- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2006


Reward at $50,000 for U Street killer

The reward for information in the killing of an architect from Arlington on U Street Northwest was doubled to $50,000 yesterday, as police appealed for the public’s help in finding the killer.

“We don’t have any leads at this point,” said Capt. C.V. Morris, head of the Metropol-itan Police Department’s Violent Crimes Branch.

Damon Ward, 33, was shot early Sunday morning. Investigators said he was an innocent bystander in a dispute between two groups over a parking space as people were leaving the area’s clubs.

A double-parked motorist blocking an open parking space was assaulted by people in a dark-colored truck or sport utility vehicle, similar to a Cadillac Escalade. When bystanders came to assist the driver, the assailants apparently retreated to their vehicle, Capt. Morris said. That prompted them to fire what Capt. Morris called “warning shots,” one of which hit Mr. Ward in the chest.

Another bullet hit a 21-year-old woman in the leg as she left a restaurant. Her identity has not been disclosed because she is considered a witness.

“We think alcohol had a lot to do with this,” Capt. Morris said.

The District offers a reward of $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in unsolved homicides. Yesterday, Chief Charles H. Ramsey doubled the amount for this case.



Kidnapping suspect, held without bail

A Prince George’s County judge found probable cause yesterday to hold a teenager in the kidnapping of a younger boy who was forced to rob a bank.

Jeremiah Brown Hall, 17, of Landover, also is charged with false imprisonment and first- and second-degree assault. He remains jailed in lieu of $300,000 bail.

The search continues for an accomplice in the Feb. 8 case, in which police said Mr. Hall and the second man kidnapped a 14-year-old boy near the New Carrollton Metro station. The suspects told the boy that he was being robbed and that Mr. Hall would shoot him in the face if he did not accompany them to the train station.

“The victim stated that he was in fear of his life,” Prince George’s County Police Detective William Clifford testified during a brief preliminary hearing yesterday. Detective Clifford later said that the victim never saw a weapon and that Mr. Hall did not make any demands, allowing the other suspect to do all of the talking.

The victim said the second suspect wrote a note and handed it to him, saying he was going to rob a bank. They went to a Chevy Chase Bank branch in Bethesda, where the victim handed a teller a note that read, “Give me all your money, no blow up money, or I will shoot someone,” Detective Clifford testified.

The suspects divided most of the dye-stained money near the White Flint Metro station in Rockville, giving some of it to the victim before abandoning him. The youngster was picked up by Montgomery County police, who declined to charge him after hearing his story.Mr. Hall has been charged as an adult. He remains in the juvenile section of the Prince George’s County jail.


Donor adds $10,000 for hate-crimes tips

A reward for information in a series of hate crimes tripled yesterday with a large contribution from an anonymous donor.

Montgomery County police said $15,000 was available for anyone whose tip leads to an arrest or indictment in five spray-painting incidents. Two churches, two public schools and one historic school were vandalized with ethnic slurs and symbols in January. The crimes occurred in Gaithersburg, Boyds and Germantown.

A person described by police as a “concerned Gaithersburg business leader” added $10,000 to the reward. Police said that if the cases are not solved in one year, part of that donation will go to the department’s hate-violence prevention programs.


Senate approves stem-cell bill

Two Senate committees approved a stem-cell research bill yesterday, but not until they had voted to eliminate a requirement that future state budgets include money for research projects in Maryland.

The approval in the Senate came one day before the House of Delegates is scheduled to begin debate on similar legislation. But the House bill would require governors in future years to include at least $25 million annually for research on embryonic and adult stem cells.

Sen. P.J. Hogan, Montgomery Democrat and vice chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, made the motion to eliminate the guarantee of future funding, leaving it to the governor to decide how much money to include in the annual budget.

House Democratic leaders said they will continue to press ahead with their version of the bill, which House Speaker Michael E. Busch plans to have up for a final vote Friday.


Seven hurt in crash of van, cars, truck

Seven persons were hospitalized after a crash involving four vehicles, including a van from an adult medical day care center, yesterday afternoon, Baltimore County police said.

The crash was reported just before 4 p.m. in the 2700 block of Eastern Boulevard.

