<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Local News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usTue, 06 Dec 2016 17:11:58 -0500Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:11:58 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[WATCH: Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 17:11:10 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-107380808.jpg

The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be illuminated Tuesday night after a 2,000-mile journey from Idaho to Washington, D.C.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will light the tree during a ceremony on the West Front Lawn that began at 5 p.m.

The tree, an Engelmann Spruce about the size of two Metrobuses stacked on top of each other, was harvested from the Payette National Forest near McCall, Idaho. 

"The Capitol Christmas Tree brings with it a spirit of community, and the start of the season of generosity and cheer," Ryan said in a November press release.

Isabella Gerard, a fifth-grader from Boise, was randomly selected to help Ryan light the tree.

The 80-foot tree is sponsored by the Idaho Congressional Delegation led by U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo.

"Along with Isabella, who will help light the tree, and handmade ornaments from communities across the state, the people of Idaho will collectively help usher in a holiday season of goodwill in our nation's capital," Crapo said in the release.

The annual lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree has been a tradition for more than 50 years. The tree will be lit each night until Christmas from dusk until 11 p.m.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Carjacks Woman After Silver Spring Gas Station Robbery]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 16:44:20 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/shell+gas+station+robber.jpg

Montgomery County police said they are looking for a man who carjacked a woman after robbing a gas station in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Police said the man robbed the Silver Spring Shell gas station, located in the 9500 block of Georgia Avenue, on Nov. 25, after he showed a handgun to the clerk and demanded cash and cigarettes. The clerk gave him the money and cigarettes, and the man ran out of the store toward the gas pumps.

They said when he got to the pumps, he ran toward a woman who was fueling up her car and demanded the keys. Investigators said the gunman allowed the woman to get out of her car and remove her packages before taking her vehicle, a 2008 black Scion.

Detectives believe the man previously robbed a nearby BP gas station three times before hitting the Shell station. Anyone with information about these armed robberies or carjacking or the gunman is asked to call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070.



Photo Credit: Montgomery County Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Two Md. Troopers Struck by Suspected DUI Driver Monday Night]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:38:11 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cms721.jpg

A suspected impaired driver struck two Maryland State Police troopers protecting a crash scene in a patrol car Monday night in Charles County, bringing the number of troopers hit while on traffic stops this year to 37, according to state police.

Troopers Thomas Davis and Matthew Milch were parked behind the crash scene on northbound Route 301 shortly before 7 p.m. when 75-year-old Ruth A. Runyan crashed into an unoccupied patrol car, spinning it into the patrol car in which the troopers were sitting. Neither trooper was injured.

Prior to the accident, both patrol cars had emergency lights on, and traffic was being directed to the left of the crash scene.

Runyan was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, driving while impaired, negligent driving, failure to change lanes for an emergency vehicle and failure to obey designated lane directions. Runyan refused medical treatment at the scene.

Charles County Sheriff's deputies also arrested the driver of a tow truck called to the scene to transport Runyan’s after they detected signs the driver was impaired.

This year alone 37 state troopers have been struck while on the side of Maryland roads at traffic stops, crash scenes or construction zones, with another 20 unoccupied patrol cars hit.

Maryland’s move over law, which requires drivers to move lanes or slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle from the rear, is designed to prevent these types of incidents. Violating the law can result in fines and points.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Tysons Mall Theft Suspects Arrested After I-395 Car Chase]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:43:43 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/Hit+and+Run21.jpg

Three people suspected in a theft at the Tysons Corner Center mall were arrested on I-395 in Virginia Tuesday morning after the driver fled from police, officials say.

The Fairfax County Police Department's Tysons Urban Team was investigating a larceny case at a department store in the mall about 11:40 a.m. when the suspects took off in a car, police said. 

Nearby officers located the car and tried to use a traffic stop to halt the suspects, but the driver kept going, police said.

The pursuit continued into Arlington County, where Arlington County, Fairfax County and Virginia State police were finally able to stop the driver. 

An image distributed by police shows a gray sedan stopped on the highway and surrounded by three police cars. The image shows one person with their hands in the air and another person appearing to be approached by officers.

Three people were taken into police custody.

The investigation is ongoing. 



Photo Credit: Fairfax County Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Weather Alert: Cold Rain Will Make for Nasty PM Commute]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 13:54:19 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2016-12-06_0915.png

We hope you grabbed your warmest raincoat Tuesday morning -- cold rain is falling across the D.C. area, and the nasty weather will stick around for the evening commute.

