<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Local News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usMon, 20 Feb 2017 08:25:38 -0500Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:25:38 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Bao Bao's Last Day in DC: Your Zoo Visit Survival Guide]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:22:18 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/30294433602_3682756444_k.jpg Planning to visit the National Zoo's 3-year-old giant panda before she makes her grand farewell? Monday's your last chance! Read on for our tips on making the most of your visit.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[Food Fears: Dealing With Your Child's Peanut Allergy]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:56:38 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000017816716_1200x675_880906819679.jpg

News4's Doreen Gentzler shares some major changes to the treatment for peanut allergies. 

<![CDATA[Bao Bao's Last Day at the National Zoo]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:53:40 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/201702+Bao+Bao2.jpg

Monday is Bao Bao's last full day at the National Zoo. News4's Molette Green has some tips that will help you make the most of your visit if you want to say goodbye. 

<![CDATA[National Parks Free for Presidents Day]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 07:23:11 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/204*120/harpers-ferry_80300179.jpg

If entrance fees stopped you from visiting a national park in the past, now’s your chance to experience the beauty for free.

National parks will be free Monday in honor of Presidents Day.

The "fee-free" day cover entrance fees, commercial tour fees and transportation entrance fees. While no entrances fees will be collected, camping and tour fees may still apply.

Here’s a list of Maryland and Virginia national parks you can explore for free this upcoming weekend (bonus: the forecast looks sunny!):



  • Antietam National Battlefield
  • Assateague Island National Seashore
  • Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
  • Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
  • Fort Washington Park
  • Harpers Ferry National Historical Park




  • Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
  • Colonial National Historical Park
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway’s Great Falls Park
  • Manassas National Battlefield Park
  • Petersburg National Battlefield
  • Prince William Forest Park
  • Shenandoah National Park


Find the full list of participating parks here.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[An Egg Has Landed! National Arboretum Eagles Expecting Again]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 22:48:53 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DC+Eagle+Egg.jpg

An eagle egg has landed at the National Arboretum! 

Eagle parents, Mr. President and The First Lady, welcomed one egg to their newly built nest Sunday night.

The D.C. region was captivated last spring as they watched when two eaglets chipped out of their shells, gulped down tiny bites of fish from their parents and learned to fly.

The 2016 eaglets, named Freedom and Liberty, are now grown and off on their own -- but their parents returned to the nest in the fall and have been busily preparing for the possibility of a new batch of babies, the American Eagle Foundation said.

The DC Eagle Cam went live in December to stream the new breeding season, with a major upgrade: The cams now include live sound.

In addition, the cams went live much earlier in the season. Last time, they didn't begin streaming until mid-February, at which point the parents were already incubating their eggs, the foundation said.

The eagles are the first pair to nest in the National Arboretum since 1947. They had one baby in 2015 and two this past year. Eagles typically lay one to three eggs each year, the foundation said.

The foundation said the DC Eagle Cam has had more than 60 million views during the five months the camera was live in 2016.

Photo Credit: @dceaglecam/American Eagle Foundation
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<![CDATA[Lights Go Out Again at Washington Monument]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 19:20:37 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Washington+Monument2.jpg

The lights surrounding the Washington Monument were out for a brief time Sunday night, marking the third time the monument has gone dark this year.

A spokesperson for the National Mall and Memorial Parks said about 7 p.m. the red aviation warning lights were functioning normally, but the lights that illuminate the monument did not come on Sunday night.

National Park Service electricians restored the lights a short time later about 7:40 p.m., the spokesperson said.

Lights at the monument went out two separate times in Janurary.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Officer Credited for Helping Save Families From Growing Fire]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 18:38:51 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Clarksburg+Fire1.jpg

A Montgomery County police officer is being credited for potentially saving the lives of several residents during an early-morning house fire in Clarksburg, Maryland.

Officer John Roark was the first one to arrive to the scene of the blaze in the 23100 block of Persimmon Ridge Road about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Two adults and two children had already escaped the large 2-story house where the fire started, but the flames were growing and Roark saw that both homes on either side were in danger.

He said he quickly alerted those residents.

"It was disbelief. You know, here's a police officer knocking at the door at 2:30, 2:45 in the morning saying 'Your neighbor's house is on fire. You're in danger. You need to get out.' A lot of confusion. A lot of disbelief, especially once they got across the street and were able to see what was going on,"  Roark said.

Nooshin Amirpour said she, her husband and her brother were asleep when officer Roark knocked on their door. She credits the officer with potentially saving their lives.

"I said 'Thank you. Great job and much appreciated.' I think that these guys saved lives, especially the house nextdoor," Amirpour said.

Seventy-five firefighters responded to the house fire and the intense heat melted the siding of Amirpour's home and the other home nextdoor.

A Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman said the fire was caused by "improperly discarded smoking material" on the deck or porch. There is more than $700,000 in damage, including the heat damage to the other two homes.

The family that lived in the house where the fire started had just moved in a few weeks ago and neighbors said they are collecting money and other donations to help them. They have two school-aged children.

"We're just trying to help them with clothing and toys for the kids. One of the sad things was it was the little girl's birthday just a few weeks ago, so she was sad she lost all of her birthday toys, but obviously the parents have much bigger problems than that," said neighbor Jennifer Dye.

A GoFundMe page for the family has raised more than $1,700 so far.

Photo Credit: Pete Piringer/Montgomery County Fire and Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[2 Girls Reported Missing in DC]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:46:13 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/missing+girls+dc.jpg

D.C. police are asking for the public's help finding two girls who were reported missing in separate incidents.

Torri Marie Gibson, 11, was last seen Saturday at 11:30 a.m. in the 4700 block of 6th Street NE, police said.

Gibson is 4 feet 11 inches and 70 to 80 pounds. She has brown eyes, brown hair and a medium complexion. She also has braces with blue bands on her teeth, police said.

Police do not have description of what she was wearing at the time she went missing.

Talisha Coles, 16, was last seen Feb. 16 in the 1000 block of Maryland Avenue NE. 

Coles is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. She has brown eyes and black hair. Police do not know what she was wearing when she was last seen. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Youth and Family Services Division at 202-576-6768 or the Command Information Center at 202-727-9099. 

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for updates.

<![CDATA[Man Shot, Killed at Arlington House Party, Suspect at Large]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 08:37:48 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/arlington+county+party+shooting.jpg

Arlington County, Virginia, police are searching for a man they say was involved in a murder at a house party early Sunday morning.

About 3:30 a.m., officers found 23-year-old Michael Gray, of Manassas, suffering from a gunshot wound at a house in the 6300 block of 29th Street North in the Williamsburg neighborhood, police said. They immediately started performing CPR on Gray.

He was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Arlington County police are looking for 37-year-old Jason Allen Johnson, of D.C. He is wanted for murder for "his role" in Gray's killing, police said.

Johnson is considered armed and dangerous, according to police. He is described as a black man who is 5 feet 5 inches and weighs about 145 pounds. Police said he was last known to be headed toward Maryland.

Investigators said the shooting stemmed from a dispute at the house party.

Anyone with information about Johnson's whereabouts is asked to call 911 immediately and should not approach him.

Photo Credit: Derrick Ward, NBC Washington
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<![CDATA[Special Police Officer Shot in Southeast DC]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 07:46:54 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DC+police+officers.JPG

A special police officer was shot Saturday night in Southeast Washington, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

The woman was shot in the leg in the 2300 block of Green Street SE, D.C. police said. She is expected to recover.

Police said the shooter, a man, was in an older model white Ford Expedition. They said the officer was working a special detail at an apartment complex.

Photo Credit: Darcy Spencer/NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[2-Year-Old Struck by Car in Critical Condition]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 07:55:25 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/2017-02-19_0751.png

A 2-year-old boy is critically injured after he was hit by a car in a parking lot in Takoma Park, Maryland, police said.

About 4:40 p.m. Saturday, officers responded to the 8200 block of Roanoke Avenue. The boy was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said.

The driver remained on the scene, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (301) 270-1100.

<![CDATA[Growning Concerns with Virginia Gang Activity]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 08:42:53 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000017810691_1200x675_880533571623.jpg

The growing issue of gangs in the region took center stage, sparked tragically by the brutal death of a 15-year-old girl from Gaithersburg. In northern Virginia, the problem is more widespread.

Helping us delve into what this means, Jay Lanham, head of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, joined News 4’s David Culver.

<![CDATA[Man Surrenders After Barricading Himself Inside DC Apartment]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 00:09:00 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000017808864_1200x675_880422467985.jpg

A stabbing suspect surrendered to police after hours of barricading himself inside a D.C. apartment. News4's Darcy Spencer reports.

<![CDATA[Veterans Document War Memories for Library Of Congress]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 19:18:35 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Veteran+Transcribing.jpg

Volunteers helped transcribe war memories from local veterans Saturday. News4's Derrick Ward was in Bethesda to hear some of their stories.

<![CDATA[Man Barricades Himself Inside DC Apartment Building]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 18:46:00 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/SWAT+Team1.jpg

D.C. police say a man has barricaded himself inside his apartment in Northeast, after assaulting someone. News4's Darcy Spencer reports.

<![CDATA[Woman Dies After 2 Motorcycles Crash in Va., Man Arrested]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 16:08:07 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Robert+Potts.jpg

A woman is dead after two motorcycles crashed in Virginia and that alcohol and speed were factors in the crash, police say.

