Look Back at the DC Area's Most Memorable Stories of the 2010s

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“Snow more” turned into “No more!” after two blizzards in a single week hit the D.C. area in February 2010. The region hadn’t even had time to finish digging out from the first storm (Feb. 5-6) before the second blizzard (Feb. 9-10) struck just days later. Powerful winds during that storm left snow drifts in some spots as tall as six feet high.
Suzanne Smith (viewer image)
It was the middle of a typical D.C. workday when the ground began shaking beneath our feet. A 5.8-magnitude quake rattled much of the East Coast on Aug. 23, 2011, from its epicenter in rural Louisa County, Virginia. All the monuments on the National Mall were evacuated, as were parts of the White House, the Pentagon, Homeland Security and the U.S. Capitol. The Washington National Cathedral and the Washington Monument were among the sites that suffered damage, and more than eight years later, the cathedral is still trying to raise funds to finish costly repairs.
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Hurricane Irene knocked out power area-wide in August 2011, toppling trees and bringing heavy rain, flooding and tornadoes to the region. A 15-year-old girl from Manassas Park, Virginia, was killed in a hurricane-related crash in North Carolina while on her way home from vacation with her family. The storm postponed the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall and left puddles inside the Washington Monument. Irene also slammed the coastline, although it caused little damage in Ocean City (pictured).
Mario Kart has done a lot to spread the word about the dangers of slipping on banana peels, but when a 14-year-old got suspended for running through a Stafford County high school football game while wearing a banana costume, News4’s own legend Pat Collins was a bit sour grapes. “I just wanted to make people happy,” said the teen, Bryan Thompson. So, Pat Collins put on his grape suit (OK, he rented one) to try to find the raisin behind the harsh punishment. Ultimately, Thompson’s suspension was cut short and the principal resigned shortly thereafter.
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Jayna Murray was found horrifically, fatally attacked in the Lululemon store where she worked on March 12, 2011, in Bethesda Row. Her coworker Brittany Norwood was found there, too: She was bound and told police she and Murray were victims of a robbery. But Norwood’s story fell apart upon interrogation. Over an investigation and a weeks-long trial, the truth was revealed: Norwood attacked Murray, who’d caught her stealing. Norwood then staged a crime scene by putting on men’s shoes to make bloody footprints on the floor. She was sentenced to life in prison. Lululemon memorialized Jayna with a stained glass “Love” memorial, which was given to the family when the store moved in 2017. “It obviously means a lot to use, as it represents Jayna,” Murray’s brother Hugh Murray told News4. “We definitely wanted to preserve that and have it in our home.”
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People across the region stopped what they were doing to catch a glimpse of Space Shuttle Discovery making its final flight on April 17, 2012, when the longest-serving orbiter in the space shuttle fleet was flown from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to be transferred to the Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Mounted atop a modified jumbo jet, the space shuttle swooped over many local landmarks on its way, including the White House, Capitol and National Mall, plus Reagan National Airport and the National Cathedral.
A shockingly powerful storm took the D.C. metro area by surprise the night of June 29, 2012. The derecho brought thunder, lightning, rain and strong winds to the region, ripping roofs from buildings and leaving thousands without power for days in the triple-digit heatwave that followed. "I knew this would be an almost once-in-a-lifetime event to see something like this," recalled Storm Team4 Chief Meterologist Doug Kammerer. "... This was much worse than any tornado we would ever see in our area."
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In 2012, the Redskins traded up to No. 2 to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III. RG3 went on to have one of the best rookie seasons by a quarterback ever, starting 15 games and helping lead the team to a 10-6 record and its first playoff appearance since 2007. Griffin was named 2012 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and made the 2012 Pro Bowl. But he was was injured in both week 14 and the Wild Card game, suffering a torn ACL, LCL and meniscus. Injuries would plague his career, and he was released by the Redskins in 2016.
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In 2012, D.C.’s National Zoo welcomed its first giant panda cub in seven years, but our hearts were broken when it did not survive. Just a year later, Bao Bao was born to mother Mei Xiang on Aug. 23, 2013, and quickly captivated the region. Here she is at just a few months old and growing quickly. Bao Bao would go on to gain a little brother, Bei Bei, before she moved to China at age 4.
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Twelve people were killed and eight people were injured in a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16, 2013. The news came like a gut punch: Hell had broken out inside a secure military facility when a 34-year-old civilian contractor, Aaron Alexis, entered Building 197 at the Navy Yard and shot at victims indiscriminately before police killed him. The victims of the shooting ranged in age from 46 to 73. Several were veterans. One was a former state trooper working as a security guard. Judy Johnson, wife of victim John "J.J." Johnson, recalled in 2014, "My husband was the most beautiful human being that I have ever had the honor of having in my life. He just loved his Lord, he loved everybody, loved his country, loved his job."
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The government had managed to stay open from 1996 until Oct. 1, 2013 — when a fight over Obamacare and discretionary spending resulted in a budget stalemate. The 17-day federal shutdown packed a hefty punch to the D.C. area: Federal employees couldn’t work, contractors lost out on paychecks, and there wasn’t even a Panda Cam available to make anyone feel better about it.
