<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Local News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usThu, 30 Jun 2016 17:52:10 -0400Thu, 30 Jun 2016 17:52:10 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Vet Becomes First-Time Homeowner After Decades on Streets]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 17:37:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Jiggetts.jpg

A veteran who spent decades living on the streets now has a place to call home.

U.S. Army veteran Alfred Jiggetts, 68, served two years in Vietnam and, like many soldiers, he came home from war with PTSD and a heroin addiction.

"That's when my life truly changed for the worst," Jiggetts said.

Jiggetts spent the next 30 years in and out of jail and slept on the streets or in homeless shelters. He said his time in the shelters was far worse than his experience fighting in the Vietnam War.

"You knew they were shooting at you down in Vietnam, but you don’t know who your enemy is there in that shelter," Jiggetts said.

However, eight years ago, it was a shelter in northwest D.C. that helped Jiggetts get help. He joined a substance abuse program at the shelter and eventually received a housing voucher.

Jiggetts said that voucher was the key for him to finally get his life together and stay sober. 

In May, Jiggetts qualified for a loan from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and bought his first house in Capitol Heights, Maryland. He also got married.

"Some days I just sit here, I go downstairs and cry at how good God had done for me - where he brought me from," Jiggetts said. "It really make me feel good...it’s never too late to start to do anything."

Nearly 50,000 veterans are homeless at any one time, according to Jay Melder, a spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Human Services.

"It’s a real proof point that ending veteran homelessness is possible and really, ending homelessness altogether is possible too," Melder said.

Jiggetts said he wants to focus now on helping other veterans get the help he received.

<![CDATA[McAuliffe Personally Delivers Ex-Felon His New Voting Rights]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 13:21:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/McAuliffe2.jpg Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports on Gov. Terry McAuliffe's push for felon voting rights before the state Supreme Court hears the case.]]> <![CDATA[Suspect Arrested in 3 Shooting Deaths at Md. Home]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 17:23:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Lawrence+Sylvester+Rogers+Jr.jpg

Police have a suspect in the shooting deaths of three people inside a Maryland home in custody. Two other people were injured in the shooting, police said.

Police arrested 24-year-old Lawrence Sylvester Rogers Jr. of Capitol Heights in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night. Tips from the community led police to Rogers, who faces first- and second-degree murder charges.

The victims were found about 9:35 p.m. Friday at a home in the 3100 block of Orleans Avenue in District Heights.

Carlina Renee Gray, 50, of District Heights, Jan Marie Parks, 55, of Landover, and Allen Rowlett, 60, of Forestville, were killed, police said. One of the other victims remains in critical condition, and the other suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Surveillance video showed a man seconds before entering the home, gun in hand, and then showed him leaving, tucking the alleged murder weapon in his pants.

The man stopped at convenience store in the 7400 block of Marlboro Pike in Forestville about 30 minutes before the shootings and made a purchase, police said. Police released surveillance footage from the convenience store Tuesday. 

Gray lived in the home with her boyfriend, according to her sister.

Police said the shooting did not appear to be random but have not released information on a possible motive. They believe the man acted alone, they said Monday.

Photo Credit: Prince George's County Police
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<![CDATA[Metro Service Restored After Gas Leak]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 14:01:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20151008+Metro+Generic1.jpg

Metrorail service was suspended for about an hour Thursday on a segment of the Red Line after a gas leak was reported.

Service was suspended between the Rhode Island Avenue and Fort Totten stations just after 12:30 p.m. 

Metro officials said a gas leak was reported at a construction site near the Brookland-CUA Metro station in Northeast D.C.

Shuttle buses bridged the service gap during the shutdown. 

Metro said around 1:40 p.m. that riders should expect residual delays approaching the affected stations.

<![CDATA[Active Shooter Report at Joint Base Andrews Unfounded]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 17:25:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/202*120/2016-06-30_1014.png

Joint Base Andrews was locked down for nearly three hours Thursday after someone mistook a security exercise for an actual threat, officials said.

The Maryland Home of Air Force One was evacuated just after 9 a.m. because of a report of an active shooter. Personnel exited the building with their hands up, video shows. 

Officials later determined there was no threat and declared an "all clear."

Officials said first responders received reports of an "real-world active shooter situation" about the same time the base was conducting a "no-notice" active shooter exercise. Officials said the drill was set to occur on the east side of the base. The mistaken threat was spotted on the other side of the base, in the medical center. 

Someone on the third floor of the Malcolm Grow Medical Facility saw two people walking across the base with long guns, law enforcement officials told NBC News' Pete Williams. That person did not know a drill had been planned and reported that there was an active shooter in the building.

Reports of a real-world active shooter situation at the medical facility were "miscommunicated" before the drill began, Joint Base Andrews posted to Twitter after the incident.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Freeland was shut out of the medical center building during the miscommunication. He said he was worried.

"Just praying for my colleagues who are in there barricaded behind locked doors," he said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said personnel need to take mistaken threats seriously but avoid calling in false alarms.

"I think it's important to have a reasonable level of awareness of the possibility of this kind of event and what to do. And I thought the response was strong and solid," he said. "So that's the good news. The bad news is it appears to have been a mistake, and we'd like to reduce the number of mistakes made in this way."

Col. Brad Hoagland, 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews commander, praised first responders for their quick reaction.

"We take all threats seriously and reacted to ensure the security of those on the base," Hoagland said.

The lockdown was lifted and the investigation at the medical center continued. Rodney Smith, a patient advocate at the Malcolm Grow Medical Facility, told The Associated Press the situation unfolded at the newer of two buildings. Smith was in the older building.

Joint Base Andrews, in Prince George's County, Maryland, is the home of Air Force One and to other emergency reaction units for the area around the nation's capital.

Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to fly out of the base Thursday morning for an event in Ohio, his office said. Biden was being held at the Naval Observatory during the lockdown. 

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson addressed the investigation during his testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on oversight of the Department of Homeland Security. At the time, he called it an "unfolding situation" and said he would "take a break from this session" if need be.

Some military installations in the D.C. area increased their security in response to the investigation.

Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, said it increased its "security posture," and the Washington Navy Yard in Southwest Washington ordered "100 percent ID check" and "long guns at entrance gates." Security was also heightened at the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington and the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Carderock Division in Montgomery County, Maryland. 

Prince George's County — which would normally assist Joint Base Andrews during a security incident — said it did not assist with any emergency response.

Last month, Joint Base Andrews was placed on lockdown after a woman walked onto the base and claimed she had a bomb. An Explosive Ordinance Disposal team found the woman had no explosives, and she was apprehended. 

The base has a long, storied history. The first prisoners of war back from Vietnam in 1973 arrived at Andrews Air Force Base as did the U.S. hostages from Iran in 1981.

Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev was the first foreign head of state to fly into Andrews in 1959.

Construction on a military airfield there began in 1942 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was named Andrews Field in 1945 in honor of one of the founders of the Air Force, Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews. He had died in an airplane crash on May 3, 1943, the day the base opened.

The base's name was changed to Andrews Air Force Base in 1947, shortly after the Air Force became a separate service in 1947. It combined with the Naval Air Facility Washington to become Joint Base Andrews in 2009.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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<![CDATA[Capitol Hill Neighbors Fired Up About Gun Violence]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 05:43:48 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015251987_1200x675_715741251664.jpg News4's Jackie Bensen reports on a heated meeting between DC Police and people in the Hill East neighborhood]]> <![CDATA[Man Found Shot to Death in NE DC]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 15:59:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/217*120/2016-06-30_0529.png

A man was shot to death in Northeast Washington Wednesday night, and now police are looking for his killer. 

Officers were called to the 800 block of Bladensburg Road NE just before 10 p.m. Wednesday for a report of an injured person. 

Police say a man was shot in the back. He was unresponsive when he was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

No suspect information has been released at this time. 

<![CDATA[Blackberry Delight Celebrates One of Nature's Sweetest Treats]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 12:37:39 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015262404_1200x675_716057155542.jpg July is peak blackberry season, and you can celebrate with a trip to Blackberry Delight at Shenandoah National Park]]> <![CDATA[DC Schools Chancellor to Step Down This Fall]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 15:00:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/041916+kaya+henderson.jpg

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson will step down this fall, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday.

Her last day will be Sept. 30.

The move does not come as a surprise; Henderson has said she planned to leave DCPS, although she had previously said she would remain until 2017.

She has been with DCPS for nine years, taking over as chancellor in 2010 after serving as deputy chancellor under Michelle Rhee.

"I am incredibly grateful to Kaya for her nine years of service to our students, our schools, and our city," Bowser said in a statement.

Bowser praised Henderson's tenure Wednesday, saying DCPS has become the most quickly improving urban school district in the nation.

"Without a doubt, DCPS is a very different place today than it was when Kaya joined our school system in 2007. After decades of decline, DCPS has also seen consistent, annual enrollment growth since Kaya became Chancellor -- growing from 45,000 students in 2010 to nearly 49,000 students this year," Bowser said in the statement.

Officials will launch a nationwide search for a new chancellor in the fall. John Davis will serve as interim chancellor; he most recently held the role of DCPS' Chief of Schools, Bowser said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["She's Gonna Win": Vice President Biden on the Presidential Election]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 18:48:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015250825_1200x675_715533891567.jpg Vice President Joe Biden, at the end of an interview on his "moonshot" cancer summit in D.C. Wednesday, also shared his thoughts on the presidential election.]]> <![CDATA[Dulles Airport Ramps Up Security After Istanbul Terror Attack]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 19:04:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015250911_1200x675_715547203698.jpg News4's Chris Gordon saw additional security measures at Washington Dulles International Airport on Wednesday, a day after the terror attacks at an airport in Istanbul. ]]> <![CDATA[National Anthem Performance Stuns Lincoln Memorial Crowd]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 19:33:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/062916+national+anthem.jpg

An assistant principal from Florida recently stunned visitors to the Lincoln Memorial with her powerful rendition of the national anthem — and video of her impromptu performance has racked up more than 2 million online views. 

Star Genleah Swain burst into song on June 19 as she visited the monument with friends and family. She wrote on her Facebook page that loved ones "made” her perform and then filmed her.

In the video, she starts off nervous, glancing around the memorial uncertainly.

“She’s afraid,” the man filming her can be heard saying. “But watch God do it.”

As Swain prepares to sing, the man tells her, “Let the music speak.”

Then, she did just that.

Swain's powerful voice fills the Lincoln Memorial. She closes her eyes as she belts out “broad stripes and bright stars," and as her voice echoes, visitors begin to notice.

A crowd forms, and by the time she belts out “home of the brave,” almost everyone looks captivated.

Swain doesn't open her eyes until the song is over. Then, the crowd bursts into applause.

The video shows her leaving the spotlight laughing as a mix of family, friends and strangers rushed to congratulate her.

“People just started saying ‘that was awesome, thank you,'" she told the Tallahassee Democrat. “One lady had tears in her eyes. I was kind of glad it was over. It was like a sigh of relief.”

In a post to Facebook on Saturday, Swain wrote, "God is getting ready to do something big from what wasn’t even planned.”

She thanked people who shared the video, “and my friends and family who put me up to it.”

The first video Swain published to her page had hit more than 2 million views by Wednesday afternoon, and praise for her voice filled the comments section on YouTube and Facebook posts. Some viewers compared her voice to Whitney Houston.

Swain later posted a video singing her thanks to friends, family and listeners.

“Over 10 million views! I thank God for you,” she sang, referring to views on multiple posts of the video.

Swain is a former singer and trombonist at Florida A&M University, she told the Tallahassee Democrat. She works as an assistant principal in Jefferson County, Florida, according to her Facebook page.

Photo Credit: YouTube/Star Genleah Swain
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<![CDATA[Virginia Family 'Enraged' After Trump Sign Vandalized]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 05:43:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/TrumpCountry.jpg

A group of young Donald Trump supporters in Haymarket, Virginia, say they are angry but determined after a sign they made supporting the presumptive Republican nominee was vandalized.

"I'm enraged," said Trump supporter Bucky Potter.

Potter, along with three of his siblings and a few friends, put up a 4 feet tall by 8 feet wide sign that said "Trump Country" on his family's property on Monday night.

The following morning, they found the five American flags they placed on the sign broken and tossed on the ground. On Wednesday, someone spray painted the sign and threw eggs at it.

"It's not meant to bother anybody. We're just giving out our opinion, what we stand for, and somebody comes and destroys it," Nicholas Potter said.

Tonight the group painted another sign and put it up in the same spot.

"I think it's a good idea to continue on and always do what you believe in, even if someone gets in your way," Jackie Potter said.

The group of 17 to 22 year olds said if the sign is vandalized again they will make a bigger sign to go in its place.

<![CDATA[Ex-Court Commissioner Convicted of Soliciting Sex From Teen Boy]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 19:05:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/062916+ex+moco+court+commissioner.jpg A former employee of the Montgomery County, Maryland, court system was convicted Wednesday of using the gay dating app Grindr to solicit sex from an undercover officer he thought was a 15-year-old boy. News4's Pat Collins reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Talk Around Town: Freddie Gray, Jesse Williams and Walter Fauntroy]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 18:23:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/JesseWilliamsBETAwards_728837860842.jpg WHUR's Troy Johnson and News4's Pat Lawson Muse discuss the Freddie Gray case, Jesse Williams' BET speech and civil rights activist and former D.C. Congressman Walter Fauntroy's bad check charge.

