Alexandria, VA

A male juvenile is in custody after allegedly firing a gun in Arlandria just after midnight on Saturday morning.

The suspect was arrested near the Four Mile Run Bridge after four shots were fired just outside the Park View apartment building at 511 Four Mile Road. ALXnow saw the suspect run from the scene after the shots were fired, and then his arrest.

Police discovered blood on the street, but no victim was found. Police also did not disclose what the juvenile was charged with.

Police said that this incident is not connected to the multiple calls for shots fired in Old Town.

Courtesy photo/ Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

After Flooding, Councilman Says City Stormwater Management Needs Work — “Councilmember Chapman tells 7 On Your Side Thursday’s flooding means city leaders need to quickly consider wholesale changes in terms of storm management.” [WJLA]

City Extends Deadline on Personal Property Tax Payments — “To provide relief for our residents and businesses during the ongoing pandemic, the City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to extend the deadline for payment of the Personal Property Tax (Car Tax and Business). Payments are now due on December 15th.” [Twitter]

Casa Chirilagua Gets Grant to Develop Wifi-Friendly Outdoor Space — “AlexandriaVA.gov and Casa Chirilagua are working together to bridge the digital divide by building a safe and comfortable outdoor space with Wi-Fi for local students.” [Facebook]

Beyer Says Trump Watches Too Much TV — “The President says he is watching many hours of television a day as the country continues to reel amid its worst and deadliest crisis in most Americans’ lifetimes.” [Twitter]

City Wins National Technology Award for Remote 911 Call-Taking — “The annual PTI Solutions Awards recognize PTI member cities and counties that have implemented or updated innovative technology solutions within the past 15 months that positively affected local government performance and service to the public.” [CompTIA]

ALIVE! Free Food Distribution on Saturday — “ALIVE! Truck-to-Trunk will distribute food at two drive-through sites on Saturday, September 12 from 8:30 am – 10:30 am at the parking lots of Cora Kelly (3600 Commonwealth Ave) and John Adams (5651 Rayburn Ave) Elementary Schools. This distribution includes bags of shelf stable groceries, fresh produce, and eggs, while supplies last. People are encouraged to drive through. Walks-ups should maintain 6 feet social distance, wear a face mask, and bring carts or reusable bags to carry food home. “[Facebook]

Today’s Weather — “Sunshine and clouds mixed during the day. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 82F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph. At night, partly cloudy. Low near 65F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Spa Coordinator — “This experience includes answering phones, scheduling spa services, greeting all customers, assisting with inquiries, and processing point of sale transactions for all products, always exceeding expectations.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria Police are investigating smash-and-grab incidents at three ABC stores that occurred at night on August 25 and 26.

“We have had three instances of ABC stores burglarized,” APD spokesman Lt Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow. “All high end liquor. Fairfax (County) has had similar incidents.”

The following stores were broken into after hours.

Ballantine said that there are multiple suspects and no descriptions are available.

As previously reported, there has been a 12% increase in the number of larcenies in the city this year. A surge in violent incidents in Old Town has also prompted APD to increase their presence on the street.

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Morning Notes

Arlandria Champion Kevin Beekman Passes Away — “It is with great sorrow that we announce that Kevin Beekman, an Arlandria hero and force behind the Four Mile Run Conservancy and Farmer’s Market, lost his battle with amyloidosis on August 24. Kevin was part of the fabric of Arlandria.” [Zebra]

Beyer Says Republican National Convention is Corrupt — “The White House is not the property of Donald Trump or the Republican Party, it belongs to the American people. These actions cheapen the office and degrade the nation. This convention, like the person at its core, is fundamentally corrupt.” [Twitter]

Coronavirus Cases Reach 3,333 in Alexandria — “Positive tests up 9 to 3,333 in the City 7-day Positivity Rate up to 5.9%. One new hospitalization.” [Twitter]

Live Outdoor Concert Tonight Honoring Anniversary of March on Washington — “A program of vibrant, meaningful and historic music, presented by prominent Washington Artists on the anniversary weekend of the March on Washington.” [Visit Alexandria]

ALIVE! Warns of Scam Calls — “Periodically ALIVE! seems to be the target of scammers. Please know that ALIVE! staff and leaders will never ask you to purchase gift certificates in specific amounts or at specific places, or make unusual personal requests. Please contact us directly if in doubt of any request.” [Facebook]

Today’s Weather — During the day, “More clouds than sun. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High around 90F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph.” At night, “Scattered thunderstorms during the evening, then cloudy skies overnight. Low around 75F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Tour Guide — “We specialize in performing haunted pub tours. Think ghost tour combined with Pub Crawl and there you have it.” [Indeed]

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An Arlington nonprofit has partnered with a D.C. food truck to provide free pizza to affordable housing communities in Alexandria this month.

