Friday, October 19, 2007

Elephant Butte ranger sentenced to probation

Park ranger Clyde Woods has been sentenced to 5 years probation and 1 year house arrest for fatally shooting an unarmed belligerent camper who refused to pay his camping fee. Details about the shooting can be found in the post: The Incident at Elephant Butte Lake.

New Mexico park ranger gets five years probation in shooting death (Albuquerque Tribune)

A former New Mexico State Parks ranger has been sentenced to five years' probation and one year of house arrest in the fatal shooting of a man in a dispute over a campsite fee at Elephant Butte State Park.

State District Judge Kevin Sweazea on Wednesday ordered Clyde Woods to wear an electronic ankle monitoring bracelet for a year before serving probation.

Woods pleaded guilty in March to voluntary manslaughter in the August 2005 death of Bruce Teschner, 58. Teschner - who according to testimony was drunk and had a history of mental illness - refused to pay a $14-a-night camping fee and refused to leave the park.

Woods said he acted in self-defense. He said Teschner turned and made a motion as if he were pulling a weapon. Witnesses said Teschner was running away when he was shot.

State Police said at the time that the camper resisted arrest and was moving away from Woods, apparently keeping his hands in his pockets, when the fatal shots were fired.

Teschner was shot twice in the back of the neck, authorities said.

Special Prosecutor Scot Key had sought the maximum punishment for Woods, seven years behind bars. But defense attorney Gary Mitchell asked Sweazea to give Woods probation.

Before the sentencing, clinical psychologist Eric Westfried testified for the defense that Woods poses no threat to the community. He also told the court that a more thorough psychological evaluation before Woods was admitted to the police academy might have found him an unsuitable candidate for law enforcement.

The victim's brother, Charles Teschner, testified that arthritis forced his brother to give up his jewelry-making business, and he had been given a diagnosis of depression and put on medication. He said his brother was "obviously self-medicating with alcohol" in the last months of his life.

He told the judge that he believed Woods had to know that his brother was unarmed.

Several community members told the judge that Woods was a dedicated father, an avid community volunteer and an asset to his hometown.

Woods apologized to Teschner's family for taking the man's life but said he did the best he could with what he had the evening he was called to Teschner's campsite.

"I'm sorry for what happened," Woods said as he sobbed and looked briefly at Teschner's family.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The worst canoe trip since Deliverance

In August Emmerich Koller and his two children, Marina (age 26) and Andrew (age 11) went on a 5 day canoe trip through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Not even a boy sitting on his front porch playing Dueling Banjos could have alerted them to what would happen on this trip.

Night of terror in BWCA still haunts family (
The trouble began before dusk on Aug. 7, when the five men and the teenager went to Basswood Lake in two motorboats to "have some fun," according to Barton.

Koller said he and his family heard shooting north of their campsite while they were eating supper about 7:30 p.m. on the first night of their BWCA trip.

"Here I am in this pristine wilderness and you don't expect to hear gunshots," he said. "And it was not just hunting rifles, but repeat rifles, semiautomatic."

About 10 p.m., three men in a motorboat stopped near the Kollers' campsite and began talking loudly and cursing. At the time, Koller didn't think they were involved in the earlier shooting.

He said he turned on his flashlight and asked them to be quiet, but was cursed, ridiculed for his accent -- Koller grew up in Hungary -- and told to shut up.

"They really cussed me out and cursed me out using every imaginable obscenity," Emmerich Koller said. "I was really taken aback. They seemed messed up, either drunk or on drugs, I don't know. They were scaring my family."

In the complaint, Olson told investigators that the men "kind of pushed it, yeah. We should have stopped."

Koller said Tuesday that when the men left, they lifted their motor out of the water and "revved it up." They shot a flare that exploded in the sky before leaving to meet up with their friends in a nearby bay.

While there, the five men and teenager sat in their boats, drank beer and fired off more rounds from several weapons.

Koller said that about 11 p.m. his son woke him to tell him a boat was approaching.

"As they got closer, I got an inkling: 'We've got to get out of here,'" Emmerich Koller said.

Koller and his children fled to the woods, pushing deep into the brush where they "just hunkered down and listened to their ranting and raving."

For the next 45 minutes, the men poked around the campsite, commenting in vulgar terms about the family's sleeping bags and food.

At one point, Marina Koller told authorities, one of the men said, "Maybe if you make us s'mores for an hour, we won't ... kill you!"[The men said] they were going to kill me and rape us all, in very graphic terms," Emmerich Koller said. "We were very scared. My daughter was just trembling behind me, and we were just holding onto each other."

A part-time bartender, Marina Koller said she'd never heard such foul language, even in a bar.

About 15 minutes after the men left, Emmerich Koller called 911 and told a Lake County dispatcher what was happening. At the same time, the five men and teenager headed to a nearby beach to swim, where they confronted two adults, their five children and two friends of the children.

Two of the men skinny-dipped. One of the adults told investigators that the men used "a lot of f-words" and threatened a sexual assault.

By then, however, several more campers had called authorities to report men racing around "shooting guns,"terrorizing people" and setting fire to the lake with gasoline.
Men charged in BWCA terrorizing and shooting mayhem (Timberjay Newspapers Online)
Cell phone calls from threatened campers alerted law enforcement that the men were shouting threats and obscenities while shooting firearms and fireworks from two motorized boats. Lake County Sheriff’s deputies and federal agents were able track the progress of the men from the calls and intercept their boats as they returned to the Fall Lake landing around midnight.

Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Hoberg contacted U.S. Forest Service Agent Chip Elkins for assistance in apprehending the suspects.

The boat with a 16-year-old male, Olson and Lakner arrived at the landing. Lakner was wearing a knit hat with fake dreadlocks attached to it. Hoberg had known Lakner for over 20 years, but did not recognize him at first.

During the pat-search, Hoberg noticed Lakner was wearing a .45 caliber semi-automatic side arm and had another bullet clip on his belt.

As the officers continued arrest procedures, they heard the second boat approaching and instructed the first three suspects to remain silent.

However, Lakner continually talked louder, according to the complaint, apparently trying to alert the second boat of their situation. Ely Police Officer Chad Hood began to escort Lakner to a squad car about 50 yards away, but Lakner persisted shouting to the point that Hood had to wrestle him to the ground and cover his mouth.

During an audio and videotape interview after his arrest, Fenske admitted they did not go on the excursion to fish. He said he and his boat partners almost turned back at Jackfish Bay because it was dark and they couldn’t find the others until they saw their fireworks.

