<![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-usThu, 25 May 2017 23:54:23 -0400Thu, 25 May 2017 23:54:23 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Mrs. Maryland Restores Home for Disabled Vietnam Veteran ]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 20:25:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Dereky+Martin-Hagler+and+Mark+Ward+Official+Photo.jpg

A disabled Vietnam war veteran can call his fire damaged house a home again thanks to a home makeover just in time for Memorial Day.

Dereky Martin-Hagler and her husband, Al Hagler, co-owners of D&A Designs, were determined to restore Mark Ward’s Bowie home, which was completely destroyed in a fire that left him living in temporary housing with his granddaugthe for six months. 

Martin-Hagler, the reigning Mrs. Maryland, and her husband wanted to help Ward after all of his service to the country.

She said if it wasn’t for someone else paying it forward to her, she wouldn’t be in the position she’s in today.

“When the real estate market crashed, I lost everything,” she said. “So I went from making seven figures to pretty much losing everything.”

D&A Designs wanted to add a special touch to the home.

“He loves to cook, so we gave him his dream kitchen,” Martin-Hagler said.

Ward’s granddaugther was thrilled by the new designs.

“I’m so happy, like, it’s so beautiful,” his granddaugther said when she first saw her new home. “I’m just so excited.”

Photo Credit: NBC Washington ]]>
<![CDATA[Relative Suspected in Death of Elderly Maryland Man]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 19:18:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Fort+Washington+Homicide+Scene+052517.jpg

An elderly man was killed in his Maryland home, Prince George’s County Police said.

A man related to the victim is in custody, sources told News4.

The victim's family requested a welfare check Thursday morning after he did not answer phone calls.

Officers saw him slumped over through the window of his home on Mill Street in Fort Washington, and the Prince George's County Fire Department forced its way inside.  

Police found the victim unresponsive and suffering from trauma to his upper body. Responding units then suspected murder.

The house was locked up when officers arrived and there were no signs of forced entry, leading them to determine this was likely not a random act, police said.

At 5:20 p.m., police confirmed a suspect was arrested on Palmer Road, near the murder scene, on an unrelated warrant. The man is being questioned in connection to the murder.

“It's unbelievable,” a neighbor who lives across the street told News4. “I don't believe it. I've lived here since 1975. Shocking.”

Photo Credit: Mark Segraves/NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Kushner Under FBI Scrutiny in Russia Probe: Officials]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 18:51:55 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/jared-kushner.jpg

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News.

Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry, officials said. That does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him.

The FBI's scrutiny of Kushner places the bureau's sprawling counterintelligence and criminal investigation not only on the doorstep of the White House, but on the cusp of the Trump family circle.

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Alpha the Dog Gets Yearbook Photo, Right Next to His Human]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 21:35:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Alpha+Schalk+Stafford+High+School.jpg

In the high school yearbook, the black Labrador peers up from the bottom half of his picture, all lovable, big eyes.

It's an honor that Alpha, a service dog, earned after years at the side of his owner, junior A.J. Schalk.

“Where you see A.J., you see Alpha. Where you see Alpha, you see A.J., and he’s just one of the gang,” said Principal Joseph Lewis of Stafford High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Alpha has been assisting A.J. since the dog was four months old. A.J. has diabetes, and Alpha sits in class with him every day and alerts him when his blood sugar is too low.

A.J. said he wanted to make sure his dog was in the yearbook, so he can look back on the memories later.

“I just wanted to have my service dog in the yearbook,” he said. “I thought it’d be a great little thing, to put in to have for my school and me to look back on when I’m older.”

The yearbook staff agreed, and the rest is enshrined on page 220.

When the yearbook was released, a student snapped a photo of Alpha’s pose and shared it on Twitter. The Tweet went viral and was written up on Buzzfeed. It’s not very often you see a dog in a yearbook.

A.J. said he hopes Alpha gets another photo next year, but this time, in a cap and gown.

“Whatever I happen to do after high school, he’s going to be with me,” A.J. said. “So it’s exciting to have him along for the ride.”

Photo Credit: David Culver]]>
<![CDATA[Md. Considers Shortening or Moving PARCC Standardized Tests]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 21:34:48 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Changes_Could_Be_Coming_to_PARCC_Tests.jpg

Maryland will consider changes to standardized testing for next school year.

The PARCC tests Maryland has used for the past few years consume a lot of time near the end of the school year, and some students and teachers are not happy with that.

Maryland education officials are considering shortening the test or moving it to earlier in the school calendar

"We worked to get them shorter,” Maryland's State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon said. “We’re looking at having them more integrated into the school schedule rather than be daylong events. And that’s a goal of the governing board I serve on. We talk about it all the time."

Salmon said the agency received very little feedback about the PARCC tests, but at a public meeting in Baltimore, a group of Prince George's County high school students asked state officials to scrap the PARCC test or at least shrink it.

"When you have a school that has a lot of lower socioeconomic students issues there is a lot of other concerns, like maybe problems at home, so testing is not their main priority maybe as it is getting good grades and trying to work and helping out their families," Laurel High School sophomore Yarold Bautista said.

