More details have been released on the armed carjacking on Tuesday night in the 500 block of Cameron Station Boulevard.

The suspect who was arrested “suffered a medical emergency” while being booked in jail and was taken to the hospital, according to police. He is reportedly in stable condition.

Police were dispatched to investigate an armed carjacking in the 5500 block of Cardinal Place near Cameron Station Boulevard at around 8:45 p.m. The 25-year-old suspect was arrested less than 40 minutes later the intersection of S. Reynolds Street and Duke Street.

“The victims told officers they were able to get away from the suspect when he stopped the vehicle in the 400 block of Ferdinand Day Drive,” Police said. “The victims told officers they fled to Armistead Boothe Park to call 911.”

Police said that a helicopter and K-9 units were called in to assist in searching for the suspect.

“During the search, officers recovered the vehicle and a firearm,” police said.

Police did not release the suspect’s name, what he was charged with, or where he is from.

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Brandon Byrd can actually cook.

In recognition of Juneteenth, last month the owner of Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats in Old Town partnered with Rachel Tracey of D.C.-based Historic America tours for their first Soul Food Saturday. So far, meals have included shrimp and grits and Jamaican jerk chicken.

“Growing up and watching my mom and my grandmother cook brings a lot of the inspiration to the food,” Byrd said. “It’s what I grew up with.”

In Tracey’s ‘Lunch & Learn’ food tour series, she guides groups to historic sites in a multi-sensory walking tour. Customers use interactive tablets as they stop by Market Square, Christ Church, the Carlyle House, Alfred Street Baptist Church and Freedom House. They smell tobacco — one of Alexandria’s cash crops of the 17th and 18th centuries — and then wrap up the experience with a home-cooked soul food lunch at Goodies, usually followed by frozen custard.

“It’s important for us to tell a full and inclusive narrative,” Tracey said. “We talk about the Trans-Atlantic Migration, where people were brought over to Colonial America. There’s also the trans-Atlantic food migration. There are foods that we can directly trace back to Africa, and so we share those connections on the tour.”

One of Tracey’s favorite stories is about Hercules Posey, the personal chef to George Washington. While walking along the grounds of Christ Church, Tracey will talk about Posey’s escape from slavery, and well as Washington’s recovery attempts before being granted freedom after the founding president’s death in 1799.

“Washington loved his cooking and took Hercules with him when he was operating the government out of Philadelphia,” Tracey said. “There was a rule in Philadelphia at that time that if any slaves were in the city for six months to the day that they were automatically set free. So, Washington would make sure that (his slaves)… would go home to Mount Vernon for a bit before they hit that six month mark and come back.”

Tickets for the experience cost $95 per person, and Byrd isn’t yet sure what’s on the menu for the next meal, which will be on Saturday, August 21.

“I haven’t exactly figured it out yet,” Byrd said. “I’m thinking about something with black-eyed peas and fried okra for next month.”

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Following new guidance from the Governor’s office and the CDC, the Torpedo Factory (105 N. Union Street) announced today that all visitors will be required to wear face masks.

The new requirement comes as Alexandria sees its first significant uptick in COVID-19 cases since May. The city issued new guidance recommending that even vaccinated residents begin wearing masks indoors again.

“Following a recent increase of cases, Alexandria has been elevated to a state of substantial COVID-19 community transmission for the first time since early May,” the city said on its website. “Other Northern Virginia jurisdictions are also either in moderate or substantial community transmission.”

The city continued, “The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) urges community members to take common sense precautions to reduce the risk of illness during this spike, such as choosing outdoor gatherings over indoor gatherings, staying home, getting tested when symptomatic, and wearing masks in public indoor settings.”

The Torpedo Factory noted on Twitter that modified hours of operation for the art gallery are 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

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506 N. Overlook Drive (image via North Ridge Citizens’ Association)

A new report from the Office of Historic Alexandria outlined the fascinating and tumultuous lives of the Black residents who carved out a life for themselves in the city after the Civil War — and whose home (506 N. Overlook Drive) could soon be faced with demolition and redevelopment.

