<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Local News]]>Copyright 2017https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington https://www.nbcwashington.comen-usTue, 12 Dec 2017 22:59:49 -0500Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:59:49 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[WaWa Opening First Store in DC ]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 21:48:29 -0500
Although founded in Pennsylvania, the D.C. store is the largest in the company with 9,200 of square feet of space.]]>

Although founded in Pennsylvania, the D.C. store is the largest in the company with 9,200 of square feet of space.]]>
With stores in Maryland and Virginia, WaWa, the Philadelphia-based chain of convenience stores, will open its first store in D.C. Thursday with a ribbon ceremony at 9 a.m.

Photo Credit: WaWa]]>
<![CDATA[Jumbotron Facing US Capitol Shows Stories of DACA Immigrants]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 21:42:43 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/dream+act+jumbotron.jpg

For the next two weeks, a Jumbotron facing Capitol Hill is featuring stories of young undocumented immigrants, known as DREAMers, to prompt lawmakers to pass the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors). 

The DREAM Act was introduced as a gateway to U.S. citizenship to protect certain undocumented immigrants who were recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

DREAMer and DACA recipient Adrian Reyna of Oakland, California, traveled to D.C. as a membership director of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the U.S., to create a sense of urgency before the end of the year.

"We are here also launching the Jumbotron because we have attempted to meet with Speaker Paul Ryan for many times to urge him to get serious about getting the DREAM Act passed. They say that they support immigrant youth but they still have but they still haven’t done anything," said Reyna.

With two weeks left, Ryan has not confirmed if the DREAM Act will be funded be a part of the year-end bill Congress must pass by the end of the month.

According to Reyna, the screen, located on 3rd Street NW between Madison and Jefferson Drive NW, was an effective strategy get lawmakers attention as the stories and images appear for 24 hours. 

"It’s really important to have it right in front of the Capitol to make sure when they look out the window that it’s the first thing that they see. Faces of people directly impacted. The faces of the 122 people who are falling out of status everyday. The 14,000 people by Dec. 22 will have lost status and are at risk of deportation."

Eligible applicants for DACA are individuals under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and have continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007. Recipients are qualified to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and a work permit. 

In September Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced an end to the five-year DACA program.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[VA Asking Veterans to Return Benefit 'Overpayments']]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 21:26:09 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/VA_Benefits_Overpayment.jpg

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is sending thousands of overpayment notices telling veterans to pay back their benefits.

When Navy veteran Isaac Daniel retired after 22 1/2 years of service, he qualified for disability benefits due to knee issues and near fatal intestinal problems. He started receiving monthly disability payments of $1,100 in 2006. That’s in addition to his retirement check of $12,000 per month.

With a wife and five children all under the age of 19, Daniel relied on both checks.

“Up until this point, I had wonderful things to say about the VA,” he said. “But out of the blue this thing happened.”

The VA's debt management center sent Daniel a letter in 2016 stating it paid him $18,000 more than what he was "entitled to receive."

“Once I retired, I still had children and a wife, and in 2006 they said you didn’t have them anymore, according to their records,” he said.

The VA told Daniel he never updated nor returned a dependent verification form sent to him.

“They said they sent it,” he said. “I never received it, never.”

When Daniel called the VA to question the debt, he found out the VA sent the dependent verification form to an address he lived at 35 years ago. He thought he updated all his information when he applied for a VA loan and moved to Fort Washington, Maryland.

“Wo everything was up to date,” he said. “Everything was, except the one place – disability.”

So the debt management center began to garnish his disability check -- all $1,100 of it -- to pay back what the VA said it overpaid him dating to 2006.

The sudden stop in disability benefits hit Daniel's budget hard.

“It was a time when child care costs were higher because of summertime, a time when there was some housing repairs, automotive repairs,” he said. “Everything kind of hit all at the same time. I mean, a daughter in college.”

Daniel is just one veteran News4 heard from.

Zaldy Sabino, a Navy vet and Air Force retired, said he owed more than $22,000, but he said he never received any disability benefits during the time frame the VA said he did.

“They said somebody was receiving it,” Sabino said.

He has no idea who that somebody is.

Navy vet Robert Sullivan, who retired in 2005, said he received two direct deposits from the VA totaling more than $13,000 but didn't know why. He said when he called the VA looking for an answer, he really didn't get one.

“After numerous phone calls, nobody would tell me really anything,” he said. “They were very vague about it.”

He said he spent part of the money when he got in a financial bind, but months later the VA sent him a letter asking him to pay it all back.

“Of course I got the letter saying, ‘Hey, we want all this money back,’” he said. “Well I don’t have it now.”

Each vet said the VA had the wrong information when it came to dependents on their disability benefits.

“They no longer believed I was married,” Sullivan said. “In fact, they didn’t believe I had ever been married.”

The VA also questioned whether Zaldy had children.

“This dependents admission by the VA only came recently,” he said.

Since contacting News4, Sullivan’s and Sabino’s cases have been settled.

Sullivan also reached out to Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who stepped in to advocate on his behalf.

“There is a level of incompetence that is irksome, but to the individuals affected, it can be quite earth-shattering,” Connolly said.

Daniel said his disability benefits are back to what they should be.

“They then refunded all the money back to me and gave me my monthly payments back,” he said.

But members of Congress said the problem with record keeping and communication still exists.

“It’s not only maddening, it actually threatens a family’s budget and their ability to make their rent or their mortgage payment or keep food on the table,” Connolly said.

He is just one advocate for these veterans.

The VA has yet to give Congress any concrete plan to fix the problem, but this past summer it started offering a 12-month payment plan if veterans could not pay back the overpayment in full.

The VA admits it sent more than 260,000 overpayment notices this year. It told Congress it sent 238,000 last year.

The VA secretary denied numerous requests for an interview.

Statement from VA spokesperson:

When VA initially notifies Veterans of their benefits award, the department instructs Veterans to alert VA to any change in dependent status or a future change in address. The best way for veterans to avoid issues regarding dependent and spousal benefit overpayments is to alert VA immediately to any change in dependent status and promptly report any changes in address, as they are initially instructed to do upon notification of their benefits.

While Veterans are responsible for informing VA of any changes in dependent status or address, VA also has a process by which it sends beneficiaries a Dependent Verification Letter to the most recent address provided by the Veteran in order to verify all the Veteran’s dependents. The Veteran has 60 days to return the completed document. If the document is not received, VA begins procedures to remove the dependents and recoup any overpayments made to the Veteran. If mail is returned as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service, VA’s Debt Management Center runs an address verification and will resend a debt letter to a more recent address if one is available.

As of August 10, 2017, VA changed its overpayments collections policy so that Veterans are automatically placed into a 12-month recoupment plan, which provides significant financial relief in most cases. Prior to that, benefit recoupment was at 100 percent unless a payment agreement had been entered into.

Reported by Susan Hogan and shot and edited by Perkins Broussard.

