Saturday, February 9, 2008


White House visitors’ entrance evacuated

Authorities yesterday closed the White House Visitors Center because of an ammonia spill in a nearby storage shed.

A U.S. Secret Service spokesman said the agency received calls on the spill about 10:55 a.m. He said the entrance was evacuated as a precaution, and that chemical-biological experts from the Secret Service and the D.C. fire department responded.

A D.C. fire department spokesman said nine persons were hospitalized after complaining of irritated eyes, nausea and vomiting.

The visitors’ entrance, where people are screened through metal detectors before entering the White House, is on the east side of the building. The building was reopened later in the day.

Teen charged in student shootings

A D.C. teenager has been charged in the shooting of four students last month near a high school in Southeast.

Diedrick Ricardo Johnson, 17, of Southeast, is charged with one count of assault with intent to kill, and additional charges are pending. Police said the teen already is in jail on charges that he shot five other persons in the area. He was expected to appear yesterday in D.C. Superior Court.

Three 16-year-old students were hospitalized after being shot Jan. 22 near Ballou Senior High School shortly after classes were dismissed. None of the injuries was life-threatening. Another student also was grazed by gunfire but did not immediately seek medical attention.



State considers text-message ban

Maryland will consider making it illegal for drivers to send text messages on cell phones or type on laptop computers.

A bill proposed yesterday by Delegate Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher, Montgomery County Democrat, would make texting illegal, though talking on a cell phone would still be allowed.

Mr. Waldstreicher said texting is more dangerous than talking on the phone because it takes a driver’s eyes off the road.

Washington state and the city of Phoenix have already approved text-message driving bans. The Massachusetts House approved a text message ban after a 13-year-old boy died, reportedly as a result of a man driving a sport utility vehicle while text messaging.


Governor greets canine hero

A yellow Labrador who helped police make one of their biggest heroin seizures ever got a tasty reward yesterday from Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, awarded Bruno two bones and a treat in a State House ceremony honoring the pup and state troopers who helped in a seizure Tuesday of 32 pounds of heroin, worth an estimated $4.4 million.

The drugs were found in a compartment in a Florida man’s van during a traffic stop on northbound Interstate 95 in Cecil County. Police said the man was headed to New York.

Bruno, a 7-year-old dog with more than six years of duty with the state police, received the bone wrapped in a ribbon.

Bruno behaved well until he got the bone in his mouth. He forgot the governor and news cameras, chomping down the bone in less than a minute.


Music director held in child rape case

The music director of a west Baltimore church is accused of raping and assaulting a 13-year-old female parishioner.

Baltimore police said Timothy Price, 32, of Owings Mills, has been charged with second-degree rape, assault and child abuse.

Mr. Price is music director at Bethel AME Church, which has a congregation of more than 17,000 — including Mayor Sheila Dixon. Mr. Price was arrested Wednesday night and is being held on $1 million bail.

Police said Mr. Price had sex with the girl in his car three times between November and January. The purported encounters took place in a west Baltimore alley and in the parking lot of Druid Hill Park. The girl was 12 at the time.



Truck fire stalls Capital Beltway

A tanker truck caught fire yesterday morning on the Capital Beltway in Northern Virginia, closing all lanes between Eisenhower Avenue and Telegraph Road.

A Fairfax County fire department said the vehicle was engulfed in flames on the shoulder of the highway when crews arrived about 9:30 a.m.

Mr. Schmidt said firefighters sprayed foam to put out the blaze. The driver was not injured, and most lanes on the beltway reopened shortly after 11 a.m.

Virginia State Police said the truck was returning to Virginia from a delivery in Maryland when the driver noticed smoke and stopped. Police said the fire started in a rear wheel of the truck.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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