Police in Prince William County say the crash happened early Saturday in Woodbridge. The driver of one motorcycle braked to turn and that the second driver, who was following behind, was unable to stop, police said. The motorcycles then crashed.

Police said 53-year-old Nellie Rae Sacra of Woodbridge, the motorcycle driver who was unable to stop her motorcycle in time to prevent a crash, was taken to the hospital and died of her injuries. The driver of the first motorcycle, 53-year-old Robert James Potts, sustained minor injuries, police said.

Potts was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

Police said the motorcyclists knew each other.

Photo Credit: Prince William County Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[2-Alarm Fire Burns Fairfax County Home]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 10:29:50 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/McLean+Fire.jpg

A two-alarm fire burned a home in McLean, Virginia, and crews spent nearly two hours trying to knock down the blaze.

Firefighters were called to the 800 block of Turkey Run Road for a house fire at 8 a.m. Saturday. A family inside the home was able to escape after smoke alarms went off, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said.

Video taken from a person at the scene showed heavy flames through the roof and dark clouds of smoke rising high above the house.

The area is heavily wooded with a narrow road, which made it difficult for crews to get water to the fire.

About 9:45 a.m., the county fire department said the bulk of the fire was out, and crews were working on extinguishing small pockets of fire.

Photo Credit: Edwin Kuhn]]>
<![CDATA[Death with Dignity Law Begins, Avoids Congressional Move]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 09:43:22 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dc-flag-shutterstock_206336774.jpg

The District's Death with Dignity Law is set to take effect on Saturday, despite attempts by Congressional Republicans to shut down the measure.

On Friday, the 30-day Congressional review period ended without a joint House and Senate measure that would have killed it. The law allows doctors to provide lethal medication to some terminally ill patients.

D.C. becomes the seventh jurisdiction in the nation with a similar law.

Congress can still try to prevent the measure from getting funding. Congress has the power to invalidate any D.C. law with a disapproval resolution, but it has not done so since 1991.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) vowed to stop the law, calling it “misguided” and “immoral.” The law was signed last year by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D)

<![CDATA[GWU Gymnast Surprised With Special Reunion]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 23:53:18 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000017806068_1200x675_880062531857.jpg

A senior gymnast at George Washington University was reunited with her brother who has been stationed in Kuwait for nearly a year. The special moment was a complete surprise.

<![CDATA[Woman Killed, Man Critically Injured in Manassas Stabbing]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 22:24:02 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/police+lights+rain3.jpg

An apparent domestic stabbing in Manassas, Virginia, has left a woman dead and a man critically injured, police said.

Officers went to the 7300 block of Forrester Lane just before 6:30 p.m. Friday to investigate a stabbing, police said. They found a woman and man suffering from stab wounds.

The woman was pronounced dead at the house, and a man was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said.

Police said it appears the man, 40, stabbed the woman during a fight at the house and then went to another area of the home where he stabbed himself. Other residents at the home tried to intervene and called police.

On Saturday, police identified the woman as 40-year-old Silvia Patricia Ramos Guillen. Her death is Prince William County's second homicide of the year.

Charges are pending and police are continuing to investigate, police said.

<![CDATA[U.S. Capitol Plans Security Upgrades]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 08:15:34 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/US+Capitol+GettyImages-634031348.jpg

U.S. Capitol officials are planning a series of security upgrades outside the Capitol Complex, including installation of an underground alarm system, reinforced windows and K-9 units outside building entrances.

The security upgrades, confirmed by multiple officials to the News4 I-Team, are being made to better prevent potential threats from entering buildings on the complex.

The U.S. House Sergeant at Arms announced some of the enhancements during testimony in front of the U.S. House Committee on Administration. Records released by the committee detail the nature of the changes.

The upgrades are being planned in the wake of a series of high-profile threats on the complex, including a visitor brandishing a firearm at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center and a protester crashing a gyrocopter on the west front lawn of the Capitol.

Capitol administrators plan to install “new, reinforced windows” to upgrade and strengthen the exterior faces of the U.S. House office buildings, including the Longworth, Rayburn and Cannon buildings, which all face the south side of the Capitol, the records said.

An underground alarm system, which one congressional staffer compared to an “invisible fence,” would be built inches below the ground on the outside perimeter of the Capitol Building. The fencing, which would be installed by technicians with the Architect of the Capitol, would help detect threats after hours at the complex and help prevent trespassers from entering restricted spaces.

According to committee records, U.S. Capitol Police plan to add highly specialized K-9 teams near building entrances “to patrol exterior zones to prescreen visitors and enhance our presence.” The officers would be deployed “to tactically address security concerns at key exterior points of entry in order to identify and mitigate threats before they reach the interior security screening checkpoints,” according to the records.

