<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usWed, 29 Mar 2017 17:35:33 -0400Wed, 29 Mar 2017 17:35:33 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Woman Nearly Strikes Officers Near US Capitol; Shots Fired]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:42:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Taleah+Everett.jpg

U.S. Capitol Police fired shots at a woman driver during a confrontation near the Capitol Building Wednesday morning. Officials say that just before the clash, the woman fled from a traffic stop and nearly hit officers.

The woman, who relatives identified as 20-year-old Taleah Everett, was driving erratically just south of the U.S. Capitol about 9:20 a.m., police said. Police have not confirmed the woman's identity.

Officers tried to pull over the driver. 

But she made a U-turn and nearly hit officers, U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Maleki said in a mid-morning update.

"While attempting to stop the vehicle on Independence Avenue, the driver negotiated a U-turn and fled the scene, nearly striking officers and struck at least one other vehicle," Maleki said at a news conference. "A brief pursuit followed, until the vehicle was stopped at Washington and Independence Avenues Southwest. During the attempt to arrest the individual, shots were fired."


Additional information on what prompted officers to fire was not released immediately. The investigation is ongoing. 

Police say the incident appears to be criminal in nature and not related to terrorism. The Capitol Building was not closed during the incident.

The driver appeared in be in her early 20s and had a D.C. identification card, a law enforcement official told NBC News.

Everett's aunt told News4 the young woman is bipolar. The family tried to get her help with mental issues through the court system, but a judge refused, the aunt said. She did not believe Everett meant to harm anyone.

Video from the scene showed officers putting a young woman in a green sweatshirt a police van. The windows of the woman's dark-colored Chevrolet sedan, which has Maryland tags, had been shot out. There were two bullet holes through the windshield. 

The suspect was arrested and taken to Capitol Police headquarters for processing. 

A woman who was headed to the Capitol to visit her congressman found herself near the mayhem. 

"We saw somebody running and we heard three shots fired," she told NBC News. "We did not know what was going on or who was shooting."

Independence Avenue is closed between Washington Avenue and 1st Street SW. The public is asked to avoid the area.

In October 2013, 34-year-old Miriam Carey was shot and killed by law enforcement after she hit a security barrier and a Secret Service officer outside the White House, leading police on a chase that ended near the Capitol. The dental hygienist who drove to D.C. from Connecticut had her 1-year-old daughter in the car. The child was not hurt.

Her family later said she had been suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis. Police in Stamford, Connecticut, said Carey had reported that she believed former President Barack Obama had her under surveillance.

One year ago, a Capitol Police officer shot and injured a man who brought a weapon into the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. Larry R. Dawson, 66, was known to law enforcement and frequented the Capitol grounds.

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<![CDATA[Toddler Abandoned With Car Seat, Bag of Clothes in SE DC]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:50:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Generic+DC+Police+Lights+Close+Up+Generic.jpg

The father of a 2-year-old boy abandoned him in southeast D.C. Tuesday evening after deciding he didn't want to take care of the child, according to D.C.'s Child and Family Services Agency.

The little boy was left about 7 p.m. at the Resurrection Baptist Church in the 3500 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE. A woman reported seeing someone leaving the toddler alone with a car seat and a bag of clothes.

Child and Family Services said the little boy's mother had left him in the care of his father, who lives near the church. The father then decided he didn't want to take care of the child and left him at the church, Child and Family Services said. He told somebody at the church the name of the boy's mother and then left.

Someone at the church called police, who then called Child and Family Services.

His mother had been frantically searching for her toddler. They were reunited at the agency late Tuesday night.

So far, no charges have been filed.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Drug Overdose Is Leading Cause of Premature Death]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 17:34:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-467512357+%281%29.jpg

New numbers released Wednesday show drug overdoses are causing premature deaths across the country.

The 2017 County Health Rankings show the sharpest uptick in deaths is among people between the ages of 15 and 44.

In 2015, the leading cause of death among 25-to-44 year olds was drug overdose, the report says. There was a sharp uptick in the suburbs with drug overdoses increasing by 5.4 percent, climbing to highest rate in a decade. Premature deaths due to drug overdoses were highest among whites and Native Americans.

Many overdoses are caused by opiates like Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin, and the introduction to these can begin with legitimate prescriptions for these painkillers from a doctor.

Thursday on News4 at 5 p.m., Doreen Gentzler will report on a local dentist offering alternatives to treat pain and keep children away from narcotics.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Man Claimed to Have Part of Nuclear Weapon Near White House]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:58:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/suspicious-package-at-white-house.jpg

The U.S. Secret Service says the man who triggered a security scare outside the White House Tuesday claimed to have a component of a nuclear weapon and warned it was a "threat to the president."

The man had had previous run-ins with the Secret Service and had previously threatened the life of President Barack Obama, according to an affidavit submitted by a federal investigator.

Jean-Paul Gamarra, 40, whom the feds said does not have a fixed address, was arrested in Lafayette Park near the White House security fence Tuesday.

"Gamarra was asked if he had a bomb with him and Gamarra said no, he had a component to launch a nuclear weapon," according to the investigator. "Gamarra said he was not there to harm President Trump."

