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Firefighters respond to apartment fire

Lincoln Fire & Rescue crews responded to a fire at a small apartment complex in northeast Lincoln on Friday evening.

Residents at 2201 N. Cotner Blvd. were evacuated shortly after 7 p.m. and firefighters spent several hours working to put out the blaze that caused part of the roof of the building to collapse, according to fire investigator Jason Relford.

No injuries were reported.

Multiple streets in the area remained closed for part of the day Saturday, and temporary fencing was installed around the building because it had not been deemed safe.

A structural engineer will perform an assessment before an investigation can begin, Relford said.

Students admit to painting swatiskas

BEATRICE — Beatrice High School officials say two freshman students have admitted painting swastikas on the front balcony of the school’s fine arts center.

The vandalism, which included glue sprayed on the center’s carpet, was discovered Friday morning. A Beatrice police school resource officer and city police are investigating and working with school officials.

Principal Jason Sutter says the school was able to identify the students involved, and that the two boys later admitted their involvement. Sutter says in the process of questioning the students, it was clear “they didn’t really understand what they were drawing.”

Sutter says the boys face school consequences and “possible legal consequences.”

The vandalism came during the school’s homecoming week, and its homecoming football game was Friday night.

Supreme Court upholds murderer’s conviction

OMAHA — The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected a post-conviction appeal of a man who killed two Brazilian missionaries and their 7-year-old son over a money dispute in Omaha 10 years ago.

The high court Friday upheld a lower court’s rejection without an evidentiary hearing of the post-conviction appeal of Jose Oliveira-Coutinho. Oliveira-Coutinho had argued some 50 claims in an effort to show his attorney was ineffective.

Oliveira-Coutinho was one of three Brazilian men charged with killing Vanderlei Szczepanik, his wife, Jacqueline, and their son, Christopher. Prosecutors said Oliveira-Coutinho and two others beat to death Szczepanik, who had hired the men for a renovation project, and hanged his wife and son before throwing their bodies in the Missouri River. Oliveira-Coutinho was convicted of three first-degree murder counts and sentenced to three life terms in prison.

Valdeir Goncalves-Santos was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role. The third man was deported to Brazil before he could be charged.

Omaha man sentenced for child porn

OMAHA — A 41-year-old Omaha man has been sentenced to 5½ years in federal prison for distributing child pornography.

Federal prosecutors for Nebraska say Casey Kountze was sentenced Thursday in Omaha’s federal courthouse.

Investigators say that in September 2017, Kountze distributed videos of child pornography on the internet. A search of Kountze’s Omaha home last year turned up more than 300 images of child pornography on his laptop. Police say the images included prepubescent children engaging in sex acts.

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Man accused of scalding cat

OMAHA — An Omaha man accused of holding a cat under scalding hot water, severely burning the animal, has been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty.

Calvin Kyles, 35, was arrested Thursday morning on a warrant for the Sept. 10 incident.

An arrest affidavit says Kyles held the cat up by its tail under a shower head while scalding hot water was running. Officials with the Nebraska Humane Society say the skin on the cat’s legs, tail, anus and genitals was burned, requiring surgery. The cat, named BJ, is expected to survive.

Police say Kyles told officers he didn’t mean to burn the cat, just scare it to keep it out of the bathroom. But the cat’s owner says Kyles knew the water always comes out scalding and users must wait for it to cool down.

Man gets 30 years for assaulting boy

OMAHA — An Omaha man who sexually assaulted a young boy at his now ex-wife’s home day care has been sentenced to 30 to 34 years in prison.

William Harrison, 63, was sentenced Wednesday after issuing a tearful apology to his family and his victim, whom he molested for four years starting when the boy was 8.

In a deal with prosecutors, Harrison pleaded no contest to two reduced counts of attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child.

Police say the assaults occurred at Deb’s Day Care, which was operated by Harrison’s ex-wife while the two were married. State officials shut down the day care after the abuse was reported, and Debra Harrison no longer is allowed to provide care for any children other than her own.

Officials aware of housing complaints

BELLEVUE — An Air Force colonel says he and other officials are paying close attention to resident complaints about living conditions and repairs at off-base, privatized housing for personnel at Offutt Air Force Base.

Col. Gavin Marks is commander of the 55th Wing at Offutt, and Tuesday he told residents at a town hall meeting that he’s set up a new hotline to handle complaints.

Local complaints about mold, shoddy construction, slow repairs and street problems at the Rising View neighborhood west of the base echo those from other bases. Those complaints were aired at congressional hearings in Washington earlier this year.

The Pentagon subsequently ordered inspections of every privatized military home. At Offutt, inspectors found 96 homes with what inspectors described as health and safety violations, such as mold or lead paint.

The Rising View leasing manager says all of the violations have been rectified.

Wayne State athletics get $1.8 donation

WAYNE — Wayne State College has received a $1.8 million donation from the Gardner Foundation for the college’s athletics programs.

The donation was announced Thursday at the annual Wayne State Foundation Annual Scholarship Luncheon. It’s the largest single scholarship gift in the history of the college.

The $1.8 million gift includes $300,000 in one-time money for the conversion of the college’s natatorium into an indoor athletic complex and $1.5 million for scholarships that includes $925,000 for athletics and another $150,000 for athletic operations.

The Gardner Foundation is a family foundation based in Wakefield.

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