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State news briefs
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SALES OF KINKADE ARTWORK SURGE AFTER PAINTER DIES: PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Galleries that sell the work of Thomas Kinkade are reporting a surge in sales following the popular painter's death at age 54.

Outlets across the country say they're calling in extra help to handle unprecedented demand from customers placing orders in person, on the phone and online.

At Kinkade's original gallery in his hometown of Placerville, Calif., co-owner Nathan Ross says one Kinkade original sold over the weekend for $150,000.

John Vassallo, who owns five Kinkade galleries in New York and New Jersey, says sales on Saturday reached half his typical sales for the entire month of December.

Kinkade died Friday at his home in Los Gatos of what his family said was apparent natural causes. An autopsy was performed Monday, but results are being withheld pending further testing.

VICTIMS OF FATAL CA PLANE CRASH IDENTIFIED: SALINAS  (AP) — Federal regulators on Monday released the names of two men killed when a plane crashed into a field near the Salinas, Calif., airport.

Several witnesses said they were awakened by the sound of an airplane flying over their homes early Sunday, and one reported seeing the aircraft perform a pair of rolls before it hit the ground and broke apart, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said.

The Monterey County coroner identified the victims as 32-year-old pilot George Alfred Mellone III, of Yuma, Ariz. and 24-year-old co-pilot David Gary Ostendorf, of Salinas. Both died from blunt force trauma, Sheriff's Department Sgt. Ken Anderson said.

The single-engine Extra Flugzeugbau EA-300 in which they were flying was a two-seater, built in 1993 and designed for aerobatic competitions, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. It wasn't clear if the men were performing stunts when the crashed occurred.

HANDGUN ACCIDENTALLY FIRES, 2 TEENS WOUNDED: SANTA MARIA  (AP) — A California man showing two teenagers a handgun in his home is in jail after the weapon accidentally fired, seriously wounding the boys.

Santa Maria police say the bullet struck one teenager in the face before hitting the second teen and lodging in his neck. They are hospitalized in serious condition.

The Santa Maria Times says 35-year-old Mansa Evans was home with the boys and was showing them a handgun when it inadvertently discharged early Sunday.

Mansa has been arrested and booked for investigation of felony child endangerment. He was later released from the Santa Barbara County Jail.

CLERK ATTACKED FOR REFUSING TO SELL BOTTLE OF BEER: COSTA MESA (AP) — A Southern California convenience store clerk who refused to sell a bottle of beer has been attacked by an enraged customer.

Costa Mesa police say the California Stop clerk told 46-year-old Teresa Aguayo on Sunday afternoon that the store doesn't sell individual 12-ounce bottles of beer.

The Orange County Register (says Aguayo then began hitting the clerk on the head with the bottle and tried to strangle her with a blanket behind the counter.

Investigators say Aguayo grabbed nearby rubbing alcohol, acetone and bug spray during the attack and rubbed them in the clerk's face.

Aguayo was booked for investigation of attempted murder. She remained in jail on Monday with bail set at $500,000.

The clerk was taken to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian for observation.

SAN DIEGO SCHOOLS MAY TAP $1.3 MILLION IN RESERVES: SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego schools may have to pull $1.3 million from reserves to cover an ongoing program that provides services to low-income families.

U-T San Diego says it's the third time in the past four years that money may be pulled from reserve funding to sustain the early childhood education program.

More than 5,000 students are served by the program, which provides preschool and other services for the poor and teen students with child care needs.

Sid Salazar, who oversees the program enrolled 700 more students than anticipated.

The district had planned to use the reserve funds to help cover next year's budget deficit. Salazar says the district will try to obtain extra state money for the program to avoid using reserves.