Barton stated on tape that the whole group just wanted to have some fun and “stir things up a little bit.” He said they laughed about the comments they made to campers and “thought it was cute and funny.”

Of the weapons found, one was a Russian or Romanian made AK-47 assault rifle. However it was discovered to be semiautomatic, rather than fully automatic.

Through complainant statements made to Agent Elkins, he realized the boat containing Lakner, Olson and the juvenile traveled into Canada. Elkins notified Ontario officials who asked him to enter Canadian territory and retrieve the evidence.

Boaters and campers provided officers with a beer bottle and 13 spent shell casings. A variety of other evidence surfaced later and included more beer bottles, spent casings, cardboard tubes and paper remains from spent fireworks.

A criminal investigation and charges from Canada are uncertain at this time.

In all, Deputy Hoberg and Agent Elkins talked to at least 80 people regarding the case.

If convicted, penalties for each count of aiding and abetting terroristic threats, harassment and firearms possession is five years incarceration, or a $10,000 fine, or both. Theft penalties include one year incarceration, a $3,000 fine, or both. Reckless discharge of a firearm, transporting an uncased firearm, and possession and use of fireworks all have penalties of 90 days incarceration, a $1,000 fine, or both.
I first heard about this story in the blog Lagniappe's Lair. The author of this blog states that when he goes camping he always brings a .357 Magnum revolver or an AR-15A1 assault rifle. Despite how horrible the Boundary Waters story is, I would not recommend carrying firearms with you while you are camping, unless you are Dirty Harry (he favored the .357 Magnum) or Rambo (who favored the AR-15A1, aka the M16).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hey, DNR, kiss my ass!

Ranger Bob over at the Retread Ranger Station has shared a story of a camper who pulled down his pants and asked an Indiana Conservation Officer to kiss his ass.

Charges filed in an alleged mooning case (South Bend Tribune)
In the top 10 list of things one shouldn't do to an Indiana Conservation Officer, flagrantly exposing your buttocks to one probably ranks right up there. Also, inviting said officer to smooch those buttocks is likely on the no-no list. Yet, those alleged offenses are what landed one Plymouth man in jail Labor Day weekend, after allegedly drinking enough to cause him to become a bit cheeky when an officer visited his campsite near Gilbert Lake.
The man then reportedly again exposed his hindquarters and shouted what Salb wrote were "the sweet words sure to perk up the ears of every conservation officer." In other words, Dowdle reported, the man yelled, "Hey, DNR, kiss my (expletive)." That was enough for Dowdle, who headed back around the lake to speak with the man again. This time, his words were succinct and to the point. "You don't even have to stand up," he was quoted as saying to the man. "Just put your hands behind your back."
After his arrest, the man was taken to the Marshall County Jail, where he was booked on charges of public nudity and public intoxication.
This has to be a Rhadamanthine Citation if I have ever seen one.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sneaky rangers invade nudists privacy

Some cruisers and nudists who visit Cape Cod National Seashore to participate in their favorite recreational activities are angry that park rangers are using sneaky tactics to catch them breaking the law (namely engaging in public sex and nude sunbathing).

Undercover tactics: Park criticized for using sneak approach to nab nudists, stop sex (Provincetown Banner)
Nudists,amorous couples and others who used the Seashore as their pleasure ground this summer were shocked when they were served $75 to $175 citations for baring their bodies and/or engaging in sexual acts in public. It was not the tickets that bothered them so much as the manner in which they received them. "It was crossing the line as far as I am concerned," said Susie Maguire, a summer visitor. Maguire said she and a friend were walking up South Pamet Road in Truro on July 27, fully dressed, when a young park ranger drove up in his truck. “He got out, walked down to us and as he was walking said, ‘You two just hold it right there. I’m giving you a ticket for public nudity.’” The ranger proceeded to ticket Maguire for having been nude on the beach earlier that afternoon. She had, indeed, been sunbathing in the buff for three hours in an isolated spot south of Ballston Beach. But how had the ranger seen her? Was he “peeping” from the dunes? Why had he waited until she and her friend had walked all the way back to the parking lot and up the road to their car before approaching them? Maguire said she had been asking herself these questions. “When I have something like that happen, I’ve been invaded,” she said. “He wasn’t nasty at all, he was a very nice guy. But the whole thing was bizarre.”
She is not upset that the park ranger wrote her a ticket for being nude in public, just that he saw her naked. Now let me get this straight. She went to a public beach, removed all of her clothing and then sunbathed naked for three hours. If she is bothered by the idea of someone "invading" her privacy by at her naked body, then maybe she should not get naked in public. Just a thought.
She was not the first beachgoer to be caught off guard by a ranger. One man, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he and his partner were dallying in the reeds in a remote spot near Herring Cove in Provincetown one day last month when suddenly a park ranger sprang upon them. The ranger was in plainclothes and had appeared to be just “another gay man” ambling by, which is one of the reasons why the man and his partner didn’t stop having sex. They were given a $175 ticket for disorderly conduct.
That's not fair! If that poor guy had know that he was a police officer, then he would have stopped breaking the law. When I am out on patrol, I always announce my presence with a loud, "Park ranger coming through. I hope no one is engaging in any illegal activities out here." That's the only fair way for a ranger to patrol.
Other visitors to Herring Cove have reported seeing undercover park rangers, dressed as though they were just there to enjoy the beach, stop and ticket people for nudity or sexual activity. “I observed this practically the whole summer,” said Ron Raz, a New York resident who comes to Provincetown often. He said there were four plainclothes rangers, two in T-shirts, khaki shorts and carrying backpacks and the other two in “just shorts,” one with “pierced nipples and everything.” He said the undercover rangers will comb the beach between the breakwater and the parking lot at Herring Cove, which is “mostly the gay guys’ beach.” Sometimes, “they’ll just sit and wait.” When a man makes a move on the undercover rangers, they ticket him or serve a summons. Raz said it seemed like entrapment to him. “I would see people leaving the beach in tears,” he said.
There is nothing more sad than a horny guy that just wants to go to the beach and have some gay sex out in public and is senselessly harassed by some jack booted park ranger.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Seven reasons to not become a park ranger

Nearly every time I am introduced to someone as a park ranger, I inevitably hear something like, “Oh, I always wanted to be a park ranger.” It seems everyone has a romantic view of what it would be like to be a park ranger. Sure there are a lot of great things about being a park ranger, but it’s not all about getting paid to play in the outdoors.