Photo Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Parents: Caregiver Ripped Out Chunk of Toddler's Hair]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 14:51:35 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Child9.jpg

A D.C. day care employee has been charged for allegedly ripping out a large chunk of hair from a toddler's head.

The parents of 1-year-old Demarco said he came home with a huge bald spot on his head on Tuesday. A teacher at the Kids Are Us Learning Center in Southeast D.C. told them another child pulled out his hair.

"It was disturbing, like, all I could do was get upset and just cry," said the child's mother, Daizha Rosser.

Rosser and the boy's father, Lawrence McEachin, said they demanded to see the day care's surveillance video. They said the video shows the teacher pulling out their son's hair -- not another student.

"Pull, pull, pull. He fell; [she] pulled again and snatched it right off," McEachin said. "I can only imagine he was crying."

Police responded to the daycare Wednesday after McEachin and Rosser got into an argument with daycare staff.

"Her excuse was she was irritated. Your job is to watch kids. Kids will irritate you. He irritates me, but you're not going to see me - I'm not going to do nothing of that nature," McEachin said.

D.C. police said they are now investigating the allegations that a teacher assaulted the boy.

"I'm pressing charges. That's for one. And she should be locked up because it's crazy. They're kids. Your supposed to watch them and monitor them and care for them like they're your own, not hurt them, and that's basically what they did. They hurt my son," Rosser said.

Police later said 50-year-old Lisa Vaughn has been charged with first-degree cruelty to a child.

News4 spoke with a woman who said she owns the day care. She said she has "policies and procedures in place" and she thinks the incident is "horrific."

Kids Are Us Learning Center has two locations and is licensed to care for up to 60 children.

<![CDATA[Pregnant Woman Says Metro Refused to Let Her Use Bathroom]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 18:21:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/062916+metro+bathroom+woman.jpg

A Maryland woman who is five-months pregnant desperately needed to use a bathroom before she got on a Metro train-- but she says an employee told her no and she then had an accident.

"He said that I had abused my bathroom privileges and that I wasn't allowed to use it -- that I was using it as an excuse," Rachel Eisinger-Baskin said.

Eisinger-Baskin, a first-time mother-to-be who is expecting a little girl, said she was inside the Shady Grove Metro station in Derwood, Maryland, last week when she asked a station manager to open the employee restroom for her. She had used it a few times before because the customer restroom was closed.

The station manager refused, she said.

"I was shocked. All he has to do is go and open one door for me. I even asked 'Can I use the key?' He said no," she said.

Then, the situation got worse.

"Unfortunately, I ended up having an accident, and then I got so upset, and I was embarrassed that I got sick on myself, and I had to go home," Eisinger-Baskin said.

Metro employees are supposed to allow customers access to station restrooms whenever they can, spokesman Dan Stessel said. Metro declined an interview and said the issue had been handled.

Eisinger-Baskin, who works for the federal government, said she filed a complaint with Metro and was told the matter was being investigated.

Then, she reached out to News4's Adam Tuss.

"I was so appalled and so frustrated," she said. "That's when I contacted you and said please help."

After News4 contacted Metro, Eisinger-Baskin said she visited the Shady Grove station again and spoke with the same station manager who initially told her no. 

Their interaction was different this time. 

"He immediately jumped up. He went, unlocked the bathroom and said, 'Yup, News4 already called us,'" the expectant mom said.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Have You Seen Me? Search Continues for Missing People]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 13:55:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/missing+people.jpg

Have you seen them?

Thousands of people are reported missing in the United States each year. 

Below are some of their stories profiled on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System and the Black and Missing Foundation's website. If you believe you have information on any of the people profiled on the Black and Missing Foundation's website, you can send in an anonymous tip here.

Unique Harris

Unique Harris never went anywhere without her eyeglasses. She couldn't.

At the time of her disappearance in 2010, Harris' eyesight was so bad she couldn't see five feet in front of her without them, her mother, Valencia Harris, once told News4. 

But on Oct. 10, 2010, her eyeglasses were found folded on her pillow in her Southeast Washington apartment, according to The Washington Post

Her two young sons and niece were left alone in the apartment. The night before, Unique Harris and the children had enjoyed a movie night.

When they woke up the next morning, Harris was gone. But the devoted mother was not the type to leave the world behind. 

"I think someone took my daughter out of there. I think she was abducted," Valencia Harris said in an interview with News4 a few months after her daughter's disappearance.

Police have said it was possible she was taken. Her purse and ID were found inside the apartment, and her cellphone hasn't been used since she disappeared.  

In a 2014 interview with Lisa Ling, Valencia Harris said her daughter witnessed a murder outside her apartment.

"She called me just emotional about what was unfolding and when she told me that she was looking out of the window, my immediate response to her was, ‘Get away from the window! Get away from the window!’,” she recalled.  

Valencia Harris has searched for her daughter ferociously in the years since her disappearance. She's done countless interviews, passed out flyers, organized prayer vigils and often shares posts about her daughter's case on Facebook. 

"Missing for 5 yrs., 8 months, & 3 days...to long for her two children to be without their mother. Have you shared Unique's information?," a post published on June 13 read.

She has yet to receive a lead that will lead her to her eldest child. 

Christopher Bailey

The pavement was hot. Typical of a hazy August day in Montgomery County, Maryland. 

But Christopher Bailey, 40, was walking down Route 270 in Gaithersburg shoeless, a family friend told police. That was the last time he was seen. 

Bailey suffered from an undiagnosed mental disorder, according to a profile on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Police did not know what Bailey was wearing when he disappeared on Aug. 25, 2006. In fact, not many details about Bailey's case are available. 

At the time of his disappearance, Bailey was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 170 pounds. He had black hair and brown eyes. 

Yuan Xia Wang

Yuan Xia Wang had only been in the United States for six weeks when she disappeared on Oct. 21, 1998. Two months earlier, she was smuggled into Dulles International Airport from China.

Klaharn Chaichana, the man who smuggled Wang into the country, told authorities she was his niece. Wang had a real Thai passport, but when Thai translators tried to talk to her, she could not communicate with them, The Washington Post reported

Wang eventually told authorities that her parents paid Chaichana to bring her to America. investigators never found out why she was smuggled into the country. 

"It doesn't look like a slavery case or an extortion case," a law enforcement official told The Post at the time. 

Chaichana was arrested, and Wang was sent to live with a foster family in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.

Wang's foster parents believed she was adjusting well to her new life despite being the only student at Holmes Middle School that spoke Mandarin. But they were never sure because of the language barrier.

