Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vehicle burglarized in Green Acres, assault on Crossfield Ct. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 23, according to crime data:

Theft from vehicle. 7700 block Woodmont Avenue.

Theft. 7500 block Old Georgetown Road.

Collision/property damage. 4800 block Cordell Avenue.

Theft. 5100 block Acacia Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 5300 block Yorktown Road (Green Acres).

Theft. 5300 block Western Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 00 block Pooks Hill Road.

Drug arrest. 8600 block Woodbrook Road.

Vehicle burglary. 8500 block Meadowlark Lane.

Theft from vehicle. 10400 block Old Georgetown Road.

Assault. 11300 block Woodglen Drive.

Assault. 5100 block Crossfield Court.

Bethesda demolition update: Steamers (Photos)

Demolition continues at the site of the vacant Steamers, located at the corner of Norfolk and Auburn Avenues in downtown Bethesda. The property will be redeveloped with The Claiborne, a 10-story luxury condo building. At least one tree was cut down, as the tree trunk chunks in these photos attest.

These property owners declined
to sell to the developer of
The Claiborne, which will
be built on the Steamers site

Marbles closes at Westfield Montgomery Mall, Voorthuis coming soon, Yum Crepes is....? (Photos)

Marbles: The Brain Store, as expected, has closed at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, perhaps reflecting the lower academic standards adopted by Montgomery County Public Schools in 2015. Apparently, we're just not smart enough anymore for a brain store, nor for Smart Toys, which also closed a few months ago.

In other mall news, Yum Crepes is closed again in the Dining Terrace. What that means is unclear. The kiosk has been closed every day I have been to the mall this past week, including Saturday. However, it is not cleared out, and Yum has done this before, only to open a few days later. Stay tuned.

Finally, Voorthuis Opticians has put up some "coming soon" signage at their new mall space.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Burglary on Bayard Blvd., assault on Democracy Blvd. + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on March 22, according to crime data:

Theft. 7800 block Woodmont Avenue.

Theft. 4800 block Battery Lane.

Liquor arrest. Leland Street at Connecticut Avenue.

Burglary. 4700 block Bayard Boulevard.

Theft from vehicle. 10600 block Weymouth Street.

Assault. 7100 block Democracy Boulevard.

Assault. 12000 block Parklawn Drive.

Citizens to rally Sunday for MoCo Council/MCPS accountability after Rockville HS gang rape

Community outrage over the alleged gang rape of a 14-year-old student in a bathroom at Rockville High School last week has spawned a rally planned for tomorrow, Sunday, March 26, at 4:00 PM, in front of the Montgomery County Council building at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. Speakers will include community activists and organizations, and political candidates who will be running in 2018.

While emotions are running high over the gang rape, rally organizers say they're asking attendees to protest with a "firm but calm demeanor" - and to create and bring their own signs.

Many blame the County Executive, County Council and Montgomery County Public Schools for policies and security lapses which they feel allowed the bathroom assault to occur. Those officials' decision to wait several days to comment publicly, their often tone-deaf response, and the sense that they were angrier about criticism directed at them than about the rape itself, further outraged county residents. MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith was blasted for an inept response, and pilloried online for calling parents racists and xenophobes. A petition is now calling for Smith's resignation. It has 1387 signatures at press time.

Bethesda construction update: uBreakiFix (Photos)

uBreakiFix looks just about ready to open. Once open, they will fix everything you broke from cell phones to tablets to video game systems, with a 90-day warranty on repairs. uBreakiFix is located at 8019 Wisconsin Avenue, in the old Potter Violin space.

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.