehow. But there were these two pythons, an 11-footer and an 8-footer, apparently working as security guards.
"It was like a romper room for snakes," said Sgt. Chris Hadji. "They had a living room with tree limbs hanging from the ceiling for the pythons."
The pythons were also taken into custody.
Pasadena life insurance agent Mansour Attia, who came from Egypt not long ago, is a better salesman than his fellow agents thought. San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies say he talked a deaf-mute out of killing himself.
Deputy Jim Collins reported that Attia happened to drive into a Yucaipa service station last Thursday just as Robert Hall, 46, was igniting a cigarette lighter inside a gasoline-drenched automobile.
The service station manager said Hall used gestures to buy a can of gas, but instead of driving away, he remained parked in front of the station and poured the flammable liquid inside his car. When the manager asked him why, Hall began to cry.
Deputies arrived but were getting nowhere. Attia showed up, said he knew sign language and asked to talk to the man. The two signed to one another for nearly an hour, during which Attia explained that he has three deaf brothers in the Middle East.
Hall, Collins said, indicated that he had argued with his mother and sister and that "a bunch of stuff had piled up and he just couldn't take it anymore."
Finally, Collins said, "we got him halfway calmed down and I told him (Attia) to ask for the lighter. The gentleman gave it to him." Hall was taken to a county mental health facility for examination.
Ralph Guerrero, a fellow Prudential Life Insurance Co. of America agent, said in Los Angeles Wednesday: "I've always wanted to meet a hero. You read about them in the paper, but you never meet them."
When an organization called People for Planetary Peace suggested putting one of its "peace poles" in West Hollywood, it seemed like a good idea to City Councilwoman Abbe Land. She and Mayor Pro Tem Helen Albert got the full council to approve.
Like others embedded elsewhere in the world, the six-foot pole declares in four languages--English, Hebrew, Russian and Spanish--"May peace prevail on Earth."
On Tuesday, in conjunction with National Brotherhood Week, it was planted in the Audubon Society section of West Hollywood's Plummer Park. "It was just a perfect little refuge for it," Land said.
Its effect on world peace may be a little restricted, however. It's inside a fence where it doesn't exactly call attention to itself. "It is pretty much out in the open," Land said, "but that garden is kept locked because it is a preserve. So we're preserving peace."
Supervisor Kenneth Hahn is not one to miss a chance. Close on the heels of news that Bridgestone Corp. of Tokyo has agreed to buy a large part of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., he fired off a press release assuring folks that he will not recommend renaming Firestone Boulevard.
It isn't that Bridgestone Boulevard doesn't have a ring to it. But Hahn noted that the thoroughfare, an eastern extension of Manchester Boulevard running through his district, was named for the Firestone tire plant about 1928.
It should remain Firestone Boulevard, the supervisor insisted, to remind everyone that "American companies are being taken over by foreign corporations and American jobs are being lost."
Eleven Finnish students, age 9 to 19, will fly home tonight, ending their one-week stay here sponsored by the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Beverly Hills Visitors Bureau and the Finnish government.
All of them are cancer victims.
While here, they have checked out a Beverly Hills City Council meeting, a firehouse, Universal Studios and, of course, Disneyland. Before heading for the airport today, they will drop in on a couple of classes at Beverly Hills High School.
Their visit is in response to a similar trip to Finland last December by a group of young American cancer victims from Southern California's Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times.
From staff and wire reports