<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Sun, 01 Feb 2015 14:53:15 -0500 Sun, 01 Feb 2015 14:53:15 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Why the Patriots — or the Seahawks — Will Win]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 13:15:21 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/brady-wilson-2.jpg

Watch live pre-game coverage of Super Bowl XLIX on NBCSports.com.

Both the Seahawks and Patriots have won Super Bowls before. So who will win Super Bowl XLIX Sunday in Glendale, Arizona? A case can be made for both:

Why the Patriots could win

It’s a dynasty. New England has won three Super Bowls in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, which qualifies for as much of a dynasty as the NFL has right now. The coach and QB have come up big when it counts before, so they’ll find a way to win a fourth.

The “evil genius” factor. Belichick may not be well-liked these days (or maybe ever), but he’s found a way to reach five of these championship games and win three. The personnel has turned over and the staff has changed, but Belichick knows his Xs and Os and is known for figuring out ways to limit the effectiveness of his opponents’ best players. Certainly he’ll come up with something special to stop Marshawn Lynch and limit Russell Wilson’s impact as a runner.

LeGarrette Blount. Since the running back joined New England after his release by the Steelers in November, the Pats’ running game has had an explosive, workhorse ballcarrier to keep defenses honest. If the Seahawks defense spreads out and focuses its efforts on stopping tight end Rob Gronkowski or wideout Julian Edelman, Blount should be able to gash them with power runs.

Special teams superiority. Both teams are solid in all areas, but New England’s punt-return, kick coverage and field-goal blocking abilities are a tick better. One big play could be the difference.

Brady-to-Gronkowski. The passing combination may be the hardest to stop in the NFL when Gronk is healthy, and he’s been healthy and very productive.

Why the Seahawks could win 

Karma. The flip side to the “evil genius” factor. The Patriots have been caught bending the rules before, so the whole “Deflategate” scandal from the AFC Championship Game is just the latest chapter. Remember, the Patriots went into Super Bowl XLII in February 2008, trying to complete an undefeated season, when they were upset by the Giants -- after the whole “Spygate” controversy first surfaced. That was Karma I. This could be Karma II.

Pete Carroll. The Seattle head coach has managed to get his team to peak at the right time for two seasons now. The Seahawks play hard for him, and Carroll’s defense was No. 1 overall and No. 1 vs. the pass this season. After surviving a scare against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, all the mojo is on the side of Seattle's upbeat coach.

Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks’ All-Pro safety will be the man tasked with containing Gronkowski, and he seems ideally suited for the job. He’s big, strong and athletic and should be up to the task. If Seattle can take away Brady’s No. 1 target, the Pats will be playing with one hand tied behind their back.

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ young quarterback just wins. He’s not the best passer in the league -- until crunch time. Then he simply finds a way to make plays with his arm and his feet. He has a 6-1 playoff record, including five straight wins. In a meeting of the teams in 2012, Wilson led two late touchdown drives as the Seahawks pulled out a comeback victory.

Marshawn Lynch. If the Seahawks can get “Beast Mode” in gear early, they can control the game’s tempo. And it will help open up other avenues for the Seattle offense. Plus, after a week of Lynch vs. media shenanigans leading up to the game, wouldn’t it be perfect for Lynch to win the MVP award and get yet another chance to be interviewed on national TV? “I’m just here so I won't get fined… and to get my trophy.”



Photo Credit: Getty images]]>
<![CDATA[Montgomery Co. Apartment Burns; Two Injured]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 09:28:41 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/bethesda+apartment+fire+2.jpg

A four-story apartment in Montgomery County caught fire early Sunday morning, forcing residents out and injuring two firefighters.

Spokesman Pete Piringer said the building in the 5100 block of Dudley Lane in Bethesda started burning a little after 3 a.m. About 140 firefighters were called to the scene.

The residents evacuated after alarms and sprinklers activated. Two firefighters were slightly injured.

Piringer said the fire appears to have started in a dryer and vent. At least three families are displaced and are being assisted by the American Red Cross.



Photo Credit: Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[Prayers For Young Caps Fan - #PRAY4BMAN]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 09:17:51 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009328694_1200x675_391941699754.jpg Prayers are pouring in for a young Caps fan hurt in a sledding accident. #PRAY4BMAN]]> <![CDATA[Councilmembers Want to Bring Movie Production to D.C.]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:24:11 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/51885362.jpg

Hit shows like "House of Cards" and "Scandal" are all about Washington, D.C., but it's rare that you'll ever see a production crew filming here.

It's not because of security concerns that shows and movies don't shoot in the city; it's bureaucracy and money.

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans wants movies made here. He says the first step is to get Pennsylvania Avenue under local control.

Currently, the city controls the street, but the sidewalks are controlled by the U.S. National Parks Service, a federal agency.

"So, you have everybody in charge, which means what? Nobody's in charge," Evans says.

Evans and Councilmember Vincent Orange are pushing legislation to put the whole of Pennsylvania Avenue under local control. They want to open the street for redevelopment, with new shops and sidewalk cafés, which are currently not allowed.