<![CDATA[2 Maryland Women to Spend Christmas Helping Puerto Rico]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:32:00 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2_Maryland_Women_to_Spend_Christmas_Helping_Puerto_Rico.jpg

Two best friends from Montgomery County will spend their Christmas holiday helping hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.

<![CDATA[Rosenstein to Testify on Capitol Hill Wednesday]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:22:40 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Rosenstein_to_Testify_on_Capitol_Hill_Wednesday.jpg

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Robert Mueller to investigate Russian influence on the 2016 elections, will testify Wednesday before a Congressional panel. Scott MacFarlane has a preview.

<![CDATA[Gift Ideas for the Foodies on Your List]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:21:42 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Gift_Ideas_for_the_Foodies_on_Your_List.jpg

Consumer Reporter Susan Hogan shares some gift ideas for the foodies on your list.

<![CDATA[Naked Man Rides Truck on Route 28, Causes Cars to Crash]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 21:58:20 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Route+28+Naked+Man.jpg

A naked man walking on Route 28 in Fairfax County, Virginia, caused cars to crash Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Drivers swerved to avoid the man in the area of Frying Pan Road, and some of those drivers crashed. Video taken by a truck driver showed the man riding a flatbed truck at one point and apparently repeatedly striking it.

The man ran into the woods but was caught on Dulles International Airport property.

Police said the man was originally involved in a car crash along Sully Road and assaulted a driver who was involved in the crash. They said the man then took off his clothes even as the temperature was dropping and jumped on a passing vehicle, the flatbed truck, before eventually getting off and running from the scene.

Officials said the man was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. He has not been identified.

Photo Credit: Tariq Hussein
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<![CDATA[Cold Snap Arrives, Single-Digit Wind Chills Expected]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:02:30 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cold-weather-generic1.jpg

Wind chill temperatures are in the teens and single digits for most of the D.C. area, and it will be in the single digits for most areas on Wednesday morning.

Storm Team4 has declared Tuesday and Wednesday Weather Alert days. 

Wednesday is expected to be the region’s coldest day since last winter. Last year, the D.C. region only had four days where temperatures stayed below freezing. Temperatures will remain colder than average through this week.

Despite the cold and wind, Wednesday will be sunny. Overnight, however, the region may see some snow. With cold temperatures, some snow may accumulate on the roads, impacting the Thursday morning commute if you live north of the District.

On Thursday, more mild air is expected to return, possibly bringing a few raindrops or snowflakes. There’s a 30 percent chance of some precipitation, which would come as morning flurries. Low temperatures will be about 28 degrees, but high temperatures could reach 38 degrees.

Frigid temperatures may return Friday, and Storm Team 4 is tracking a system that could bring some snow. If you go out Saturday, you’ll still want your warmest coat for temperatures that only reach the low 40s.

By Sunday, low temperatures are expected to be above freezing at 37 degrees.

With temperatures so low, it's important to be keep yourself and your family, neighbors and friends safe and warm. We've rounded up what you need to know and do, like layering up for warmth, eating right and cautiously using space heaters.

News4 also has tips that can save you money during the winter months or help you save vulnerable lives from hypothermia.

You can follow Storm Team 4 on Facebook or find all News4 meteorologists on Twitter for breaking weather news.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Found Dead in NE DC Identified as Missing Person]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:29:40 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/205*120/2017-12-12_1052.png

A woman who was found dead near a Northeast Washington home on Tuesday was identified as a woman who was reported missing last month, police said.

The body of Joni Rockingham, 53, of northeast Washington, was discovered inside a garbage can just after 8:30 a.m. in the driveway of an unoccupied home on the 300 block of 34th Street Northeast. Rockingham had been reported missing on Nov. 24.

Police said Rockingham suffered multiple stab wounds.

Photo Credit: NBC4]]>
<![CDATA[Metro Finds Cable Problem; Red Line Service Delayed]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:14:28 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/178*120/Fort+Totten.jpg

Metro Red Line trains are going to be limited after the transit agency discovered a problem with a communication cable that is used to transit train speed and locations.

Metro said the cable is approximately 40 years old and dates back to the original construction of the Metrorail system. Trains between Brookland and Fort Totten and Fort Totten and Takoma will be limited to one train on each track at a time, resulting in congestion and delays for Red Line riders.

The agency plans to replace trains with buses over the weekend while they install new cable. Free shuttle buses will replace trains all weekend between Silver Spring and Rhode Island Avenue stations.

Starting on Wednesday, Red Line service will be modified. During rush hours, trains between Shady Grove and Glenmont will run every 10 minutes, rather than every 8 minutes. Additional trains will run between Grosvenor and NoMa-Gallaudet, resulting in service about every 5 minutes between those stations, rather than every 4 minutes.

If all repairs are done in a timely manner, normal Red Line services is expected to resume on Monday, Dec. 18.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Would Ban Panhandling on Medians in Montgomery County]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:49:57 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Montgomery_County_Panhandling_Rules.jpg

Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice introduced a bill that seeks to ban panhandling on road medians and in streets. David Ortega, a man who asks for money on Rockville Pike, asked, "What am I to do?" News4's Kristin Wright reports.

<![CDATA[Happy Hanukkah! National Menorah Illuminated]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:23:40 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-891205600.jpg

The world's largest menorah was illuminated during a ceremony on the Ellipse Tuesday, the first night of Hanukkah.

White House Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn assisted in the ceremony. 

The annual lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah began about 4 p.m. and featured performances from the United States Air Force Band and Dreidelman and the Macabees. 

The event was free, but those interested in attending needed to register for a ticket

Following the ceremony, guests were set to be treated to latkes and donuts. Free personal menorah kits and dreidels also were to be distributed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fredericksburg Police Hand Out Gift Cards for Good Deeds]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:52:28 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Fredericksburg_Police_Hand_Out_Gift_Cards_for_Good_Deeds.jpg

In Fredericksburg, Virginia, this week, police officers are focused on something positive, catching citizens being good. News4's Julie Carey reports.

<![CDATA[Coyote Suspected in Attack on Dog in Fairfax County]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:42:59 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/fairfax+county+coyote1.jpg

Fairfax County, Virginia, officials are putting residents on alert after a dog was killed on Sunday night in a suspected coyote attack.

Police said the dog had been let out in the backyard of a home in the 7000 block of Bradley Circle in Annandale, Virginia, to use the bathroom. The owner later found the pet dead just outside the yard.

They said an animal matching the description of a coyote had been seen nearby both before and after the suspected attack. Wildlife officials said they have experienced an increase in the number of calls reporting coyote sightings in recent weeks across Fairfax County.

<![CDATA[Toddler Found in Northeast DC; Parents Located]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:44:44 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/missing+toddler.jpg

A child of 2 or 3 years old was found in Northeast D.C. Tuesday morning, hours before police were able to locate her parents.

About 4 p.m. Tuesday, police announced they located the parents of a child they found on the 5300 block of Chillum Place NE, near the Maryland border, about 9:40 a.m.

The child wandered away while her mother slept inside, police said. No charges are expected.

