Man dies outside in Prince George’s County

January 7, 2014

Prince George’s police are investigating the death of a man who was found unresponsive outside of a local business this morning when temperatures were in the single digits. But it is too soon to tell whether the man’s death was caused by the weather, authorities say.

Officers arrived at the 4700 block of Allentown Road at about 10 a.m. Tuesday and found a man unresponsive behind a local business, said Cpl. Maria McKinney, a spokeswoman for Prince George’s County Police.

Police say there doesn’t appear to be foul play and preliminarily, the man appeared to have been homeless.

“It’s too early to say, to be quite honest,’’ McKinney said of how the man died. “Pending autopsy results, we’ll get a better understanding as to what occurred.”

Prince George’s social services employees and volunteers started visiting homeless populations yesterday afternoon to try to get people into shelters before the coldest winds and weather hit, said Ronnie Gill, the county’s emergency manager. Some homeless people who didn’t want to stay at a shelter got extra blankets.

Gill said the county has been carefully monitoring emergency calls, but it hasn’t seen anything too out of the ordinary.

The county tripled the number of shelters available in response to the weather, working with local churches to make sure extra space was available. Last night, there were at least 20 open beds, Gill said.

Community Crisis Services Incorporated has been running the county’s emergency hypothermia shelter program to ensure there is overflow space available for families tonight.

But the Warm Nights emergency shelter program fills families’ needs beyond the occasional polar vortex, said Laila Riazi, director of Community Crisis Services Incorporated.

The Warm Nights program starts in the beginning of November and runs through the middle of April. The program isn’t just about keeping people out of the cold, but also connects people to social services .

“People are coming to stay safe and warm, but we’re also working with them to find out what they need in order for them to thrive,” Riazi said. “We don’t want people to freeze to death, but we take it a step further.”

Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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