Additionally, the two councilmembers want to offer studios tax incentives to film in D.C.

Movies and television shows have used cities like Baltimore, Richmond or Cleveland as stand-ins for Washington, often due to tax breaks.

Ron Dixon, who runs local producation company Studio 202, said D.C. is perfect for the film business, but studios will go where they can get the best deal.

"Currently, we're out of the game because we don't have available funds. Certainly not on the level that Maryland and Virginia has," he said.

Joseph Martin has scouted Washington scenes for movies for more than two decades. He says other jobs are created when productions come to town.

"When we do big shoots, if we're down by the Lincoln Memorial, we're setting up tents, we're feeding the crew there, the actors there," Martin said. "We need porta-johns, carpenters, electricians, there's a whole army of people."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fairfax Co. Residents React to New Information on Geer Shooting]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 20:39:39 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009327810_1200x675_391894083781.jpg Residents attend the annual Mount Vernon Town Hall meeting to voice their concerns over John Geer document release.]]> <![CDATA[Former Redskins Linebacker Trades In Plays For Paint Brush]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 20:44:59 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009327916_1200x675_391889987998.jpg News4's Jim Handly spoke to Andre Collins about his charity, "Smocks and Jocks"]]> <![CDATA[Teen Dies after Struck by Car in Prince George's Co.]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 15:27:49 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ambulance-shutterstock_145886451.jpg

Prince George's County police say a District of Columbia teenager has died after being struck by a car along a road in Marlow Heights.

Police said Saturday that Derrick Bradford, 19, of Washington, died on Friday afternoon. He was critically injured in the crash Thursday night.

Police say a Jeep was heading north on Branch Avenue when a car turned in front of the Jeep and cause the driver to swerve. The Jeep apparently entered the southbound lanes and struck Bradford. Police say it appears Bradford was walking on the southbound shoulder of Branch Avenue.

The driver remained at the scene. An investigation continues in the case.

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<![CDATA[Mother of Choking Game Victim Talks]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 11:18:23 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/01-30-2015-choking-game.JPG

The videos are disturbing. A young girl in pink pajamas leans on another, cutting off her air supply until the girl collapses.

Link: Erik's Cause

A young boy in a public gym quietly slumps down against a wall. A teenager, alone in her room, chokes herself until she begins to twitch and gasp.

All of these are recent examples of videos posted online of kids playing "the choking game." The game goes by many names, including, the fainting game, pass out challenge, space monkey, California choke and maybe most appropriately, suffocation roulette.

The game has been around for generations, but with the proliferation of online videos, safety advocates worry there is more temptation than ever. Judy Rogg, a social worker, told NBC4 these videos encourage kids to dare others to "go further" with little regard for the risk involved.

"Kids think it's fun," she said. "Kids don't realize that it's dangerous."

The game cuts the oxygen to the brain, in the hopes of getting light headed, or a feeling of euphoria. But the high comes with great risks including broken bones, seizures and even death.

There is a long list of things parents warn their children about, and Rogg said "the choking game" should be part of that conversation. It is a conversation Rogg wishes she had with her own son. In 2010 Erik was just 12 years old, when found him unresponsive, alone in their home, with a rope around his neck.

"This is important, as important to talk about with your kids as drugs and alcohol and sex," said Rogg. "The horror just stops you cold."

"I truly believe he did not intend to end his life. He had plans that evening, he had plans the next day, and he wasn’t going anywhere."

Erik was rushed to the hospital. While there, Judy explains that detectives told her they believed her son died from "the choking game."

It was the first time she had ever heard of it. Several days later, a classmate of Erik's came forward and told her Erik had learned the game at school on a Monday.

He died one day later.

Judy struggles with the loss every day. Her apartment celebrates his memory -- in one corner rests his skateboard. A collection of baseball bats are on a shelf and baby booties are tucked in the pocket of a handmade quilt.

Rogg has now developed an awareness program called "Erik's Cause."

"This is about saving other kids, that's Erik’s legacy, and that's the legacy that I want for my son right now," Rogg said.

Rogg insists if Erik knew the dangers, he never would have played the game.

"I would love to see this program in every health curriculum across the country."

Right now, only one district has taken up her program. Jennifer Wood, Director of Secondary Education for the Iron County School District in Cedar City Utah, said the choking game is a real problem.

"We've had four children die of this," Wood said.

San Bernardino Child Welfare Coordinator Earl Smith said he believes there have been choking deaths in the San Bernardino area. He is one of the first school administrators to advocate for a program like "Erik's Cause."

"As a teacher I actually heard students talking about it all of the time," Smith said. "We have to get the education out, not only to kids, but to parents."

There's a long list of topics teenagers are already warned about, including drugs, alcohol and texting while driving. Still, 17-year-old Roman Valentine said schools need to include warnings against the fleeting high of the choking game because it can be more dangerous than drugs.