Police spokesman Cpl. Michael Hill said a car moving west crossed the median into eastbound traffic, where it sideswiped a truck and hit the van head-on. Another car crashed into the rear of the van.

An adult and child in the car that crossed the median were flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital with serious injuries, Cpl. Hill said. The two occupants of the truck and one person from the car that rear-ended the van were taken to Franklin Square Hospital. Two of the seven occupants of the van were taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with serious injuries.

Police still are investigating why the car crossed the median.


Schools seek funds for sex-offender check

Anne Arundel County educators will ask for $300,000 to buy a computer system that will let them check visitors against state and federal sex-offender lists.

The school system will ask for the money in next year’s budget from the county’s Board of Education.

Last year, a convicted sex offender was arrested at an elementary school in Glen Burnie after officials recognized him from a photo on Maryland’s sex-offender registry. But trespassing charges were dropped against the man, and officials said the proposal for the computer system was made before that incident.

After the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in Florida last year by a convicted sex offender who was a contract employee at her school, some schools in Florida are using a computer system similar to what Anne Arundel officials want.

State law does not prohibit sex offenders from entering Maryland schools, although Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has proposed legislation that would expand trespassing laws to keep offenders off school grounds.


Loaded gun found on school bus

A 14-year-old Baltimore County boy was in police custody last night, accused of bringing a loaded handgun aboard a school bus.

The principal of Rosedale Alternative School notified police about noon after a parent of a child on the bus called about the gun, Baltimore County police said.

Police officers surrounded the bus along Philadelphia Road near the Baltimore Beltway. All of the students were pulled off the bus, and police said they found the gun on the floor.

The boy will be charged as a juvenile.



Pregnant woman shot herself, police say

A woman who told police that she had been shot in the abdomen was arrested yesterday afternoon and charged with illegally inducing an abortion by shooting herself, resulting in the death of her unborn baby girl, police said.

Tammy Skinner, 22, also was charged with using a firearm to commit a felony and filing a false police report when she came to police headquarters at noon at the request of investigators, Suffolk police spokeswoman Lt. Debbie George said. Bond was set at $15,000.

Miss Skinner called police on a cell phone early Thursday and said she had been shot. Emergency personnel found her at a car dealership and took her to a hospital.

A charge of inducing an abortion is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Prosecutor T. Marie Walls has said a murder charge could not be considered unless the baby had breathed on her own before dying.

Family members said the single mother worked for temporary services trying to support her two younger children, girls ages 4 and 1.


Teacher arrested again on sex-with-boys charge

A former Wythe County teacher was charged yesterday for the second time in two months with molesting 13-year-old boys.

Karen Sue Patton, 41, was arrested in January on charges involving a 13-year-old boy. Yesterday, she was charged with carnal knowledge and contributing to the delinquency of a minor involving two other 13-year-olds, among other charges, prosecutor Gerald Mabe told the Roanoke Times.

Miss Patton taught English and was a cheerleading coach at Scott Memorial Middle School for 1 years. She had taught in Wythe County public schools for more than eight years before she resigned after her January arrest.

She was released on bail yesterday from New River Valley Regional Jail.


Routine police call ends in teen’s arrest

A teenager looking at Internet pornography on someone else’s computer might have gotten away with it were it not for a domestic dispute that brought police to his town house development.

Police went to the development early Saturday after being called about the domestic problem, the Fred-ericksburg Free Lance-Star reported yesterday. The dispute quieted when officers arrived, but they needed information on one of the tenants, so they had the manager meet them at the office.

A person inside saw police and ran. Officers later found a 15-year-old hiding under a pickup truck in a nearby parking lot. They said he had broken into the office to look at online pornography.

Police told the paper that the teen admitted it was not the first time he had done that.


Dulles main terminal without heat

It could be a cold walk through some parts of Washington Dulles International Airport for the next few days.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said a major break in the line that provides heat in the main terminal could take a week to fix.

Airports spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said an expansion joint in the hot-water line that heats the terminal broke yesterday. The line will have to be shut, and a replacement line will have to be custom-built to fix the problem.

There was no word on what caused the break. Airport officials said last night that they were looking for alternatives to provide heat in the main terminal.

Passengers may be affected as they use the airline ticket counters and baggage-claim facilities. Airline concourses B, C, D and G are not affected by the break.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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