A 28-year-old Alexandria man was charged with peeping into a dwelling last month in the West End.
Police were alerted after midnight on Sunday, Aug. 27, that a man was allegedly peering through the windows of a lower-level apartment in the 700 block of N. Howard Street. A witness told police that the suspect would hide when anyone approached and then would return to the window, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.
The suspect allegedly ran from police and then jumped into his Toyota Rav4 a few blocks away, turned off the lights and hid in the trunk area, according to the search warrant affidavit.
The suspect “admitted he had been looking into the window at the incident location and fled from police upon their arrival,” according to the search warrant affidavit.
The suspect then reportedly told police that he “has a prior peeping tom conviction from 2020, also in the City of Alexandria,” according to the search warrant affidavit. Those previous charges against the suspect were dismissed in Nov. 2020, according to court records.
The suspect was charged with peeping into a dwelling, arrested and released that same day on a $5,000 unsecured bond. He goes to court for the alleged offense on Oct. 10.
Hundreds solemnly gathered outside Police Headquarters this morning to dedicate the Alexandria Police Department Suicide Memorial.
The names of officers Jason Kline, who died in 2004, and his best friend, Steven Pagach IV, who died in 2011, are etched in the memorial.
The memorial is reportedly the second in the United States to honor police officers who have died by suicide, after the Boston Police Officer Suicide Memorial Wall. It is next to the APD memorial for officers who died in the line of duty.
APD Lieutenant Tara May came up with the idea after graduating from the National FBI Academy last year.
“Jason and Steven’s loss was devastating to the department,” May said. “My fear is, you know, do we have more of Jason and Steven’s we don’t know about walking around the hallways. I’m hoping that this will remind people that there is hope, and there’s help when it’s needed.”
Police Chief Don Hayes is also a pastor and gave the invocation.
“We pray that this memorial will always be a reminder and a remembrance to those who are now wearing this uniform that care,” Hayes said. “And that we don’t want to see anybody else’s name on this memorial.”
Retired Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, an APD veteran, is the chair of the chairman of the board of Ivy Hill Cemetery, which donated the granite slabs used in the memorial.
“It recognizes these two men for their sacrifices in a respectful and dignified way,” Lawhorne said. “This dancing slate of granite will forever whisper the names of Jason and Steve, that they are not forgotten.”
Retired Police Chief David Baker donated the funds for the inscription on the memorial.
“We miss their enormous presence in our lives,” Baker said of Kline and Pagach. “We miss their contributions and commitment to public safety and we salute their excellence in bravery in service to others. Make no mistake, they are and will always be our brothers and blue.”
Above the officers’ names, the memorial states: “In darkness, there is light. In honor and memory of the officers we have lost to suicide. Thank you for your dedication and service.”
Retired Deputy Chief Hassan Aden said that APD must confront the stigma of mental health in policing.
“Policing is a profession that demands unwavering dedication, sacrifice and resilience,” Aden said. “Every day officers put on their uniforms, not knowing what challenges they will face what dangers they will encounter, or how deeply those experiences will impact their lives. The weight of the badge is not just physical, it’s emotional, and mental.”
May said the department has work to do to address mental health challenges of its officers.
“In our collective bargaining negotiations, we asked for an improvement in the department’s mental health programs,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
A 34-year-old Arlington man is being held without bond after allegedly robbing his girlfriend’s ex of his clothes and other items at gunpoint.
The suspect was arrested for armed robbery on Sept. 14, nearly two months after the July 18 incident.
The victim reported to police that, on July 17, he had a phone argument with his child’s mother and her boyfriend. The following day, while sitting outside in front of the Popeyes at 3402 Mount Vernon Avenue, the victim observed the suspect and an unknown driver pull up in a white Kia Optima, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.
The victim told police that he approached the suspect on foot after the suspect got out of the vehicle and approached him.
The victim said that the suspect then stepped back, took a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at him. The victim reported that the suspect stole his clothes and other items, and that the suspect then posted a video on Instagram of the victim sitting on a crate, according to the search warrant affidavit.
Police took the suspect’s iPhone into possession and described the video in the affidavit.
The suspect goes to court on Oct. 5.
The city’s Sexual Assault Center and Domestic Violence Program is open, and hotlines are available 24/7 at 703-684-7273 [Sexual Assault Hotline] or 703-746-4911 [Domestic Violence Hotline]. Online support is also available with The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.
(Updated 9/27/23) Before unanimously voting on financing the massive WestEnd Alexandria project at the former Landmark Mall site, a majority of Alexandria City Council members said that they still dislike the name.