"Weed isn't really good, but I mean, when do you really see deaths about that?"

Rogg continues to travel the country, talking to health professionals and school districts, hoping more of them will adopt her program. She said Erik always wanted to be of service and she feels his presence as she now tries to help others.

"He was really smart, and as one of his best friends said, 'Even smart strong kids can make dumb choices, with deadly consequences.'"



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Eats Women's Boots, Undergoes Surgery]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 16:44:49 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Dog-Eats-Boots-Lead.jpg

A dog is recovering after veterinarians removed a pair of women’s boots from his stomach.

The dog, a 4-year-old mixed breed named Vince, ate a pair of calf-high women’s Frye boots Friday afternoon, according to his owners, who live in Philadelphia.

Vince was taken to the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center (VSEC) in Philadelphia where he underwent surgery Saturday afternoon.

“These X-rays are absolutely remarkable, especially given that you can see and count the number of eyelets on the boots,” said Dr. Laura Tseng, a board-certified specialist in critical care and emergency medicine with VSEC. “The sheer volume of what he ate is impressive and caused a very serious emergency situation.”

Doctors at VSEC said the volume of the leather material was so large that Vince’s stomach was unable to pass the material into his small intestines. The material was removed manually during his surgery.

“If your pet is experiencing vomiting, lethargy or a lack of appetite, these are all signs a foreign body may be present and they should see a veterinarian as soon as possible,” said Tseng.

Vince’s surgery was successful, according to a VSEC spokesman. He is expected to be released from the center Sunday.
 



Photo Credit: VSEC]]>
<![CDATA[CA Town: 176 Burglaries in 90 Days]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:52:45 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ALMADEN+VALLEY+BURGLARIES+RAW+GIY+1515+PST+-+18495304.jpg

Residents of San Jose's Almaden Valley say they're under attack, with burglars targeting homes during the middle of the day.

In the last seven days, police say, 20 homes in the neighborhood have been hit. This comes weeks after neighbors hired a private security company to help improve safety.

Residents say the neighborhood used to be a place where people could leave the doors unlocked. Now, many are investing in alarms, dogs and private security.

Mary Ellen Distini says her neighborhood is at war with burglars. According to the San Jose Police Department, in the last 90 days, 176 burglaries have been reported in the Almaden Valley. Six homes were hit on Tuesday alone.

“The police are down on the men,” Distine said. “There isn’t enough to cover the area.”

The department has only two detectives investigating burglaries in San Jose, police said, compared to 18 back in 2008.

“We are not safe. We are not happy,” resident Tatiana Gorshkoe said. She said she is worried about her home and her well-being. “The kids come home after school during the daytime. That’s what’s really scary.”

Police said the thieves are generally breaking into empty homes, looking for jewelry and small electronics.

Investigators say they don’t have any leads and don’t know if the crimes are related. Their best advice: Lock your doors and invest in a security camera.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Va. DMV Tries to Reopen after Computer Woes]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 13:19:13 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1510660031.jpg

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle offices were forced to close Saturday, but some are reopening after a failure of the state’s IT service provider.

A release from the DMV said systems are being recovered and some offices are working to open. They caution that the computers may be slow, and on the last day of the month, the offices are expected to be extraordinarily busy.

The DMV said customers can also do more than 30 transactions online.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jayson Werth Reports to Jail]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 10:39:55 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/jayson+werth+booking+photo.jpg

Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth turned himself in Friday evening to begin serving a five-day jail sentence.

Werth pleaded guilty to reckless driving in circuit court.

He was pulled over in July after driving his Porsche 105 mph in a 55-mph zone in Fairfax County. He was convicted in December and immediately appealed but dropped the appeal and pleaded guilty Thursday.

Werth was sentenced to 180 days in jail with 170 suspended, and a $1,000 dollar fine with $800 suspended. He will serve half of the jail time.

His driver's license will be suspended for six months, with restricted privileges after 30 days. The restricted license will allow him to drive to work and to physical therapy following shoulder surgery.

The judge granted Werth's request to serve his time on weekends so the sentence won't interfere with his physical therapy.



Photo Credit: Fairfax County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Parents: Teachers Fired for Teaching Black History]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 10:05:04 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009322877_1200x675_391671875779.jpg

Three social studies teachers at a D.C. public charter school were fired for teaching black history lessons beyond what’s in the curriculum, students’ parents told News4.

"It's about the history of who we are and where we came from,” said Michelle Payne, whose son is in the eighth grade at Howard University Middle School of Math and Science.

Parents say it is unacceptable for a school located on the campus of a historically black university to stifle African-American history lessons.

"If you know your culture, if you know from whence you came, it tends to build your self-esteem," said Lateefah Bilal, a grandmother who heads Parents in Action, Howard Middle’s parent group.

D.C. Council Education Committee member Anita Bonds and Council member Brianne Nadeau are looking into the claims that the three teachers were fired for teaching too much black history.

Bonds' spokesman said the charter school board chairman declined to answer her questions Friday.

