(Updated 8 p.m.) Alexandria Police are investigating alleged drug possession and distribution at Episcopal High School, one of the most exclusive private boarding schools in the country.
On Dec. 8, police responded to a narcotics complaint at Episcopal and met with the school’s attorney, according to a search warrant affidavit. The officer was told that a week prior, on Dec. 1, two students were found to be allegedly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Both students were then “immediately withdrawn” from the school by their families, according to the affidavit.
The school’s attorney then told police that one of the suspected students, who turned 18 on Dec. 10, received a number of packages with suspected drugs and that the packages were in the school mailroom.
“The parcels were retrieved and one of the parcels appeared to already be damaged and open,” police said in the search warrant. “Upon looking inside, the administrator believed the contents were illegal narcotics. Based upon the open parcel containing suspected illegal narcotics, the administrator and additional witnesses opened the other parcels and discovered additional suspected narcotics.”
Police found a number of U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail envelopes addressed to the 18-year-old at the school and containing the following:
- 20 grams of suspected Psilocybin mushrooms
- 26 suspected Xanax pills and 1.2 grams of suspected methamphetamine
- 1.3 grams of suspected cocaine
- Five suspected Ecstasy pills
Episcopal’s attorney has not returned ALXnow’s requests for comment, and no arrests have been made.
More than 450 male and female students attend the 182-year-old private boarding school in the fenced 130-acre property at 1200 North Quaker Lane.
Episcopal went on winter break on Dec. 17, and students will return to classes on Jan. 3.
(Updated at 4:45 on Nov. 3) Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker declared victory in her bid for Virginia’s 45th District House seat on Tuesday, defeating Republican opponent Justin “J.D.” Maddox.
“I’m honored to be the Delegate-elect for the 45th District,” Bennett-Parker told ALXnow. “Thank you to every voter who put their faith in me. I got into this race to continue delivering for our community.”
She continued, “I will always strive to ensure that our Commonwealth is an equitable and inclusive place for all.”
Bennett-Parker said that she did not speak with Maddox, who conceded via an email to supporters on Tuesday night. She won a resounding victory, garnering 73% (25,787 votes) of the votes in the District versus Maddox’s 27% (9,489 votes), with 26 of 32 districts reporting.
“While I am let down by the results of this election, I am encouraged by the strong signal of support for the moderate position that I championed throughout the campaign,” Maddox wrote. “It has become clear to me that voters in District 45, and much more widely, are eager for movement toward the center, and are disheartened by the extreme partisanship they’re hearing from both sides.”
According to city records, there were 24,207 absentee votes filed before election day, or around 25% of the 96,302 active registered voters in Alexandria.
Bennett-Parker defeated incumbent Democrat Mark Levine in the June primary. She began her political career three years ago, winning Alexandria’s vice mayorship in her first-ever campaign for office.
She will be sworn into office in January.
James Cullum and Vernon Miles contributed to this story.
Update on 10/2/21 — The videos of the fights at the school have been removed from Instagram, and have since been removed from the story.
A number of recent student fights at George Washington Middle School have been posted on Instagram.
The videos have been taken by children at the school and show teachers and other students breaking up incidents. They have been posted by an Instagram user named gwmsfights2022.
The first video was posted on September 4, and the videos were taken this school year, as the school appears to be operating at capacity and students are wearing face masks. The most recent video was posted five days ago.
Alexandria City Public Schools is aware of the posts and reported them to Instagram. The school system said in a statement that, while there are no police on school grounds, the security situation at the school is under control.
“School administrators have addressed any incidents this year in accordance with standard protocols for disciplinary issues,” ACPS said in a statement. “School safety and security is a top priority for our schools. ACPS leadership works with our security team to maintain a safe environment for students and staff in our buildings. Student involvement in incidents is investigated by school administration to include witnesses and handled using a tiered system of support for all students involved.”
ACPS would not say how many students have been suspended at the school this year.
Many believe the fights are the result of no school resource officers within Alexandria City Public Schools. In a move that was decried by the School Board earlier this year, City Council defunded SROs in a 4-3 vote.
There was a protest on SROs earlier this week outside City Hall, as several violent incidents have alarmed parents and political candidates. In a recent interview with ALXnow, School Board Chair Meagan Alderton also said that she wants to salvage the student-police relationship.
“Not sure if it’s the lack of SROs or the fact that we kept the public school kids out of school for two years, but neither one of those decisions seem particularly good to me right now,” an ACPS parent told ALXnow.