"I took two PARCC tests this year and I'm here to tell you that it's not working and that it should be eradicated," Laurel High sophomore Sydney Houston said.

This year is the first year sophomores must actually pass the PARCC test before graduating. In prior years, they only needed to take it.

Maryland is committed to the PARCC test for at least one more year.

<![CDATA[Police: Man Without License Paid People for Blood in DC Apt.]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 22:52:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/219*120/2017-05-25_1138.png

A man has been charged with practicing without a license after police say he collected large quantities of blood from D.C. residents and paid them for it.

Khoa Hoang Nguyen, 43, of Rockville, Maryland, was arrested for allegedly collecting blood from people in an abandoned apartment on P Street SW, police said.

The people were paid $30 each for the blood samples, according to charging documents.

"It was free money," said a woman who lined up but said she didn't have a chance to sell her blood.

Officers who were called to the scene Wednesday found a large group of people standing outside the building. Neighbors told News4's Darcy Spencer they had been seeing long lines of people going into the apartment.

"It was a long, long line. We didn't know what was going on," one neighbor said. "People were getting blood taken from their arm, and they put this tube stick down their nose."

A woman inside the unit where the blood was being drawn told officers she was part of a "work study" and the unit was the "source location," charging documents state. She told police Nguyen was in charge of the work study and called him over from across the street. 

Nguyen told police he worked for Boston Biosource, a Newton, Massachusetts-based company that says it provides blood and tissue samples to clients, according to its website.

Nguyen said he was approved and certified to draw blood and that he had drawn blood from 40 people between Tuesday and Wednesday, but a ledger police found in the apartment listed an additional 205 names, according to charging documents.

Police said they also found large quantities of blood and used needles in the apartment. Police said the blood was stored improperly.

Nguyen was not able to provide any documentation, licenses or certification to prove he was qualified to draw blood. Police say the collected blood was not being stored in a manner consistent with "professional practices."

Police said they were not able to get in touch with a representative of Boston Biosource.

Boston Biosource told News4 Nguyen goes to risky areas to collect blood for research, looking for cures to diseases like cancer, tuberculosis and Alzheimer's disease, calling it valuable work.

Nguyen has been charged with practicing registered nursing without a license.

<![CDATA[Metro Gets Ready to Raise Fares, Cut Hours]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 20:14:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Metro_Train_001.jpg

Starting June 25, Metro riders will have to deal with fare hikes and service cuts. Weeknight service will end at 11:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday service will go until 1 a.m. On Sunday, the system won't open until 8 a.m. and it will close at 11 p.m. Plus, you'll pay $0.10 to $0.25 more to ride the train or bus, depending when you take your trip. Riders, unsurprisingly, aren't happy. News4 transportation reporter Adam Tuss explains the changes.

<![CDATA[JROTC Member Honors Fallen Army Sergeant He Never Met]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 18:28:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20170525+Wreath.jpg

Over Memorial Day weekend, America will honor its war dead. A local teenager experienced his own personal Memorial Day earlier this year. During spring break, the Magruder High School student traveled to South America to honor a fallen Army sergeant he never met, but with whom he shared a common bond. News4’s Aaron Gilchrist explains the connection between a Rockville JROTC program and a grave site in El Salvador.

<![CDATA[Old Guard Places Flags at Arlington Cemetery Headstones]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 19:48:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/arl-2kw-IMG_4887.jpg Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment were at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, placing flags at the headstones of U.S. military personnel buried at the cemetery. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Photo Credit: Kristin Wright, NBC4]]>
<![CDATA[The Case That Changed Investigations of Missing Children]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 18:55:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20170525+Missing+Kids.jpg

It was nearly 40 years ago that six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared while on his way to his school bus stop in New York City. And it wasn't until this year that a former store clerk was convicted of his murder. Despite the decades of pain for Etan's family, his case has done lasting good: it helped change how police track missing and exploited children. News4's Angie Goff goes inside the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

<![CDATA[Va. Governor Candidates Discuss College Tuition Plans]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 19:57:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20170525+Tuition.jpg

So how could the race for Virginia governor affect the cost of college? News4's Northern Virginia bureau chief Julie Carey looks at where each candidate stands on college tuition.

<![CDATA[Severe Storms Fell Trees, Flood Roads]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 23:45:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Brookeville+Road+Flash+Flooding+052517.jpg

Strong storms swept through parts of the D.C. area Thursday evening, knocking down some trees and flooding roads.

All of the severe thunderstorm warnings had expired as of 7 p.m. but a severe flood warning is in effect until 3:30 a.m. for east central Montgomery County.

At 9:25 p.m., emergency management reported flooding in Olney and Brookeville. Brookeville Road at Georgia Avenue was still closed as of 10 p.m. Two people had to abandon an SUV when it stalled there.

During their height, the storms brought significant hail to parts of Maryland. Fallen trees and some power outages were reported.

Anacostia Freeway flooded near Benning Road in northeast D.C. during rush hour.

Storm Team4 is tracking the potential for more severe weather that could affect the holiday weekend, particularly Saturday evening.