News4 reached out to school administrators and the D.C. Public Charter School Board several times this week. They promised to release a statement.

Parents said they are also upset because the teachers were fired and escorted out of the building in front of the kids.

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<![CDATA[Water Main Break Shuts Off Water, Ices Road]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 09:11:24 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/harvard+street+water+main+break+icy+road.jpg

A water main break in northwest Washington has shut off water for some residents and made roads icy on Saturday morning.

The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority said the break occurred in the 1800 block of Harvard Street, Northwest. They said the water is turned off in that area.

Roads are closed along Harvard Street between 18th Street Northwest and Adams Mill Road. There is also no northbound traffic in the 2100 block of 18th Street Northwest.

News4’s Derrick Ward said Harvard Street is extremely icy. Crews are trying to use salt to keep the road passable, but caution should be used.

No word on how many people are without water or how long repairs will take.
 

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<![CDATA[Documents From Fatal John Geer Shooting Released]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 23:21:51 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/John+Geer.jpg

A Fairfax County Police officer with hostage negotiation training told investigators he got angry when another officer fatally shot a Springfield, Virginia, man after a domestic disturbance report in August 2013.

Police released more than 11,000 pages of documents from the shooting of 46-year-old John Geer Friday evening.

The mother of Geer's two children told responding police there were weapons in the home on Pebble Brook Court Aug. 29, 2013, and police said they stood in the doorway and spoke to Geer for more than 30 minutes.

The two officers closest to Geer at the time he was shot were Officer Adam Torres, who has been identified as having fired the fatal shot, and another officer, Rodney Barnes, who had some hostage negotiation training and spoke directly to Geer.

In an interview afterward, Barnes said Geer told them he had a gun and indicated it was on the floor in the house.

The police documents indicate Barnes said Geer kept his hands on the screen, hands up.

He said Geer told him, "If I drop my hands, I'm going to get shot."

Barnes told the investigatorr Geer would periodically ask to scratch his nose.

He said that at one point, Geer spoke in the direction of Officer Torres, saying, "Can you not point that gun at me?"

Barnes said he asked Torres to go "ready gun," meaning with his finger off the trigger and pointed at ground.

After more negotiation, "I heard pow," Barnes said. He described how Geer essentially fell back inside the house.

Barnes said he looked around and asked who shot, and Officer Torres said,"I did it. I'm sorry. My wrist, oh man, I'm sorry."

The documents indicate Barnes told investigators, "I was pissed. [Torres] said 'Did you see it?' I said 'no.' I was mad. I didn't see what he saw."

Officer Torres was later asked to clarify his comments to investigators and told them he felt justified in shooting Geer because Geer made a jerking motion, that looked like he was going for his gun.

He said the comment about his wrist was because it was stiff from having held the gun tightly for so long.

He also was asked to clarify a statement he made to Barnes that he had a fight with his wife just before the incident. Investigators asked him if he shot Geer because he was angry. He said no, he shot him because he thought Geer was reaching for a gun.

Geer's family argues police took 40 minutes to help him after the shooting, during which time they say Geer bled to death.

Police said Geer did not answer their calls and offers of aid after disappearing into the house, and a SWAT team with a tactical paramedic and rescue vehicle were used to get to Geer, who was dead when they found him. Police also found a loaded, holstered firearm to Geer's left and seven other firearms in the home.

Geer's father, Don, watched the incident unfold from outside the home and has sought an explanation from police for more than a year.

The Geer family filed a $12 million lawsuit against Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler and the three police officers involved.

Torres, an eight-year veteran of the force, remains on administrative leave as the criminal and administrative investigations continue.

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<![CDATA[Amtrak Traveler Has Measles: DOH]]> Sun, 01 Feb 2015 10:26:14 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/measles+vaccination.jpg

A college student who took an international flight into New York City and an Amtrak train out of Penn Station last week has been diagnosed with highly contagious measles.

The student was diagnosed at Bard College in Dutchess County, officials said, but had traveled into and out of New York City last Sunday, potentially exposing people beyond the campus. 

The student contracted the illness in Germany, then flew in to a New York City airport, before taking the train to Rhinebeck on the same day, officials said. They did not identify which airport the student passed through, but noted the student was in the early stages of infection, when there is less danger of contagion.

Anyone who traveled on Amtrak train no. 283 departing Penn Station at 1:20 p.m. on Jan. 25 is urged to contact their doctor if they're not immune to measles and they develop a fever. The train was headed to Albany and Niagara. 

People who may have been exposed and have symptoms consistent with measles should call their doctor or local emergency room before going for care so that others at the facilities aren't exposed. 

New York state has had three cases of measles this year, one in Dutchess County and two in New York City. 

A measles outbreak in New York City in early 2014 affected dozens of residents, initially in upper Manhattan and the Bronx, and then in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. Officials had been looking at whether that outbreak may have spread because workers in medical facilities didn't recognize the symptoms quickly enough to isolate patients and prevent them from spreading it to others. 