Here are a few things that may make you think twice about choosing a ranger career:

1. It’s not sunny everyday.
Everyone thinks it would be great to have a job working outdoors when it is 78 degrees and sunny. How would you like to be riding a bike wearing a bulletproof vest when it is 95 degrees? How about digging a ditch while standing in six inches of mud while the sky unloads a torrent of rain? Have you ever tried to thaw a frozen pipe when it’s ten below zero? Guess who has to work outside no mater what the weather is: the park ranger.

2. Stuff is expensive.
They say park rangers are paid with sunsets. The problem is that food, rent, utilities, car payments, clothing, diapers…all that stuff costs money. Guess who is always struggling to pay the bills: the park ranger.

3. Your family and friends get weekends off
Your family and friends, like the rest of society, work and go to school Monday through Friday. People come to the park when they are not working. That means that the park is busy on nights, weekends and holidays. Guess who has to work when their family and friends don’t: the park ranger.

4. People are pigs.
People leave fast food wrappers in the parking lot, build campfires in pristine wilderness, tangle fishing line in the trees, throw beer bottles down the outhouse, puke in the sink, pee on the floor and crap on the toilet seat. Guess whose job it is to clean it all up: the park ranger.

5. Drunk people are not funny.
People have a couple of beers (at least that’s how much they always say they have had) and think that everything they do is hilarious. Peeing in a trash can instead of walking 50 feet to the bathroom is not funny. Raiding you neighbor’s cooler is not funny. Building an 8 foot tall bonfire is not funny. Asking if you can wear the park ranger’s hat is not funny. Guess whose job it is to tell them that they are not funny: the park ranger.

6. People don’t have any common courtesy.
People just don’t seem to care anymore how their actions impact others. They let their dog off leash so he can jump up on strangers to greet them with his muddy feet and snapping jaws. They play their favorite songs so loud that you can hear the thundering bass vibrate your fillings from a quarter mile away. They burn their garbage in their campfire so that downwind campsites can enjoy the scent of melting plastic and charred hotdogs. Guess who has to give them a lecture on proper manners: the park ranger.

7. Dirtbags go on vacation too.
Criminals seem to enjoy visiting the parks just as much as us regular folks. In fact some, prefer hanging out in parks because they aren’t hassled by the cops as much. Guess who has to deal with these criminals without a partner and with the nearest backup 30 minutes out: the park ranger.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Home on the Range with Action Jackson

Muggs over at Yellowstone Park News has featured a story from the New West about former Yellowstone seasonal backcountry ranger Bob "Action" Jackson. Jackson worked for over 30 years as a backcountry ranger in Yellowstone's Thorofare district. Here Jackson describes why he decided to stay a seasonal ranger and not go permanent:

My dual career in bison and backcountry rangering happened because of one defining incident early on. I saw my retiring district ranger boss, at the acknowledged pinnacle of rangerdom, steal a big box of toilet paper as his very last official act in Yellowstone. This was a sturdy, tall, deep-voiced and well measured man, the type of ranger tourists imagined. He had spent his life as a ranger at the envied Big Five of Western national parks and it was the life I strived for upon coming to Yellowstone. As I watched this empty shell of a man struggle to get his long arms around the taxpayers’ 128 rolls of wipe so he could put it in the back of his station wagon, I knew then and there I didn’t want a career that ended on a toilet seat.
Jackson was considered to be an exceptional ranger by his supervisors, until he caught the media's attention with his adept skills at catching elk poachers. Apparently, Jackson went blabbing his mouth to the press about the local hunting outfitters unethical practice of salting National Forest lands just outside the park boundary to lure in elk for high paying clients to shoot. Park management, worried about negative media attention forced Jackson to sign an illegal gag order and terminated his seasonal employment before the fall hunting season.

Extensive details of the incident can be found in Thunderbear's December 2001 article The Seasonal Who Cried Salt. A follow-up on the fallout over the incident can be found in Thunderbear's November 2002 article Hell Hath No Fury.

Were glad to see that Ranger Jackson has found a career that won't end on a toilet seat. It's too bad the National Park Service doesn't reward these kind of employees, instead of punish them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Robo Ranger of Griffith Park

I received the following comment on my first story about the John Stolpe trial (which turned out to be the Douglas Kilpatrick trial):

Anonymous said...

Doug Kilpatrick aka "Uniform man"

has a very long history of extreme abuse of park visitors. He Really enjoys his job, to much apparently.

Popular LA Times Columnist Steve Lopez documented a short list of the abuse of park visitors received from this public servant.

See LA TIMES Column "The Robo Ranger of Griffith Park" published Aug. 31 2001.

Nine Citizen complaints in less than 3 years! Sheesh! Makes the meanest baddest cops envious.

I don't know Doug Kilpatrick or his history. So I took the anonymous commenter’s advice and donated $3.95 to the LA Times to read Steve Lopez's column about Douglas Kirpatrick. First of all, Lopez is a columnist, not a reporter. He is paid to add spice and controversy to get people to buy newspapers. In his Kirpatrick column, he spoke with six people who were contacted or cited by Kirpatrick for breaking the law.

Peter Aiello stopped for riding a bike in a prohibited area was taken to the ground after refusing to identify himself and comply to orders of a law enforcement officer. Kilpatrick also pepper sprayed Aiello after he attempted to escape.

Darrell Jones was contacted by Kilpatrick for playing his car stereo too loud. Kilpatrick noticed that Jones was consuming beer from a cup. Jones claims it was non-alcoholic beer. That makes total sense to me, because if you drink non-alcoholic beer directly from the bottle, it ruins the taste. Near beer needs to breathe. Lopez fails to tell us if Jones was even cited by Kilpatrick.

Peter Rhodes was cited by Kilpatrick for riding his bike on a trial closed to bikes. Rhodes claims he wasn’t riding on that trail and challenged the citation in court and lost. Rhodes filed a complaint with the parks department and Kilpatrick was cleared of any wrong doing.

Amilcar Barquero, according to Lopez was doing nothing more than attending a birthday party when Kilpatrick came around “to inspect an ice chest and sniff cups.” Lopez states that Kilpatrick threw Barquero to the ground, hand cuffed him, and took him to jail, merely for stating, “Nobody's doing anything wrong." My guess is that people were illegally consuming alcohol and Barquero refused to comply with Kilpatrick in some way. I don’t know, however, because Lopez doesn’t tell us why Barquero was arrested.

Pasadenan Stephen Schweitzer refused to empty a cup before a “tailgate session” before a concert at the park. Once again, we don’t know if Schweitzer was cited or arrested or just told to empty his cup because Lopez purposefully left that info out. I am sure Schweitzer was merely enjoying an ice cold Coca-cola before the concert, not consuming alcohol.

