- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2008


Victim in I-295 shooting identified

The man fatally shot in a vehicle on Interstate 295 early yesterday has been identified as 26-year-old Mansoor Awan of Southeast. The shooting occurred shortly after midnight at the Pennsylvania Avenue exit and prompted police to close the highway for about three hours while they searched for evidence.

D.C. police say Mr. Awan was sitting in the back seat and was shot at least once in the chest when someone from a pursuing car pulled up and shot into the car.

Police said the shooting does not appear to be random and that people in both cars had prior contact with each other.

National Mall Trust raises $600,000

The Trust for the National Mall said yesterday at its inaugural luncheon that it has raised more than $600,000 for the trust and restoration and preservation efforts on the mall. About 500 supporters attended the lunch.

The trust is the National Park Service’s only authorized funding partner for the Mall. The public-private partnership is aimed at repairing and preserving the mall and creating educational and volunteer opportunities to connect visitors to the park’s history.



Maryland called big on trees

A nationwide conservation organization says Maryland has six of the nation’s largest trees of their species.

American Forests lists the trees from Maryland in its 2008-09 National Register of Big Trees.

An American Elm in Baltimore County is 136 feet tall and has a 246-inch circumference. In Howard County, the nation’s largest Bigleaf Magnolia is 55 feet tall with a 53-foot crown. An Atlantic White Cedar in Bel Air has a 127-inch trunk circumference.

A Blackhaw in Silver Spring is 26 feet tall, tying a tree in Virginia.


Police identify plane-crash victim

Police in Maryland identified a man hit and killed by a freight train in Garrett Park as 23-year-old Philip Valerinch Ivantsov of Rockville.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore has ruled Mr. Ivantsov’s death accidental.

Police said the train was moving east from Cumberlandm, Md., to Portsmouth, Va., at about 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday when the engineer spotted Mr. Ivantsov walking between eastbound and westbound tracks north of the Garrett Park station. He sounded his whistle several times and hit the brakes.

Police said Mr. Ivantsov eventually moved to the outside of the eastbound tracks, but the engineer was not able to stop the train before it hit him.


State troopers getting new pistols

Maryland state troopers will get new Beretta pistols by the end of the year to replace models in use for more than 10 years.

State Police Superintendent Col. Terrence Sheridan said Beretta agreed to exchange the old firearms. In return, troopers will be armed with 1,650 new Beretta Px4 Storms at no cost.

Col. Sheridan said state police experts rigorously tested the .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun. He said it has a simple, dependable design; is easy to maintain, and can be individualized for different officers.

The Storm replaces the Beretta 96D, which is also a .40-caliber semiautomatic.


Naval hospital building to begin

Navy officials said construction trailers will be placed outside the National Naval Medical Center in the coming days as crews prepare to expand the hospital.

The Navy formally signed an order yesterday, allowing the project to begin, and agreed to ask the Pentagon to consider paying for some road and Metro improvements in the area.

An official groundbreaking for the project is expected next month.

The expanded medical center will be a combination of the existing facility and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Army base will be relocated from its current site in Washington as part of the military’s base closure process.

Montgomery County residents and elected officials have expressed concern that the project will further worsen traffic on already congested roads near the hospital.



Tax holiday targets storm readiness

Virginians looking to prepare for hurricane season can thank the state for an upcoming tax holiday on items to keep their families ready in case of a storm.

Virginia is holding its first hurricane preparedness tax holiday May 25 through 31, ahead of the June 1 start of the hurricane season.

The tax break applies to products like generators, batteries, food-storage containers, first aid kits and bottled water.

Those purchases will be exempt from the 5 percent state and local retail sales tax. Sales tax will not be charged on generators costing $1,000 or less, or on 22 other products selling for $60 or less each.

The tax holiday is scheduled to take place during the last week of May through 2012.


Mother, son charged in theft scheme

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office says a Sterling man who worked as a cashier at Home Depot worked with his mother to steal more than $8,000 in merchandise from the store.