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus and is spread by contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people. Measles can lead to serious side effects and, in rare cases, death. Measles symptoms usually appear in 10 to 12 days, but can occur as late as 18 days after exposure. Symptoms generally appear in two stages.

Learn more about measles at health.ny.gov.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Beltway Briefly Closed for Multi-Vehicle Accident]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 08:27:53 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/ambulance-shutterstock_145886451.jpg

The D.C. beltway is open after a multi-vehicle crash closed the inner loop for about three hours Saturday morning.

Maryland State Police said three vehicles collided between the exits for University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue in Montgomery County. The crash occurred at 3:30 a.m.

Four people were transported to the hospital. Their conditions are not known.

The inner loop was closed while crews tended to the injured and cleaned up the accident. Maryland State Police said the road fully reopened shortly after 6:30 a.m.
 

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<![CDATA[D.C.'s Annual Homeless Count]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:29:27 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009309332_1200x675_391156803701.jpg News4's Mark Segraves reports on a local mother who takes care of her family while living in a shelter. Segraves also followed the director of the D.C. Office of Management and Budget as he helped with the annual homeless count.]]> <![CDATA[Virginia Boy Critically Injured in Sledding Accident]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:17:21 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Sledding+Accident+012915.jpg

A child was struck while sledding in McLean, Virginia, Wednesday evening.

The 6-year-old boy was being supervised by adults on a steep driveway in the 7000 block of Matthew Mills Road, across the street from the boy’s home, when he slid into a passing car about 5:40 p.m.

“This is certainly a tragic example of how quickly something can happen,” said Lucy Caldwell of Fairfax County Police. “Even when you’re apparently doing the right things."

The driver, a 65-year-old McLean resident, immediately got out to help the boy, who was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The boy is in critical condition.

A family friend told Northern Virginia Bureau reporter David Culver the boy fractured his skull and had some swelling to his brain. He was induced into a coma.

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<![CDATA[International Spy Museum Could Move Out of D.C.]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:49:31 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/spy+museum.jpg

A popular museum may be moving out of the district.

The International Spy Museum needs to vacate its Penn Quarter building. Its lease expires in 2017 and rent has increased since the museum opened in 2002.

News4 learned the museum is having trouble finding a new location, and top museum officials say their search may take them away from our region.

The museum had previously planned to move to an expanded Carnegie Library, but that deal fell apart late last year after the D.C. Historical Preservation Review Board failed to approve the expansion of the historic building.

Several other cities are actively trying to lure the museum away fromD.C..

Museum officials told News4 they would like to stay in the D.C. area and are doing everything they can to make that happen.

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<![CDATA[Woman Hit by Dump Truck Meets Her Rescuers]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:56:36 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/199*120/0606-dumptruck-dc.jpg She lost one of her legs but could have died without their help. Today, a woman hit by a dump truck in D.C. met the men who rushed to save her life. News4's Zachary Kiesch was there for the reunion.]]> <![CDATA[Metro Phasing Out Oldest Rail Cars]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:55:49 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009318376_1200x675_391658051630.jpg Metro riders are currently taking the last trips that will happen aboard the very first rail cars used by the transit system since it began operating almost four decades ago. News4 Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss explains how the change is expected to improve passenger safety.]]> <![CDATA[Ferret Rumors Swirl in Baby Mauling]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:17:12 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Child+Ferret+Attack+Parents+Fraim.jpg

Speculation about whether a trio of ferrets were responsible for the mauling of a 1-month-old girl in a Delaware County, Pennsylvania, home last week have been running rampant since the attack — but police are shooting down the rumors, saying clear evidence points to the ferrets.

Skyy Fraim was released from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this week after undergoing emergency surgery following the Jan. 21 attack, police said on Friday. The girl’s nose and part of her cheek were eaten away, while her upper lip was shredded.

The baby’s mother, Jessica Benales, was upstairs using the restroom when the mauling happened. She came down to find at least one of the ferrets attacking the child and pulled the animal off the girl, who was strapped into a car seat on the floor of the family’s Darby home.

Benales, 24, and her 42-year-old fiancé, Burnie Fraim, told police they believed the ferrets somehow broke out of their mesh pen.

But despite the accounts by police and the child's parents of the mauling, some ferret owners and shelter operators told NBC10 the animals could not have inflicted such severe injuries on the child.

Others claimed a necropsy found no human tissue in the animal’s stomach — but necropsies were not performed on the ferrets, Delaware County Animal Control said, so that cannot be known. After the animals were euthanized, a rabies test was performed and came back negative.

A staffer said necropsies are hardly ever performed by the agency and were not in this case because the mother witnessed part of the attack.

Still, the necropsies are unnecessary, says Darby Police Chief Robert Smythe. There is clear evidence that the ferrets were responsible for the mauling, he told NBC10.

“I would refute what they are saying because of physical evidence that was inside the building and that was on the child’s face,” he said.