She was wearing a leopard-print coat, pink sweatpants and pink and gray shoes. Police say the girl had her black hair in a ponytail. She has a medium brown complexion and brown eyes. She stands 2 to 3 feet tall. 

It was not immediately clear how and exactly where police found the child, including if she was found outdoors or indoors. Temperatures were in the 40s early in the day. 

Anyone who has information about the little girl is asked to contact D.C. police at 202-576-6768. You can call anonymously at 202-727-9099.

Stay with News4 for more on this developing story.

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<![CDATA[Marine Found Beaten Outside Bar Left Kids Alone: Police]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:04:40 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/POLICE+SIREN6.jpg

A U.S. Marine who was found badly beaten outside a Stafford, Virginia, restaurant is facing child neglect charges after police say they learned he left his young children at home to go to the bar.

Aaron Bauman, 31, left his 6- and 7-year-old children at home alone for four hours Saturday to go to Mick’s Restaurant and Sports Lounge, the Stafford County Sheriff's Office says. 

While there, Bauman hit a patron and knocked over another, which led to a larger fight between three or four people, a witness told investigators.

Police do not know what sparked the fight.

Surveillance footage shows Bauman attempting to punch a bouncer while being escorted out of the bar, police said. Several other people began attacking Bauman in response.

Deputies found Bauman unconscious and laying in a small pool of blood near the entrance of the bar at 1:40 a.m. Sunday. The sheriff's office said he had bruises and abrasions to the left side of his face, forearms and knees.

Bauman, a U.S. Marine, was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for treatment of serious facial injuries and head trauma. 

Bauman has been charged with two counts of child neglect. The incident at the restaurant is still under investigation.

<![CDATA[Parents Lose Trust in Prince George's Co Schools Leadership]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:18:14 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Parents_Lose_Trust_in_Prince_Georges_Co_Schools_Leadership.jpg

Parents said they don't know what is happening inside Prince George's County classrooms. They're concerned after a state audit found widespread grade changing in the school system. News4's Tracee Wilkins reports.

<![CDATA[WATCH: Marines Test Fly Helicopters Without Pilots]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:09:58 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/Marines_Test_Helicopters_With_Pilots.jpg

News4's Chris Gordon checks out some new military technology that allows helicopters to be flown without a pilot inside. "Ordering an Uber, ordering a pizza, it's that simple," one Marine said.

<![CDATA[Fredericksburg Police Hand Out Holiday Cheer]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:56:16 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Fredericksburg_Police_Give_Gifts_Instead_of_Coal.jpg

Fredericksburg police tried something new for the holidays this year: instead of coal (or tickets!) for acting naughty, they handed out gifts for being nice. News4's Julie Carey reports.

<![CDATA[Victims of Home Burglaries Car Thefts, Speak Out]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:49:40 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Victims_of_Home_Burglaries_Car_Thefts_Speak_Out.jpg

Prosecutors said two teens broke into people's homes and stole their cars in Prince George's County. News4's Tracee Wilkins reports.

<![CDATA[Tuesday Trend: Fitness, Girl Scout Cookie Yogurt, Ugly Nails]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:54:32 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Tuesday_Trend_Getting_Fit_Cookies_Ugly_Nails.jpg

MAJIC 102.3's Vic Jagger has your guide to accomplish your New Year's resolution of getting fit. Maybe Girl Scout cookie flavored yogurt should be part of your diet? Also, Vic Jagger shares a new "ugly" trend in nail art.

<![CDATA[Join the Fresh FM Family in Placing Wreaths at Arlington]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:44:07 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Arlington+National+Cemetery+Wreaths+GettyImages-460412910.jpg

Join 94.7 Fresh FM's Tommy McFly and Kelly Collis and the Fresh Family in placing 6,898 wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery Saturday. They will be in Section 64, where the victims of the September 11, 2001, terror attack on the Pentagon are laid to rest.

Come January, you are invited to help remove the wreaths.


8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. – Meet inside Fashion Centre at Pentagon City at the Starbucks in the food court on the ground floor.

9:30 a.m. – Leave the mall and start walking up Joyce Street to the service entrance at Arlington National Cemetery.

10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – Volunteers lay wreaths in section 64.

SECURITY: There will be added security this year at all entrance points to Arlington National Cemetery. Pack lightly as bags will be searched and you’ll need to walk through a magnetometer.

WEATHER/DRESS: Dress in layers for the chill. (Needless to say, this is hallowed ground, so please don’t wear anything you wouldn’t wear in front of your grandmother.)

GETTING HERE: Wreaths Across America organizers suggest coming through the visitors center, but with around 70,000 people expected, you’ll need to budget an hour and a half for traffic and parking if you enter this way. The Metro will also be packed. Our section is on the other side of the cemetery. So here is our Fresh Family secret solution:

DRIVING: Park at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (about $2) and walk up Joyce Street, under the 395 tunnel, towards Columbia Pike (about four blocks). Right at the Columbia Pike/Joyce Street intersection is a service entrance. Walk through the gate and find us to the right in section 64. Coming this way will only take around 20 minutes.

METRO: Take the Blue or Yellow line to the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City stop. Take the South Hayes exit and follow South Hayes down to Army Navy Drive. Take a left onto Army Navy Drive, and then a right onto Joyce Street. Follow Joyce under the 395 tunnel, towards Columbia Pike (about four blocks). Right at the Columbia Pike/Joyce Street intersection is a service entrance. Walk through the gate and find us to the right in section 64.

Rain, snow, or shine, we’re a go and on time! Thank you in advance for joining in this special tradition.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Construction at Reagan Airport May Cause Traffic Delays]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:45:48 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/New_Construction_at_Reagan.jpg

You may experience some traffic delays the next time you fly out of Reagan National Airport. Lane closures are coming to the area in the new year as the airport begins construction on a new terminal and security checkpoint. 

<![CDATA[Archdiocese Files Appeal After Court Denies Christmas Bus Ad]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:33:23 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/112817+archdiocese+ad.jpg

The Archdiocese of Washington has filed an appeal after a federal court denied its request to put Christmas ads on Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority buses.

The archdiocese filed a federal lawsuit against WMATA last month after the transit agency refused to sell space on buses for Christmas fundraising ads, citing its ban on "issue-oriented advertising." 

A federal court sided with Metro Sunday. In response, the archdiocese filed an appeal, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn the lower court's decision. 

The ad design showed shepherds and sheep, as in a classic Nativity scene, with the words "Find the Perfect Gift."

"In a society concerned more with what’s under the tree, and where the birth of Jesus is treated as an intrusive element to the season, we simply want to share the real Christmas story, the full joy of Christmas, with our neighbors and share the Christmas spirit with those in need," said Ed McFadden, secretary of communications for the Archdiocese of Washington. 

Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly said rejecting the ad was in line with the agency's policies.

"In 2015, WMATA changed its advertising policy to prohibit issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising," she said in a statement. "The ad in question was declined, because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines."

