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Shots were fired near the intersection of N. West and Princess Streets in Old Town on the early morning of Friday, Jan. 20, 2023 (via Google Maps)

No arrests were made after multiple gunshots were reported in the Braddock neighborhood early Friday morning.

Police received multiple emergency calls for at least 10 gunshots just after 1 a.m. near the intersection of N. West Street and Princess Street. Witnesses reported that a dark-colored SUV fled the scene.

No one was injured in the incident, which remains under investigation. Police released no additional information.

APD asks anyone with information to call the APD non-emergency line at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Map via Google Maps

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BARtanical is opening at 2312 Mount Vernon Avenue by the end of January 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

BARtanical, a botanical and herbal inspired bar, will open as the newest pop-up at 2312 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray by the end of the month, its owners tell ALXnow.

The new bar is the fifth pop-up for the space, and owners Bill Blackburn and his partner “Mango” Mike Anderson of the Homegrown Restaurant Group have decided to keep going with the pop-up themes instead of opening a permanent restaurant.

Blackburn and Anderson closed the Sushi Bar — located between their other restaurants Holy Cow Del Ray and Pork Barrel BBQ — in December 2021 after nine years in business. Shortly after closing, the restaurant was transformed into the Christmas-themed pop-up bar Joy On The Avenue, followed up by a Tiki Bar that lasted for eight months, a Halloween-themed  pop-up in October and then back to the Christmas-themed bar last month.

The windows of the pop-up are currently covered, and the interior of the space has been gutted.

Blackburn says that when it opens, the pop-up will be a “potted plant lover’s paradise,” featuring an “explosion of plants an greenery.”

“Sticking to the craft cocktail heavy formula, BARtanical’s beverage program will be botanic and herbal inspired, with a nibble and snacks menu that is on the crisper and lighter side,” Blackburn said. “It’s a limited time pop-up and perfect for girls night out, casual happy hour or late nightcap surrounded by rich green agricultural décor and Del Ray’s most entertaining bartenders.”

Anderson said that the next iteration of the pop-up is a secret.

“You’ll have to wait and find out,” Anderson said. “New concepts are like first dates. First dates are new and exciting, and every three months we’re going to provide the residents of Alexandria with a fresh experience.”

Mari Luffey, a former bar manager at HRG’s Whiskey & Oyster in Carlyle, is the manager for the pop-up and is creating a cocktail menu.

“The spring-feel of the bar will translate nicely during the winter months,” Luffey said. “It’s going to be beautiful and cozy in here.”

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A man was shot in the 4600 block of Duke Street on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023 (via Google Maps

Updated 4:30 p.m. — The 27-year-old suspect in a West End Shooting on Sunday was released from jail last year after spending more than a year in jail on assault and weapons charges, according to court records.

The 22-year-old male victim was shot multiple times at around 5 p.m. at an apartment building in the 4600 block of Duke Street. The girlfriend of the victim called police and told the dispatcher that her “baby’s father shot her boyfriend.”

The incident occurred during a child custody transfer, according to a search warrant affidavit. The 22-year-old victim was shot in the torso and the back and is expected to recover.

Police reviewed video of the incident, which showed the mother of the child walk from her car to the suspect’s car, take the child into custody and then back. The male victim then approached the suspect’s car, opened a passenger door and “appears to be shot multiple times,” police said in the search warrant affidavit. “(The victime) retreats on foot as the shooter exits the vehicle and shoots one more time in his direction.”

The suspect was last seen driving away from the building in a white Mercedes SUV, which belongs to his mother, who lives less than two miles away from where the incident occurred.

No arrest has been made, but shortly after the shooting APD tweeted that it believed there was “no current threat to the public.” Police did not clarify to ALXnow why there was no current threat.

Last August, the suspect was found guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, assault and battery and violating his probation.

Alexandria Circuit Court Judge James C. Clark sentenced him to four years for the possession and assault charges and six years for the probation violation, with all but one year suspended. The suspect was then released for time served.

The suspect faces probation violation, the reimposition of suspended sentences, in addition to weapons and attempted murder charges.

APD asks anyone with information to contact Detective John Bratelli via phone at 703-746-6699, email at [email protected], or to call the APD non-emergency line at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Alexandria’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].

Map via Google Maps

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Thicker Cloudz is open at 1512 King Street in Old Town (staff photo by James Cullum)

There’s a new smoke shop in Old Town.

Arlington-based vape shop Thicker Cloudz recently opened its third and newest location — just a few blocks from the King St-Old Town Metro station.

The shop opened last month at 1512 King Street, the former location of a Subway restaurant. Their inventory includes delta-8 THC plants, oil, and candy, all of which is legal to ingest since it’s derived from hemp instead of marijuana.

Delta-8 products have a lower THC content than marijuana, and will still get customers high, manager Derek Terry told ALXnow.

“It’s a bit weaker than marijuana,” Terry said. “But delta-8 is psychoactive and will pop any drug tests. It is THC. In the higher milligrams, for example, these (gummies) are 3,000 mg bags. This bag has 10 pieces, so 300 milligrams per-piece. This will blow your head off, I don’t care how much weed you smoke.”

