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Metro Briefs

- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2007

REGION

Immigrant groups call for an end to raids

Day laborers and immigrant-advocacy groups converged yesterday on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol to call for an end to immigration raids.

The rally on the Capitol's West Lawn was one of several events marking the National Day Laborer Organizing Network's five-day annual conference, which ends Sunday.

"The raids must stop now," said Pablo Alvarado, national coordinator for the Los Angeles-based network, which includes 33 day-laborer centers and immigrant-advocacy groups from across the country. "Families need to be kept together."

Even though Congress didn't pass legislation on immigration reform this year, day laborers want to be proactive, said Marissa Nuncio, staff attorney for the network.

Tonight, demonstrators will hold a vigil outside the Herndon Official Workers Center, a day-laborer center that soon might require legal-status checks of workers.

Town officials are considering applications for a new operator of the center, now run by the nonprofit Project Hope & Harmony, which does not check workers' status.

Region gets $62 million for homeland security

Officials in the Washington region said they will use nearly $62 million in federal funds to improve local bomb squads, upgrade the radio communication system in Metro tunnels and improve information sharing across the region.

The Department of Homeland Security awarded the money last month to the National Capital Region. It's part of the department's Urban Area Security Initiative program.

The region didn't get all the money it had requested. Officials here applied for $140 million.

DISTRICT

D.C. settles lawsuit over protest arrests

The District has agreed to pay $1 million to about 120 protesters who were improperly rounded up by police during demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The settlement Wednesday is the largest payout to date by the city for police actions during the Sept. 27, 2002, protests.

Charles H. Ramsey, who was police chief at the time, initially defended the arrests but later acknowledged they were improper. Police failed to order the crowds to disperse or warn that they faced arrest.

A larger class-action lawsuit is pending, covering more than 400 people who said they were illegally arrested at Pershing Park near the White House.

The city previously agreed to pay more than $640,000 to settle lawsuits filed by 14 other demonstrators who said they were illegally rounded up by police.

Mayor coy on taxi fare issue

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said there are two sides to the issue of how cab fares are calculated in the District.

But he's not saying which side he is on.

Mr. Fenty has until October to make a decision under legislation that Congress passed last year.

In his weekly appearance on WRC-TV (Channel 4), Mr. Fenty said he is eager to hear the results of a survey the Taxicab Commission is conducting on the issue.

Unlike most cities, where taxis have meters, fares in the District are calculated based on geographic zones. Many visitors to the District complain that it is confusing.

MARYLAND

BALTIMORE

Elderly cancer patient raped in her home

An 88-year-old cancer patient is recovering at her Southeast Baltimore home after being raped Wednesday morning by a man impersonating a maintenance worker, neighbors and police said.

After raping her, the man demanded money and left through the back of her house after taking $6.

The Graceland Park resident was taken in good condition to Mercy Medical Center and then treated and released. She told police the man who attacked her was 20 to 30 years old and about 6 feet tall with a slim build.

BALTIMORE

Killers targeted trial witness

A man preparing to testify in a Baltimore murder trial was targeted by his killers, police said yesterday as they announced the arrest of a third suspect.

However, the motive for the slaying of Carl S. Lackl is not clear, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a Baltimore County police spokesman.

Mr. Lackl, a 38-year-old father of two, was killed July 2 in a drive-by shooting as he stood in the front yard of his Rosedale home. He was a key witness in a murder case against Patrick Byers, 22, of Baltimore, who's accused in the March 2006 shooting death of Larry Haynes.

Mr. Byers' trial was postponed to September after Mr. Lackl's slaying, and if police link his death to his role as a witness, Mr. Lackl's recorded testimony could be played in court under a 2005 witness-protection law.

Police said yesterday that they hadn't gotten that far.

"We just do not have enough evidence to say that was what the motive for this was," Cpl. Hill said.

But investigators concluded that the slaying was not a random act after they uncovered Marcus A. Pearson's role.

Mr. Pearson, 26, was arrested Tuesday. According to police, he made phone calls about a car that Mr. Lackl was selling as a ruse to lure Mr. Lackl outside his home. Mr. Pearson drove a vehicle in front of the shooter's car and pointed out Mr. Lackl to the shooter, authorities said.

Jonathan R. Cornish, 15, is accused of pulling the trigger, and Ronald W. Williams, 21, is accused of driving the car. Mr. Pearson, Mr. Cornish and Mr. Williams are charged with first-degree murder in Mr. Lackl's death. All three are being held without bail.

BALTIMORE

Hospital employee contracts TB

An employee of Johns Hopkins Hospital contracted tuberculosis, probably from a patient being treated there, hospital officials said yesterday.

The strain of tuberculosis contracted by the non-medical employee is "very treatable," and the employee remains at work, the hospital said in a statement.

"The employee is expected to make a full recovery and is not and never was considered highly contagious or a threat to the health of co-workers or other staff and patients at Johns Hopkins," the statement read.

Although the hospital is still investigating the source of the infection, officials said the most likely source was a patient being treated for an unrelated condition between August and December of last year. That patient is receiving drug treatment.

Hopkins notified the Baltimore city and Baltimore County health departments after the patient tested positive for TB in December. The employee tested positive during routine annual screening of all Hopkins staff in mid-March.