Metro decided to bar all political and religious advertising after an activist group submitted a cartoon depiction of the Prophet Muhammad to run as an ad at Metrorail stations and on buses.

Photo Credit: Archdiocese of Washington ]]>
<![CDATA[How to Take Care of Your Car in Cold Weather]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 07:31:13 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Cold_Weather_Car_Care.jpg

Cold air will be moving into the region on Tuesday afternoon, dropping temperatures rapidly. News 4's Justin Finch has some tips on how you can care for your car in the cold.

<![CDATA[Common Teen Behaviors Can Be Red Flags for Dating Violence]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:07:29 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tdv2.jpg

At first, Taylor Brown thought her high school boyfriend's sexual aggression was normal. She was just 16. 

He touched her without her consent, read her emails and sent her male friends texts from her phone to try to get them to confess that she cheated on him with them. 

Eventually, he coerced her into having sex though she said no. 

On other occasions, she locked herself behind doors, fearing he would hit her.

“I thought I was going to die, honestly,” Brown said. “I didn't know if it was going to be something he did, or something I did to myself because I couldn't take being in that situation anymore."

“I didn't feel like my body belonged to me anymore,” she continued. 

Relationship violence is not limited to adults, and several behaviors familiar to many teenagers can be red flags, experts say. 

“Teen dating violence is more common than you might think,” Natalia Otero, a domestic violence expert and the executive director of D.C. Safe, told News4.

Red flags include a significant other texting you very regularly, asking for your social media passwords and trying to change the way you dress, Otero said. 

Approximately 11 percent of high school students surveyed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2015 reported sexual abuse or coercion by their significant other, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated. About 10 percent reported physical violence. 

Teen dating violence, according to The National Institute of Justice, is physical, psychological or sexual abuse -- or harassment or stalking -- of someone age 12 to 18, in the context of a past or present consensual relationship.

Brown, the woman who was abused by her boyfriend as a teen, is in college now and is still working to move on. 

Some teens never get out of abusive relationships.

A 17-year-old girl was shot and killed in a park in Alexandria, Virginia, on Oct. 22 in what police called a murder-suicide

Friends of the victim said the man who police identified as the gunman, Yerson Nunez Lopez, 19, was the girl's ex-boyfriend.

"It's a tragedy all around,” Capt. Len Fouch previously told News4. 

Teen dating violence is not uncommon in the D.C. area, Otera of D.C. Safe said. The organization is a crisis intervention group for survivors. They served about 8,000 clients last year. More than 100 of their clients were 13 to 17 years old, Otera said.

Otera said teen dating abuse perpetrators often previously were victims of abuse. 

“Domestic violence is a learned behavior,” she said. “Children that are in homes where they are witnessing violence between their parents are more likely to become abusers.”

Brown said she didn't know if her high school boyfriend ever was abused himself. She said she did see red flags in his parents’ behavior. They treated him and his older sister very differently, she said.

“[His sister] wasn't allowed to have guys over or even date for a long time. But with him, I was even allowed to sleep at their house for a week straight. At the time, I thought that was a benefit to me.”

Brown was able to get out of her abusive relationship and eventually felt strong enough to date others. But the harassment continued for a full year after she broke things off with her high school boyfriend. 

He continued to hack into her text messages and told Brown’s new significant other that he and Brown were still together, she said.

The emotional effects of the abuse continued.

“I was afraid of being with other men for a while, but then I hit this point where I was like, ‘Nothing can be worse than what I was just in.’”

Teen dating violence survivors can suffer long term. 

Victims of intimate partner violence are more likely than the general population to experience depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports. Victims also are more likely to commit suicide.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help," Brown advised. "Don't be afraid to tell someone what’s going on."

She said it was hard to come to terms with what was happening to her. 

“I convinced myself and my friends that it didn't happen because I didn't want to believe or accept that it did," she said.

But asking for help could be the difference between life and death.

If you are a teen in an abusive relationship, there are several resources available to you for free. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 800-799-7233.

Additionally, victims that live in the District can reach out to D.C. Safe for immediate crisis shelter, help with the court process and access to other supportive resources. They're available at 202-879-0720.

Brown is now studying to be a nurse. She dreams of starting a program to educate young women about healthy relationships -- specifically women who have been victims of physical or sexual violence, like herself.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Conservative Minister Joins Senate Race to Challenge Kaine]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:38:10 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/110816+virginia+flag.jpg

A conservative minister announced he's joining the fight for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine in 2018.

E.W. Jackson announced his campaign Monday on The John Fredericks Show radio program. The lawyer-turned-preacher ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2013. 

He joins Corey Stewart, a former state campaign chairman of President Donald Trump, and Del. Nick Freitas, as announced candidates. 

Jackson on Monday previewed a possibly contentious fight with Stewart for the nomination, suggesting Stewart supports tax increases and may be sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. Stewart said both claims were "ridiculous." 

Jackson's fiery rhetoric added a touch of drama to his 2013 race. He compared Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan and said former President Barack Obama may be an atheist or a Muslim.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Sculptor Combines Artwork With Christmas Lights]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 00:05:59 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000021162704_1200x675_1114271299776.jpg

John Lanouette of East Broad Street in Falls Church adds handcrafted sculptures to his Christmas lights display.

<![CDATA[Md. Woman Killed After Truck Causes Chain-Reaction Crash]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:07:05 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Taylor+Anne+Halbleib.jpg

A 21-year-old Maryland woman who wanted to become a police officer died after she left the bar where she worked and a pickup truck with two volunteer firefighters inside rammed her car. 

Taylor Anne Halbleib, 21, of Hughesville, Maryland, died after her car was struck from behind by a pickup truck about 2:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 7 on Maryland Route 6, west of Cooksey Road in Charles County.

She was headed home to her parents' house when her Hyundai Elantra was hit from behind with great force by a Ford F-150. Chopper4 footage shows the horrific wreckage of Halbleib's car. 

Police said the driver of the truck failed to stop when he approached Halbleib’s car, hitting her car and forcing it into a minivan stopped in front of her. Her car and the minivan were stopped at a traffic signal. 

Halbleib was critically injured and later died at a hospital.

The driver of the pickup truck and his passenger were injured. They both are members of the Newburg Volunteer Fire Department. The person in the minivan was not hurt.

A witness said Halbleib and the two men in the truck were seen speaking to each another at closing time outside of Vino Liquor, where Halbleib worked. The witness said the men had just purchased a 12-pack of beer and said it appeared the passenger was trying to flirt with Halbleib.

Investigators are looking at security camera video from the bar in an effort to learn what happened in the parking lot before the crash.

Investigators said speed and alcohol are believed to be contributing factors in the crash. No charges have been filed in connection with the investigation.

Halbleib graduated from La Plata High School in 2014. She was on the varsity soccer team and was a member of the ROTC, her obituary says. She was taking criminal justice classes "with the hopes of following in her father's footsteps and being a D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer."

Halbleib's funeral will be held Wednesday. Her family requested donations in her name to the Humane Society of Charles County.

