Arlington Raises Cigarette Tax

The Arlington County Board yesterday exercised its new authority to raise cigarette taxes, approving an increase in the county's cigarette tax from 5 cents to 20 cents a pack.

The increase is expected to bring in an estimated $1.4 million for fiscal 2005. The county will put the money in reserve for a tax cut for property owners, whose real estate assessments have soared in recent years. The amount is to be determined in April. The tax increase will take effect Sept. 1.

Two Shot After Gang Argument

A woman and a man were shot yesterday in what police believe was a gang-related incident in front of a home in the 4700 block of Lafitte Court in the Lincolnia area of Fairfax County.

A bullet grazed the left leg of the woman, 23, who lives nearby. The 24-year-old man, from the Kingstowne area, was hit in the back. The shootings occurred about 2:55 a.m., Fairfax County police said.

The two were part of a group that had an argument 30 minutes earlier with three known members of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, the largest gang in Northern Virginia, police said.

The two were treated at Inova Fairfax Hospital and released.

The victims were acquainted with the gang members, said police, who are investigating how the argument and shooting were related.

Police ask that anyone with information about the shooting call 703-691-2131 or call Crime Solvers at 800-673-2777. Callers can remain anonymous.


Driver Hurt in Train Collision

A dump truck's driver was hospitalized Friday after it collided with a freight train in Bladensburg, authorities said.

Witnesses say the truck failed to stop and hit the train in the 3300 block of Kenilworth Avenue at 2:30 p.m., Prince George's County fire department spokesman Mark Brady said.

The driver, who was not identified, was in fair condition yesterday at a hospital. No one on the train was injured, Brady said. County police are investigating.

Killer Sought in Shooting of Boy

Baltimore police are searching for the person who fatally shot a 14-year-old boy early yesterday while he walked down the sidewalk with a man.

Raymond Potee was shot about 2 a.m. in the unit block of North Kerry Street in western Baltimore as he and Alton Braxton, 44, were walking, said Lt. Mark Callahan of the Baltimore police.

By the time police arrived, Raymond was dead, Callahan said. Braxton, who was shot in the leg, was treated at a hospital and listed in fair condition, authorities said.

It was also not immediately known how the teenager and Braxton knew each other, Callahan said.

Police were looking for a black male, possibly in his late teens, who had dreadlocks and was wearing a white T-shirt, denim shorts and white shoes.

Baltimore police ask anyone with information about the shooting to call the homicide division at 410-396-2100.

Doctor Charged in Drug Probe

An Eastern Shore doctor has been arrested after he allegedly prescribed drugs for an undercover officer.

State police said Farid Bina of Berlin has been charged with two counts of distributing a controlled substance, two counts of distributing a prescription and making and possessing marijuana.

Police said a year-long investigation led to search warrants last week. Bina, 43, and his wife, Tonya Bina, 30, were arrested Thursday. She was charged with marijuana possession.

Authorities said the officer asked for Roxicet, a prescription drug. Then, according to police, the officer said he was not experiencing pain but that he was "addicted."

Authorities said Bina then prescribed the drug.

Fire at Hotel Construction Site

Fire broke out yesterday morning on an upper floor of a hotel under construction in Montgomery County, a county fire department spokesman said.

He said the fire was reported about 11:15 a.m. on the 10th floor of the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel and Conference Center in the White Flint area.

The blaze was largely confined to the room in the back of the building where it apparently started, the spokesman said.

The cause of the fire in the 5700 block of Marinelli Road was not immediately known and was under investigation last night, said Capt. Oscar Garcia, a police spokesman.

"It's inconceivable to me that anybody from Washington, D.C., would schlep all the way out there to go to a ballgame. It's a hellish commute any time of day, but especially between 4 and 7 o'clock in the afternoon."

-- Tony Bullock, spokesman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), speaking about a proposal to bring a major league team to Northern Virginia. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Annie Gowen, Sarah Park, Arthur Santana, Martin Weil and Jessica Valdez and the Associated Press.