At 5 feet 6 inches tall, they also doubted she was the age she claimed. Wang told police she was 12, but her foster parents believed she may have been as old as 15. 

Wang was last seen on Oct. 22, 1998 getting off a school bus at her home at 3:10 p.m. A cab arrived 20 minutes later to take her to a doctor's appointment. But when it arrived, she was gone. 

While Wang may have left out of fear of deportation, investigators also looked into the possibility she was abducted by someone connected to her entry into the country, according to the Charley Project

Ten years after her disappearance, there were reports Wang may have been in the Kansas City, Missouri area. But that was never confirmed. 

Sherry Walker 

It was six weeks before anyone reported Sherry Walker missing.

Walker, 40, suffered from schizophrenia and had a habit of dropping out of sight from time to time. So when she left her Alexandria, Virginia, home on Oct. 22, 2003, no one thought anything of it.

Walker's neighbors thought she was checking into a hospital for mental health treatment, but no record of her was found at any area hospitals, according to the Black and Missing Foundation.

As fall turned to winter, Walker's family became increasingly worried. She had never lost contact with them for this long.

In December, her sister called police, The Connection Newspapers reported.

Several police officers saw Walker in the Arlandria section of the city in December 2003 and January 2004. But those sightings soon stopped.

Walker, who was last seen wearing a brown coat and white sneakers, hasn't been seen or heard from since.

Christian Muse

Michael Muse hasn't seen his son Christian Muse in four years. 

The 19 year old was last seen on July 15, 2012 in the Glass Manor area of Oxon Hill, according to the Black and Missing Foundation

At the time of his disappearance, Michael Muse, who used to play in the Go-Go band Rare Essence, thought that maybe his son was suffering from memory loss.

But in an interview with Examiner.com in 2015, he mentioned that a D.C. police detective contacted him, looking for Christian. 

"He was looking for Christian for information regarding a child pornography ring that had exploited him and other under aged boys," Michael Muse said. 

Michael Muse said he passed the information along to the detective in charge of his son's case, but nothing came of it. 

"I thought that certainly it would have blown the lid off the entire case,” Michael Muse told Examiner.com.

Christian was spotted three times after his initial disappearance, but in the years since his disappearance, his bank account hasn't been touched, and he hasn't called. 

Photo Credit: NAMUS/Black and Missing Foundation
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<![CDATA['Hit the Share Button': Md. Sisters-In-Law Find the Missing]]> Thu, 30 Jun 2016 06:53:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/black+and+missing+foundation.jpg

Tamika Huston vanished in 2004, one year before Natalee Holloway. 

Both women disappeared under mysterious circumstances: Holloway, 18, during a high school graduation trip to Aruba; Huston, 24, from her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

But only Holloway became a household name. Her story dominated national headlines and was even turned into a television movie. 

Huston's family, meanwhile, begged media organizations to cover her case. And while local media outlets in Spartanburg picked up her story, Huston's family could not get her case the widespread attention they knew it deserved. 

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"I couldn't understand why I wasn't even getting, you know, 'Thank you very much, but we're not interested in this story at this time,'" Huston's aunt, Rebkah Howard, told NBC News in 2005

Huston's body was eventually found and an acquaintance was charged with her murder, but two women living miles away in the Washington, D.C., area never forgot the lack of coverage her case received. 

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"We realized there were so many more Hustons in the world, who just didn't have a voice," said Derrica Wilson. 

In 2008, three years after Huston's death, Wilson and her sister-in-law, Natalie Wilson, founded the Black and Missing Foundation in Landover Hills, Maryland.

Giving a Voice to the Voiceless 
Last year, 634,908 people were reported missing in the United States.

That's one person every minute. 

Over 40 percent of those cases involve people of color, according to the FBI

While that's a staggering statistic, many of these cases don't get the media coverage they need.

According to a 2010 report, African-American children made up 33.2 percent of missing persons cases that year, but they were significantly underrepresented in the media. African-American children received 19.5 percent of media coverage while non-African American children received over 80 percent. 

The Wilsons have worked to cover that gap. 

"We're not trying to dishonor any community. We're trying to even the playing field," Derrica Wilson said in a short film featured on the foundation's website. 

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Both women work full-time, but devote countless hours to find missing people of color from across the country. And while some of those stories don't have happy endings, the Black and Missing Foundation has helped many families find their missing loved one.

One tool the sisters-in-law use to help spread the stories of missing people is social media. Each day, the foundation's Twitter and Facebook pages are plastered with the faces of the missing. 

"Arianna Fitts, 2, has been missing since early April. Her mother's body was found in a shallow grave in a San Francisco city park April 8. Have you seen her? ‪#‎HelpUsFindArianna‬," said a Facebook post featuring three photos of a grinning little girl with big cheeks and brown eyes. 

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"We just need them to hit the share button," Derrica Wilson said. 

The post on Arianna Fitts has been shared 1,382 times.

"We ask people to come forward if they know something," said Natalie Wilson. "They may hold the key and can bring someone home." 

"You never know who you've come across," Derrica Wilson added. 

What Needs to Change
Relisha Rudd's disappearance could signal a slight turning point in the coverage of missing African Americans. 

The 8-year-old disappeared more than two years ago from a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C. Her case has sparked interest -- sometimes nationally -- every time investigators announce a new search for the little girl.

The search of the National Arboretum in April 2016 was covered by local news outlets, CNN, USA Today and other national media. 

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But the Wilsons say there's still more to be done in the coverage of missing people of color. 

"In cases like Relisha Rudd, she did get a lot of media coverage, but there's so many others," Natalie Wilson said. "We have come a long way, but we do have a long way to go." 

Natalie Wilson, who has 10 years of experience in media and public relations, said paying less attention to some individuals could allow for more diversity. 

"Less is more," she said. "I just saw a story about Chandra Levy yesterday. She's still dominating the news cycle while cases like Relisha Rudd fade." 

In addition to the media, the Wilsons say law enforcement agencies across the country need enhanced training in how missing persons cases are handled. 

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Derrica Wilson has firsthand experience in how some law enforcement agencies handle missing persons cases. She began her career in law enforcement in 2000 in Arlington County and later joined the City of Falls Church Police Department. 

"When I was in the academy, two hours were dedicated to missing persons because it wasn't considered a crime," she said. News4 asked the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy for its current practices; the academy has not yet responded.

Police in other cities have been criticized for the way they handle some missing-persons cases, particularly when the victims are vulnerable.

In 2009, Cleveland's police force was heavily criticized following the discovery of 11 women's bodies in the home and backyard of Anthony Sowell. 

The families of Sowell's victims accused police of failing to properly investigate the disappearances because most of the women were addicted to drugs and poor.

