THE DISTRICT

Woman Dies in Fall Down Elevator Shaft

A 33-year-old Alexandria woman died last night when she accidentally fell down an elevator shaft at Gallery Place, police said.

The woman had returned from dinner with friends shortly after 8 p.m. and was riding in an elevator at 777 Seventh St. NW, a condominium complex next to Metro's Gallery Place Station. Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman, said the woman was going to the lobby with the husband of one of her friends when the elevator became stuck near the sixth floor.

He said the husband pried open the doors and got out. He was helping the woman try to jump out of the elevator when she fell to her death.

An officer at the scene, Lt. Jeffrey Parker, said the initial investigation indicated that the incident was "a freak accident" and that no alcohol was involved. The woman's identity was being withheld pending notification of her family.

Body Found After SE Townhouse Fire

Firefighters extinguishing a blaze in a Southeast Washington townhouse last night discovered the body of a woman inside, said Alan Etter, spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Police officials said they were investigating the death as a homicide.

Firefighters were called after 9 p.m. to the 1200 block of Valley Avenue SE, near Wheeler Road, where there was a fire in the basement apartment of the townhouse. As they put out the flames, Etter said firefighters discovered the woman, who has not been identified. Police and fire officials are investigating and could not say last night how the fire started or the cause of the woman's death. There were no other injuries, Etter said.

Man Shot Last Week Dies From Wound

A young man shot in the hallway of an apartment building last week died from the bullet wound to his head Tuesday, police said.

Anthony Lucas, 18, was found inside the building in the 2900 block of Knox Place SE about 4 a.m. on Nov. 14, shot in the head but breathing, police said.

He was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he remained until his death. Police are investigating the shooting and have made no arrests.

MARYLAND

Prisoner Escapes Van in Pr. George's

Prince George's County authorities are looking for a 35-year-old prisoner who jumped out of a transport van Wednesday afternoon. John Lewis was last seen walking northbound on Crain Highway about 5:30 p.m. after he got out of the vehicle at Crain Highway and Danehower Road.

Police described him as a bald, black male who is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 165 to 180 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black sweat shirt and bluejeans. Anyone with information can call police at 301-390-2100.

SUV Hits Howard Officer Directing Traffic

A Howard County police officer was struck by a sport-utility vehicle yesterday evening as he was directing traffic in the westbound lane of Route 40 at Pebble Beach Drive.

Auxiliary officer Petrus Lucas, 21, of Glenwood was directing traffic to alleviate congestion from another crash when he was hit by a 1997 Chevrolet Blazer shortly before 6:30 p.m. The officer was pinned between the Blazer and a police vehicle. He was in critical but stable condition last night at a Baltimore hospital.

Police said Johnny R. Price, 35, of Glen Burnie was driving the Blazer. Police said the investigation is ongoing, and it was unclear whether the driver might face charges.

Xbox Release Prompts Wal-Mart Melee

Shoppers waiting for the Xbox 360 video game player scuffled outside a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Elkton, Md., when a manager improvised rules for who would get the device first. It took more than 10 police officers to restore order. No one was arrested.

About 300 people were waiting late Monday for the game to go on sale at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Some had waited 12 hours when a manager said the Xboxes would be sold on a first-come, first-served basis, instead of using a number system customers had devised.

"It was like a mosh pit," Michael Pearman, 30, of Newark, Del., told the Cecil Whig newspaper.

Some customers were knocked down and trampled, but no one was injured seriously, said police Lt. Lawrence Waldridge.

Man Believed Kidnapped Is Found Dead

A man whose family dropped off thousands of dollars when an apparent kidnapper demanded ransom was found slain early Wednesday, Baltimore County police said.

The body of Jeryl A. Singleterry, 26, of Edgewood, Md., was found shortly before 6 a.m. in a minivan. He had suffered an apparent gunshot wound to the upper torso, police said.

Singleterry was last seen about 4:45 p.m. Monday, driving the van from his grandmother's house in Baltimore. His family later received phone calls saying he had been kidnapped and demanding ransom, police said. Family members dropped off tens of thousands of dollars in cash at sites in Baltimore County. But they didn't hear from Singleterry and called police Tuesday afternoon.

VIRGINIA

Lorton Area Man, 19, Charged in Slaying

Fairfax County police have charged a man from the Lorton area with killing a 19-year-old Reston man.

Police arrested Allen J. Anderson, 19, of the 8400 block of Laurel Height Loop, about 11 p.m. Wednesday and charged him with murder. They said Anderson shot Justin M. Carter of the 2500 block of Parkers Lane after a dispute. The incident took place about 1:50 p.m. Wednesday in the 11900 block of Winterthur Lane in Reston.

Laptop Sale Leads to Child-Porn Charges

A Fredericksburg man faces two felony charges after pornographic photos of children were discovered on a laptop computer he had sold to a co-worker, according to court records.

Gregory T. Mayo, 43, a car salesman, is charged with two counts of manufacturing child pornography.

City police began investigating this month after hearing from the co-worker, who found the photos in the computer, according to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in Fredericksburg Circuit Court. The woman gave the computer to police Nov. 14. Police also seized an additional half-dozen or so computers Mayo owned.

"This is the best way to start off Thanksgiving."

-- Randy Staples, who organized volunteers to dish out a Thanksgiving meal at McPherson Square in the District. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Karlyn Barker, Petula Dvorak, Ernesto Londono, Stephanie McCrummen and Dan Morse and the Associated Press.