During the incident, the North Lawn of the White House was evacuated about 10:30 a.m., and journalists were held in the briefing room, as the Secret Service investigated a suspicious package near White House grounds. 

Gamarra was already known to the Secret Service, according to court filings. He walked into a Long Island, New York, hospital on Feb. 13, 2014, and said he was going to kill President Barack Obama, according to an investigator: "After being transferred for a psychiatric evaluation, Gamarra reaffirmed his intent to kill President Obama. Gamarra stated he made the threat to gain attention from federal authorities." 

According to the Secret Service, Gamarra was spotted and interviewed in January 2015 when he was seen "acting suspiciously" in Lafayette Park. 

A judge has ordered Gamarra to undergo a mental screening. He is next due in court April 4.

<![CDATA[Hoofs Crossed: April the Pregnant Giraffe Is Soooooooo Close]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:07:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/233*120/Screen+Shot+2017-03-26+at+11.33.58+AM.png

Cross those fingers, or hoofs, April is getting close, Animal Adventure Park says. 

"April continues to progress in front of our eyes," the upstate New York zoo live-streaming the giraffe's world-famous pregnancy wrote on Facebook late Tuesday. "Mammary development has increased again." 

Predictions by the zoo had April finally giving birth Tuesday, but like many others, that was thrown out the window. 

"And away we go," the zoo said. 

Tuesday turned into Wednesday morning and the calf was still yet to be born. However, the zoo said to keep watching the live stream because "all can change in a few minutes." 

Watch the live stream below.

All eyes lately have been on April's udders, with keepers and vets saying we are now seeing progression, despite the fact no baby giraffe had presented itself to the world just yet.

"The udder continues to fill," Animal Adventure Park said. "The development occurs, generally, just prior to birthing."

This is a very promising sign of progress, the zoo said, as April and the world continues to wait patiently for the arrival of the giraffe's newest calf. 

"We do not expect any additional back end swell," the zoo said. "So all judging is now done based on udder changes."

When April goes into labor, the baby's front hoofs will be the first to come out, followed by the snout, the zoo says.

Mom will naturally raise the calf on her own, and weaning could take between six to 10 months, maybe even longer -- the zoo says it won't rush the process. Once weaning is over, the baby giraffe will move on to another facility to start a breeding program there.

"We cannot retain offspring, as it would lead to incestuous mating and undermine the genetics of the program and species," the zoo says on its YouTube page.

This is 15-year-old April's fourth calf. Her younger, 5-year-old mate Oliver, however, is about to welcome his very first. He won't take any part in rearing the calf, though. Male giraffes, called bulls, really only care about two things, the zoo says: "fighting and the unmentionable."

"He is a bull -- and a bull is a bull is a bull!" the zoo says.

April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.

Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, says the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process has been a huge factor in drawing crowds.

"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you're gonna get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."

He added that April's pregnancy is not just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education. This is the zoo's first giraffe calf.

Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.

The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.

Photo Credit: Animal Adventure Park YouTube
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<![CDATA[First Eaglet Egg Hatches at National Arboretum]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:54:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/0751am-20170329_07-51-38.jpg

The D.C. area has another new eaglet!

The egg, which is known as DC4, hatched Wednesday at the U.S. National Arboretum. Its sibling, DC5, is expected to hatch in the next few days, the American Eagle Foundation (AEF) announced on Facebook.

[[417435473, L]]

DC4 and DC5 were laid Feb. 19 and Feb. 23 in a nest at the top of a tulip poplar tree at the arboretum. Since then, their parents have taken turns incubating the eggs, even during a frosty late-season snowstorm earlier this month.

The new eaglet is the fourth offspring of its parents, called Mr. President and The First Lady -- the first bald eagle pair to nest at the Arboretum since 1947. They first nested at the site in 2015, raising one eaglet. Last season, they raised two, initially called DC2 and DC3 before they received their official names of Freedom and Liberty. The D.C. area was captivated by the tiny eaglets as they grew -- and it seemed to happen all too quickly. The eaglets took their first flights at 11 weeks old.

Photo Credit: © 2017 American Eagle Foundation, DCEAGLECAM.ORG]]>
<![CDATA[Photo of IHOP Server's Act of Kindness Goes Viral]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:31:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/keshia+dotson.png

A waiter at an IHOP in Springfield, Illinois, is earning praise from thousands of strangers after a photo of him serving up an act of kindness earned national attention.

Keisha Dotson, 26, was eating at the restaurant on Saturday when she spotted her server sitting with a woman in a wheelchair, helping her eat.

“The lady was a couple of seats away from us. I’m not sure what her disability was, but she was coughing really loud,” Dotson told NBC News, adding, “The entire restaurant was dead quiet. The waiter cracked a joke about it, and it made her smile.”

“My mom noticed it. We watched. As he was feeding, I decided to snap the picture,” Dotson said. She posted the photo on IHOP’s Facebook page, where it was shared more than 4,000 times by Tuesday night. [[417378353, C]]

“My faith in humanity has been restored a little today,” she wrote in the post about what she called “a very touching moment.”