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In 2014, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was convicted of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement. A jury found McDonnell guilty of breaking a law that bars public officials from taking gifts in exchange for "official action." McDonnell said he never took any official action to benefit Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams or pressured other public officials to do so. McDonnell said he simply performed routine courtesies for Williams, like setting up meetings and hosting events. Prosecutors said McDonnell accepted personal benefits with the understanding he would try to take official action to help Williams. McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison but remained free during his appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the conviction in 2016, ruling the jury received faulty instructions about what constitutes bribery. Prosecutors declined to retry McDonnell, dropping the case.
Relisha Rudd was just 8 years old when she disappeared from the D.C. homeless shelter where she lived with her mother and siblings. The little girl was last seen March 1, 2014, at a Northeast D.C. hotel with Kahlil Tatum, a janitor who worked at the shelter. But Relisha appeared to have been missing for weeks before officials learned she was gone. Tatum's wife, Andrea, was found fatally shot after Relisha was reported missing. Police announced they had an arrest warrant for Kahlil Tatum in his wife's murder, but he was later found in Kenilworth Park, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Relisha's body has never been found, and no one has been charged in her disappearance. She would have turned 14 this year.
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The University of Maryland’s athletics program officially left the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) after 60 years to join the Big Ten. The decision was made in 2012. UMD President Wallace Loh cited budget woes as the reason, saying joining the Big Ten guaranteed the financial sustainability of the athletics department. The move also gave the Big Ten a media presence in the D.C. market. Maryland was one of the founding members of the ACC in 1953.
University of Virginia student Hannah Graham's disappearance and death in 2014 gripped the region. The 18-year-old had been out with friends in Charlottesville the night of Sept. 12 but left a party alone, later texting a friend she was lost. Five weeks later, her remains were found in a rural area. Witnesses later said they saw a man, later identified as Jesse Matthew, with Graham at a bar. In 2016, Matthew pleaded guilty to killing both Graham and another college student, 20-year-old Morgan Harrington, who had been found dead several years earlier. "We draw considerable pride in all that Hannah achieved in her short life, mercilessly cut short by Jesse Matthew," Graham's father said.
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On the afternoon of Jan. 12, 2015, an electrical malfunction filled the busy L’Enfant Plaza station with thick, black smoke and left many riders stranded on a train stopped in a tunnel. Passengers said they were ordered to stay on the train, although some took their lives in their hands and evacuated on their own. Dozens of people were sickened by the smoke, and a 61-year-old Alexandria woman, Carol Inman Glover, died. According to a lawsuit filed by her sons, Glover was trapped on the smoke-filled train for 45 minutes before rescuers arrived. An investigation found she died of acute respiratory failure due to smoke exposure. The National Transportation Safety Board said in 2016 the problems leading to the fatality were caused by senior management’s failure to proactively deal with “foreseeable safety risks.”
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On May 14, 2015, authorities were called to a fire at a multimillion-dollar Woodley Park home. Inside, they would find the bodies of a married couple, their young son and their housekeeper. But the fire was masking a horrific crime — the four victims, Savvas and Amy Savopoulos, 10-year old Philip Savopoulos and Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa, had been held hostage and then murdered. Police identified Daron Wint as a suspect based on DNA found on a piece of pizza. Prosecutors argued that Wint held the victims hostage in their home to get a $40,000 ransom from Savvas Savopoulos, his former boss. In 2018, Wint was sentenced to four life terms without the possibility of parole. A letter from one of the Savopoulos' daughters, Katarina, was read in court that day. "Thinking about my brother being eternally 10 hurts like hell," she wrote. In the days after the murder, she wrote, "With my sister, we planned a funeral in two weeks. We toured funeral homes instead of colleges. We looked at caskets instead of prom dresses."
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In May 2015, 27-year-old reporter Charnice Milton, a contributor for Capital Community News, was taking a bus home after covering a story on Capitol Hill when she was gunned down in Skyland in Southeast D.C. Her parents were told their daughter was a bystander used as a human shield. "At 9:28, she texted me and said, 'I'm on my way home,'" her mother, Francine Milton, said the day after Charnice was slain. "So, I was waiting for her to text me back and let me know if she needed me to pick her up, if she needed us, where she was. And we never got that text last night." Charnice Milton's killer, riding in a group of dirt bike riders, was trying to shoot someone in another group of riders, police said. Her killer has never been found.
Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Thousands of people flocked to Washington, D.C., in September 2015 to witness Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States. The pope had a packed schedule while in D.C., including a papal parade along the Ellipse and a portion of the National Mall and Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. "He's a wonderful pope. I see more similarities than differences," said Alexandra Lajoux of Fairfax County, Virginia. "He's the right pope for our time."
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The 2016 blizzard dumped more than three feet of snow in parts of the D.C. area on Jan. 22 and 23. Cleanup after the historic storm took days, President Barack Obama worked inside the White House and pandas frolicked in the snow at the National Zoo.
