Nation roundup for August 12
Father kills son, himself at YWCA
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man used a handgun to shoot his 9-year-old son to death before taking his own life during supervised visitation at a YWCA office in the state’s largest city, officials said Sunday.
An adult supervisor was present when Muni Savyon, 54, of Manchester, produced a handgun and shot 9-year-old Joshua Savyon of Amherst before shooting himself, the attorney general’s office said.
Reports of gunfire shortly after 10 a.m. brought a heavy response from police officers who set up a perimeter.
The father, who was depressed after returning from his brother’s funeral in Israel, sent an email to a friend suggesting he was suicidal before the shootings, said Rabbi Levi Krinsky of Chabad Lubavitch in Manchester. Krinsky said he’d seen the man last week and had no concerns about his well-being.
“What would provoke him to take his life and his son’s life? I don’t think anyone can figure that out,” Krinsky said. “My heart goes out to the family.”
On Sundays, the YWCA is open for supervised child visitation and custody exchanges. Krinsky said the man and the boy’s mother shared custody of the boy after parting ways years ago.
The couple’s marital status wasn’t clear; Krinsky said the couple were divorced, but law enforcement officials said the two were separated.
Law enforcement officials said the relationship had been contentious at times and Muni Savyon had previously threatened to kill himself, his son’s mother and their son.
2 found killed, toddler missing
JOHNSTON, R.I. (AP) — Two men were arrested in a double homicide and the abduction of a 2-year-old boy from a Rhode Island home, while police continued Sunday to search “any place and every place” for the child, local police said.
The search for the boy, Isaiah Perez, began after two bodies were discovered about 5:20 a.m. Sunday at a home in Johnston, a town of 30,000 residents less than 10 miles from Providence.
Johnston Deputy Police Chief Daniel Parrillo said investigators believe the two were killed between 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. and the boy was taken from the home. The names of the two dead were not immediately released.
By the afternoon, Malcolm Crowell, 22, was arrested in Fall River, Mass., and Daniel Rodriguez, 27 or 28, was arrested that evening in Providence, Parrillo said. Both suspects are from Providence, but Parillo would not say why police suspect the two or how they are related to each other or to the victims.
Investigators were working to determine the relationships among the boy, his abductor and the two homicide victims.
Progress against S. Calif. wildfire
BANNING, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters continued to make progress overnight battling Southern California’s latest destructive wildfire, which burned 26 homes and threatened more than 500 others in the San Jacinto Mountains.
Riverside County fire’s Jeff La Russo said full containment of the more than 30-square-mile blaze is expected today.
The Silver Fire charred roughly 19,400 acres and is 75 percent contained. The fire stopped advancing Saturday as firefighters focused on extinguishing hot spots.
The blaze injured 10 firefighters and seriously burned a mountain biker who was overrun by the fast-moving flames when the fire erupted Wednesday.
At its peak, the fire forced the evacuation of 1,800 people, including 800 campers. Evacuation orders for several communities remain in effect; some campgrounds and trails are also closed.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency for the area Friday, freeing up additional funds.
Priceline stock flirts with history
NEW YORK (AP) — Priceline.com came close Friday to becoming the first stock in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to cross $1,000.
Investors jumped onboard after the travel booking company reported better than expected second-quarter earnings. The stock rose to almost $995 before leveling off. The stock closed at $969.89.
The company’s stock hasn’t been this high since it had an adjusted closing price of $974.27 on April 30, 1999, a month after going public in the heady days of the dotcom boom. The stock dropped below $10 just two years later.
Online travel sites like Priceline, Expedia and Orbitz have their roots in booking airline tickets, but have branched out because of a decline in commissions the airlines pay them.
Priceline has been the most aggressive and successful in diversifying through several company-owned sites including Booking.com, Agoda, and Rentalcars.com.
Priceline got its start asking travelers to “Name Your Own Price” and bid on flights, hotel rooms and car rentals. Bidders didn’t know in advance what hotel or flight they would be on, and the booking was non-refundable, but the savviest could save substantially as travel providers tried to fill unused rooms, cars or seats on planes. The company hired William Shatner as its pitchman, calling him “the negotiator.” Priceline still offers its bidding service but has mostly shifted to more traditional bookings and travel packages.
The key to its success in the last quarter was overseas hotel markets. Domestic bookings grew at a respectable 12 percent in the second quarter, but international growth was red-hot, up 44 percent from last year.
The number of hotels that list their properties on the booking sites is growing. Booking.com now has 330,000 hotel properties, up from 295,000 reported last quarter, many of them added in Europe and Asia. The Norwalk, Conn. company is paid a commission for each room sold.
The number of rental car days booked from rentalcars.com and Priceline.com also grew at an impressive 46 percent.
The company also spent heavily on advertising, increasing its online budget by 47 percent.
Profit in the April-to-June quarter rose 24 percent to $437.3 million, or $8.39 per share, compared with the same quarter a year ago. Excluding one-time items such as acquisition costs and expenses related to paying employees with stock, earnings came to $9.70 per share.
Revenue rose 27 percent, to $1.68 billion, from $1.33 billion.
Analysts, on average, were expecting profit of $9.38 per share on revenue of $1.65 billion, according to FactSet.
In May, Priceline completed the purchase of search and booking site Kayak for in a $1.8 billion in cash and stock. Analysts predict that deal will eventually help drive more travelers to its other sites to make bookings.
“We believe that Priceline’s market share gains will continue given its best-in-class hotel inventory, while the likely deployment of Kayak in more international geographies should open further avenues for growth over the next 12-18 months,” Cantor Fitzgerald analysts Naved Khan, Youssef Squali and Kip Paulson wrote in a note to investors late Thursday.
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