Dotson, an adult programs coordinator at a library in nearby Rochester, said she is a regular customer at the Springfield IHOP but this was the first time she had encountered the server, whose name is Joe Thomas.

Thomas told NBC affiliate WAND that he was raised to practice compassion, and was simply doing what he could for a regular customer.

“My mother and father always told me to treat everybody as equals, no matter what race, creed, color, whatever,” Thomas said. “Treat everybody equal.”

"I just love helping people," he added. "Every Saturday they'll come in and they don't even need menus or anything. I know exactly what they want." [[415397193, C]]

His co-workers praised his work ethic, with one saying “Joe has been doing it for a long time with these customers, and they are really great.”

“Ever since I started working here every weekend that couple comes in and he feeds her every single weekend,” said another.

Dotson, along with hundreds of people commenting on her photo, was in awe of the gesture.

“I’m completely blown away. I shared it because I worked in retail and in the service industry, no one takes the time to give positive feedback,” she explained.

“I wanted the company to know they have an amazing employee that is doing service to their patrons,” Dotson added.

Photo Credit: Keshia Dotson
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<![CDATA[Several Missing Teens Found Safe, DC Police Say]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:45:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/missing+teens+found+safe.jpg

Police in D.C. say several teens who were reported missing have been found safe.

Demetria Carthens, 17; Heaven Shamte, 15; Rayna Gross, 16; and Dashann Wallace, 15, have also been found safe, police said Monday.

Carthens has been missing since Feb. 7. Shamte, Gross and Wallace were all reported missing in March.

On Wednesday, police said 14-year-old Jaylen Lee and 16-year-old Michelle Jordan were found in good health. Lee was reported missing on March 20. Jordan was reported missing on Tuesday.

No further information was released. 

<![CDATA[Man Hit, Killed After Getting Out of Car After Crash]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 05:54:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2017-03-28_2148.png

A man who was involved in a minor crash was killed after he got out to check for damage and was hit by another car, according to Prince George’s County police.

Collin Elroy King, 79, was involved in a crash with two other vehicles in the southbound lanes of Route 301 in Upper Marlboro about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. King was examining his car for damage when a fourth car struck him. 

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the drivers of the other vehicles remained at the scene, along with multiple witnesses. No charges have been filed at this time.

Photo Credit: NBC4 Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Looking for Spring Break Plans? Try Williamsburg]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:28:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000018259085_1200x675_909240387846.jpg

NBC4's Aaron Gilchrist talks to Karen Riordan, president and CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance, about how to plan your next trip to Williamsburg.

<![CDATA['Stunning' Drug Lab Scandal Could Overturn 23K Convictions]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:09:14 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_405440204470-Annie-Dookhan-Arrest.jpg

About 23,000 people are expected to have low-level drug convictions wiped away next month, the culmination of an epic drug-lab scandal in Massachusetts, NBC News reported.

It comes five years after a rogue chemist admitted to tampering with evidence, forging test results and lying about it, resulting in 24,000 people with questionable convictions. Prosecutors fought to preserve the convictions, but a court ordered them to decide who they can realistically try to re-prosecute.

They are still working through the list, but their answer is expected to be "in the hundreds," a spokeswoman for one district attorney said this week.

"It's absolutely stunning. I have never seen anything like it," said Suzanne Bell, a professor at West Virginia University who serves on the National Commission of Forensic Science. "It's unbelievable to me that it could have even happened. And then when you look at the scope of the number of cases that may be dismissed or vacated, there are no words for it."

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Think You Know Where Trafficking Victims Work? Think Again ]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:48:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-512316100-traffic.jpg

Human trafficking hides in the shadows, and it can be difficult for bystanders to identify victims. But now Polaris, an organization that fights against trafficking in the United States, has created a guide to help.

With “The Typology of Modern Slavery,” Polaris is providing officials and activists with relevant information so they don't waste resources on misguided initiatives and instead focus on the kinds of trafficking most prevalent in their communities.

The new tool classifies human trafficking into 25 categories, based on data collected by Polaris between December 2007 and December 2016. A team of experts parsed 32,000 trafficking cases in search of trends so they could report on vulnerable populations and profile potential traffickers.

The study says that while many victims are sexually abused, on the global level labor trafficking seems more common than sexual exploitation. From agriculture to drug running to manufacturing, both legitimate and illicit industries take advantage of victims.

Some of the complicit industries may come as a surprise. Polaris has noted 108 trafficking cases in arts and entertainment, the majority of which involved U.S. and foreign models. There were also athletes and performers who were exploited by recruiters, executives and coaches.

The staff at carnivals can be trafficked, as can those who provide health-care assistance at nursing homes or through in-house services.

Polaris believes labor trafficking is more widespread than the numbers suggest. Victims of labor trafficking constitute only 16 percent of those included in the report, which is based on information collected by Polaris through phone calls, emails and other means of contact. The authors say this relatively small ratio is because labor victims don’t always know about the resources at their disposal, or if they qualify for help.

“Polaris strongly believes that labor trafficking cases in the U.S. are chronically underreported due to a lack of awareness about the issue and a lack of recognition of the significant vulnerability of workers in many U.S. labor sectors,” they write.

