THE DISTRICT

Ramp Closure on Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Avenue NW exit ramp on the southbound side of Rock Creek Parkway is tentatively scheduled to be closed beginning Tuesday because of a nearby construction project.

The closure is expected to be for several days, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., said Bill Rice, spokesman for the D.C. Department of Transportation. Motorists should detour to the next exit by using K Street.

At the construction site, a crane is being erected for making repairs to the Four Seasons Hotel, which is adjacent to the Parkway.

School Supplies Donated in NW

More than 1,300 backpacks filled with school supplies were distributed yesterday to disadvantaged schoolchildren in the District.

World Vision, a Christian relief organization, went to Emery Elementary School in Northeast Washington to hand out backpacks to 1,000 students from 10 schools.

Also yesterday, Central Union Mission, in the 1300 block of R Street NW, held a back-to-school party and distributed backpacks and school supplies to more than 300 D.C. schoolchildren.

Man Found Fatally Shot in Alley

A 25-year-old Southeast Washington man was found shot to death early yesterday in a District alleyway, police said.

Officers were called to the rear of a building in the 1500 block of Kenilworth Avenue NE, where they found Kareem Lamont McDowell dead shortly after 3 a.m., authorities said.

McDowell, of the 2400 block of Skyland Place SE, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head and body, authorities said.

Investigators know of no suspect or motive in the case, police said.

In an unrelated shooting last night, a man was shot to death near 35th and B streets SE about 9:30, police said. No other details were available late last night.

MARYLAND

Truck Alert Shuts Mall Garage

Authorities barred access to a parking garage at Montgomery Mall for about two hours yesterday while they used a robot to inspect a suspicious vehicle, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service said.

Mall security officials alerted rescue personnel to the vehicle about 2 p.m., prompting the county's bomb squad and hazardous materials units to respond, fire spokesman Pete A. Piringer said.

Officials shut a three-level garage near the Nordstrom department store while they inspected the vehicle and looked for the owner.

Once found, the owner convinced police that the pickup truck did not contain explosives, Piringer said.

The incident did not disturb weekend business.

"The entire mall remained open for business," Piringer said.

VIRGINIA

Board Confirms Nader Rejection

The Virginia State Board of Elections has confirmed that it rejected petitions to place Ralph Nader on the Nov. 2 ballot for president.

In an interview late Friday, the board's secretary, Jean R. Jensen, said that Nader campaign workers missed the deadline to file the petitions.

Jensen also said Nader's campaign workers did not properly organize the independent candidate's petitions.

Nader's supporters said they will challenge the state's ruling in court.

Election officials in Maryland, Missouri and Illinois also said they refused to put Nader on the ballot for similar problems with petitions.

Police Hiring Examined for Bias

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Virginia Beach's police and fire departments discriminate against black employees and job applicants.

The inquiry was prompted by a review of the demographic data that the city regularly submits to the federal government about the city's population and its workforce.

About 19 percent of Virginia Beach's population is black. Of the 767 sworn police officers, 72 are black, representing about 9 percent of the force. Nineteen of its 446 firefighters are black, representing about 4 percent of the department.

Overall, about 21 percent of employees in all Virginia Beach city departments are black.

"You're seeing it more often in folks who have worked off the farm, in urban settings. They see this as a way to fulfill their life's ambitions, to work outside with their hands. With farming, you're able to see the results of your work almost instantly."

-- Ben Beale, a St. Mary's County agriculture educator,

on farming as a way of life among

more "urban exiles." -- Page C1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Nicole Fuller, Clarence Williams, Cameron W. Barr and Chris L. Jenkins and the Associated Press.