MARYLAND

Officer Shoots Robber, Police Say

An off-duty uniformed police officer stumbled on an armed robbery at an Oxon Hill restaurant last night and shot and wounded the suspect, Prince George's County police said.

The Prince George's County officer walked into the Eastern Restaurant in the 6200 block of Oxon Hill Road about 7:45 p.m. and saw a man brandishing a silver gun at the cash register, said Cpl. Diane Richardson, a police spokeswoman.

The officer, who was not identified, ordered the man to drop the gun, Richardson said. He pointed it at the officer, who fired at least one shot, striking the man in the arm and upper torso, she said.

The man ran into the parking lot, dropped the gun and continued running. The suspect's gun was determined to be a replica of a .45 semiautomatic, Richardson said.

Police chased the suspect, and a short time later, a police dog found him under a porch in the 6500 block of Bock Road. He was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he was treated for wounds not believed to be life-threatening, Richardson said.

The officer has been placed on routine administrative leave pending an investigation, Richardson said.

Montgomery to Discourage Transfers

The Montgomery County school board unanimously agreed to put its student transfer policy on hold yesterday, pending a decision from the Supreme Court, and instituted a policy that, in effect, discourages students from transferring out of their home schools at all.

"We're moving from a bias favorable to transfers," said board member Stephen N. Abrams (At Large), "to one that precludes it, unless you have an awfully good reason to do so."

Now students will be allowed to transfer out of a home school only if they can prove a hardship, if an older sibling already attends another school, or to continue in a certain cluster at the "transition" points between elementary, middle and high school.

The vote comes after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the county's current student transfer policy, calling it unconstitutional for using race and a school's racial diversity as factors in granting or denying transfers.

"This policy is only a holding pattern until we get some legal decision," said school attorney Judith Bresler, "or until it's time for a new debate."

VIRGINIA

Toddler Hit by Car in Parking Lot

A 17-month-old boy was critically injured yesterday when he was hit by a car backing up in the parking lot of a garden supply center in Annandale, Fairfax County police said.

Galen Nordhorff, of Annandale, who was with his mother, was flown by helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was in critical condition with head injuries, police said.

The incident happened about 12:30 p.m. outside the Annandale Garden Center in the 6600 block of Little River Turnpike. The boy was standing on the right side of a 1993 Toyota Camry when the car started backing up and struck him, police said.

Police said it appeared that the driver did not see the boy. No charges were expected to be filed.

THE DISTRICT

Children Get Free Books at Party

U.S. Education Secretary Richard W. Riley was joined by costumed book characters Pat the Bunny, Poky the Puppy and Clifford the Big Red Dog at a holiday party where Riley gave free books to children in government-subsidized day-care programs.

Yesterday, Riley and Reading Is Fundamental Chairman Lynda Johnson Robb read stories to children at the party in the auditorium of the Education Department and encouraged families to choose books as holiday gifts.

A total of 10,000 volumes from Golden Books and Scholastic will be distributed this month to District youngsters in federally subsidized day care.

U.S. Grant to Fund Playground Equipment

The District's Department of Human Services yesterday announced a $1.9 million federal grant to fund new playground equipment for 70 D.C. child care providers.

"This will not only add to the quality of the playgrounds," said Barbara F. Kamara, the executive director of the department's Office of Early Childhood Development. "It will add to the city's neighborhoods." About 4,625 children are expected to use the new equipment, she said.

Kamara said the money from the project came from a portion of federal welfare funds that can be used for child care.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held yesterday at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church Child Development Center, which is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Mayor Anthony A. Williams is urging more day-care centers to try to get nationally accredited. Of the District's 360 licensed centers, 38 are nationally accredited, Kamara said.

THE REGION

Fallen Tree Limbs Cause Power Outages

A tree limb that fell on a wire in Wheaton disrupted power for about 1,100 Potomac Electric Power Co. customers yesterday morning, including students at Veirs Mills Elementary School. The power went out about 10:30 a.m. and was restored by 11:35 a.m.

In the District, a broken tree limb disrupted power for about 150 customers at 36th and Yuma streets NW early last night. Power was out for more than an hour.

Veterans to Mark Battle of the Bulge

The 55th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge is being marked by World War II veterans gathering in the Washington area.

Approximately 19,000 U.S. soldiers were killed during six weeks of bitter fighting triggered when the German army launched a massive counteroffensive against the advancing Allied forces Dec. 16, 1944, in the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg.

"It's the largest land battle ever fought by the American Army," noted John J. Dunleavy, incoming president of the Arlington-based Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, which is sponsoring the two-day gathering marking the event.

A wreath-laying is scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and is open to the public. For information on other events, call 703-528-4058.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We need less play time, like in preschool, and more learning time. But it needs to be done right."

--ontgomery County school board member Nancy J. King, on a plan to beef up academics in kindergarten.

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