With 4,651 cases, victims who were forced to provide escort services comprise the largest group in Polaris’ typology. The study says that “the vast majority of the survivors of ‘escort services’ are U.S. citizen women and girls,” though “LGBTQ youth are also vulnerable.”

Escort services are distinct from outdoor solicitation, where victims are forced to sell themselves on street corners. Outdoor solicitation victims face more physical violence than others who experience sexual exploitation. According to Polaris, 50 percent of those forced into outdoor solicitation are minors. Again, members of the LGBTQ community are especially susceptible.

“Traffickers often exploit an LGBTQ person’s housing insecurity and need for family, threaten to ‘out’ them to loved ones, manipulate their self-worth, cause distrust of others, and withhold hormone therapy or other gender-expression necessities in order to control them,” the study finds.

Other forms of sexual exploitation include residential brothels where romantic partners or family members force a victim into having sex; cantinas, bars and strip clubs that require attractive employees to gratify customers who spend a lot on alcoholic drinks; families who sell young girls into sexual servitude to pay off a debt; and pornographic distribution without the consent of those filmed. Between 2007-2016, 61 percent of reported pornography victims were minors.

Traffickers also coerce victims into "remote interactive sexual acts" using webcams, texting and phones. 

While the majority of sex trafficking victims are women, industries that require hard labor target male populations. In agriculture and animal husbandry, 86 percent of reported victims were men, many of whom worked in tobacco fields that required extensive physical effort. Likewise, the vast majority of those trafficked in construction were male and came from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala.

Labor trafficking victims tend to be enticed by unfulfilled promises of education opportunities and benefits, according to the report. They are often offered temporary work visas without portability so that their financial futures and legal status are inextricably tied to their abusive jobs.

Others are undocumented and fear retribution if they seek out authorities.

It can be nearly impossible for victims to identify their traffickers, as the chain of command is too intricate and complicated within trafficking networks. 

At hotels, Jamaican, Filipino, and Indian victims clean guest rooms. At nail and hair salons, Vietnamese, Chinese, and South Koreans are surrounded by customers who could help them, but their traffickers have ensured they can’t speak English well enough to ask for an intervention. Men and women from around the world who are misled into disingenuous contracts and promised legal documentation fill jobs as lifeguards, food vendors, or camp counselors at recreation centers.

Of Polaris' trafficking cases, 575 were members of traveling sales crews.

“Unlike other types of labor trafficking, the victims in this category are overwhelmingly U.S. citizens,” according to the report.

Traffickers target vulnerable teenagers and young adults and pay victims $5 to $20 stipends a day. When someone threatens to leave the crew, they abandon him or her with nothing in an isolated location to dissuade others from following suit. 

“Although most crews claim to hire those who are at least 18, minors as young as 15 can be involved,” the study says.

The authors of the report say they hope it will advise officials on how to combat trafficking through education campaigns and collaboration.

“It allows stakeholders to begin to look more precisely at each category in order to take steps to prevent and eliminate distinct forms of exploitation,” they write.

Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Black Women Stand Up on Twitter Following Maxine Waters Dig]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 12:15:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Maxine+Waters2.jpg

Bill O'Reilly's joke about a congresswoman's wig and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's dressing down of a reporter have spurred black women to take to social media in protest. 

Activist Brittany Packnett encouraged people to tweet under #BlackWomenAtWork Tuesday. It's a response to O'Reilly's comment Tuesday that Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters' hair was a "James Brown wig.'' He later apologized.

Also Tuesday, Spicer told American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan to stop shaking her head during a testy exchange at a White House press briefing. 

Former DNC chair Donna Brazile tweeted, "#BlackWomenAtWork face the double bind of gender and race.'' 

Waters used the hashtag herself on Tuesday night, tweeting, "I am a strong black woman. I cannot be intimidated, and I'm not going anywhere.''

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[19-Year-Old Arrested in 'Ambush-Style' Attack of 2 Miami Officers]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:45:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/032917+damian+antwan+thompson+shooting.jpg

A 19-year-old man was arrested early Wednesday after police say he opened fire in an "ambush-style attack" on two undercover Miami-Dade detectives who were investigating gang activity, police said.

Damian Antwan Thompson is charged with two counts of attempted murder in the Monday night shooting, Miami-Dade police officials said Wednesday.

Detective Terence White, 47, and Detective Charles Woods, 37, were in an unmarked police vehicle on the city's north side investigating gang activity when, according to officials, at least four men "ambushed" the car just before 10 p.m. Monday and opened fire.

Police say Thompson fired multiple shots as he walked about the car, "aiming to kill" the detectives, according to an arrest report. At least one officer returned fire, Miami-Dade Police Maj. Hector Llevat said.

"They were ambushed in their vehicle, unprovoked," Llevat said.

White was shot in the foot and was being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Woods was treated for a gunshot wound in the arm at the same Miami hospital and released. The officers' unmarked car was riddled with dozens of bullet holes.

Several people were detained Tuesday in connection to the shooting near Northwest 62nd Street and 20th Avenue. Police say several Crime Stoppers tips led police to Thompson. The wounded officers also positively identified Thompson as the suspect, according to the report.