Council unanimously approved a number of proposals on the 52-acre development, which will be devoted to the new Alexandria Hospital, and a multi-block town center with apartment buildings, pavilions, restaurants, and rooftop open space.
But Foulger-Pratt’s WestEnd project is located within the larger West End neighborhood; akin to naming a development DelRay or OldTown.
Foulger-Pratt has already branded the development and has no plans on changing the name.
“No, a name change is not being considered at this time,” Courtney Williams, Foulger-Pratt’s marketing director, told ALXnow.
One of those approved measures is a wayfinding sign program throughout the development, which Council members said will only confuse residents.
Vice Mayor Amy Jackson said that the wayfinding signs will be confusing.
“When you are putting in wayfinding signs saying ‘2.5 miles to the West End,’ and people saying, ‘Hey, aren’t we in the West End?’ What West End is that?” Jackson said. “That’s what’s going to start happening.”
City Councilman Canek Aguirre said that he feels dismayed by the name.
“I wasn’t happy with the name, but we can’t tell people what to name things,” Aguirre said. “They’re going to name it what they want. But what this body can do is signal some of our displeasure behind what the name is. We are still fully behind the project, we still want to see everything happen… but the name is problematic.”
Council Member Alyia Gaskins said that WestEnd signage will be confusing, since the neighborhood nickname is tied to a geographic area.
“The West End for so long in this city has meant a geographic area, not a specific development,” Gaskins said. “That is something that we need to be thinking about.”
Council Member Kirk McPike said that the name hurts other organizations with “West End” in their name, such as the West End Business Association.
“All of that gets destroyed for them by this development, which is going to take the name of half our city and apply it to one piece of land,” McPike said. “We would never allow a development on the east side of the city call itself Old Town. We would never allow a development in the middle of the city to call itself Del Ray, but we’re allowing this development to take the name of half the city and apply it to themselves. I know the horse left the barn, the ship has sailed, but it was wrong and I’m really disappointed that we allowed that to happen.”
Councilman John Taylor Chapman said that the issue will be problematic for the city.
“We are now going to have to focus on this,” Chapman said. “We are going to have community members and folks who have grown up in the region and have gotten to know what the West End does, and signage is going to be an issue for us. We need to be very clear with them about the problems that creates for staff and the city.”
Council also approved the creation of the Landmark Community Development Authority, which will set a special tax rate for the development in order to pay the city back for $141 million in financing.
Council approved the following:
- A development special use permit to build a central plaza (on blocks F and N), a paseo (on block R) and a terrace park (on block P)
- Plans to build two retail/restaurant pavilions with outdoor dining, a playground, seasonal ice-skating rink, and areas for passive recreation
- Plans to extend commercial space and add new rooftop open space to block E
- Plans to modify the layout of the block E residential building by infilling the ground floor courtyard with a one-story commercial space
- Development of 4.4 acres of open space on four blocks, including a tennis/pickleball court, basketball court
The first pavilion, a two-story 4,610-square-foot structure, will be located in a central plaza on block F. The second pavilion, a two-story 978-square-foot building on block N, would include a 270-square-foot seasonal ice-skating shop and a public restroom.
Attention Del Ray dog owners: The Eugene Simpson Park will reopen to the public in the beginning of next year at the end of more than a year of redevelopment.
The formerly dusty, not-grassy park at 521 E. Monroe Avenue will be closed for the last three months of the year to allow for a “sod establishment period,” according to the city.
“Construction at the dog park continues with grading and site preparation for tree installation and sod installation this month as the start of the fall planting season approaches,” the city told ALXnow in an email.
“The developer has been working with staff on a few options to address the drainage issues within the dog run and will be submitting a revised site plan,” city parks planner Judy Lo told ALXnow. “We anticipate the northern section of the dog run will be re-graded with possibly additional inlets and/or bioretention and plantings. This type of work is best done in the fall when the temperatures start to cool.”
Photos via Facebook and City of Alexandria
There were no injuries or arrests after gunfire was reported in the West End early Friday morning — a separate incident from the other West End shooting this morning where one victim was injured.
Multiple callers reported four shots were fired at around 12:30 a.m. in the 4300 block of King Street near Park Center Drive, according to the police scanner.
No one was injured in the incident and no arrests were made. Witnesses reported to police that the shots were fired from a gray-colored GMC, which fled the scene in the area of Interstate 395, according to the police scanner.
Police found shell casings near Park Center Drive and King Street, according to the police scanner.
Anyone with information on this incident can call the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.
Notification:: In response to a shots fired incident, there is a moderate police presence near and around the 4300 block of King Street. No injuries were reported in connection with this incident. APD is on scene and investigating. pic.twitter.com/XCUyyzkmqX
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) September 22, 2023
Alexandria City Public Schools saw a 26% increase in student arrests last school year, and a disproportionate number of arrested students are Black males.