Security enhancements on Capitol Hill are a balancing act for administrators, because Capitol Hill is an open campus for visitors, tourists, student groups, staff and lobbyists. More than 15,000 people work for the U.S. Congress, according to researchers at Legistorm, a D.C.-based organization tracking congressional employment.

“When advancing security initiatives, I work with the Capitol Police, the Capitol Police Board and my oversight committees to ensure the initiatives provide a greater level of safety and security to the members, staff and visitors, while maintaining the openness and park-like nature of the Capitol surroundings,” U.S. House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving told the I-Team. “I believe these initiatives do that with little to no adverse impact on the traditions and processes of the institution.”

Timing for the upgrades is unclear until Congress completes its appropriations process to fund the legislative branch for 2017-2018. Congressional appropriations committees are expected to deliberate and discuss the plans in late spring. A hearing to discuss congressional funding was canceled Wednesday.

"The sergeant-at-arms works hard to implement a number of safety initiatives to protect those who live and work near the Capitol grounds," said Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), chairman of the Committee on House Administration. "I thank our law enforcement men and women for their continued dedication to keeping our institution accessible to our constituents, as well as finding the right mix of tools to keep us all safe.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Family Seeks Answers in Valentine's Day Murder]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 23:51:13 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Martin_Nchotaku.jpg

A tearful vigil was held for Martin Nchotaku, who died hours before his 21st birthday. Police in Greenbelt, Maryland, are still searching for his killer. News4's Darcy Spencer reports friends and family left balloons at the spot where he was killed on Valentine's Day. 

<![CDATA[Thieves Target High-End Stores in Georgetown]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 23:43:30 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Kate+Spade1.jpg

While police have made some progress in the crackdown on thieves who are targeting high-end stores in our area, two more robberies happened at luxury stores in Georgetown. News4’s Jackie Bensen reports.

<![CDATA[Dance Teacher Accused of Having Sex With Young Girl]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 08:59:08 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Chase+Peklo.jpg

A man trusted to teach dance to children is accused of having inappropriate relationships with girls as young as 13 years old and having sex with a 14-year-old, police say.

Fairfax County police said 19-year-old Chase Clark Peklo, of Sterling, Virginia, has been under investigation since Feb. 6, when the owner of Adrenaline Studio in Vienna alerted police that an alleged sexual offense happened between an instructor and a student.

According to police, Peklo inappropriately communicated with a 13-year-old and two 14-year-old girls from December 2015 to November 2016. Peklo is also accused of having a sexual relationship with one of the 14-year-old girls.

Peklo was arrested Thursday and charged with carnal knowledge of a child between 13 and 15 years old and five counts of child pornography.

Adrenaline Studio fired Peklo when the investigation started. They issued a statement.

"19-year old Chase Peklo, a student and part-time instructor at Adrenaline Studios, was arrested and is facing charges based upon an inappropriate relationship with another student at our studio and inappropriately communicating via his phone with two others. He was a dance student affiliated with Adrenaline Studios for 6 years and beginning this season, he recently served as a part-time assistant-instructor since graduating from high school last year. These allegations are a complete shock to the Adrenaline family and our hearts are breaking for the young women involved and their families.

"Based on what I was told by Fairfax County detectives, none of these activities ever occurred on our premises or at any Adrenaline sponsored events. We are confident that nothing occurred on premises because: (1) we have had cameras in place in our studios since the day we opened along with windows on every door: (2) he was never in a position to be alone with any individual student (either as a student or part-time assistant instructor; and (3) the layout of our studios and the constant presence of parents and other instructions is simply not conducive to the alleged activities taking place here.

"On Monday, February 6, a student came forward and I (owner of Adrenaline Studios) was first informed of text messages sent by Chase Peklo to that student. I believed them to be inappropriate and, because the safety of our students comes first, I immediately contacted the mother of the student and together we contacted the Fairfax County Police. Within an hour and a half of being notified of these messages, the three of us had a meeting with a Fairfax County Police Officer. At that point, Fairfax County Police took over.

"Although I only had limited information, I called the Fairfax County Police because I wanted to ensure that this matter was investigated thoroughly. He was terminated immediately, he was interviewed by Fairfax County detectives and I served him with a no trespass notice which provided for his immediate arrest if he were to ever step foot on Adrenaline property.

"Within two days, parent meetings were held for the parents of the students in our All-Star competition program (approximately 125 students) because Chase was a member of that program and well known to the other dancers and parents. I explained to them what we knew at that time and told them he was terminated and served a no trespass notice.

"While we initially contacted police based on the text messages alone, detectives later informed us of the other charges that were filed because of information they learned during their investigation.

"Note that although he recently served as a part-time assistant-instructor here, he did not coach or teach any of the young ladies identified.

"We have a very family-like atmosphere here with parents that are incredibly involved. Our lobby is constantly filled with parents waiting for their kids to finish class so this came as a huge surprise to all of us and we are heartbroken on so many levels.

