The year started with a bang as the D.C. area was hammered by nearly two feet of snow -- and things didn't calm down much from there. From an unprecedented Metro shutdown to a stunning twist in the presidential election, here are NBC Washington's 25 most-read stories of 2016.
Top L and C: Getty Images. Top R: NBC4. Bottom row: Getty Images.
Just days before the presidential election, two men participating in the Million Mask March in D.C. were arrested
for vandalizing federal property and the Trump International Hotel, police said. Thousands were protesting capitalism in the march in cities throughout the world, according to activist network Anonymous. Marchers wore masks "to protest corruption, censorship, inequality and war," Anonymous said on Twitter.
In the spring, Vafalay Massaquoi was registering new voters as an employee of the New Virginia Majority, an advocacy group aligned with the Democratic party. According to the Commonwealth's Attorney, Massaquoi
fabricated applications and used fake names to fill out the registration forms. The fake applications were filed with the Alexandria Office of the General Registrar, who reported the issue to Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter. Porter said although the false applications were filed, no illegal votes were cast in the case.
Miss D.C. Deshauna Barber, 26,
was crowned Miss USA in June. At the time, she was an Army Reserves logistics commander at Fort Meade, Maryland. "As a woman in the United States Army, I think... we are just as tough as men," she said. "As a commander of my unit, I'm powerful, I am dedicated. Gender does not limit us in the United States."
Shomari Stone, NBCWashington
Drivers crashed on icy roads and sat in gridlock for hours one January weeknight after just an inch of snow fell in the D.C. area -- two days before a blizzard was expected to dump as much as two feet of snow on the area. A thin layer of snow glazed streets with ice during the latter part of the evening rush, forcing the closure of highway ramps and side streets. The all-red traffic maps were reminiscent of "Carmageddon" in January 2011. Even President Barack Obama's motorcade ended up stuck in traffic.
At least six people died from carbon monoxide poisoning after January's powerful blizzard pounded the Eastern U.S. in January. Many of the deaths happened as the victims worked to clear snow from vehicles. In New Jersey, 23-year-old Sashalynn Rosa, of Passaic, and her 1-year-old son, Messiah Bonilla, died of carbon monoxide poisoning while sitting in a running car that had its tailpipe covered in snow. The father of the children was just steps away, shoveling snow from around the car.
NeShante Davis was putting her 2-year-old daughter, Chloe, into her car seat
when they were murdered outside their Prince George's County home in February. Chloe's father, Daron Boswell-Johnson, later confessed to shooting the young mother and daughter multiple times, court documents say. Boswell-Johnson was angry over $600 in monthly child support he had been ordered to pay, sources told News4.
Rappahannock Regional Jail
Malachi Love-Robinson, a teenager from Florida, was
arrested in Virginia for allegedly trying to defraud a woman while buying a car in September, said the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office. But this wasn't the teen's first arrest -- Love-Robinson made national headlines in March after he was arrested at age 18 for allegedly posing as a doctor. Officials said he'd opened a clinic in West Palm Beach, where he performed a physical exam on an undercover agent and offered medical advice.
Fairfax Police Department
Fairfax City Mayor Richard "Scott" Silverthorne was arrested in August after allegedly
giving meth to an undercover detective in exchange for a sexual encounter. Silverthorne was arrested after police got a tip that he may have been trading meth for sex on a website used to arrange casual sexual encounters between men. Silverthorne later resigned as mayor. Police said he'd also served as a substitute teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools, but has since been let go. The arrest came during a trying year for Silverthorne, during which he also lost his full-time civilian job, lost his home and was diagnosed with cancer.
Branchville Volunteer Fire Company/NBC Washington
After a fire started on a Prince George's County school bus in September, Reneita Smith, a school bus driver for Glenarden Woods Elementary School, jumped into action. "I opened my door, took off my seat belt, and I got my babies off that bus," she said. Smith, who has been called a hero,
saved all 20 students from the bus fire with no injuries reported. Members of the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company & Rescue Squad responded and put out the flames.
A security guard at a Giant grocery store in Northeast D.C. was charged with simple assault after
a transgender woman said the guard forced her out of the women's restroom in May. In addition to grabbing her and pushing her out the door, the victim said the guard "opened the door and came in and started calling me derogatory names." This incident came after President Barack Obama issued a directive to public schools that transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice. It is also an issue brought to the forefront by a controversial North Carolina law that says transgender people must use the public bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.
Two teenage girls were beaten in the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station by a group of teens in June. The girls, who were on their way home from school when the attack occurred, did not know the attackers but later
found a video of the attack posted online. The concerned mother of one of the victims said her daughter "didn't understand why so many adults stood around and no one helped them."
Marion Christopher Barry, the son of late D.C. mayor Marion Barry,
died in August after an accidental PCP overdose. In 2015, the younger Barry ran unsuccessfully for Ward 8 council seat. Like his father, he struggled with substance abuse for years. "Through him I saw strength, I saw vulnerability. I saw the type of heart that creates a community," one man said at the vigil following Barry’s death.
At least one D.C. public school marching band has participated in each of the past five inaugural parades, but
none applied for consideration in President-elect Donald Trump's parade. A D.C. Public Schools spokeswoman said she was not aware of any band in the school district that applied to participate. Other districts in the region also said their bands had not applied. Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia -- about 15 miles southwest of D.C. -- did apply, a school district spokesman told News4.