Thompson was arrested and booked into jail where he was being held without bond Wednesday morning. Attorney information wasn't immediately available.

An arrest report said Thompson was taken into custody in a room at the Hyatt Place Hotel on Northwest 42nd Avenue, along with three other people.

The other three people who were at the hotel — 25-year-old Jamal Daniels, 22-year-old Jessica Pierre and 22-year-old Mikequesha Simmons — are facing charges unrelated to the shooting.

NBC 6's cameras captured Thompson Tuesday when he was seen in blue hospital scrubs being placed into a police squad car. Thompson's mother spoke to NBC 6 about her son's arrest. 

"I'm not saying he's innnocent. I know he be out there with a crowd. But, they didn't have to beat him like they did, you know, because he's so little. At the same time, just hurts," Michele Thompson said.

The police report indicates when police officers found the 19-year-old in the hotel room, he refused to comply, charged at the officers and started fighting with them.

During questioning, Thompson said he knew one of the officers and an investigation revealed White had previously arrested the alleged shooter earlier this year, according to the arrest warrant.

Woods is an 11-year veteran of the department and White has been on the force for 26 years. The detectives were assigned to the Homicide Street Violence Task Force as part of a multiagency gang enforcement sweep in northwest Miami-Dade County.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections, Miami-Dade Police
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<![CDATA[Mom Tells Son's Story in Fight for NIH Funding]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 23:43:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/220*120/2017-03-28_2340.png

Pediatric cancer research is one of the least funded and proposed budget cuts to NIH will deplete it even more. A family whose child died from pediatric cancer is testifying on Capitol Hill Wednesday, March 29, to save the funding. Tammi and Jason Carr in Michigan founded the ChadTough Foundation to honor their son Chad, who died at age 5 after battling a brain tumor. News4’s Shomari Stone reports. 

Photo Credit: Tammy Carr]]>
<![CDATA[Pedestrian, Cyclists Safety Signals to be Installed]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 21:32:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/New-Bike-Signs.jpg

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration announced plans to install a new safety signal at a Montgomery County intersection where two people were killed last year.

The agency said they would also install a new traffic signal at an intersection in Prince George’s County. The new signals are designed to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists at the two locations.

A new flashing light will go in at MD 586 (Veirs Mill Road) and Turkey Branch Parkway (Matthew Hanson Trail) in Montgomery County. A full-color traffic signal with pedestrian countdown/accessible signals will be installed at MD 214 (Central Avenue) at the Addison Road Metrorail Station in Prince George’s County.

“Pedestrians and bicyclists make up one-fifth of the 500 traffic fatalities in Maryland every year, which is disproportionate when compared to how much we drive,” said SHA Administrator Gregory Slater. “SHA is continually seeking engineering solutions to help protect our most vulnerable travelers and influence behavior to enhance safety.”

There is no date for the installation of the safety devices. Frank Towers and Beza Amare Eshetu died in 2016 while walking along Viers Mill Road.

<![CDATA[How Likely Is Congress to Create a Russia Commission?]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:46:58 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-653548766.jpg

Some members of Congress are convinced it's time for a full-scale, independent inquiry into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election like the investigations into the Sept. 11 attacks and the 2008 financial downturn, NBC News reports.

Congress and the FBI are investigating whether President Donald Trump's campaign had any illegal contact with the Russians last year, but Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee are calling for an independent review.

Its chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., admitted to meeting with a secret source at the White House to look at intelligence reports without notifying fellow committee members.

Getting an independent investigation off the ground won't be easy, particularly in such a partisan political climate, observers say. It needs funding, bipartisan buy-in and more.

Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Play Ball... Y'all ]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 08:34:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/nats-park.jpg

A lot is going on.

First, the fun stuff.

Opening day for the Nationals is Monday against the Miami Marlins.

Your Notebook took in a Nats spring training game last week in West Palm Beach, checking in with local fans at the team’s new Florida ballpark.

“This is very nice,” said retired federal worker Roy Redmond, a Virginia resident, looking around the 6,500-seat stadium that is shared with the Houston Astros. Workers rushed to get it completed in less than 18 months, laying out a first-class locker room for players and party decks, private suites and grassy picnic areas for fans. There’s a 360-degree view of the field from the main concourse, just like at Nats ballpark here.

It’s a major change from the previous, small-town facility in Viera, Fla. But big and new and shiny do come at a cost.

Redmond, the fan from Nokesville in suburban Virginia’s Prince William County, was a regular at Viera, too. The new place “is not as folksy or homey,” he told us. “But we’ll keep coming.”

Redmond and his wife Trish were in seats behind home plate as the Nats were preparing for a game against the New York Yankees. The ballpark was filling up. Baseball was in the air.

Silver Spring resident Ann Henson also was in the seats. A resident of Leisure World, she had driven down with two close friends. She and her husband, Larry, had been fans of the Nats since their arrival a decade ago. But this trip was the first without her husband, who died in January.

