Alexandria, VA

No one was injured after shots were fired near the Braddock Road metro station on Monday night (October 26), according to the Alexandria Police Department.

The incident occurred at around 9 p.m. in the 700 block of North West Street. The area is near public housing, the Braddock Road Metro station and a number of local businesses.

A parked car was struck and no suspects were arrested, police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow.

Earlier this month, police asked the public for help in identifying suspects after a surge in gun-related incidents. There have been a number of violent incidents in the city over the last several days, including a shootout that left a suspect dead and an officer injured on Monday. Two people were also shot last week and there were two robberies.

Map via Google Maps

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The Alexandria Police Department is investigating two armed robberies that occurred over the weekend.

At around 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 23, a male juvenile was robbed of personal belongings in the 3400 block of Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray. The victim was not injured and police did not provide information on the suspect or if a weapon was involved.

The Del Ray incident occurred a few hours before a man was shot five blocks away by a security guard at 3901 Mount Vernon Avenue.

At around 3 a.m. on Saturday, October 24, a man was robbed of personal belongings and assaulted by two suspects at gunpoint in the 100 block of S. Bragg Street in the West End. Again, police provided no suspect description.

West End and Del Ray Maps via Google Maps

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This was a big week for Alexandria.

Our top story this week was the Alexandria School Board’s decision to reopen schools for students with disabilities, while the future reopening of school for elementary, middle and high schoolers remains in doubt.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said that the only feasible option for reopening schools — based on distancing and staffing constraints — would be for students to rotate to in-person schooling only one day per week. Hutchings also appeared on CNN and said that ACPS is not likely to fully reopen until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus.

We also reported that the Alexandria City Council approved plans for Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and the North Potomac Yard development plan, virtually paving the way for the college to open its doors to hundreds of students by 2024.

“This is a very significant set of decisions for the city, and is really going to shape, not just a portion of our city, but really the entirety of our city for a long period of time to come,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 75 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,100 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine were in the city on Monday to unveil a team of new zero emission DASH electric buses.

We also reported that the City Council unanimously approved naming the 1000 block of Montgomery Street in Old Town “Earl F. Lloyd Way” in honor of the first Black man to ever play in the National Basketball Association.

Restaurant-wise, we spoke with one of the owners of a pizza and burger joint that is taking over the former location of Pizzeria Paradiso on lower King Street. The Chewish Deli is also now open in Old Town, and the owner of Del Ray Boccato says that his gelato shop will soon open.

Additionally, more than 17 people participated in our weekly poll. With the November 3 election around the corner, this week we asked about voting plans, and 65% of respondents voted by mail/absentee, 31% plan to vote on election day, and 4% are not voting.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  2. City Releasing Torpedo Factory Draft Action Plan Today
  3. City Council Approves Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and North Potomac Yard Development Plan
  4. Alexandria Student Called N-Word in Online Forum, and Not By Another Student
  5. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  6. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  7. One Arrested After Attempted Armed Robbery in Alexandria’s West End
  8. Report: ACPS Superintendent Sends Child to Bishop Ireton High School
  9. Female Suspect Flees, Nothing Taken in Attempted Old Town Bank Robbery
  10. Alexandria and Arlington Want a New Future for the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center
  11. Alexandria Courthouse Deep Cleaned After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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The 60-year-old Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center is in disrepair and underutilized, and over the next six months staff from Arlington and Alexandria will send back recommendations on its future use.

That could mean co-locating mental health and rehabilitative services to the center, or potentially shutting it down altogether.

Mayor Justin Wilson, in a joint meeting with the Arlington County Board on Monday, said that Fairfax County is not interested in taking juveniles from the center. Wilson said that he recently spoke with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay, who reportedly told him that the door is not closed on the issue, “but the hill is steep.”

“I think they (Fairfax County) have some some resistance for a variety of different reasons to to bringing kids from other jurisdictions into their facility,” Wilson said. “I think  there is a logic to potentially working together again given the way the capacity is, but the door is not closed.”

Fairfax County’s juvenile detention center has 121 beds and is currently at 25% capacity.

The center, which opened in 1958 at 200 S. Whiting Street in the West End, houses youth with serious offenses and behavioral issues from Alexandria, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. The center has seen a 72% reduction in the number of juveniles in the facility between 2006 and 2019, prompting a reduction of beds at the facility from 70 to 46 in 2016, according to a cost benefit analysis provided the Moss Group.

The analysis also found that:

  • The facility is underutilized
  • The average age of an inmate is 16.5 years
  • There were 150 juveniles committed in fiscal year 2019
  • The juveniles were 56.7% African American, 38.7% Caucasian, 30.7% Hispanic and 4.6% Other/Unknown
  • 72% of juveniles were male; 28% were female
  • Most common offenses are probation violation, contempt of court, robbery, assault, larceny and narcotics

Arlington County Board Member Christian Dorsey said the analysis created more questions that answers, and that staff from Alexandria and Arlington should collaborate to create options for future use at the center.

