- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2006



Fire forces 200 from homes

About 40 people were staying in a shelter at Rockville High School yesterday after a fire and power failure early in the day forced residents out of an apartment complex.

About 200 people were evacuated from the Forest Apartments on Baltimore Road. There were no reports of any injuries.

The fire damaged three buildings, and police were keeping people out of the apartment complex because power lines were still down.


Youths arrested at town carnival

Authorities made several arrests after a disturbance at Sunday night’s Fourth of July carnival in Tydings Park.

Maj. John Van Gilder of the Havre de Grace police said the trouble broke out as the town’s fireworks were ending. A large, disorderly crowd became aggressive, he said.

Local police needed backup from several other police agencies. In all, 60 officers were called in to shut down the carnival. It took more than an hour to restore order.

Maj. Van Gilder said those arrested included five or six juveniles and several young adults. One suspect attacked a police dog.


Break-in suspect found eating ice cream

A burglary suspect was caught sitting behind a convenience-store counter eating ice cream.

Cynthia Donovan, 47, was arrested last week at the High’s convenience store in Cherry Hill.

Cecil County sheriff’s deputies responding to an early morning store alarm said they found Miss Donovan sitting behind the cashier’s counter eating an ice cream cone.

She was charged with second-degree burglary, theft and malicious destruction of property over $500.

The sheriff’s office said a large rock was used to shatter the store’s front door.


Woman assaulted; four kittens killed

A Washington County man faces charges in an assault on a woman and the deaths of four kittens.

Robert Tomlin, 22, was fighting with the woman early Sunday, the sheriff’s office said. He is accused of knocking the woman down and kicking her in the head.

Authorities said he also threw the kittens into a fire pit and placed a propane tank in the fire in an attempt to cause an explosion.

The charges include second-degree assault and animal mutilation. Bail was set at $25,000.


N.J. man dies in rip tide

A New Jersey man died in the surf yesterday afternoon after a series of large waves caused a “flash rip tide,” officials said.

Ocean City Beach Patrol Capt. Butch Arbin told the Salisbury Daily Times that the waves caused Quan Tran, 24, of Cherry Hill, and another man to become distressed in the ocean.

A beach patrol guard rescued one man, but the guard did not see Mr. Tran get swept under, Capt. Arbin said. Mr. Tran was reported missing about 2:30 p.m., and the Coast Guard, state police and paramedics began searching for him.

Shortly before 3 p.m., he was spotted about 30 yards from shore. He was pulled from the water, given CPR and taken to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, where he was pronounced dead.


Hostage-taker can stand trial, judge says

A Baltimore judge ruled yesterday that a man who barricaded himself for hours in a Baltimore police station with a civilian employee as hostage is competent to stand trial.

In April, Rodney Bethea, 21, was arrested on a drug violation and was being interviewed at the Northeast District police station. After the interview, he “attempted to hang himself in the interview room with a string,” according to police charging documents.

When he failed, Mr. Bethea hit an officer with a halogen light bulb, striking him on the head with the light bulb, police said. The officer was treated for lacerations at a hospital and released.

After attacking the officer, Mr. Bethea ran out of the interview room and into an office where a clerical employee was working. He locked the door behind him and held the woman hostage with a pair of scissors.

After a nearly three-hour standoff, Mr. Bethea was taken into custody when a SWAT team “forced the door open and utilized a stun gun” to capture him, police said.

Baltimore District Judge George M. Lipman scheduled a trial date for July 17.


Funerals held for storm victims

Funeral services were held yesterday for five persons killed by flood waters last week in Frederick County.

A service was held at Garfield United Methodist Church in Wolfsville for Jessie Haulsee, 24; his wife, Angela, 29; and their friend, Eric Zepp, 19, all of Myersville. They drowned in Middle Creek the night of June 27 while trying to reach a house where the Haulsees mistakenly thought their 2-year-old daughter was staying, according to family friends and witnesses.

The girl and the relatives caring for her that day had moved to higher ground.

Separate funeral services were held for two boys from Keymar who drowned in Little Pipe Creek the same night. The service for Michael White, 14, was held at the Evangelical Wesleyan Church in Keymar. A funeral service for Thomas Plunkard, 16, was held at Hartzler Funeral Home in Woodsboro.


Victim identified in reservoir drowning

Police yesterday identified the teenager who drowned in Loch Raven Reservoir on Sunday afternoon as Keith Cannon of Edgewood.

Police said the 17-year-old and a female companion had waded out to an island from a sandy clearing known as the Pines, using a rocky ledge underneath the water.