This is not the first of fighting videos that has surfaced since school started on August 24. ALXnow recently posted a video of a brawl at Alexandria City High School.
(Updated 3:45 p.m.) Alexandria Police have resolved the barricade situation at an 11th floor apartment in Seminary Towers (4701 Kenmore Avenue) in the West End.
Police tweeted that the standoff came to an end at around 3 p.m., and that evacuated residents have been allowed to return to their apartments. Residents in the 10th, 11th and 12th floors were evacuated by police at around noon and were told that tear gas may have to be employed against the suspect.
“APD was serving a warrant from another jurisdiction,” APD senior public information officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow. “The adult male subject refused to comply.”
The identity of the man has not been released, and police said he was alone in the apartment.
FINAL UPDATE: The barricade situation in the 4700 block of Kenmore Avenue is over. The subject was taken into custody without incident around 3:00 p.m. Residents are now allowed to return.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) June 24, 2021
BARRICADE:: APD is working a barricade situation in the 4700 block of Kenmore Ave. Please avoid the area and be aware of Police & fire activity.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) June 24, 2021
Courtesy Google Maps, James Cullum and Vernon Miles contributed to this story
A 23-year-old man is awaiting extradition to Alexandria for the November 7 murder of a man in the West End.
Ahmed Mohammed Shareef, of Cosa Mesta, California, was indicted by a Grand Jury for killing 23-year-old Yousef Tarek Omar in the 4800 block of West Braddock Road. It was the City’s third and final homicide of 2020.
“It is alleged that the murder was committed in furtherance of the drug trafficking organization,” the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Shareef is one of 17 people indicted and arrested on charges related to a racketeering conspiracy that involved a “complex drug trafficking organization” allegedly responsible for the sale of approximately $500,000 worth of marijuana.
The investigation, which included multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the region and in Washington State and California, resulted in the seizure of at least 23 firearms, including three assault rifles and high capacity magazines. At least $274,795 in U.S. currency was also taken, in addition to cocaine and other controlled substances, digital scales and electronic money counters, fake identification and driver’s license cards, and multiple vehicles.
“I want to thank the Alexandria Police Department’s Vice/Narcotics Section and the multitude of partner law enforcement agencies for their diligent and professional work on this investigation,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said. “The collaborative effort between the partner law enforcement agencies shows true professionalism and determination to halt the cycle of violence inherent in complex drug trafficking organizations.”
Shareef faces life in prison for the murder charge, three years for the firearms charge and up to 40 years for the racketeering charge.
No trial dates have been set.
Updated at 1:30 p.m. Alexandria first responders saved a woman dangling off the Monroe Avenue bridge for nearly three hours on Tuesday, June 22.
Police were able to distract the woman, while below her on the ground a Fire Department tower ladder rose up, and then the woman was snatched and then safely put into the ladder bucket.
“She’s safe,” AFD Senior Public Information Officer Raytevia Evans told ALXnow.
A city resident standing below the bridge called 911 at around 10;45 a.m reporting that the woman climbed over the chain-link fence and was hanging off side of the bridge, AFD told ALXnow.
The fire department deployed airbags beneath the bridge, and EMS was also on-scene. All traffic was diverted on the roadway, which is Route 1 and bisects Old Town and Potomac Yard. Alexandria Police tweeted that the woman is suffering from a mental health crisis.
Alexandria Fire Department – whenever, wherever, whatever we will answer the call. Thank you heroes for keeping the City safe. A great effort from AFD, APD and the Sheriff’s Office. pic.twitter.com/alafJepEO1
— Corey Smedley (@SmedleyCorey) June 22, 2021
It was a team effort to help a community member in a mental health crisis. Members of #APD, @AlexandriaVAFD @ffxfirerescue @AlexVASheriff worked together to get the person down safely. Thank you @IAFF2068 for the inflatable pad. @IAFFLocal2141 pic.twitter.com/07sCVPi7Ww
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) June 22, 2021
ALERT::⚠️ Police activity has shut down the Route 1 bridge over Mainline Blvd for a subject in a mental health crisis. Please find an alternate route. Updates provided as needed.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) June 22, 2021
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Department of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-746-3401. CrisisLink also has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 703-527-4077 or 800-SUICIDE, or text 703-940-0888.
History was made this week in Alexandria.
Our top story was on Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson winning the Democratic primary on Tuesday, defeating former Mayor Allison Silberberg. Alexandria historically votes for democratic mayors, and Wilson faces off against Republican candidate Annetta Catchings in November.
Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker also unseated Del. Mark Levine for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 45th District seat in the House of Delegates. Levine also lost his bid for lieutenant governor.
The three incumbents running for City Council all made it through the primary, with City Councilman John Taylor Chapman receiving the most votes. The other candidates who made it, and will move on to the general election in November are Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins, Councilwoman Amy Jackson, Councilman Canek Aguirre, Sarah Bagley and Kirk McPike.
This Saturday is will also see the final graduating class of T.C. Williams High School walk the stage before the school’s name is changed in July to Alexandria City High School.
Next Sunday is also Father’s Day, and a number of Alexandria businesses are offering unique specials.
- City Manager names Don Hayes as Alexandria’s Acting Police Chief
- City Council dives into funding swimming pool at Alexandria City High School
- Woman assaulted by mob and pepper-sprayed in Old Town North
- Alexandria Fire Department rescues woman from stalled car, Flash Flood Watch in effect
- Here’s how Alexandria is planning on spending its American Rescue Plan Act funding
- Alexandria Police officer jumps out of way of speeding car
- Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
- Alexandria Police investigate ‘Zoom bombing’ of Jewish synagogue meeting
- Beatley Central Library reopens for Friday service — sort of
- Police announce progress investigating ‘shots fired’ incidents, recovering ghost guns
- Scholarship Fund of Alexandria awards $525K to T.C. Williams High School Class of 2021
- ACPS continuing free meals program throughout summer
- Alexandria struggles to close last 30 percent to vaccination goal
- Misha’s opens second coffee shop near Waterfront in Old Town
- BREAKING: Wilson wins Democratic mayoral primary, Silberberg concedes
- BREAKING: Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown puts in his notice
- A rare glimpse inside Alexandria’s abandoned and overgrown GenOn power plant
- BREAKING: Bennett-Parker declares victory in 45th District race, Levine loses Delegate and Lieutenant Governor races
- Pride flags torn down outside City Hall and thrown into fountain at Market Square
- Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown isn’t just retiring, he’s leaving the city altogether
- BREAKING: Incumbents hold on in Alexandria City Council Democratic primary
- Three incumbents and lots of newcomers running for Alexandria School Board this November
- Here’s how much it would cost to reverse the Seminary Road Diet
- Democratic primary settled in Alexandria, but underlying issues linger
- Critical Missing Person Alert issued for 13-year-old autistic boy
Have a safe weekend!
It was a historic week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.
President Joe Biden visited the Neighborhood Health COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary on Tuesday, just before announcing that the date for adults to get access to the vaccine has been moved to April 19.
The Alexandria School Board, on Thursday night, voted to change the name of T.C. Williams High School to Alexandria City High School.
The School Board also voted unanimously to reduce the distancing requirement in ACPS schools from six feet to three feet, all the while community support is growing to expand in-person instruction to more than the current two days a week. Summer school is currently planned to begin in July and will be four days a week, and ACPS is planning on reopening to five days a week at the beginning of the next school year.
Our top story was on the T.C. Williams Titans junior varsity football team walking off the field after an incident with the Robinson Rams on Monday night. Robinson Rams players allegedly spit at and made a racial slur against T.C. players. The incident has prompted Fairfax County Public Schools to announce a “stand-down” meeting for all athletic teams and coaches to discuss “appropriate behaviors required to play sports in FCPS.”
Additionally, six Alexandria Police officers were placed on administrative duties after a chase suspect died while in custody. Police responded to a call for shots fired in the 800 block of North Patrick Street, and multiple buildings and vehicles were struck. The driver of the vehicle crashed on Interstate 295, and then jumped over an overpass barrier and fell more than 20 feet and was tased by police, arrested and later died.
- Alexandria aims to adjust vaccination efforts as city moves into next phase
- Alexandria Police employees give department mixed reviews
- Planning Commission approves controversial subdivision, plants potential loophole for future denial
- City says Taylor Run alternatives could cost far more than current estimates
- Crime increase prompts ARHA to install security cameras in Old Town
- City looks to Landmark Towers deal to save Arlandria
- ‘Beltway Bank Bandit’ sentenced 21 years for robbing Alexandria banks and area businesses
- Man arrested for threatening to burn down City Hall
- Wilson wins Alexandria Democratic Committee straw poll, Gaskins takes top spot over incumbents
- JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
- BREAKING: Shots fired in Old Town leads to chase that ends in D.C.