Photo Credit: Montgomery County Fire and Rescue
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<![CDATA[Spending D.C.'s Biggest-Ever Budget: Will It Have an Impact?]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 19:20:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20170525+WIlson+Building.jpg

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

On Thursday, D.C. Councilmembers gathered for one of their favorite endeavors: spending your money. Amid much rhetorical backslapping, the 13 legislators discussed how to divvy up what is by far the biggest budget in District history, at just south of $14 billion.

What they failed to do – indeed what they never do – is consider in any way, shape, or form whether the billions they disburse will have any impact, change any lives, educate kids, heal the sick or house the homeless.

“Accountability does not exist,” says longtime Councilmember Jack Evans.

“There is absolutely no oversight,” says a veteran budget analyst in the Wilson Building.

D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson, who served on Council for 12 years, has begun to follow funds to nowhere in her new capacity. “It’s time to measure outcomes,” she tells me. “Put money in to programs based on performance, department by department, program by program.”

Accountability. Oversight. Outcomes. Three words that rarely came up during Thursday’s giddy, marathon budget session.

Having witnessed this annual ritual for decades, I can say with certainty the 13 members will talk plenty but do little. They might quibble over details and nibble around the edges. A million here, a million there. But by and large they will rubber-stamp Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 2018 budget.

Magically, the budget will be both balanced, as required by law, but deep in the red. How’s that? The budget includes paying off the huge debt Council has racked up over the past decade. The line item to service the debt is now the fourth-largest in the budget.

Paying off the debt in the fiscal 2018 budget will cost more than funding the police department, Jack Evans pointed out when Bowser dropped her budget a few weeks ago.

“Let’s swipe that baby,” he said of the Council’s penchant for borrowing. “Our debt service is the highest per capita in the nation.”

Chairman Phil Mendelson chimed in to say debt service will top $900 million by 2020.

Evans, the longest serving member by far, was the only Councilmember to unsettle the celebratory mood Thursday. At that initial hearing he waved a list of the $329 million additions in funding over last year’s budget and said any cuts will be decreases in the increases.

Add this up: the District budget has nearly doubled in a decade, from $7 billion in 2008 to this year’s astronomical $14 billion.

“I don’t see the results,” Evans told his squirming colleagues. “We are still struggling with the identical problems as ten years ago. What went wrong? Nobody wants to look at that.”


We are already into the usual budget squabbles.

Ed Lazere, director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, wants $23 million more for homelessness, $10 million added to rental housing assistance, $28 million more for schools and more funds for health and jobs.

On the other side, former Mayor Anthony Williams has urged Council to maintain the $100 million in tax cuts that his commission advocates.

You can’t blame the usual suspects for advocating their cases. But somebody has to call a halt to the District’s unbridled and unaccounted spending. As Evans says, the good times will not last.

What's to be done?

“If the mayor and Council are committed to putting more money into schools and housing,” Lazere writes in an email, “they have the tools (more than I do) to find the needed savings elsewhere in the budget.”

Ed passes the buck, so to speak.

Standing at the opposite pole, Evans wants the District to cut off financial assistance to the poor after five years and asks: “At what point does the welfare state in the District come to and end?”

There is a sensible, middle ground. Our spendthrift politicians have been shown exactly how to calibrate their spending, reduce the debt and direct funds to programs that pay off with return on investment.

Kathy Patterson has been advocating the District adopt a system of oversight and monitoring recommended by The Pew Charitable Trusts. In its 2014 report “Evidence-Based Policymaking: A Guide for Effective Governing,” Pew presents a system of program assessment and evaluation that helps politicians direct funds to programs that work rather than ones where money disappears into a black hole with nothing to show.

“It’s a very strong model based on solid research,” Patterson tells me. “You build a data base on results.”

Patterson’s audit of the D.C. Housing Production Trust Fund discovered that the city’s principal way of building affordable house was leaking funds, lacking records and failing to house needy residents.

When the report came out in March, Councilmember Anita Bonds, whose committee allegedly oversees the fund, said: “Our inability as a government to effectively manage this essential tool means we’re failing to really do our part in addressing the affordability crisis.”

Sounds good, yet when the Council on Thursday considered the 2018 budget, Bonds recommended using $50 million from the prospective 2019 budget to finance the housing trust fund.

Mendelson balked at “borrowing from the future.”

To which Bonds responded: “It’s more of a paper transfer than actual dollars,”

Herein lies the problem: “actual dollars” are going out the window at an increasingly rapid clip. As the District budget doubled, from $7 billion to $14 billion in the past decade, the District got deeper in debt, too many schools failed to educate children, the number of homeless housed in motels paid for with city funds remained too high, and health care east of the Anacostia River continued to be inadequate.

Enough celebrating and backslapping in Council chambers. Back in the Marion Barry era, every budget cycle ended with the accounting of “funny money,” the unspent dollars that remained and needed to be spent. Barry’s gone, the District’s problems of poverty persist, and funny money still sloshes around the government agencies.

That’s nothing to laugh about.

