AH: NRA officials fired as tensions grow Washington Three high-ranking National Rifle Association officials, including Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre's top aide, were fired this week amid growing tensions and financial pressures at the organization.

Donald Rakestraw, who ran the NRA's day-to-day operations, was let go Tuesday, along with his top aide, deputy executive director Denny McGuirk. J.O. McFalls, the NRA's chief of staff, was also dismissed.

The firings come after a year in which the NRA has struggled with its public image, fought to cut financial losses and labored to reverse a drop in membership.

In recent months, the group's membership has dropped to about 2.8 million, down more than 700,000 members since early last year.

Among the controversies that enveloped the NRA was a fund-raising letter that referred to federal agents as

"jack-booted government thugs." That prompted former President George Bush to resign from the group.

Oklahoma bomb hero

apparently kills self El Reno, Okla. A police officer who rescued Oklahoma City bombing victims and was to be honored for bravery Saturday was found dead, apparently from self-inflicted wounds.

Oklahoma City Sgt. Terrance Yeakey, 30, apparently tried to cut his wrists and ultimately shot himself in a field in El Reno, about 40 miles west of Oklahoma City, police Capt. Bill Citty said.

Police dogs and helicopters led deputies to Yeakey's body Wednesday night, about a half-mile from the spot where a sheriff's deputy found his abandoned car with blood around it.

Yeakey had been having some personal problems involving a past marriage, but Citty said the bombing also weighed heavily on him.

Yeakey would have been one of 89 officers receiving the medal of valor during a police banquet Saturday night. The award will be given posthumously.

Victim of videotaped

beating sues county Los Angeles One of two illegal immigrants whose clubbing by sheriff's deputies was captured on videotape has filed suit in federal and state courts, claiming the deputies used excessive force and violated his civil rights.

Enrique Funes Flores appeared at a news conference Thursday with his right arm in a cast and his right leg wrapped in a brace. He called the April 1 beating "a terrible ordeal."

"I trust and pray that justice will be done for all persons involved in this case," Funes said in Spanish.

The beatings took place after a pickup truck crammed with illegal immigrants led authorities on an 80-mile freeway chase. Most of the other passengers scattered after deputies finally forced the truck to stop.

The lawsuit names Riverside County as a defendant, as well as deputies Tracy Watson and Kurt Franklin, who have been on paid leave pending an administrative investigation.<