"The families were reaching out to file missing person's reports, and they were told things like, 'Your loved one will be home when the drugs wear off,'" Derrica Wilson said. 

In the D.C. area, some police departments are making changes. Several have partnered with Project Lifesaver, a national program that helps find some missing people by outfitting people with conditions that may cause them to wander away with personal locator units.

"If a person outfitted with the wristband goes missing, the police department can use a receiver set to a specific frequency to help locate the missing individual," said Ashley Savage, spokeswoman for the Arlington County Police Department.

Savage said the average recovery time is less than 30 minutes. 

The Wilsons also believe more services need to be provided to victims of domestic violence.

"There's a correlation between missing persons and domestic violence," Derrica Wilson said. 

Until changes are made, the Wilsons will continue to advocate for those who others ignore.

"Let's continue to keep these missing persons cases in the forefront," Natalie Wilson said.

Photo Credit: Black and Missing Foundation
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<![CDATA[AU Under Federal Probe for Handling of Sex Assault Case]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 12:49:15 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AU+flag.jpg

The federal education department launched an investigation this week into how American University handled a report of a sexual assault by a student.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is evaluating how the university dealt with a female student's report that a fellow student assaulted her off-campus.

Federal investigators will determine whether AU administrators violated Title IX, a law that sets policies on how schools deal with sexual violence and report it to U.S. officials. 

"The issue under investigation is whether the university promptly and equitably responded to a report of sexual violence," a Department of Education (DOE) spokesman said by email about the probe opened June 21.

The 21-year-old woman who reported the alleged assault said she was happy to receive a letter last week confirming the federal office would look into her claim. She said she filed a complaint with OCR on March 8.   

"Just to get it in the mail, and have something tangible that says, 'AU is under investigation,' was really cool," she said. 

NBC Washington, which interviewed the woman by phone, typically does not name victims of alleged sexual assaults.

The woman said the fellow student sexually assaulted her off-campus in February 2015. She told the campus newspaper, The Eagle that she reported the incident to university officials in April 2015.

The woman told the paper that AU held a student-conduct hearing in October 2015 that she and her alleged assailant both were required to attend. She says that this hearing should have taken place earlier. 

Title IX requires that schools respond to reports of sexual violence promptly. A typical investigation takes about 60 days after a complaint is received, OCR says in guidance to universities. But the time lines of the probes are allowed to vary depending on "the complexity of the investigation and the severity and extent of the alleged conduct," a question-and-answer document from OCR says.

The woman said an AU administrator told her the hearing was postponed so it did not conflict with final exams. That administrator would not address her case specifically, but told The Eagle that final exams can create scheduling conflicts for hearings. 

In addition to objecting to the timing of the hearing, the woman argues she was made to sign a confidentiality agreement in violation of Title IX

The DOE spokesman said he could not confirm which allegations OCR would investigate, since the case is ongoing.

AU lawyer and Title IX program officer Heather Pratt said in a campus-wide email sent Monday that the school will cooperate with the investigation.

"We anticipate that OCR’s assessment of our work will provide an opportunity to further enhance our Title IX-related policies and related activities," she wrote.

Pratt did not provide a response immediately to the woman's specific claims.

The student who reported the assault said federal officials told her they soon will gather evidence in the case. She said she expects the investigation to be lengthy. 

Of the 296 Title IX investigations OCR has opened since April 4, 2011, 83 percent are still pending, according to data collected by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Title IX investigations take an average of 1.3 years to complete, the Chronicle reported.

A separate investigation into AU's handling of a reported sexual assault began last year and has yet to be resolved, the DOE spokesman said.

Ellie Hartleb was one of two reporters who covered this case for The Eagle at American University. She is now an intern for NBC Washington.

<![CDATA[Freddie Gray Case: 3 Officers File Motions to Dismiss]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 11:56:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/officers_freddie_gray.jpg

Three officers poised to stand trial in the case of a 25-year-old black man who died after his neck was broken in police custody are asking for their cases to be dismissed. 

Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Garrett Miller filed motions to dismiss their cases on Monday, citing defects in the prosecution's case. The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday that Lt. Brian Rice had also filed a similar motion, but that motion was not publicly available. Rice is the highest-ranking officer charged in the case. He also is asking prosecutors to disclose grand jury minutes and testimony. 

The officers are each facing identical charges of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office in the case of Freddie Gray, who died on April 19, 2015, a week after suffering a critical spinal injury in the back of a police transport wagon. Gray's death last year sparked protests and civil unrest that resulted in looting, rioting and millions of dollars in property damage. 

Two other officers charged in the case, including Caesar Goodson, the wagon driver who faced a second-degree murder charge, have been acquitted in the past month. The trial for a third officer, William Porter, ended in a mistrial in December. He's schedule for retrial in September.

White and Miller's attorneys argued in the motions that their clients' cases should be dismissed because of two recent disclosures, including an affidavit from a sheriff's department major who wrote that he signed off on prosecutors' charges without having any knowledge of their basis or details of their investigation. The second involved notes from a police detective who wrote that prosecutors presented her with a typed script to read in front of the Grand Jury. 

The detective, Dawnyell Taylor, testified at Goodson's trial that she didn't trust one of the prosecutors on the case, while the other prosecutor, Michael Schatzow, said while questioning her that he tried to have Taylor removed from the investigation because he believed she was sabotaging it. 

Taylor's testimony came on the heels of revelations that prosecutors had withheld key information from the defense in the Goodson case. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams admonished the state for its error, and said if prosecutors failed to disclose any more exculpatory information they would be sanctioned. 

Rice is the next officer to be tried. His trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Ex-School Aide Indicted on 270 Counts in Sex Abuse Case]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 19:12:57 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Deonte+Carraway+Look+N.jpg

A former Maryland school aide has been indicted on hundreds of charges following allegations he sexually abused students at a Prince George's County elementary school.

A grand jury indicted Deonte Carraway on 270 counts of sex abuse of a minor, sex offenses and child pornography charges Tuesday. The indictment covers 23 victims.

"Mr. Carraway is facing multiple life sentences if he is found guilty of these offenses," Prince George's County State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said.

Carraway had served as an aide at Judge Sylvania Woods Elementary School in Prince George's County, first as a paid teacher's assistant and then as a volunteer.

Prosecutors say Carraway made videos of children having sex with him and each other at the school, at a church and at other locations in Maryland. The videos allegedly produced include videos showing Carraway having sex with a 9-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy. He "threatened, pressured, enticed, and/or coerced children" to engage in the acts, the indictment said.

The alleged victims included children between the ages of 9 and 12, according to court documents.

The more than 50 videos he allegedly produced will be used as evidence, and the victims will not be put on the stand, Alsobrooks said.