<![CDATA[Nurse Was Raped, Beaten During Hostage Standoff at Ill. Hospital: Suit]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 18:02:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/hospital+bed+delnor.JPG

Editor's Note: Details in this story may be disturbing for some readers

An Illinois nurse taken hostage at a suburban Chicago hospital was raped and tortured at gunpoint before she saved staff from the gunman, attorneys and a new lawsuit claim.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of two nurses taken hostage May 13 at Delnor Hospital in Geneva, blames the incident on alleged violations by an officer guarding an inmate whose elaborate escape attempt turned into a deadly barricade situation. The suit also names Kane County and APEX3 Security as defendants, claiming they failed to properly monitor and secure the inmate.

The suit claims Tywon Salters, of Chicago, was left unshackled after a visit to the bathroom because he told a Kane County Sheriff’s officer he may need to use the restroom again.

That’s when attorneys say Salters managed to gain control of the officer’s gun and begin his attempt at an escape.

“Following the taking of his gun, the sheriff ran from the room, down the hall, into another patient’s room and hid,” the lawsuit claims. “The sheriff then took no action to attempt to regain control of his gun or protect hospital employees walking the floor.”

Salters, 21, of Chicago, was taken from the Kane County Jail by ambulance on May 8 to Delnor Hospital after eating part of his plastic, jail-issued sandal, the Kane County State’s Attorney said. After undergoing surgery to remove the plastic from his stomach, Salters was recovering while awaiting a court appearance set for May 17 at the Kane County Judicial Center. He had been charged with possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

After grabbing the officer’s gun, a naked Salters allegedly entered a nursing office and took a nurse hostage before demanding she take off her clothes so he could put them on.

Salters “forced her to remove her clothes, threatened her, physically abused her, verbally abused her,” the lawsuit states.

When another nurse entered the office, Salters let the first nurse leave while taking the second nurse hostage, eventually moving her to a “decontamination room” where they would stay for the more than three hours.

“During which time he repeatedly beat her, forced her to remove her clothes, violently raped her, threatened her life, verbally abused her and held her at gunpoint,” the suit states.

“It’s been said that the nurses were not injured - when in fact one of the nurses was repeatedly beaten, she was tortured and she was raped," said attorney Sean Murray.

At one point, the nurse convinced Salters to allow her to make a phone call, one she used to alert other employees to escape, attorneys said. She led Salters through an area of the hospital “she knew would be evacuated and contain no hospital staff,” according to attorneys.

“The quick thinking by this nurse likely saved other hospital staff from being harmed,” attorneys said in a statement.

Negotiations were ongoing through the incident, officials said, but ultimately failed.

A SWAT team entered the area where Salters held his hostage and one of the officers shot him, the state’s attorney’s office said. One of the SWAT officers was also shot in the vest but was uninjured, officials said.

The suit offers the first account of what happened inside the hospital that day. Little information has been released by officials, with the state’s attorney earlier saying “there are many questions to be answered about this incident.”

The state's attorney's office declined to comment on the suit "pending the ongoing investigation and litigation."

"We really don't know what happened in the room," Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler told the Aurora Beacon-News last week.

Both the SWAT officer who fired the shot that killed Salters and the corrections officer who was disarmed were placed on paid administrative leave, per protocol.

Gengler told the Beacon-News the corrections officer’s placement was a formality.

"The officer had his weapon taken and that weapon was used (to hold someone) hostage," he told the newspaper. "To expect that person to come back to work is completely unrealistic."

The Kane County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a review of its policies, procedures and protocol involving the transport of detainees and how they are guarded when outside the jail.

“We are [filing suit] so this type of thing doesn’t happen to anyone else, and so that hospital staff can feel safe returning to work,” Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman LLC said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Taxman Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman LLC]]>
<![CDATA[DC Parks, Police and Pools Gear Up for a Safe Summer]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 19:12:03 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20170525+DC+Summer.jpg

The approach of the Memorial Day Weekend has Washington, D.C. preparing for summer. Public pools are about to open, summer jobs programs are available for teenagers, and there’s still time to sign your kids up for summer camps through the Department of Parks and Recreation. DC Police are also designing their annual summer crime initiative. Officers will focus on getting illegal guns off the street and targeting repeat violent offenders. News4’s Tom Sherwood explores other ways D.C. plans to keep your family busy and safe this summer.

<![CDATA[Joe Lieberman Withdraws Name From FBI Director Search]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 13:05:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/200*120/53089455.jpg

Former Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman has withdrawn his name from the running for FBI director.

The confirmation comes after reports that President Donald Trump is expected to retain Marc Kasowitz as a private attorney on matters related to the Russia investigation. 

Lieberman and Kasowitz are senior partners at the same firm and Lieberman's letter to President Donald Trump, which NBC Connecticut obtained, says he thinks it would be best to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

News of Trump's plan to retain Kasowitz came after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election between Trump and Hillary Clinton, and any possible collusion with members of the Trump campaign. Congressional committees in the House and Senate are also leading separate investigations. 

"With your selection of Marc Kasowitz to represent you in the various investigations that have begun, I do believe it would be best to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest, given my role as senior counsel in the law firm of which Marc is the senior partner,” Lieberman wrote.

“Once again, I am grateful for your consideration, and I wish you the very best in identifying the right person to lead this most important law enforcement agency in the future,” Lieberman’s letter says.