“This is part of my grief therapy,” she said, looking around the ballpark. “This is a beautiful space.” With the season set to open, Henson said she expects the Nats to make the playoffs again, but worries they don’t yet have a closer able to carry the team. And she and many others who follow the team from Florida to the home field in Washington will be watching every pitch Monday.

■ Play ball policing. It’s a truism that public safety is a cornerstone of local politics everywhere.

The D.C. Council just wrapped up its third and final hearing on whether to confirm interim Police Chief Peter Newsham as Mayor Muriel Bowser’s next chief. The final hearing by Judiciary and Public Safety Committee chair Charles Allen, the Ward 6 member, on Friday lasted 11 hours. More than 80 witnesses signed up. The previous two hearings were held in the community, but this was the chance to hear from Newsham himself.

Some council members attended all or part of the hearings, and several council members left and returned to ask specific questions of Newsham.

He got some aggressive questions from Allen, as well as at-large Council member David Grosso. Newsham is expected to be confirmed easily when the council votes within the next few weeks, but we’re hearing it won’t be unanimous.

■ Election Day daze. In recent years, the D.C. Council primary elections have been held in April, June and September. It’s been a mash-up of dates to comply with federal rules that final ballots must be mailed overseas to military and government personnel within a time frame to be counted with all the other ballots.

Right now, the 2018 primary for mayor and council seats is set for Sept. 4. But candidates planning to run in that primary had better pay attention to the D.C. Council, as the date could change again.

Council member Allen’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee oversees the Board of Elections, and he has introduced a bill to permanently move the city primaries to the month of June, beginning with next year’s elections. The new date would be June 19. If it passes, that means mayoral candidates like Mayor Bowser may have to announce sooner than they had planned.

“As the chair of the committee with oversight, I take the risk of violating federal election law very seriously,” Allen said when introducing his legislation. “Moving the primary date to June gives the Board of Elections the time it needs.”

Allen noted that the June 19 date would be just after the school year ends, avoiding conflicts with closing ceremonies and other activities. It also doesn’t impinge on Memorial Day or Labor Day.

The current council members and Bowser won the last primary held on April 1, 2014. (We’ve heard all the April Fool jokes, thank you.) In addition to being a joke date, it meant that then-incumbent Mayor Vincent Gray, defeated by Bowser, remained in office until Jan. 2, 2015. Whatever date the city chooses, and whoever is elected, we hope there’s not a lead time like that ever again.

■ Get on the bus, Gus. Our neighbors in Montgomery County are getting a new rapid bus transit system. The county held an online contest to see what its name would be.

The winning name was “Flash.” It got 463 votes against “Rapid” (370) and “Swift” (382).

But we were intrigued with the 300-plus other write-in names for the bus system. There were the predictable grumpy ones like “Waste of Money” and “Doomed to Fail.” There were some that were fun to say: “MoCoGo” and “HoCoMoCo GoGo.”

But we liked these also-ran ideas: “Bussey McBusface.” “Quicky & Hustle.” “Bust-a-Move.”

And finally, my winner, “The Full Monty.”

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[DC to Expand Police Cadet Training Program]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 06:13:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/218*120/2017-03-29_0612.png

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser says the city will invest $1.6 million in the expansion of the city's police cadet training program. 

Bowser's office said in a statement Tuesday that the investment will allow the police department to double the number of police cadets from 35 to 70. 

The police cadet training program allows high school graduates in the District of Columbia to attend the University of the District of Columbia on a full tuition scholarship while also working for the police department. Once a cadet earns 60 credit hours they're eligible to become police recruits and complete their Police Academy training. 

The city's police chief, Peter Newsham, said in Tuesday's statement that the program is a "tremendous asset'' to the department.

<![CDATA[MCPS Reviewing Security of Schools After Rape of Girl, 14]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 22:26:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Rockville+High+School+Sign.jpg

After the rape of a 14-year-old girl allegedly by two other students in a Rockville High School bathroom, Montgomery County Public Schools will review the security of all 25 of its high schools.

The review will include outside consultants and be completed in April, a district official said.

The school district official said he expects the review will check the positioning of security cameras, the quantity of blind spots in hallways and the positioning of teachers during class changes.

Montgomery County Public Schools is equipped with 5,000 security cameras in its buildings. The security review could recommend more cameras or additional security employees in schools, the district official said.

"We'll take a look at where they're positioned and do we need to relocate some of them, angle them differently to provide us better visibility," MCPS Chief Operating Officer Andrew Zuckerman. "And if there are areas that are blind spots for us, then we'll want to add cameras in those spaces as well."

The security review will also be conducted at middle and elementary schools and other school district buildings before the end of the school year in June. Rockville High School likely will be the first building reviewed, a district official said.

A review of the security of students participating in the in-school suspension program is also expected, the official said.

Montgomery County Public Schools has more than 200 school buildings and tens of thousands of students and employees.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Police: Thwarted Md. School Shooter Referenced Columbine]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:19:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/022817+catoctin+high+schoo.jpg

The female high school student who was planning to bomb her school and shoot students and teachers referenced the Columbine and Newtown attacks in her diary and believed she would be the first female mass shooter, police say.

