- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007


Lanes to close on Douglass bridge

The District Department of Transportation will temporarily close the northbound lanes on the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge after the morning rush hour today.

Northbound drivers will be detoured onto Interstate 295 North to the 11th Street Bridge to get into the District.

The lanes will be closed from 10 a.m. today until as late as Monday at 4 a.m.

All lanes will be reopened in time for the Monday-morning rush hour.


Suspicious package found at White House

A suspicious package that prompted Secret Service con-cern did not present a threat.

The package was found on the White House grounds near the fence along Pennsylvania Avenue about 7:30 a.m.

Investigators declared the area safe about 9:10 a.m., Secret Service spokesman Darrin Blackford said.

The investigation did not affect President Bush’s schedule, Mr. Blackford said.

Camera crews that normally set up along the drive on the north side of the White House were temporarily moved and the pedestrian mall along Pennsylvania Avenue near Lafayette Park was also temporarily closed.

Mr. Blackford had no details about the contents of the package.

Two children struck by car in Northwest

Two children, ages 6 and 9, were treated for minor injuries after being struck by a car last evening in Northwest, police said.

“Thankfully, the children did not suffer any life-threatening injuries,” a police spokesman said.

The children were hit at Georgia Avenue and Randolph Street at 6:22 p.m.

The driver of the car that hit them was charged with a red-light violation, police said.

The District has been plagued by a number of pedestrian deaths this year. Last month, a 6-year-old boy died after being struck by a car in Northeast while crossing the street to get on a school bus.

Seven pedestrians have been killed in incidents involving Metrobuses in the past nine months, prompting incoming Metro General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. to pledge to create a safety-retraining program for bus drivers.

Three teens shot in Southeast

Three teenagers were shot in Southeast in separate incidents within an hour of each other yesterday, police said.

Two boys, age 17 and 15, suffered minor graze wounds at about 4 p.m. in the 3200 block of Fifth Street, authorities said.

A 15-year-old girl was shot in the 3500 block of South Capitol Street in front of a shopping center about an hour later, police said. She also had a minor graze wound, they said.

No one had been arrested in either case.



Dry, windy weather stirs up wildfires

Dry and windy conditions contributed to a number of wildfires, including one in southwest Virginia that had spread yesterday to more than 1,000 acres, officials said.

John Campbell, a Virginia Department of Forestry spokesman, said the biggest fire was near Blackwater in Lee County. About 20 firefighters, including about a dozen from the federal Job Corps program, were battling the burning buffalo grass.

“The grass is 6 to 8 feet tall, very thick and very flammable,” Mr. Campbell said.

He did not know the cause of the fire, which was not threatening any structures. He said it doesn’t take much to start a fire under current conditions.

“The ground itself is OK, saturationwise,” Mr. Campbell said. “It’s the leaf litter and so on that’s extremely dry. With the low humidity and wind, you can have explosive fire growth.”

Earlier in the week, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine issued a reminder that a winter burn ban took effect Feb. 15 and runs through April 30. Anyone who sets an open-air fire before 4 p.m. within 300 feet of woods or brush can be fined $500.

Elsewhere in Southwest Virginia, two wildfires in Scott and Montgomery counties were brought under control yester-day, the U.S. Forest Service in Roanoke said. The Montgomery County fire was started by a power line that was broken by the wind, while the Scott County fire might have been caused by sparks from a train or by someone walking along the railroad tracks, officials said.

A hotel in Norton was briefly evacuated Wednesday after a fire came within a few feet. The blaze was started by sparks from rail-grinding work that was being done to smooth Norfolk Southern tracks, Mr. Campbell said. He said the fire also came close to a house before being doused by firefighters.


Woman charged in cookie theft

A woman was charged with robbery after police said she demanded money from the register and stole a cookie from a Subway restaurant.

Jessica Roman, 22, of Midlothian, took a cab to the restaurant Wednesday, paid for her sandwich and returned to the taxi, Richmond police said.

Miss Roman then told the driver she forgot to buy a cookie and returned to the restaurant and demanded money from the clerk, police said.

When the clerk refused, Miss Roman grabbed a cookie and ran, police said. Authorities later found the cab and the suspect still inside.

Miss Roman had more than $15 on her at the time she was arrested, police said. The cookie cost $1.


Man gets year for ‘upskirt’ photos

A man who took “upskirt” photos of two girls waiting for a carnival ride at a county fair was sentenced to one year in jail.

Howard Neil Wray, 50, who pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful filming of a minor, was ordered Wednesday to serve one year of a six-year sentence.

The incident occurred in June 2006 while the two girls, both 11, were standing on an elevated ramp waiting to go on a ride at the Salem Fair.

