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Briefly

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 24, 2007

DISTRICT

Morning shootings add to crime spike

Two early-morning shootings yesterday are the latest in a summer spike in violent crimes.

The latest shooting was reported about 6:30 a.m. yesterday in the parking lot of a Southeast apartment building, where a man was found fatally shot in the head.

Another man was found dead in his car in Northeast.

Since Thursday, 16 persons have been shot in the city, though most have not been fatal.

Three persons were shot early Saturday morning, including one in front of a nightclub near the Washington Convention Center. Police arrested Daron Garvin, 25, after a gun was fired outside the Avenue club at about 2:30 a.m., hitting a 26-year-old woman in the thigh.

VIRGINIA

HARRISONBURG

Chemical vapors evacuate Wal-Mart

Vapors caused by a chemical leak led to an evacuation of a Wal-Mart, which remained closed for several hours.

Fire Chief Larry Shifflett said the store was evacuated early Sunday after employees saw vapors coming from an aisle in the toy section where pool chemicals were stored. The vapors were hydrochloric acid that came from bags of swimming pool disinfectant that had come open. The vapor was created when the chemicals were exposed to water.

Chief Shifflett said the fire department received the call at about 5:40 a.m. after employees noticed a cloud filling the store.

The fire department's hazardous-materials team ventilated the building.

No one was reported hospitalized.

MARYLAND

EDGEWATER

Woman sues police over killed pit bull

An Edgewater woman is suing Anne Arundel County police for fatally shooting her pit bull.

Deborah Ransom, 48, said she wants more than $3 million.

She said the dog, Chopper, enthusiastically and gently pulled at a county officer's sleeve before the officer maliciously shot the dog.

Police declined to comment yesterday because of the lawsuit. But when the shooting happened, a department spokesman said the dog bit the officer twice. Police said it was the third time the dog had bitten someone.

TOWSON

DNA leads to suspect in 1978 rape

DNA evidence has led police to a suspect in a 1978 rape, Baltimore County police said.

Police said Edward Wood, 59, of Westminster, was arrested Friday at his home. He is charged with first-degree rape and first-degree burglary.

The department is reviewing past sex crimes to see if DNA evidence could be helpful. Police said it is the oldest outstanding case that has been resolved so far using DNA evidence.

Wood was convicted of the first-degree rape of another woman in 1978. He was sentenced to prison and released in 2001.

He is being held without bail at the Baltimore County jail.

HAGERSTOWN

Water employees charged with extortion

Washington County prosecutors announced indictments yesterday charging two former county waterworks officials with extortion schemes in which they are said to have asked construction contractors for valuable equipment in return for favorable treatment.

James E. Bishop Jr., 61, of Williamsport, former deputy director of the Department of Water Quality, was charged with two counts of extortion involving the shakedown of two contractors for laser levels in August and October 2004, Deputy State's Attorney Joseph S. Michael said. The surveying devices are worth $1,000 to $1,500 apiece, Mr. Michael said.

In return, Mr. Bishop took no action on an inspector's findings that the contractors — Ferguson Waterworks of Newport News, Va., and Charles E. Brake Co. of St. Thomas, Pa. — had installed underground pipes and fittings that didn't match contract specifications, Mr. Michael said. It would have cost each contractor $20,000 to $30,000 to replace the equipment, he said.

In both cases, the equipment used was different from, but not functionally inferior to, the specified parts.

Jeffrey L. Shetron, 48, of Abbottstown, Pa., a former project coordinator, was charged with attempted extortion of a contractor in an attempt to get a gasoline-powered generator in return for favorable progress reports in June 2006.

"Shetron indicated that things would go much easier for them if they placed a generator that certainly would be of value over $500 in the back of his truck," Mr. Michael said. The contractor refused, he said.

The charges are felonies. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

LEITERSBURG

500-car drive-in may open in spring

What's old may soon be new again in Washington County, where theater owner Alan Ackerman is looking to reopen the drive-in movie theater behind his Hagerstown 10 Cineplex.

It would be one of only two drive-ins in the state, joining one in Baltimore County.

Mr. Ackerman said the drive-in would have room for 500 cars and would have a concession stand and restrooms.

The county demanded a new site plan for the drive-in, which means opening night will have to wait until next spring.

ELKTON

Homeless persons say law targets them

Eight homeless persons are fighting the town of Elkton and its loitering law.

The plaintiffs said the law is part of a harassment campaign to drive away homeless people. They said they are regularly targeted by police for minor offenses, and they said they lost personal property and keepsakes when the town bulldozed the wooded area where they were squatting last year.

The loitering law took effect last month. The plaintiffs want a temporary order blocking it from being enforced while their lawsuit is considered. The Court of Special Appeals has given the town until Thursday to justify continued enforcement of the law.

The lawsuit says the ordinance outlaws constitutionally protected activities such as begging, and that it is overly broad and vague.

OCEAN CITY

Father drowns rescuing two sons

A father from Fruitland died Sunday evening trying to rescue his two sons in the surf, the Ocean City Beach Patrol said.

Beach Patrol Capt. Butch Arbin said it happened about 6 p.m. after the lifeguards were off duty. Capt. Arbin said the two boys got caught in a rip current near the rocks in the Ocean City inlet and their 38-year-old father went in after them. All three were pulled from the water by the Coast Guard and a parasailor.

Capt. Arbin said the Coast Guard did CPR on the man, but he was pronounced dead at Atlantic General Hospital. The boys were all right.

The man was the second person to die at the beach in Ocean City this summer. Last month, a 19-year-old man drowned after getting caught in a rip current.

GREENBELT

Gang member sentenced to 37 years

A member of the gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, from Baltimore has been sentenced to 37 years in federal prison.

Oscar Ramos Velazquez, 22, and a co-defendant were convicted last year of several violent crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering.

According to testimony, Velazquez was part of a gang based in Prince George's and Montgomery counties that was responsible for seven killings. Prosecutors also said he committed assaults with a deadly weapon to maintain and enhance his position in the gang.

His co-defendant, Edgart Alberto Ayala, 29, of Suitland, was sentenced last month to 35 years in prison.

So far, the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office has gotten 14 convictions as part of a wide-ranging racketeering conspiracy case against MS-13 members.

From wire dispatches and staff reports