Fundraiser Held For Troubled Astronaut

Lisa Nowak, Orange County Sheriff's Department booking photo, left and Space Shuttle STS-121 Mission Specialist photo.
AP Photo
About 70 diners attended a fundraiser at an Italian restaurant Sunday night for a NASA astronaut charged with attempted murder.

Silvestro's restaurant, which was bombarded with criticism after word spread that they were holding the fundraiser, plans to donate the dinner proceeds to Lisa Nowak's family.

Restaurant co-owner Tony Bless told Melbourne's Florida Today newspaper that he thought it was the right thing to do for Nowak, who made a positive impression on his staff when she dined there last summer.

"We stand by our friends in time of need, and it's a time of need," he said. Bless said he's also gotten supportive calls and e-mails from as far away as Italy.

Nowak was arrested Feb. 5 on charges of attempted murder, attempted kidnapping and three other crimes stemming from what police described as a love triangle involving fellow astronaut William Oefelein.

Police said Nowak's target was Colleen Shipman, an Air Force captain from Florida. Police said Nowak believed Shipman was her rival for Oefelein's affections.

Police charged Nowak with attempting to murder Shipman based on weapons and other items found with Nowak or in her car: pepper spray, a BB-gun, a new steel mallet, knife and rubber tubing. Nowak's lawyer, Donald Lykkebak, has said she only wanted to talk to Shipman.

Nowak has a teenage son and 5-year-old twin girls with her husband, Richard, who works for a NASA contractor. The couple separated a few weeks ago after 19 years of marriage.

Nowak was released from jail on $25,500 bail last week and returned to Houston and was ordered to wear a monitoring device.