Two police officers working security at the fair approached Wray after they saw him holding a digital camera at his waist and “panning the camera left and right,” Salem prosecutor Marshall Deaton Harrell said.

His camera contained still images and video, she said.

Wray told police he had been having “woman troubles” and “had come to the fair in order to take upskirt photographs of females at the fair,” Miss Harrell told the court.

The Rocky Mount man was prosecuted under a 2005 Virginia law passed in response to an incident in which a man was caught filming up teenagers’ skirts at a Norfolk mall. Prosecutors were able to convict the offender only of disorderly conduct.

Under the 2005 law, Wray had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.



Baby sitter sentenced for child abuse

A Pikesville-area woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison for scalding her friend’s 2-year-old son.

Montia Hughes, 22, was sentenced Tuesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

She was baby-sitting Jonah Coffey at a motel in December 2005 when she placed him in scalding bath water, prosecutors said.

His injuries are expected to prevent the boy from walking.

Hughes was convicted of first-degree child abuse in December after entering an Alford plea, which is not an admission of guilt but acknowl-edges that there is sufficient evidence for a conviction.

The boy’s mother, Regina Coffey, was sentenced in May to seven years in prison for failing to care for the boy’s injuries.


Former investigator kills self amid probe

A forensic scientist with the Maryland State Police killed himself after learning questions were raised about his credentials, state police said.

Joseph Kopera, 61, shot himself in his Baltimore-area home March 1, the day he was to retire, police said. Police doing counseling work after the suicide learned that Mr. Kopera knew he was being investigated about his credentials.

Mr. Kopera claimed to have degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland; he had neither.

Mr. Kopera had worked with the Maryland State Police since 1991. Most recently, he was in charge of an office that examined firearms in criminal cases. Before working for the state police, he did similar work for Baltimore police.

The credential investigation would not have affected Mr. Kopera’s pension, the head of the state police, Col. Thomas E. “Tim” Hutchins, said.

Mr. Kopera had been questioned about his credentials, but “we don’t know what he knew” about the investigation, Col. Hutchins said.


Teacher indicted on sex charge

A Howard County grand jury has formally indicted a county teacher accused last month of having sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy two years ago.

Kirsten Kinley, 27, is charged with three counts of third-degree sex offense and two counts of sexual solicitation of a minor.

The reported abuse occurred while Miss Kinley was teaching at a middle school. The boy was not one of her students.

She currently works as a special education teacher at Marriotts Ridge High School.

Miss Kinley was a Columbia resident but has been granted permission by a judge to live with a relative in Alexandria while she awaits her trial.

She is on paid leave from her teaching job.


Teen driver dragged officer, police say

A 16-year-old boy who police say dragged a police officer more than 200 feet after a traffic stop was arrested and charged with multiple traffic violations, resisting arrest and assault charges, police said.

Jesse Holbrook, from the North East area, was arrested Tuesday, Elkton Lt. Lawrence Waldridge Jr. said.

He is charged as an adult and was released on $15,000 bail.

Cpl. David Confer pulled the youth over near Routes 40 and 213 last week and asked him to get out of his vehicle.

The teen took off and Cpl. Confer had to break the driver’s-side window to free himself, according to police.

He fell to the road about 200 to 300 feet later.

He was treated at Union Hospital for abrasions and other injuries.


Woman with knives shot by police

Baltimore County officers shot a woman who rushed at them while carrying kitchen knives, police said.

Victoria Carr, 37, of Chase, was shot once in the chest Wednesday at a home in the 800 block of Brunswick Road.

Police responded to the home about 1:30 p.m. for reports of a threatened suicide. They said Miss Carr confronted them with several knives. An officer told her to put down the knives, but police said she ran toward him.

Charges are pending and Miss Carr remains at Bayview Medical Center with wounds not considered life-threatening, police said.

The officer who fired the shot is on administrative leave until the investigation is complete.


‘Municpal Stadium’ sign misspelled no more

The city of Hagerstown corrected a municipal spelling error yesterday, 20 years after committing it.

A sign directing drivers to “Municpal Stadium” was replaced with one displaying the proper spelling.

The sign was first placed at Frederick Street and East Memorial Boulevard in the mid- to late 1980s, but the error went uncorrected until the Hagerstown Herald-Mail brought it to City Hall’s attention this week, prompted by a reader’s complaint.

Erik Kline, the city’s traffic control supervisor, said the longtime tolerance for the misspelled sign doesn’t reflect poorly on the Western Maryland city of 38,000.

“I think it was a mistake that was made. I don’t know that it necessarily makes us look bad,” Mr. Kline said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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