Friday, March 24, 2017

Drug bust on River Rd., pedestrian struck in Pike District + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 21, according to crime data:

Disorderly conduct. 8300 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Theft. 5400 block W. Cedar Lane.

Drug arrest. River Road at Goldsboro Road.

Theft. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Theft from vehicle. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Theft. 11300 block Rockville Pike.

Pedestrian struck. Rockville Pike at Nicholson Lane.

Theft. 5400 block McGrath Boulevard.

Collision/property damage. 6300 block Montrose Road.

Attorney for Rockville HS gang rape suspect says incident was "not a rape in any sense"

Henry Sanchez
Promises defense will
put 14-year-old victim's
"character into play"

A lawyer with the law firm representing one of the two alleged assailants in the gang rape of a 14-year-old girl at Rockville High School last week outlined the defense his team will pursue last night on Fox News. His client, 18-year-old Henry Sanchez, is an illegal immigrant who was enrolled as a "freshman" at the school.

Graphic details in the police report suggest a violent, bloody scene, with the victim screaming for help as she was allegedly assaulted, raped and sodomized by Sanchez and Jose Montano, 17. But according to Sanchez's defense attorney, David Moyse, "This was a consensual encounter, not a rape in any sense."

Appearing on Tucker Carlson Tonight last night, Moyse asserted that there is no evidence to suggest the incident was "in any way illegal." Despite being an attorney, Moyse was apparently unaware that any sexual encounter between an adult and a 14-year-old is, in fact, illegal. Even if all parties claim it was consensual, it is still statutory rape.

Moyse hinted that his team will potentially trash the victim in court. "I'm sure there could be a number of questions asked about all three of the people involved," he told Carlson. Moyse said the defense will put her "character into play."

Some have questioned how Sanchez can afford a respected defense team to represent him, while Montano has only a public defender. Pressed by Carlson on who is paying for the firm's services, Moyse declined to answer.

Bethesda Target store loading in inventory for opening (Photos)

If you've been to Trader Joe's at the Shops of Wisconsin in recent days, you may have spotted a familiar 18-wheeler in the loading dock. Target is now moving inventory into its new store, which is scheduled to open April 9. It's kind of hard to be inconspicuous in a Target semi, though. No word if the truck drivers find parking at the shopping center any easier than customers do.
On to Rockville?
Top photo: Justin Fidler
Bottom photos: Robert Dyer

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sex assault on Wisconsin Ave., Huntington Terrace area rocked by vehicle break-ins + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 20, according to crime data:

"Other sexual offense." 8100 block Wisconsin Avenue.

Theft. 7100 block Woodmont Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 4900 block Battery Lane.

Vehicle burglary. 8200 block Maple Ridge Road.

Vehicle burglary. 5300 block Glenwood Road.

Vehicle burglary. 5400 block Huntington Parkway.

Vehicle burglary. 8200 block Custer Road.

Vehicle burglary. 5400 block Glenwood Road.

Vehicle burglary. 5400 block Glenwood Road.

Vehicle burglary. 8200 block Moorland Lane.

Vehicle burglary. 5500 block Charlcote Road.

Vehicle burglary. 5500 block Glenwood Road.

Vehicle burglary. 5500 block Northfield Road.

Vehicle burglary. 4600 block N. Park Avenue.

Burglary. 12200 block Rockville Pike.

Burglary. 12300 block Twinbrook Parkway.

Domestic violence assault. 11100 block Powder Horn Drive.

Theft. 7100 block Natelli Woods Lane.

Rockville rape suspect "confident he will be exonerated" in brutal Rockville High School assault

Henry Sanchez, one of two illegal immigrants charged in the vicious gang rape of a 14-year-old girl at Rockville High School last Thursday, says he is "confident he will be exonerated," his attorney told the Washington Post Wednesday. Despite the tremendous physical evidence of rape detailed in a police report, Sanchez, 18, is now claiming he and fellow defendant Jose Montano had consensual sex with the victim in a school bathroom.