Lopez mentions that Roderick Greaves got into a “scuffle” with Kilpatrick while sitting in a car with his friend. Kilpatrick arrested Greaves for assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest. Last I knew, a scuffle is a fight and if you get into a fight with a cop, then you are going to be arrested.

When this column ran in 2001, Greaves case was going to trial and Lopez promised to be in the front row at act as “Witness for the people.” Yet in the six years since Lopez wrote his column, he has yet to write another word about Kilpatrick. Should we be surprised that Lopez never did a follow up story? I guess it wasn’t sensational enough for Lopez to cover.

Notice that only one of these complainants claimed to be innocent (and that one had his day in court and lost). I suspect that most of these people had a problem with Kilpatrick because they didn’t respect his authority to enforce the law.

Park rangers are constantly challenged by law breakers on their authority. I have had people tell me, “You’re not a real cop. Why don’t you quit bothering us.” Then they try to walk away and ignore my commands. When this happens, a park ranger has to assert his authority, which can sometimes mean gaining compliance through physical contact. If it is a park ranger’s job to enforce the law, then they need to enforce the law even with people who openly refuse to obey it.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ranger vs. Cop: Cop Wins

In the case of the aggressive park ranger vs. the cop engaging in gay sex in a public park, it looks like the jury has sided with the cruising cop, John Stolpe. Defense attorney Robert Schwartz certainly earned his money on this case by convincing the attentive jury Stolpe's version of the incident could have happened despite the fact that it defied all logic. Schwartz did this by convincing the jury that the arresting officer, park ranger Douglas Kilpatrick was an overly agressive, "wanna-be cop" who would lie just to make an arrest and enjoyed beating on innocent victims.

Now I am not going to defend Ranger Kilpatrick just because he is a fellow park ranger. Some of Kilpatrick's actions definitely weakened this case. Kilpatrick's surveillance of the two men should have been better so that he could have positively identified the specific sexual activity that they were engaged in. This may have been difficult, however, considering the terrain and vegetation in the area. Additionally Kilpatrick should have verbally identified himself as a police officer upon initial contact and after Stolpe fled the scene. I doubt, however, that attorney Schwartz made these items key to Stolpe's defense.

What Kilpatrick did right, was use the force necessary to subdue a fleeing suspect, including pushing the suspect to the ground, using pepper spray and using an impact weapon (collapsible baton). These are the types of actions that attorney Schwartz focused on and was able to convince a jury that a park ranger should not be doing. I doubt Stolpe would have been acquitted if Kilpatrick had been a police officer instead of a park ranger.

I guess people just want park rangers to tell them all about the cute cuddly woodland creatures instead of enforcing laws and arresting criminals. What should a park ranger to do once all of the woodland creatures are scared away by hoards of horny men looking for sex?

Stolpe not guilty on all counts (Press-Telegram)
By Tracy Manzer

HOLLYWOOD - A retired Long Beach police officer and 27-year veteran of the force was found not guilty Monday of exposing himself in public and resisting arrest.

The seven-woman, five-man jury agreed with the defense's argument that retired Long Beach Police Cpl. John Stolpe was falsely accused of lewd conduct by Los Angeles City Park Ranger Douglas Kilpatrick at Griffith Park on April 6, 2006.

As the court clerk read the not-guilty verdicts on both counts, Stolpe exhaled loudly and looked over at the jury, smiling and tapping his heart.

His wife, Assistant Long Beach City Attorney Sandra Stolpe, remained composed but her eyes grew red and seemed to mist with tears. When Stolpe turned to look at her and give her a smile, she smiled in return and put her hand up to her mouth looking as though she might cry.

"Sometimes you have to put your faith in the system," she said once the jury left the courtroom.

"That's hard to do when you're a cop," Stolpe quipped just a few moments later.

Throughout the trial, defense attorney Robert Schwartz focused on destroying the arresting ranger's credibility, calling witnesses that depicted Kilpatrick as irrational and a man who frequently abused
his authority whenever questioned.

"As I said in my closing argument, Officer Kilpatrick is not a credible witness," Schwartz said outside of the courtroom Monday afternoon. "What we presented in court is just the tip of the iceberg."

Prosecutor Yong Sohn tried to paint Stolpe as a man living a double life: on one hand, the defendant was a well-known and highly decorated officer, loving father and husband with political aspirations, but was also driven to extreme risks to fulfill a carnal urge.

The former mayoral candidate, who was arrested about five days prior to the 2006 election, vehemently denied those claims on and off the stand.

Exchanges between Stolpe and Sohn grew heated in a verbal battle over two days.

Sohn argued that Stolpe ran from authorities and lied about his job as a police officer because he knew it would destroy his career, his marriage, his election dreams and, ultimately, his life.

The 51-year-old - who retired not long after his arrest and about two years shy of his full pension - scoffed at Sohn's claims.

Stolpe said it was too soon to know whether he was going to pursue a civil suit for malicious prosecution.

"It's about time that someone took this guy to the mat," he said, referring to Kilpatrick, adding that several people had thanked him for standing up to the ranger.

Conditions in Judge Leslie Swain's courtroom were tough at times due to a faulty air conditioner that resulted in high temperatures and no air flow during the recent heat wave.

A number of jurors on the case looked pained, except for one man who dozed frequently during testimony and another woman who sat expressionless during every moment of the six-day trial.

On the first and only day of deliberations, they convened promptly at 9 a.m. and, except for lunch, declined any breaks. They were had their verdict by 4 p.m.

Stolpe told the jury he was hiking in a canyon in the park near Zoo Drive when he came upon two men in a clearing just off the trail who were fondling one another.

Stolpe testified that he told the men to stop and that one of the men pulled up his pants and ran but the other stayed put, looking irritated.

It was while he politely chastised that man that came upon the pair and accused both of lewd conduct, he told the jury.

Kilpatrick testified he could not see much through thick brush surrounding the clearing, but that he saw the buttocks of one man - who he identified as Stolpe - and could see another man standing directly in front of him.

The ranger said he ordered both men to stop and sit down. Stolpe, he said, made a run for it and pushed the ranger out of his way as he tried to flee down the rocky and narrow path.

Kilpatrick told the jury that in his haste, Stolpe lost his footing and fell a couple of times. The ranger said he also tried to keep Stolpe down with his foot, used pepper spray on him and hit him once in the arm with his collapsible baton.

The weapons had no effect on the defendant, who was about Kilpatrick's height but about 50 to 70 pounds heavier, and Stolpe eventually fled up into the hillside, forcing Kilpatrick to call for backup.

About half a dozen rangers and public safety officers as well as the Los Angeles Police Department's helicopter unit responded.