The new shop is also a few blocks from away from Alexandria Vape and Tobacco (1213 King Street).

The shop’s inventory includes:

  • Hookas and flavored tobacco
  • A small selection of cigarettes and cigars
  • Vaporizers and flavored vape juices with nicotine
  • Glass pipes, grinders, rolling papers
  • Kratom, an herbal substance that creates opioid-like effects
  • Cookies with trace levels of psilocybin, creating a euphoric effect
  • Incense, ashtrays, lighters and other accessories

Thicker Cloudz is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

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A man was shot in the 4600 block of Duke Street on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023 (via Google Maps)

Alexandria Police are investigating a person of interest after Sunday night’s shooting near Holmes Run put a man in the hospital with multiple injuries.

The incident occurred at around 6 p.m. near an apartment complex in the 4600 block of Duke Street, according to police. A 22-year-old man was shot and suffered “multiple injuries” and is expected to recover.

“APD is currently investigating a person(s) of interest in relations to this incident,” Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett said.

No other information was released. Shortly after the incident, APD tweeted that it believed there was “no current threat to the public.”

The incident is still under investigation and APD asks anyone who with information to contact Detective John Bratelli via phone at 703-746-6699, email at [email protected], or to call the APD non-emergency line at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Map via Google Maps

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Art On The Avenue in Del Ray, Nov. 12, 2022 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria’s Covid community-level has gone from “low” to “high” this month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Low, medium or high Covid community levels are determined by data on hospitalizations and cases, according to the CDC. Each level comes with steps recommended by the federal agency that people and communities can take to protect themselves and others from potentially severe impacts of the virus.

The city is still experiencing hundreds of new Covid cases monthly, but the numbers are trending down, according to data from the Virginia Dept. of Health. The seven-day average of new cases is now 37.1, down slightly from 39.1 reported at the end of December. There have been 628 new cases reported so far in January.

No new deaths have been reported, and the death toll stands at 224.

Regionally, Fairfax, Arlington and Loudoun counties, as well as D.C., have moved from low to medium designations, per the CDC.

New Covid cases this week in Alexandria (via VDH)

When community levels are “high,” the CDC recommends the following:

  • Wear a high-quality mask or respirator
  • If you are at high risk of getting very sick, consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed
  • If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for getting very sick, consider self-testing to detect infection before contact, and consider wearing a high-quality mask when indoors with them
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, including recommended booster doses
  • Maintain ventilation improvements
  • Avoid contact with people who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19
  • Follow recommendations for isolation if you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19
  • Follow the recommendations for what to do if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19

Where to find Covid tests

Residents can get rapid COVID-19 test kits at the city’s libraries, and kits are limited to seven per-person. Covid tests can also be found for kids within Alexandria City Public Schools. A list of testing options is available on the city’s website.

2022 was the worst year for new cases

The redesignation comes after a difficult year for new Covid cases.

There were 28,743 new Covid cases reported last year in Alexandria, comprising 64% of the 44,826 total cases since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to the Virginia Department of Health. There were also 49 deaths in 2022.

This time last year, Alexandria was experiencing the worst month of the pandemic. There were 12,822 new Covid cases reported in January 2022, and the seven-day average of new cases peaked at 337.

In many ways, Alexandria went back to business as usual, with community events returning in full force — despite the number of new cases. In November, tens of thousands of people attended Art On The Avenue in Del Ray, as well as last month’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade in Old Town.

The Alexandria Health Department’s last Covid-related release to the public was in June 2022, announcing vaccines for infants.

Below are the monthly totals of new cases for 2022.

  • January — 12,822 new cases
  • February — 1,227 new cases
  • March — 593 new cases
  • April — 1,488 new cases
  • May — 2,900 new cases
  • June — 2,357 new cases
  • July — 2,396 new cases
  • August — 1,499 new cases
  • September — 991 new cases
  • October — 526 new cases
  • November — 626 new cases
  • December — 1,318 new cases
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The massive Inova at Landmark project is headed to the Alexandria Planning Commission and City Council for final approval in March and the project could wrap by 2028.

The city released Inova’s development site use permit application last week and it includes new renderings for the 930,000-square-foot hospital campus. The Planning Commission’s public hearing on the project is on Tuesday, March 7, and the City Council public hearing will be held on Saturday, March 18.

Inova, which has held numerous public meetings on the project, wants construction to occur between 2024 and 2028. That schedule is subject to change, Inova’s attorney Cathy Puskar previously told ALXnow.

Inova at Landmark includes 675,000 square feet devoted to the new hospital, 130,000 square feet to a cancer center and 110,000 square feet to a specialty outpatient care center. The inpatient hospital is designed to be nine stories tall and includes a roof tower to hide hospital mechanical equipment that would make the structure 175-feet tall (16 stories).

Inova signed a 99-year ground lease for the property more than two years ago, and sent its first wrecking ball into the former Landmark Mall in May 2022. The old above-ground 550-space parking garage is the only structure that remains, and it will be retrofitted into the new hospital campus.

