- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2009


Person in path of Metro train killed

A person was fatally struck by a train at the Columbia Heights station, Metro said.

Metro officials said the person was hit at about 2 p.m. Thursday. D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said crews rescued a boy who was hit at the station, and took him to a hospital with serious and life-threatening injuries.

The Columbia Heights station was closed during the rescue, but reopened later.

Metro officials did not confirm the person’s gender, but said preliminary information showed the person intentionally placed him or herself in the train’s path.

Man pleads guilty in beating of gay

A 19-year-old man pleaded guilty Thursday to misdemeanor assault in a beating death case that has sparked outrage in the gay community.

Robert Hannah admitted punching Tony Hunter on Sept. 7, 2008, while Mr. Hunter was on his way to a gay bar, but claimed he did so because Mr. Hunter touched him inappropriately.

Mr. Hunter died a year ago Thursday from head wounds he received after he fell backward from the blow.

In exchange for Mr. Hannah’s plea in D.C. Superior Court, prosecutors have agreed to drop a shoplifting case against him.

Violence ends lodge’s public events

A Masonic lodge will no longer be allowed to serve as a public hall after a series of violent incidents, D.C. officials said.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said Thursday that the Most Worshipful King Solomon Grand Lodge in Northeast Washington hosted live music events, attracting large numbers of young people. Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 12, police received more than 100 requests for service near the lodge.

D.C. police said lodge owners failed to implement security measures. They also said calls to the lodge took officers away from responding to other incidents in the area.

The city sent a notice to the lodge Sept. 1, saying its public hall license expired Aug. 31.

Arson suspected in Northwest

Fire investigators think an early morning fire in Northwest Washington that sent five people to the hospital was intentionally set.

D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said investigators ruled the Thursday morning fire an arson. They think a mattress and other debris in a hallway were set ablaze. Firefighters were called to the five-story building on 13th Street at about 7 a.m.

Mr. Piringer said people were hanging out of windows, ready to jump, when rescuers arrived. He said firefighters rescued about 18 people by ladder, including two children, who were taken to a hospital.

Two adults were also taken to a hospital, one in serious condition, along with a firefighter who suffered heat exhaustion.



Declining revenue to force budget cuts

Maryland’s budget forecast darkened again Thursday as budget officials said declining revenue estimates will force $290 million to $300 million in further reductions to balance this year’s budget and begin creating some cushion for a $2 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year.

The state’s Board of Revenue Estimates released updated estimates for the current and next fiscal years in projections that are still feeling the effects of the recession.

Comptroller Peter Franchot, a board member, said some initial signs of economic recovery are apparent in home sales, but “we’re a long, long way from being out of the woods.”

State revenue for fiscal 2010, which began in July, is estimated to be about $12.3 billion, which represents about $683 million less than previously projected. Revenue for fiscal 2011 is estimated to be about $12.7 billion, a drop of about $921 million from what was expected.


Unlicensed debt firms ordered to stop

Maryland has ordered a group of unlicensed San Diego companies to stop trying to collect on “junk debt” bought from credit card companies and other lenders.

Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Thomas E. Perez said a cease-and-desist order has been issued against the companies. They were identified as Midland Funding LLC, Midland Credit Management Inc., Midland Portfolio Services LLC, and their parent company, Encore Capital Group Inc.

State officials said the companies bought debt for pennies on the dollar in some cases and violated federal and state laws by refusing to validate debts when challenged. The debts in some cases were decades old.



Lottery nets $439 million

The Virginia Lottery turned a profit of more than $439 million for the state’s public schools.

Officials said the profits for fiscal 2009 are 3.6 percent lower than the previous year, but is still made it the third best year for the lottery.

Sales for the year stayed relatively flat at about $1.37 billion. Players won $781 million in prizes in the lottery’s Pick 3, Pick 4, Mega Millions and Scratcher games.

The lottery kept its operating expenses to 5.4 percent for the year, below the 10 percent allowed by Virginia law.

Lottery officials said they are looking to further reduce operating expenses this fiscal year, including partial elimination of paid television time for the daily draw show.


Ex-firefighter admits to arson

A former New Market volunteer firefighter pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from a series of arsons.

Ryan John Franklin Sullivan, 20, of New Market, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to arson and conspiracy to commit arson. Sullivan is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 18.

Another former volunteer firefighter, Michael Allen Bell, 19, of Quicksburg, faces the same charges.

Police said Sullivan and Mr. Bell set fire to a former gift shop and other abandoned structures in the New Market area while serving as firefighters.

Sullivan and Mr. Bell also face charges in Rockingham County, where three fires were set.


Ex-official charged with burglary

A former Liberty University administrator has been charged with burglary and drug possession.

Campbell County Sheriff’s Capt. L.T. Guthrie said Scott Alan Ray, 43, of Lynchburg, surrendered Tuesday after being indicted on the charges.

An attorney was appointed for Mr. Ray at a court hearing Wednesday after he said his last day of work as director of convocations at the conservative Christian school was Sept. 4.

He was indicted on four counts of statutory burglary involving four homes and one count of possession of a Schedule I or II drug.

A search warrant filed in Lynchburg seeks evidence that could tie Mr. Ray to surveillance video of a man breaking into a Campbell County home and taking two bottles of painkillers.


Reward in students’ deaths hits $50,000

A reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the slayings of two Virginia Tech students has reached $50,000.

Virginia Tech put up $10,000, and a Lynchburg cardiologist has raised $40,000. Dr. Chad Hoyt said his goal is raise the total reward to $100,000, an amount that he thinks will prompt someone to talk.

A passer-by found the bodies of David Lee Metzler, 19, and Heidi Lynn Childs, 18, on Aug. 27 at Caldwell Fields in the Jefferson National Forest. Police said the students apparently were shot.

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