Photo Credit: photo provided by family
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<![CDATA[Police Seek Two in Connection With Metro Station Shooting]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 23:17:49 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Police_Seek_Two_in_Connection_With_Metro_Station_Shooting.jpg

One person was shot on the platform at the Minnesota Avenue Metro station in northeast. News4's Shomari Stone reports.

<![CDATA[Man Driving Wrong Way on Beltway Killed in Head-On Crash]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 15:32:30 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/capital+beltway+crash+arena+drive+outer+loop.jpg

A man died after he drove the wrong way on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway Monday night, officials say. 

Nicholas O'Neil Clarke, 36, was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of I-495 when he struck a pickup truck head-on in Landover, Maryland State Police said. The crash occurred south of MD-202. 

Police responded about 9:15 p.m. Clarke, of Greenbelt, Maryland, was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The driver of the pickup truck was taken to a hospital. Information on his condition was not available immediately. 

The cause of the crash is under investigation. 

Photo Credit: NBC4 Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Almost $12K in Marijuana Found in Residence Housing Day Care]]> Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:21:37 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Laurel+Day+Care+Drugs+121017+KAMRAN+AWAN.jpg

Police found almost $12,000 worth of marijuana in a Maryland residence that also houses a day care, police said.

Anne Arundel County police executed a search-and-seizure warrant at a home in the 8600 block of Accokeek Street in Laurel, Maryland, about 2 p.m. Sunday. They seized 595.33 grams of marijuana including packaging, which has an estimated street value $11,906, police said.

They also found 2.96 grams of cocaine, with an estimated street value $59; $9,305; a heat sealer machine; and various paraphernalia and packaging materials, police said.

A day care operates out of the basement of the residence, but it does not appear children had access to the area where police found the drugs, police said. The Maryland Department of Education Licensing Branch was notified.

Police arrested Kamran Awan, 18, a resident of the home. He was charged with possession of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.

Photo Credit: Anne Arundel County Police]]>
<![CDATA[Downtown DC Residents Gripe About Street Musician Noise]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:08:40 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/121117+dc+chinatown+music+complaints.jpg

Street musicians drum on buckets day and night, and amplified music blares.

You live in a busy, bustling city, but how much noise is too much noise?

Dozens of downtown D.C. residents attended a D.C. Council meeting on Monday to ask for relief from street noise. They urged officials to enforce noise laws or pass tougher ones.

David Mitchell and his daughter, Emma Mitchell, said the commotion has a serious impact on their lives. Emma Mitchell is blind and uses voice-activated computer programs.

"The noise is so significant that our daughter cannot use her software voice-over programs to complete her homework, read or perform other tasks of daily living," David Mitchell said.

Emma Mitchell sometimes stays at George Washington University because the noise at home is so intense.

"I use [the program] VoiceOver on my Mac, and it allows me to write papers via dictation, and without the computer and my iPhone, I wouldn't be able to interact with the world," she said. 

The Mitchells moved to Gallery Place to enjoy the vibrancy of the city, not to endure the endless music that invades their upper-floor home.

Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans represents downtown D.C. He said nearly 10,000 people live there now with lots of intrusive noise.

Labor union leaders said noise laws can't be allowed to inhibit their demonstrations. John Boardman of Unite Here, Local 25 urged the city to enforce current laws worked out years ago.

"The Council was very, very good about drafting them. What we have in a number of situations is a lack of enforcement," he said.

It's unclear when or if the Council will take any new action on noise.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Students Chat Over Ham Radio with Astronauts in Space]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:14:24 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/Students_Chat_with_Astronaut_Aboard_International_Space_Stat.jpg

Students at an Antietam elementary school got a special chance to talk to astronauts aboard the International Space Station using a ham radio.

<![CDATA[DC Roads/Sidewalks Exempt From Water Fees But Homeowners Pay]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:29:28 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/215*120/Dakota+Crossing+1.JPG

For months, the News4 I-Team has been investigating the fairness of Washington, D.C.'s skyrocketing Clean Rivers water fee, which charges customers based on the square footage of their property that's likely to create stormwater runoff.

Now, a new group of homeowners has contacted the I-Team saying they are being charged unfairly, forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars because the roads and sidewalks in their neighborhoods are considered private. The customers are particularly irate because most of the District's roads and sidewalks are exempt from those fees.

"I think that is unfair, that has to be fixed," said Rylan Harris, who lives in the Dakota Crossing townhome neighborhood in Northeast.

Harris knew his homeowner association had to pay for things like plowing and potholes on their private roads and sidewalks. But this year, DC Water also billed the HOA $40,000 in fees for its roads and sidewalks.

"I was flabbergasted," he said. "And there's no way for us to get around it because it's the only [water] service in town."

The townhome owners in his neighborhood already pay their own individual water bills, which include a Clean Rivers fee for the square footage of their properties' impervious areas, like their rooftops and patios.

Now, they also contribute hundreds of dollars a month for the HOA's water bill. The HOA has no water service.

The money is going toward a massive government tunnel project. But the News4 I-Team found the government gets a break on thousands of miles of public streets, sidewalks, alleys and any other impervious surface that sits in a public right-of-way, because they are all exempt from Clean Rivers fees.

"I think that if D.C. doesn't pay for their roads then we shouldn't pay for ours," said Harris, whose community is not gated, so the streets and sidewalks are open to the public.

To make matters worse, DC Water treats the Dakota Crossing Homeowner Association as a corporation when calculating its impervious area, even though the neighborhood is zoned residential, Harris said. That commercial classification keeps the HOA from being eligible for a residential cap designed to lower costs for homeowners.

'It Potentially Could Bankrupt Us'

"This is painful," said Allan Holland. "It's just a huge increase for everyone."

Holland lives in the Capital Park condominium complex in Southwest. The neighborhood's Clean Rivers fees amount to nearly $8,000 each month and DC Water is expected to double that again by 2026.

"We're all willing to pay our fair share. We know the infrastructure has to be built. Clean rivers is for everyone," said Holland. "But the manner in which it's being done -- it potentially could bankrupt us."

Many of his neighbors are retirees, on a fixed income. They moved there long before that fee existed.

The condo association even tried replacing a courtyard with grass and some of their sidewalks with porous pavers. The complex was engineered with green landscaping to lessen runoff, Holland said.

"They don't seem to appreciate or care that you've tried to mitigate this and not have runoff, but that doesn't seem to matter," he said. "It's just, 'We have a monetary goal to get to.'"

DC Water embarked on the $2.6 billion program to build underground tunnels to stop sewage and storm water from overflowing into our rivers. But the private homeowners argue water runoff from the District's public roads and sidewalks contributes more to that problem than they do.

The News4 I-Team asked DC Water how much money it was missing out on by offering the exemption for impervious areas contained within public rights-of-way. A DC Water spokesman said the dollar amount has not been calculated.