Lieberman was Trump's top pick to be the next FBI director to replace James Comey, who Trump fired earlier this month. 

The other three candidates include the current acting director, Andrew McCabe, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and Richard McFeeley, a former executive assistant director in the FBI.

Lieberman served 24 years as a Connecticut senator before retiring in 2013 after his fourth term.

He was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, running with Al Gore in 2000. The pair lost the election to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in a result that needed to be decided by the Supreme Court.

Lieberman also served as Connecticut's attorney general and spent 10 years as a state senator.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Miss Black Texas: I Was Arrested Over 'Color of My Skin']]> Thu, 25 May 2017 23:10:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/carmen-ponder-cuffs.jpg

The winner of Miss Black Texas 2016 says she was harassed and berated by a North Texas police chief who she said called her a "black b----," and then was unlawfully detained and arrested. 


In an interview with NBC 5, Carmen Ponder recounted her alleged interaction with Commerce Police Chief Kerry Crews.

The City of Commerce says statements about the incident do not align with statements from Crews and the responding officer. The city manager says Crews has been placed on leave during the investigation into the matter.

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In her account, Ponder said that she was driving to a Wal-Mart in Commerce Saturday when a black truck cut in front of her car and began driving erratically, braking and accelerating. Ponder said she turned on her blinker, pulled around to pass the truck and then drove into the Wal-Mart parking lot.


According to Ponder, the black truck followed her and pulled up next to her car. She said the passenger, who she believes to be Crews, exited the truck and yelled that he was teaching his 14-year-old daughter how to drive and that she should not have passed his truck. 

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Ponder said she ignored the man at first but eventually told him that that was illegal before she walked into the store.

"I finally got annoyed with him trying to justify the fact that a 14-year-old was illegally driving on the road, so I turned around and I screamed, 'It's illegal,' and that’s when it was, 'Oh, whatever you black b----," she said.

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After making a purchase at the store, Ponder said when she walked out of the store she was charged by several other officers in plain clothes.

“One of them shoved his badge in her face, told her that she ‘Better apologize to the police chief,’ but my client declined to do so,” said Ponder's attorney, Lee Merritt. “One of the officers grabbed her, pulled her back into Wal-Mart, and told her she was being detained. When other officers arrived she walked back to her car to explain what happened. An officer grabbed her and demanded she be arrested for resisting arrest. She has bruises on her arms from where she was grabbed.”

Ponder was handcuffed, booked into jail and charged with evading arrest or detention. She spent 24 hours in jail.

The beauty queen may have confused another man for Crews, Merritt said. Even though it may be a case of mistaken identity, Merritt said he believes Crews still violated Ponder's civil rights by arresting her.


In a statement released Thursday afternoon, authorities said Crews was placed on administrative leave while an outside organization hired by the City of Commerce conducts an investigation:

"On May 20, 2017, the Commerce Police Department responded to a call about a dispute between two motorists entering the Walmart parking lot. Though not on duty and present only as a customer, Police Chief Kerry Crews became engaged in the incident after being approached by one of the parties. Chief Crews made contact with the other party, but she failed to comply with his requests. As a result, she was arrested for evading arrest or detention with the responding officer arrived. She was then taken to the Hunt County Jail.

Since the incident there have been a number of statements made about the details of the incident, and many of these details do not align with the statements provided by Chief Crews and the responding officer. As such, the City is engaging an outside entity to conduct an investigation into the incident to objectively review and determine the facts.

For the benefit of the investigation, and in keeping with common practice, Chief Crews will be placed on administrative leave pending the results of the investigation. This is in no way an admission of any wrongdoing and should not be perceived as a disciplinary action. The work of the Commerce Police Department is essential to the community, and it is beneficial to both Chief Crews, the officers, and the City to allow him to serve without the distraction of an investigation clouding his day-to-day management of the department. Disciplinary action, if warranted, cannot be taken until after the investigation has concluded.

At this time, the City of Commerce will hold all additional comments until the investigation has progressed."

The Commerce City Council voted to hire the Fort Worth-based law firm Lynn Ross and Gannaway to investigate the matter.

"We have had an incident that has been reported over the last couple of days in an incomplete manner," said Mayor Wyman Williams, saying this is why they chose for an outside entity to investigate.

"We are so pleased that we have gotten media attention to an issue that is very important to not only this town, but to our country," he said, adding that Commerce takes pride in being a diverse city.

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Crews declined to comment on the allegations, telling NBC 5 his attorneys advised him not to speak at this time.


Ponder is calling for police accountability and has launched a crowdfunding page to raise money for attorney's fees to fight the charges. She writes in her youcaring.com post that she refuses to take a plea deal and is "more than willing" to go to trial. 

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"My only crime...the color of my skin," she said.

Ponder is the former Miss Black Texas U.S. Ambassador. She is also a Dean’s List student at Texas A&M University-Commerce and an intern with the Hunt County District Attorney, according to her You Caring page.

Commerce City Manager Darrek Ferrell says the city will hire a private firm to conduct an investigation, a matter the city council was expected to discuss Wednesday evening.