Frederick County Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins revealed new details on Tuesday about what investigators found in Nichole Cevario's diary. The 18-year-old was pulled out a classroom at Catoctin High School after her father read threats in the diary and contacted the school.

Cevario referenced the horrific school shootings in Columbine, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, Jenkins said. She focused on mistakes those shooters made, the sheriff said.

Also, she said she believed she would be the first female mass shooter. 

A 16-year-old girl opened fire at an elementary school in San Diego in 1979, and a woman was one of the shooters in the San Bernardino attack in 2015, among other examples. 

Cevario stockpiled bomb-making materials and had a shotgun to attack Catoctin High on April 5, the Frederick County Sheriff's Office said Monday. 

Police believe her diary entries were not empty threats, Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins said at a news conference Monday. 

"We felt this was going to be carried out. There is no doubt in our minds that we diverted a disaster up there," he said. 

Cevario "had the means and equipment to have caused a significant life safety event” at the school, police said in a statement. 

How the Investigation Unfolded
Police learned of Cevario's plot after her father read her diary and called the school on Thursday. Earlier, he found shotgun shells in her backpack, Jenkins said. He had noticed a change in her behavior. She already was seeing a counselor outside school.

Within hours of the father's phone call, the honor student was pulled out of a classroom and involuntarily taken to a hospital for a psychological evaluation. 

Police searched Cevario's home in Thurmont, Maryland, and found weapons and the diary. In the home, police say they found a 12-gauge shotgun with ammunition and bomb-making materials including pipes with end caps, shrapnel, fireworks, magnesium tape and fuse material.

The gun and other items were purchased legally, police said. Cevario reportedly planned to saw off the shotgun.

What Cevario's Diary Said
Cevario's diary "spelled out a detailed shooting event that she planned to execute on a specific date in April," police said. 

Officials later said that date was April 5. It was not immediately clear whether that date had any significance. 

The diary showed the high schooler, who had been taking college classes in criminal justice and working at a carryout restaurant, had been planning the attack for some time, police said. She expressed frustrations about her personal life and compiled information on the school's emergency procedures and the school resource deputy on duty. 

"The journal was very detailed, including a time line that revealed how she was going to execute the plot, and her expectations at each stage of the event," police said. 

The sheriff said in an update Tuesday that Cevario named one male classmate and two female classmates in the diary. All three people were friends. Police believe they were neither targets nor accomplices, but did not release additional information. 

Investigators believe she had a second diary they cannot find.

What's Next
Officials say Cevario acted alone and never took a weapon or explosive device to the school. It was clear she had mental health issues, the sheriff's office said. 

"Obviously, this was a student who needed some intervention and some help, and I think the silver lining is she's going to get the help she needs now," Frederick County Public Schools spokesman Michael Doerrer said.  

Once Cevario is released from the hospital, she will be charged with possession of explosive and incendiary material with intent to create a destructive device. 

Law enforcement and school officials said they had no sign Cevario had any problem.

Life at Catoctin High was returning to normal Tuesday.

"It's crazy to think that this could be happening in such a small community," one student said. "I feel like you know the people at your high school, but really you might not."

Anyone with information for police is asked to call 301-600-2583. 

How to Tell If Your Child Needs Help
Dr. Mary Alvord, a psychologist, said parents should watch for dramatic changes in their children's behavior. Note if children or teens suddenly withdraw from friends, hole up in their rooms for hours or fail to come home, she said. Changes in sleep patterns and eating habits, or increased irritability also can be signs something is wrong. 

"We're really looking for patterns of change," Alvord said.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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<![CDATA[Babysitter Accused of Burning Feet of 6-Month-Old Girl]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 16:54:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20170329+Babysitter.jpg

A babysitter was charged with child abuse, accused of placing the feet of a young child against a hot pan, according to charging documents filed with the District Court of Maryland for Prince George’s County.

Ismelda Ramos Mendoza, 36, of Bladensburg, Maryland, was taken into custody on Monday, March 27 after she told investigators she became frustrated with a 6-month-old girl for crying too much. She was arrested and taken to the Prince George’s Department of Corrections.

According to the court documents, the mother of the girl took the youngster, Ana Flores Guerrero, to the home of Mendoza on Wednesday, March 22 around 2 p.m. for Mendoza to watch the girl. The mother returned about three hours later to pick up her child.

The next morning, the mother saw redness on the bottom of Ana Flores’ feet and asked Mendoza if she knew what happened. Mendoza said she didn’t know anything.

A day later, the mother said small blisters formed on the feet of the young girl, and she later took Ana Flores to a doctor, who immediately called 911 to take the girl to the hospital due to severe burns on the bottom of her feet, according to court documents.

The girl was admitted to the hospital for second-degree burns to the bottom of both feet.

Investigators with the Bladensburg Police Department interviewed Mendoza, who initially said Ana Flores’ feet bumped into a tortilla that had been removed from a hot pan. After further discussion with the investigator, Mendoza said she “became frustrated with (Ana Flores) crying too much, became so upset she placed (Ana Flores) feet on the pan she was cooking the tortilla on, causing the burns,” according to the court documents.