Stolpe was found within about 15 minutes and never identified himself as a police officer or told anyone that he had caught the real culprits, authorities testified.

One officer said the defendant lied and told him he was unemployed, which Stolpe confirmed on the stand. Stolpe also confirmed officers' testimony that he claimed he was dropped off at the park. The defendant explained that he didn't want his car impounded or the officers to find his gun, badge and other property.

Stolpe never identified himself as a fellow officer because it wouldn't have done any good, he testified, and because he knew they would eventually find out after he gave them his name and driver's license number.

Stolpe also testified that Kilpatrick told him to head to the street and when he brushed up against Kilpatrick on the narrow path that he was shoved.

Stolpe said he also picked up a little speed as he headed down the steep trail.

That is when Kilpatrick pushed him face-down the ravine, Stolpe testified, knocking the defendant about 8 feet down a ditch. Stolpe said he was pushed again, stomped on by the ranger, pepper-sprayed twice and hit about three times with the baton.

The defendant said he chose to flee and hide so that he could wait for other officers to arrive. He figured that Kilpatrick would be less likely to continue beating him if there were witnesses, Stolpe testified.

Testimony in the six-day trial focused as much, if not more so, on Kilpatrick as it did on the defendant.

Schwartz argued his client was a well-respected police officer who had worked some of the most dangerous and highly sought assignments in the Long Beach Police Department and who was known for his professionalism. Kilpatrick, Schwartz said, had an authority complex and a history of false accusations.

"(Kilpatrick) was described by the prosecutor ... as an officer who goes by the book," Schwartz said. "I think it would be more accurate to say he writes his own book."

To bolster his claims, the defense lawyer called two Los Angeles men to testify about their experiences with Kilpatrick.

The men cited by Kilpatrick testified that they were stopped by Kilpatrick on numerous occasions, detained and eventually arrested on minor charges such as drinking in public and riding a bicycle in a prohibited area of the park.

Both men testified Kilpatrick had wrongly accused them and lied on citations he issued them. Both said it was their questioning of Kilpatrick that led the ranger to fly into a rage and abuse his authority. A third man, who witnessed several of the confrontations, also testified.

Kilpatrick told the jury that both men were detained when they became belligerent. One was taken into a local jail to be cited because he didn't have any identification, while the other was arrested after he lost control and began fighting with the ranger, Kilpatrick said.

At one point, the ranger testified that he found red or purple residue in a cup one of the men had, and that it appeared to be wine or a mixed drink, prompting him to cite and arrest the man for drinking in public.

Schwartz showed Kilpatrick the ticket he had issued and where the ranger had written down that the cup contained beer.

"He's a frustrated cop is what he is," Stolpe said. "He's a wanna-be cop and he should be sticking to being a park ranger."

Kilpatrick ended up testifying over three days of the trial, more than any other witness, and was grilled extensively.

Sohn noted as much, pointing out to the jury that Schwartz's lengthy closing argument was devoted almost entirely to destroying Kilpatrick's credibility.

Schwartz told the jury the case clearly came down to the two officers and which man was more believable. The witnesses that testified against Kilpatrick undoubtedly planted that crucial seed of doubt in the jurors' minds about the ranger's credibility, Schwartz said after the trial.

"We see this as a vindication and an exoneration of John Stolpe," Schwartz said.

A prosecutor from the Los Angeles City Attorney's office called to fill in for Sohn on Monday declined to comment.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Park Ranger vs. Cop: The John Stolpe Trial

It looks like its not just senators that are getting caught with their pants down in public. Long Beach police officer and Mayoral candidate John Stolpe was arrested in April 2006 by a park ranger for engaging in cruising activities and resisting arrest in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. Stolpe maintains he is innocent and the victim of mistaken identity and police brutality by a rogue park ranger.

Officer Stolpe's testimony proves to be quite entertaining as he explains what he was doing in the park with a half naked man and why he fled the scene when an unarmed park ranger attempted to arrest him (Jump to the bottom if you want to see the Ranger Gord's Condensed Version of Stolpe's Story).

Stolpe Trial: Day #1 & 2
Character witnesses speak in Stolpe trial (Press Telegram)
Police officer, deputy city prosecutor support defendant.
By Tracy Manzer, Staff writer

HOLLYWOOD - A string of character witnesses were called to testify about the integrity of two peace officers Tuesday: one a former Long Beach police officer charged with exposing himself at a park, the other a park ranger who allegedly caught the defendant in the act.

It marked the second day of trial, and the first day of the defense's case, for former Long Beach mayoral candidate and Police Cpl. John Stolpe, who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of public nudity and resisting arrest during an incident at Griffith Park in April 2006.

Deputy City Prosecutor Yong W. Sohn argued during his opening statements Friday that the 50-year-old defendant was found, with his pants down, with another man in a clearing at the park and that the former officer suffered scrapes and bruises when he fought capture.

Defense Attorney Robert Schwartz argued Friday that Stolpe was wrongly identified as a suspect by L.A. Park Ranger Douglas Kilpatrick, whom he said is quick-tempered and has a history of false accusations.

Stolpe, then an active-duty officer, saw two other men fondling each other near a hiking trail and he walked over to them to tell them what they were doing was wrong when the ranger came upon the scene, Schwartz argued. A scuffle and foot pursuit followed, prosecutors allege, and Stolpe was eventually arrested and charged.

Stolpe has maintained his innocence, arguing that he was the victim of an overzealous park ranger who misunderstood the situation and used excessive force to apprehend him.

Called to testify Tuesday on behalf of Stolpe and detail his 27 years on the force were a retired deputy city prosecutor and a retired police officer, both of whom worked for Long Beach.

John Fentis said he knew Stolpe well in a professional capacity - and worked for many years with Stolpe's wife, Deputy City Prosector Sandra Stolpe - and successfully prosecuted hundreds of environmental hazard cases stemming from trucks coming into and out of the Ports of Long Beach and L.A., thanks to Stolpe's professional demeanor and trustworthy character.

Former Officer Robert McDonnell, who retired in October after 26 years on the force, testified he and Stolpe became friends in junior high in Inglewood.

"I consider John like a brother," he said.

McDonnell said Stolpe was a model officer. Stolpe's honesty, integrity, intelligence and hard work saw him chosen for some of the top jobs and earned him several honors, McDonnell testified.

"Most of the time John had the ability to talk them into being handcuffed," McDonnell said, recalling that Stolpe never fired his service weapon in the line of duty.

Stolpe also had an uncanny ability for undercover police work, he said.