An interim police chief told NBC 5 Crews has been with the Commerce Police Department for more than 25 years.

Photo Credit: Attorney Lee Merritt/Getty
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<![CDATA[Getting Away for Memorial Day? Best Times to Leave]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 23:34:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/070116+bay+bridge+traffic.jpg

Headed out of town for Memorial Day weekend? Leave early or leave late. 

The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) said these are the best times for beachgoers to travel if they're using the Bay Bridge:

  • Thursday and Friday before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m.
  • Saturday before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
  • Sunday and Monday before 10 a.m. and after 10 p.m. 

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has similar advice. Traffic is usually heaviest on Memorial Day weekend from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday through Monday, VDOT said. 

VDOT has a new interactive map that shows when and where traffic was heaviest on Memorial Day weekend for the past three years. The map lets you pick your time and then zoom in on your route.

Officials hope the tool will help drivers dodge major traffic. Also, VDOT has suspended most road work from noon Friday to noon Tuesday to reduce congestion.

For a live map of backups and closures, see the NBC Washington traffic page.

VDOT has live updates on their website. MDTA updates are available by calling 1-877-BAYSPAN (229-7726)

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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<![CDATA[University of Maryland Stepping Up Efforts to Fight Hate]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 23:25:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/University+of+Maryland+M+Circle.jpg

After a fatal stabbing under investigation as a possible hate crime, the University of Maryland is stepping up efforts to battle hate on campus. 

President Wallace Loh announced Wednesday that the school will create a hate-bias and campus safety task force and an annual report tracking hate-bias incidents. 

The school also will create a rapid-response team to support hate incident subjects and allocate $100,000 for diversity and inclusion efforts. The Athletic Council will be asked to examine how to strengthen policy to explicitly prohibit hate-bias symbols or actions at athletic venues and remove violators. 

The announcement comes days after police say a visiting black Bowie State University student was stabbed by a white Maryland student on campus. Sean Urbanski is charged with murder in Richard Collins III's death.

In March it was revealed that a noose was discovered inside of a fraternity house.

Since December, flyers advancing the agenda of white supremacists have been discovered around campus.

<![CDATA[Top 10 Beaches in the US for 2017 Revealed]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 10:39:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/74170556_11.jpg Florida’s Siesta Beach, “with some of the finest, whitest sand in the world,” has been selected as the number one beach in America on “Dr. Beach's” 27th annual Top 10 Beach List. Florida International University professor Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, uses about 50 criteria to assess and rank beaches across the country. In recent years, he has given extra points to beaches that prohibit smoking, saying cigarette butts are not only environmentally damaging, but can ruin the experience for beach-goers. Safety and environmental management are other major factors, he said. The Sunshine State snagged three spots on the coveted list. Beaches in New York, Massachusetts, California and the Carolinas also earned slots. See the full list.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Panoramic Images]]>
<![CDATA[2 Cars Damaged After Brick Wall Collapses in Md.]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 07:04:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/197*120/bricks_on_cars.png

Two cars were damaged when the wall of a building partially collapsed Wednesday night. 

The collapse happened in the parking lot of a shopping center on Cherry Hill Road in Beltsville, Maryland. 

The 6-foot tall brick facade of the building fell, shattering the windshield of one car and covering another car in bricks and other debris.

No one was injured, fire officials said on Twitter. 

Photo Credit: Montgomery County Fire]]>
<![CDATA[Teachers Protest Budget Cuts in Prince George's County]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 08:16:17 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000018900537_1200x675_953096259664.jpg

Teachers, students and parents are taking a stand against a proposed $90 million budget cut to schools. News 4's Darcy Spencer is live this morning with how this will impact you and your kids.

<![CDATA[1 Hurt After Trains Bump in DC Amtrak Yard]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 05:38:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/216*120/2017-05-25_0536.png

One person suffered minor injuries when two trains bumped each other in an Amtrak rail yard in Northeast Washington. 

The incident happened early Thursday morning in a rail yard off 9th Street NE, fire officials said on Twitter. 

Fire officials say there was "low-impact contact" between the two trains. Neither train derailed, but one person suffered minor injuries. 

No further information was released. 

<![CDATA[Kids Flee Burning RV After Deadly Police Chase]]> Thu, 25 May 2017 23:24:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/rv-chase-fire1.gif

Police say a man is dead after leading authorities on a chase through four North Texas counties in a recreational vehicle with two children inside after shooting a woman early Thursday.

Arlington police said Hunt County Sheriff’s deputies received a 911 text from 33-year-old Candie Crystal Price who said she was inside the RV and had been shot. She added that she had been kidnapped and that her two children were inside, as well.

A Caddo Mills police officer spotted the RV near the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 1903 and Interstate 30 just before 3 a.m., according to police. Authorities said Price jumped out of the RV, which was traveling nearly 90 mph, when she saw the police car.

Price was transported to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas for treatment for gunshot wounds and injuries sustained in her jump from the vehicle. Hunt County Sheriff's deputies said she underwent surgery and remained in critical condition Thursday.