This is the fifth local campaign for Hearts of Empowerment, which has partnered with Timber Pizza Company to provide free wood-fired pizzas from its food truck on August 22 at Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe Street) in Old Town at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 22, and at the same time at the Parkview of Alexandria apartments in Arlandria on Saturday, August 29.

The events will continue on those days until supplies last.

Last Saturday, the group also served pizza to nearly 100 families at the Strawberry Square Apartments in the West End.

“All patrons will be required to wear a mask and remain six feet apart while ordering and receiving food,” notes a Hearts of Empowerment press release. “If neighborhood residents arrive without appropriate protective equipment, Hearts of Empowerment will provide them with one.”

Photo via Timber Pizza Company/Facebook

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These summer weeks are flying by, and another one is in the books in Alexandria.

This week, readers responded to a number of issues in the city, including the tragic story behind the city’s first murder, crime in Arlandria and another protest outside of the acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s home.

There was some fun news, too, like the official announcement that drive-in movies will make their way to the city at the end of the month, and that Holy Cow Del Ray made a new burger of the moment, “The Alexandria HS,” in an effort to add its two cents in a community discussion on what to rename T.C. Williams High School.

What stories impacted you this week? Let us know in the comments.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. BREAKING: Murder Suspect Was Released After COVID-19 Court Delay, Allegedly Kills Former Girlfriend Before Trial
  2. Friends and Neighbors Seek to Name Alley After Retired Judge Nolan Dawkins
  3. Man Arrested for Attempted Rape Behind Arlandria 7-Eleven
  4. Drive-In Movies Coming to Alexandria on August 29
  5. Protestors Promise to Keep Demonstrating at Acting DHS Secretary’s Alexandria Home
  6. Alexandria Summer Camp Closed Early Due to Coronavirus Exposure
  7. BREAKING: Alexandria Police Ask for Public Help in Finding Man Wanted for Murder
  8. Here’s the Latest on Development Projects on Beauregard Street in the West End
  9. Another Protest Planned This Weekend Outside DHS Secretary’s Home
  10. West End Development Returns to City with Scaled Down Density and More Open Space
  11. Alexandria’s COVID-19 Death Count at 60, Hospital Concerned About Rising Cases
  12. Holy Cow Del Ray Wades Into Another Local Controversy With Another Burger

Have a safe weekend!

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A 45-year-old Alexandria man is in jail for allegedly attempting to rape a woman behind the 7-Eleven at 3412 Mount Vernon Avenue at the border of Del Ray and Arlandria.

James Bowen was arrested on July 19 and is currently in the Alexandria jail.

“It was reported that [the victim] was in the area behind the 7-Eleven convenience store when the suspect approached her and propositioned her for sex,” notes a search warrant affidavit.

The suspect then allegedly exposed himself to the victim, who is Latina, does not speak English and related her experience to investigators via a translator.

Bowen then allegedly returned, exposed himself and assaulted her. There were two witnesses who yelled at the suspect, who was allegedly naked from the waist down and “on top of the victim and appeared to be having intercourse.”

One witness told police that “once he shouted at them, the suspect quickly got up, got dressed and left,” noted the affidavit. “[The witness] reportedly next saw him at the 7-Eleven convenience store already talking with an officer and positively identified him as the suspect.”

Staff photo by James Cullum/Map via Google Maps

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Taking advantage of Phase 3 of reopening’s opening of entertainment locations, Arlandria music venue The Birchmere (3701 Mt Vernon Avenue) is back with new shows planned every Friday and Saturday.

The Birchmere website notes that some changes are in effect for the location. Masks are required when visitors are not seated — such as in the bathroom or when entering or exiting the building. Tickets now also have an additional $5 fee. Tickets for all shows are $15 and available online or at the box office on the day of the show.

Owner Gary Oelze said on the website that he hopes for operations at The Birchmere to be back to normal by August.

In other ways, though, the venue remains the same. The location has free parking, general admission, and no minimums on food or beverage purchases.