"You had to be a crook or someone like one," McDonnell said when describing undercover assignments. "John was one of the best officers I've seen do that type of work."

Also called to testify on behalf of the defense was John Cox, a 43-year-old who lives near Griffith Park. Cox spoke for more than an hour about his negative experiences with Kilpatrick, who stopped him on three different occasions on suspicion of public drinking.

During the first incident, in 2004, Cox said he and a group of friends were drinking at the park and were correctly cited by Kilpatrick.

But in two other run-ins with the ranger, in May 2005 and November 2005, he insisted Kilpatrick falsely accused him of having an open container of alcohol when he had not been drinking and had no alcohol or alcoholic beverages, seeming to bolster the defense's claims that Kilpatrick is not a credible witness.

During the second incident, Cox was handcuffed after he calmly protested the citation, he testified.

Within a few minutes, Kilpatrick let him out of the handcuffs and gave him another ticket once he stopped talking, he said.

In the third incident, Kilpatrick kept him in a holding cell at a nearby police station for about an hour before letting him go with another ticket, he testified.

Had it not been for a bad joke, Cox testified, Kilpatrick might not have cited him at all the third time. The ranger, he said, was preparing to walk away when Cox told him that he had joked to his buddy, "here comes that ranger from hell."

"Within a couple of seconds he turned beet red and put the handcuffs on me," Cox testified.

At least one of the tickets was dismissed by a prosecutor after Cox appeared in court and explained the situation to the attorney, Cox testified.

During his cross-examination, Sohn asked Cox if he knew that drinking in public is grounds for arrest and that the ranger could have arrested him on every occasion.

The trio of defense witnesses followed a string of park rangers and police officers called by Sohn.

They, like Kilpatrick, testified that Stolpe at no time identified himself as a police officer once he was eventually found following a search of a steep canyon.

"He told me he was unemployed," Ranger Peter Steur testified Tuesday.

The other officers and rangers testified Tuesday they found Stolpe on the eastside of Zoo Drive, after breaking off into two directions to search the rough terrain.

About half a dozen officers and rangers, including Steur, responded to Kilpatrick's call for help. A police helicopter was also used.

They said they found no identification on Stolpe and did not learn he was an officer until later that evening while running his name during the booking process at the Parker Center Detention Center in downtown L.A.

Kilpatrick returned to testify Tuesday about a series of photos he took of Stolpe the afternoon of the arrest that showed scrapes and cuts on his knees, legs and elbow as well as pictures of the area, taken about a week after the incident.

The photos showed thick vegetation in spots. The brush was so thick, according to L.A. Public Safety Officer Victor Carrasco, that officers in the helicopter could not see Stolpe.

Carrasco said they eventually flushed Stolpe out of the brush with a ruse.

"My partner started to yell, `We're going to send in the dogs,"' Carrasco said.

Moments later Stolpe came out, he testified.

The trial continues today.

Stolpe Trial: Day #3
Stolpe says he fled ranger for survival (Press-Telegram)
Stolpe says he fled ranger for survival.
Ex-police officer denies sex acts, exposure in Griffith Park.
By Tracy Manzer, Staff writer

HOLLYWOOD - A former police officer on trial for exposing himself in public and resisting arrest described his flight from a park ranger as a fight for survival with a maniac.

Retired Cpl. John Stolpe was called as the final defense witness in his case Wednesday afternoon at Hollywood Superior Court and vehemently denied he was ever exposed or engaged in any sex acts while hiking in Griffith Park on April 6, 2006.

The former Long Beach mayoral candidate, who was arrested about five days before the 2006 election, also denied saying his "life was over" while running past Los Angeles Park Ranger Douglas Kilpatrick, which others have testified to in the trial.

But Stolpe did admit he lied to authorities when asked about the location of his car and when he told an officer that he was unemployed.

"I said I was dropped off," Stolpe testified. "I didn't want them rifling through (the car), they'd find my badge, they'd find my gun."

The 51-year-old was arrested for lewd conduct and resisting arrest by Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick told the court he found Stolpe - with his pants down - and another man fondling themselves in a clearing in one of the park's canyons near Zoo Drive.

Kilpatrick said Stolpe ran past him after he ordered Stolpe and the other man to stop what they were doing and sit down. According to Kilpatrick, Stolpe brushed past him as he ran down a steep foot trail, lost his balance and fell.

Kilpatrick said he used pepper spray and his baton an in effort to stop Stolpe, but the defendant eventually fled into the brush and out of sight.

Stolpe was arrested after public safety officers, park rangers and the L.A. Police Department's helicopter unit searched the canyon, according to Kilpatrick and other authorities called to testify by Deputy City Attorney Yong W. Sohn.

Stolpe testified Wednesday that he had hiked through the canyon for about an hour and was on his way back to his car when he saw two men in an alcove in a clearing below him.

"Both of them were standing there with their penises out," Stolpe recalled.

After making a comment about taking it somewhere else, Stolpe testified, one of the men pulled up his pants, waved apologetically, then took off. The other man zipped up but stayed put, appearing irritated with the interruption, Stolpe said.

It was while he was "politely chastising" that man, Stolpe said, that he heard something in the brush and figured it was the first man coming back. It turned out to be the ranger, who was wearing a uniform but was not armed with a gun and did not identify himself, Stolpe testified.

"He says, `lewd conduct, head toward the street,"' Stolpe recalled.

Stolpe said the path, which he estimated to be about a foot wide and running up a steep hill, was too narrow for anyone to pass a person. He didn't mean to touch the ranger, but most likely did brush up against Kilpatrick, Stolpe testified.

As Stolpe moved down the steep path, he was forced to pick up speed but planned to slow down, he testified.

When he passed Kilpatrick, he said, the ranger shoved him from behind, causing him to fall down.

Stolpe said the ranger pushed him down three times, knocking him into ditches, kicked him while he was down, pepper-sprayed him twice and struck him with a collapsible baton on the elbow, side and back.

The defendant's voice grew louder as he recalled the incident and soundly criticized Kilpatrick's actions. At one point, Stolpe used a white handkerchief to wipe sweat off his brow.

Stolpe frequently referred to photographs that showed the area where the incident occurred and were taken a couple of days after his arrest with the help of his wife, who works in the Long Beach City Prosecutor's office, and his nephew, a harbor patrol sergeant assigned to the Port of Long Beach.

Stolpe compared the brish to a "South American jungle" and insisted there was no way Kilpatrick could have seen what he claimed in such dense foliage.

Stolpe also told the jury his injuries could only have been caused by being struck by a baton and shoved to the ground, not by falling.