The RV continued west on I-30 through Rockwall and Dallas counties during the next 30 minutes as multiple police departments joined the pursuit. Police said they used spike strips, damaging the RV's tires and slowing the pursuit to about 20 mph as the driver, identified as Tony Kelly Sr., approached Tarrant County.

The pursuit continued on westbound I-30 into Arlington until Kelly stopped near Cooper Street at about 4:40 a.m. Police said officers approached the RV, opened the door and let out two children described as a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old.

As officers grabbed the children, police said they reported hearing a single gunshot. The vehicle then caught fire.

Arlington Police Department spokesman Lt. Chris Cook confirmed Kelly was found deceased in the RV.

Officers were seen escorting the children to an ambulance and transported to Arlington Memorial Hospital. Their conditions were not released.

Hunt County Sheriff’s Office and Rockwall police are investigating the shooting of the woman, according to authorities. Arlington police are investigating Kelly's death.

All westbound lanes of I-30 were closed until about 10 a.m. Various eastbound lanes of the interstate were closed until about 7 a.m.

Karen Sinwald told NBC DFW she was driving from Greenville to her workplace in West Fort Worth when she caught up with the chase.

"I've been driving this route for 16 years and I've seen it all," she said. "I'm scared for the kids, not knowing what they went through at the beginning and to the end. They must've been terrified."

Price's sister-in-law, Lois Woodard, said she got a text from Price at 1:17 a.m.

"Sorry to text you so late," Woodard said, reading the text. "I got shot two times in a robbery. I don't know what to say, but I love you."

Woodard said she believed Price was covering up for her on-again-off-again boyfriend. She called Price's phone at 1:27 a.m.

"She said, 'Tony don't shoot me,'" Woodard said, recalling what she heard on the other other end of the line. "And the next thing I heard, 'Pow!'"

Woodard said she called hospitals and police, not knowing what happened.

Children of RV Chase Suspect Say Father 'Snapped'

The grown children of the man who led police on a chase through several North Texas counties early Thursday say their father was not a monster, despite police saying he kidnapped a shot the mother of their two young children in front of them.

"I just miss my dad," said Olivia Kelly.

"My dad is not a monster," said her brother Tony Kelly Jr.

The siblings spoke with NBC 5, wanting to set the record straight about what they claim led to the fiery tragedy in Arlington on Thursday morning.

Tony Kelly Jr. said he was on the phone with his father as police chased after his RV.

"Of course, I was trying to talk him out of it, trying to talk him down, but at the time all I could say was I love him too, because I already know I couldn't change his mind because it had already gone too far," he said.

The young man said his father's on-again-off-again girlfriend of five years, Price, showed up at his work in Garland on Wednesday evening, "picking a fight," and he said his father "snapped."

Police say Tony Kelly Sr. kidnapped the woman and their two young sons and took off in his RV.

Tony Kelly Jr. was on the phone with his father in the final seconds of the chase. Police say Tony Kelly Sr. then shot himself and his RV caught fire.

The man's son said his father's last words to him were, "that he did not die May 25th, he died February 11th when she tried to kill him."

Tony Kelly Jr. claims his father was in a tumultuous relationship with Price.

On Feb. 11, 2017, Dallas police confirm Kelly filed an aggravated assault family violence report against the woman.

Tony Kelly Jr. and other family members claim Price tried to kill his father with pills.

"From that day forward he just wanted revenge. It was horrible. I don't know what it was," Tony Kelly Jr. said.

"Is my dad a monster? No. Was he wrong for shooting her? Yes. But, was he a monster? No. He was not a monster. He had a family that loved him. He loved his family. He loved all his kids," Tony Kelly Jr. added.

NBC 5's Holley Ford contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[DC Mayor Gives Progress Report on Missing Teens]]> Wed, 24 May 2017 21:57:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Muriel+Bowser+Presser.jpg

D.C.'s mayor says the city has completed most of its six initiatives to help protect young people after false reports about missing teens went viral on social media earlier in the year.

Mayor Muriel Bowser reiterated Wednesday that there is no increase in the number of teens reported missing and most of those who are reported missing are runaways who often return home a few days later.

"We have no evidence at this juncture that of any our children were abducted or taken off of our streets but they are vulnerable and they are in danger," Bowser said at a news conference.

As reports of missing teens gained more attention on social media in April, Bowser created a "Working Group" of public and private sector experts to make recommendations. 

One recommendation was to create a safe place where runaway teens can go for help. D.C. officials say that safe place should be ready in a few months.

"The ultimate goal is to move further upstream so we're doing more prevention and family intervention so that the kids don't run in the first place," Deputy Mayor Brenda Donald said.

Stacie Reimer, an attorney who advocates for at-risk teens, is part of Bowser's working group and said the teens who runaway often need legal help in addition to counseling and job training. 

"A lot of the kids have either been victims of a crime or they're facing arrest. They need a lawyer right there with them to help them.They might want to report criminal activity or they may be afraid of being arrested. Either way, they need a lawyer," Reimer said.

So far this year, 885 juveniles have been reported missing and the majority of those are under the age of 15, according to officials.

As of Wednesday, there are 28 open missing juvenile cases.

