- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 26, 2007


Police officer grazed in shootout

D.C. police said an officer shot in Southeast late last night was only grazed by the bullet and not seriously wounded.

The shooting occurred about 10:30 p.m. in the 4300 block of Barker Street Southeast, near Southern Avenue.

The officer was making a traffic stop when the suspect fired at the officer from the vehicle, WRC-TV (Channel 4) reported.

The officer returned fire, hitting and wounding the suspect. Both were taken to hospitals.

Investigators were trying to sort out the other details and circumstances of the shooting.

Engine fire grounds plane at Dulles

United Airlines is investigating what went wrong with a plane that had to return to Dulles Airport yesterday after leaving for Beijing.

Airport officials said Flight 897 returned to Dulles shortly after it was reported to have flames coming out of an engine at take-off.

Airport spokeswoman Courtney Prebich said the plane landed safely yesterday at about 2 p.m., about an hour after taking off.

Fire and rescue crews had been standing by to meet the Boeing 747, which had 330 passengers and 19 crew members on board.

United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the pilots decided to turn back after they “identified an issue with one of the four engines.”

Miss McCarthy said she could not elaborate on what the pilots observed.



Pupils decontaminated after mercury release

About three dozen students and several adults at Waverly Elementary-Middle School had to be decontaminated yesterday after the release of a small amount of mercury.

Those exposed were sent through a portable decontamination unit, according to fire department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright. He said each person had to disrobe, dress in disposable clothing and shower in a special unit about the size of a tractor trailer.

After the shower, each person was examined again and given more disposable clothing to wear home.

School spokesman J. Keith Scroggins said no one appeared to be harmed.

Chief Cartwright said the decontamination was taken as a precaution and that no one showed immediate symptoms of mercury poisoning. Mercury is extremely toxic and could cause brain damage if ingested or a severe rash if allowed to come in contact with skin.

Mr. Scroggins said the incident started at about 11 a.m., when a student playing with a thermostat wrapped it in paper, stomped on it, and began passing the silvery, slippery, liquid mercury around to his friends.


Inmate charged in slaying of child killer

A state prison inmate has been charged in the prison death of a man convicted of killing his children.

Lawrence Lannin, 37, was indicted yesterday by an Anne Arundel County grand jury for first-degree murder. He is accused of killing Richard Spicknall, who was found dead Dec. 9 in a shower at the Jessup Correctional Institution.

Spicknall was serving two consecutive life sentences plus 20 years for fatally shooting his three-year-old daughter, Destiny, and two-year-old son, Richie, in 1999. The children were strapped into their car seats in Spicknall’s Jeep Wrangler when he shot them.

Spicknall had received death threats and was in protective custody at the prison. Lannin is already serving a double life sentence for murder.


More holiday traffic likely on Bay Bridge

The Maryland Transportation Authority predicts the number of vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge for the holiday weekend will be three percent higher than last year.

In raw numbers, that translates to 350,000 vehicles.

The MdTA said travelers can dial 877-BAYSPAN to check on traffic conditions. The agency says the best times to avoid traffic congestion will be after 5 p.m. today and after 10 p.m. tomorrow and Monday.



BRAC’s impact seen better than expected

Thousands of workers are coming to Fort Belvoir in the military’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan, but the effect on roads and schools might not be as disastrous as previously thought, a Fort Belvoir official said yesterday.

A net number of nearly 14,500 jobs will leave the national capital region because of BRAC, said Fort Belvoir spokesman Donald N. Carr. That translates to fewer cars on the roads and as many as 12,700 fewer students in regional public schools, he said.

“There are a lot of people leaving, taking their cars with them, taking their kids with them,” he said. “Department of Defense jobs leaving the national capital region under BRAC is a key point overlooked by so many of us as we’ve discussed BRAC at Belvoir. The region impacted by the departures is the same region we talk about when we discuss the impact of Fort Belvoir’s BRAC realignment on schools, roads, and other community infrastructure.”

A draft Army report on the base’s growth warned of a dire traffic situation around the base in southern Fairfax County, as new commuters arrive on the base and more than 10,000 new students enter regional schools. The report identified $446 million worth of transportation improvements needed to accomodate the new commuters.

That report does not take into account the workers leaving the region because of BRAC, but the final report likely will, Mr. Carr said.


More Virginians travel, fewer drive for holiday

More Virginians are traveling this Memorial Day weekend, but fewer are driving.

AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates that nearly 852,000 Virginians are expected to travel this weekend, up less than one percent from last year.

More than 703,000 of those will be driving, which is down almost one percent from last year. About 92,000 Virginians will go by plane and 57,000 will travel by train, bus or another mode of transportation.

Nationally, AAA estimates that 38 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday, a 1.7 percent increase from last year.

Drivers in Virginia will find the average price of gas at $3.07 for a gallon of self-serve regular.

Research for Memorial Day travel is based on a national survey of two thousand adults by the Travel Industry Association of America, which conducts special research for AAA.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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