"We continue to put the safety of our students first - that is why we have tried to be as transparent as possible with the parents at our studio while going to great lengths to maintain the privacy of the young women involved and ensure that their identities remain protected.

"We will continue to cooperate with the authorities and have asked that any other students that may have been affected to please come forward."

Jennifer Koonce, Owner, Adrenaline Studios

Peklo previously taught dance at Stage Door in the 7200 block of New Market Court in Manassas, police said.

Police believe there could be more victims and asking people with more information to call (703) 246-7898 or Crime Solvers by texting “TIP187” plus your message to CRIMES(274637) or by calling 1 (866) 411-TIPS (8477), or call Fairfax County Police at (703) 691-2131.

Photo Credit: Fairfax County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Botched Zika Tests Worry Couple Who Moved From Miami]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 20:31:51 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Melissa+and+Brandon+Levitt.jpg

An expectant couple that moved from Miami to Washington to avoid the Zika virus when she got pregnant is worrying about the results of their retests after D.C. officials announced hundreds of tests performed last year were flawed.

"We find out that Zika is in Miami and we find out that Zika has been in Miami for seven weeks," said Melissa Levitt, now nine months pregnant.

So they moved away from Florida.

"We were terrified,” she said. “We felt like this was our baby's life and we don't want to risk it."

She and her husband, Brandon, thought their Zika worries were over until they learned about flawed testing in the D.C. Department of Forensic Sciences’ Public Health Laboratory.

"For seven months, we've breathed a sigh of relief,” she said. “Then all of the sudden yesterday to hear, Wait, this test may have given you a false negative, it's really scary."

Multiple controls failed, a spokeswoman with the Department of Forensic Sciences said.

The lab botched Zika tests for 409 people between July and December -- mostly pregnant women. Those patients were told they tested negative, but they all have to be retested. So far, two women who were pregnant have found out they do have the virus after being told they didn’t.

"We realize it was just a false sense of security for the last seven or eight months,” Brandon Levitt said. “Pretty scary."

The baby's ultrasounds look healthy, but the Levitts can't help but worry.

“There are some symptoms of Zika that develop after birth that you couldn't have even seen in an ultrasound,” Melissa Levitt said.

The Levitts’ doctor has 20 patients being retested.

"We'll make sure that they have the follow up that we've been recommending -- every 4 weeks," said Dr. Rita Driggers, medical director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Sibley Memorial Hospital.

She added, "The earlier you're informed, the more options you have as far as what you want to do to move forward."

The Department of Forensic Sciences said it’s doing an internal review. It can't comment on whether anyone will face disciplinary action.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Jaffe Report: Inside the Claims Against Trump's D.C. Hotel]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 00:28:40 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_16338465729777.jpg

Harry Jaffe, a longtime chronicler of the people and politics of Washington, D.C., writes a column for NBC Washington's First Read DMV blog.

We have arrived at a post-accountability moment where facts no longer matter, thanks to President Trump. We might be on our way to a post-credibility moment.

But we are not post liability.

Last week, Freestate Electrical amended the complaint it had filed in January in D.C. Superior Court charging that the Trump International Hotel is liable for more than $2 million in unpaid construction costs. Freestate is one of four local contractors alleging Trump’s company stiffed them for a total of $5 million during construction of Trump’s luxury hotel down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House.

Court documents describe dramatic demands on contractors in a race to complete construction so Trump could moon for the TV cameras last September in the midst of his presidential campaign.

"Acceleration of Freestate's work required Freestate’s crews to work nonstop, seven days per week, 10 to 14 hours per day, for nearly 50 consecutive days, prior to the 'soft opening,' at significant additional cost and expense for which Freestate expected payment," reads one claim in the lawsuit.

Payment that has yet to come.

Trump's hotel deal on America's main street is rife with potential for conflict of interest. Hold that. It is the epitome of conflict.

Trump won the right to turn the Old Post Office Building into a hotel in 2013. The federal government owns the land, so Trump is leasing the hotel from the General Services Administration.

As president, Trump has purview over GSA, which means he's both landlord and tenant. If that’s not a conflict, the contract between Trump and GSA says no elected official "shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom . . ."

Since the president is still part of the company that owns the hotel, he indeed stands to benefit.

If there's any doubt President Trump is personally in the lawsuit, court documents include his signature on Exhibit 1, a copy of the lease agreement.

Trump could have avoided the claims by not repeating his company's pattern of short-changing contractors. Freestate said Trump offered to pay a third of the costs "evidencing a typical business practice meant to force subcontractors to accept 'pennies on the dollar'" instead of full payment, according to its complaint.

Since Freestate's suit, M.C. Dean, one of the region’s most prominent contractors, filed a mechanics’ lien with the D.C. government for $250,313 in unpaid bills, according to documents filed with D.C. government.