The rain is expected to be heavy at times. Because of the storm's potential for high impact, Storm Team4 declared Tuesday a Weather Alert Day.

Cold rain, mixed with a little sleet, moved into areas in and around D.C. at about 8 a.m. Tuesday. The freezing rain and sleet was mostly mixed with rain and didn't cause any major issues for commuters, Storm Team4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts said.

Periods of rain should make for slow going on the roads Tuesday night. The wet weather should continue until well after rush hour, only wrapping up by about 9 p.m. However, in parts of southern Maryland, showers could continue into the night.

Temperatures will be in the low to mid 40s for most of the day, reaching a high of 44 in the afternoon.

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<![CDATA['Stand With Comet': Outpouring of Support After DC Attack]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 13:48:18 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/120616+comet+ping+pong+support.jpg

Days after a gunman opened fire inside a D.C. pizzeria because he reportedly believed a fake news story, scores of people say they will support the small business.

More than 1,500 people said on Facebook as of Tuesday afternoon that they would patronize Comet Ping Pong on Friday.

"Let's defeat ignorance and terrorism one slice at a time!" one Facebook user said.

Online attacks against the restaurant sparked a real-life shooting on Sunday afternoon, when a 28-year-old North Carolina man walked in with an AR-15 rifle and a handgun, police said.

Witnesses told investigators the man fired three shots with the rifle and pointed it an employee. No one was hurt.

D.C. police arrested Edgar Maddison Welch after a 45-minute standoff.

He was charged with assault and weapons charges, and reportedly told police he had come to the restaurant to "self-investigate" the "pizzagate" conspiracy theory.

The false conspiracy theory holds that Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff run a child sex ring from the back rooms of the restaurant.

D.C. police previously said they were aware of threats made against the pizzeria. Owner James Alefantis previously said he had received hundreds of death threats, including one message that said "I will kill you personally."

The Facebook event #StandWithComet calls for pizza-lovers to patronize the family-friendly restaurant with ping pong tables anytime Friday, when it is expected to be open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, notes of support for Comet hung outside the restaurant. And Twitter users urged people to patronize the business.

Alefantis said Sunday, after the shooting, that the good wishes were important to him and his staff.

"We are heartened by the support and loyalty of our customers and our community," he said in a statement.



Photo Credit: Meagan Fitzgerald, News4
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<![CDATA[Man Tried to Kidnap Teen at Bus Stop, Police Say]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:43:58 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/245*120/police-car-lights-sirens.jpg

A man tried to kidnap a high school student in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Monday morning, according to Montgomery County Police.

The Watkins Mill High School student told detectives a man approached her from behind as she walked to her bus stop in the Cider Mill Apartment community at 7 a.m. Monday. The man told her to "shut up" and attempted to put a black bag over her head, police said.

The man ran away after the victim screamed, police said. The student reported the incident to administrators when she arrived at school, and school officials notified police.

Police increased patrols in the area where the incident took place.

The school's principal sent a letter home to students' families urging parents to discuss the incident with their children and talk about being alert, not using headphones and walking to school with a friend. 

Anyone with information about this incident can call the Special Victims Investigations Division at 240-773-5400 or Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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<![CDATA['A Christmas Carol' Brings Holiday Spirit to D.C.'s Ford's Theatre]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 13:19:26 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000016978960_1200x675_826027587736.jpg This production of the Dickens classic includes festive singing and dancing. You can come see the show through Dec. 31.]]> <![CDATA[Woman, 93, Critically Hurt After Car Hits Tree, Flips]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:51:54 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/car102.jpg

A 93-year-old woman was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries after her vehicle ran into a tree and overturned in Bethesda, authorities said.

According to a preliminary investigation, the woman was making a left turn from Whittier Court onto Whittier Boulevard about 9 a.m. Monday, when her car left the roadway and hit a tree in front of 8015 Whittier Blvd.

The car then rolled onto its side.

The crash remains under investigation.

The woman lives on the block where the crash occurred, Montgomery County Police said.

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<![CDATA[Bowser Meets With Trump in NYC]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 13:08:11 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000016978971_1200x675_826048067742.jpg D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will met with President-elect Donald Trump in New York City on Tuesday. News4's Mark Segraves reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Missing Woman Never Left Spotsylvania County, Police Say]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 12:08:24 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/120715+Katelin+Akens.jpg

Investigators believe a Virginia woman who disappeared from Spotsylvania County last year never left the county, despite initial reports that she was last seen 60 miles away. 

