Police are asking for the community’s help to find an SUV allegedly used by a suspect in yesterday’s fatal shooting in Arlandria.
A 29-year-old Alexandria man named Eric Holmes Jr. was identified as the victim in Monday’s fatal drive-by shooting. Holmes was shot in a hail of gunfire around 11:30 a.m. in the 800 block of W. Glebe Road, according to scanner traffic.
“We will end this cycle of violence in our community, but only with your support,” said Mayor Justin Wilson in an APD video posted on YouTube.
“Every day I hear from residents who are so concerned, frightened by this violence and how it is impacting our community, including those who are directly impacted by this violence,” he continued. “The Alexandria Police Department will have the resources they need to keep the community safe, but they need your support to help us do that.”
The incident is the fifth homicide of 2023 and was also the second shooting within a week in Alexandria.
“We need you as a community to help us identify and speak up,” City Manager Jim Parajon said in the video. “When you see something, say something. When you hear about something, you know about something. That’s the only way that we as a community are going to be able to solve this crisis together.”
The city’s gun-related crime skyrocketed 100% in 2022, with 152 gun-related incidents that year, versus 76 incidents in 2021.
To combat the emerging trend, police intend to add multiple mobile camera units to areas with high crime and pilot a “gunshot detection system” next year. The department is also sponsoring community cookouts and coffee meetups.
In the video, Police Chief Don Hayes said he hasn’t seen the city this violent in his 30 years as a resident.
“We are outraged at the senseless violence that is taking place in our city,” Hayes said, urging the community to come forward with helpful information. “We know that someone saw someone and they know something.”
Anyone with information on this incident can upload video, photo and audio files to an APD portal, contact Detective Michael Whelan at Michael.Whelan@alexandriava.
(Update at 11:10 p.m.) A man who was hospitalized after a shooting in Arlandria has died, according to police.
Alexandria police identified the victim as 29-year-old Eric Holmes Jr. and asked the public for tips.
The victim in the 800 block of W Glebe Road afternoon shooting has died.
Alexandria Police have expanded the scene, closing traffic on W Glebe Road in both directions. pic.twitter.com/s4MkdLf7Lm
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) July 24, 2023
URGENT: APD requests the community’s help in locating this car which was used in today’s shooting. It is a silver Nissan Rogue with “Enterprise Car Sales” placard in the rear license plate holder.
Anyone who sees this vehicle or has info about the shooting, call 703-746-6711. pic.twitter.com/flIi3uJiwj
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) July 25, 2023
Alexandria Police Department officers said they heard multiple gunshots fired in the area of the scene on the 800 block of W. Glebe Road, according to scanner traffic from around 11:30 a.m. today (Monday).
The police department tweeted at the time that drivers can expect delays due to the significant police presence at the scene.
This is the second shooting under investigation in less than a week in Alexandria that sent a victim to the hospital with life threatening injuries and is part of a reported uptick in gun violence in the last two years.
There is a significant police presence in the 800 block of W Glebe Road while officers investigate a shooting. Drivers can expect intermittent delays. pic.twitter.com/I1eCUChVMK
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) July 24, 2023
James Cullum contributed to this report
After considerable pushback, the city is rethinking its bonus height provision as a way to build affordable housing in Alexandria.
The city’s controversial zoning for housing plan proposes to upend a number of zoning ordinances. One of them is a bonus height amendment that would incentivize developers to add affordable housing to projects in exchange for two additional stories of construction in areas where height limits are 45 feet or more.
“I would just encourage us that, as we’re thinking about how to prioritize, that we’re not just thinking of it in terms of where can we get the most height or not, but we’re also looking at maybe some of the unintended consequences,” said Council Member Alyia Gaskins in a joint meeting with the Planning Commission on Monday.
On Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray, that would mean 70-foot-tall apartment buildings, and residents say the move would ruin the small town feel of the neighborhood. The bonus height provision would also impact properties along Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray, as well as in Arlandria, Alexandria West, the Beauregard area, the Landmark area, Eisenhower West, Old Town North and Carlyle.
“What we are finding in our initial analysis is that in most cases, the opportunity for additional height may not be particularly valuable than setting new constraints like setbacks and limit what’s possible on the site much more than height does,” said Nancy Williams, the assistant director of the Department of Planning and Zoning.
The negative effect would be the displacement of more families than are being added back into affordable housing.
“If we do a redevelopment and we’re only getting 30% of that additional height in affordability and the rest of it’s not affordable, that might be totally negated by tearing down a garden style apartment building,” Planning Commission Vice Chair Melissa McMahon said, adding that the policy would generate a bunch of unintended consequences and development won’t work citywide.