Authorities say 20-year-old Victor Martinez would neglect to scan items that his mother, 42-year-old Reina Martinez, brought to the register or he would scan and then void them. Police say they managed to steal flooring, doors, windows and bathroom fixtures in this manner.

After the loss prevention department at Home Depot found several suspicious transactions since April 22, the sheriff’s office searched the Martinez home and found numerous items, including some that had already been installed.

Mr. Martinez is charged with eight counts of embezzlement and five counts of conspiracy to commit a felony. His mother is charged with five counts each of grand larceny and conspiracy to commit a felony and three counts of petit larceny. Mrs. Martinez was released on a $5,000 bond, but her son is being held on $5,000 bail.


Kaine touts company expansions

Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, said 85 jobs are headed to Page and Greensville counties with the expansion of two companies in those areas.

Mr. Kaine said Shenandoah Waste Services will invest $4 million to expand its materials recycling operation in Page County, creating 60 jobs. The company’s recycled materials are used as an alternative fuel source for energy production.

The governor also announced that Oran Safety Glass plans to invest $2.65 million to expand manufacturing capacity in Greensville County, creating 25 jobs.

Oran Safety Glass is Israel’s leading flat and curved glass processing company. The facility supplies bulletproof glass for U.S. military vehicles.


Wife gets 7 years in hit-man plot

A Williamsburg woman will spend 7½ years in prison for trying to hire a man to kill her husband.

Nancy Sue Lasiewski pleaded guilty in February to attempted capital murder, killing for hire, after she made a $40 down payment to an undercover police officer who she thought was a hit man.

The 42-year-old testified during sentencing yesterday that she never intended to go through with the deal and that she told the would-be hit man not to do anything until she paid in full. Prosecutors had said she agreed to pay $10,000 to have her husband killed, but Mrs. Lasiewski said she never set a price.

She testified that Richard Lasiewski was an absentee father who drank too much and had threatened to kill if she relocated to Florida with their three children.


Funding lack stalls forensic project

Lack of funding has stalled a massive forensic project aimed at clearing people wrongfully convicted of serious crimes.

Virginia Department of Forensic Science director Peter Marone says the department has applied for a $4.5 million federal grant to complete the effort.

The project began in 2005 when then-Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, ordered examination of all case files kept by former state forensic serologist Mary Jane Burton from 1973 through 1988 after five men were cleared of rape due to biological evidence she kept in their cases.

Ms. Burton meticulously preserved pieces of clothing smeared with blood, semen or saliva even before DNA testing got under way in the early 1990s.

Mr. Warner put aside $1.4 million for the project, which was expected to require searches of 164,000 old case files. Instead, more than 534,000 old paper case files have had to be searched, and samples in 366 cases have been sent to an independent lab for testing.


Tech police honored for April 16 actions

The action by Virginia Tech police to storm a building as a gunman inside shot 30 people dead last year won the agency a Governor’s Award for teamwork.

The awards, made annually to recognize notable work by state employees, also went to seven individuals yesterday.

Campus police were recognized for their teamwork with other law-enforcement and rescue agencies during Seung-hui Cho’s rampage on April 16 last year and for bravery.

“Officers from the department entered Norris Hall that day while shots were still being fired. Officers chose to run toward the gunfire and an unknown risk without regard for their own safety. Many had no time to put on protective gear such as bulletproof vests,” the commendation for the department read.

Cho killed himself before officers reached him, ending a massacre that left 32 others dead.


Buildings burn at mill site

A fire consumed two buildings at the Dan River Long Mill site, which has been the focus of a preservation battle.

Police Lt. John Henderson said some nearby homes were evacuated, but it was not clear how many. No injuries were reported.

The Union Street Bridge was closed while firefighters battled the blaze. A building at the north end of the bridge and an adjacent warehouse burned. The unoccupied buildings, both more than 100 years old, were in the process of being demolished.

The Danville Historical Society recently tried to stop the demolition.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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