False shooting report closes Dulles mall

Loudoun County authorities locked down the Dulles Town Center mall Saturday afternoon following a report of a possible shooting there, but sheriff’s deputies quickly determined that there was no shooting or gunman at the mall.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a possible shooting at about 1:45 p.m., prompting a heavy police response to the mall, which is near the intersection of routes 7 and 28 outside of Sterling. Patrons and workers were held in place while authorities searched the area.

The caller apparently had overheard two women discussing a possible shooting and saying that they had to leave, said Liz Mills, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office. The two women could not be found and have not contacted law enforcement.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the mall complex was searched and nothing suspicious was located,” Mills said in a statement.

The mall was closed for about two hours.

— Rachel Sadon

Two men found guilty in witness-killing case

Two men were found guilty Friday of first-degree murder for the killing of a witness in a case against one of the men.

Willie Walker Jr., 23, and Ricky Donaldson, 22, were convicted in D.C. Superior Court of the murder of Delois “Peaches” Persha, 44. The two men are scheduled to be sentenced in May.

Prosecutors said Walker shot a 55-year-old woman during an argument in February 2008. That woman identified Walker as her attacker when speaking to police, and while police were looking for Walker, he got into another argument nearly two months later, with Persha. Persha mentioned the previous shooting, and Walker shot her as well. She told police and Walker was arrested.

From jail, Walker sent letters to Donaldson and other members of their gang, known as LDP for their LeDroit Park neighborhood. Prosecutors said Walker ordered Donaldson to kill Persha, and he did. Persha had been moved from the neighborhood to a government-paid hotel room for her safety, but returned after about a month, her sister said. The case against her killers hit a snag when another witness refused to testify.

— Julie Zauzmer