NYC police: Man says he set woman afire over debt

Posted Dec. 18, 2011, at 7:51 p.m.

NEW YORK — A man charged with dousing a woman in flammable liquid and tossing a Molotov cocktail on her in an elevator told police he set her on fire because he was angry that she owed him $2,000, authorities said Sunday.

Jerome Isaac, of Brooklyn, was arrested Sunday on murder and arson charges in the death of 73-year-old Deloris Gillespie. The 47-year-old Isaac reeked of gasoline when he entered a police station overnight and implicated himself in Gillespie’s death, New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said.

Gillespie was ambushed in the elevator of her Brooklyn apartment building on Saturday afternoon, Browne said. The suspect had been waiting for her when the elevator doors opened to the fifth floor of her building in Prospect Heights, police said.

After setting Gillespie ablaze, Isaac went to his apartment building just blocks away and set a fire there, Browne said.

‘Flash robberies’ plaguing D.C. area

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — In less than 10 minutes, 78 teenagers and young adults cycled through a 7-Eleven and emptied the shelves of candy bars, snacks and drinks. Before police arrived, they were gone.

The “flash rob” in Silver Spring last month was the fifth such mass theft in the Washington, D.C.-area since April, a crime trend defined by large groups of thieves descending on an unsuspecting store and quickly cleaning it out.

Police say the size and speed of the robbery crews make the crimes difficult to combat. Now, retail organizations and legislators in Maryland are pushing to increase penalties for flash robbers.

“Flash robs” were named because of their resemblance to flash mobs, where large groups of people connect through social media and meet in a public place to perform a song or a dance.

“It is not a flash mob, it’s just organized violence,” Staci Lawrence, co-founder of Flash Mob America, one of the largest flash mob organizations in the country, said of the robberies.

But police say local flash robberies were generally not organized through social media.

Philippine storm toll exceeds 650; 900 missing

SEOUL, South Korea — More than 650 people were killed Saturday in the southern Philippines after a tropical storm devastated two coastal cities with flash flooding that drowned some victims in their sleep and drove others to rooftops.

Authorities said that Tropical Storm Washi struck the northern coast of Mindanao Island with heavy rains in a region not accustomed to typhoons, causing rivers to burst their banks, sweeping many residents out to sea. About 300 people were missing, authorities said.

The cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro were transformed into mud-filled waterways choked with vehicles and downed trees, Philippine army officials said.

Officials said many victims were asleep when floodwaters poured down off mountainsides following the late-season tropical storm. Rescuers in boats rushed offshore to save people swept out to sea, and more than 10,000 national troops rushed to the scene.

The Philippine Red Cross said Sunday at least 652 people were killed and more than 900 others were missing.

Crew of stricken Antarctic fishing boat awaits air drop

WELLINGTON, New Zealand —The crew fighting to stop their iceberg-damaged fishing boat from sinking in the Antarctic waited Monday for an air drop of equipment to help them repair a hole in the hull.

Three ships were on the way to help the Russian-flagged Sparta, but one was at a standstill only 22 miles away, stuck in thick pack ice. It will be several days before the others, including an icebreaker, can reach the Sparta.

With 32 crew members, the fishing vessel sent out a distress call Friday, saying it was sinking in the Ross Sea near the Antarctic ice shelf, about 2,300 miles southeast of New Zealand. The boat had struck an underwater iceberg.

Protesters, troops clash for third day in Egypt

CAIRO — Protesters demanding the end of military rule and Egyptian troops hurled rocks at each other in the center of Cairo on Sunday in the third day of clashes that have killed at least 10 people and injured hundreds.

The violence has exposed sharp divisions among Egyptians about the military council that has ruled since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown Feb. 11 in a popular uprising that helped inspire revolts against autocratic rulers across the Arab world.

Anger has been building among young activists over the generals’ failure to deliver promised reforms and their refusal to cede power to a civilian administration until the middle of next year. But many Egyptians are tired of the economic disruption caused by months of unrest, and the number of demonstrators in the streets has remained relatively small compared with previous protests.

The latest skirmishes began after the second stage of voting last week for a new parliament, which many see as a path to stability and civilian rule. Voter turnout Wednesday and Thursday was 67 percent, electoral officials said, even higher than in November, when 52 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. A third and final round is scheduled in January with presidential elections promised by July.

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