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
(Updated 3:15 p.m.) Police and fire department are at 2920 Richmond Highway after a driver apparently crashed his vehicle into the building then left the scene.
There are no injuries reported yet, according to Alexandria Fire Department spokeswoman Raytevia Evans.
According to Evans:
Call went out around 2:30pm for a vehicle into a building in the 2900 block of Richmond Highway. No injuries reported at this time. Driver apparently hit the building and left the scene.
Staff at the Verizon store said the man became belligerent over a service issue and left before hitting the building with his vehicle.
A witness said the driver was a white man driving a black sedan.
“It sounded like a bomb,” one witness said. “Boom. Then I saw him drive around the corner [northbound on Route 1].”
Code enforcement and the building inspector are at the scene after officials responded to a report of a building collapse, according to scanner traffic.
James Cullum and Vernon Miles contributed to this story. Image via Google Maps
(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Alexandria Police have reopened the area of King Street between Callahan Drive and Daingerfield Road after investigating a report of a suspicious package.
Police closed the area near the King St-Old Town Metro Station and the city’s Union Station after a report earlier of a suspicious package around 11:35 a.m.
ALERT:: ⚠️ King Street is closed between Callahan Dr and Daingerfield Rd as we assist Amtrak with an investigation into a suspicious package on the tracks. We'll provide updates on the road closure.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) March 8, 2021
UPDATE:: King Street has reopened between Callahan Dr. and Daingerfield Rd. from the suspicious package investigation. The package has been retrieved. There was no threat to public safety.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) March 8, 2021
Alexandria Police are investigating the second car stolen this month from a gas station — while the owner is pumping gas. The most recent incident occurred at around 9 a.m. Thursday morning at a gas station in the 2300 block of Richmond Highway in Crystal City.
“The victim had just finished pumping gas when the vehicle was stolen around 9:30 this morning,” according to Alexandria Police. “The suspect accessed the vehicle through an unlocked door.”
No one was injured. The vehicle was found 90 minutes later in the 2600 block of 18th Street SE in the District. Police located it through its tracking system.
ALXnow has reached out to the police for more and will update the story accordingly.
This is the second incident of its kind to occur this month. On Feb. 7, local business owner Allison Priebe‘s car was stolen while she pumped gas.
“For your own safety and protection, lock your doors and keep your keys and key fobs on your person when pumping gas,” police advised.
NOTIFICATION:: The Alexandria Police Dept. is conducting a stolen vehicle investigation in the 2300 blk of Richmond Hwy. It happened around 9:30am, after the victim had just finished pumping gas. Vehicle was recovered in D.C. about 90 mins later. For more: https://t.co/7tnITBoX8Y
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) February 18, 2021
Alexandria Police are investigating the death of a 49-year-old homeless woman who was found in the 4100 block of Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria early Tuesday morning.
The woman was spotted by a passerby at around 5:30 a.m., according to police. The public was notified of the incident via Twitter just after 7 a.m. and one lane of north bound traffic on Mount Vernon Avenue was briefly shut down.
Police tweeted that the victim was a well known homeless woman and that the death is not suspicious in nature.
NOTIFICATION:: The Alexandria Police Dept is conducting a Sudden Death investigation at a bus stop in the 4100 block of Mount Vernon Ave. A passerby spotted the 49-year old woman a little after 5:30am and called 911. Part of Mount Vernon Ave remains closed for police activity.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) February 16, 2021
UPDATE:: Victim is a known homeless woman. Cause and manner of death will be determined by the Chief Medical Examiner's office. One NB lane of Mount Vernon Ave. will be closed for a short time.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) February 16, 2021
Updated 2:25 p.m. — There has been an outbreak of COVID-19 in the office of the Alexandria Clerk of Court.
The office is only operating with four employees out of 22, and may shut down, Clerk of Court Greg Parks told ALXnow in an email.
Mayor Justin Wilson was not aware of the outbreak, and the city tells ALXnow that three of the 22 employees in the Clerk’s Office tested positive for COVID-19 over the last few days and are isolating at home while they recover.
“Four supervisors are working from the Courthouse in separate areas, while three are working from home to answer phone calls,” Craig Fifer, the city’s director of communications told ALXnow. “The other employees are currently quarantining at home out of an abundance of caution until they complete the appropriate contact tracing and testing protocols.”
Fifer said that the courthouse will not shut down.
“There is no significant impact on court cases, which were already operating with limited dockets,” Fifer said. “Urgent matters such as protective orders are still receiving priority handling. Less urgent matters such as notary commissions and marriage licenses may encounter some delay this week while in-person appointments are suspended, but will still be processed as quickly as possible. Matters that can be resolved over the phone or through video appointments will continue to be handled that way.”
The Alexandria courthouse has been closed to the general public since the onset of the pandemic, and operations at the clerk’s office have been heavily impacted with staff mostly operating online. Thousands of cases have been put on the back burner.
In October, the courthouse was deep cleaned after an employee of the General District Court tested positive for COVID-19.
At the request of the City of Alexandria, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and state of emergency are in effect in Alexandria and neighboring Arlington.
I am also issuing a State of Emergency in Virginia, so we can continue to respond.
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) January 6, 2021
The announcement comes amid chaos in D.C. as rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol building this afternoon. Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks was on a conference call with other regional leaders for a meeting in Arlington to determine public safety procedures.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle in the parking lot of the Safeway at 299 S. Van Dorn Street and is in serious condition, according to Alexandria Police.
The incident was reported at 2:54 p.m. by police via Twitter, and involved multiple cars.
The Safeway is in the Van Dorn Plaza shopping center.
The last reported pedestrian fatality was in November in Old Town, and was preceded in February by incidents in the West End on Duke Street, near the King Street-Old Town Metro station and a fatality at the intersection of Duke Street and Cameron Station Blvd.
Notification:: The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a serious motor vehicle crash in the 200 block of S. Van Dorn St. involving multiple cars resulting in a pedestrian struck . One serious injury was reported. Expect police activity in the area.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) January 5, 2021
Map via Google Maps