- JUST IN: President Biden set to visit Alexandria vaccination site Tuesday
- National Park Service announces George Washington Parkway to go on a diet
- Neighborhood Health vaccinating thousands at sites in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County
- JUST IN: Woman arrested after fight on King Street Metro station platform
- UPDATE: $8,500 reported stolen in terrifying West End robbery
- JUST IN: President Biden visits COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary
- COVID-19 update: Alexandria moves into vaccination phase 1C
- JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
- Fairfax County man arrested for three burglaries, released three days later
Have a safe weekend!
“Alexandria City High School” on Thursday night was unanimously chosen as the new name for T.C. Williams High School. The Alexandria School Board voted for the name change for the city’s only public high school, and the effort took more than a year in the making.
“It’s a big deal and it will mean a lot for our future use,” School Board Chair Meagan Alderton said. “Sometimes it’s good for us to think about the power in reclaiming a name, in changing the name to mean something — other than what we’ve always used it for.”
The new name will be effective at the start of the 2021-22 School Year on July 1, 2021. Additionally, the Board changed the name of Matthew Maury Elementary School to Naomi L. Brooks Elementary School.
School Board Member Ramee Gentry made the motion for “Alexandria City High School”. It was approved unanimously.
“I understand both sides of this,” Board member Jacinta Greene said. “We have over 50,000 graduates that are very endeared by the name, by the initials T.C. And we have current students that still love being a T.C. Titan…. But not in the name of Thomas Chambliss. It will not mean that anymore.”
T.C. Williams High School is the largest high school in Virginia. It is known around the world for the 2000 movie Remember the Titans, which focused on its 1971 state championship-winning varsity football team that found greatness by working through racial adversity.
T.C. is named after Thomas Chambliss Williams, the superintendent of ACPS for 30 years. He required that all Black students wanting admission to previously all-white schools to go through an application process. Only 75 Black students (about 3%) were allowed to transfer to formerly white schools by the time Williams announced his retirement in 1962, and that was three years after the city officially desegregated schools.
“I had butterflies in my stomach all day just thinking about how long and emotional this journey has been,” said Lorraine Johnson, a student representative on the board. “We can’t forget about our elementary school and middle school students who are coming up before you know it. It’s going to be your time to shine in this high school of endless possibilities, and when it happens, take advantage of every opportunity.”
Gentry did not want the T.C. in another proposal — The City of Alexandria High School.
“You will always be a T.C. Williams High School graduate, and you can wear that with pride,” Gentry said. “But this is the beginning of a new period in history.”
Principal Peter Balas said that “A.C. Titans” is not far from T.C. Titans.
“I’m a little concerned about a move to preserve the letters T and C in the name in some way, without having the engagement of our students,” Balas said.
Residents have tried in vain for decades to get the name changed, and many said that the process this time around should have been handled faster.
It's official!!! Our high school name is now ALEXANDRIA CITY HIGH SCHOOL!!!!!
— Peter Balas (@TCWPrincipal) April 8, 2021
Photo via ACPS/Facebook
(Updated at 12:35 a.m.) Alexandria Police shut down northbound Route 1 around Madison Street on Wednesday night after multiple buildings were struck by bullets.
The shooting occurred at around 8:40 p.m. and ended in a car chase in D.C.
“We’re investigating a call for shots fired in the 800 block of North Patrick street happened around 8:40 p.m.,” Alexandria Police Senior Public Information Officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow. “We had multiple buildings struck. Officers located a suspect vehicle and initiated a pursuit, which ended in Southeast D.C.”
The incident occurred in the Braddock area near Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties, where a number of calls for shots fired have occurred over the last year.
No one was reported to have been injured in the shootings. Police could not immediately confirm reports that the suspects attempted to bail out on Interstate 295, but later confirmed that three people had been taken into custody in the District.
UPDATE (at 12:05am):: 3 people were taken into custody in Washington, DC on Alexandria charges related to the shots fired incident. NB Route 1 and Madison St have reopened. This remains an active investigation with details still developing. Final notification tonight.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) April 7, 2021
update: Driver reportedly fell 40'-50` off the I-295 overpass at Malcolm X Av SE-DC. He is now in TRAUMATIC CARDIAC ARREST. The other 3 suspects continued in Lincoln to JBAB exit where they were captured. Several accidents along the route. https://t.co/RaEOMhrFer
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) April 7, 2021
Map via Google Maps