Today in Maryland

U.S. agency defends D.C. shelter for unaccompanied migrant kids

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has defended its plan to house unaccompanied migrant children in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post reports DHHS says unaccompanied minors were apprehended alone, unlike migrant children separated from their families. It says its wards have beds and access to meals, legal services, games and classes.

It says it awarded Dynamic Service Solutions a $20.5 million contract this month to operate a 200-bed District facility for kids ages 12 to 17. The Maryland-based contractor has applied for a permit to open the shelter and posted jobs for people to work with "unaccompanied alien" children there.

City officials have denounced the shelter , and Councilwoman Brianne K. Nadeau may propose emergency legislation to limit the number of youths allowed at shelters.

Information from: The Washington Post,

Maryland authorities search for armed church robbery suspect

HALETHORPE (AP) — Authorities in Maryland are searching for a burglary suspect they say entered a church where a band was rehearsing and robbed the musicians at gunpoint.

WBAL reports the band was renting space from a church in Baltimore County Monday night. Pastor Jeff Simpson says that's when one of the performers walked into the lobby and was confronted by a gunman who forced her and four other bandmates into a closet before taking their phones, credit cards and other valuables.

Baltimore County Police Department Cpl. Shawn Vinson said the suspect came in through the front church door, telling the outlet most people expect a "house of worship" is "one of the safest places you can be."

Nobody was injured.

Police are asking anyone who could help the investigation to come forward.

Baltimore man convicted in fatal shooting of 7-year-old girl

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore man has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a 7-year-old girl who was shot to death last summer while riding in a car with a gun and drugs.

News outlets report 30-year-old Keon Gray also was convicted Wednesday of charges including first-degree assault on two adults in the car. Gray's attorney, Ken Ravenell, says the verdict was compromised and his client maintains his innocence.

The two-week trial was fraught with twists. A state witness testified that photos of the car connected to Gray didn't picture the Mercedes she saw at the crime scene. Judge Althea Handy told jurors that the case's lead detective gave conflicting testimony, initially saying witnesses reported seeing the car at the scene and then later saying no witnesses said that.

Information center opens to help Baltimore flooding victims

BALTIMORE (AP) — Officials in Baltimore have opened an information center for residents and business owners affected by a severe rainstorm last week.

Staff at the disaster relief center that opened Wednesday will help people determine whether they are eligible for any assistance.

A storm on Aug. 6 dropped as much as 5 inches of rain within two hours in some parts of Baltimore. Basements flooded, drivers were stranded and a vacant home caught fire after being struck by lightning.

Officials are asking residents seeking help at the center to try to bring information about their income, insurance coverage and a description of the damage, including photos.

The center in East Baltimore will remain open through Saturday.

D.C. policeman accused of assaulting, threatening coworkers

WASHINGTON (AP) — A police officer in Washington, D.C., is accused of touching three female coworkers without their consent and threatening a male civilian employee who reportedly came to their defense.

News outlets report 51-year-old Robert A. Anderson was arrested Wednesday on charges of simple assault and threat to do bodily harm. He was suspended from the force and agreed to appear in court next month.

An arrest affidavit says two of the women were fellow officers. Court documents say one woman told police Anderson caressed her hair this spring and another said he put his lips on her ear. The civilian told police he intervened and shoved Anderson, who he says threatened him with a serrated blade.

The 29-year department veteran from Maryland denied the allegations to The Washington Post.

Report: 1 dead in Saco River incident in Maine

BETHEL, Maine (AP) — Authorities in Maine say a 75-year-old woman from Maryland drowned in the Androscoggin River when the canoe she was in overturned and she became trapped beneath it.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says the accident that killed Xiaolian Ding of Silver Spring happened at about 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening in the vicinity of Bethel. The department says Ding and her husband and daughter had rented a canoe in Bethel and were just starting their trip when the canoe got wedged on a rock.

The department says the canoe overturned when the husband and daughter tried to push the canoe off the rock. They were able to call 911 and responders arrived, but attempts to revive Ding were not successful.

Anne Arundel gun task force to hear public comment

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — A county task force in Maryland that is studying ways to reduce gun violence is scheduled to hear public comment for the first time — days after a fake Facebook page that ridiculed task force members prompted the county's chief executive to denounce "bullying or intimidation by extremists."

The Anne Arundel County Gun Violence Prevention Task Force is meeting Thursday evening in Annapolis, Maryland.

The meeting comes days after Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman issued a statement in response to a fake Facebook page for the task force in which task force members were ridiculed. The page was recently taken down.

"We will not sacrifice public safety to appease a small minority of extremists whose selfish desire to avoid the paperwork burden of gun registration and background checks is cloaked in concepts that are the foundation of this great country," Pittman wrote.

Pittman created the task force in April. Less than a year earlier, five people were killed in a mass shooting at the local newspaper, the Capital Gazette.

The task force has been researching gun violence and suicide involving guns. It is charged with making recommendations about how to reduce gun violence in the county. It is scheduled to submit a report of recommendations in December.

Andrea Chamblee, whose husband John McNamara was one of the victims in the Capital Gazette massacre, is a member of the task force and was one of the members who was written about on the Facebook page.

Dawn Stoltzfus, a task force member who also is a volunteer for Moms Demand Action, said about a dozen people have come to recent meetings. Those in attendance have been split between supporters of tighter gun laws and advocates for gun rights, she said.

The public comment period Thursday evening will be limited to eight people, and they will receive two minutes to speak. A future task force meeting will be devoted entirely to public comment, but that meeting has not been scheduled yet.

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