Could the Trump hotel deal on Pennsylvania Avenue be one of the threads that pull apart the fabric protecting the president and his enterprises?

It certainly exposes him to congressional attacks.

"Any organization operating under a federal contract should meet its obligations to its small business partners," Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio told me by email. He's the top Democrat on the House committee with jurisdiction over the GSA.

"If Mr. Trump owes these small businesses money, he should pay them immediately," DeFazio said.

DeFazio promised to "do what I can to force GSA to provide answers about the liens and the massive conflicts of interest involved with the Trump Organization’s lease."

DeFazio and other Democrats have asked GSA to provide documentation that Trump is current on lease payments and reports on revenue and expenses submitted from Trump’s organization.

The Trump Organization did not reply to my questions on the liens and GSA. In response to a Washington Post story on the liens, a company spokesman wrote “the filing of nominal liens at the conclusion of construction is not uncommon as part of the close out process.”

If President Trump had divested himself from his eponymous business enterprises, he could have avoided these conflicts, which have the potential to become full blown scandals. Perhaps he figured he was beyond accountability.

But not even the president is beyond liability. Freestate’s case is scheduled for trial April 28.

Photo Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP]]>
<![CDATA[Maxwell to Become First Two-Term PGCPS CEO in 20 Years]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 20:34:24 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/PGCPS+CEO+Kevin+Maxwell+092216.jpg

The head of Prince George’s County Public Schools is renewing his contract and staying on for another four years, a big moment for the system, which hasn’t had a two-term superintendent in more than 20 years.

“This community gave me the life I have today,” Dr. Kevin Maxwell said. “The opportunity to stand here as the leader of the school system from which I graduated.”

“We don’t want a superintendent who comes here, makes a name and goes off somewhere else, because we had seven superintendents in as many years,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.

This inconsistency in leadership contributed to a decline in school performance and enrollment. Some parents placed their children in private schools, refusing to consider public school as an option.

“Lots of highly educated parents, like myself, will withhold their kids thinking that they’re giving them a better education, but when all of us do that, we’re creating a huge void in our schools,” said parent Meghan Thornton.

Thornton said her decision to move her children from private school to public school was in part due to Maxwell’s leadership.

Since Maxwell began in 2013, the county has experienced increased specialty programs, growing enrollment and the highest graduation in the state. But his first term has also been fraught with scandal.

Multiple cases of student sexual and physical abuse by staff lead to a number of arrests, mass firings and suspensions that had some calling for Maxwell’s job. Baker says Maxwell’s handling of these difficult incidents is part of the reason he’s the man for the job.

“At every point of an incident that has happened in our school system, I have never lost confidence in the man that is sitting there,” Baker said, indicating Maxwell.

Maxwell’s decision to stay on has provided much needed consistency, Duval High School Principal Mark Covington said.

“Dr. Maxwell, his guidance, his vision, make it very clear and make it very easy for the educators to stay focused on what’s most important,” Covington said. “And that’s educating the kids.”

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia Middle School Teacher Charged with Sexual Battery]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:51:11 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/estrada5.jpg

A math teacher in Falls Church, Virginia, has been charged for the sexual battery of two students, police say.

Jose Daniel Estrada, 36, was arrested Friday. Estrada had been placed on leave at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School on Jan. 17 after Falls Church City Public Schools learned of allegations involving two girls, the school system said in a press release.

Police did not provide further information about the allegations.

Estrada, of Clifton, began working for the school system in July 2015, a spokesperson said.

He is being held at the Arlington County Jail.

Police think there could be other victims and are encouraging anyone with information to call them at (703) 248-5327. 

Photo Credit: City of Falls Church Police]]>
<![CDATA[Hateful Message Found at University of Mary Washington]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:28:39 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Mary+Washington+Students.jpg

A hateful message found on a bulletin board at the University of Mary Washington included a swastika and an anti-gay slur. News4’s Chris Gordon talked to students who fear they were personally targeted.

<![CDATA[Weekend Warmup: 13 Ways to Enjoy the Spring-Like DC Weather]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:53:31 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-482995765.jpg

Last weekend was supposed to be a mini-spring here in DC... but Mother Nature didn't quite deliver. That's OK, though, because it looks like she'll redeem herself this weekend!

Storm Team4 predicts temps will be in the upper 60s both Saturday and Sunday.

Here's a roundup of some fun ways to enjoy this weekend's unusual February warmth.

Get some exercise:

  • Roosevelt Island Parkrun: Lace up your sneakers and head outside to burn some calories. Parkrun offers free weekly 5Ks on Roosevelt Island. You can get your exercise in on Saturday at 9 a.m.! Register online here just once and you'll be able to participate in any parkrun, anywhere! There are also weekly parkruns in Fletcher's Cove and College Park.
  • Free Entrance Day at National Parks: Entrance fees will be waived on Presidents Day at national parks across the country to celebrate the National Park Service's 100th birthday! Go for an invigorating hike or a leisurely stroll at nearby favorites such as Harpers Ferry, Shenandoah or maybe even Assateague Island National Seashore.