Katelin Michelle Akens was last seen Dec. 5, 2015, when her mother, Lisa Sullivan, dropped her off at Sullivan's ex-husband's house on Oak Crest Drive in Partlow, Virginia.

Sullivan's ex-husband told investigators he dropped Akens off at Springfield Town Center so she could take the Metro to Reagan National Airport. But her family said she never arrived at her destination.

Her luggage was found two days later in a drainage ditch on River Road, near the Fredericksburg city limit.

On Monday, authorities said there was no evidence Akens or her property ever left Spotsylvania County.

Investigators have been corresponding with Akens' stepfather and will continue to speak with him to "tighten up the timeline," Capt. Liz Scott with the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office said.

Akens' family doesn't believe she left on her own; at the time of her disappearance, she had recently enrolled in cosmetology school and was excited to start her career.

Investigators say Akens was also very close to her sister and communicated with her daily. 

Akens has blonde hair and blue eyes, weighs about 120 pounds and stands 5 feet 4 inches tall. 

Investigators are urging anyone with information about her whereabouts to call police at 1-800-928-5822 or 540-582-5822.

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<![CDATA[Police Arrest Suspect in Massage Parlor Attack]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:49:31 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Clarence+Olutayo+Olowu.jpg

Prince William County police arrested the man they believe attacked an employee inside a Virginia massage parlor. 

Clarence Olutayo Olowu, 32, entered ZY Massage on Dynasty Loop in Woodbridge at 10 a.m. Sunday and asked to use the restroom, police said. As he was leaving, police say he asked an employee for a hug, but she declined. 

A short time later, Olowu allegedly returned to the business, locked the door and assaulted the victim, police said. The victim was able to break free and ran from the business. 

Olowu is charged with abduction and assault and battery and is being held without bond. A court date is pending.

A tip from a citizen helped police identify the suspect.



Photo Credit: Prince William County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Fact or Fiction: Determining the Truth of Online News Stories]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 19:27:27 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000016970714_1200x675_825427523887.jpg Police say a North Carolina man who opened fire in a D.C. pizzeria went to the restaurant to investigate claims made on fake news sites. So how do you know if what you're reading is true? News4's Meagan Fitzgerald reports.]]> <![CDATA[Officials to Discuss Traffic Plan for MGM Casino]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 08:56:42 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000016975902_1200x675_825827395630.jpg We're just two days away from the opening of MGM National Harbor. But with all the excitement about the casino's opening, there are some big concerns about traffic. Officials expect the numbers of cars in the area to double from 90,000 to 180,000 a week. News4's Adam Tuss has more on Tuesday's meeting. ]]> <![CDATA[Tour MGM's Casino, Restaurants, Christmas Decor]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 17:59:48 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/IMG_4993edit.jpg Come take a sneak peek inside the MGM National Harbor before it opens Thursday night. More than 6,000 construction workers helped create the new casino, and around 4,000 jobs will be filled inside. Take a look at everything from the intricate interior design to the casino games and to the restaurants.

Photo Credit: Brittany Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Drowsy Driving Comparable to Drunk Driving: AAA Study]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 06:02:32 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Traffic+Generic2.jpg

How much sleep do you get? A new study from the AAA Foundation says it makes a big difference in your driving.

According to AAA, drivers who get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep in a 24-hour period are at higher risk for crash. Those who miss between one to two hours double their risk for an accident.

The study also found that someone who gets less than five hours of sleep has a crash risk comparable to someone who is driving drunk.

One in five fatal accidents in the US are the result of drowsy driving. Signs of drowsy driving include having trouble keeping eyes open, drifting from lanes, or not remembering the last few miles driven. But AAA says half of drivers involved in fatigue-related accidents don’t experience any of those symptoms before falling asleep behind the wheel.

The motor club says drivers should not wait for those signs and instead should plan for at least seven hours of sleep a night. For longer drives, AAA recommends the following:

 

  • Travel at times when normally awake
  • Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles
  • Avoid heavy foods
  • Travel with an alert passenger and take turns driving
  • Avoid medications that cause drowsiness or other impairmen


For more information on the study, visit the AAA Foundation website.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[$130,000 Reward Offered in Case of Slain DNC Staffer]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 05:58:51 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Seth+Rich+Blue+Background+Look+N.jpg

A Republican lobbyist is increasing the reward he is offering for information on the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.