Ana Flores was transported to the Children’s National Medical Center for treatment of the burns. She was hospitalized for a few days. Doctors had to manually peel the burned skin from her feet and she is being monitored for infection.

<![CDATA[Slain Artist Apparently Was Tortured: Court Documents]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 20:05:10 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Corrina+Mehiel.jpg

The North Carolina artist found bound and stabbed to death inside a row house in northeast Washington last week may have been tortured for access to her ATM card, according to court documents. 

El Hadji Alpha Madiou Toure, 28, of no fixed address, was arrested Monday night and has been charged with first-degree murder while armed and theft one in connection with Corrina Mehiel's death.

It doesn't appear Mehiel and Toure knew one another, Acting Police Chief Peter Newsham said at a news conference Tuesday.

The doctor who performed the autopsy found defensive wounds on the palm of Mehiel’s left hand and puncture wounds to her neck, suggesting torture, according to court documents.

Police have pictures of Toure using Mehiel’s ATM card at several locations around the area, court documents said. Her card was used seven times to withdrawal a total of $4,000 in the days before and after her death, beginning March 20 -- the afternoon before her body was found -- and continuing until about 1 a.m. Friday.

Surveillance video also shows Toure walking in Mehiel’s block the morning of her murder and driving away in her 2004 Toyota Prius, according to court documents.

Police received a tip Monday morning that Toure was sitting in a Ford Taurus in the 1700 block of Hamlin Street NE. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant for a probation violation in Bradley County, Tennessee, Newsham said. 

A search of the Taurus found paperwork showing Toure bought the vehicle Friday, making a $1,000 payment.

Newsham said Toure may have been staying in local homeless shelters. 

Mehiel, 34, was found unconscious and suffering from several stab wounds to the neck and torso in a basement apartment in the 600 block of 14th Street NE, near the busy H Street corridor, about 4:30 p.m. March 21. She was pronounced dead after midnight March 22, one day before her birthday.

Police found no signs of forced entry in the apartment where her body was found.

Mehiel was an artist and art teacher who was working at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design. She was last seen at the school March 19. She talked with her father by phone that night, too, her stepmother said.

Her boyfriend told investigators he last had contact with her at 1:24 a.m. March 21, police said.

Mehiel, who originally was from Burnsville, North Carolina, was living in D.C. temporarily. She specialized in art that engaged communities and was working with the artist Mel Chin.

"She was full of life, full of plans," Mehiel's stepmother, Lari Mehiel, said last week by phone. 

She sobbed as she spoke about the artist's murder.

"I think some heinous, hate-filled, evil person killed her. I don't know why. Why would he kill her?" she said.

Toure served one year of an eight-year sentence in Tennessee after pleading guilty to two robbery charges in 2006 before he was put on probation, according to the Bradley County Sheriff Office. He has an outstanding violation of probation warrant.

<![CDATA[Man Killed in Front Royal Home; Fiancee's Son Is Suspect]]> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 19:15:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/pjimage+%282%29.jpg

A man was shot and killed Monday night in Front Royal, Virginia, and police say the suspect is a man who was set to be his stepson. 

Warren Howard Ramsey, 58, died after he was shot multiple times on the 200 block of Grand Avenue. Police responded about 10:50 p.m.

Ramsey was pronounced dead at the scene. 

David Glynn Hoyle Jr., 32, was charged with first-degree murder. He and family members lived with Ramsey, and Hoyle's mother was set to marry Ramsey, according to Front Royal police. 

Hoyle is being held without bound and could face 20 years to life if convicted. 

Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call police at 540-636-2208. 

Photo Credit: Front Royal Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Three Storm Chasers Killed in Texas Crash]]> Wed, 29 Mar 2017 06:53:10 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/kcbd+storm+chasers+crash.jpg

The Texas Department of Public Safety says three people who died in a two-vehicle crash Tuesday in West Texas were storm chasers.

The crash occurred about five miles west of Spur, Texas, or about 60 miles east of Lubbock, about 3:30 p.m.

Investigators say a Chevrolet Suburban traveling north on Farm-to-Market Road 1081 entered an intersection and struck a Jeep that was traveling west on Farm-to-Market Road 2794.

The Suburban apparently ran through a stop sign, DPS investigators say.

DPS says both drivers and a passenger died in the crash. The three were all storm chasers, officials say.

The driver of the Suburban was identified as Kelley Gene Williamson, 57, of Cassville, Missouri. The passenger in the Suburban was identified as Randall Delane Yarnall, 55, also of Cassville, Missouri.

The driver of the Jeep was identified as Corbin Lee Jaeger, 25, of Peoria, Arizona.

The crash remains under investigation.

The Weather Channel released a statement Tuesday evening.

"This afternoon we learned that three people died in a car accident in Texas, including two contractors for the Weather Channel, Kelley Williamson and Randy Yarnall. Kelley and Randy were beloved members of the weather community. We are saddened by this loss and our deepest sympathies go out to the families and loved ones of all involved."

Strong and severe storms were moving through the region Tuesday afternoon, and storms are expected to pass through North Texas overnight and Wednesday morning.

Photo Credit: KCBD-TV
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