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Jan. 8, 2013 at 6:30 AM
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Chicago church gives $12K to members

CHICAGO, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A Chicago church distributed $12,000 to congregation members with instructions to use the funds to help their community.

The Rev. Jackson Crum ended his sermon about the city's struggles with crime and other problems Sunday at the Park Community Church by passing out envelopes containing amounts of cash between $2 and $102, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

Crum instructed church members to put the cash toward improving their community.

"Isn't that why we're here as a church?" Crum said. "Aren't we here to be engaged with our city?"

Crum said the cash came from Park's general fund, despite the church owing more than $5.7 million on its mortgage.

"Typically, a church says, 'Help us, tithe,'" Crum said. "How often does a church pass it back out and say, 'You do it. You invest.'"

Shoplifter threatened people with knife

ORANGE CITY, Fla., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Florida authorities said a man caught trying to return items he had not yet purchased at a Walmart brandished a knife and threatened a "bloodbath."

Orange City police said Wayne Clark, 48, a transient, picked up a $7.78 bag of cat food and a $4.48 24-pack of soda from the store around 3:50 p.m. Thursday and waited in a checkout line for a few minutes before going to the customer service desk and attempting to return the items for cash without first buying them, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported Monday.

Clark successfully obtained the cash, but he was stopped by a loss prevention officer and a customer before he could leave the store.

Police said Clark brandished a "10-inch silver blade with wood and gold handle ... and stated to them, 'Don't turn this into a bloodbath.'"

Officers arrived and took Clark into custody. The $13.59 was recovered.

Clark said during his arrest he wanted to return to the Walmart to find the people who detained him and "make them feel how cold steel feels like in the neck," the arrest report stated.

Clark was arrested on charges of petit theft, resisting a transit agent while committing a theft and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail in lieu of $4,000 bail.

Gator spotted crossing Florida street

MIRAMAR, Fla., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Residents of a southern Florida city said they were on the lookout for a 7-foot alligator seen crossing a city street during the weekend.

Miramar resident Floyd Chong, 55, said he nearly ran over the gator while driving in the Nautica gated community about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Monday.

"I thought it was a palm frond across the street actually but when I shone my headlights on it, it was a nice-sized alligator," he said. "When he saw my lights, he stopped and froze for a while and then he went on the sidewalk."

A crowd of about 30 residents gathered in the area to take pictures of the unusual sight, spooking the animal into a nearby lake.

Miramar police said animal trappers were searching for the alligator.

Police: Couple had 200+ animals in home

OLDSMAR, Fla., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Authorities in Florida said they arrested a couple on child abuse and animal cruelty charges after finding more than 200 animals in their home.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said deputies were sent to the Oldsmar home of Jeffery O'Neil, 28, and Jennifer Kovacs, 26, at 6 a.m. Sunday to investigate a report of a missing 16-month-old girl who was in the couple's care.

Deputies arrived to find the couple appearing to be under the influence of alcohol and investigators discovered a note from a relative saying they had taken the child to their home because they were unable to wake O'Neil and the girl was crying.

However, deputies also discovered the couple were keeping more than 200 animals in their home, including seven Burmese pythons, 20 unidentified snakes, seven monitor lizards, about 100 bearded dragons, two deceased scorpion spiders, about 100 rats and mice, and undisclosed numbers of finch-birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, squirrels, hamsters, gerbils and hedgehogs.

The girl was found in good condition and is being cared for, the sheriff's office said.

O'Neil and Kovacs were arrested on charges of child abuse and animal cruelty.

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