Stolpe said he and Kilpatrick eventually ended up at the bottom of a ravine, where "the beating" stopped.

His eyes were blurry from the pepper spray and he was disoriented from having the wind knocked out of him, Stolpe said. Not knowing what to expect next, he testified, he decided to make a run up the hillside in the hope that other officers called in for backup would find him and he would be safe from Kilpatrick.

He said it was survival instinct that got him stumbling up the hillside and insisted anyone in his situation would have done the same.

"I went up this mountainside to get away from this maniac," Stolpe said, his voice booming.

He said it felt like an eternity before he heard the helicopter and saw some other men in uniforms with guns, which he assumed to be police officers.

"I'm coming out now because there's going to be more witnesses to the arrest and I'm not going (to get another) beating," Stolpe said.

Defense Attorney Robert Schwartz called several witnesses over the past two days to testify on Stolpe's character as well as Kilpatrick's, seeking to establish the defendant as a respected police officer known for his integrity, while the park ranger is hot-tempered and has a history of false accusations.

Fellow officers testifying on Stolpe's behalf were questioned at length about use of force and apprehension tactics, but all stopped short of saying Kilpatrick erred that day.

Stolpe was the only one to directly criticize Kilpatrick's technique, for not identifying himself and for not using certain restraints.

During the prosecutor's cross-examination of one defense witnesses, Sohn asked a Long Beach police officer what he would do if that officer were faced with a suspect that was his height, but 50 to 70 pounds heavier, and the officer had no gun and no working radio because of the park's deep canyons - the same situation Kilpatrick faced on Aug. 6.

"It just depends on the situation," said Officer William Swain, who worked with Stolpe.

Swain testified Stolpe was extremely honest in his work and loved serving the public. He said he thought if Stolpe could have become a council member or mayor, he would have preferred that to police work.

The prosecutor will resume cross-examination today.
Stolpe Trial: Day #4
Defendant in exposure case asked why he didn't say he was a police officer.
By Tracy Manzer, Staff writer

HOLLYWOOD - A former Long Beach police officer charged with exposing himself in public with another man and resisting arrest in Griffith Park was grilled extensively by a prosecutor Thursday.

The one question Assistant City Attorney Yong Sohn kept returning to was why did retired Officer and defendant John Stolpe, 51, never tell a Los Angeles city park ranger that Stolpe was a police officer, and not the suspect, as he claimed in his defense.

"Did you tell him you were a cop at that point?" Sohn asked Stolpe in his cross-examination at the Hollywood Superior Courthouse.

"No," Stolpe shot back. "What good does that do?"

The prosecution, and the arresting park ranger, contend the retired LBPD corporal was caught, with his pants down, with another man and they were masturbating in a clearing on April 6, 2006.

Ranger Douglas Kilpatrick testified that he ordered the two men to stop and sit down, but that Stolpe ran past the ranger, pushing him aside. He said the Long Beach mayoral candidate, who was arrested about five days before Election Day, tried to flee down a steep and rocky path and lost his balance.

Kilpatrick told the court he used his baton once, hitting Stolpe in the arm, and pepper-sprayed him, but Kilpatrick said Stolpe continued to flee and hid in some brush. Stolpe was found after a search.

Stolpe has vigorously denied those allegations, saying he came across two men who were exposed and engaged in a sex act.

Stolpe said he told the men to stop and one man ran, but the other stayed. It was while he was chastising that man, he testified, that Kilpatrick came upon them and wrongly identified Stolpe as the other culprit.

Stolpe said he didn't lose his balance and didn't run, but was shoved and knocked down by an overzealous Kilpatrick. He said the ranger pushed him three times, knocking him down steep embankments face first. The ranger also struck Stolpe three times with his baton, stomped him with his boot while he was down and pepper-sprayed him twice, Stolpe testified.

The prosecutor repeatedly asked Stolpe if he heard the ranger giving him orders to stay where he was. Stolpe said no.

The former officer, who retired after his arrest, said he was so disoriented that he had no idea what was going on.

Authorities, including Kilpatrick, testified Stolpe never told them he was an officer or that he had caught the real perpetrators. One officer testified that Stolpe told him he was unemployed.

Stolpe admitted Wednesday he told the officer he was unemployed.

Stolpe also testified that he told the officers and rangers that he didn't have a car at the park.

When Sohn asked Stolpe why he lied about the car, he defendant bristled.

"I didn't lie about it, I just didn't want them to know about the car."

Sohn then questioned Stolpe why, if he feared for his life - as he had previously testified - would he care about the car.

"Your concern is your job was over, your concern is your life is over," Sohn insisted.

"No, no," Stolpe said.

Sohn then referred to the mayor's race and that Stolpe was also worried about his political career.

"My race for mayor was done way before I got arrested, pal," Stolpe snapped.

It was one of several heated exchanges between the attorney and defendant Thursday.

The combative tone was set almost immediately when Sohn began by asking Stolpe about his testimony from Wednesday, when he described seeing the two men.

"You saw the penises, or is it penii?" the prosecutor asked Stolpe, who glared at Sohn before Sohn finished with, "You said you saw their penises ..."

The prosecutor also asked Stolpe if had seen a lot of such behavior as a police officer.

"I've seen people having sex ... in public ... in the city of Long Beach and throughout Los Angeles County," he said, adding that it is not terribly uncommon.

Sohn wasn't the only one to dig into a witness Thursday.

Robert Schwartz, Stolpe's attorney, ripped into Kilpatrick after the prosecutor brought the ranger back as a rebuttal witness.

Sohn asked Kilpatrick to talk about two men called by the defense as character witnesses.

Both testified that they had come across Kilpatrick several times over the years at the park and said he falsely accused them of misdemeanor crimes such as drinking in public and riding a bicycle in an unauthorized zone.

Each of the men was cited several times by Kilpatrick and both were arrested on at least one occasion. They both painted him as quick to anger and said he used unneccesary force with them.

Kilpatrick testified that both men had become belligerent when he approached them, prompting him to use physical force, including handcuffs, and pulling one man off his bike.

At one point, Schwartz had Kilpatrick recall a moment with one of the men where the ranger said the man had dumped a cup that left a puddle on the ground. The ranger testified that he remembered the liquid was a purple color and thought it was either wine or a mixed drink.

On the citation, Kilpatrick wrote the cup had contained beer.

"Does beer look purple to you?" Schwartz demanded.

"No," Kilpatrick said, adding that he had written the ticket three years ago and "obviously, I was wrong."

Sohn also asked to play a tape recording of part of Stolpe's arrest taken by Kilpatrick.

