- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2007


Douglass Bridge closed this weekend

A major commuter link between the District and southern Maryland will not be available this weekend.

The D.C. Department of Transportation has closed the inbound lanes of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge through early Monday for repairs.

The bridge, which is also known as the South Capitol Street Bridge, is undergoing major repairs that will require several similar weekend closures over the next few months. Transportation officials said closures of the bridge’s southbound lanes will occur on three separate weekends in May and June.

Inbound traffic is being detoured along northbound Interstate 295 to the 11th Street Bridge. Crews are expected to remove the barriers and reopen the bridge to northbound traffic in time for the Monday-morning commute.

Council member plans meeting on crime

D.C. council member Phil Mendelson will hold a town hall meeting Monday on crime-related issues in the District.

The forum will feature guest speakers on issues such as crime prevention, prosecution, detention and rehabilitation. Officials slated to make brief presentations and take questions from the public include D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, Attorney General Linda Singer and Devon Brown, director of the D.C. Department of Corrections.

“Not often are all of the key players in one place at the same time, and no issue is too large or too small when it comes to making our neighborhoods safer places to live, work, play and learn,” said Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat.

The town hall meeting will be held at Ward Memorial A.M.E. Church on 42nd Street Northeast, beginning at 6:30 p.m.



Teens to be charged as adults in burning

The two teenagers arrested earlier this week as juveniles in the chemical burning of a toddler at a Baltimore County playground will be charged as adults, the state’s attorney said Thursday.

Kyle Meredith and Mateusz Dybala, both 16, live in the Essex area. They will be charged as adults with first-degree assault, Scott D. Shellenberger said.

The youths also face juvenile charges of reckless endangerment and second-degree burglary, which were placed against them this week.

Payton Potochney, 2, sustained second- and third-degree burns last Saturday while going down a slide on which caustic drain cleaner had been poured.

The boy underwent a skin graft this week at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and underwent another surgical procedure Thursday afternoon, Johns Hopkins Hospital Center officials said. He was in fair condition before the surgery, hospital officials said.

The new charges came from physical evidence found at the playground and analyzed by a crime lab, Mr. Shellenberger said. He would not give further details.

Police said the youths broke into a school storage area at Victory Villa Elementary School in Middle River and found bottles of caustic drain cleaner, which they poured on a slide at the school playground, to see whether the chemical would burn the plastic. When it did not, they left the playground with the chemical still on the slide, police said.


Arsenic levels force closure of park

Health officials closed a park after tests showed arsenic levels more than 100 times higher than is considered safe. The park, which had often been used for youth sporting events, is next to an industrial site where arsenic was used to manufacture pesticides until 1976.

The Health Department locked the gates of Swann Park, which is south of Federal Hill, and distributed fliers warning neighbors about arsenic, a cancer-causing agent.

Baltimore’s Health Department has asked a federal agency to study the site to see if the health of neighbors and others who use the park is endangered, an official said.

Swann Park is next to the former Allied Chemical Corp. site.


MdTA looks at E-ZPass upgrade for Bay Bridge

The Maryland Transportation Authority is looking at adding high-speed E-ZPass technology to the toll booths at the Bay Bridge.

The equipment would allow cars equipped with E-ZPass to pass through the toll plaza without slowing down, but no money has been approved for the upgrade yet.

Representatives for the agency met Tuesday with Queen Anne’s commissioners to discuss the commissioners’ concerns about bridge traffic.

In addition to the E-ZPass improvements, the commissioners are asking tolls be waived. The MdTA said its bondholder Trust Agreement prohibits the waiving of tolls.



Police fatally shoot man with sword

For the second time this year, a Roanoke police officer has fatally shot someone carrying a samurai-style sword.

Roanoke Police Chief Joe Gaskins said John Harvey Bridges, 43, died shortly before 1 a.m. yesterday after he was shot in his apartment Wednesday night.

Chief Gaskins said Mr. Bridges was shot while brandishing the sword and advancing on officers. They said he told them, “Just kill me then.”

But Mr. Bridges’ roommate, Ronald Bagland, told the Roanoke Times that he witnessed the shooting and that Mr. Bridges was standing still and had not fully unsheathed the 21-inch blade when he was shot. Mr. Ragland said he called police after Mr. Bridges cut himself with knives and the sword.

In February, police fatally shot Geoffrey Stephenson, 30, of Roanoke. Officers said they shot him as he approached officers with a sword and at least one gun.

Chief Gaskins said the two officers involved in this week’s shooting are on administrative leave, which is departmental policy.


Police identify shooting victims

Alexandria police have identified the two men fatally shot outside of an apartment complex in Old Town on Thursday.

Nathan Travis Lee, 31, of Alexandria and Mark Anthony Collins, 28, of Landover were fatally shot around 2 a.m. in the 800 block of North Patrick Street.

Police found both men lying in the street. They were pronounced dead at area hospitals. The Virginia State Medical Examiner’s office said both men died of gunshot wounds.

Police have not identified any suspects in the case. Although police have not determined a motive, investigators said the victims may have been specifically targeted.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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