There were a lot of unanswered questions and urban legends about the Hampshire Fractious house in North Ridge when redevelopment of the property started working through city bureaucracy, starting with approval of a plan to subdivide the property. Walt Whitman, for instance, was rumored to have worked at the house, but there’s no evidence to support this claim.

The true story pieced together by Garrett Fesler and the Office of Historic Alexandria weaves the story of Hampshire Fractious and other residents of the house with the city’s involvement in the slave trade and the lives of contrabands in the city after the war — though some of this is based on reading between the lives on census data and historical context clues.

The first documentation of Hampshire Fractious, who would go on to own the property, is in 1865.

According to documents, his mother Page Fractious arrived in Alexandria in 1864 at the age of 90 years old from Winchester, Virginia,” the report said. “Freedmen’s Bureau records indicate that Hampshire was caring for his elderly and infirm mother a year later in 1865. Fractious may well have accompanied his mother to Alexandria in 1864, possibly as contrabands. If so, then his absence in federal censuses and other primary documents may be because he was born into slavery.”

Records indicate that in 1870, Fractious lived on Cameron Street near the intersection with N. West Street with Cyrus Fractions. It’s possible that this could be the same Sy Fractins that appears in records from Alexandria slave traders Franklin and Armfield in 1834 before he was shipped to New Orleans.

“Rather remarkably, a Black man named S. Fraction is listed as living in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1838,” the report said. “If this is the same man who was taken to New Orleans in 1834, he may have somehow escaped enslavement and made his way to Nova Scotia, a well-known enclave for escaped slaves. Some 35 years later, according to an 1870 Alexandria city directory, a Cyrus Fractions resided with Hampshire Fractions at a property on Cameron Street near its intersection with N. West Street, an indication that the two men were related, possibly as brothers, and further suggesting that Hampshire may have been enslaved as a younger man like his possible brother Cyrus/Sy.”

This possibility is complicated, though, by records of a Sirus Fractious in Baltimore and a Cyrus Fractions in Illinois on the 1880 federal census, so it isn’t guaranteed that the Cyrus Fractions was the same S. Fractins who was taken from Alexandria to New Orleans as a slave in 1834.

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Car at the 2019 Old Town Festival of Speed & Style, photo courtesy Spotted MP

The Old Town Festival of Speed & Style, a celebration of eccentric mid-20th century vehicles, is scheduled to make a comeback this September.

The event started in 2019 and was a success, bringing thousands of visitors from the region to Old Town. The event, sponsored by Burke & Herbert Bank, was scheduled to make a comeback in 2020 but… you know. After several delays, the second annual Old Town Festival of Speed & Style is scheduled for Sept. 5 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

According to a press release for the event, it is slated to include over 100 rare and unusual cars and vintage motorcycles from around the world. The event is free and will span three blocks on lower King Street and around Market Square. There will also be a fashion demonstration from noon to 1 p.m. in which local boutiques and retail will showcase styles with themed cars.

The night before the festival, a “High-Octane Ball” will be held from 7:30-9:30. The celebration is a ticketed event, with proceeds going to benefit local non-profit ALIVE! and the USO.

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If she likes you, the only sound you’ll hear from Bagpipes the rabbit is some happy purring and humming.

The short-haired black rabbit is up for adoption with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

“Rabbits are very clever and can learn to be housebroken, among other skills and tricks,” AWLA spokesperson Gina Hardter told ALXnow. “Contrary to popular opinion, carrots are just a small part of a rabbit’s diet.  Rabbits at the AWLA eat mainly hay and specially formulated pellets, with additional treats of leafy greens and other fruits and veggies.”

Schedule time to meet Bagpipes at AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment.