“Part of the reason we’re here, quite honestly, is because of some of the pushback the Commission offered to the to the bonus height provision and I think it prompted a conversation around how we look at the entirety of this process,” Mayor Justin Wilson said.
While Del Ray could see negative consequences from adding height in exchange for affordable housing, Williams said there are specific situations where height would be useful and asked whether the bonus height provision should be focused on limited locations.
City Council Member John Taylor Chapman said that the Eisenhower Valley is a prime spot for implementation of the provision.
“I think of places like Eisenhower valley where, whether it’s the eastern part where we started to really grow and frankly message to the community that we don’t mind getting taller there,” Chapman said.
If the proposal is approved as-is, developers would still have to go through an intensive special use permit (SUP) process, which could limit developers wanting to come into Del Ray.
Council Member Kirk McPike said that argument is “not compelling” and that the city shouldn’t inadvertently induce counterproductive redevelopment.
The proposal went through a community engagement phase in the spring, and City staff recommendations will be made in July and August. More community engagement sessions are expected in September and October and then public hearings with the Planning Commission and City Council will be held in November and December.
The proposed zoning for housing initiative is below the jump. Read More
(Updated 3 p.m.) After taking a beating at the Planning Commission, Arlandria bar Hops ‘N Shine (3410 Mount Vernon Avenue) came out of a City Council meeting a little better off.
The bar faced some intense criticism from the Planning Commission over racking up violations of the bar’s zoning conditions, mainly for allegedly continuing to utilize outdoor spaces for trivia nights even after being told to stop by the city.
The Planning Commission did not recommend the bar be allowed outdoor live entertainment or outdoor cooking conditions. While the City Council voted at a meeting on Saturday to uphold most of the recommendations from the Planning Commission, an amendment took out one of the more servere parts of the Planning Commission recommendation.
City Council member Canek Aguirre added an amendment that allowed the bar to continue to use speakers outdoors for background music.
The City Council was supportive of the addition and praised the bar’s community impact, but told the bar owners in no uncertain terms that city officials would have their eye on the bar and didn’t want to see it return with more noise violations.
“[As] background music renters the chat we don’t want to see you back in three months,” said City Council member Sarah Bagley. “The neighbors have demonstrated an intent to be reasonable. You have had a positive effect on the community, but I don’t want to see you in three months either.”
The vote brings the minor saga of Hops N’ Shine’s neighborhood troubles to a close, at least for now. As at the Planning Commission, neighbors shared frustrations about noise coming from the bar, though city staff noted that the noise was not enough to ever violate noise ordinances and were only violations of the permit conditions for the bar. The City Council meeting also had a larger showing of supporters from other parts of the city who endorsed their support of the local watering hole.
If issues around Hops N’ Shine are re-docketed, Aguirre said there’s a good chance the city could pull the restaurant’s permit entirely.
City Council member Kirk McPike said that city leaders wanted to see the local business succeed, but emphasized that background noise from the bar “needs to be truly in the background.”
(Updated 9:55 p.m.) Alexandria’s Planning Commission voted to recommend eliminating outdoor music at Hops N’ Shine (3410 Mount Vernon Avenue) and the restaurant owners faced some withering rebukes from Planning Commissioners.
The bar failed to get a recommendation for the outdoor live entertainment or outdoor cooking conditions, two of the major components of the special use permit (SUP) application.
Arlandria bar Hops N’ Shine has accrued a devoted local following for its live music and trivia events, but the bar has also drawn the ire of some neighbors when the noise of those events go beyond the confines of the bar. The staff report noted that there have been “17 valid complaints related to violations of SUP conditions”
Owners of Hops N’ Shine noted during the public discussion that the complaints are being challenged in court and asked that the bar be considered “innocent until proven guilty”. Some of the complaints, they said, were the result of misunderstandings as the restaurant struggled to adapt to the pandemic and a post-pandemic environment.
“We have tried to be a good corporate citizen, to live by the rules and abide by the rules,” said Abe Hadjiesmaeiloo, one of the bar’s owners. “I know we have lots of complaints tonight with major issues. Some of the issues with complaints were a misinterpretation on our part.”
Abe said many of those complaints stemmed from one particular neighbor who told him from the outset they aimed to have the restaurant shut down and regularly harassed both customers and staff at the restaurant. Paymon Hadjiesmaeiloo, Abe’s son, said he was concerned about the precedent that could be created if a group of individuals were able to use the complaint system to shut down a local business.
Some on the Planning Commission weren’t buying it.
