Local Leads: 10/18/2009 - NBC4 Washington

Local Leads: 10/18/2009

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    The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

    Louis Kimeng came home from his job as a security guard at 2 a.m. Saturday morning. Less than seven hours later, his wife woke him to say she heard screaming and smelled smoke. Within minutes, fire had destroyed everything in their apartment.  The three-alarm blaze in a Greenbelt apartment complex injured nine people, including a firefighter, and displaced 168 residents -- including Kimeng's 5-month-old, Pierrelouis, and 55 other children.  "Basically, I don't have my clothes, my car keys, my passport, my green card," said Kimeng, a Cameroon citizen, motioning to his charred couch and chair. "Everything burned. Eviction is better, because you can take your stuff somewhere."  The blaze started in a three-story building in the 5900 block of Cherrywood Terrace shortly before 8:45 a.m. Heat and smoke forced many residents to their balconies.  Sandra Gajardo, 33, thought it was a false alarm but realized that it was not a drill once she heard her neighbors screaming. The hallway was filled with smoke when she opened the door, so she and her 11-year-old daughter, Ashley, crawled to the exit. As soon as they got outside, Gajardo said, they saw two women -- including one with a baby in her arms -- jump from a third-story balcony. (WASHINGTON POST)

    A 20-year-old Johns Hopkins University student, who was struck by a hit-and-run driver Friday afternoon as she tried to cross St. Paul Street, died early Saturday with her parents at her side, according to city police and university officials.  The driver of the white Ford F-250 was traveling at a high rate of speed north in a narrow lane on the east side of the 3500 block of St. Paul St., according to Agent Donny Moses, a Baltimore police spokesman. Witnesses reported to police that the male driver never stopped after the accident but continued north and made an illegal left turn onto East University Parkway, Moses said.  Miriam Frankl, a junior molecular and cell biology major from the Chicago area, was surrounded by dozens of friends at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she was taken after the accident at 3:15 p.m. Friday.  Frankl had serious head wounds, as well as other injuries, Moses said. She remained on life support, dying at 2:30 a.m. (BALTIMORE SUN)

    Coach Jim Zorn's fate may be decided on Sunday, even if the end is measured in days, weeks or months.  If the Washington Redskins (2-3) lose to the Kansas City Chiefs (0-5) at FedEx Field, Zorn's tenure probably ends after playing Philadelphia on Oct. 26 when the team gets a bye week.  But beating Kansas City to avoid falling to a third winless team this season would lift Washington to 3-3 despite facing an unprecedented NFL schedule of six weeks of no opponent sporting a win. It would be hard to fire Zorn at 3-4 and impossible at 4-3. Owner Dan Snyder is working on his 2010 candidate list, topped by Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan, but might promote assistants Jerry Gray or Danny Smith in the interim. Still, with nine games remaining, everyone would know the season is essentially done. That means 4-12. (WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

    The two people who were shot Friday by a Prince George's County police officer after allegedly dragging him with a car turned out to be men rather than women, county police said.  The two were shot near the 7300 block of Baltimore Avenue after allegedly fleeing from a store where a shoplifting had occurred. The officer was off-duty and working in a security position at the store. He tried to stop them, and fired when his arm became lodged in the door of the car, which began dragging him, police said.  It was believed at first that the two who were shot were women. But they "turned out to be males dressed in female clothing," Officer Henry Tippett, a county police spokesman, said early Sunday.  That finding was apparently made when medical personnel began treating the two for gunshot wounds, Tippett said.  Tippett said both remained hospitalized. One, he said, was a 23-year-old Baltimore man, and the other was also 23 and from the District. (WASHINGTON POST)

    D.C. will be one of the first markets to drink out of Coca-Cola’s new 90-calorie mini can.  “As the world’s largest beverage company, we take seriously the need to help consumers balance calories consumed with calories expended,” said Sandy Douglas, president, Coca-Cola North America.  The new packaging contains 7.5 fluid ounces, compared to typical 12-ounce cans.  As part of Coca-Cola’s commitment to helping consumers manage weight, the company said it would highlight calories on nearly all of its products. The new mini cans display their 90-calorie contents prominently on the front of the can.  Consumers in D.C. and New York City will get the first shipments of the mini cans in December. The rollout will expand to the rest of the U.S. and be well underway by March 2010, said the company.  Additional brands in Coca-Cola’s portfolio will also be packaged in eight-pack mini cans, including Sprite, Fanta Orange, Cherry Coca-Cola and Barq’s Root Beer. (WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL)