Tuesday, March 08, 2005


John P. Thomas Jr. retired from the Oakland Police Department almost 40 years ago, but that didn't stop him from taking action March 1 when two men made two separate attempts to break into his East Oakland house. "I was sitting here in the front room around quarter after three, and I saw this van pull up," Thomas said Friday, recalling how his police instincts kicked in. "Something told this old retired policeman to go out and get the license number.And then I sat down again and started reading the sports page." While he was reading, the doorbell began to ring repeatedly. Said Thomas, a widower who lives alone: "The next thing I know, these two guys are going into my back yard."

Thomas saw them go behind his house and then heard a sound at his window just five feet away. "I heard it first and then saw them fooling around with the window," he said. "I knocked once, and they ran." Despite the pair's quick retreat, Thomas' day was far from over. Both men eventually returned and began prying off the screen.

He got his service pistol from his bedroom, "the one that was issued in 1943," Thomas said. "I got me a gun out of retirement � like me." Thomas left his house through the back and began to walk toward the men, gun in hand. "Somehow or other they smelled me," he said. The men saw Thomas coming and ran away. Thomas called 9-1-1 to report what happened and provide a license plate number for the van.



A bagpiper played �Amazing Grace� and flags flew at half-staff Friday as Canadians grappled with the deadliest attack on police officers in 120 years, after four Mounties were slain during a raid on a marijuana farm in a rural western hamlet. The slayings stunned a nation that prides itself on far fewer acts of gun violence than its neighbor to the south. �Canadians are shocked by this brutality and join me in condemning the violent acts that brought about these deaths,� Prime Minister Paul Martin said. He has called for a moment of silence before opening his Liberal Party�s annual conference later Friday.

The four Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers had been investigating a farm in Mayerthorpe, a small hamlet of some 1,300 people in western Alberta province. Spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes said the four Mounties and the suspected gunman were found in a Quonset hut on the farm late Thursday. A government source told The Canadian Press the suspect killed himself after shooting the officers..... The suspect was identified by police as 46-year-old James Roszko. Authorities said he had a long criminal record, including the use of illegal firearms and sexual assault. Oakes said the Mounties were investigating reports of stolen property and marijuana on Roszko�s property.

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