NBC Washington's 25 Most-Read Stories of 2017

After a remarkable 12 months, the News4 team rounded up our top 25 most-read stories of the year.

26 photos
Tariq Hussein
Just weeks before the end of the year, shocked drivers stopped their cars to gawk at the man's rampage and record it on their cellphones, backing up traffic on Route 28 in Fairfax County, Virginia. A man had stripped naked and jumped onto a moving truck in freezing temperatures near Washington Dulles International Airport. Jose Gonzalez Flores, 32, was involved in a hit-and-run and then assaulted another driver and ran into traffic, police said. He tried to smash the windows of passing cars and used a knife to stab at the roof of the truck he jumped onto, a witness told News4.
Courtesy of family
After a black Bowie State student and aspiring army lieutenant was stabbed to death by a white University of Maryland student, the FBI stepped in to investigate the "unprovoked attack." Initially, authorities announced there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the accused killer, 22-year-old Sean Christopher Urbanski, with a hate crime. Since then, prosecutors have uncovered digital evidence and brought hate crime charges against Urbanski. The killing shocked the Bowie State campus, where students held vigils and honored their classmate at the graduation ceremony where Collins was set to walk the stage.
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The "March for Life" brought tens of thousands of marchers to D.C. in January, days after the streets were filled for inauguration parades and protests and the massive women’s march. "We've seen an increasingly palpable enthusiasm this year, I think in large part because of some of the demonstrations that have occurred over the course of the last week. And then also, just with a hopeful outlook in terms of the couple of years ahead," Jeanne Mancini, the president of the anti-abortion group, said.
Six teenagers from the African nation Burundi competed in the international robotics competition in Washington, D.C. -- and then vanished from their hotel. The students left their keys in their mentor's bag and took all their clothes from their rooms. Two of the teens were later spotted crossing into Canada, local police said. Earlier in the year, the State Department warned that Burundi is plagued by violence.
In a local race viewed by many as a culture war referendum with wide-reaching implications, Danica Roem, a 33-year-old journalist turned public works advocate, won Virginia’s 13th District House of Delegates seat. Roem is the first openly transgender person elected and seated to a state legislature in the United States.
Farrah Skeiky/Dim Sum Media
Television juggernaut "Game of Thrones" was big across the country this year -- but fans in the District got to actually visit Westeros (and Mereen). The "Game of Thrones" pop-up inspired around-the-block lines on weekends, but News4’s offered a first look.
A National Rifle Association employee accidentally shot himself while doing firearms training at the organization's headquarters, police told News4 in April. The 46-year-old man's pistol accidentally discharged as he holstered the gun. He suffered a minor wound.
Montgomery County Police
As the MS-13 gang became a major issue in the Virginia governor’s race, police were investigating a crime scene unearthed in a Maryland park. A police informant led authorities to the body of a man who was maimed and decapitated. Police believe the man was lured to the park by MS-13 members, beaten, choked and stabbed before his heart was ripped from his chest. Police are still trying to identify the victim.
Alex Gardega
The “Charging Bull” on Wall Street is iconic, but ahead of International Women’s Day, a “Fearless Girl” stared him down. A Boston-based financial services group commissioned “Fearless Girl,” a statue that shows a young girl bravely facing Wall Street’s bull. One artist who wasn’t charmed by the move introduced a third statue. The little, bronze “Sketchy Dog” statue lifted its leg as if urinating on “Fearless Girl”. The dog statue was in the area for about three hours.
Vladimir Herrera
Catharsis on The Mall raised thousands of dollars to ship a statue known as R-Evolution to the National Mall. Organizers intended the 45-foot figure of a naked woman to stand near the Washington Monument, facing the White House. However, organizers fell short of their fundraising goal before the National Park Service pulled the plug, saying the statue would have damaged the grass.
Virginia legalized blaze pink vests for hunters, allowed Everclear into state-sponsored liquor stores and cracked down on drivers who move slow in the left lane. Maryland raised the minimum wage, gave money to Planned Parenthood and empowered craft breweries to sell more beer. What other laws were adopted? Check out Maryland's laws here and Virginia's here.
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Comedian Kathy Griffin shocked the internet and outraged Twitter users with gory photos of herself posing with a decapitated head resembling President Trump. After attracting criticism from the president, his family, Chelsea Clinton and Anderson Cooper, she apologized via video. "I'm a comic. I crossed the line. I moved the line, then I crossed it. I went way too far," Griffin said.
NBC Washington
Nabra Hassanen was beaten to death on June 18 as she walked back to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque in Sterling, Virginia. The case drew national attention, and #JusticeforNabra was used internationally to remember the 17 year old. A 22-year-old man was charged with murder but not a hate crime. Prosecutors say he lashed out in a case of road rage.
The 12-year-old daughter of a diplomat stabbed a 13-year-old boy twice in the shoulder with scissors in Georgetown at the British International School of Washington. The boy was expected to be OK after the September attack. The girl was detained, but as the daughter of a diplomat, she was not be prosecuted, police said.
Mice in the situation room, new toilet seats for the Oval Office and damaged legs on Martha Washington’s chairs are only a few things the White House’s General Services Administration tackled at the president’s residence, News4 discovered. The insight into the White House intrigued people across the nation.
Montgomery County Police Department
Laura Wallen, a pregnant teacher from Olney, Maryland, was missing for nine days before she was found buried in a shallow grave. Wallen's boyfriend, Tyler Tessier, 32, was arrested hours later and charged with first-degree murder. Days earlier, he spoke at a news conference with Wallen's family, begging for her to return and holding his girlfriend's mother's hand.
National Park Service
The words "F--- law" were found written in red spray paint early one August morning on a pillar at the monument that overlooks the Capitol building and National Mall. "It's frustrating, not only for the Park Service but certainly for the visitors that come here, that anyone would vandalize any of our iconic memorials. Especially the Lincoln Memorial. Especially with everything that's going on now -- the calls for unity and people to come together," NPS spokesman Mike Litterst said.