The prosecutor wanted to play the tape so the jury could hear Stolpe saying the only thing that hurt after the ordeal were his knees.

Both sides will return today for closing arguments.

Ranger Gord's Condensed Version of Stolpe's Story
While Stolpe was out on a hike he saw two men masturbating. Stolpe told the men that they shouldn't be masturbating in public and one man zipped up and left. The other man zipped up listened to Stolpe lecture him on proper behavior when out in public. Suddenly, some guy wearing a uniform with a badge and carrying a radio, baton, and pepper spray jumped out of the dense brush and said "lewd conduct, head toward the street." After noticing that he was not wearing a gun, Stolpe decided that this man was not a police officer. Stolpe figured that it would be pointless to tell this uniform man that he is a police officer who had just stopped some men from masterbating in public. Stolpe started walking down the trail towards the uniform man, but the trail was so steep Stolpe was unable to controll his speed and accidently ran past him. The crazed uniform man then pushed Stolpe to the ground and pepper sprayed him. Stolpe, scared for his life, tried to get up and run away, but the crazed uniform man pushed him down again, hit him with a police baton, and sprayed more pepper spray. Stolpe tried to get up again, but uniform man knocked him to the ground, hit him with the baton and then stomped on him. After all this, Stolpes somehow escaped from the uniform man by running up a hill and hiding in the brush. After a long time, Stolpe heard a helicopter and the sounds of people searching the park. Stolpes may have thought that the masterbater had called the police to report that a crazed uniform man was attacking hikers in the park. Stolpes noticed that some of the searchers were wearing guns. At this point, Stolpes may have realized that these people were police officers, just like they have back at Stolpes job in Long Beach. At some point Stolpes must have decided that the uniform man was some sort of police officer that was trying to arrest him for some unknown reason. Stolpes announced, "I'm coming out now because there's going to be more witnesses to the arrest and I'm not going (to get another) beating." Stolpes then came out and surrendered to the people dressed like police officers. Stolpes may not have been completely convinced that these were real police, because he decides he should not reveal that he is a police officer and that he has a car parked in the park. Perhaps he thought that if they found out he was a police officer that had a car, then they could steal his gun and badge and then they could give it to the uniform man so that he would look like a police officer.

It seems like perfectly logical story to me.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cruising through the park looking for a toe tapping good time

The recent onslaught of news coverage about Idaho Senator Larry Craig's arrest for soliciting sex in a public restroom by tapping his foot has exposed the secret world of cruising for sex in public places. Apparently most people were not aware that many gay men visit public restrooms and parking lots to hook-up with anonymous sex partners. In the gay community such behavior is commonly known as "cruising". Parks and restrooms where gay men can easily find other men looking for sex are called a "cruisy parks" and "cruisy toilets."

Park rangers that have the pleasure of working in a cruisy park are usually quite aware that such activity is occurring. I was lucky enough to work in a cruisy park for several years. During that time I had to clean up a variety of items left in restrooms by careless cruisers, including used condoms, sexual lubricant, pornographic magazines and even sex toys. I had male park visitors complain about being hit on by male cruisers. One time a female birdwatcher photographed a naked man pleasuring himself in the woods. She thought it would be funny to embarrass her fiends by showing them a photo of the nude hiker that she ran into. After looking at the picture on her computer monitor, however, the bird watcher realized that this man was enjoying himself much more than he was enjoying nature.

Cruising for Sex
How do you know if people are cruising in your park?
Apparently, the internet has become a prime resource for sexual information (who knew?). Currently the most popular cruising websites are and Warning: These sites are NSFW (Not Safe For Work) because they are full of gay porn (who knew?). Warning: If you are a fan of the TV show Will and Grace and you have never seen gay porn before, then do not go to these websites or you will never be able to enjoy the show again.

To find out if you work in a cruisy park, just search for the park name to see if it is a popular meeting place. requires that you fill out and verify your registration before you can read any detailed listings. Warning: It may be difficult to explain to your wife why you had to setup an account on a gay sex website.

Ranger Gord's Cruisy Toilet Cleaning Tips

Here are some tips if you are a park ranger who has the unfortunate task of cleaning up after some messy cruisers:

  • There is no such thing as wearing too many surgical gloves, but after about six pair, you start to lose your ability to grab things with one hand.

  • The Center for Disease Control recommends using a 10% bleach/90% water solution when sanitizing surfaces that have been exposed to body fluids. I recommend an 90% bleach/10 % acetone solution. Warning: Make sure you take a deep breath of fresh air before you spray because this solution has a tendency to dissolve lung tissue when it is inhaled.

If you are wondering why men act like this, then check out this documentary where they interview several cruisers and film them on cruising escapades. Warning: Although there is no nudity or sexually explicit scenes, does feature several gay men talking about sex.

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest

Documentary exploring the underground world of cruising

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Spiders cover park with massive web

Spiders at a Texas State Park near Dallas have created a huge 200 foot long communal spider web is responsible for the death of millions of local insects.

'Fairyland' Spider Web Blankets Texas Park (ABC News)

Entomologists are debating the origin and rarity of a sprawling spider web that blankets several trees, shrubs and the ground along a 200-yard stretch of trail in a North Texas park. Officials at Lake Tawakoni State Park say the massive mosquito trap is a big attraction for some visitors, while others won't go anywhere near it.

"At first, it was so white it looked like fairyland," said Donna Garde, superintendent of the park about 45 miles east of Dallas. "Now it's filled with so many mosquitoes that it's turned a little brown. There are times you can literally hear the screech of millions of mosquitoes caught in those webs."

Now I don't want to be an alarmist, but this has happened before. In 1977, I saw a movie called Kingdom of the Spiders where William Shatner is a small town veterinarian who battles an army of rogue tarantulas that work together to kill everything in their path. SPOILER ALERT - (If you haven't seen this screen gem, then stop reading now and add it you your Netflix queue!) - As the movie ends, Shatner and his friends have barricaded themselves in a rustic lodge in an effort to keep the evil spiders at bay. Meanwhile, the rest of the town is in ruins. Every man, woman and child has been killed and the entire town is encased in a huge spider web. It is only a matter of time until Shatner and the rest of the country become spider food.

If Shatner can't kill an army of rogue spiders, then what hope does the rest of humanity have?

I suspect that the governement has been aware of this threat for quite a while. The feds want you to have duct tape and plastic sheeting on hand to make an emergency shelter to protect yourself from the spiders, not a terrorist chemical attack.
Are you ready?

UPDATE: I have located a clip of Kingdom of the Spiders on YouTube. Here is the best scene...