While Montano, 17, is being represented by a public defender, Sanchez mysteriously has been able to lawyer up with criminal defense attorney Andrew Jezic. It's hard to believe any respectable attorney would want to get anywhere near a couple of toxic defendants like these. Interestingly, the Post closed the comment section on its article reporting Sanchez's 100%-not-guilty stance. The only good news about Sanchez's bizarre legal strategy is that it will increase the chance of him receiving a life sentence, by not seeking a plea deal in what should be a slam-dunk case.

Meanwhile, Montgomery County elected officials who were stone silent on the brutal rape for days now have a lot to say about outrage over their appalling handling of the incident expressed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. Roger Berliner, who delivered a tone-deaf, belated response to the gang rape three days later, lashed out at Hogan. So did Delegate Eric Luedtke (D - District 14).

Here's what's interesting: Much like Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith, who is now the subject of a citizen petition calling for his removal, Berliner sounds angrier when he talks about critics of the Council and MCPS for their role in this rape, than when he speaks about the rape itself.

Also interesting: Check out Del. Luedtke's Facebook feed. He is exploding with rage against his own constituents, Hogan and the White House for their criticism of all who bear responsibility for this attack at the county level. But scroll back several days to Friday, when the gang rape was publicly announced. On none of those days did Luedtke lash out against the accused rapists, or even mention the rape at all!

I scrolled and scrolled, and could find no Friday post by Luedtke condemning the accused rapists, nor expressing concern for the victim. Saturday? Nope. Sunday? Nada. Monday? Zippo. The first mention of the rape case on Luedtke's feed was on Tuesday, and it was attacking Hogan.

Luedtke was not moved to respond with horror for the victim's ordeal, nor with anger against the "alleged" perpetrators. Only after justified criticism started being aimed at Montgomery County's "leadership" did Luedtke feel compelled to respond, and address this gang rape on Facebook. It's beyond belief.

Not only has the response by our county elected officials been weak, empty, and with no palpable feeling behind it, but it seems that only some actual "adult supervision" by officials at the state and federal level will result in any meaningful and necessary policy changes within MCPS and Montgomery County. Hogan and the U.S. Justice and Education Departments may well have to pull the proverbial car to the side of the road, and "come back there," if MoCo's childish leaders can't get a grip on one of the most horrific events in MCPS history.

AT&T wants to place cell towers atop DoubleTree Bethesda hotel, modify Promenade towers

DoubleTree Bethesda hotel
AT&T is proposing to place at least two cell towers on top of the DoubleTree Bethesda hotel, located at 8120 Wisconsin Avenue. The towers would be 159' tall. Meanwhile, the wireless company is also proposing to modify existing tower facilities atop The Promenade at 5225 Pooks Hill Road. The new tower tip height proposed for the Nathan Landow-developed condominium buiding is 113'.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Demolition update: 4733 Bethesda Avenue (Photos)

It appears the glass has been removed from a number of windows on one side of the office building at 4733 Bethesda Avenue. The black shroud of death - last seen draped over White Flint Mall - has descended over part of the building. Also, the vanished crosswalk across from the Seasons has reappeared. This building is coming down to make way for The JBG Companies' 4747 Bethesda Avenue office/retail project.

Final Bethesda Metro station replacement escalator scheduled to open this afternoon

A ribbon-cutting this afternoon will mark the reopening of the fifth of five escalators replaced at the Bethesda Metro station. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, and prominent Bethesda realtor Jane Fairweather will cut the ribbon on the mezzanine level of the station at 3:00 PM this afternoon.

Fairweather is also Chair of the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce Metro Improvement Task Force. The escalator project cost Metro $8 million, and replaced 30-year-old escalators, three of which are the second-longest in the Western Hemisphere.

A working escalator at the Bethesda Metro station - now that is news!

