WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama issued an Easter message Friday, saying Holy Week "is a time for renewed hope amidst continued challenges."
"This weekend, Michelle and I join our fellow Christians here at home and around the world in marking Good Friday and celebrating Easter," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House. "These Holy Days are a time to reflect on the momentous sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for each of us, and to celebrate the triumph of the resurrection and his gift of grace.
"It is a time for renewed hope amidst continued challenges. It's also a time to ponder the common values that unite us -- to have compassion for all and to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves.
"As we embrace our loved ones and give thanks for our blessings, we wish all who celebrate with us a blessed Easter."
Tucson man says will give free shotguns
TUCSON, March 29 (UPI) -- A Tucson man says he wants to give out free shotguns in the city's high-crime neighborhoods.
Shaun McClusky, who ran a failed campaign for City Council four years ago, says he has already raised $12,000 in pledges for his effort, the Tucson Weekly reported Tuesday.
Those who are picked to receive the free weapons "will receive a cleaning kit, they'll receive the shotgun, they'll receive slugs, they'll go through a background check and they'll also go through the training class," he told the newspaper.
McClusky says his free firearms effort is affiliated with the Armed Citizen Project started in Houston this year.
McClusky, who says it will cost about $350 to outfit and train each recipient, says he'll start with Tucson's Pueblo Gardens, Midvale Park and Grant-Campbell areas in the next 30-45 days.
Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik, who lives in the Campbell-Grant area, is not on board with the plan.
"For someone to say it makes sense to be giving away loaded shotguns in high-crime areas is absolute lunacy," Kozachik told the Tucson Weekly. "These people have lost their minds."
McClusky counters that such self-defense measure are necessary because of rising response times by police.
"They keep gutting police and fire. When they start fully funding police and fire, a program like this would not be needed," he said.
Pilot ejected from plane without parachute
EAST BRAINERD, Tenn., March 29 (UPI) -- Police in Tennessee searched Friday for a pilot trainee who was ejected from his experimental plane without a parachute while his instructor sat next to him.
Collegedale police and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office were searching the ground in the East Brainerd/Apison area for signs of the trainee, who was not wearing his seat belt when the canopy of his Zodiac 601 came off about 2,500 feet off the ground, Collegedale Municipal Airport employee Lowell Sterchi told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The instructor was able to land the plane but was badly shaken, the newspaper said.
The trainee had his and the instructor's cellphones, which were being pinged in an effort to locate the body. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified, Sterchi said.
U.S. Navy SEAL dies in parachute accident
MARANA, Ariz., March 29 (UPI) -- One Navy SEAL was killed and a second injured in a parachute training accident in Arizona, military officials said Friday.
A Naval Special Warfare Command spokesman told ABC News the two elite force members were participating in a routine free-fall training exercise at a military facility at Pinal Airpark when the accident occurred Thursday.
The men, members of an East Coast SEAL team, were evacuated to the University of Arizona Medical Center, where one died and the other was in stable condition, a Defense Department official told ABC.
The cause of the accident was being investigated.