Rich, 27, was shot multiple times in the 2100 block of Flagler Place July 10. No arrests have been made in the five months since his death.

Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman has added $5,000 to the $100,000 reward he originally offered, according to a press release. The Metropolitan Police Department is also offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in Rich's case. 

"I really just want to the Rich family to have closure and for those involved with this tragic event to be brought to light," Burkman said in a release. 

Last month, Rich's parents pleaded for any clues that may help police.

"You have two people who shot my son twice in the back," said Rich's mother, Mary Rich. "We're not going to stop until we find my son's murderer. We will find his murderer, but we need all of you."

Investigators have said they don't have any evidence suggesting the slaying is connected to the victim's work at the DNC. Attempted robbery has been cited as a possible motive.

Police have said there are no additional updates in Rich's case. 

WikiLeaks previously offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in Rich's death. 

Rich, a Nebraska native, was a rising star in the DNC, colleagues said.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call police at 202-727-9099 or send a text message to 50411. 

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<![CDATA[Md. Woman Imprisoned in Gambia Granted Bail, Husband Says]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 05:47:03 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Fanta+Darboe+Jawara.jpg

A Maryland woman who was imprisoned in Gambia for months her alleged involvement in an anti-government protest has been granted bail. 

Fanta Darboe Jawara, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was sentenced to three years in jail after her arrest on charges including unlawful assembly during a demonstration near the capital, Banjul. 

Jawara's family says she was a bystander at the demonstration. They have maintained her innocence. 

"They just haul anybody in sight. Threw them into trucks," Jawara's uncle, Momodou Darboe, said in July. 

Jawara is due back in court Thursday. Her husband, Ebrima Jawara, said all charges could be dropped at that time. 

Since her arrest, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and three other Maryland congressional members have demanded her release.

Both the State Department and Ebrima Jawara expressed concerns about her treatment in the prison where she's being held by the government of President Yahya Jammeh. Fanta's husband is a grandson of Jammeh's predecessor, Dawda Jawara, who was ousted in a 1994 military coup.

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<![CDATA[Preventing Warehouse Studio Fires in the DC Area]]> Tue, 06 Dec 2016 11:41:47 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/627450192-oakland-warehouse-fire-firefighters.jpg

A sheriff in California said he doesn't expect to find any more victims from the weekend's massive warehouse fire in Oakland. Thirty-six bodies have been pulled from the so-called "Ghost Ship."

Dozens of artists set up studios in the building, and a lot of the illegal living spaces were piled high with pallet staircases made of wood. Some former residents called it a disaster waiting to happen, but how can a similar tragedy be prevented from happening in the D.C. area?

Lawrence Ball is a Howard University graduate who owns a digital agency business inside 52 O Street Studios. It's a warehouse that has art studios and some residential units.

Lawrence said the property manager and landlord do a great job to keep the building safe. He said when he walks out of his office, there is a fire extinguisher and a fire alarm in the hallway.

“The D.C. area has very strict requirements,” Lawrence said. “One being licensed as a property manager, and two, being able to maintain a [certificate of occupancy] for a property you're going to be renting out.”

In Prince George’s County, fire department spokesman Mark Brady said the department works hard to prevent fires like the one in Oakland.

“We work very closely agency that issues permits,” Brady said. “What we do here in Prince George’s County, we work very closely with our agency that handles permitting investigations and enforcement, because there are fire life safety codes, and there are building codes.”

A criminal investigation was launched by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office on Sunday into possible criminal negligence.

District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said Monday her office has sent a team to search for evidence of a crime in the warehouse, but has not yet determined whether a crime even occurred. She said potential charges could range from involuntary manslaughter to murder.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Members of Metro's Largest Union Upset With Their Leadership]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:35:22 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20151008+Metro+Generic1.jpg

Some members of Metro’s largest union upset with the direction of union leadership want to vote out its president.

They accuse Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 President Jackie Jeter of putting her interests ahead of the union.

"Part of that has contributed to the way people are treated,” former Metrobus operator Sidney Davis said. “Treatment, tactical things that prohibits people from having a full embrace of their security, that impacts the workforce."

"They talk about Metro management, but the morale through membership has never been so low," train operator Michelangelo Metcalf said.

The group says it will vote in the coming days to remove Jeter, but they also claim Jeter has, in so many words, rigged elections to stay in office. A Department of Labor investigation looking into some of those claims is ongoing.