There were 58 ACPS students arrested last school year, according to a school safety report to be presented to the School Board on Thursday. There were also 32 weapons-related incidents, 100 students injured, 112 fights/assaults and five reports of sexual misconduct.
The news follows an ACPS report revealing that most of Alexandria’s middle and high school students feel unsafe.
There were 451 incidents requiring a police response within Alexandria City Public Schools in the 2022-2023 school year — 188 incidents in the first two quarters of the year and 263 incidents in the final two quarters. That’s a 17% increase over the 385 incidents in the 2021-2022 school year.
While 25% of ACPS students are Black, most of those arrested are Black males.
Middle School Arrests (27)
- Black male — 14
- Hispanic male — 4
- Black female — 4
- Hispanic female — 3
- White male — 2
High School Arrests (31)
- Black male — 18
- Hispanic male — 6
- Black female — 4
- White male — 3
- Hispanic female — 2
Weapons seized include a handgun, two BB guns, stun guns, tasers, knives, pepper spray and a box cutter.
ACPS made a number of safety improvements in the 2022-2023 school year, like new ID requirements for students, designating entrances and exits at schools, installing metal detectors, and renewing its partnership with the police department to provide school resource officers.
Incidents in the 2022-2023 school year include:
- 112 fights
- 116 incidents characterized as “other” (parking lot accidents, trespassing, mental health episodes, property lost/damaged)
- 100 injuries requiring medical assistance
- 32 confiscated weapons
- 21 reports of controlled substances recovered
- 19 threats (verbal/cyber/social media)
- 16 missing student reports
- Seven reports of suspicious activity
- Five alarms pulled
- Five reports of sexual misconduct
- Three thefts
- One report of possessing prohibited materials
There were 175 incidents reported at the Alexandria City High School campuses, 183 incidents at the city’s two middle schools, 43 incidents at K-8 schools and 50 incidents at elementary schools.
Alexandria Police Department Captain Courtney Ballantine just spent 10 weeks at the FBI National Academy, and spoke with ALXnow about his experience.
Over the summer, Ballantine lived in a dorm with a roommate at Marine Corps Base Quantico, worked out four times a week and studied the psychology of leadership, managing change, leading at-risk employees and strategies for community partnerships. There were about 200 other law enforcement officers who participated in the academy’s 287th session.
Ballantine, now the commander of APD’s Community Engagement Division and Special Operations Division, joined the department in 2000, straight after earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Radford University. He was promoted to sergeant in 2007, lieutenant in 2014, was made acting-captain in 2021 and officially became a captain in 2022.
Ballantine’s responsibilities include managing the department’s parking enforcement, traffic safety, special events, K9 units, crossing guards, school resource officers, and APD’s crisis intervention team program. He’s also the commander of the department’s peer support and resiliency group, which is designed to help officers cope with the wear and tear of the job.
He also now joins a list of APD graduates from the FBI National Academy, which includes Chief Don Hayes, Captain Monica Lisle, Captain Jerry Newcomb, Lieutenant Steve Carr, Lieutenant Mike May and Lieutenant Tara May.
ALXnow: Welcome back. How’d you get involved in this?
Ballantine: Thanks. I put in for this program a couple of years ago, and I’ve been on a waiting list. Eventually my name got pulled. You know, it’s always easy to put your name on a piece of paper saying you’re interested, but when your name is called you actually have to go and do it. It’s a reality check.
ALXnow: What was your life like at the academy?
Ballantine: It was 10 weeks of living in a dorm. I had a roommate from Bristol, Connecticut, and we shared a bathroom with two other people, and we did graduate-level coursework through the University of Virginia. In one particular training session, for instance, there were 40 other law enforcement executives across the world who brought their perspectives and experience to the conversation. So, if I didn’t learn something new in that course, I confirmed that we were already doing something right.
ALXnow: When I think of the FBI Academy, that opening scene in The Silence Of The Lambs with Jodie Foster running through the obstacle course comes to mind.
Ballantine: We watched that movie one night at the academy, and I actually completed that obstacle course at the end of the 10 weeks. It’s called the Yellow Brick Road, and it’s a 6.3-mile course, and the nine weeks of workouts leading up to that is the only reason I was able to successfully finish it.
ALXnow: What did you learn and how are you going to apply it in Alexandria?
