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NATION IN BRIEF: 3 kids among four dead in Chicago shooting

The Associated Press. Shakeitha Myers, second from left, Pamela Jackson and Delores Ousley, right, cry early Wednesday outside the crime scene at a Marquette neighborhood residence on the southwest side of Chicago. A gunman entered a home early Wednesday, fatally shooting four people, three of them children, and wounding two others, city police said.

The Associated Press. Shakeitha Myers, second from left, Pamela Jackson and Delores Ousley, right, cry early Wednesday outside the crime scene at a Marquette neighborhood residence on the southwest side of Chicago. A gunman entered a home early Wednesday, fatally shooting four people, three of them children, and wounding two others, city police said.

3 kids among four dead in Chicago shooting

CHICAGO -- A gunman opened fire on a house on Chicago's southwest side early Wednesday, killing a woman and three children -- including a 7-month-old boy -- and wounding two others, police said.

The gunman, who was later arrested several miles away, told police he went on the shooting spree after hearing voices that told him to kill members of his family, a person close to the investigation told The Associated Press.

Police believe the gunman is related to the victims, but have not said how. Chicago police spokeswoman Amina Greer said the shooting may have been the result of a domestic situation.

Judge gives life sentence to Iowa coach's killer

ALLISON, Iowa -- A judge sentenced a former high school football player to life in prison Wednesday, telling him he had chosen to commit an evil act in killing his former coach, Ed Thomas.

Mark D. Becker, 24, will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole for gunning down Thomas at the Aplington-Parkersburg High School weight room on June 24 in front of about 20 students.

A jury convicted Becker of first-degree murder in March, rejecting an insanity plea. The conviction carried a mandatory life sentence.

W.Va. gov. orders inspections for 200 coal mines

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Joe Manchin on Wednesday ordered the immediate inspection of all underground coal mines in West Virginia after an explosion last week killed 29 miners and injured two.

Manchin also asked for the state's more than 200 underground coal mines to cease production Friday to mourn the victims of the nation's worst coal mining disaster in 40 years.

The executive order tells state regulators to start checking mines that have repeatedly had combustion risks over the last year.

NYC, contractors appeal Sept. 11 settlement ruling

NEW YORK -- The city and contractors who handled the cleanup of the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11 attacks on Wednesday notified a court they are appealing a judge's decision to block a $575 million settlement of claims by thousands of people who fell ill.

Lawyers for the city and the contractors filed papers with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge several orders by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein that had the effect of blocking implementation of the deal.

Hellerstein demanded changes in the settlement, including adding millions of dollars more for the sick and reducing the cost of legal fees.

Navy sailor accused of sex assault of girl

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- A Navy sailor has been charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl on Independence Day after offering her and her friends alcohol, and two others face related charges for their roles in the encounter, authorities said Wednesday.

The girl told police she had sex with one of the men in a truck and sexual contact with the other two inside a house, according to arrest warrants. She said the attack occurred in Groton, where the Navy has a submarine base.

The sailors, assigned to the USS Philadelphia, turned themselves in Monday, police said. Gabriel Dominguez, 21, was charged with first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor, while Benjamin Boyter, 22, and Keith Douglass, 23, were charged with risk of injury to a minor, police said.

Batteries blamed for blast at San Diego FedEx

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego authorities say a package explosion at a FedEx warehouse appears to have been sparked by batteries and was not intentional.

City fire spokesman Maurice Luque says two lithium batteries in a box made contact and exploded shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday at the building in the Miramar neighborhood.

However, FedEx Corp. spokesman Rob Boulware says the batteries were nickel-cadmium.

Police Lt. Dan Christman say employees who were sorting packages were about 6 feet away from the cardboard box when it exploded. They reported a flash and a smell like gunpowder, but nobody was hurt.