“I recognize that it is not satisfying to come to the conclusion where we’ve had a study that indicates that we have a need for more study, and more questions and more looked at data to be explored,” Dorsey said. “There’s still probably more opportunities for us to explore diversion and ways in which we can not actually have juveniles entering this facility.”

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What a week it’s been in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was the report that Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. sends one of his children to Bishop Ireton High School. In case you missed it, the story first broke in Theogony, the T.C. Williams High School newspaper.

Hutchings also presented his plan for a phased reopening of ACPS starting next month. The results of a survey over virtual schooling were also released, revealing that screen time and childcare were among the top concerns of students, staff and families.

On the health front, Alexandria exceeded 4,000 total cases of COVID-19 since the first case was reported on March 11.

Additionally, more than 200 people participated in our weekly poll on traveling this holiday season, and 56% reported they will not travel, 27% still plan on traveling, and 17% still haven’t decided.

Crime-wise, we reported that a woman was assaulted in Arlandria on October 11; an arrest was made after an attempted armed robbery in the West End; a West End gas station was robbed of $1,700 in tobacco products; a woman ended up not being charged after firing a warning shot at a man in the 4300 block of Duke Street; and the mother of a man whose truck was stolen in Del Ray received an unexpected phone call from the thief.

There was some good news.

The southern entrance of the Potomac Yard Metro station is really taking shape, at least on paper. This week, the final plans going to the city were made public. The Board of Architectural Review will look at them at their meeting on Wednesday, October 21.

And in recognition of Oyster Week, ALXnow on Thursday emceed the first-ever “Pearl of Alexandria Oyster Eating Contest” between rival Del Ray and Old Town business owners.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. Report: ACPS Superintendent Sends Child to Bishop Ireton High School
  2. Police: Illegal Drugs Sold in West End Via Snapchat During Pandemic
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. BREAKING: Suspect Arrested for West End Murder
  5. ISIS ‘Beatles’ Held in Alexandria Jail, Charged with American Murders in Syria
  6. Here’s What the Potomac Yard Metro Station’s Southern Entrance Will Look Like
  7. Superintendent Proposing Phased Reopening of Alexandria City Public Schools Starting in November
  8. A Dozen Restaurants are Participating in Old Town Oyster Week
  9. VIDEO: West End Murder Victim Identified
  10. ‘Brewski’s Barkhaus’ is Opening This Saturday
  11. Old Virginia Tobacco Co. Moves Directly Across Street from Longtime Old Town Tobacconist

Have a safe weekend!

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Just hours after the Ford F-150 was stolen in front of a Del Ray office, the victim’s mother received a call from the thief telling her not to call the police.

The incident occurred at around 2 p.m. on August 25 in the 500 block of E. Braddock Road near the Braddock Road Metro station.

The victim was getting measurements on a ladder when he saw a Black male with a thin build, about 5-foot-8 with long braided hair, drive away in his truck. Inside the truck was a handgun valued at over $1,000, according to police.

Later that night, the victim’s mother received a phone call from the male suspect, who “stated that he had information about the stolen truck and that he did not want to involve the police,” according to a search warrant affidavit. “The phone call was received only a few hours after the vehicle was stolen.”

The victim’s mother said that the suspect must have found a business card in the truck belonging to an employee that works with the victim’s family, and that the number the suspect called was linked to her home phone.

The truck was found 12 days later on September 6, just after 4 a.m. in southeast D.C. It was found near the home of a woman where police traced the call from the suspect to the victim’s mother.

The gun was not found in the truck and the case is ongoing.

Map via Google Maps

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Alexandria Police say a man is responsible for stealing $1,743 worth of tobacco products from two separate burglaries at a West End gas station.

The first incident at the Shell gas station at 5740 Edsall Road was on Wednesday, July 27. The suspect was recorded on video surveillance at 2:54 a.m. — nearly an hour after the station closed — taking several cartons of cigarettes, boxes of cigars and other items totaling $777.61, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Six days later, the same suspect was recorded breaking into the sales booth of the business just after midnight on August 2. He stole $965.75 worth of tobacco products, according to the search warrant.

“(T)he suspect rode a bicycle to the scene westbound on Edsall Road into the Shell gas station parking lot,” notes the affidavit. “Based on Your Affiant’s training and experience as well as review of the video surveillance, both burglaries were committed by the same suspect.

There were also a number of smash-and-grab incidents in the West End over the summer.

Map via Google Maps

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A woman was assaulted while walking home in the Presidential Greens Apartment complex in Arlandria on Sunday night, October 11.

The victim was walking home when she was approached by a man who tried to grab her, but she got away and called her cousin on the phone and ran to a nearby business where he works on Mount Vernon Avenue. She was transported to the hospital and was released without injuries, according to her cousin.

The incident occurred at around 11 p.m.

Police searched the area with a K-9 officer and no suspect was arrested.

Map via Google Maps

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It’s the end of a busy week in Alexandria.

Once again, crime and public safety stories were the most read on ALXnow.

On Friday, we found that the 19-year-old man arrested for the September 30 West End murder of John Harding Pope was released on bail just eight days before the murder. Pope’s death is the second murder of the year. In the first murder, Ibrahim Bouaichi was out on bail when he allegedly killed his former girlfriend.

