Student Charged A 14-year-old student was arrested and charged with setting a fire yesterday in Gaithersburg High School.

Investigators said the youth ignited Halloween decorations on a classroom door. Twenty students were in the room, but no one was hurt. The building was evacuated for a time before classes resumed.

"He's been charged with first-degree arson, 20 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of malicious burning," said Montgomery County fire and rescue spokesman Pete Piringer. The suspect was not identified because of his age.

School staff members extinguished the flames before firefighters arrived.

Twinbrook Robberies Five street robberies have been reported in recent weeks in and around the Twinbrook Metro station, Montgomery County police said yesterday.

All the victims were walking home from the Metro when they were confronted by one to three robbers, police said. The incidents occurred between about 9 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.

Most of the robberies occurred near the pedestrian path from the Metro station to the intersection of Halpine Road and Lewis Avenue, police said. In the most recent robberies, handguns were displayed, but no injuries have been reported.

Suspect Sought Howard County police are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in the slaying of a man found dead in his home last week with tiny stab wounds on his body.

Police said Joel Nunez Valles, 32, of an unknown address, was charged in warrants with first- and second-degree murder in the death of a 50-year-old man originally identified as Juan Miguel Gonzales, of the 13000 block of Route 144 in West Friendship. The victim's fingerprints, however, indicate that his real name is Abolinar Avila, police said.

Valles, who was an acquaintance of the victim's, stole an unknown amount of money from Avila after the slaying, police said. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 410-313-2283.


Baby Injured A D.C. woman has been charged with shaking, slapping and dropping her weeks-old foster son, prosecutors said this week.

Tanya Jenkins of Bass Circle SE, who appeared in court yesterday, is charged with first-degree cruelty to children in connection with the abuse of the child, whose skull was fractured and who suffered swelling to the brain.

The boy, identified in court papers as R.P., was born Sept. 9 and was placed in Jenkins's care Sept. 12. He is at Children's Hospital.

According to charging papers, Jenkins admitted slapping and shaking the child out of frustration because he would not stop crying, but she said she never dropped him intentionally. She said she dropped him six or seven times on his head while trying to change him or while giving him a bath.

Compiled from reports by staff writers and wire services.