They were wading back to shore along a different route when the ledge disappeared, and Keith slipped under the water.

Swimming is prohibited in all three reservoirs in the county.


Petitions circulating for slots initiative

A group hoping to open a slot-machine gambling casino in Southeast has begun a petition campaign in hopes of putting an initiative on the November ballot.

The group, financed by U.S. Virgin Islands-based entrepreneur Shawn Scott, is enlisting out-of-town canvassers stationed at grocery stores and Metro stops. They earn $2 for each valid signature they get.

Organizers hope to put up to 3,500 slot machines near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road Southeast and eventually similar sites throughout the city.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams and community activists are opposed to the plan.

Opponents are paying close attention to the effort because of widespread election-law violations that occurred during a similar push two years ago.

“We’re aware of what hap-pened last time,” said Jeffrey D. Robinson, an attorney for slots promoters. “We’re confident that this will be done right.”

To put their initiative on the ballot, supporters must collect the signatures of at least 5 percent of the city’s registered voters. They must include at least 5 percent of the registered voters in at least five of the eight wards.

A D.C. resident must be close enough to an out-of-town circulator to hear conversations with signers.

Dorothy Brizill, who successfully challenged the last slots initiative, said yesterday that every circulator she or her observers has seen has been alone or too far away from the required D.C. witness.

The Board of Elections had not received any formal complaints as of yesterday, spokesman Bill O’Field said.

Second gorilla dies at National Zoo

An adult male gorilla at the National Zoo died yesterday afternoon, the second gorilla to die at the facility in three days.

A 34-year-old male gorilla, named Mopie, collapsed and died during what the zoo called “routine” social introductions between the two groups of gorillas at the zoo’s Great Ape House.

The gorilla was diagnosed in 1998 with a chronic disease of the heart muscle that decreases his ability to pump blood throughout the body.

It is not clear if the disease caused the gorilla to collapse.

Mopie was said to be very active yesterday and was not showing signs of an illness.

A 23-year-old gorilla named Kuja died Saturday as a team of veterinary specialists tried to implant a device to synchronize the rhythm of the heart’s ventricles so that the heart pumps more effectively.

Kuja and Mopie were part of the zoo’s collection of seven western lowland gorillas, which are considered endangered with dwindling wild populations.

Zoo officials have said that one of the leading causes of death among adult male gorillas is heart disease.



Truck kills three on I-295 shoulder

A truck drifted off the shoulder of Interstate 295 early yesterday, crashing into two vehicles and killing three persons.

The trucker, identified by state police as Timothy Lee Taylor of Beulaville, N.C., escaped with minor injuries after his truck hauling frozen turkeys and hams overturned and burst into flames. Police said he has been charged with reckless driving.

The crash occurred at 3:40 a.m. on the northbound shoulder of I-295 just north of Richmond.

A car driven by Eric Paul Forbes 21, of McKenney, broke down and he called his sister to help, said Sgt. Kevin Barrick of the Virginia State Police.

Gretchen Forbes O’Connor, 30, left her suburban Richmond home and went to her brother’s aid, parking on the shoulder of the interstate, Sgt. Barrick said.

The siblings and Mr. Forbes’ passenger, Donovan Cori Hence, 22, of Glen Allen, were outside the vehicles when the truck operated by Mr. Taylor, 38, hit them and both vehicles. All three died instantly, Sgt. Barrick said.


Crews search river for missing student

Rescue crews searched yesterday for a Liberty University student who disappeared while rafting in the James River in Rockbridge County.

Authorities said the 21-year-old from Rhode Island, whose name was not released, was rafting with a friend in rapids Friday afternoon when he fell into the river. The men were not wearing life jackets.

Robert Foresman, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said the recovery effort has been difficult because of last week’s flooding and the river’s width, which ranges from 300 yards to 500 yards in some areas.

The missing man is a senior at Liberty and an intern at Boonsboro Country Club in Lynchburg, Mr. Foresman said.


Falwell congregation celebrates 50 years

Thousands of people joined the Rev. Jerry Falwell to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his Thomas Road Baptist Church.

The congregation in Lynchburg also opened the church’s new 6,000-set sanctuary Sunday on the campus of Liberty University.

Mr. Falwell said nearly 9,000 people came to the morning service and some were directed to overflow rooms.

Thomas Road Baptist Church started with 35 members in a bottling plant when Mr. Falwell was 22. Its membership rolls have grown to more than 24,000 names.

The sanctuary is part of a 1-million square-foot complex that will be home to the evangelist’s empire and the 1,000-student Liberty Christian Academy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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