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In an unprecedented move, Metro shut down its entire rail system for a day in 2016 for an emergency safety inspection so crews could check about 600 underground jumper cables. A problem with those cables caused a fire at the McPherson Square station earlier that week, and the same issue was behind the deadly smoke incident at L'Enfant Plaza a year earlier. Other than for weather-related causes, this was the first shutdown of Metrorail since its opening in 1976. The closure disrupted the daily routines of hundreds of thousands of people. Crews repaired at least 26 damaged cables during the closure.

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In September 2016, the Smithsonian's highly anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., opened after more than 100 years in the making. With thousands of items occupying 85,000 square feet of exhibition space, the newest Smithsonian chronicles the complex relationship between the United States and a people it once enslaved, and tells the story of those who worked to bring the country to where it is today. In the three years since its opening, the museum has proven immensely popular, generally requiring guests to obtain timed passes for peak visiting times.
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On July 30, 2016, flood waters ripped through Ellicott City, Maryland, killing two people and devastating much of the town's businesses and infrastructure. Six inches of rain fell in just two hours. The raging waters flipped cars, tore up roads and destroyed businesses on Main Street. Unfortunately, another catastrophic flood hit the town on May 27, 2018 — days before a new flood emergency alert system would take effect. A Maryland National Guardsman died while trying to help a woman during the flash flood.
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On Aug. 11, 2017, a group of alt-right protesters brandishing tiki torches and neo-Nazi symbols gathered at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. As protesters and counterprotesters clashed over opposing ideologies, the "Unite the Right" rally devolved into violent chaos. The encounter led to dozens of injuries, and Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counter-protester, was killed during a deliberate vehicle attack by white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. Two Virginia troopers were killed while responding to the incident when their helicopter crashed. President Donald Trump drew controversy when he expressed some sympathy toward the protesters, saying there were "very fine people" on both sides of the clash.
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When retired lawyer Teresa Shook created a Facebook event inviting women to march on Washington in protest of President Donald Trump’s presidential win, little did she know it would become the largest single-day protest in the nation’s history. The Women’s March on Washington brought together nearly half a million peaceful protestors in D.C. alone, and up to 5 million people at more than 400 other locations across the U.S and over 600 worldwide.
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The Washington Capitals' first Stanley Cup win came 43 years after the team's debut in 1974. The fifth and final game of the June 2018 championship series between the Caps and the Vegas Golden Knights was particularly dramatic. Braden Holtby made 28 saves in that game, and with just 7:37 to spare, Lars Eller scored the tiebreaking goal for a final score of 4-3. It was an unforgettable and emotional moment when Captain Alex Ovechkin lifted the Stanley Cup above his ahead. Ovie also received the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
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Just feet away from her own front door, on her way to get ice cream, 10-year-old Makiyah Wilson was killed when she was caught in a spray of gunfire on July 16, 2018. Four masked men jumped out of a sedan and opened fire into an apartment building courtyard, where a crowd of families were gathered. "The people that did this, they did this indiscriminately," Assistant Police Chief Chanel Dickerson said. "They came out in this community without regard to human life and opened fire, and we have to stand up as a community to say, 'No more.'" Multiple people have been charged in Makiyah's killing.
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The shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people galvanized students from Parkland, Florida, and throughout the country to demand gun control measures and safer schools. Students in the D.C. area joined the movement, too, walking out of class and holding memorials for victims of violence closer to home. The March for Our Lives on March 24, 2018, is estimated to have been one of the largest protest demonstrations in U.S. history. Hundreds of thousands of marchers flooded the D.C. streets. In the shadow of the Capitol building, Martin Luther King Jr.’s young granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King, shared a vision for a gun-free world, and a D.C. teen shared the heartbreak of losing his twin to gun violence.
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The scandal began with a shocking photo surfacing online in February 2019: A picture on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page shows a person in blackface and another in a KKK robe. Initially, Northam apologized for appearing in the photo — then the next day reversed course and denied having anything to do with it. The day after the story broke, Northam hosted a press conference. Many Virginians thought he was going to resign. Instead, he admitted to wearing blackface for a Michael Jackson costume and appeared to consider moonwalking on stage before his wife told him it wasn’t an appropriate time. The turmoil continued to spiral when Virginia’s other top two Democrats came under public scrutiny: Two women accused Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault, which he denies, and Attorney General Mark Herring ended up also admitting to wearing blackface. All three men remained in office.
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Washington Mystics MVP Elena Delle Donne didn't let a herniated disk in her back slow down the drive for the team’s first WNBA championship. She scored 21 points in the fifth game of the Finals in October, helping the Mystics earn their lead in the last three minutes of the game against the Connecticut Sun. D.C. swelled with pride after their win — stay tuned for a victory parade in the spring of 2020.
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The Washington Nationals’ first World Series win came after a legendary and hard-fought season. There were so many points when it looked to be over. But the Nats made it to the postseason as a Wild Card pick and squeaked out a one-run win over the Brewers, defeated the Dodgers, swept the Cardinals and then became the first-team ever to win four World Series road games. But what we’ll remember most is how the DMV came together in sheer joy through the entire postseason: singing along to “Baby Shark,” cramming into the Bull Pen and watching that beer guy clip over and over and over again.
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