Visit a Market:

  • Union Market: This favorite D.C. hotspot is the perfect place to grab lunch with a friend this weekend. Bonus: Union Market will be open on Presidents Day! Find the list of hours and vendors at Union Market's website.
  • Eastern Market: This Capitol Hill treasure is a hub for food, art and community events. Vendors and special items are highlighted here.
  • FRESHFARM Dupont Circle Market: From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, you can scope out some delicious produce, pastries, desserts or anything else you may crave. Just take a quick Metro ride to the Dupont Circle stop and check out this massive, award-winning farmer's market.

Check out a museum (or the zoo):

  • Smithsonian National Zoo: Visit Bao Bao, one of D.C.'s favorite giant pandas, before she leaves for China on Feb. 21. Admission to the zoo is free; the zoo is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We've put together a zoo visit survival guide for what will likely be a busy weekend there.
  • The Newseum: Calling all news junkies! This interactive museum has several new exhibits that will spark curiosity in people of all ages. Be sure to check out the "1967: Civil Rights at 50" exhibit, 'Louder Than Words," a tribute to rock and roll's political and social influence, or the Top 10 VR Videos of the Month. General admission tickets are $24.95 plus tax.
  • Tudor Place: This National Historic Landmark and former home to descendants of the Washington family features a collection of artifacts from George Washington. This month, visitors can tour the house for $1 in celebration of the first president's birthday! Reserve a tour in advance online here.

Go Ice Skating:

If you're clinging to that winter feeling despite the warmer temperatures, rent some skates and hit the ice. Spend an afternoon at one of D.C.'s ice rinks.

  • National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink: This outdoor rink is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. Admission for adults is $8.50 and skate rentals are $3.
  • The Washington Harbour Ice Rink: This rink will be particularly fun on Saturday night from 8 to 10 p.m., with the weekly Rock N Skate. The rink is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults with a $6 skate rental.
  • Pentagon Row Outdoor Ice Skating: You can skate before or after shopping and dining in Pentagon City; the rink is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $9 and skate rentals are $4.
  • Find more local ice rinks here.

Eat Some Good Food: 

Photo Credit: Getty Images for EDENS
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<![CDATA[News4's Shomari Stone Named Most Romantic Man In America]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 18:40:28 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Shomari+Stone+Most+Romantic+Man+in+America.jpg

Our very own Shomari Stone was named the Most Romantic Man in America today on the Steve Harvey Show! Watch him share his romance advice with Pat Lawson Muse and Chris Lawrence after his big win.

Photo Credit: Steve Harvey Show]]>
<![CDATA[High School Students Address Depression by Singing About It]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:54:51 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/A+Will+to+Survive+Loudoun+County.jpg

A group of teenagers sings about depression and mental illness at schools througout Loudoun County, Virginia, to spread hope, save lives and honor one life lost too soon. Aimee Cho reports.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Fairfax Police: Young Murder Victim Was Lured to His Death]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:45:55 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Police_Generic_Police_Tape_Police_Lights_Fishtown_722x406_2202385257.jpg

Fairfax County police believe the young murder victim whose death sparked a wide-ranging investigation into gang ties -- an investigation that uncovered another teen's murder -- was lured to his death.

The first victim was Christian Sosa Rivas, who was killed in Prince William County in January. A search warrant filed in court revealed that Sosa Rivas had styled himself as a leader of a local clique of the gang MS-13 -- a claim that didn't sit well with other gang leaders.

"Local MS13 clique leaders began contacting the victim and questioning his rank," the search warrant reads.

Police believe those leaders then used the social media accounts “of female associates in an effort to lure out unsuspecting victims” like Sosa Rivas.

According to the search warrant, police believe Sosa Rivas was lured away from his normal surroundings, and murdered.

Police are concerned about a growing gang threat in the greater Washington, D.C. area, including at area schools.

“We are seeing a lot of increase in recruiting in high school and middle schools, which is alarming to us," said Jay Lanham, director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force.

Police do not believe random students are being targeted. But, they said, what’s being discussed in schools and online is helping investigators track gang activity.

“We have school resource officers," said Fairfax County Police Sgt. Jonathan Perok. "You’d be surprised how much information is gathered just by having that officer in the school.”

Sosa Rivas' murder has now been tied to the murder of 15-year-old Damaris Alexandra Reyes Rivas. Investigators working on Sosa Rivas' case found Reyes' body last Saturday near Lake Accotink in Springfield; she had been missing for two months.