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Morning Notes

Man killed in Alexandria part of Fairfax County — “A man was found dead inside an Alexandria apartment building Wednesday night and police said detectives are investigating the death as a homicide. Fairfax County Police Sgt. Tara Gerhard with the Fairfax County Public Affairs Bureau said the shooting was reported just after 7 p.m. in 3100 block of Southgate Drive in Alexandria. Gerhard said a family member found the man with a gunshot wound to the upper body. When first responders arrived on the scene, medics pronounced him dead on the scene.” [WUSA9]

Help name new tunnel boring machine for Alexandria to build cleaner waterways — “Alexandria’s wastewater authority, is seeking the community’s input to name its 250-ton tunnel boring machine (TBM). The TBM, currently being manufactured in Schwanau, Germany, will bore through 100-foot-deep soil to construct the 12-foot-wide, 2-mile-long Waterfront Tunnel — ultimately preventing millions of gallons of combined sewage from polluting the Potomac River, Hooffs Run, and Hunting Creek.” [Zebra]

ACPS to give update on Minnie Howard expansion — “With the Alexandria High School Project in the design phase, the community will receive the latest design update on the Minnie Howard Campus and aquatic facility at an Aug. 10 meeting.” [Patch]

Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing in the afternoon. Storms could contain damaging winds. High around 90F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%… Scattered thunderstorms in the evening. Clear skies overnight. Low 73F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Closing assistant — “Universal Title, an established title company with over 20 offices throughout the VA-DC-MD area, is seeking a Closing Assistant for our Old Town Alexandria office. Industry experience is preferred, but no experience is necessary to apply. As a Closing Assistant, the successful applicant will need strong interpersonal skills, drive, and the ability to work as part of a team to accomplish complex tasks in a fast-paced environment.” [Indeed]

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Without school resource officers and the next school year starting in less than a month, Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. has a plan to beef up security.

Hutchings and staff, on July 16, sent the School Board a three-page proposal acknowledging serious security implications, including “increased vulnerability at school sites, decreased deterrence of situations such as active threats to students, staff and visitors.”

Council voted 4-3 in May to redirect nearly $800,000 in SRO funding toward student mental health resources, a vote that has since been decried by the School Board. The reallocation means there will be no police presence at Alexandria City High School, Francis C. Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School.

“Please note that this decision only affords ACPS approximately three months to establish a contingency plan with regards to safety and security mitigations for our students and staff in the midst of our summer learning and reopening for fall during a global pandemic,” Hutchings told the Board in the report.

The options are to hire five more additional security officers for an estimated $185,000; pay detailed police officers $50 an hour to work the perimeter of a school location from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Hutchings’ option, which is a combination of the first two options.

“This option would allow for additional SSO’s to provide supplemental safety coverage and for detailed officer support in frequently patrolling the exterior of facilities,” the staff report said.

Mayor Justin Wilson voted in the minority against eliminating SROs, and previously told ALXnow that he is “dismayed” by the deteriorated relationship between Council and the Board resulting from the decision.

In the meantime, acting Police Chief Don Hayes said that the officers have been put back into patrol operations, and hopes a new memorandum of understanding will be signed with ACPS before school starts.

“Students are going to be students, and we will have things in place to ensure that schools are safe,” Hayes said.

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Rep. Don Beyer recognizing Arlington First Responders, via Arlington County

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) swung by Arlington’s County Board last week to recognize 60 local first responders who responded to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

It’s the latest step in a complicated dance for the congressman as he faces a new primary challenger, and Democrats nationwide grapple over balancing public safety concerns as outcry over police killings and accusations of brutality continue.

“The ‘defund the police‘ slogan is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard,” Beyer told ARLnow, adding: “I do think it’s completely fair and appropriate to continue to look at ways of making policing more effective.”

The slogan gained attention nationwide in protests last year, which have left Democrats divided.

The cry to cut police funding took center stage last year after the murder of George Floyd. Advocates say the slogan is part of efforts to shift resources away from heavily militarized police departments to housing, mental health programs and other services.

Beyer said police reform can include making how much departments spend to settle with victims of police brutality more transparent, which is part of the Cost of Police Misconduct Act. But generally, Beyer’s approach to police reform includes more carrots than sticks.

Part of that approach is evident in the Jabara-Heyer No Hate Act authored by Beyer, which offers grants to police departments for reporting hate crime statistics.