Jackie Jeter was not available for comment herself, but the union said there is no proof anything has been rigged, and they claim these current and former employees are simply disgruntled.

"Certain people have a right to choose the way they feel, but the election has come down, there's a legal process and we are still dealing with the legal process,” said Carroll Thomas of Local 689.

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<![CDATA[Beloved Restaurant Employee Fatally Struck in Alexandria]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 19:50:41 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Rose+Cruz+1200x675.jpg

A woman who was fatally struck by a car in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria is being remembered as a "sweet and caring person" by the many patrons she served at several local restaurants.

Rosemarie Cruz, 49, of Alexandria, was crossing Mt. Vernon Avenue at W. Glebe Road Thursday evening when a 77-year-old woman struck her with her vehicle.

Cruz was walking home from work and could see her house from the intersection. Security video shows her pushing the button to call for the walk signal, then beginning to cross before being struck by an SUV turning right.

She was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and died three days later. 

The driver of the striking vehicle, 77-year-old Karin Sheir of Montana, remained at the scene, police said. She has been charged with failure to yeild to pedestrians. 

"What you see is what you get," said her husband, Romy Sarangay, who described his wife as a perfect mother who worked hard and loved what she did. "She's natural; she's genuine."

Cruz was a beloved employee at three Alexandria restaurants, according to a GoFundMe page established to help her family. She started working for restauranteurs Larry and Christine Ponzi about 10 years ago and was a popular figure at Cafe Pizzaiola, St. Elmo's and Market 2 Market, where she was deli manager.

One customer at St. Elmo's Monday said, "Rose gave the best hugs in Virginia."

"Her number one thing is just her attitude," Larry Ponzi said. "She's just brought so much love to all of us and the customers."

"My wife and I are so sad to hear this horrible news," one contributor to the GoFundMe page wrote. "We love coming to Market-to-Market every weekend with our dog. One of the main reasons is the people there, including Rose, who was a sweet and caring person."

Donations have been pouring in for the family. More than $25,000 had been raised by Monday evening.

Del Ray business owners say this tragedy spotlights a need for more awareness about the many in the area who don't use cars.

"This area has changed a lot in last 10 years, and there's a lot more pedestrians and bikes, and it's not just a car community, and we need to get the word out to people they need to slow down and be aware of pedestrians," said Pork Barrel BBQ owner Bill Blackburn.

The intersection where where Cruz was struck is treacherous because of an angled corner where pedestrians have to turn backwards to make eye contact with drivers.

All proceeds from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 13 at three Del Ray restaurants -- Market 2 Market, St. Elmo's and Pork Barrel BBQ -- will go to Cruz's two youngest children.

Cruz has two other children in the Phillippines, a 26-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son.

Her younger daughters were born in the United States, and Cruz wanted them to be educated here, but it was her dream to eventually move back to her native country and open a bakery. She already owned land for a home there.

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<![CDATA[Virginia Store Clerk Killed During Robbery]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:01:50 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000016970585_1200x675_825408579837.jpg A Virginia man is in jail for the brutal murder of a store clerk during a robbery in Spotsylvania. Investigators say David Washington brutally attacked Saleh Abukhait at the Sunoco gas station on Jefferson Davis Highway. New4’s Pat Collins spoke with Abukhait’s wife.]]> <![CDATA[Thousands Ejected From Maryland Casinos Since 2010]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 23:45:35 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/110916blackjack.jpg

Maryland casinos have evicted 3,600 players since casinos began operation in the state in 2010, according to an investigation by the News4 I-Team.

Almost 200 of those gamblers were booted for cheating, but the state agency which oversees Maryland casinos does not publicly disclose the reasoning for the other evictions.

State gaming officials confirm some of the other evictions include people who try to “manipulate” or “exploit” games, including those who count cards at blackjack.

The list of booted gamblers is produced by casinos and a central copy is maintained by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, which oversees and regulates the state’s casinos.

The list is not released or shared with the public, despite calls to do so by professional gamers. Similar “banned players” lists are released in neighboring casino states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, the I-Team found.

Joseph Stiers, a professional poker player from Montgomery County, said Maryland’s handling of evicted casino patrons lacks accountability and transparency. Stiers said he was booted from Horseshoe Casino in 2014 for card counting at a blackjack table.

“Casinos are exploiting (loopholes) to pick and choose who can play in Maryland,” Stiers said.