Among the hundreds of charges Carraway is now facing: 23 counts of sex abuse of a minor; 125 counts of first-, second- and third-degree sex offenses; 66 counts of creating child pornography; and 56 counts of possessing child pornography. Some of the charges stem from acts depicted in cellphone videos taken on various dates, according to the indictment.

The alleged abuse occurred between August 2015 and February of this year, the indictment said.

All of the charges stem from Carraway's interactions with students at the school, the state's attorney's office said. 

Carraway has pleaded not guilty. In March, a judge ordered him to remain in jail as the case proceeds.

"He needs to not ever be around children again, as far as I'm concerned," said the mother of a 10-year-old victim. "He's where he needs to be right now."

In April, Carraway's public defenders argued that the court should suppress some of Carraway's statements because some of those statements might have been "involuntary." The attorneys also sought to suppress evidence taken from Carraway's cellphones.

His defense attorneys said Carraway "exhibited significant cognitive deficits, with a full scale IQ of 63, which placed his overall intellectual functioning in the deficient range."

Carraway was arrested Feb. 5 after the uncle of a 9-year-old boy saw a nude image on the child's phone, according to police. Police also said Carraway waived his rights and admitted his role in producing child pornography.

The state's attorney's office is conducting an investigation into whether anyone else should be held accountable.

Photo Credit: Prince George's County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Missing 18-Year-Old Man Found Safe]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 12:40:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Delano+Munoz+Whatts.jpg

A missing 18-year-old Bethesda man has been found safe, Montgomery County police say. 

Delano Munoz Whatts left his home on the 5100 block of Dudley Lane at 10 p.m. after an argument with a family member.

Police say Whatts was found safe Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: Montgomery County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Some US Airports Increase Security After Istanbul Bombing]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 06:47:52 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015239813_1200x675_715033667750.jpg Explosions rocked Turkey's largest airport Tuesday night, killing at least three dozen people and wounding scores more in what appeared to be a coordinated terror attack, officials said. News4's Kristin Wright has more on how airports in the United States are responding to the Istanbul bombing. ]]> <![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: The Car…No Longer Never Wrong ]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 05:53:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Bike-Lane-Generic-2015.jpg

Bicyclists and pedestrians who are injured on city streets will have to wait longer to come out of the legal shadows.

The D.C. Council was set to vote Tuesday on a bill that would give cyclists and pedestrians more power to sue for damages should they be in a wreck with motorized vehicles. But Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie successfully won enough support among his colleagues to postpone a vote on the bill until July 12, after his move to withdraw the bill was overturned.

Currently, a pedestrian or cyclist cannot claim damages if they are partially at fault for a collision. It’s called “contributory negligence.” If you are a pedestrian standing just off the curb and are hit by a vehicle, you cannot successfully sue, even if the vehicle driver was drunk and speeding. If a cyclist happens to be turning left improperly and is hit by a driver running a red light, the cyclist can’t sue because of contributory negligence.

“If a cyclist or pedestrian is even a little bit at fault,” Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh told NBC4, “they cannot recover against the [automobiles] that really cause the injury. That’s it. They’re out.”

Under the Cheh measure, such cases would be more evenly decided. Plaintiffs (cyclists and pedestrians) would not be barred from seeking damages unless it is clear that the cyclist or pedestrian is the true cause of the wreck/injury.

Greg Billing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association told NBC4 that the current law “allows the insurance industry to completely deny coverage to an injured person, and we think that should change.” Billing said, “This is a big change. This recognizes that when people who are walking and biking, if they get injured, they should be fairly compensated for their injuries.” He also said 46 states have the more-fair system of assigning blame.

Some representatives of auto insurance companies say the new law could raise insurance premiums for drivers by as much as 23 percent. Wrecks no longer would be slam dunk cases for drivers.

There are more bicycles and more pedestrians in our rapidly growing city. The supremacy of the automobile and other vehicles has to be more measured with the growing population. Cars are no longer king. Adjusting laws affecting responsibility is just a start in changing city laws to recognize all forms of transportation.

■ Statistical note. The District has about 1,600 incidents of pedestrians or cyclists being injured or killed each year. The new bill redefining contributory negligence still must be passed by the council, signed by the mayor and be passively approved by Congress.

■ Fun. We’ll be heading to the Republican National Convention in mid-July. Beyond the fact that many establishment Republicans are not going (we’re looking at you, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan), there’s fear of massive anti-Donald Trump demonstrations and even disruption of the convention floor.

■ Stamping your feet? Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen is trying to upend how labor disputes are settled by the county government.

Under current law, a mediator and arbitrator — often the same person — is empowered to make sweeping decisions about compensation and work rules. The county has lost about 75 percent of recent cases.

Floreen wants to change the system. She has proposed a bill that establishes a three-person panel to review labor disputes with county employees. Unions representing county workers say the proposal is an attempt to “gut” labor unions.

Asked about the union opposition during an appearance on the WAMU Kojo Nnamdi Politics Hour last week, Floreen dismissed the union leaders’ criticism, saying, “Their job is to stamp their feet.”

Not the most conciliatory description to bring about change.

■ Trump and Virginia. Also appearing on the Politics Hour was Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart, the Virginia state leader of the Trump campaign. Stewart, who also is running for governor next year, says despite Trump’s sometimes controversial remarks, the presumptive nominee has tapped into a real disquiet among American voters.

Stewart supports Trump but is not without a few misgivings and disagreements. For example, Stewart thinks the Trump proposal to ban Muslims temporarily is too sweeping. About 7 percent of Prince William residents are Muslim; Stewart said they are valued members of the county’s communities, and any sweeping ban of Muslims is just not realistic or fair.

■ A kinda final word. The Notebook was pleased to emcee a recent celebration honoring Richard Bradley of the Downtown Business Improvement District. In the late 1990s, Bradley, in his friendly but determined manner, helped create and run the first BID in the city in an area that desperately needed it. The watch words back then? The downtown area was dirty, desolate and dangerous.

Now, it’s the polar opposite. There is life day and night, seven days a week. The Verizon Center hosts 220 events a year. The Downtown BID’s staff of hardy workers patrol the streets picking up trash, directing lost tourists and generally being alert to any mischief they see.

Bradley and Joe Sternlieb, who now runs the Georgetown BID, were early partners in the turnaround that the city enjoys today.

Our congratulations to Bradley, who is officially stepping down from the BID but says, “I’m not going anywhere.” He said he’ll still work on a variety of projects to make the District’s downtown even better than it is.