“Greatly strengthens reporting of hate crimes,” Beyer said. “Rather than punishing police for not collecting hate crime data, [the bill] gives them funding for doing it.”

Beyer said he supports the widespread use of body cameras, pushing to fund a pilot program in Alexandria and helping to ensure that U.S. Park Police are outfitted with body cameras after the shooting of Bijan Ghaisar. The congressman has been outspoken about seeking justice for Ghaisar’s family.

Beyer also believes in increased pay for police. Nationwide, police salaries have been increasing over the last few years. In Virginia, the mean income for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in 2020 was $60,190, though that doesn’t account for overtime.

“It’s about investing in the police to make them stronger and more effective, and part of that is increasing their incomes,” Beyer said. “There is strong research about the amount of education a police officer has and the likelihood of them being involved in police misconduct. What’s going to draw them? Better incomes.”

Beyer noted that members of the Capitol Police with whom he speaks regularly say they’re facing the same morale crisis that police departments are seeing nationwide, following outrage over a series of high-profile police shootings and violence. Last year, for instance, the Arlington County Police Department was called into D.C. to clear out protestors from Lafayette Square before they were recalled by county leadership.

“They’re really good people who are struggling right now,” Beyer said of the police force in general. “I read about the departures from police departments all over the country. That’s not sustainable. We have to make sure our police feel respected, and that includes independent citizen review. I was thrilled with Fairfax and now Alexandria set up independent citizen review. As we’ve seen too many times, it’s really hard to ask your peers to pass judgement on what you just did.”

The County Board voted last week to establish a new Community Oversight Board and Independent Policing Auditor, with subpoena powers, to investigate community complaints about police officers. The vote was criticized by the local NAACP for not going far enough in ensuring accountability.

In D.C., gun violence has surged over the last year. While Beyer said the causes for the increase are a complicated mix of issues related to poverty and discrimination, Beyer said there’s at least one immediate solution: appoint David Chipman as the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“I’m frustrated this wonderful guy, David Chipman, an ATF veteran that the president nominated him to lead ATF — it’s not clear that he’ll get through the Senate,” Beyer said. “[Opponents] fear that an ATF director will actually do something. There are more federally licensed firearms dealers in America than there are McDonald’s, but we have have no ATF director.”

Chipman passing Senate approval is unlikely, as even a single Democrat voting against his appointment would cause the vote to fail. Chipman’s critics decry the potential ATF Director’s advocacy for gun control.

“The 350 million guns in America are the big factor [on crime],” Beyer said. “It’s still way too easy for criminals and the mentally ill to get their hands on weapons. We’ve done virtually nothing about gun violence in this country. I think it’s naive to think just putting more police on the street is going to keep lowlifes from shooting each other from one corner to the other.”

The most recent example, Beyer said, was a shooting on 14th Street NW in D.C. that left two injured.

“That poor scene the other night on 14th Street — police were there in five seconds,” Beyer said. “Police were there in astonishing time, but that didn’t stop people from being badly wounded.”

Beyer’s 8th District seat is up for reelection in the 2022 election. The Democratic primary between Beyer and Victoria Virasingh is currently set for June 21, 2022.

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Alexandria runner Noah Lyles is headed to the Olympics. (Courtesy Noah Lyles/Twitter)

From comic books to donuts, Alexandrians have been going all out for the Olympics this year — particularly with T.C. Williams High School graduate Noah Lyles competing in the 200 meter race.

Next week, Lyles’ alma mater — now called Alexandria City High School — will host a viewing party for the Olympic field day.

The party will run from 8-10:30 p.m. at Alexandria City High School (3330 King Street). There will also be door prizes and raffles to be won.

Attendance is limited and tickets are required. Guests will be required to wear face masks. The event is free but a voluntary donation to the Lyles Foundation non-profit is encouraged.

Lyles isn’t the only Alexandrian competing in the Olympics. Local boxer Troy Isley also won his first boxing match at the Olympics earlier this week. Isley’s second match is tomorrow (Thursday).

Via Noah Lyles/Twitter

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