A $7 Million Break (Warning, Math Alert)

According to the District Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C., has:

  • 1,392 linear miles of roadway
  • 1,495 linear miles of sidewalks
  • 358 linear miles of alleys
  • 241 bridges

Some of those are listed as federal properties, which also fall under the public exemption.

DDOT could not provide the width or area of those surfaces, which would be used to calculate the Clean Rivers Impervious Area Charge.

The I-Team also attempted to determine the process by which the exemption for public roads and sidewalks was granted, by reviewing several years of meeting minutes, agendas, and questioning previous members of the DC Water Board.

No one we spoke with could recall the government specifically requesting the exemption and there appears to have been no discussion about how much it would cost DC Water.

Meeting minutes show a consultant told the DC Water Board that some other cities offer government streets and sidewalks an exemption, and that became part of the DC plan as well.

The District's Department of Energy and Environment maintains the list of impervious area DC Water uses to determine its fees.

DOEE records obtained by the I-Team show the impervious area in the public right-of way amounts to nearly 6,500 acres.

That would translate to about 280,000 Equivalent Residential Units (ERU), the measure DC Water uses to calculate the Clean Rivers charges.

The 2018 rate for collection is $25.18 per ERU, which would amount to more than $7 million that DC Water could be collecting but isn't.

Is There a Fix in the Works?

After a series of News4 I-Team reports this fall, Washington, D.C., Councilwoman Mary Cheh scheduled a public hearing on a number of water bill issues, including the growing fees for the Clean Rivers project.

In an interview with the I-Team, she said she'd also look at whether the District should be paying the fee for its roads and sidewalks, since the homeowners with private roads feel they're being treated unfairly.

"The only way is to broaden it, not to narrow it," said Cheh. "If they have impervious surfaces and they're contributing to the runoff, they're responsible for that property."

Cheh has already asked DC Water to see if some customers like churches and cemeteries, featured in earlier I-Team reports, are paying too much in Clean Rivers fees. Many of those are facing similar issues with private roads and parking lots.

"We'll figure out some way maybe to make these adjustments. But in the end, it's a big bill, and we have to pay it," said Cheh.

She worries if D.C. government starts paying for its public roads and sidewalks through tax dollars, those homeowners who live on private streets will essentially be paying twice.

And it isn't always the association that gets stuck with the bill.

In the Spring Valley West neighborhood, it's individual homeowners, like Frank DeCicco.

"We own the middle of the road, all the way around. Plus the sidewalks, too," said DeCicco.

Each house in his neighborhood has a piece of road divvied up in front of it. He said he'd gladly give his piece of roadway and sidewalk to the city if he could.

"I don't think it would affect the value of the house," he chuckled.

But his $216 per month Clean Rivers fee is no laughing matter. He and his neighbors have paid more than $700,000 since the program started.

"I think that's pretty unfair. There should be some kind of fairness and equity," said DeCicco.

Allan Holland said with the fees growing exponentially every year, there's no way his neighbors can continue paying.

"It will eventually put everyone out of business, and you won't be able to pay it," he said. "You won't get anything from anyone if the place basically dissolves."

Reported by Jodie Fleischer, produced by Rick Yarborough, and shot and edited by Jeff Piper.

Photo Credit: Jodie Fleischer/NBCWashington
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<![CDATA[Report: 27 Hate, Racial Bias Incidents at UMd. This Semester]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:50:56 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/hate+crime+university+of+maryland.jpg

According to a report from the University of Maryland, there have been 27 hate and racial bias incidents on campus this past semester.

The report, which the university is releasing next week, includes reports to the university police and the Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct. New policies to deal with the incidents were revealed on Nov. 27, including the creation of a hate bias coordinator, which has not been hired.

The new rules come after high profile incidents on the campus this year, included the stabbing death of a Bowie State University student, a noose found in a fraternity house, and at least three incidents of swastikas scribbled inside a restroom.

In May during final exams, Richard Collins, a visiting Bowie State student, was stabbed to death while waiting at a bus stop on the College Park campus. He was three days from graduating as a second lieutenant. Sean Urbanski, a University of Maryland student, was charged with murder and a hate crime in the stabbing death.

A spokesman said the university is proactively dealing with race and racial bias. However, some students question whether the school is acting quickly enough.

Photo Credit: NBC4 Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Md. Smoke Detector Law Mandates Change for Home Alarms]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:50:43 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/maryland+smoke+detectors.jpg

Maryland homeowners only have a few weeks left to change out their smoke detectors to comply with a new state law aimed at reducing home fire deaths.

The state law went into effect on July 1, 2013, and requires the replacement of any battery-only operated smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old. Homeowners are required to install an alarm that has a sealed-in battery with a 10 year life by Jan. 1, 2018.

Officials said nationally, two thirds of all home fire deaths occur when there is no smoke alarm or a smoke alarm with missing or disconnected batteries. By requiring a sealed unit, it becomes tamper resistant, and residents don’t have to try to remember to change the batteries.

They said the requirement does not apply to wired smoke alarms.

“The importance of ensuring the proper maintenance and use of smoke alarms is paramount,” said State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci. “The materials used in products we keep in our homes tend to burn much more readily, thus giving us a very limited window of time to escape the effects of fire. These early warning devices can be the difference between life or death in an incident of an uncontrolled fire inside our homes.”

The new Maryland law requires the replacement of smoke alarms when they are 10 years old. Officials said the date of manufacture should be printed on the back of the alarm.

Photo Credit: Darcy Spencer, NBC4 Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Vegas Mass Shooting Victim Tina Frost Home for the Holidays]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:55:14 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tina+frost1.jpg

The Maryland native who was shot in the head during the Las Vegas massacre walked out of a rehabilitation hospital Friday, according to her family. 

Tina Frost will continue outpatient basis. She "will have several days off from all of the doctors, nurses, therapists, dieticians, technicians and everyone else who knocks on her door 'every five minutes,'” said a post from her family on a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $600,000 for Frost.

Frost was among the hundreds of people shot at a concert in Las Vegas Oct. 1. The attack was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500.

Frost’s boyfriend carried her from the scene of the shooting to a truck. The truck’s driver rushed Frost to a hospital, where doctors had to remove a bullet, which was lodged into her right eye, to save her life.

Since the shooting, Frost has been trying to redevelop her motor skills -- practicing throwing and kicking a rubber ball, baking cookies and painting her eye patch. She took her first steps since the shooting about a month ago.

She moved to the rehabilitation center from Johns Hopkins Nov. 28. Frost's boyfriend picked her up there Friday.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Family]]>
<![CDATA[Community Comes Together to Help Virginia Family After Fire]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:50:05 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2017-12-11_1654.png

A fire on Friday night nearly took everything from an Ashburn, Virginia, family, but their community has rallied to help them bounce back from the blaze.

A good Samaritan, someone who was driving by, helped get the Elkhoueirys out of their burning home on Birdsnest Place, rescuing two of the children inside. Investigators said the fire started in the fireplace, and it was the banging of the passerby that alerted the family to the danger.