On July 20, the city health department informed the hospital that the strain the employee caught was virtually identical to that of the patient. Since then, the hospital has been identifying patients, staff and visitors who were at risk of exposure and offering TB testing.

The hospital has identified fewer than two dozen patients who may have been exposed, and no one else has tested positive so far, hospital spokesman David March said.

"Tuberculosis experts at Hopkins say the risk of possible transmission from patient to staff, staff to staff, or patient to patient, remains very low," the statement read.

ANNAPOLIS

NAACP chapter tries to oust president

Members of the Anne Arundel County chapter of the NAACP have drafted a petition to remove the chapter's president.

The petition needed 20 signatures to start impeachment proceedings, and opponents of Wayne Jearld collected 35 signatures Tuesday night. They will forward the petition to the national office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which could call for a hearing, move to oust Mr. Jearld or reprimand him.

The chapter's executive committee has given Mr. Jearld a no-confidence vote. In a letter drafted last week, executive committee members listed more than a dozen examples of Mr. Jearld pointedly criticizing board members and other community leaders. The committee contended that Mr. Jearld had damaged the chapter's ties with other nonprofits.

"To be president of NAACP, you have to be a people person, you have to care about people, and he just didn't do the right things in dealing with the people," said executive committee member George Phelps, who voted to remove Mr. Jearld.

Mr. Jearld declined to comment on the move before Tuesday night's meeting, which he did not attend.

SALISBURY

Boy, 9, charged with vandalizing playground

Salisbury police have charged a 9-year-old boy with vandalizing a city playground.

It happened Tuesday at the playground at the corner of Light and Newton streets.

A police officer was called to the park for a report of someone vandalizing the playground equipment.

Police said the officer spotted someone trying to hide under the slide and drop a can of spray paint. Several pieces of equipment were marked with spray paint and the word "blood" was painted on the slide.

The boy was arrested and charged with malicious destruction of property over $500 and released to the custody of a parent.

HAGERSTOWN

Officials penalize bar after fatal shooting

Washington County liquor officials ordered Zipper's bar in Hagerstown to pay a $1,000 fine and put the bar on 60 days probation after a fatal shooting there in May.

The Washington County Board of License Commissioners told owner Randy Jones and his son, manager Randall Jones, in a letter that any violation during the probation period could lead to Zipper's losing its liquor license.

The board found that the Joneses were negligent by not having "adequate managerial personnel operating the tavern" on the night of the shooting. But the board noted their efforts to improve security with cameras and metal detectors.

Christopher Ayala, 23, of Greencastle, Pa., was fatally shot at the bar in May. The shooting suspect, Stephen Urquhart, 26, of New York, is still at large.

VIRGINIA

ARLINGTON

Ex-school employee faces sex charges

A former Arlington County school employee is accused of taking indecent liberties with a 13-year-old boy.

Police said Jamal Wheeler, 20, approached the teen at a bus stop and persuaded him to follow him to a secluded area. Police said he then made sexually suggestive gestures.

The teenager fled and told his mother, who contacted police. Police arrested Mr. Wheeler based on the victim's description.

Mr. Wheeler was a substitute employee with the extended day program at Arlington Traditional School in the Bluemont neighborhood. School officials said he is no longer employed there.

Detectives want to know whether Mr. Wheeler had inappropriate contact with other children.

CENTREVILLE

Stranger gropes girl in public library

Fairfax County police are looking for a man they say groped a 10-year-old girl in a library and then exposed himself.

It happened Wednesday night, just before the Centreville library closed.

The girl told police that she was looking for a book, when a man walked up to her and grabbed her. She moved to another aisle, where police say the man approached her again and exposed himself.

BLACKSBURG

Tech fund to stay open for donations

The special fund set up after the Virginia Tech shootings was supposed to close Wednesday for donations, but the university said it will stay open for now.

The fund was created just after the April 16 shootings at the school. Donors have contributed more than $7 million across the 34 funds under the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund umbrella.

University officials first announced in early July that they would close the fund Wednesday, but families of some shooting victims thought it was too soon.

Kenneth Feinberg, a D.C. attorney appointed to administer the fund, said he will discuss the memorial fund deadline with university officials.

RICHMOND

Former police chiefs face more drug charges

Two former southwest Virginia police chiefs already facing charges were arrested yesterday, accused of distributing meth and other drugs.

Former Damascus Police Chief Anthony Steven Richardson was charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs, obstruction of justice, possession of drugs and possession of firearms. Mr. Richardson, 40, already faced seven felony counts from June, including distributing meth.

Former Chilhowie Police Chief Dwayne Sheffield was charged with distribution of drugs, child abuse/neglect and conspiracy to distribute drugs. Mr. Sheffield, 37, already faced charges from May of committing sex crimes against a 17-year-old girl during a Halloween haunted house that raised money for sexual assault victims.

The new drug charges are the result of an investigation by state, federal and local law-enforcement agencies that began in April.

Mr. Sheffield's wife, Nancy Ellen Sheffield; Ralph Michael Miller; and Melissa L. Rickman also face various drug, weapon and child abuse charges.

From wire dispatches and staff reports