Springfield Civic Association to contribute $5000 to Westbard lawsuit

Four Bethesda civic associations have now each contributed $5000 to the Save Westbard lawsuit against Montgomery County. The latest is the Springfield Civic Association, which represents residents of one of the neighborhoods most-impacted by the redevelopment plans of Regency Centers/Equity One. Residents voted to donate $5000 from a special association fund to the lawsuit at a special meeting last night.

Springfield joins the communities of Westmoreland Hills, Sumner and Wood Acres in supporting the lawsuit, which many feel is the only avenue to reduce the urban-style height and density allowed in the Westbard sector plan at this point.

MCPS super "sounded like an idiot" as MoCo officials' weak Rockville HS rape response continues

Facing heavy local and national criticism over the Montgomery County policies that enabled two college-age illegal immigrants to allegedly gang rape a 14-year-old girl in a bathroom at Rockville High School last week, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith spoke at a PTA meeting at the school closed to reporters last night. Attendees I spoke to left disappointed in Smith's performance and the meeting. "He sounded like an idiot," one said. Reportedly, only a few people were even allowed to ask questions. But, along with Smith's 5-day silence and bizarre press conference prior to the meeting, expectations should have been low.

Sounding like an even-more-mellow cross between Stuart Smalley and the economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Smith half-heartedly lamented the "terrible, horrible thing" that happened last Thursday at his press conference. His responses echoed the almost-sociopathic, emotionless comments of Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, whose tone-deaf performance at a Monday press conference generated outrage and disbelief on social media after I reported on it yesterday (hard to believe I was the only media outlet that did, with empathy-free gems like "Bad things happen").

Smith said the alleged rapists "chose to do something very, very bad, from all of the allegations. People choose to do very bad things." I mean, the guy sounded like a 5-year-old tattling on a classmate. "We're talking about, 'Why was this student in this school?' And he was there to get to the services that were best suited to his needs. He chose to go outside of that purpose, and do a really bad thing." Give me a break! He's talking about a vicious gang rape, a brutal physical assault, a 14-year-old girl being raped and sodomized by two men in a restroom as if it was a prankster setting off a stink bomb at school.

"A really bad thing?" After the performances of Berliner and Smith, I think parents and the community would at least like to see somebody actually express real anger and outrage. Maybe pound a fist on a desk, flip over a tray of deli sandwiches, or otherwise display some other emotion than smug, defensive superiority and condescension toward the public. We're talking about one of the most horrifying things that has happened in the history of Montgomery County Public Schools here. For God's sake, show some humanity, remorse for your failure to protect your most vulnerable constituents - children, and an urgent resolve to change your ways and policies.

What's really scary and concerning for students and parents? Smith only got even slightly animated when he was on the attack against critics and enemies real and imagined, not when talking about the gang rape and the victim. He literally sounded more empathetic toward the illegal man-children trying to play freshmen at MCPS high schools than toward the victim. It's disgusting.

Smith admonished those who "want to make a political comment," and then proceeded to repeatedly make political comments. One of the most hysterical moments of the press conference was when Smith pointedly stated how closely Montgomery County supposedly follows "the law of the land." "We do our business by the rule of law," Smith said righteously, apparently unaware of the extreme hypocrisy of stating that in a sanctuary county that defies federal immigration law on a daily basis. Do you follow "the rule of law," or not? Smith apparently doesn't know. He also placed air quotes around the term, "illegal," clearly a political statement, whether you agree or disagree. Again, it's outrageous that during his political comments, he raised the volume of his voice and became more animated than when speaking about the rape and the victim.

Smith emphasized repeatedly that MCPS schools are "safe," when the reality is that some other parent's daughter is one mad decision away from being victimized by similar criminals lurking in our school system. No criminal background checks are run on any student, Smith revealed. For those parents trying to figure out why adults recently arriving in America are enrolled as 9th graders alongside their 14-year-old daughters, Smith had sobering news: "We have a great number of 18-year-olds and 19-year-olds enrolled across all 25 of our high schools."

