Local Leads: 11/1/2009

News you need to know

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

After getting caught drunk behind the wheel, David P. Baker is trying to do the right thing -- via YouTube. The former Alexandria police chief, who lost his job in July after a fender-bender in Arlington County, stars in "Even a Police Chief Can Get Nailed During Drunk Driving":  "I was the chief of police. But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter," he says in the video. "40 years went down the tubes in one night and I lost everything."  Baker, who resigned from his position, speaks about the humiliation of being locked up for five days in jail, and told the Washington Post of the shame he feels when going about his daily routine when someone recognizes him as the chief who got arrested.  "You feel a little sleazy, I suppose," Baker, 59, told the Post. "And you believe others feel the same way."  As part of his sentence, Baker had to give up his license for a year and complete 20 hours of alcohol education. A 90-year-old friend now drives him around.

Howard County police are investigating a homicide at a crowded Halloween party in Clarksville. Police are offering rewards of up to $5,000 to those with information about the homicide.  Several party-goers at the residence, in the 11500 bock Manorstone Lane, called police at about 1:15 a.m. to report that shots had been fired.  Police investigators said one victim was found dead at the scene, another was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore in critical condition, and two others were taken to Howard County General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The victims are all male, but police have not released their names or ages, pending notification of family members.  Police have yet to release any information on suspects and are interviewing those in attendance at the party, which numbered more than 100 people.

Some strange and mysterious Halloween happenings are taking place to unsuspecting Manassas families in the West, Taylor and Battle streets area.  Someone lurking in the dark has been picking up pumpkins from porches, carving them out with faces and returning them to their rightful owners by morning.  One such person visited by the "carver" was Chrissi Blasius of 9010 West St."I had a pumpkin—a little larger than a basketball—on my front porch early this week. Someone came during the night, carved it and brought it back. It's amazing," she said.  Blasius said the unknown carver did a good job.  "The pumpkin had two triangle eyes, a triangle nose and a mouth with two teeth missing," she said.  At first, Blasius said, she was upset because the pumpkin was scheduled to be carved at a Halloween party she had planned for friends and family Friday night. But someone had beat her to the punch.  "I was mad at first, but it is what it is … and we will still party," she said.  The pumpkin, she said, was won as a prize.  A nearby neighbor, Lisa Harlow, also reported that one of her pumpkins was taken during the night and returned carved out.  "Mine was taken from my porch and left out at the end of the sidewalk under a lamppost," she said. She too was impressed by the "mad carver" who she said had a neat eye carved out like a star on the pumpkin.  "It's Halloween and I guess people do strange and weird things," Harlow concluded.

A recent surge in crude oil prices has gasoline costs inflating.   In the last weeks of October, the average U.S. retail price for regular gasoline jumped 14 cents per gallon, more than 5 percent.  Nationally, the average cost of unleaded gasoline on Friday hit a high for 2009, at $2.70. Maryland's average Friday was $2.66, said Regina Averella, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  Crude oil trading is also at a high this year, selling for more than $82 a barrel, according to AAA.  "Crude oil prices have risen to the $80 per barrel level from the mid-$60s just a few weeks ago," said the Energy Information Administration's retail gasoline expert, Laurie Falter.  Averella said the reason for the gasoline price spike is the increase in the price of crude oil, a primary component in gasoline.

It's the ultimate trick-or-treating treasure - that one house on the block that offers the coolest candy and surprises galore.  President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama smiled, chatted and passed out cellophane goody bags Saturday night to more than 2,000 children from the District, Maryland and Virginia who came to the White House door dressed as superheroes, pirates, fairies and skeletons.  Mrs. Obama wore furry cat ears.  The goody bags were loaded with items such as White House M&Ms with the president's signature on the bag and a butter cookie made by White House pastry chef Bill Yosses.

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