The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 19, 2010

CRIME ROUNDUP | Johnstown student charged in Cal. U. homecoming float arson

CALIFORNIA — A Johnstown student who serves as a mascot for California University of Pennsylvania is charged with setting fire to a broken-down homecoming float.

University spokeswoman Christine Kindl said 20-year-old James Shaffer, of Johnstown, told the (Uniontown) Herald-Standard that he was undergoing “an evaluation at a medical facility” on Monday, a day after he was charged with setting the fire.

California borough police said Shaffer set fire to the float Sunday afternoon.

It was parked on a street after breaking down Saturday during the university’s homecoming parade.

Shaffer dresses as the shaggy-haired, muscular Cal U. Vulcan at sports events and other functions.

He’ll face a preliminary hearing on arson, criminal mischief, and disorderly conduct charges.

In other crime news:

Murder investigation

HOLLIDAYSBURG – State police in Blair County are hoping DNA tests reveal new clues in the unsolved murder of an Air Force veteran 32 years ago.

State police in Hollidaysburg said 24-year-old Gary Allen Phillips, of Altoona, was found shot to death Aug. 13, 1978, in Frankstown Township. A passing motorist found Phillips’ partially clothed body, which was shot in the back of the neck and chest.

Police recently met with a forensic scientist at a state police crime lab in Greensburg, and some items in evidence were selected for new DNA testing.

Phony money

SOMERSET – State police are searching for a woman who used counterfeit $100 bills to purchase items from four stores in Somerset Township on Monday afternoon.

The total value of the merchandise is $500, the police said.

The businesses are Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Giant Eagle and Aldi Food Market.

The woman was described as black and 20 to 30 years old. She was wearing a black coat, white T-shirt, black pants and white tennis shoes. She was driving a black Ford Edge.

The incidents happened between 1 and 3:30 p.m.

Molestation case

A former student at the Hiram G. Andrews Center in Upper Yoder Township will face Cambria County court action on charges he molested a girl he was acquainted with at a location in Moxham on a number of occasions between April 2008 and September 2009.

David Coleman, 20, waived his right to a preliminary hearing last week before District Judge Leonard Grecek of Roxbury.

He was charged by Johns-town police earlier this month with aggravated indecent assault of a child, indecent assault and corruption of minors.

A short time later, Coleman was discharged from the Andrews center, a center official said.

Grate theft

BAKERSVILLE – A metal grate was stolen from a culvert at Bakersville-Edie Road and Keyserstown Road.

The grate, valued at $235 and belonging to PennDOT, was taken between noon Oct. 12 and 10:30 a.m. Monday, state police said.

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