Local Leads: 12/6/2009 - NBC4 Washington

Local Leads: 12/6/2009

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    Local Leads: 12/6/2009
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    The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

    Gunfire broke out early Sunday morning during a birthday party at a downtown Baltimore hotel and three people were critically injured, police said.  The shooter was still at large hours later, said Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.  Officers were called to the Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel around 3:15 a.m. after a fight erupted inside the party and someone began shooting. Shortly after police arrived, they found an Uzi submachine gun in a room where the party was held.  One person was shot in the head and another one was shot in the torso, both of them were taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center's Shock Trauma Center, Guglielmi said. The center's nursing coordinator, Henry Paje, said the two were in critical condition.

    A two-alarm fire caused significant damage to Northwest D.C. row home early Sunday morning.   Fire and EMS units were called to a two-and-a-half story row home on the 1300 block of Oak Street around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. A second alarm was requested after initial crews had trouble battling what was described as a "heavy fire." Around 90 firefighters and emergency responders were at the scene.  A wall of the home collapsed during the fire, and heat from the blaze caused damage to other nearby residences. The building was unoccupied and looked to be under construction or renovation. Several adjacent homes were evacuated, with no residents suffering any injuries. One firefighter was treated for non-life threatening injuries at a local hospital.  The fire was declared out and under control around 3 a.m. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

    Ever-candid Redskins coach Jim Zorn nicely described the gap between Washington's offense and that of the undefeated New Orleans Saints. Zorn was asked about usually aggressive Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams rarely bringing the farm against Tom Brady, Randy Moss and the potent New England Patriots in New Orleans' victory Monday.   "With Tom back there and with the weapons they have down the field with Moss and all their guys, I think [focusing on coverage] was the strategy," said Zorn, whose Redskins host the Saints on Sunday. "I don't think we'll have that same respect from Gregg. We've got problems in our offensive line. I think he'll come after us."   That just proves what a difference a year can make. In September 2008, the Redskins defeated the Saints 29-24 en route to both teams finishing 8-8.

    A public memorial and toy drive will be held Tuesday at Verizon Center in honor of the man who built it: Abe Pollin, the sports team owner and philanthropist who brought basketball and hockey franchises to the Washington area. Pollin, 85, died last month.   The son of a Russian metal worker, he came to America more than 75 years ago speaking no English and is remembered as the Washington Wizards and Capitals owner who transformed downtown by building MCI Center, now Verizon Center.  Tuesday's 7 p.m. ceremony will feature speakers including D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, NBA Hall of Famers Wes Unseld and Earl Monroe, and several members of the D.C. City Council.

    Drivers will have to pass through special traffic meters to get onto Interstate 66 during the morning rush starting Monday, even if traveling westbound.   The chronically congested highway linking Northern Virginia and D.C. has relied on such ramp meters for more than 20 years inside the Capital Beltway-Interstate 495.  But this is the first time the traffic signals will be used in both directions during peak morning and evening travel times. The need for the ramps is both the latest sign of the region's growing congestion problems and also an attempt at an easy improvement.  The highway used to be an almost one-way route for Virginians to get from their homes to their jobs downtown, with congestion primarily occurring eastbound in the morning, then west in the evening. " The reverse commute has gotten a whole lot rougher over the last decade or so," said Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Joan Morris.