Ballantine: What you have to understand is that the National Academy is like a utopia. You’re in the woods, where deer are frolicking in the pasture with bunny rabbits. You’re in a secured area on a secured military base. You have three meals a day, you exercise, you’re with people that want to learn and do better, and you’re learning about the world and how other people do what we do. And when I walked out, you’re hit with reality, like leaving college and facing the real world…
One of the biggest things I want to try to really expound on is wellness for ourselves. I’m currently the commander of our peer support and resiliency group, which we started in 2017. At the academy, I took the class for leading at-risk employees, which is about dealing with the wear and tear of the job, seeing all that accumulative trauma. The work can overwhelm the best of us and manifest in heart disease, depression, alcoholism, or even suicide. There’s a lot more that we can do and we have to make sure we take care of ourselves.
ALXnow: What was an inspiring moment for you at the academy?
Ballantine: I had to do a presentation in my class for leading at-risk employees. I asked a friend of mine working in the department to come down to present with me, and we talked about our ability to work together, our relationship and how we’ve helped each other through tough times, dark days and bright days. We’ve always been part of each other’s world to support each other, and when we were finished presenting, everyone in the room was clapping because they recognized how awesome that is, that we’ve both kept each other alive.
ALXnow: During your law enforcement career you could have left Alexandria. Why have you stayed?
Ballantine: I love my job. I absolutely love coming to work, being in this community working with the officers. After being here for 23 years, which is longer than anywhere else I’ve ever lived, this is home.
The Chamber ALX has released the finalists for the Best in Business Awards, and the top businesses will be announced at a gala in Old Town next month.
It’s no secret that Don Simpson, Jr. is the chamber’s 2023 business leader of the year, since that cat was let out of the bag last month. Just who will receive the other highly coveted awards, however, is still secret. This year’s nominees are listed below, and winners are determined by a panel of previous awardees.
The Best in Business Awards, presented by Burke & Herbert Bank, will be held at the Westin Old Town Alexandria (400 Courthouse Square) from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Octo. 12. The event costs $125 for members and $150 for non-members.
Land use attorney Cathy Puskar was named business leader of the year last year. Read more about last year’s event here.
Alexandria’s 2023 Best In Business finalists
Small Business of the Year
- 9Round Fitness
- Cualtzin Salon
- Jillian Keck Hogan Group
- Salon deZEN
- Solutions Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine
- The Wise Family
- Wine Gallery 108
Medium Business of the Year
Large Business of the Year
- George Washington’s Mount Vernon
- United States Senate Federal Credit Union
- Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center
Rising Star Business of the Year
- Ada’s on the River
- BeeLiner Diner
- Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe and Wine Bar
- Silk Rose Spa
- VIP Alexandria Magazine
Nonprofit & Association of the Year
Alexandria planning staff are recommending that City Council reverse a ruling by the Board of Architectural Review and allow a hair salon to keep an after-the-fact paint job on its exterior.
In May, the city was notified that the Glynn Jones Salon at 720 King Street painted a large portion of its exterior the color gray. On July 6, the Board of Architectural Review unanimously voted to deny the salon a certificate of appropriateness for the work.
While the salon is located in the Old Town Historic District, city staff do not believe the work has any adverse effect on the previously unpainted masonry.
“The Board found that painting the building’s yellow brick was not appropriate since yellow brick buildings are rare in Alexandria and the material can be considered a character defining,” city staff reported. “(S)taff does not believe that the after-the-fact work of partially painting previously unpainted masonry has an adverse effect on the building at 720 King Street, nor does it diminish the historic character of the historic district.”
Anthony Hughes is representing the salon, and said in the appeal that the facade of the building was constructed in the 1960s and is not historic.
“The brick used in the construction is not historically significant, as it is not part of the original structure,” Hughes said. “Therefore, any alterations to the exterior, including painting, should be evaluated based on the existing planning guidelines and not restricted by the historical context of the area, but on a case-by-case basis.”
According to the city:
The building at 720 King Street was built between 1891 and 1896. However, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps show constant alterations and additions throughout the decades. The Sanborn Map of 1931 shows for the first time that the main building (front portion) was entirely made of brick. Therefore, the main building is considered an Early building (built before 1932) within the Old and Historic Alexandria District (Figure 2). However, the building underwent major renovations in 1967 (Permit # 24731) when the front/ north elevation was completely rebuilt, thus the front portion of the building is considered Late (built after 1931).
The Zoning Ordinance specifically prohibits painting previously unpainted masonry surfaces without BAR approval. However, the BAR does not regulate colors once buildings are already painted. The chosen color gray applied on the building’s storefront (without BAR approval) is subtle and does not subtract from or diminish the character of the building and/or the adjacent existing structures. Furthermore, the color gray has been historically appropriate to both Early and Late buildings within the historic districts.