“There were several violations that were reported here that you were told that outdoor live trivia shows were problematic for the neighborhood and not repeated, yet they continued even after [that],” said Planning Commission Chair Nathan Macek. “We have a record from staff that shows there have been repeated reports of outdoor trivia noise from business after repeated notices of violation and requests to cease the activity. Why did it continue?”
Another owner, C.J. Cross, explained that there was confusion from the city on what was or wasn’t allowed.
“Initially, when we had a complaint about trivia being outside, spoke with the inspector… and he told us we were within what we were able to do with having amplification of trivia outside,” Cross said. “So we were under the belief that we were good to go… Since then, after having conversation with city staff and them saying ‘you know what, that might have been told in the past, but that’s not what we now deem as allowed.’ Since that conversation in fall of last year, we have stopped amplification of trivia outside.”
Matt Rofougaran, another owner of the bar, said the outdoor activities have been generally innocuous.
“We sell custom made grilled cheese sandwiches and beer,” Rofougaran said. “We have toys for kids and a whole coloring book page. We do fundraisers for the community. We’re not a nightclub, we’re not ‘throw massive party’ types. We want acoustic music, someone singing ‘Friends in Low Places’… When we got a violation for outdoor cooking, you know what we had? Little smore kits for kids to make s’mores.”
But neighbors said granting the requests from Hops N’ Shine would reward bad behavior from the restaurant.
“It has been fairly problematic with respect to the amount of noise that travels over their area,” said Steve Harris from the Mount Vernon Court Community Associations. “One question we would have is: while we appreciate the staff recommendations, they did still reward them by expanding their hours from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.”
Other neighbors said Hops N’ Shine has been disruptive for neighbors. One nearby homeowner said they could smell the cigar smoke from Monday cigar nights, hear the trivia hosts on Wednesday nights, and that their children struggle to sleep with the sounds of bar patrons just 15 feet from their bedroom.
Ultimately, the Planning Commission voted to mostly stick with the staff recommendation — approval on paper, but with much of the requested improvements gutted.
Under staff’s recommendation, all windows and doors must remained closed during indoor live entertainment, and outdoor cooking and outdoor live entertainment permissions as denied — though permits can still be obtained for individual events.
Addressing the restaurant owner’s claims that what constituted live outdoor entertainment was unclear, the staff report lists “live music, game/trivia nights, movie nights, classes/workshops/meetings fundraising events and any such similar events.”
“I think, if there has been misinterpretation of the standards and expectations of the city, tonight they stop,” said Planning Commissioner Mindy Lyle. “It should be very clear what our expectations are for a business. Mr. Macek and I have been two of the most supportive for expanding restaurant hours and expanding restaurant opportunities. I remember voting in favor of your expansion last time. I want to say: I think that might have been an incorrect decision.”
Lyle said, despite Hops N’ Shine owners protesting that the complaints were miscommunications or neighbors with a vendetta, the number of violations are still concerning for Planning Commission members.
“[There are] 17 violations, whether they’re proven in court or not,” Lyle said. “Don’t tell me that staff is 100% wrong in issuing them. Staff is very careful in issuing violations and many times they err on caution and don’t jump the gun, because they know there are consequence to those actions.”
Macek said the approval still offers some flexibility to the business, but didn’t mince words regarding the Planning Commission’s frustrations.
“I think there has been egregious behavior by this applicant with respect to the operation of their business,” Macek said. “This is highly unusual that we’d have a business with 17 violations documented… The egregious performance here justifies revoking their right to have outdoor amplified sound.”
While owners of the restaurant said many supporters in the community signed their endorsement of the bar’s plans, Planning Commissioner Melissa McMahon said those voices don’t necessarily weigh as heavily in this matter as neighbors’ do.
“Your best friend doesn’t make your best roommate,” McMahon said. “What I’m hearing tonight is that living compatibility, this restaurant’s living room backs up to a bunch of other people’s living rooms… The hundreds, potentially thousands of people who would write in support of you as a business, as a member of the wider community: legit perspective, but those are the people that love you because they don’t have to live with you… The people you do have to live with, you have to find a way to live side by side.”
The application heads to the City Council for review on Saturday, June 17.
A 27-year-old Maryland man has been charged with robbing two separate Alexandria banks in March and April.
Jaquan Royal, of Prince George’s County, was arrested on May 24 in connection to the robbery at the Wells Fargo Bank in Arlandria (3506 Mount Vernon Avenue) on March 23, and at the Bank of America in Carlyle (415 John Carlyle Street) on April 3.
