- The Washington Times - Friday, August 15, 2008


Slowdown hurting private schools

Private-school administrators in the Washington area say the slowing economy is hurting enrollment.

One Montgomery County school has closed, and others are increasing financial aid to parents struggling to pay for their children’s education.

The share of students attending public school in the seven Maryland counties surrounding Washington rose last fall to 82.4 percent — its highest level in 10 years, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.

“This economic downturn is affecting everyone, absolutely everyone,” said Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, superintendent of schools in the Archdiocese of Washington, which will offer an unprecedented $2 million in need-based aid this year.


2 fatally shot near Union Station

Two men were fatally shot Thursday morning near Union Station, according to Metropolitan Police.

The shootings occurred at about 10 a.m. at K Street and First Terrace in Northwest, just a few blocks from the busy train station, police said.

Officers found the victims in a parking lot behind an abandoned apartment building. One man was pronounced dead at the scene. The other died at the hospital.

Police haven’t released the identities of the men. There have been no arrests.

Container probe shuts two streets

Two downtown Washington streets were closed briefly Thursday while authorities investigated the discovery of several containers holding an unknown substance.

The containers were found on a sidewalk midday Thursday at the corner of 15th and I streets, D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said. Two blocks of Vermont Avenue and 15th Street were closed during the investigation.

Authorities have removed the containers but haven’t been able to determine what is inside or who left them there, he said.



Threat to officials results in arrest

Maryland State Police have charged a Gaithersburg man with making threats against Gov. Martin O’Malley and other elected Democrats.

James Frost, 64, was arrested late Wednesday after police received information from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office that indicated he planned to harm several officials, including Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, police said. Police did not elaborate on the threat.

State police searched Mr. Frost’s home Thursday afternoon. The U.S. Secret Service is also involved in the investigation.

Mr. Frost is being held at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, from which he was released on Friday.

He had been jailed on charges including resisting arrest, threatening a state official (a judge), and a fourth-degree sexual offense, but authorities opted not to prosecute, according to court documents.

The sheriff’s office later found that Mr. Frost had a list of the politicians’ names and their family members.


Girl, 15, charged in stabbing spree

Baltimore police arrested a girl in connection with the daylight stabbing of two people during an attack near a downtown light rail stop.

Sharee Carter, 15, was charged Thursday morning as an adult with two counts of attempted murder, assault and weapons charges, police spokesman Donny Moses said.

The May 7 attack on Howard Street was recorded on a video that Mr. Moses said helped detectives identify Miss Carter.

The charges against Carter also involve a stabbing four days earlier in the Cherry Hill neighborhood, Mr. Moses said.


Second escaped teenager caught

Authorities have found the second of three teenagers who escaped Sunday from the Cheltenham Youth Center, a juvenile detention center in Prince George’s County, Maryland State Police said.

Demarco Smith, 18, was arrested shortly before 7:30 a.m. Thursday in Northeast, police said. Authorities received an anonymous tip about Mr. Smith in response to fliers they circulated.

Mr. Smith is awaiting extradition. He will be charged as an adult with escape, police said.

A 17-year-old who police say escaped with Mr. Smith was arrested Monday in Baltimore County. Authorities are still looking for Tyrone Johnson, 18, who lives in Baltimore.


Prison guard union probes strip search

The Maryland Classified Employees Association is investigating strip searches conducted Tuesday of 10 workers at the Maryland Correctional Training Center near Hagerstown.

The organization wants to be certain the searches were not undignified, said Ron Smith, a labor relations specialist for the union. One of the women who was searched complained the search was conducted unprofessionally, he said.

Most of the workers who were searched were case managers and noncustodial personnel. Only one or two were prison guards, Mr. Smith said.

The searches were done after wand tests showed traces of drugs, prison officials said. No contraband was found.


Students’ privacy said not violated

The Montgomery County school system now says no privacy rights were violated when a PowerPoint presentation for educators containing pictures of local students was posted on the Internet.

Schools spokesman Steve Simon had earlier told reporters the district erred by allowing the pictures to appear online. However, school system chief of staff Brian Edwards says the images are in the public domain.

The pictures of the 18 students were taken from a three-year-old Quince Orchard High School yearbook, and most of the students have graduated, Mr. Edwards said. The pictures appeared in a slide illustrating a strategy for personalized student instruction that was posted on the Internet by Harvard University.

The slide was taken down this month after an area resident complained to school officials, Mr. Edwards said.



Two teenagers leave ‘Joker’ cards

Two Pembroke teenagers who police say were inspired by the movie “The Dark Knight” are accused of leaving playing cards containing threatening messages at several stores.

Several cards were found at a Wal-Mart in Pearisburg and a Kmart in Christiansburg.

Justin Colby Dirico and Bryan Eugene Stafford are charged in Pearisburg with conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism. The suspects, both 18, face disorderly conduct charges in Christiansburg.

The teenagers told police they patterned the cards after the movie, in which the Joker marks the scene of his crimes with jester-faced playing cards, Pearisburg Police Chief J.C. Martin said.

The incidents appear to be a prank that got out of hand, Chief Martin said.

Mr. Dirico and Mr. Stafford are being held at the New River Regional Jail without bond.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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