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Police say they’re not at fault in response to fatal stabbing at Bradlee Shopping Center

Police at the Bradlee Shopping Center, two days after the fatal stabbing in the parking lot on May 24, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

It’s been quiet at the Bradlee Shopping Center McDonald’s since 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez was fatally stabbed in a brawl in the parking lot on Tuesday (May 24). Two days after the incident, a lone police cruiser now sits near the spot where Hernandez was stabbed.

Video of the incident obtained by ALXnow revealed that police arrived at the scene before the stabbing occurred, no sirens were used and they struggled to break up the fight. There were about 30-50 Alexandria City High School students involved and no arrests have been made in connection to the incident.

Alexandria Police told ALXnow that they are not investigating their response to the incident and sirens were not used because they did not anticipate such a big brawl.

“We got a call for a fight, and we sent officers to a fight,” Alexandria Police spokesman Captain Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow. “When they got there, they realized how big the fight was, and they asked for more additional units. As the incident went on, more units were requested and sirens started coming in as the need was a priority.”

Lunchtime and after-school are reliably busy periods at the restaurant, and staff said that fights between students are frequent. One person was injured in a fight there last year and a juvenile was shot last September.

“Fights happen all the time in here,” a McDonald’s staffer said. “It’s bad.”

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe for Hernandez has so far raised more than $17,000.

Alexandria City High School sent students home after the incident and transitioned to virtual learning for the rest of the week.

ACPS leadership will also take these days to prepare for in-person learning to resume at all ACHS campuses with enhancements to the security posture on Tues., May 31, 2022,” ACHS principal Peter Balas wrote in an email. “We have made some adjustments to the high school day for the remainder of the school year to support student movement throughout the building to include a staggered dismissal at 3:15 p.m., a refined lunch block and class transition process.”

The incident occurred while students were taking their Standards of Learning tests. It was not a full school day and large groups of children were walking between both ACHS campuses.

This year the school implemented a new Lunch and Learn policy, where four separate lunch periods were converted to a single 74-minute-long lunch period where students don’t have to eat in the cafeteria.

“If there are any needs or concerns about how a student is coping, students or families should reach out to their school counselor via email, through Canvas, or by calling the school at 703-824-6800,” Balas wrote.

Hernandez’s death marks the city’s third homicide of 2022 after a murder in the Foxchase neighborhood and a teenager killed in an alleged attempted carjacking in Potomac Yard earlier this month.

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