Wacky weather, animal antics and outrageous human behavior made headlines in 2015, with America’s quirky tales ranging from a Florida man arrested for landing a small helicopter on the U.S. Capitol grounds to a dog named Trigger who shot his owner in Indiana.
While there were many tragic instances of gun violence in 2015 in the United States, with the highest gun ownership rate in the world, firearms also played a leading role in the year’s oddest stories. A Colorado man was cited in April for muscling his uncooperative computer into an alley and “killing” it with a handgun. In Texas, meanwhile, a man shot an armadillo and was wounded in the face by a bullet ricochet.
Another man’s alcohol-fueled birthday celebration at a bar in Oklahoma was so much fun that the birthday boy made it home before noticing that he had been shot twice. In neighboring Arkansas, a hungry dog known to enjoy illicit snacks including a television remote, a lawn-mower gas filter and bras, feasted on 23 rounds of ammunition in May.
The hound named Trigger was simply stretching his legs during an October waterfowl hunt when he stepped on his owner’s 12-gauge shotgun and shot her in the foot.
In a more calculating move, a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier piloted his one-man “gyro copter” onto U.S. Capitol grounds in April in an effort to draw attention to campaign finance reform – and instead drew police with handcuffs and the bomb squad.
Further cracks in the federal armor were exposed in October when a high-tech U.S. military blimp designed to detect missile attacks became untethered, floating across state lines, knocking out power to thousands and wreaking havoc over Pennsylvania.
The weather was responsible for chaos in Boston, where 9 feet (2.8 meters) of snow fell last winter in a series of record-breaking storms, causing roof collapses and extensive school closures and paralyzing mass transit. An ugly reminder of the mayhem lingered until July 14, when the last of a filthy mountain made from cleared snow finally melted.
But balmy weather in recent weeks in Buffalo meant the typically blizzardy western New York city broke a 116-year record for no measurable snow this far into the season. By this time last year, Buffalo was buried under nearly 7 feet (2.1 m) of powder from a single storm.
On the political front, voters and local officials held their own in terms of weirdness. In Arizona, a woman was sentenced in May to 3-1/2 years for running over her husband with the family car because he failed to vote in 2012. She was upset that in his absence, the rest of the country re-elected President Barack Obama.
Leadership of the tiny town of Dorset, Minnesota, meanwhile, was handed to a 3-year-old boy from the current mayor, his 6-year-old brother. The experienced office holder’s advice to his successor?
“Be nice when you talk to people and don’t say any poopy talk.”
SUCH A DEAL
Enterprising Americans who found a way to make a buck in 2015 included a Massachusetts man who offered people wanting to see New England’s colorful fall foliage the chance to stay at home on the couch and instead receive a shipped bundle of leaves for a mere $19.99.
The sale of a 100-acre (40-hectare) wooded compound in New Hampshire was finalized in October, despite concerns the property might be booby-trapped. Its previous owners, a couple who rejected the federal government’s authority to tax citizens, had waged a nine-month standoff before federal agents posing as pizza deliverymen got through to make an arrest.
Meanwhile, toymaker Hasbro Inc’s sale of a plastic toy hamster prompted a lawsuit filed in New Jersey in September by Fox News Channel anchor Harris Faulkner, who said the rodent shares her name and her likeness in its complexion, eye shape and eye makeup. The resemblance damaged her credibility as a journalist, she said, and has caused her to suffer “substantial commercial and emotional damages.”
(Reporting from Reuters correspondents around the U.S.; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Scott Malone and Frances Kerry)