- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006


Families locked out of graduation ceremony

Hundreds of students and relatives of seniors at Eastern High School were locked out of yesterday’s graduation ceremony.

The ceremony was held at Elstad Auditorium at Gallaudet University, which can hold 750 persons. However, school officials said almost 1,000 tickets were given out. Security officers locked the doors once the auditorium was full.

Hundreds of angry people crowded outside but were not allowed in.

The school tried to hold a second ceremony for those who had not gotten into the first one, but many students and their families did not stay.

School officials apologized for the mix-up. They said they will try to make up for it by holding special activities for graduates and their parents.

Police official’s son attacked on Capitol Hill

U.S. Capitol Police are investigating an assault in a normally quiet spot on Capitol Hill, in which the victim was the son of the acting police chief.

According to a police report, Bryan McGaffin, son of acting Capitol Police Chief Christopher McGaffin, was attacked in Lower Senate Park last Thursday. The report said Mr. McGaffin was struck and pushed to the ground by a group of juveniles. He lost his BlackBerry in the struggle.

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said Capitol Police are working with U.S. Park Police to investigate the assault because such attacks are rare.

Sgt. Schneider said investigators do not think the assault is linked to three violent attacks last month on the Mall in which two persons were beaten and a girl was sexually assaulted.

Capitol Police are stepping up their patrols in the area.

Copter crash victims leave hospital

Two flight crew members who were aboard a medical helicopter that crashed last week on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home have been released from the hospital.

The copter went down on its way to Washington Hospital Center, where the injured crew was treated.

Flight nurse Nancy Vanderweele had a broken leg and shoulder and suffered a spinal fracture. Paramedic David Martin had broken ribs and a fractured spine.

Meanwhile, pilot Darryl Johnson has been upgraded from serious to good condition with a broken spine that required surgery.

Steven Gaston, the patient on the medical flight, died that night from his injuries.


Jewelry thieves have expensive taste

Police are searching for a gang of thieves that has been holding up high-end jewelry stores across the region.

WTOP Radio reported that the thieves have struck during the day at stores in as many as five jurisdictions the past month, including the District and Prince George’s and Charles counties.

Authorities said the men wore ski caps and masks and, at times, brandished guns. They entered the stores, smashed the glass jewelry cases, grabbed thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and fled within minutes.

Before leaving the stores, they demanded the video- surveillance tapes.

No one has been hurt during the robberies.



Man shot by police after chase

Police reported an officer-involved shooting Tuesday night after a chase through the Waverly neighborhood.

Police said a man sped away from a traffic stop on Greenmount Avenue about 10:15 p.m. A chase ended minutes later on Frisby Street when police said the man’s car collided with a marked patrol car, causing minor injuries to two officers.

Police said another officer approached the man’s car with his gun drawn and when the driver displayed a shotgun, the officer opened fire.

The man was hit in the upper body and was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.


CBS reporter returns for further treatment

CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who was critically wounded by a car bomb in Iraq last week, returned to the United States yesterday for treatment at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

She was one of about 40 patients on a C-17 aircraft that landed about 4:20 p.m. at Andrews Air Force Base, after a flight from Ramstein, Germany.

Accompanied by her boyfriend, Miss Dozier, 39, was carried off the plane on a stretcher and loaded onto a white bus just after 5 p.m. The bus arrived in Bethesda about 50 minutes later.

Miss Dozier was wounded May 29 in a blast that killed her camera crew — Paul Douglas and James Brolan, both of Britain — as well as a U.S. soldier and an Iraqi translator.

She was flown the next day to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for treatment of injuries to her head and lower body. Her family said she would need rods in her legs.

Miss Dozier arrived earlier yesterday at Ramstein Air Base in a military ambulance and was wheeled onto an aircraft configured for medical evacuations in a stretcher.


Rocket will carry students’ experiments

Experiments prepared by students on the Eastern Shore will be aboard a NASA rocket scheduled to lift off today from Wallops Island in Virginia.

The experiments by the students from Parkside High School in Salisbury and Cub Scout Pack 151 are among 14 from 13 schools and organizations.