The public release of banned players lists in neighboring states offers increased accountability for the officials who evicted the players, Stiers said.

Stiers challenged his eviction to state officials but said it was not overturned. Casinos share lists and names of booted players, he said. His eviction prevents him from playing at several other casinos nationwide, including at a large professional poker tournament, upon which he said he depends for earnings, he said.

Horseshoe Casino declined to comment on Stiers' case.

“Caesars Entertainment has hosted more than 10 million guests at Horseshoe Baltimore, and the overwhelming majority have a good time and game responsibly,“ a spokesman said.

Casinos are permitted to evict players, even those abiding by the letter of Maryland gaming laws, so long as the casinos do not engage in discrimination, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

“Casinos may identify potential threats or unsavory individuals and exclude them based on suspicious activity or intelligence gathered from other casinos, law enforcement agencies or other jurisdictions,"  the spokeswoman said. "One example would be behavior or collusion with other individuals or a group to manipulate or exploit a particular game.”

By keeping its list of evicted players confidential, Maryland prevents the public from seeing the types of cheating in which local players are engaging.

The I-Team’s review of player evictions in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania reveals two of the more frequent casino cheating attempts. The first is “past-posting,” in which players attempt to sneak additional chips on to their bets when their bets appear favored to win. The second is called “bet pinching,” in which players attempt the opposite, by sneaking chips away from a bet likely to lose.

Maryland gaming industry analyst James Karmel said local players continue to attempt to cheat, despite well-known and widely placed casino security and surveillance.

“Cheats still think they can scoot an extra chip when they have a good hand and think they’re going to win,” Karmel said.

Larger cheating operations involve collusion with casino employees or dealers, Karmel said.

“It’s pretty common knowledge: Whenever you’re in a casino, you’re on camera," he said. "People think that’s because they’re watching out for cheating players. They are. But they’re watching the employees just as much.”

Reported by Scott MacFarlane, and shot and edited by Steve Jones and Jeff Piper.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rush Hour Crash on I-270 in Montgomery County]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 19:09:04 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/I-270+Crash+120516.jpg

Some lanes of northbound Interstate 270 in Montgomery County, Maryland, are blocked after a two-car collision, according to Montgomery Count Fire and Rescue.

One vehicle overturned at the scene betweeen Falls Road and Route 28. There is no word on any injuries.



Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Man Found After Reported Missing]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:41:45 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/229*120/achydam_monestime2.jpg

UPDATED: Police said he's been located safe and unharmed.

===============================

Montgomery County police are searching for a 24-year-old man missing after calling his father to say he'd missed his bus Sunday night.

Authorities said Achydam Monestime left his father's home on Beaker Court in Burtonsville, Maryland, around 11 a.m. Sunday. He was planning to take a bus from Greenbelt to Woodstock, in the suburban Baltimore area.

Monestime's father said that his son called him shortly before 9:30 p.m. to tell him that he'd missed the bus. Neither Monestime's father nor any family members have heard from him since then. 

Monestime is described as African American, 5 feet 2 inches tall and 160 pounds. He has short black hair, brown eyes and a mustache. 

Police and family say that they are concerned for Monestime's emotional and physical welfare. 

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Achydam Monestime is asked to call the Montgomery County Police 24-hour non-emergency number at 301-279-8000. Callers may remain anonymous. 



Photo Credit: Montgomery County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Ohio Man Sentenced for Planned Attack on US Capitol in 2015]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:40:17 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Christopher+Lee+Cornell.jpg

An Ohio man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to attack government officials during the 2015 State of the Union in the name of the Islamic State group, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Christopher Lee Cornell, 22, of Green Township, Ohio, pleaded guilty to attempting to murder government employees and officials, possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and attempting to provide material support of a designated foreign terrorist organization (ISIS). In addition to his jail sentence, Cornell will also serve a lifetime term of supervised release.

“The seriousness of this crime is apparent,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman, of the Southern District of Ohio. “Cornell plotted to commit violence as a symbolic attack on the United States as a whole. An attempt to murder another individual is horrific enough and justifies a significant sentence. But this was more than that. Cornell wanted to inflict pain on the spirit of the entire country, and terrorize its leadership. Today’s sentence appropriately holds him accountable for that.”

According to the plea agreement, Cornell plotted to travel to Washington, D.C., in order to attack the U.S. Capitol during the State of the Union Address on Jan. 20, 2015. He said he intended to kill officers and employees at the Capitol and possessed two semi-automatic rifles and about 600 rounds of ammunition.