“The man that came in, he grabbed Lea and ran,” said Peter Elkhoueiry, 10. “He told me, ‘Come on. Come on. Go, go, go.’ I just ran downstairs.”

A neighbor swooped in to help, giving the family a place to stay on the night of the fire and providing a refuge as the Elkhoueirys try to regroup.

“We took the kids into my house,” said Janice Speer, a neighbor. “(They were) freaking out, watching the house go into flames.”

In the aftermath of the fire, Rita Elkhoueiry was overcome with gratitude.

“There is really more good coming out of it than anything we lost in there,” she said. “Ashburn has been ... I'm in tears over it, because I can't say thank you enough to all these people who don't even know us.”

Speer and other neighbors set up a GoFundMe page to help the family. They also put out the word on Facebook, and Ashburn residents started showing up with donations, including children’s clothes, new boots, and toys for Lea, 3. The donations were so numerous that it took two garages to hold everything.

“I'm so grateful to belong to such a community,” said Serge Elkhoueiry. “I cannot thank everyone enough.”

The Elkhoueirys were renting the home, but after this experience, they are determined to stay as close to Birdsnest Place as possible when they find a new place. 

Photo Credit: NBC4 Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Police: Ride-Share Driver Attacked Woman Near Capitol]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:00:47 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/crime-scene-tape-generic.jpg

A woman says a driver she hired stopped his car in the middle of their trip and viciously attacked her, just four blocks east of the U.S. Capitol. 

The assault occurred at 4 a.m. Sunday on the 400 block of East Capitol Street SE.

The victim told police she believed the man was a driver for hire, but during the trip, the man parked his car and tried to sexually assault her.

When she began yelling, the driver strangled her and punched her multiple times, a police report says. The victim eventually escaped the vehicle, and the suspect left the area in a four-door, dark-colored sedan. 

The woman was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. 

It was not immediately clear what company the woman believed the attacker worked for or how her interaction with the driver began. 

No arrest has been made, but police want anyone who may have information on the case to call them at 202-727-9099.

<![CDATA[Massage Envy Worker Accused of Sex Abuse to Plead Guilty]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:51:39 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2017-12-11_1102.png

The man accused of attacking at least four customers while he was employed as a massage therapist is expected to plead guilty in two of those cases this week, WTOP reports

Habtamu Gebreselassie of Silver Spring, Maryland, will plead guilty Friday, according to WTOP.

Gebreselassie has been accused in four reports of sexual misconduct at three different locations: a Massage Envy in the Tenleytown neighborhood of D.C., a Massage Envy in Bowie, Maryland, and at an unaffiliated massage parlor on the 2000 block of P Street NW in D.C. 

He has only been charged in the assaults that reported to have occurred at the Tenleytown location. 

One woman told News4 Gebreselassie touched her inappropriately at a Massage Envy in Bowie on June 20. She said management offered her a free spa day and told her he had been transferred to a location in D.C.

Then, a 66-year-old woman told police Gebreselassie assaulted her at a Massage Envy in Tenleytown on Aug. 28.

"I've never done this before. I don't know what got into me," she told police he said. 

Management wrote a report, gave Gebreselassie additional training and allowed him to stay on the job, a D.C. detective testified.

Then, Tara Woodley said Gebreselassie attacked her three weeks later.

Woodley said she was getting a massage at the Massage Envy's Tenleytown location on Sept. 17 when the massage therapist removed the sheet that was covering her pelvis. Then, he put his mouth on her genitals, she said.

She immediately pulled the sheet back up to cover herself and ordered him to leave.

"We're done here. We're done here," she said she repeated, raising her voice.

On his knees, he begged for forgiveness, Woodley said. 

She said she went outside and called her husband. He told her to call 911, she did and police arrived quickly.

Gebreselassie was charged in two claims: for sexual abuse in Woodley's case Sept. 17 and for attempted sexual abuse on Aug. 28 in the same location. He was fired.

"He was on a trend. Basically, every month, he was targeting somebody," Woodley said last month at a news conference about the alleged attack. "It stops with me."

Woodley previously spoke and filed a lawsuit anonymously, using the name Jane Doe. Speaking publicly for the first time last month, Woodley said she came forward to help other women and "found strength" in watching women in Hollywood and in government confront sexual misconduct.

If Gebreselassie is convicted, he faces decades in prison.

Last month, Buzzfeed reported that more than 180 women have reported sexual assaults at Massage Envy locations across the country. The billion-dollar company trains franchise owners to conduct internal investigations on reports of misconduct and does not require that they report alleged crimes to police, Buzzfeed reported. 

In response to the Buzzfeed report, Massage Envy — which has more than 1,100 franchises in 49 states, according to the company's website — said the incidents described in the report were "heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations."

<![CDATA[Fatal Fire Claims Life in Loudoun County]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 07:27:05 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Loudoun+Fire.jpg

One person is dead after a fire at a home in rural northern Virginia.

The fire started at 8:22 p.m.Sunday on Taylorstown Road in Lovettsville. 

Fire crews from Loudoun County and from across the Potomac River in Maryland responded to the fire. 

The home became unstable after the fire, making it difficult for firefighters to go inside and make a full assessment. 

The name of the victim has not been released. 

Fire marshals were continuing their investigation Monday.

<![CDATA[WATCH: National Zoo Pandas Tumble and Play in the Snow]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:23:28 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/166*120/5372165463_c280e3e589_z.jpg

After a weekend filled with snowflakes, hibernating and binge-watching - it's back to the daily grind.

Getting some Monday motivation is never easy, but there's one thing that may get you into better spirits: Pandas.

The first snowfall of the season brought more than 2 inches to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Northwest D.C.

Giant panda Mei Xiang showed off her athletic abilities by tumbling down a snowy hill.

And on Sunday, the zoo posted this video of a red panda and giant panda Bei Bei.

Now, don't you feel better?

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institution
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<![CDATA[Sources: Teen Found Dead Left Party Alone Despite Concerns]]> Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:15:22 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/121117+navid+sepehri+woods.jpg

A Maryland high school student who went missing late Saturday was found dead in a wooded area Sunday, devastating his community. 

Navid Nicholas Sepehri's body was found in Bethesda after he never got home Saturday night. He was 17 and a senior at Walt Whitman High School.

Sepehri was found dead after he left a party alone despite friends' concerns about his welfare, Montgomery County police and sources told News4. 

It's not immediately clear how Sepehri died, but there was no evidence of foul play, Montgomery County police said. 

"The circumstances of his death are still under investigation at this time," Cmdr. Paul Liquorie said late Sunday.

In an email to the Whitman High community, Principal Alan Goodwin said "initial information suggests Navid’s death may have been accidental." Police did not comment on that assessment. 

On Monday, Sepehri's friends and classmates took flowers to the area where his body was found and spelled out "NAV" in white votive candles.

Sepehri was last seen about 11:30 Saturday, police said. He went to a party on Elgin Lane that was broken up by police because of noise and suspected underage drinking.

"The caller is anonymous, says there's an underage drinking party at this address," a police dispatcher said. "Loud, there's a bonfire in the backyard."