The 20-foot rocket is expected to carry the experiments more than 25 miles above the Earth. They will be recovered and returned to the students for analysis.

Wireless communications, magnetic fields, fluids and payload temperatures during flight are the focus of the main payload experiments. Students also will study the effects of the flight environment, such as radiation and high gravitational forces, on a variety of materials placed in the nose cone and the payload section.

The rocket was scheduled for launch yesterday but was postponed until this morning because of the weather.


Man sentenced in killing at park

A Severn man convicted in the random killing of a stranger at a park was sentenced yesterday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Terry Cooks, 20, was sentenced in the April 2004 shooting of David Brown, 52, at Provinces Park. Mr. Brown died five months later.

A jury convicted Cooks on a first-degree murder charge in January.

Prosecutors said Cooks told police that he went to the park looking to shoot someone. The defense said Cooks was tricked into giving a false confession.

Police cracked the case months after the shooting while investigating a similar “thrill kill” carried out by Cooks’ friend, Anthony Switzer — who was sentenced in December to 40 years in prison.



Study finds rise in homeless problem

An annual study shows 2,000 people are homeless this year in Fairfax County, an increase of more than 100 from last year.

More than 700 of the county’s homeless population are children.

Homelessness is an increasing concern in a county where it did not exist not long ago. Officials are drafting a plan to eliminate homelessness within a decade. They expect to release the plan later this year.

The ratio of homeless to non-homeless people is small in the county of more than 1 million people. But William Macmillan, a county official working on the issue, said it will not be an easy problem to solve owing to high housing costs.

The county’s goal is to begin quickly rehousing newly homeless people to reduce the permanent homeless population.


Two rescued from Potomac River

Rescue crews plucked two persons from the Potomac River near Great Falls yesterday afternoon.

Rescuers from Montgomery and Fairfax counties found one person near the shoreline on the Virginia side of the river and another near a rock in the middle of the river.

Montgomery County fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said officials think the 18-year-old man and juvenile girl were swimming illegally in the river and became tired. They were taken to shore, where they were arrested by U.S. Park Police rangers.

Neither was seriously hurt.


Beach officials stymied about swim advisories

State and local health officials are still mystified about what led to two swimming advisories in the North End region last month.

Michele Monti, beach-monitoring coordinator for the state Health Department, said she thinks they were isolated incidents that could have been caused by something as simple as bird droppings in the water that was tested on those days.

Usually, rainfall and storm-water runoff cause bacterial levels to spike. Storm-water runoff was the explanation for the first Virginia Beach swimming advisory on May 15. The second warning, a week later, continues to baffle health officials, especially because there was no rain at the time.

Charles Meyer, the city’s chief operating officer, told the City Council on Tuesday that tests are being done on the city’s sewer lines and systems that drain directly into the ocean.

But Mr. Meyer said the city might never find the answer.


Officials investigate dead fish in Potomac

Virginia and Maryland environmental agencies are investigating a large fish kill in the Potomac River, where unusually high concentrations of a possibly toxic organism turned up.

Bill Hayden, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), said that 7,000 to 8,000 fish were found washed ashore Sunday along several miles of the Northern Neck around Colonial Beach.

Mr. Hayden said DEQ and Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources have collected water samples that university laboratories are examining.

Maryland officials said their samples showed dense concentrations of an organism that is capable of producing toxins that are deadly to fish, but they need to do more testing. The organism is usually blamed on pollution.


New drug causing many overdose deaths

Tazewell County’s prosecutor said a new drug is taking a toll on addicts in Southwest Virginia.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Lee said that last year, the powerful painkiller fentanyl was the fourth-leading cause of overdose deaths in the region.

The drug is 80 times more powerful than morphine. Mr. Lee said more people began using it after authorities began cracking down on the distribution of OxyContin, another prescription painkiller.

Mr. Lee said doctors think it would be more difficult for fentanyl to be abused, because it’s usually prescribed as a patch. But he says addicts are finding ways to get the patches, and either squeeze out the gel or cut the patches into pieces.

Mr. Lee said he has received reports from medical examiners of overdose patients found with numerous patches stuck on their bodies.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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