Cornell was arrested by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force six days before the State of the Union Address. After his arrest, he posted statements online that included a call for others to join him in violent jihad against the United States and its citizens on behalf of ISIS, according to the plea agreement.



Photo Credit: Butler County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[NRG Accepts Responsibility for Oil Sheen on the Potomac]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:46:36 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/potomac+river+sheen.jpg

Energy company NRG accepted responsibility for the oil sheen that appeared on the Potomac River last week, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

An equipment malfunction within NRG's Dickerson, Maryland, power plant led to a leak of an estimated 100-150 gallons of lubricating oil into the river, creating the sheen.

Investigators interviewed businesses and facility owners along the Potomac and the Monocacy rivers to find the cause.

NRG agreed to cooperate with cleanup.

The oil was never seen near WSSC's Potomac River intake, and there was no impact to drinking water quality, according to a news release from WSSC. WSSC said it placed one boom in the river to divert any floating substance away from the intake Nov. 28 and another Dec. 1 as an additional precaution. All maintenance requiring flushing pipes was halted.

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<![CDATA[Panda House Reopens as Bei Bei Recovers From Surgery]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 16:34:18 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/15390974_10154742033417902_1490342462652870703_n.jpg

The National Zoo's panda cub, Bei Bei, is as cute as ever as he returns to the public eye Monday.

The zoo's panda house reopened to the public Monday after being closed for more than a week after the cub underwent emergency surgery to remove a masticated mass of bamboo from his intestine.

Bei Bei, who is 15 months old, is "recovering nicely" after the operation, the National Zoo said.



Photo Credit: Smithsonian’s National Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[Man Sought After Attacking Massage Parlor Employee]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:42:31 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Massage+Parlor+assault+suspect.jpg

Prince William County police are searching for a man who attacked an employee inside a Woodbridge, Virginia, massage parlor. 

Police say the suspect entered ZY Massage on Dynasty Loop at 10 a.m. Sunday and asked to use the restroom. As he was leaving, he asked a female employee for a hug, but the victim declined. 

A short time later, police say the man returned to the business, locked the door and assaulted the victim. The victim was able to break free and ran from the business. 

Police say the suspect also ran from the area and was last seen heading toward Telegraph Road. 

The suspect is 6 feet tall, weighs 180 pounds and may be between 23 and 27 years of age. He was last seen wearing blue jeans with a skull on the back pocket, a black shirt with "Blackwatch" written on the front and a gray New York Yankees hat. 

Anyone with information that can help police is asked to call police at 703-792-6500.

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<![CDATA[Bowser to Meet With Trump in NYC]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:06:21 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Donald-Trump-Muriel-Bowser.jpg

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will meet with President-elect Donald Trump in New York City on Tuesday, Trump's team has announced.

Trump has meetings scheduled Tuesday with four notable names. In addition to Bowser, Trump will meet with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, political commentator Laura Ingraham and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. NBC News has identified Tillerson as a possible candidate as Trump's secretary of state.

Bowser's office declined an interview but the mayor was the one who requested the meeting with the president-elect. A news release from the mayor's office cited the city's growing economy but didn't mention other issues, like statehood or a lawsuit by Trump over the tax bill for the new Trump Hotel in Washington.

Bowser, a Democrat who campaigned on behalf of Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the presidential election, has said she and Trump share common ground on the need for investments in infrastructure, namely Metrorail, roads and bridges.

But Bowser has also said she and Trump disagree on the Affordable Care Act and on D.C.'s status as a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MGM Casino Prepares for Opening at National Harbor]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:08:59 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/MGM+Casino.jpg

Far from the Las Vegas Strip, MGM Resorts International opens its $1.4 billion National Harbor casino and resort just outside the nation's capital this week. 

It's advertising a gambling floor "bigger than the White House'' and an art collection that includes a large welded collage by Bob Dylan. It is the singer and Nobel laureate's first work of art for a public space on permanent display. 

MGM designed the first casino resort just outside Washington, D.C., to complement the city of monuments across the Potomac River. It has a 308-room hotel and spa, plus restaurants with well-known chefs. High-end retail also is planned. 

MGM is aiming to attract international travelers, as well as U.S. tourists. 

The casino resort opens Thursday night in Oxon Hill, Maryland, at 11 p.m.