A total of 10 suspects have been charged in connection with the girl's abduction and death, the majority of the suspects are juveniles. Police believe everyone involved is acquainted or affiliated with one gang, Fairfax County Police 2nd Lt. Brian Gaydos said.

Reyes' family members have identified that gang as MS-13.

Police began to unravel Reyes' murder while attending a multi-jurisdiction briefing Jan. 25 led by Prince George's County Police, said Fairfax Police Chief Edwin Roessler during a press conference Thursday.

During the January event, authorities determined that two missing juveniles from Fairfax County were "indirectly linked by association" to Sosa Rivas' death, Roessler said.

Photo Credit: NBC10Philadelphia]]>
<![CDATA[Virginia Faith Leaders Concerned About Recent Raids]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 18:47:27 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Faith+Leaders+Protest.jpg

Recent arrests of undocumented immigrants near a Fairfax County, Virginia, church are prompting some faith leaders to take their concerns about ICE raids directly to Homeland Security offices. News4's Julie Carey spoke with those faith leaders and a supporter of President Trump who says the arrests are making Virginia safer.

<![CDATA[Congress Members Reminded to Remain Vigilant at Home]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 19:57:01 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_17041045862245-constituents-protest-GOP.jpg

A new memo distributed to members of Congress Thursday told them to remain vigilant as they leave the protective bubble of the nation’s capital and return to their home districts for the Presidents Day week recess.

The memo from the U.S. House sergeant-at-arms to every representative in the House doesn’t mention a specific threat, but it instructs them to alert their local police if they plan to attend a public meeting.

A series of town hall meetings in the hometowns of congressional leaders have been volatile recently. None has turned violent, but at least one person was arrested and some police escorts have helped protect the Congress members leading the events.

"Contact the proper law enforcement authority to coordinate any necessary police assistance at the event," the memo said.

The alert also warned them to be careful near their homes.

"It is especially critical to note that if your home address and phone number are publicly available, you should remain particularly alert regarding your surroundings."

This type of warning is reminiscent of the alerts sent out six years ago when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in her hometown in Arizona, according to Brad Fitch, head of the Congressional Management Foundation, which works with Congress members and their constituents toward improving trust and effectiveness.

"We have occasional periods in our history where offices of Congress become the places of protest or even, in some cases, attacks," Fitch said.

All members of Congress have offices on Capitol Hill, where they are surrounded by hundreds of elite police officers and a bomb squad, but they also maintain official offices in their home cities. Many also are well secured.

Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton's longtime office in a southeast D.C. complex has a guard in the lobby, as does Rep. John Delaney’s office in a Gaithersburg, Maryland, office tower.

Congressman Jamie Raskin has his district office in the same place as his predecessor Sen. Chris Van Hollen did -- a downtown office tower in Rockville. Like so many local members of Congress, his office is open to the public, but it's secured with a locked door, a buzzer and card access.

That's the challenge, Fitch said. Members of Congress have police protection at the Capitol but must also keep an open door to constituents in their home states.

"Congress can't be a fortress,” Fitch said. “It has this dual tradition of being open and accessible because that's tradition."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Community Responds to ICE Raids]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:30:28 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000017800434_1200x675_879640643643.jpg

News4's Justin Finch is live in Alexandria, where people are responding to reports of new raids and detentions from federal immigration agents.

<![CDATA[Md. Officer Sentenced for Taking Upskirt Photos of Women]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:17:03 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/james+sims.jpg

A former Prince George's County police officer will be on probation for three years for taking upskirt photos of multiple women.

Officer James Sims was sentenced Friday to a suspended sentence of one year and three years of supervised probation. 

On June 1, 2016, an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction reported that Sims tried to take an inappropriate photo of her at a Sports Authority store in Bowie, Maryland. The victim chased Sims into the parking lot and watched him get into his marked police cruiser to escape, prosecutors said.

Investigators later discovered additional incidents, including at least two photos that were taken during traffic stops. 

Sims was indicted on four counts of visual surveillance with prurient intent and two counts of misconduct in office. 

Police Chief Hank Stawinksi said Sims' behavior does not represent other officers. 

“Violations of the community’s trust are the most serious infractions a police officer can commit,” said Stawinski. “I would like to apologize to the community but also reassure our residents that this has been taken extraordinarily seriously as a form of corruption.” 

Sims was a 6-year veteran at the time of the incident. 

Photo Credit: Prince George's County Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Mother Tongue Festival Showcases Films From Around the World]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:32:54 -0500 //media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000017800446_1200x675_879645251770.jpg

The Mother Tongue Film Festival is a free, 5-day event that offers screenings of feature-length and short films from across the globe. The screenings take place at Smithsonian museums and other locations throughout the district. Joshua Bell and Melissa Bisagni stopped by News4 Midday to talk about the festival.