On Thursday, the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office confirmed that two suspected ISIS terrorists are now in the city jail. Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh also made their initial appearances at the Eastern District of Virginia federal courthouse in Alexandria.

On the pandemic front, there are now 73 COVID-19 deaths in the city, and the Virginia Department of Health projects there will be 20,000 more cases statewide by Thanksgiving. The city also announced that residents impacted by the pandemic might also be eligible to receive $100-$400 in grocery gift cards.

On the school front, T.C. Williams High School’s student newspaper Theogony broke the story that Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Jr. now sends one of his children to a private high school in the city.

Meanwhile, Alexandria was named the fifth best small city in U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler and made Forbes’ Weekend Getaway list.

Nearly 200 readers also participated in our weekly poll on passing out Halloween candy, and 60% said they would not hand out candy, 29% said they are doing modified trick-or-treating and 11% said they will hand out candy like usual.

If you need a good laugh, this Sunday at 8 p.m. there will be more COVID-friendly stand-up comedy in Old Town.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. BREAKING: Suspect Arrested for West End Murder
  2. BREAKING: Former Alexandria Nurse Jesse Bjerke Sentenced 65 Years For Raping Lifeguards at Gunpoint
  3. Report: ACPS Superintendent Sends Child to Bishop Ireton High School
  4. VIDEO: West End Murder Victim Identified
  5. Police: Illegal Drugs Sold in West End Via Snapchat During Pandemic
  6. Man Dies After Crash on N. Washington Street in Old Town
  7. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  8. Delaware Woman Charged for Three Hit-And-Runs in Old Town and Driving Under the Influence
  9. Man Shot on Quantrell Avenue in City’s Second Murder of 2020
  10. Students, Parents Ask School Board to Not Renew Agreement Allowing Police at Alexandria City Public Schools
  11. Homeowner Shot in Targeted Del Ray Home Invasion

Have a safe weekend!

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The 19-year-old man arrested for the September 30 West End murder of John Harding Pope was released on bond just eight days before Pope was killed.

Tavon Marquis Lanier was arrested  Sept. 22 for allegedly breaking into his girlfriend’s apartment, stalking and threatening her and was released on bond by the magistrate’s office.

“By law, he was entitled to a magistrate’s decision on bail, which occurred in the magistrate’s office while in police custody,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter told ALXnow. “My office by law has no role to play and was not present during that hearing, nor was the defense attorney. The magistrate, based upon what was being told to him by the police officer who made the arrest, determined to release the individual on bail.”

Lanier was convicted last year of identify theft, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 60 days in jail with 55 days suspended. He was set to appear in court on December 4 to provide an update on his progress.

The 47-year-old Pope was shot to death at his home in the 5900 block of Quantrell Avenue in the Mayflower Square apartment complex. He later died at the hospital. Neighbors described the suspect as a light-skinned young man with tattoos on his face.

Pope’s murder is the second homicide this year in Alexandria. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Ryan Clinch at 703-746-6673.

The first homicide occurred a mile-and-a-half away on July 29. In that case, the suspect, Ibrahim Bouaichi, was released on bail and allegedly killed his former girlfriend while awaiting trial. He later killed himself while on the run from police.

Photo via Facebook

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Morning Notes

Beyer Criticizes Trump’s Position on Michigan Governor Abduction Plot — “Trump has now responded. This is just sick.” [Twitter]

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching — “The deadline to register to vote in the November 3 elections or update voter registration information is Tuesday, October 13.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Makes Forbes’ Weekend Getaway List — “Alexandria tops the list of @Forbes‘ fall weekend getaways. See what they recommend.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Tutoring Consoritum Needs Tutors — “Once ATC confirms that you will be a tutor (we will send you an email), 2) complete the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) volunteer application.” [Alexandriatutors.org]

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Announces Grant Winners — “The grant-funded projects, which must be completed by June 2021, will aim to accomplish one of a number of specific goals, according to a news release.” [Alex Times]

Today’s Weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High 72F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Mainly cloudy (in the evening). Low 58F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: District Manager — “District Managers are responsible for managing all facets of the optometric office operations within the designated district, including but not limited to; the daily operation of an office, including personnel management, budgetary controls, inventory controls while maintaining the highest level of patient service.” [Indeed]

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The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office on Thursday confirmed that suspected ISIS terrorists Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh are being held in the city jail.

The former British citizens are accused of conspiring to kidnap and kill U.S. and western hostages between 2012 and 2015, including Americans Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. The British government reportedly allowed their extradition after the U.S. Justice Department agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Kotey, 36, and Elsheikh, 32, have British accents are accused of being members of the infamous ISIS group known as “The Beatles”.

“Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh were placed into our custody this afternoon by the U.S. Marshals and are being held at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center,” said Captain Sean Casey of the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office.

The Justice Department announced Wednesday that the pair made their initial appearances at the Eastern District of Virginia federal courthouse in Alexandria.

Other notable figures who have spent time in the Alexandria jail include Zacarias Moussaoui, a conspirator in the 9/11 terror attacks, and former Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh.

See the full release from the Justice Department below the jump.

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