Justice Clarence Thomas stunned lawyers, reporters and others in February when
he asked questions in court for the first time in 10 years. The break of his usual silence came just a few days after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Thomas' friend and fellow conservative. Although Thomas has said he does not need to ask questions because he relies on the written briefs, he has been criticized for his silence from some who say he is neglecting his duties as a justice. The questions he posed were focused on Second Amendment gun rights.
After months of protesting, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s standoff with the Dakota Access Pipeline ended Dec. 4 after
the Army Corp of Engineers declined the permit to extend the pipeline beneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The pipeline project caused controversy because, according to the tribe and its supporters, it would endanger local drinking water and disturb sacred tribal sites. Although many rejoiced after hearing the decision, some are still wary of the future, worried that President-elect Donald Trump's administration may overturn the decision.
A false alarm put Joint Base Andrews under lockdown for nearly three hours June 30 after someone mistook a security exercise for an actual threat, officials said. The Maryland home of Air Force One was evacuated just after 9 a.m., with personnel leaving the building with their hands up. Officials said first responders received reports of an "real-world active shooter situation" about the same time the base was conducting a "no-notice" active shooter exercise. Someone saw two people walking across the base with long guns, law enforcement officials told NBC News' Pete Williams. That person did not know a drill had been planned and reported that there was an active shooter in the building. Officials later determined there was no threat and declared an all-clear.
Fairfax County Police
In Fairfax, Virginia,
a man posing as a Walmart employee, wearing a Walmart vest, stole an undisclosed amount of money from the register. After sending the cashier away by telling him he was needed in the office, the suspect proceed to check a customer out and then steal the money. The suspect then left and drove away in a silver Honda.
US Secret Service
The Secret Service released an agency report in April detailing plans to raise the White House fence from 5 feet to 11 feet.
The need for a "taller, stronger" fence came after a man fleeing a nearby robbery jumped the fence at the Eisenhower Building. A day later, another man threw “personal belongings” over the fence on the north side of the complex. The White House has had numerous other fence breaches in recent years.
Getty Images, File
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was initially excluded from the primary ballot in the District after the D.C. Democratic Party submitted the candidates' information -- including that of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton -- to the D.C. Board of Elections a day late. A Democratic voter then filed a challenge against Sanders' registration issue. The D.C. Council later voted to allow Sanders on the ballot after passing emergency legislation exempting Democratic candidates from the deadline for the June primary.
It was the shutdown heard around the region.
WMATA left commuters scrambling for alternative travel options when officials suddenly announced a daylong shutdown of the Metrorail system for safety inspections in March. This move came after a fire in McPherson Square earlier that week alerted officials to issues with underground jumper cables. The same problem also led to the 2015 L'Enfant Plaza smoke incident that killed an Alexandria woman. Findings from the one-day shutdown would later contribute to the creation of SafeTrack, which was meant to address these safety concerns.
Storm Team4 released its
2015-2016 winter storm forecast in late fall 2015, and it quickly became a resource for D.C.-area residents as they navigated their way through early 2016. Storm Team4 accurately predicted "at least one big snowstorm," which -- sure enough -- hit in January 2016. (And if you're looking for this year's winter forecast, it's right here.)
We knew Bethesda's Katie Ledecky would dominate at the Rio Olympics -- and (sometimes lapping the competition) she did. We believed Michael Phelps had another world-dominating performance in his tank -- and he did. But the real treat of the 2016 Summer Games for hometown fans was seeing just how many other Maryland athletes emerged triumphant. Maryland athletes brought home 14 gold medals from Rio;
only five other countries had as many golds as the state. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony helped send Team USA to the top of the podium in men's basketball -- and so did Baltimore's Angel McCoughtry, in women's. Then there were the upsets: Matthew Centrowitz stunned the field (and sent his dad, American University track coach Matt Centrowitz, into raptures) by winning the men's 1,500 meters. Wrestler Helen Maroulis beat an opponent called the world's best. We could go on, but you get the idea: If you are mining for Olympic gold, start in Maryland.
A 27-year-old man who worked for the Democratic National Committee
was fatally shot July 10 as he walked home to D.C.'s Bloomingdale neighborhood. Seth Rich was a Nebraska native who worked on voter access. Conspiracy theorists speculated online that Rich was killed as payback for leaking DNC emails to Wikileaks -- a claim that has been debunked by officials and upset Rich's grieving family. The Metropolitan Police Department says attempted robbery was the motive for the crime.
After a long and often contentious campaign season, Republican
Donald Trump defied pollsters and pundits to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton for the presidency. Trump had directed his campaign primarily at white, working-class men who felt left behind by the economic recovery after the 2008 recession, and insecure in an increasingly globalized economy. When Clinton said that half of Trump's supporters belonged in a basket of deplorables, they embraced the insult. Trump's candidacy was treated with wide skepticism when he launched his campaign -- but he beat 16 other Republicans to become the GOP nominee. His campaign faltered in October after he was heard bragging about groping women and trying to have sex with them in a videotape with Billy Bush, then of "Access Hollywood." nBut in the small hours of election night, Trump emerged victorious. "Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division," he told a crowd of joyous supporters at 3 a.m. ET. "...We're going to dream of things for our country and beautiful things and successful things once again."
A powerful blizzard gripped the D.C. area throughout the fourth weekend in January. Local schools and public transportation shut down as one of the area's worst storms in history dumped more than two feet of snow in some parts of the region. In Stafford County, a baby boy was born at home as a 911 dispatcher talked the father-to-be through the delivery over the phone. It was the only major snowstorm of the season, but it was one for the history books. Although snowfall record-keeping efforts at Reagan National Airport failed, the storm easily ranked among the area's worst.