Photo via The Birchmere

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Alexandria’s poorest neighborhoods have been hardest hit by COVID-19, and renters from Arlandria and the West End rallied in front of the city’s courthouse today (July 1) to ask Governor Ralph Northam to extend the moratorium on evictions, which expired on June 28.

Sami Bourma lives in the Southern Towers apartment complex in the West End, and has not paid rent since March. He has two children, his wife is four months pregnant, and he has been unable to work as an Uber driver. He’s also an organizer with UNITE HERE Local 23, which represents some residents in the buildings.

“There are hundreds of people who live at Southern Towers and a lot of them are like me,” Bourma told ALXnow. “I am getting $750 a month for unemployment. That pays for almost nothing and we need to survive.”

The areas of the city with the leading number of cases are the 22304 and 22305 ZIP codes, which include the West End and Arlandria, Potomac Yard and Potomac West neighborhoods, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Northam has requested that the moratorium be extended to July 20 — a move that Mayor Justin Wilson supports.

‪The extraordinary financial pressure facing residents of Alexandria who are experiencing unemployment or loss of income…

Posted by Justin Wilson on Friday, June 26, 2020

New Virginia Majority organizer Thomas Assefa said that his organization is also calling on Northam to approve $1 billion to fully fund an eviction protection program.

“Housing is a human right,” Assefa said. “We know that sheltering in place and staying in our home is one of the only ways we can combat this disease, and we are anticipating hundreds of thousands of tenants in the streets in the middle of a pandemic. There’s about 3 million renters in Virginia, and we anticipate 11% of that population could face massive evictions.That’s what’s at stake.”

Jonathan Krall, the co-founder of Grassroots Alexandria, said that it’s an issue of fairness and race.

“Racism results in economic inequality,” Krall said. “If you want to be anti-racist, then you need to cancel the rent.”

Frank Fannon, a former Republican city councilman, is a landlord and said that the governor should not extend the deadline and that there have been no waivers for commercial or residential property owners in their property tax bills, which the city mailed out last week.

“If you feel it is appropriate for tenants not to pay rent to your constituents, then be equitable and at least waive the late fees if property owners cannot pay their tax bill on time,” Fannon wrote to the City Council on July 1.

Wilson thanked Fannon for the email and responded that the property taxes are too important a revenue stream and that extending the deadline could endanger the city’s credit rating.

“It’s not something that we can play with unfortunately,” Wilson said. “That being said, our Finance folks are exercising maximum flexibility with tax payers right now. A taxpayer that contacts Finance will be extended payment terms, etc, upon request.”

Our community is the hardest hit by COVID-19 and the economic crisis, but Governor Northam doesn't seem to care about…

Posted by Tenants and Workers United – Inquilinos y Trabajadores Unidos on Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Staff photos by James Cullum

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As Alexandria starts to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the city’s long term planning priorities are shifting to meet needs exposed by the health crisis.

In a presentation to the Planning Commission last week, city staff said some projects that were in the planning stage will be pushed back, including:

The Duke Street plan involves improvements to affordable housing, infrastructure and more along the Duke Street corridor. While the broader planning efforts had been scheduled to start this spring, staff said in a presentation that the planning effort will move to FY 2022. Some research currently underway on the proposed Duke Street Transitway will continue in the meantime.

“It’s especially important given this location and the transportation issues that are in this area that we go ahead and let Transportation and Environmental Services begin and get going on their work related to the transitway,” staff said at the meeting. “They have environmental concept work underway.”

Mount Vernon Avenue Plans, meanwhile, referred to conjoined planning efforts to make improvements to things like pedestrian infrastructure and housing affordability in Arlandria and Del Ray. Staff said at the Planning Commission that the interwoven Del Ray and Arlandria plans will be disentangled and improvements to Arlandria — which was particularly hard-hit by COVID-19 — will be prioritized.

“We are proposing to make a change to what we had originally planned with Mount Vernon Avenue plan,” staff said. “We’re recommending a focus just on Arlandria/Chirilagua with housing affordability in Arlandria first as a priority topic. Recommending continuing on late this year with housing recommendations and continuing on with housing topics.”

This summer and fall, the city will review housing affordability priorities, strategies and recommendations for Arlandria and continue with other aspects of plan development in the spring.

Staff said after the Arlandria/Chirilagua portion of the plan is put together, planning efforts will move on to Del Ray next fall.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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After extensive drive-thru and walk-up testing at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alexandria is preparing to shift the focus toward taking testing to the city’s heavily impacted communities.