Skyy Fraim had puncture wounds on her head consistent with a ferret’s teeth and claws, Smythe said. Detectives looked at the family’s other pets and the possibility that a rodent was responsible, but those possibilities were ruled out. It also appeared the ferrets roamed the home, which authorities said was filthy, and broke into pet food.

Benales and Fraim, who have four other children age 5 or younger, have each been charged with five counts of child endangerment. The children have been removed from their parents' care and are currently with the Delaware County Children and Youth Services.

Authorities said the children and parents all have special needs and have been under the care of three social service agencies. 

In addition to the ferrets, the family had six cats and two turtles. Two dogs had previously been removed from the home.

Seven case workers were assigned to the family, Smythe said. He questioned how nothing had been done to improve the family’s quality of life and remove the animals.

“It’s a family in crisis,” he said. “I believe they’re people that have issues and problems and the system is not working.”

Prior to being charged, Fraim told NBC10 that he and his fiancé care for the children.

“We’re good parents. It’s just we made one mistake by leaving them alone. We regret it, and we blame ourselves for it,” he said. The 1-month-old will need to undergo several surgeries to repair the damage done in the attack, the father added.

Smythe said a district court judge disregarded a bail recommendation that included a psychological evaluation and instead released the couple on their own recognizance. They are barred from having contact with the children.

A court date has yet to be set in the case.


Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter and Facebook.



Photo Credit: NBC10/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighters Rescue Dog in LA River]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 18:14:51 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/200*120/1-30-15-lucky+the+dog+la+river+rescue+ground.JPG

The dog that was plucked out of the roiling Los Angeles River in a heroic afternoon aerial rescue put on a quite a show as it made its brief cameo for the waiting cameras Friday night.

The cute yellow dog nicknamed Lucky made a big splash Friday, discovered by someone at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank who called in about a dog paddling down the rain-swollen River.

The pup was swept at least three miles downriver and saved in Glendale, near the Golden State (5) Freeway overpass.

Los Angeles firefighters went to work in the air and NBC4 caught it all as firefighter John Terrusa was lowered into the river to pick up the soggy pooch.

"It was quite a team effort, quite a concert," Terrusa said.

As Terrusa and canine spun their way to safety dangling from a line on a chopper, several people gathered with firefighters along the river's banks to warm up the chilly doggy.

Lucky, a 7-year-old Shiba Inu who was not microchipped, is spending the night under doctor's care at a shelter in Eagle Rock. He will stay at a shelter for seven days, allowing enough time for his owner to come forward.

If no one comes forward, then the dog goes up for adoption and there's already one offer.

Terrusa is hoping this story has a happy ending.

"It is definitely a loved animal," Terrusa said. "It's just one of those things where I'm sure the dog just got out of somebody's yard and got in the wrong place, at the wrong time."

Asher Klein contributed to this story.



Photo Credit: Mark James]]>
<![CDATA[Man Sentenced in Kidnap of Judge After Dispute]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:03:36 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Rickley+Joshua+Senning.jpg

A Maryland man was sentenced to three years in prison Friday for kidnapping and assaulting a female judge with whom he had been living.

Rickley Joshua Senning, now 25, was charged last year with kidnapping and assaulting 53-year-old Audrey Creighton following a domestic dispute in May 2014.

Creighton is a circuit court judge for Montgomery County.

Senning had faced more than 86 years. On Friday, he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, second-degree assault and DUI. He was sentenced to 10 years with seven suspended. He will serve three years, less time served, followed by five years probation.

Court records show Creighton had served as Senning's public defender in a trespassing case when he was 19.

Police said last May that Senning assaulted the judge, then stole her car, with her inside it, and crashed the car near a supermarket on Darnestown Road in Germantown. Creighton was able to get away by jumping out of the car and running to a nearby store for help.

Following the incident, Creighton filed a protective order against him, saying he lived with her in her Montgomery County home during summer 2013 and for a brief period in early May. Creighton wrote that Senning had grabbed her head and yanked her during an argument.

Senning's lawyer and sister indicated Creighton obstructed justice by making false statements to police in order to cover up her relationship with Senning. His lawyer said he thinks Creighton should step down.

Prosecutors said they don't believe false statements were made.

Creighton, who was just re-elected to a 15-year term, declined to comment.

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<![CDATA[Married CA Cops Sentenced 3 Years ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:52:54 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/bryce+jennifer+charpentier.jpg

Two married San Diego Police officers convicted of drug sales and burglary charges were sentenced to three years in state prison in a downtown courtroom Friday.

Bryce Charpentier, 32, and Jennifer Charpentier, 41, admitted to selling and furnishing a narcotic substance, possession of a firearm by an addict, conspiracy to commit first-degree residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and possession and sale of a controlled substance.

As a result, the two resigned from the SDPD in November. Jennifer also lost partial custody of her kids after her arrest.

In court Friday, Bryce was teary as he apologized to the department and his family. The prosecution, however, called him "manipulative."

In an attempt to argue against jail time, the defense said the two never used their authority status and witnesses did not know they were cops. They also said the two have gotten clean and are active in 12-step programs, and that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder contributed to their actions.

