- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Elementary students sickened by chemical

Fourteen students at Walker-Jones Elementary School were hospitalized as a precaution yesterday after complaining of respiratory problems.

The students began complaining in the morning of coughing as well as eye and throat irritation, fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.

None of the symptoms was considered serious.

Investigators think the students’ symptoms were caused by a chemical, such as pepper spray, that might accidentally have been released inside the building on L Street Northwest, Mr. Etter said.

Students were evacuated and taken to other schools for the day.

School officials said last night that the odor is gone after a thorough cleaning, and classes will resume today.



Gang leader gets life sentence

A man convicted as a leader of the Mara Salvatrucha street gang was sentenced Monday to life in prison.

Omar Vasquez, 29, is one of three men convicted April 27 on federal racketeering charges stemming from Washington-area gang murders, assaults, robberies and other offenses. Jose Hipolito Cruz Diaz, 28, and Henry Zelaya, 22, were convicted on the same charges and sentenced this summer to 35 years and life in prison, respectively.

Prosecutors said Zelaya and Diaz headed smaller units of MS-13 in the District and Maryland. They said Vasquez was sent from El Salvador to run all the cliques in the Washington area.


Worker injured on Bay Bridge

Westbound traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was brought to a standstill yesterday afternoon by rescue equipment tending to an injured worker.

A spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority said the worker, an electrical contractor, was working near the middle of the bridge when he fell, landing on a lower level of the bridge. He did not fall into the water.

Spokeswoman Kelly Melhem said the man’s injuries were “very minor,” although an ambulance was summoned to take him to a hospital. Workers are doing preliminary work on the span to prepare it for redecking this fall.

All lanes on the westbound span were blocked for about four hours and cars backed up for miles.


Obscene messages lead to charges

A Bel Air man is charged with sending obscene cell-phone pictures and unwanted text messages to a 16-year-old girl.

Harford County sheriff’s deputies charged Ryan Langhauser, 21, with telephone misuse, repeat calls and harassing the girl by e-mail.

Mr. Langhauser was charged Sunday, the day after the girl talked to police.

Police said Mr. Langhauser frequently called her and sent her text messages she didn’t want, including one accompanied by a sexually graphic photograph.


Fugitive dentist returns to court

A former dentist who fled to Mexico after being convicted in 2003 of raping a 15-year-old patient returned to court in Montgomery County on Monday.

David Fuster was arrested in April when authorities found him living with his wife and five children on the Yucatan Peninsula after being on the run for five months.

Fuster was extradited to Maryland last week.

The former dentist was convicted of sedating and raping a teenage patient in his Bethesda medical office. He faced a maximum of 55 years in prison for the conviction and was awaiting sentencing when he jumped bail and fled.

Prosecutors will consider additional charges and said they hope the judge will give out a tougher sentence based on Fuster’s flight.

Fuster is a Peruvian citizen. He is being held without bail in the Montgomery County jail and faces deportation after he serves his sentence.

His sentencing is set for Nov. 14.


Coppin State names new president

Veteran educator Reginald S. Avery was appointed president of Coppin State University, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents announced yesterday.

Mr. Avery, 60, is currently executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C.

“Coppin is an outstanding university that is poised for greatness,” Mr. Avery said.

He replaces Stanley F. Battle, who left in June to become chancellor of North Carolina A&T; State University. Mr. Avery will take over in January.

University System of Maryland chancellor William E. Kirwan said Mr. Avery stood out in part because of his background in social work and community development.

“That aligns so well with the mission of Coppin to be a resource for the development of that community,” Mr. Kirwan said. “He had almost ideal characteristics for the needs of Coppin at this point in time.”

Mr. Kirwan said dozens of candidates applied for the job.

“I think everybody was very impressed with Reginald’s success in addressing graduation and retention rates,” he said.

Mr. Avery’s more than 34 years in higher education include stints as provost at Alma College in Michigan and vice president for academic affairs at Kentucky State University.

Coppin State is a historically black, four-year liberal arts university with about 4,000 students on its West Baltimore campus.


DNA leads to arrest in “80s rape, killing

Baltimore County police arrested a Baltimore man and charged him with a rape and a slaying in the 1980s.

Joseph McInnis Jr., 39, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree rape.

Using DNA evidence, police said they matched Mr. McInnis with an unsolved 1984 rape case and an unsolved 1987 murder case, both in the Woodlawn area. Police knew that the same person was involved in both crimes, but investigators weren’t able to charge Mr. McInnis, who had been mentioned in the case.

Police said they matched Mr. McInnis’ DNA to samples from the crimes four days ago after taking a sample of his DNA earlier this month, obtained via search warrant.

He is charged in the rape of a 44-year-old woman in September 1984 and the fatal stabbing of Percy Jones, 48, in May 1987.


Missing boy, 6, found with father

A 6-year-old boy missing for weeks was found in North Carolina.

Anne Arundel County police said a librarian in Swain County, N.C., recognized Colin Jackson and his father, David Jackson, from a flier posted on the Internet. The local sheriff’s office located them at a nearby grocery store.

Colin was reunited with his mother, Cheryl.

Mr. Jackson, who does not have custody, picked up his son from school earlier this month. When Mrs. Jackson went to the father’s house the next morning, the boy, his father and many possessions were gone.


Parents get $4 million for son’s pool death

An Anne Arundel County jury awarded the parents of a 5-year-old boy who drowned at Crofton Country Club last year more than $4 million in damages.

The jury found Hunt Valley-based DRD Pool Service, the club’s pool management company, negligent for failing to adequately train lifeguards and staff the pool.

Thomas Freed and Debra Neagle Webber, parents of Connor Freed, said they are working to make safety requirements at public pools uniform to ensure that their son’s death was not in vain.

The couple’s attorneys said they are considering appeals because state law caps jury awards in wrongful-death cases at $1.3 million and a motion seeking judgment for pain and suffering on Connor’s part was dismissed.



Man charged with flashing children

An Alexandria-area man was charged with exposing himself to three children.

Gary Peterson, 57, was seen walking naked from the waist down near his home in the Vernon Heights area Monday evening, Fairfax County police said. He then fondled himself in the presence of children ages 9 to 13, police said.

Police arrested Mr. Peterson soon afterward and charged him with indecent liberties with a child.


Five teens charged in recorded beating

Norfolk police yesterday charged five youths with misdemeanor mob assault after authorities said the teenagers were shown in a videotape attacking another teen over the weekend.

The case gained attention after the parents of the victim, 13-year-old Damin O’Rourke, got their hands on the video — taken by a friend of their son’s — and released it to the press.

The video shows several people rushing at the young teen, who is then hit repeatedly, knocked off his feet and kicked in the face. He suffered scrapes and bruises.

Police aren’t identifying the boys, ages 13 through 16, who are being charged as juveniles, Norfolk police spokesman Chris Amos said.

The offense carries a penalty of a year imprisonment and a $2,500 fine.

Damin and his mother said the attack was racially motivated because he is white and the perpetrators are black, but police disagree.

“Investigators have determined that a non-race-related altercation took place prior to the assault,” the city police said.

The friend who videotaped the incident was unharmed.


Police investigate series of burglaries

Fairfax County police are investigating a rash of commercial burglaries in the Springfield and Annandale areas.

Police think there is a connection between 24 break-ins since the end of March, including seven Friday between 2:30 and 3:20 a.m. Several businesses were hit more than once.

In the most recent spate of crimes, glass was smashed from the front doors and cash registers were emptied at businesses along the Little River Turnpike corridor, Bradlick Shopping Center and Commerce Street.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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