Maybe he’ll do something about the choking traffic that is becoming more of a threat downtown to the very success that’s causing that traffic.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

<![CDATA[Travelers to Turkey Voice Concerns, Determination]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 23:34:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/turkGetty-543491412.jpg As officials continue to seek answers into the Istanbul airport explosions, travelers are keeping a wary and watchful eye as they head to Turkey.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Testing No-Fly Drones for Deliveries in D.C.]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 23:36:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/2016-06-28_2237.png

Due to security concerns and restrictions, Washington, D.C. is not a welcome place for drones. Remote aircraft are not allowed to fly anywhere in the district.

The D.C. Council just gave the OK for one company to test drones that operate on the ground to deliver packages. It is the first time ground drones, which look like picnic coolers on wheels, have been approved for testing anywhere in the United States, according to Starship Technologies, the makers of the ground drones.

According to the company, the recipient of the deliver would open the box using a code received through the delivery service’s app. For D.C. residents who have had packages stolen from their front door when they weren’t home, it is an intriguing concept of on-demand delivery.

“That’s really cool,” said one resident. “I’m excited about that.”

“These new delivery ideas are wonderful,” said another resident. “If it works, I’m all for it.”

“I know that the drones have been coming,” said one man. “The aerial ones have been controversial.”

Starship Technologies brought a prototype to the Nation’s Capital for a demonstration last spring. The pilot program runs from September to December to give the manufacturer the chance to work out concerns about things like vandalism.

The test phase limits delivery companies to only five ground drone robots.

<![CDATA[Va. High School Student Makes 3-D Printed Hand for Brother]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 22:09:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/3D+printed+hand.jpg

A Virginia high school student's bold request to use the school's 3-D printer soon became a life-changing milestone for his little brother in need of a prosthetic hand.

Gabriel Fillippini, a junior at Park View High School in Loudoun County, Virginia, was inspired to help his 6-year-old brother, Lucas, who was born with no left hand, as soon as he discovered the school had obtained a 3-D printer for its career and technical education classroom.

"Gabriel came to me and kind of asked if we could print out a prosthetic hand, and I was kind of taken aback by it," said Kurt O'Connor, a teacher at Park View. "I said, 'I don't know, I guess we could try.'"

Fillippini, 16, and his teacher gathered help from the community in their pursuit to print a new hand for Lucas. An organization called Enabling the Future, which supports "3-D printable, open-source prothsetics," gave them free designs for the hand. A group of local hobbyists helped them perfect the knuckle joints.

But even with this assistance, the first hand they printed was a little bit too big, so they had to scale down the design and try again.

On his 6th birthday, earlier this month, Lucas received an unforgettable present — a new hand that fit him perfectly.

"It's nice to do things with my both hands," Lucas said, adding that he is grateful that kids can no longer ask about his "little hand."

"It makes me think my brother loves me a lot," he said.

Fillippini said this success makes him want to continue making prosthetics for kids in need.

"I know there are other kids who would love to have another hand," Fillippini said.

The boys' mother, Romina Barrera, credits Fillippini's teacher for inspiring and encouraging his selfless idea.

"This planet needs more people like Mr. O'Connor," Barrera said. "He's willing to help a stranger even though he didn't know us."

O'Connor said he, too, is interested in using the school's printer to continue to change lives. He said he plans to incorporate new projects, such as the one he and Fillippini took on this year, into his engineering classes.

"This is what we do as educators," O'Connor said. "I was just fortunate enough to have a tool and end up using it for something spectacular."

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Md. Fire Squad Donates Ambulance to W.Va. First Responders]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 19:55:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/2016-06-28_1901.png

A Maryland rescue squad is responding to the call for help following deadly floods in West Virginia.

On Sunday night, Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mark Dempsey received an email from first responders in Clay County, West Virginia.

“We know equipment was lost,” Dempsey said. “We know they were struggling replacing that equipment. The goal is to be there when you're needed.”

Dempsey said two ambulances in Clay County were nearly swallowed up by flood water, and they are out of service. His unit happened to have an ambulance that was just replaced with a new one.

His team cleaned up the unit, making sure it's in perfect condition, so they can donate it to the first responders in Clay County.

“We went ahead and decided to send it with what came with the unit,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey said while he's never been in a situation like the first responders in West Virginia, he does know what it's like to run a department with limited resources. He said he's grateful to be in a position to help.

“I expect it will be in service and running calls Wednesday or Thursday,” he said.

The chief said Wednesday at 6 a.m., the ambulance will be driven to West Virginia, where the keys will be handed off to the first responders in Clay County.

<![CDATA[Imagine Yourself in the (Bus) Driver's Seat]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 19:00:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015233437_1200x675_714693187896.jpg Fairfax County is looking for about 100 new school bus drivers.]]> <![CDATA[Va. Man Accused of Threatening Senators Barred From Tweeting]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 20:38:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Kyler+Schmitz.jpg

A judge released a Virginia man accused of tweeting threats to shoot at least two U.S. senators under the condition that he doesn't tweet at all for any reason pending his next court appearance, according to prosecutors.

The judge ordered Kyler Schmitz undergo mental health evaluations, stay away from Washington entirely and submit himself to GPS monitoring. He is allowed only limited internet access and is not allowed to play any video games with internet capability. He also is forbidden from drinking alcohol.

Schmitz must also reside with a “third-party custodian” chosen by the court, according to the order.

Schmitz is charged with making the threats earlier this month. He’s accused of tweeting Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) with a message that he’d shoot Blunt “in the head.” In other Twitter posts, Schmitz wrote to Members of Congress with a message that he’d shoot them “in the face,” according to prosecutors.

U.S. Capitol Police investigated and questioned Schmitz, who lives with his fiancé in Alexandria. He has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest last week.

According to testimony at a court hearing, a license plate reader detected Schmitz’s car within two blocks of the U.S. Capitol shortly after the tweets were posted.

Schmitz’s fiancé told News4 the tweets were parodies and satire and not genuine threats against any members of Congress. The messages were "inartful political discourse" on the issue of gun control, Schmitz’s defense attorney said Monday.

Schmitz does not own a gun, according to testimony at Monday's court hearing.

Schmitz works as an Uber driver, prosecutors said.

Photo Credit: Paul Cianciolo]]>
<![CDATA[DC-Area Travelers in Limbo After Istanbul Airport Bombings]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 18:22:26 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DullesAirport.jpg News4's Shomari Stone reports on how the bombings in an Istanbul airport are affecting travelers in the D.C. area.]]> <![CDATA[Two More Sentenced for Roles in Md. Hotel Robbery, Murder]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 20:00:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Kimfrey+Williams+and+Rinaldo+Washington.jpg

Two people were convicted of participating in the murder of a hotel bar manager in Prince George’s County, Maryland, in 2013.