Prosecutors asked for maximum sentences for both, saying other officers who suffer addiction and PTSD don't start distribution labs.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a press conference following the sentencing that "no one is above the law."

"As police officers, their job was to protect the citizens of San Diego; not to victimize them," she said.

Both officers initially pleaded not guilty, but changed their pleas after new charges were filed against the couple, accusing them of stealing prescription medication from their parent, burglarizing a home while on the clock as officers and leading a distribution chain.

Bryce, a six-year veteran of the SDPD, and Jennifer, an 18-year veteran, were arrested in June during a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigation.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman also spoke out about the case saying, "It is reprehensible that these two former officers made the terrible decision to betray and discredit our badge and our profession."

Zimmerman said after the launch of the Sheriff's Department's investigation, she and her department cooperated fully and "the public trust is too important for anything less."

Sheriff Bill Gore joined Dumanis and Zimmerman at the press conference.

"I know I speak for everyone up here today when I say that we'd rather be up here for almost any other reason than to discuss the sentencing and prosecution of law enforcement officers," Gore said.

He said he thinks the collaborative efforts between SDPD and the sheriff's office were successful, adding, "It's been said that trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair."

Search warrants said Jennifer got seven different drugs in 71 prescriptions from seven separate doctors and then traveled to 17 pharmacies to fill them. Bryce went as far as Oakhurst near Yosemite to fill 79 prescriptions from six different doctors.

One victim was Jennifer's own mother. During a visit to their home, Bryce texted his wife he was coming back and pulling into the driveway. At that point, Jennifer texted she was taking her mother into the backyard, presumably to distract her while Bryce took prescription medication from her.

Before the couple's sentencing, Jennifer said she and her mom have worked things out and her mom wrote a letter to the court.

The judge said she gave probation serious consideration, but the case does not involve simple street corner drug sales, and denied the motion. However, the two are out of custody until Feb. 6 and will only serve 50 percent of their sentence on good behavior.

The couple was also ordered to pay $5,000 each in restitution.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.



Photo Credit: San Diego Police Dept. Yearbook]]>
<![CDATA[What Does the Disneyland Measles Outbreak Mean?]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 14:30:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/MEASLES1.JPG

The outbreak of measles at Disneyland in Orange County, California, has reignited the debate over the anti-vaccination movement, driven by parents who question whether vaccines are safe and and whether there is a connection to autism in particular.

Medical experts say the study showing such a link has been repeatedly discredited and other parents counter their children are being endangered by irresponsible behavior.

Arizona, meanwhile, is monitoring more than 1,000 people who might have been exposed as thousands begin arriving for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Here’s what you should know.

How many people are affected?

Sixty-eight people in California and and other states have reported contracting measles as a result of the outbreak that began at Disneyland in December, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The majority of the children and adults who became ill either had not been inoculated or did not know if they had been, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working,” she told reporters this week. “This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used.”

Since 2000, measles has been eliminated in the United States, meaning it is no longer native to the country. But it can still be spread by someone infected elsewhere and the CDC is assuming that is what happened at Disneyland.


How widespread is measles?

Each year there are 20 million cases around the world, and 145,000 people die, according to the CDC. Other complications: encephalitis and pneumonia.

Last year, there were a record number of measles in the United States, 644 cases, up from a median of 60 a year over the previous decade. And this January a total of 84 cases in 14 states were reported, more than what was typical in an entire year.

Those numbers pale compared to the average number of cases reported each year before the vaccine became available: 549,000.


Is there reason to worry?

The CDC's Schuchat said the numbers for January were concerning.

"I want to do everything possible to prevent measles from getting a foothold in the United States and becoming endemic again," she said.

Dr. Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, said he thought the country was a long way from returning to the high number of measles cases and other diseases.

"If enough people are not taking these vaccines, we will see a resurgence, but right now these are fairly small events," he said. "So I think the reason everyone pays attention to it in medical and public health communities is simply because this is not a trend you would like to see really going up."


How high are vaccination rates?

Immunization rates remain high despite the attention the measles outbreak is receiving. Among kindergartners enrolled in the 2013-2014 school year, the median vaccination coverage was 93 percent and higher for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and chicken pox.

To provide what is called herd immunity -- to protect people who cannot be immunization and those for whom the vaccines are not effective -- experts recommend that between 90 and 95 percent of a community be fully inoculated. Health officials are worried about pockets of parents who are rejecting inoculation.

Morse said the control of a disease such as measles was hard won.

"When we actually had these diseases among us people feared them or at least really wanted a vaccine," he said. "Now of course we’re much more blasé, which is a mistake."

What is the reaction from parents worried about vaccines?

Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit that advocates allowing parents to choose whether to vaccinate their children, said that it was premature to point fingers at those who decided to forgo vaccines.