The superintendent spoke of there being 5 security guards and one school resource officer on campus at Rockville High School, but couldn't explain where all six were during Thursday's bathroom assault. There is no evidence whatsoever that MCPS students are "safe" from similar sexual assaults in the future.

Officials appear to have completely misread the public's concerns about this particular incident, and what it means for student safety across MCPS. They instead seem to be reverting to the way they respond to immigration issues in general, which is to cast themselves as morally-superior, chastising the evil "racists" daring to question their policies. The problem is, we're not talking about the general immigration debate here, such as the future fate of the 13 million undocumented immigrants in America, and "deporting Grandma." That is, of course, the debate county officials wish they were having, and would like to divert attention to Donald Trump - who is highly unpopular in liberal MoCo - rather than the rape of a child that is "on them."

People are instead demanding answers about the specific policies and decisions of Montgomery County that allowed a 14-year-old girl to be gang-raped in a bathroom inside a Montgomery County public school by two college-age "freshmen" - one of whom MCPS does not even have a home address on file for, much less a criminal history.

Those policies and decision-making priorities need to change, and until they do, no student is truly "safe."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Robbery on Chevy Chase Dr., vehicle burglarized on Linder Lane + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 18, according to crime data:

Liquor arrest. 4900 block St. Elmo Avenue.

Disorderly conduct. 4900 block St. Elmo Avenue.

Disorderly conduct. Arlington Road at Edgemoor Lane.

Disorderly conduct. 4900 block Cordell Avenue.

Drug arrest. 8100 block Old Georgetown Road.

Robbery. 4700 block Chevy Chase Drive.

Vehicle burglary. 5800 block Linder Lane.

Vehicle burglary. 11500 block Old Georgetown Road.

Shuttered Quincy's Bethesda hasn't paid rent since November, landord says (Photo)

It's starting to look like my source who said Quincy's is closed for good in Bethesda was correct. A court summons was posted on the door of the bar yesterday, which asserts the owners haven't paid rent to the landlord since November. Quincy's, located at 4920 Del Ray Avenue, has been "temporarily closed" for over two weeks.

MoCo Council President on Rockville HS gang rape: "Bad things happen"

After hiding from their constituents and the press for four days, Montgomery County elected officials yesterday began to react to the alleged gang rape of a 14-year-old girl by two illegal immigrants at Rockville High School last Thursday. It was notable that County Council President Roger Berliner did not begin his weekly press conference by making a statement about the incident, which is foremost on the minds of county residents and parents. Only after being asked about the rape by a reporter, did Berliner comment. "Bad things happen," he suggested at one point.

Asked about the hot topic of why adults (the accused rapists are 17 and 18) are allowed to enroll as ninth-graders in Montgomery County Public Schools, Berliner endorsed the idea as a sound education policy for those with poor English skills.

In regard to the County's de facto sanctuary policies regarding citizenship status, a reporter asked if officials thought the incident should bring those policies into question now. Berliner disputed that idea in a puzzling way, asserting that the rape incident "reinforces why Montgomery County does what it does."

What was perhaps most troubling, was the passive, past-tense description of how the County would respond to the threat of serious crime, such as the gang rape incident. While most illegal immigrants do not engage in serious crime activity, Berliner said, "some of them do terrible things...and then we need to take care of it." In other words, our elected officials will allow a scenario in which we know "terrible things" will indeed happen, and then the County will "take care of it." That cannot be comforting to the victim of Thursday's brutal sexual assault in a bathroom at the school, who was allegedly gang-raped and sodomized. Wouldn't it make more sense to remove the criminal threat from the community and our schools before "bad things happen?"

Berliner went on to say the County does cooperate in limited circumstances with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when the agency alerts them when prisoners in custody "have committed federal crimes." But just yesterday, Montgomery County was placed on a new federal list of jurisdictions that "limit cooperation with ICE."

"Is there some coddling [of illegal immigrants] here that might have contributed to this crime?" asked a reporter. Berliner denied that was the case, and claimed those being "coddled" by the Council are longtime residents, whose only crime is being "undocumented." "We're coddling, and I'm proud of it," Berliner said.

