Digest

April 22, 2008

Dixon, Alonso host school safety session for 300 teachers

About 300 Baltimore teachers attended a session on school safety yesterday that was hosted by Mayor Sheila Dixon and schools chief Andres Alonso.

The forum, previously scheduled for Alonso to brief teachers on the school system budget, changed focus in response to a rash of violence in and near schools in recent weeks. The violence has included a teacher assault that was recorded on camera and highly publicized.

And yesterday, the Harlem Park school complex was under lockdown after a shooting in the neighborhood.

Alonso presented teachers with data and strategies for fighting violence, from restructuring and expanding alternative schools, to giving principals greater flexibility over their budgets. Teachers then broke into small groups to develop suggestions and questions for Alonso and Dixon.

The school system has recruited 260 volunteers in the past week. In response to the violence, it is trying to recruit 500 volunteers for troubled schools.

Sara Neufeld

Baltimore County

: Sparrows Point

Steelworker critically hurt in blast, fire

A steelworker was seriously burned in an accident that also caused an explosion and fire early yesterday morning at ArcelorMittal, the Sparrows Point steel plant formerly owned by Bethlehem Steel. The young man, who was not identified by fire officials, was taken to the Burn Center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center with critical, life-threatening injuries, according to Baltimore County fire officials.

Firefighters were called to the plant about 12:30 a.m. and were told that the worker had been operating a front-end loader, moving a large load of slag -- a waste product of steel production. He apparently dumped the hot slag into a pit of water, which caused an explosion that sent the molten slag and steam shooting into the air, according to fire officials.

A large warehouse caught fire from the debris that rained down after the explosion. The metal roof of the warehouse melted and ignited combustibles inside, firefighters said. Chemicals were not found in the warehouse, they said. The fire, which caused an estimated $130,000 in damage, was under control in about an hour.

Laura Barnhardt

Murder case

Judge rules lineup was not tainted

A Baltimore County judge denied a request yesterday from a defendant in a death penalty case to toss out the police lineup that was used to charge him in the fatal shooting of a man outside a Woodlawn-area bar in July.

A woman at the Windsor Inn the night of the shooting identified Juvon C. Harris as the gunman from a lineup of six men. She said she had seen Harris in the club, on the parking lot during the shooting and then driving by in a white Lincoln Continental as she was talking to a 911 dispatcher, according to testimony during yesterday's pre-trial hearing.

Attorneys for Harris argued that the lineup was tainted by the fact that the five men brought in to stand alongside Harris all had goatees or beards -- facial features that the witness did not include in her description of the shooter, whom she said had a mustache.

"When everyone has a beard or a goatee and he doesn't have one, that makes him stand out," defense attorney Gary Schenker told the judge. "The process has narrowed down the selection to one or two people. That's not what the Constitution had in mind for a fair lineup."

But Baltimore County Circuit Judge John O. Hennegan ruled that the argument was moot. "The defendant does have a goatee. The witness didn't see it. But I can see it here," he said, looking at a photograph of the men brought in for the lineup.

Noting the similarities in the men's clothing, height and weight, hairstyles and skin tone, the judge ruled that nothing about the identification procedure was improper.

Harris, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Taavon Chambers and the shooting of his friend, whose head was grazed by a bullet.

Jennifer McMenamin

Anne Arundel

: Glen Burnie

Sheriff's deputy bitten by dog

A pit bull bit an Anne Arundel County sheriff's deputy attempting to serve an arrest warrant in Glen Burnie, officials said yesterday.

Deputy Jimmie Junior, a member of the sheriff's warrant team, arrived at a home in the first block of Harvard Road about 5 p.m. Sunday, in search of a 26-year-old Glen Burnie woman who is wanted on a charge of uttering false documents, according to Deputy Sheriff Harry L. Neisser. The father of the wanted woman, Jennifer Ludwig, told deputies his daughter no longer lived there, but he permitted Junior and other deputies to search the house.

Junior opened the door to a second-floor bedroom, and the dog "jumped out and began to attack," according to the sheriff's department. Junior was taken by his partner to the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, where he was treated for puncture wounds to the right arm, stomach and upper leg.

The dog's owner, who will not be charged, told authorities that the animal's vaccinations are current. The deputy, a four-year veteran, took a day off yesterday as part of his normal schedule but is to be back at work today.

Nicole Fuller

York County, Pa.

: Peach Bottom

Disaster drill set for power station

Residents living near Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Delta, Pa., may hear paging announcements from the plant and see emergency personnel and activities today as federal, state and county agencies conduct a biennial disaster drill, officials said yesterday.

The exercise tests the ability of plant personnel and the area's emergency agencies to respond in case of a crisis. Owned by the Exelon Corp., Peach Bottom is on the west bank of Conowingo Pond, a branch of the Susquehanna River, in York County.

Its boiling-water reactors, which began operating in 1974, are each capable of generating 1,183 megawatts, officials said.

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