"There is no question that there is a tremendous amount of pressure being placed on parents who are making informed vaccine decisions for their children," she said. "I think this has gone way too far. The discussion has gotten very ugly, it has gotten extremely polarized and it's caused a lot of parents to be very afraid of doctors and public health officials."

Less than 1.8 percent of children attending kindergarten have vaccination exceptions, she noted. Less than 1 percent of children under the age of 3 are unvaccinated, she said.

What about other diseases?

Mumps, rubella, pertussis or whooping cough and chickenpox are among others that could also spike if parents continue to forgo vaccinations, experts say.

“This isn’t just a measles problem,” said Dr. Gregory A. Poland, the director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota. “This is a problem for any transmissible disease for which we have safe and effective vaccines that aren’t unfortunately used.”

Measles is especially contagious, but there have been other outbreaks. Mumps, for example, is no longer common in the United States, with only 229 cases reported in 2012 compared to 186,000 cases each year before the mumps vaccination program began in 1967. But in 2009-2010, there were two large outbreaks, according to the CDC: one among mostly Hasidic Jewish children in New York who were delaying immunization, and another among mostly school aged children in Guam.

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<![CDATA[MontCo School Board: 'Concerns' With Starr]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:38:22 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20131213+Starr.jpg

Members of the Montgomery County School Board recently expressed concern about their ability to "communicate" with schools Superintendent Joshua Starr, according to school district memos obtained by the News-4 I-Team.

Starr’s future with the district is in doubt, with only 48 hours until a deadline for him to notify the board about his future.

Though board members have declined multiple requests to comment on whether they intend to keep Starr in his position, the I-Team has learned of some concerns about Starr held by board members from a memo issued by board leaders during the 2013-2014 school year.

 

The memo specifies, "The Board needs to work on ways and initiatives that provide more opportunities to communicate with the superintendent and offer both parties more clarity in expectations and improve upon relationships." The memo also says, "There should be more opportunities to have individual/small group conversations with the superintendent."

 

Pat O’Neill, the school board president, released a memo Friday saying any official deliberations about Starr’s future will be held in private, closed sessions.

O’Neill said, "The Board will notify the public of steps in this process as they are decided, and actions that must be taken publicly will, of course, be conducted in an open session."

But no official board sessions are scheduled before the 11:59 p.m. deadline on Feb. 1 for a decision about Starr’s future, the I-Team has learned.

Starr released his own memo to the school board Jan. 22, detailing his accomplishments during his four year tenure in Montgomery County. He cites improved graduation rates, test scores and teacher relations.

 

 

The school district has declined comment on the board’s concerns about communication with the superintendent. They have also declined to make Starr available for an interview.

Starr’s social media messages indicate he was attending an education event at the White House Friday.

The Maryland State Department of Education said state superintendent Lillian Lowery has not been notified about Starr’s future. An agency official said Lowery is typically notified about potential local superintendent hirings, firings and separation agreements.

Starr is scheduled to appear at a Monday meeting of the Montgomery County Council.

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<![CDATA[Cutting Class? New App Could Blow Your Cover]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:08:09 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/smart+phone+generic+.jpg

Want to see if your college student is skipping class? There’s an app for that.

For $200 a year, parents, professors and campus administrators can use Class120 to check to see if a student is in class at the scheduled time.

The minds behind the app, which was debuted by start-up Core Principle this month, say the accountability app could help students stay on track with their studies and prepare them for being punctual once they enter the workforce. But some students say it gives parents too much control over the lives of their adult children.

Jeff Whorley, founder and CEO of Core Principle, developed the app after a conversation he had with a college professor that left him thinking that if colleges treated all students the way they treat Division 1 athletes, whose attendance in class is closely monitored, then graduation levels would rise.

“If we could get students everywhere to attend at least 90 percent of their classes, over 80 percent would graduate,” Whorley told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The app tracks if the student is in class, and sends an alert to the student’s parent or teacher if they do not show up to class for two days in a row. Core Principle can also call the student directly if a parent or teacher does not feel comfortable contacting the student. The app must be downloaded by the student, and it can only be used to track if a student is in class, not at parties or other activities.

Still, some have criticized the app for being too controlling over students who should be treated like adults.

"I would probably be more annoyed than anything," Natalie Pike told NBC affiliate WTHR. "I would feel like my life is being pried into."

But Whorley argues that in the post-college world, a recent grad will face immediate consequences if they do not show up or even show up late to work. More students, he says, need to be treated with similar consequences by having a teacher or parent point out that they are late and help get back on track before the entire semester goes down the drain.

“We don’t think this app is anti-adult," Whorley said. "It’s an introduction to the real economy.”

The app has made recent headlines, with coverage in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In the last four days alone, the start-up has seen a huge increase in traffic from parents in Europe and Asia looking to track their children who are studying abroad in the U.S., he said. So far the app is available for close to 2,000 college campuses across the country that the company has geomapped.

Whorley hopes that in the future this app can work to take class attendance.

“The future of taking attendance is Wi-Fi or GPS where a professor looks down at a piece of smart technology instead of calling roll," he said.

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