In both cases, the suspect allegedly handed the teller a note demanding cash and fled with an undisclosed amount. No one was injured in either robbery.
Royal is being held in another jurisdiction and goes to court on June 12.
The Alexandria Police Department is continuing to investigate the incident and asks anyone with information to contact Detective John Brattelli at 703-746-6699, at [email protected], or by calling the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.
News Release:: APD Makes Arrest in Connection to Two Bank Robberies
The Alexandria Police Department has charged a man in connection with two bank robberies in the area.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) May 26, 2023
The Alexandria Police Department (APD) is responding to a commercial robbery at the AutoZone (3705 Mount Vernon Avenue) in the Arlandria neighborhood this morning.
According to scanner traffic, a male suspect entered the business with a “black assault rifle” while two other men with him waited outside. The suspect reportedly took money from the register and the safe.
APD said on social media that no injuries were reported in connection with the incident.
Notification:: A commercial robbery was reported in the 3700 block of Mount Vernon Avenue. No injuries were reported in connection with this incident. APD is on scene and investigating. pic.twitter.com/5x4y60N932
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) May 25, 2023
(Updated 2 p.m.) The Alexandria Police Department is responding to another bank robbery at the Wells Fargo Bank at 3506 Mount Vernon Avenue.
The same bank was hit with a robbery in March.
According to the scanner, the man walked into the bank and passed a note to a clerk. Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett said an unknown amount was handed over to the suspect. Police said on Twitter that no injuries were reported in connection with the incident.
Bassett said around 2 p.m. that police had taken a person of interest into custody but are awaiting positive ID before any formal charges are made.
Notification:: In response to a commercial robbery, there is a moderate police presence in the 3500 block of Mount Vernon Avenue. No injuries were reported in connection with this incident. APD is on scene and investigating. pic.twitter.com/K5Hnuxb3sN
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) May 12, 2023
James Cullum contributed to this story
An Alexandria man was robbed at gunpoint after hanging out with a woman he met on Instagram, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.
The incident occurred after 11 p.m. on April 11 (Tuesday) in an apartment complex in the 3800 block of Russell Road. The victim told police that he was robbed after meeting up with a woman that evening at St. Rita’s Catholic Church (3815 Russell Road).
The victim agreed to meet the woman at St. Rita’s at 9:30 p.m. and that she arrived at 10:20 p.m. — nearly an hour late. The victim told police that they decided to hang out in the hallway of an apartment building in the 3800 block of Russell Road, but were asked to leave by residents and that they then walked to a neighboring apartment building, according to the search warrant affidavit.
While walking to that second building, an unknown man walked up to the group and began talking with the woman, and then took out a gun, loaded it and allegedly pointed it at the victim, according to the search warrant affidavit.
“The female then demanded him to give her his money, so he removed $320 U.S. currency from his front jeans pocket and handed it to the unknown (male suspect),” according to the search warrant affidavit. “
The victim told police that he met the woman on Instagram two months ago and did not know her real name. The victim provided police with an Instagram account and verified that the woman in the profile picture was the female suspect, according to the search warrant affidavit.
No arrests have been made. Anyone with information on this incident can call the Alexandria Police Department non-emergency line at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.
Image via Google Maps
A new zoning request for an Arlandria ghost kitchen provided an update on an approved use that’s been haunting the northern edge of the city since 2021.
Applicant 1033 W Glebe Road ALX is requesting a permit to allow a sign to be built along W Glebe Road that will direct visitors to the kitchen tucked behind the back of a strip mall at 1033 W Glebe Road.
The new 32-square-foot sign is a fairly inoffensive change — unlikely to stir up the kind of controversy nearby music venue The Birchmere went through with its sign change — and staff expressed support in a report on the new sign.
The main item of note in the report is that, while the site has not opened, the plans for the ghost kitchen aren’t dead:
On July 1, 2021, Special Use Permit (SUP) #2021-00049 was approved for an administrative new use to allow the applicant to operate a restaurant, which consists of 24 separate commercial kitchens operated by restaurateurs, who prepare food for carry-out and delivery to individual customers. As of the writing of this report, the space for the applicant is still under construction, and improvement to the driveway and parking lot has not been finalized. When completed, the restaurant and American Co-packers will each occupy approximately half the building.
The building will have a lobby space to accommodate food pick-up for customers, but there will be no indoor dining. The kitchen will operate from 7 a.m. to midnight — and sometimes until 4 a.m. — seven days a week.
“The multiple commercial kitchen concept serves as a restaurant incubator for individual chefs, entering the restaurant market,” the report said.
The permit for the sign is scheduled for review at the Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, May 2.