n"To go to the site of the memorial to Abraham Lincoln and do that, that's disappointing," he said.
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Kara McCullough, a 25-year-old chemist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned Miss USA. She was the successor to another Miss USA from the District who was crowned in 2016. McCullough told News4 she wants to promote science education among children.
Brittany Johnson / News4
The day after President Trump’s inauguration, hundreds of thousands of activists flooded the streets of D.C., showing the new president that women would not be silent in the new administration. The marchers brandished signs with messages such as "Women won't back down" and "Less fear more love" and decried Trump's stand on such issues as abortion, health care, diversity and climate change. Sister marches cropped up around the world, from Antarctica to Europe.
Cherry blossom trees fill the Tidal Basin annually with pink-and-white blooms… and lots of excited visitors. Even though many of the trees were damaged by frigid temperatures, readers still wanted to seek out D.C.’s iconic trees.
As President Obama left the White House after eight years, Americans were looking back on the two terms of the nation's first black president. Readers were intrigued when Michelle Obama divulged that he wore the same tuxedo and shoes to every state dinner and event. "People take pictures of the shoes I wear, the bracelets, the necklace," Michelle Obama said. "They didn't comment that for eight years, he wore that same tux, same shoes."
After an inaccurate Instagram post went viral in March, the public was outraged over a perceived epidemic of missing teens in D.C. But D.C. police assured the public there was no increase in the number of missing persons. The department was just sharing information in a new way. Around the same time, two girls, ages 10 and 13, were reported missing in separate cases in the area, prompting many readers to educate themselves on the cases and share News4’s reporting on their disappearances. Both the 10 year old and the 13 year old were found safe.
A group of nearly 100 dirt bike and ATV riders caught on video wove in and out of vehicle and pedestrian traffic in July at National Harbor in Maryland. Riders also were seen in D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue, on H Street NE and near the Tidal Basin. After the mass cruise, police started cracking down on ATVs, which are illegal to drive on the streets of D.C. Police have released photos of suspects, implemented new tools and confiscated and crushed ATVs -- but some riders haven’t gotten the message.
Supporters, protesters and “Bikers for Trump” descended on Washington, D.C., Jan. 20 for the inauguration of Donald Trump. “From this day forward a new vision will govern our land," Trump vowed in his inaugural address. "From this day forward it’s going to be only America first, America first.”

nEven before the big day, local readers wanted to know how many people would attend the inauguration ceremony. That alone became a major news story -- but viewers also wanted to see the new president attend a number of celebrations.

nWhile inauguration morning was mostly calm, some protests turned violent on the streets of D.C. shortly before President Trump took office. Ultimately, 217 were arrested and trials are ongoing.
Jim Vance anchored the news at NBC4 for 48 years before he died of cancer at age 75. From the race riots on U Street and in Columbia Heights to the 14th Street Bridge plane crash to Watergate to the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan and 9/11, Jim Vance kept the people of the Washington area informed and comforted. After he died, viewers and the News4 team shared countless letters and memories of Vance.
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