Below are the six initiatives and their status, according to Bowser.

1. Increase number of police officers assigned to help find missing children - Complete: The Metropolitan Police Department has 15 detectives and officers with the Youth and Family Services Division.

2. Expand missing persons site and social media messaging - Complete: D.C. has updated missing.dc.gov to include resources for families and teens, missing alert flyers, missing person statistics.

3. Establish Missing Persons Evaluation and Reconnection Resources Collaborative - Draft completed: The evaluation will examine why children ran away and help agencies provide more resources to the child and family. 

4. The Working Group - Recommendations submitted: Government and community partners came up with recommendations for "response protocol, support for youth and families and prevention."

5. Additional grant support for non-profits addressing runaway children -- Grant awards will be announced mid-July

6. PSA to address missing children in D.C. - Complete: The mayor's office shot a PSA to educate young people and the public on preventing children from running away from home.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Ben Carson Calls Poverty 'State of Mind']]> Thu, 25 May 2017 07:07:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/631548198-Ben-Carson-Senate-Hearing-Housing.jpg

Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, is facing criticism after calling poverty a "state of mind," NBC News reported.

Carson was asked in a SiriusXM radio interview with Armstrong Williams that aired Wednesday what can be done to reduce the number of people living in poverty, he credited his own success story to his headstrong mother.

But then Carson delved deeper, saying, "I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind." He added that people — no matter what they have — need to have "the right mindset."

Carson spoke frequently about his rise from abject poverty and his approach to social progress while running for president during the 2016 primaries.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Crofton Middle School Noose Suspects Face Hate Crime Charges]]> Wed, 24 May 2017 20:34:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Crofton+Middle+Suspects.jpg

Two 19-year-old men charged for hanging a noose outside a middle school building in Anne Arundel County will now face hate crime charges.

Conner Charles Prout, of Crofton, and John Adam Havermann, of Pasadena, Maryland, now face eight charges each, including two hate crime charges, the Anne Arundel County State's Attorney's Wes Adams announced Wednesday. Other charges include trespassing, disturbing operation and disorderly conduct.

On May 11, a teacher found the noose at Crofton Middle School at 2301 Davidsonville Road in Crofton, Maryland. The school's custodian immediately removed the noose.

Prout and Havermann were arrested and charged the next day. 

They were originally charged for trespassing school property, disturbing school operations, disorderly conduct and trespassing posted property, police said. 

Surveillance video showed the two suspects getting access to the school's roof and hanging the noose, police said.

Photo Credit: Anne Arundel Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds Gather to Remember Army Lt. Killed at UMd.]]> Wed, 24 May 2017 19:53:30 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000018894170_1200x675_952650307969.jpg

With tears in their eyes and flowers in their hands, hundreds marched to the bus stop where Richard Collins III was killed in what police called an unprovoked attack. News4's Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins was there for the somber ceremony.

<![CDATA[After Decades, Remains Found in Md. Woods ID'd as Ex-Marine]]> Wed, 24 May 2017 14:26:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cold+case+id+bennett+louis+2.jpg

Prince George's County police have identified a man whose skeletal remains were found in a wooded area of Beltsville, Maryland, more than 30 years ago. 

A man and his son found the remains while they were out for a walk in the area of Baltimore Avenue in October 1984. Investigators worked tirelessly to identify the victim, but until recently, the man remained nameless. 

On Wednesday, police announced they now know the victim's name: Bennett Louis. 

The 27-year-old ex-Marine was identified at the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, with the help of advanced fingerprint technology.

"Well, we were shocked, actually, to receive a notification that they made an identification off of a 1984 case," Prince George's County Homicide Detective Barnard Nelson said.

Louis, who was honorably discharged from the Marines, was originally from New Roads, Louisiana. He was last seen in 1983 boarding a bus in Berkeley, California, for North Carolina, where he lived in Jacksonville.

Louis was shot multiple times and left in a wooded area on the 12000 block of Baltimore Avenue. Police believe his body remained there for as long as three months before it was found.

"We had skeletal remains, however, there was evidence to indicate he was shot multiple times because of his clothing having bullet holes and also he had a bullet hole in his scull," Nelson said.

Investigators do not know why Louis was in Maryland at the time of his death. 

"For a good two weeks, I cried every day and wondering why and how someone could have [killed him]," Louis' daughter Monica Davis told News4 in a FaceTime interview.

Despite the decades that have passed since Louis' death, police are still looking for information that can help them find his killer.

Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 301-772-4925.

Police are offering a reward of as much as $25,000.

"We know that some one out there had some contact with him prior to him being murdered and it's very important that we hear from that person," Nelson said.

<![CDATA[Securing DC Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend]]> Wed, 24 May 2017 18:52:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20170524+Washington+Monument.jpg

Security is at the forefront of everyone's mind after a suspected suicide bomber killed more than 20 people outside a concert in England. Washington is a symbolic target for terrorists, but D.C. police said they are monitoring for threats around the clock, in conjunction with other local and federal agencies. News4’s Meagan Fitzgerald looks at precautions police are taking ahead of a busy holiday weekend -- and explains the role residents and tourists play.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>