Mayor Justin Wilson said in the last of his weekly town hall meetings yesterday (Thursday) that he spoke to the Virginia Secretary of Health’s office about shifting the focus of testing.

“We pitched targeted testing in communities, neighborhoods and populations,” Wilson said. “Part of the idea was getting away from mass testing events which ultimately yield a wide array of people but didn’t yield a lot of positive tests. We’re going to try to bring testing to the populations where we know there’s the spread of infection in the community. The state has been favorable to that proposal.”

Arlandria has been a hotspot of coronavirus. In May, nearly half of the city’s coronavirus cases were in the Arlandria and Potomac Yard Zip code of 22305. Wilson said most of the cases in Alexandria have been from community spread.

Positive testing has gone down to near 5%, down from the 20-30% positive testing rates earlier or 50% rate in targeted testing in Arlandria. Part of that has been increased testing capacity yielding a lower percentage of positive tests, but Wilson also noted that overall social distancing has led to a fairly low rate of virus reproduction.

“Today, Virginia looks pretty good,” Wilson said. “Only three states have a lower rate of virus reproduction. We’re under one, which means each person infected is infecting less than one other person. That means isolation is working and people are taking the precautions they’re supposed to take… We have to keep that up to prevent us from going back the other way.”

While Alexandria’s long-term care facilities represent a relatively low number of cases, Wilson said they have seen a disproportionately high number of deaths.

“Out of 50 deaths in the city, 22 have come from one of three long-term care facilities,” Wilson said. “Overall, they account for an overall low percentage of cases. Most are from community spread. But those are areas that have been hit rather hard.”

The city is preparing to move into Phase 3 of reopening next Wednesday, which Wilson said will likely be a more modest change than the two earlier phases of reopening.

“This allows restaurants to increase capacity, allows entertainment venues to come back at 50% and gyms can come back at 75% capacity,” Wilson said. “After Phase 3, there is no clearly other defined phases.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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Morning Notes

Beyer to Introduce Legislation for Law Enforcement to Wear Identifying Badges — “We don’t do secret police in the United States of America. I will introduce House legislation in the next few days to require uniformed federal officers to identify themselves by wearing badges. Next step will be working for broad support in the House. More soon.” [Twitter]

Tenants and Workers United Gives Food and Supplies to 400 Families — “Today we gave food, needs, and diapers to almost 400 families!! This was possible by Arlington Calvary United Methodist Church. Our community greatly appreciates this support during these difficult times!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Back to Business Grant Application Deadline at 5 p.m. — “Applications for the ALX B2B Grant are open (as of Thursday, June 4th at 8:00AM EDT), and will close Monday, June 8th at 5:00 PM (EDT).” [AEDP]

Del. Herring Thanks Inova Alexandria Hospital Workers — “Thank you @InovaHealth Alexandria for this display of unity & caring for our community. #WhiteCoatsforBlackLives” [Twitter]

Vice Mayor Sends Message of Solidarity With Black Leaders — “I have a responsibility to use my platform to speak up about these issues. The best way to do that is to amplify the voices of black leaders in our community. If you haven’t already done so, please listen to and read their words. And then take action.” [Elizabeth Bennett-Parker]

ACPS Announces Collection and Return of School Materials — “The school closures related to COVID-19 and the Governor’s stay-at-home order have forced us to make a new plan of how we collect students’ school materials and also allow our students to get personal belongings from their lockers or classrooms.” [ACPS]

Alexandrian Named National Eagle Scout Runner-Up — “Noah Ventura, an Alexandria resident and rising senior at Gonzaga College High School, has been named the American Legion’s Eagle Scout of the Year Runner-Up for 2020. As a recipient of the award, he is receiving a $2,500 college scholarship.” [Zebra]

Local Filmmakers Selected for Alexandria Symphony Series — “The films will accompany music by American composers performed “live to picture” by the orchestra as part of ASO’s 2020-2021 season on November 7 and 8, 2020. The works will also be screened as part of the Alexandria Film Festival on November 12-15.” [Zebra]

Reminder: Here’s a List of ACPS Free Food Distributions — “ACPS has multiple distribution meal site locations throughout Alexandria for all ACPS students and children over the age of two.” [ACPS]

New Job: Contact Tracer — “The Contact Tracer is an entry level public health professional responsible for identifying and contacting individuals who may have come in contact with persons recently diagnosed with an infectious disease associated with an outbreak or pandemic.” [Indeed]

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