Kimfrey Williams and Rinaldo Washington were sentenced Tuesday to 30 years and 25 years, respectively, after being found guilty earlier this year of felony murder, armed robbery and related charges for their role in an incident at the Clairon Hotel in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

On October 21, 2013, Deandre Weems, who has already been convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, entered the hotel, pulled out a gun and demanded cash from an employee at the front desk. Jessie Chavez, the hotel bar manager, heard the front desk worker scream and came from another area of the hotel to help her.

As Weems attempted to leave the hotel, Chavez tried to stop him, and the two began to fight in the lobby, eventually spilling outside in front of the hotel. During the fight, Weems shot Chavez in the chest at point blank range, killing him.

Video surveillance from the hotel captured the robbery and part of the altercation between Weems and Chavez. Williams was the driver of the getaway vehicle, and Washington acted as the lookout during the robbery.

The victim's mother, Vivian Chavez, said the torture of waiting almost three years is finally over and she is very relieved.

In what was an emotional sentence hearing, the mothers of both defendants asked for mercy, saying their sons were influenced by Weems. The Prince George’s County state’s attorney’s office was seeking more time for both co-defendants but said they're glad to get them both off the streets.

Photo Credit: Prince George's County Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Video Shows Man Shot by Secret Service Holding Gun]]> Wed, 29 Jun 2016 08:14:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Police+in+Front+of+White+House+closer.jpg

Video played in court Monday shows a Pennsylvania man shot by the Secret Service in May holding a gun as he walked toward the south entrance of the White House.

A judge ordered 31-year-old Jesse Olivieri of Ashland, Pennsylvania, detained after prosecutors played video of the incident caught on security cameras. The footage from May 20 shows Olivieri with a gun his right hand by his side, ignoring officers' warnings to stop.

A Secret Service special officer shot Olivieri and his gun — identified in an affidavit as a loaded .22-caliber semiautomatic — was kicked away from him. Officers surrounded him with their guns drawn, then begin rendering medical aid.

Before Olivieri was taken to George Washington University Hospital, a Secret Service officer asked him why he went to the White House. "I came here to shoot people," he replied, according to court documents.

A spent .22-caliber shell casing was found near the Camry on Constitution Avenue, and more ammunition was found in the car.

Olivieri is charged with resisting or impeding certain officers or employees with a dangerous weapon, a federal offense carrying a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. He went to court in a wheelchair Monday.

His public defender argued Olivieri never pointed or shot his gun, has no prior criminal record and has received psychiatric treatment.

But the judge ruled Olivieri is a threat to the community, saying he committed a serious crime.

The incident occurred within view of tourists outside the White House, near sidewalks crowded with families, school groups and government workers.

The White House was on lockdown for about an hour after the incident. President Barack Obama was not at the White House at the time, but Vice President Joe Biden was inside the building, administration officials said.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Former DC Congressman Released From Jail]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 20:48:22 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/062816+walter+fauntroy.jpg

The civil rights activist and former D.C. congressman arrested Monday on a charge of passing a bad check for $50,000 was released Tuesday afternoon from jail in Virginia.

Walter Fauntroy, 83, grinned as he carefully walked out of the Adult Detention Center in Leesburg, Virginia. After nearly five years living in the Middle East and Africa, he hugged his wife. 

"He's in a great mood. He's glad to be home," family spokeswoman E. Faye Williams said at a news conference. 

Fauntroy did not speak there. His wife, Dorothy Fauntroy, only said she was "relieved." 

Fauntroy was granted release from a jail in Loudoun County, Virginia, after he agreed to appear next month in court in Prince George's County, Maryland, court documents show.

The former right-hand man to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was detained at Washington Dulles International Airport after he arrived from Dubai about 8:15 a.m. Monday. He traveled extensively for years, pursuing vaguely described business opportunities. Loved ones expressed concerns about his health.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers saw there was an outstanding warrant bearing Fauntroy's name and took him into custody, an agency spokesman said. Fauntroy was accused of fraud, writing a bad check in Prince George's County, and failing to appear in court.

Fauntroy told The Washington Post in a phone interview last week that he was coming home and believed the bad-check issue had been resolved.

The check was written in the amount of $50,000, according to a representative for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office. It was intended to help pay for a 2009 ball he had organized for President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

Attorney Arthur Reynolds, who is representing Fauntroy in the bad-check case, said Monday he had not yet spoken to Fauntroy and could not comment on the case. He previously said Fauntroy had paid some of his debt.

Fauntroy was held for Maryland law enforcement in Loudoun County, where part of Dulles is located. 

He served in Congress for 20 years, helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and founded the Free South Africa movement. 

News4 reported in January that Fauntroy's family and friends said the former pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Northwest D.C. had gone missing. Dorothy Fauntroy told News4 she wanted her husband to come home.

Barnes and others were trying to find Fauntroy and persuade him to return. A small group of loved ones is preparing to raise money to help pay Fauntroy’s debts.

According to bankruptcy documents filed in March 2015, Fauntroy had been traveling for years and had little contact with family or friends. Longtime associate Johnny Barnes filed bankruptcy papers on behalf of Fauntroy and his wife to stave off the foreclosure of their home in Northwest D.C.'s Crestwood neighborhood.

Upon his return to the country, Fauntroy was eager to eat American food, Williams said on his behalf. He asked for a hamburger, french fries and a Coke, she said.

Fauntroy is due back in court July 20.

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Fairfax Road Reopens After Flash Flooding]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 07:01:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000015224749_1200x675_714218563930.jpg A major road in Fairfax County is back open after flash flooding shut it down overnight. News4's Molette Green has more on the overnight flooding. ]]> <![CDATA[DC Police: Officers Fatally Shoot Man Who Raised BB Gun]]> Tue, 28 Jun 2016 20:48:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/206*120/2016-06-28_0652.png

A man was shot and killed by police officers near The Catholic University of America late Monday after he raised a weapon that later was found to be a BB gun, police said.

Sherman Evans, 63, died in a hospital after a confrontation with officers just west of the university, police said. Investigators said they are exploring the possibility that Evans intended to commit "suicide by cop."

Officers were called to the 100 block of Varnum Street NE about 10:30 p.m. On a walkway between two apartment buildings, they found Evans with a gun, police said.

Officers ordered him to drop the gun, but he refused and raised it, police said. The officers opened fire and shot Evans multiple times.

Neighbor Madeline Pautler said she heard the commotion.

"I heard 'Drop the gun! Drop the gun!' and then a little bit of murmuring and maybe a few shouts from the cops, and then, a few seconds later, six gunshots," she said.

Evans was rushed in critical condition to a hospital, where he died. Police then found the weapon he held was a BB gun.

He was in his 60s and lived alone, said Marcus Gant, the manager of his apartment building.

"He was a good guy. He didn't bother anybody," Gant said. "I never would have thought he would do anything like this."

Friends said Evans suffered from depression after his wife died.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call police at 202-727-9099.