Amidst fallout of brutal Rockville HS gang rape, MoCo lands on new ICE sanctuary city list

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division included Montgomery County on a list of jurisdictions that have ignored federal detainers on jailed criminals ICE sought to deport between January 28 and February 3, 2017. It also placed Montgomery on a separate list of "Jurisdictions that have Enacted Policies which Limit Cooperation with ICE." That designation directly contradicts assertions by MoCo officials that the county is not a sanctuary jurisdiction. And it comes only days after the alleged brutal gang rape of a female student at Rockville High School by two illegal immigrants.
Line 3 of this chart details just
one of the ICE detainers ignored
by Montgomery County on an
illegal immigrant charged with
assault here in the county
According to the report, during the six-day period studied, ICE placed a detainer on an unidentified illegal alien from El Salvador who had been charged with assault in Montgomery County, and was being held in the County detention center. Montgomery County declined the detainer in that case, according to ICE records, meaning that individual is back on the streets here in the county after his release.
MoCo lands on list of
jurisdictions that "limit
cooperation with ICE"
four days after two illegal
immigrants sought by ICE
were charged with the brutal
gang rape of a 14-year-old girl
at Rockville High School
Montgomery County's informal sanctuary policies indeed make it an outlier - the list of jurisdictions included on the limited-cooperation list is fairly short, when you consider how many cities and counties there are nationwide. Its inclusion on the list, and refusal to assist ICE in deporting an individual charged with assault here in the county, is not a good look after two illegal immigrants were charged with the brutal gang rape of a 14-year-old girl at Rockville High School last week.

The list is a new publication that will be updated regularly by ICE, and should be interesting reading as MoCo officials continue to make false statements regarding the true nature of their "cooperation" with ICE. This report suggests they have earned a Four Pinocchio/Pants-on-Fire rating with such statements.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Maki Shop installs Coming Soon signage in Bethesda (Photos)

Well, now we know what's taking over that space next to Not Your Average Joe's at Georgetown Square in Bethesda: Maki Shop. The fast-casual sushi takeout shop is already a hit in the District. Some "Coming Soon" windows screens have just been installed. A very promising addition to the lunch hour for folks working around the Rock Spring office parks.

T-Mobile to open across from Pike & Rose in N. Bethesda (Photos)

The more things change on one side of Old Georgetown Road near Rockville Pike, the more they stay the same on the other. Across from gleaming new Pike & Rose, an auto dealership changed hands last year. Now a second dealership is going to hang around a while longer - as a T-Mobile store. The distinctive showroom building once belonged to a Saab dealership, which closed almost five years ago.

Several stores at Westfield Montgomery Mall hope to reopen today after Sunday power outage (Photos)

Several stores at Westfield Montgomery Mall lost power yesterday, forcing them to close for the rest of the day. Guess, J. Jill, Teavana, and Johnston Murphy were among those victimized by the unexplained partial outage. All hope to reopen this morning.

Sign installed at True Food Kitchen in Bethesda (Photos)

The sign is up at the future True Food Kitchen restaurant, in the Solaire Bethesda luxury apartments at 7077 Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda. True Food Kitchen is scheduled to open this Spring.

Brutal Rockville High School gang rape exposes two more MCPS security flaws

Henry Sanchez, 18, had an
"active alien removal" case
pending against him - but was
allowed to enroll as a
freshman(!!) at
Rockville High School, where he is
accused of raping a 14-year-old girl
The alleged brutal gang rape of a 14-year-old girl at Rockville High School by two immigrant classmates last Thursday has likely doomed legislative efforts to formalize the existing sanctuary policies of Montgomery County and the City of Rockville. It's inconceivable that any elected official could press forward with that agenda item, now that the horrific details of that sexual assault were followed by word that at least one of the accused is an illegal immigrant who should have been deported - but mysteriously wasn't (shockingly, as of press time, the Maryland House of Delegates is expected to vote today on a similar statewide sanctuary measure).

