Police: Va. Tech building chained days before killings

ROANOKE, Va. - Two days before the Virginia Tech massacre, witnesses saw a

suspicious man in a hooded sweatshirt and found exit doors chained shut in the building where Seung Hui Cho killed 30 people, police said Friday.

Cho chained most of the exits of Norris Hall before firing 174 rounds of ammunition in just more than nine minutes there, but investigators said they had no indication he was the person who had chained the exits the first time.

'It would be speculation to suggest that he was practicing locking the doors,' State Police Superintendent Col. Steve Flaherty said in the first update on the investigation in months.

Police did not learn of the April 14 incident until after Cho killed 25 fellow students and five faculty members in four Norris Hall classrooms April 16, State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. Police would not say who reported seeing the man, or who found the door chained.

Mine rescuers look for signs of life but come up empty

HUNTINGTON, Utah - The effort to find six coal miners caught in a cave-in took a heartbreaking turn Friday when a narrow hole drilled more than 1,800 feet down into the earth yielded no sounds of life and barely any oxygen.

Rescuers refused to give up, clinging to the possibility that the drill they used to try to penetrate the cavity where the men were believed trapped in Monday's collapse may have missed its mark and punched into a neighboring chamber.

3 workers killed after plunging down air shaft

PRINCETON, Ind. - A group of people being carried in a construction bucket plunged 500 feet down an air shaft at a coal mine Friday, killing three men, authorities said.

All other people at the site have been accounted for, said George Zugel, director of safety and health for Frontier-Kemper Constructors Inc., which is building the 550-foot vertical ventilation shaft at the Gibson County Coal mine in southern Indiana.

The 'sinking bucket' can hold six to 10 people and is about 6 feet high, worker John Ervin said. Authorities did not say whether anyone other than the three victims was in the bucket, and it wasn't clear whether they fell out of the bucket or the bucket itself fell.

Man pleads not guilty in slaying of three students

NEWARK, N.J. - A suspect in the murder of three college students pleaded not guilty Friday as prosecutors tried to explain why the illegal immigrant from Peru was granted bail earlier this year on assault and child rape charges.

A second suspect, a 15-year-old boy, pleaded not guilty to the same charges Thursday and remains in custody, Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Thomas McTigue said. Authorities are seeking to have the boy tried as an adult.

Several media outlets reported Friday afternoon that a third suspect, a juvenile, was taken into custody. The Associated Press could not immediately confirm those reports with police, prosecutors or city officials.

Hotel arsonist to get life in prison for six deaths

GREENVILLE, S.C. - An arsonist convicted of setting a hotel fire that killed six people escaped the death penalty Friday when a jury couldn't agree on his punishment. The judge said he would sentence the man to life in prison without parole.

Eric Preston Hans, 37, was convicted last week of one federal count of arson resulting in death.

Waters off S.C. beach reopen after possible shark bites

CHARLESTON, S.C. - A man and a 9-year-old boy bitten hours apart while swimming along a South Carolina beach likely suffered shark bites, a marine biologist said Friday.

The waters along a 7-mile stretch of the Isle of Palms, which had been closed following the Thursday incidents, were reopened to swimmers on Friday.

'It sounds from the extent of the bites they likely were shark bites,' said Bryan Frazier, a marine biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources who said he would need to see photos to say for sure.

TSA: Man skirts security at airport

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Authorities have stopped searching for a man who bypassed security screening Friday at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and officials said he may have simply walked out of the airport.

The man slipped past screeners shortly before 8 a.m., a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said. Officials searched about 15 planes on the ground and shut down a concourse without finding him, spokesman Jon Allen said.