Ohio sheriff: Castoffs are attacking fellow Amish, cutting off their hair and beards

Posted Oct. 06, 2011, at 9:16 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 07, 2011, at 2 a.m.

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — A group of religious castoffs has been attacking fellow Amish, cutting off their hair and beards in an apparent feud over spiritual differences, a sheriff said Thursday, and one victim blamed relatives involved in a cult.

No charges have been filed, but several victims suffered minor injuries, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said. The investigation has been hampered by the traditional reluctance of Amish to turn to law enforcement.

Men and sometimes women from a group of Jefferson County families disavowed by mainstream Amish have terrorized a half-dozen or more fellow Amish, cutting the beards off men and the hair off men and women, the sheriff said. The attacks occurred over the past three weeks in Carroll, Holmes, Jefferson and Trumbull counties, which form the heart of Ohio’s Amish population, one of the nation ‘s largest.

Abdalla said the motive may be related to unspecified religious differences involving 18 Amish families, 17 of them related, that have drawn previous attention from law enforcement, including a threat against the sheriff and a relative convicted of sexual contact with a minor.

The families under investigation live in Bergholz, a small community located in hilly farm country 10 miles west of the Ohio River, and run a leather shop and do carpentry work, the sheriff said.

Cutting the hair and beards apparently was meant to be degrading and insulting, he said.

Man believed to be Calif. quarry shooter dead

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — A man believed to be the disgruntled employee who opened fire on his co-workers at a California limestone quarry was shot and killed by deputies Thursday, bringing an end to a heavily armed manhunt in Silicon Valley.

Three deputies on routine patrol in a Sunnyvale neighborhood encountered the man matching Shareef Allman’s description around 7:30 a.m., Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said. He was crouched behind a vehicle in the driveway of a home.

The deputies opened fire after the man “displayed in a threatening manner his firearm,” Smith said.

Investigators believe the man is the 47-year-old Allman, but the coroner will have to confirm the identity, she said. Sheriff’s officials said the search was called off by Thursday afternoon.

“I’m glad that we were able to reach a resolution. It’s unfortunate that an additional person died, but it’s over, and my concern is the public safety of the county,” Smith said.

The shooting took place in a residential area about 5 miles east of the Lehigh Southwest Cement Permanente Plant, where Allman allegedly opened fire during a routine safety meeting a day earlier. Three people died and six were wounded.

Authorities believe Allman also shot a woman in an attempted carjacking a couple of hours after fleeing the quarry.

News that Allman was the suspect in these attacks shocked his friends, who described him as a devoted single father of two and a longtime community volunteer.

Literature Nobel goes to Sweden’s best-known poet

STOCKHOLM — The Nobel Prize in literature was awarded Thursday to a psychologist who used his spare time to craft sparsely written poems about the mysteries of everyday life — commuting to work, watching the sun rise or waiting for nightfall.

Tomas Transtromer, Sweden’s most famous poet, had been a favorite for the prize for so many years that even his countrymen had started to doubt whether he would ever win.

Now 80 and retired from writing, he finally got the call as he sat down to watch the prize announcement on TV.

Asked how it felt to be the first Swede in four decades to win the literature prize, he told reporters: “Very good.”

He gave mostly one-syllable answers to questions, the result of a stroke more than two decades ago that left him partially paralyzed and largely unable to speak. His wife, Monica, filled in the details.

“It was a very big surprise,” she said. “Tomas, I know you were surprised. Despite the speculation for so many years, you haven’t really taken it seriously.”

Most of all, she said, Transtromer was pleased to see the prize go to poetry for the first time since Wislawa Szymborska of Poland won in 1996.

Transtromer’s surrealistic works are characterized by powerful imagery that explores the mysteries of the human mind. His poems are often built around his own experiences and infused with his love of music and nature. He also writes about history, existential questions and death.

“His poems have a kind of stark, piercing inwardness that’s very striking,” said Robert Hass, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who edited Transtromer’s “Selected Poems.”

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