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<![CDATA[Firefighters Battle 2-Alarm House Fire in NW DC]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 12:43:19 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/226*120/2016-12-05_0522.png

Eight people are without a home after flames from an adjacent row house spread to their home. 

The 2-alarm fire started at a vacant home in the 4300 block of Iowa Avenue NW at early Monday morning.

Fire officials say the flames then spread to an adjacent home.

"My wife said, 'Hey, something's burning.' We got up and checked, and when I turned on the light, all the smoke was coming out of the cracks of the house," said Caesar Morales who lives in the affected home.

Morales and seven others got out of the home safely. 

The flames caused the home where the fire originated to partially collapsed. One firefighter suffered minor burns while battling the fire. 

Firefighters have not been able to enter the home where the fire started because of the building's instability. 

Stay with News4 on-air and online for more on this developing story.



Photo Credit: DC Fire
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<![CDATA[Missing 12-Year-Old Virginia Boy Found Safe]]> Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:48:05 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Ezekiel+Kwbena+Amoah.jpg

Police in Virginia say a boy who was reported missing from his home has been found safe. 

Ezekiel Kwbena Amoah, 12, voluntarily left his home in the 16600 block of Flotilla Way in Woodbridge about 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Prince William County Police said.

Ezekiel was considered endangered because of his age and the cold, police said.

Police say Ezekiel was found safe, but no further details were released. 



Photo Credit: Prince William County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Cleveland Park Celebrates Fire Station's 100 Years]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 20:40:13 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000016957933_1200x675_824566339849.jpg Cleveland Park celebrates the 100 years of the fire station that is the anchor of the neighborhood. Derrick Ward reports.]]> <![CDATA[Man Charged in Death of Virginia Gas Station Clerk]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 20:23:15 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/suspect+in+Spotsylvania+gas+station+death.jpg

A man brutally attacked and killed a clerk at a Virginia gas station early Saturday morning, according to the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office.

David Junior Washington, 50, of Spotsylvania, walked in to the Sunoco Station in the 5300 block of Jefferson Davis Highway about 1:35 a.m. carrying a 2-foot-by-2 foot piece of wood, the sheriff's office said.

After speaking to the clerk -- 54-year-old Saleh Yousef Abukhait -- Washington attacked him and killed him, according to the sheriff's office. Washington then took an undetermined amount of cash from the register and left the business, investigators said.

A customer entered the store and discovered Abukhait on the floor, according to the sheriff's office. Deputies and rescue personnel were summoned to the scene, where it was determined by medical personnel that Abukhait was dead.

Police took Washington into custody Saturday evening at the Dunning Mills apartments in Fredericksburg without incident, police said. He is charged with first-degree murder, robbery and grand larceny.

If anyone has any information regarding this attack, they are urged to contact the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office or Crime Solvers.



Photo Credit: Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office]]>
<![CDATA[Man, 82, Dies After Fairfax County House Fire]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 09:01:55 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Fairfax+County+fire3.jpg

A house fire in Fairfax County, Virginia, claimed a man and his cat Saturday night, fire officials said.

The blaze broke out at home in the 3700 block of Logan Court in the Alexandria section of the county. When firefighters arrived, there was heavy smoke coming from the house.

An 82-year-old man was found inside with life-threatening injuries. The man died as medics performed CPR on him on the way to the hospital, fire officials said.

A fire official with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said the cause of the fire is likely electrical in nature. Officials don't know why the man wasn't able to escape.

Firefighters discovered "slight" hoarding conditions at the home, according to fire officials.

A cat was also found dead at the home.



Photo Credit: Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[Man Struck by Vehicle in Leesburg in Critical Condition]]> Sun, 04 Dec 2016 10:07:41 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Pedestrian_Crash_Map.jpg

A 39-year-old man was injured after a vehicle struck him in Leesburg, Virginia, police said.

A Toyota Highlander struck the man when he was trying to cross the Leesburg Bypass near the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets about 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Medics airlifted the victim to the INOVA Fairfax Hospital. He is in critical condition, police said.

The SUV driver is a 71-year-old man from Culpeper. Police said he is cooperating with investigators.



Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Boats Light Up for Holiday Waterfront Parade]]> Sat, 03 Dec 2016 19:37:23 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Snowman+Decoration.jpg Dozens of boats were decked out in holiday lights and decorations for the Parade of Lights at D.C.'s Southwest Waterfront Saturday night. News4's Darcy Spencer reports.]]>