Police then broke up the party and attendees dispersed.

"The house is controlled. Couple kids ran off," a second person said on police radios.

"If you see any vehicles, stop them. They may possibly be drunk," the dispatcher said.

When the partygoers dispersed, Sepehri's friends offered to call him an Uber. But he said he was OK and disappeared on foot, sources said. 

He never arrived home. 

He was reported missing after noon Sunday. 

Police searched for him, and his body was found near nightfall on the 6500 block of Laverock Lane, in a wooded area near the Bannockburn Swim Club. Sepehri lived less than three miles away.

Whitman High's principal sent an email Sunday informing the school community of the student's death.

"For those of you who knew Navid, we ask that you remember and celebrate his love of art and commitment to others. For those of you who did not know Navid, we ask that you support Navid’s friends and family during this time of loss," the email said.

Grief counselors were available at the school Monday. Friday was declared Whitman Strong Day. Students will write "hopeful comments on a Whitman Strong paperchain." 

"During the day, we hope everyone will express kindness to each other," the principal said in an email. 

A medical examiner will determine the manner and cause of Sepehri's death, Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti said Monday.

Anyone with information for police is asked to call 240-773-5070.

Here's the full letter from Whitman High: 

Dear Whitman Community,

It is with sadness that I inform you of the death of Navid Sepehri, one of our 12th grade students. Initial information suggests Navid’s death may have been accidental, but we do not have details at this time. Navid’s sister, Nika, is a freshman at Whitman, as well.

For those of you who knew Navid, we ask that you remember and celebrate his love of art and commitment to others. For those of you who did not know Navid, we ask that you support Navid’s friends and family during this time of loss.

It is very difficult for all of us to face the death of a young person. Monday, a support team of psychologists, counselors, and pupil personnel workers from Montgomery County Public Schools will work with our staff members to provide counseling and support to students. Students who need additional support should contact their school counselor. Counselors will be available in the media center all day.

Your child may be coming home with questions and worries. Our community has experienced a tremendous loss in the last weeks. I am confident in our ability to support one another as we grieve the loss of Navid. Please be attentive to each other and keep our staff informed of any way we can support our students.

I know you join me in extending our heartfelt sympathy to Navid’s family. When we receive word regarding funeral arrangements, I will share the information with you. Again, please do not hesitate to contact the school at 301-320-6600 if you have any concerns or questions.

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<![CDATA[First Winter Snow Hits DC Region, Most Falls in Southern Md.]]> Sun, 10 Dec 2017 15:00:33 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/264b3d5b91e84d8f84009a4e84934a07.jpg

A fresh, first-of-the-season snowfall coated much of the D.C. region on Saturday.

Some of the heavier bands of snow hit southern Maryland. Dunkirk, Maryland, in Calvert County, received 6 inches of snow. Ridge, Maryland, in St. Mary's County, received 6.5 inches of snow.

The National Weather Service issued unofficial final snow totals from Saturday's storm. 

  • The National Zoo in Northwest D.C. - 2.4 inches
  • Annapolis, Maryland - 3 inches
  • New Market, Maryland - 3 inches
  • Germantown, Maryland - 5.5 inches
  • Bowie, Maryland - 2.7 inches
  • Dulles International Airport - 4 inches
  • BWI Airport - 2.8 inches
  • Reagan National Airport - 2 inches
  • Chantilly, Virginia - 3.6 inches
  • Ashburn, Virginia - 4.5 inches
  • Woolsey, Virginia - 5 inches

The National Weather Service said temperatures were expected to remain below freezing Sunday morning. Icy conditions were possible on untreated roadways, in parking lots, and on sidewalks. Untreated bridges and overpasses or other elevated roadways could be especially icy and hazardous.

If traveling, slow down and allow extra time to reach destinations. Be aware of icy patches on sidewalks and other walkways.

In Virginia, state police said they responded to more than 200 crashes on Saturday. 

Dominion Energy said 3,500 are without power in northern Virginia, and 13,000 are dark across the state.

Traffic camera video showed snow falling in California, Maryland, late Friday afternoon, and chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer said snow fell in surrounding areas of Cambridge and Patuxent River.

It was snowing at the beach on Friday night. Significant amounts of snowfall could be seen on traffic cameras in Ocean City, Maryland, and Bethany and Rehoboth beaches in Delaware.

AAA Mid-Atlantic said the first snow of the season always comes with a learning curve for drivers and gave the following safety tips:

  • Remove all snow from vehicle, including roof, hood, and trunk. While driving, snow can blow off your car onto the windshield of a nearby vehicle, temporary blinding that driver’s vision. 
  • Slow down. Adjust your speed to the road conditions and leave yourself ample room to stop. Allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you. Accelerate, turn and brake gradually. 
  • Do not tailgate. Normal following distances of three to four seconds on dry pavement should be a minimum of five to six seconds when driving on slippery surfaces. The extra time will provide additional braking room should a sudden stop become necessary. 
  • Never use cruise control on slippery roads. A driver should always be in full control of their vehicle during poor road conditions. 
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changes. This increases the chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that could cause loss of vehicle traction. 
  • Minimize the need to brake on ice. If you’re approaching a stop sign, traffic light or other area where ice often forms, brake early on clear pavement to reduce speed. Vehicle control is much more difficult when braking on ice-covered roadways.

Photo Credit: @Yasmina07099180
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<![CDATA[Federal Court Denies Christmas Ad on Metro Buses]]> Sun, 10 Dec 2017 08:43:03 -0500 https://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/112817+archdiocese+ad.jpg

A federal court denied a request Friday by the Archdiocese of Washington to allow it to put Christmas ads on Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority buses.

The archdiocese had filed a federal lawsuit against Metro after the transit agency refused to sell space on buses for Christmas fundraising ads, citing its ban on "issue-oriented advertising."

The suit argued that Metro is "hostile to religion" and violated the Archdiocese's right to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion by rejecting the ad. However, a federal judge rejected that argument and said the transit agency could ban ads featuring a religious theme.

"We are disappointed that the federal court denied our emergency request for an injunction to run our 'Find the Perfect Gift' Advent ad campaign," said Ed McFadden, secretary of communications for the Archdiocese of Washington. "While this preliminary ruling that there should be no room made for us on WMATA buses is disappointing, we will continue in the coming days to pursue and defend our right to share the important message of Christmas in the public square."

The ad design showed shepherds and sheep, as in a classic Nativity scene, with the words "Find the Perfect Gift."

Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly said rejecting the ad was in line with the agency's policies.

"In 2015, WMATA changed its advertising policy to prohibit issue-oriented advertising, including political, religious and advocacy advertising," she said in a statement. "The ad in question was declined, because it is prohibited by WMATA's current advertising guidelines."

Metro decided to bar all political and religious advertising after an activist group submitted a cartoon depiction of the Prophet Muhammad to run as an ad at Metrorail stations and on buses.

Photo Credit: Archdiocese of Washington ]]>