The project makes up a fifth of the total land use on the 52-acre West End Alexandria development. The city bought the 11-acre parcel of land for $54 million from The Howard Hughes Corporation in 2021, and Inova has a 99-year ground lease for the hospital land.

The project was designed by Ballinger and Ennead Architects, and is being managed by Inova.

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Monte Durham outside his new salon in Old Town (staff photo by James Cullum)

Monte Durham says he’s ready to go back to television, but it could mean an end to his days cutting hair.

It’s been more than two years since Durham opened Salon Monte (210 S. Union Street), and during that time he’s worked to jumpstart a new show. Earlier plans to film a reality show in the salon didn’t pan out, he says, but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing more opportunities.

“I’ve been approached by a production company out of the U.K.,” Durham said. “From the conversations I’ve been having, I would go back to wedding consulting.”

The former co-host of “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta,” Durham was filming “Say Yes to the Prom” in New York City when the pandemic struck in March 2020. With an expired contract and the network having gone temporarily dark, he went back to his roots as a hair stylist and opened the salon in September 2020. It’s been a serious commitment of time, energy and resources. After all, with his business named Salon Monte, everyone wants him to cut their hair.

“I call them one-hit wonders,” Durham says. “Folks will buy their wife or relative the gift of having me cut their hair, and we have five fabulous stylists, so if they want to save 30% with another stylist, I encourage them to do that.”

Durham, 65, lives with his husband in Belle Haven, and says he’s in the salon nearly every day.

“It’s different [from] traveling and staying in nice hotels, hanging out and meeting great people on red carpets,” he said. “The salon has been very good for me.”

He says both his parents died in quick succession — with his father dying less than two weeks before the salon opened.

“It kept me driven and kept me from wallowing in my sorrows,” Durham said. “We started out new. Everything was new:  the towels, the faucets, the flooring, the ceiling, the lighting. In that chaos of the world shutting down around us, here we were with this little gem in the heart of Old Town.”

If it works out and Durham does get back on TV, he says that the salon will stay open.

“Our biggest accomplishment has been consistency,” Durham said. “I have set some things in motion, and I feel confident that we can do it. I have great bookkeeping support, ordering support and excellent staff.”

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A 24-year-old Fairfax County man was arrested after allegedly breaking into an apartment in the 2500 block of N. Van Dorn Street on Jan. 9, 2023 (via Google Maps)

A 24-year-old Fairfax County man faces assault and battery charges after allegedly breaking into an apartment near Fort Ward early Monday morning, according to Alexandria Police.

The incident, which police describe as domestic in nature, occurred at around 12:30 a.m. in an apartment in the 2500 block of N. Van Dorn Street.  The suspect allegedly breached the apartment and assaulted the victim, who did not go to the hospital. Police did not say what was stolen from the apartment.

The suspect was arrested a few blocks from the scene and later released that same day on a $3,000 unsecured bond. He goes to court on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

Anyone experiencing domestic violence can call the Alexandria Sexual Assault Center and Domestic Violence Program 24/7 at 703-746-4911.

Map via Google Maps

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Two Manassas men face multiple charges after allegedly stealing airbags from vehicles throughout the region, including 11 from the 4500 block of Strutfield Lane during the summer of 2022 (via Google Maps)

Two Manassas men arrested in November for allegedly stealing air bags in Arlington are also suspected of committing 11 similar acts in Alexandria, according to police.

The 43-year-old and 25-year-old suspects were arrested on Nov. 13 in Arlington and charged in connection with three airbag thefts committed that day. The suspects are also accused of 11 similar incidents in Alexandria between Aug. 25 and Oct. 31, 2022, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.

The 11 incidents occurred in parking garages in the 4500 block of Strutfield Lane, in a West End residential area full of apartment complexes. Police obtained numerous videos of the two suspects smashing vehicle windows and removing airbags. The suspects allegedly drove a black Honda Civic with Virginia tags and a distinctive chrome dual exhaust — a detail that led to their eventual arrest.

In early November, a license plate reader hit on a black Honda Civic with the same tags in connection to a possible airbag theft in D.C., police said in the search warrant affidavit. The responding officer also noted the dual exhaust system of the vehicle.

The suspects were arrested on Nov. 13 after allegedly smashing the windows of three vehicles and stealing airbags in the 2100 block of Columbia Pike in Arlington. The 43-year-old suspect posted bond and the 25-year-old is being held without bond.

According to the Arlington County Police Department:

Upon a search of Suspect One incident to arrest, a glass breaking tool was located. Upon a search of the suspect vehicle, burglarious tools, a radar detector and air bags were recovered. [A suspect], 25, of Manassas, Va. was arrested and charged with Destruction of Property (x3), Tampering with Auto (x3), Grand Larceny (x2), Possession of Burglarious Tools, Possession of Stolen Items with the Intent to Sell, Conspiracy to Commit Larceny (x2), Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Possession of Radar Detector. [A suspect], 43, of Manassas, Va, was arrested and charged with Destruction of Property (x3), Tampering with Auto (x3), Grand Larceny (x2), Possession of Burglarious Tools, Possession of Stolen Items with the Intent to Sell and Conspiracy to Commit Larceny (x2).

Both suspects go to court for the offenses on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

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