But beyond the always-controversial immigration issue, the rape incident has exposed two additional security flaws at Montgomery County Public Schools. First is the question people across America have been asking on social media since the rape story went viral Friday: How did a 17 and 18 year old manage to get enrolled as "freshmen" at Rockville High School? And, second, how could Rockville High School and MCPS not have a home address on-file for one of its students?

So far, MCPS is not revealing the details of how adults can enroll in regular 9th grade classes. Most illegal immigrants are working during school hours, so clearly neither of these gentlemen came here to work. Stunningly, MCPS and its bumbling superintendent were completely silent on a gang rape that occurred in their school four days ago until yesterday. But don't expect any answers, according to said-bumbling superintendent Jack Smith, who arrogantly wrote that "I know community members have many questions about this serious incident. To ensure we do not unintentionally prejudice an ongoing investigation, MCPS cannot provide any additional details about this specific case at this time." And we pay this guy's salary? There is no reference to the bathroom assault on the system's Twitter feed, even as parents have pressed for answers on social media all weekend.

Equally troubling is the fact that Rockville High School and MCPS could not provide Montgomery County police detectives with the home address of Jose Montano. The official police press release described Montano's residence as an "unconfirmed address." Yet a home address was readily available for Henry Sanchez, the 18-year-old illegal immigrant who has only been in the country for seven months.

How can you enroll at MCPS without a home address? How would they have confirmed Montano's identity? How would they know he lived in the Rockville High School cluster?

How many other students does MCPS not have a home address for? How many students are illegally attending schools outside of their actual school cluster, because MCPS is not verifying their home address? Is this part of an exceptional process that applies to undocumented immigrant students? Because I have a hard time believing that an actual legal resident living in Aspen Hill would be able to enroll at Walt Whitman High School without proof of a current address in the Whitman cluster area.

So many questions, for a school system already found to have extremely-lax cybersecurity (including personal student information), and - as we found during recent vandalism incidents - a lack of security cameras on its campuses.

So many questions about how this devastating crime was allowed to happen, yet none of them are being asked by the elected officials whose policies actually did allow this rape to occur - the Montgomery County Council. Constituents took County and Rockville City Council members to task for their silence, which was deafening this past weekend.

Just this morning, the Washington Post is reporting that MS-13 gang kingpins in El Salvador are sending additional gang members north, specifically to Montgomery County, with orders to increase the gang's power in our county. This is serious business, especially in a county where our political leaders have so far claimed we don't have a gang problem. And Montgomery County has now earned the dubious distinction of being the only jurisdiction in our area where two underage girls have been gang-raped by illegal immigrants in a single year. Last April, two illegal immigrants living at taxpayer expense in Montgomery County public housing in Wheaton were arrested for kidnapping and gang-raping a 12-year-old girl.

Both of these girls were let down by our elected officials, and our school system. It's a disgrace. Silence is not the answer.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Vehicle burglarized at Shops at Sumner Place, theft at Whitman HS + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 16, according to crime data:

Drug arrest. Wisconsin Avenue at Chelsea Lane.

Theft. Walt Whitman High School.

Vehicle burglary. Shops at Sumner Place.

Save the date for tax day savings at the Shops of Wisconsin Place April 17

Celebrate completion of your tax returns on Monday, April 17, 2017 with rewards at the Shops of Wisconsin Place in Friendship Heights. When visiting that day, say the phrase, "Shops tax break" at the following businesses for:
  • Anthropologie - Light bites & beverages while you shop
  • J.Jill - Free style session 
  • Rock The Reformer - Free Chapstick 
  • Sephora - Free mini facial 
  • Talbots - Free VIP Style Session
  • The Capital Grille - Complimentary calamari appetizer card
  • Whole Foods Market - Free cup of coffee
The Shops of Wisconsin Place are located at 5310 Western Avenue, atop the Friendship Heights Metro station.