A number of suspected MS-13 gang members have been arrested the last several months for allegedly selling crack/cocaine, marijuana and firing gunshots in the Arlandria area.
The suspects allegedly sold the drugs throughout the Arlandria area — and ran the operation from apartments in the 3800 block of Milan Drive and the 3800 block of Executive Avenue, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The investigation started in February, when police were notified by confidential sources of the “ongoing sale of crack cocaine and marijuana in the City of Alexandria” by “mid-to-high” ranked MS-13 gang members, according to a search warrant affidavit. Police determined that numerous suspects allegedly sold drugs in Four Mile Run Park behind the Arlandria Shopping Center and in a parking lot of a convenience store in the 3900 block of Mount Vernon Avenue.
On February 19, police discovered a suspected crack pipe and push rod on a man shortly after he entered the apartment building on Milan Drive. The man sad that “he goes (there) to buy $20 of crack cocaine at a time,” police said in the search warrant. “He advised the people inside (the apartment) would not sell to him that day because they were aware the police were outside the building.”
At around 4 p.m. on March 3, police observed a male on a bike ride up to the apartment building and go inside. He left two minutes later, and once outside, “manipulated the handlebars on his bike and pulled off the end cap and placed a small object, that appeared to be plastic, into the handlebars of his bike and replaced the end cap,” according to the search warrant affidavit.
On March 8, two juvenile suspects were arrested after allegedly firing gunshots in the air. The juveniles, who were seen regularly with a half dozen other suspects, were apprehended at the apartment in the 3800 block of Executive Avenue. One of the juvenile suspects is a person of interest in a Herndon Police Department homicide investigation, and had an active juvenile detention orders for malicious wounding and assault by mob, according to the search warrant affidavit.
In the apartment on Executive Avenue, police recovered a stolen Ruger, a .45 caliber handgun, a stolen 9 mm Glock handgun, six cell phones and a gun holster.
On April 13, police arrested another suspect — a 33-year-old man who was deported in 2019 for multiple violent crimes, according to the search warrant affidavit. The suspect was arrested after allegedly selling drugs in the outdoor basketball court behind the Arlandria Shopping Center.
On July 14, a 22-year-old suspect was arrested and released that same day on a $3,500 unsecured bond. He was charged with possession with intent to distribute Schedule I/II drugs.
The 19-year-old suspected ringleader was arrested on September 7, and is being held without bond. He has been charged with possession to distribute marijuana, selling Schedule I/II drugs and possession of a firearm with Schedule I/II drugs. He goes to court on October 11.
APD would not comment on the ongoing investigation.
Earlier this week, Police Chief Don Hayes said that the city is contending with gangs and crews of individuals committing violent acts throughout the city. The city’s Gang Prevention Community Task Force is also starting to develop an action plan to combat gang violence.
Alexandria City Public Schools is has a “crew” problem — organized groups of kids that are participating in criminal behavior, according to Police Chief Don Hayes.
If the description sounds like a gang, there’s not much difference. Hayes says that the school system is also dealing with gang activity.
“We have gangs, and we also have groups called crews with young males going around and just doing violent acts, but also just instigating crimes, things like that,” Hayes said on Monday night (September 26) at Agenda Alexandria‘s discussion on school safety. “We know that they are not just in our school system, but our neighborhoods.”
In the meantime, ACPS is also contending with an opioid crisis. Between April 1 and May 1, there were six opioid overdoses of minors in Alexandria. Each ACPS school carries has the prescription medicine Narcan, which can reverse an opioid overdose through injection or intranasal mist.
“I would say we do have a fentanyl crisis in the city, as evidenced by the opioid workgroup,” said Julie Crawford, the ACPS chief of Student Services and Equity. “It’s challenging as a school system to be able to identify the exact substance without getting the information from our students. But we know that many things that students may think are not as harmful, like marijuana, which of course we know is harmful, we don’t want our students using is more likely to be laced with fentanyl.”
Safety in schools has been a top issue in Alexandria since full in-person schooling resumed at the beginning of the last school year. ACPS began the 2021-2022 school year without school resource officers, after they were defunded by the City Council in last year’s budget. What followed was an uptick in incidents with weapons in schools that prompted School Board Chair Meagan Alderton and former Superintendent Gregory Hutchings to plead for their return in October 2021.
The discussion, which was moderated by Alexandria journalist Michael Lee Pope, comes on the heels of a new safety report detailing arrest and security incidents in the final two quarters of the 2021-2022 school year. There were 46 students arrested and 68 injured last school year, and 194 incidents that provoked a police response, according to the report. The school system will now begin compiling the data on a more regular basis, using the 2021-2022 school year as a baseline for future improvement.
Hayes said that the police presence of school resource officers at Alexandria City High School’s campuses and at the city’s middle schools has resulted in a safer beginning to the school year than last year.
“I believe that here are going to be incidents that are going to happen but I believe that because of partnerships that we’ve developed there, because of our presence there, because of extra security specifically for the high school,” Hayes said. “I know for a fact this year has been less eventful than the past two years, and even before the pandemic happened, and I think it’s getting to a point now where we are looking better.”
Herb Berg, the ACPS superintendent from 1995 to 2001, said that the pandemic created a crisis of education within Alexandria’s school system.
“We have 15,700 kids who lost two years of education,” Berg said. “That is a crisis of huge magnitude… I think the city council and the mayor needs to be asking for a meeting with the City School Board, and the superintendent and best minds in the city to put their arms around this issue. These kids have lost an education, and you’re not going to be able to make it if you don’t make it the number one priority.”
The School Board is set to receive the recommendations on the reimagined partnership between ACPS and the police department with a recommendation from the Superintendent’s School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) Advisory Group in mid-December.
A Washington, D.C. man is behind bars after allegedly stealing a car from a lot in an industrial area of the city and fleeing from police.
The incident occurred shortly after 10 p.m. on Thursday, August 22. Police received a call that several people were moving vehicles in the fenced in parking lot of a car repair business in the 3200 block of Colvin Street.
Police arrived and saw the 22-year-old suspect allegedly climb a fence to the lot and get into a Dodge Ram with its lights on, according to a search warrant affidavit. When police made their presence known, the suspect allegedly ran on foot from the scene and was arrested a short distance away.
Another suspect stole a red Ford Mustang and was not arrested.
The suspect told police that “he received a key fob for the Dodge Ram from the unknown suspect operating the Mustang, whom he claimed not to know the identity of,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.
“The suspect was to drive the Dodge Ram ‘somewhere in Maryland,'” police said in the search warrant affidavit.
“I was told, texted, to go to a certain place,” the suspect allegedly told police.
The suspect was charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident, fleeing from law enforcement and grand larceny. He released on recognizance and goes to court on September 28.
A new report on student safety should be taken with a grain of salt, according to members of the Alexandria School Board.
The School Board received the report Thursday night (September 22), and it includes details of 194 incidents that occurred between January and June. Not all of the incidents were criminal in nature, which led some School Board members to question the report’s validity.
“It’s really easy to look at these numbers of these data and draw conclusions, some of them often negative,” said School Board Member Ashley Simpson Baird. “It’s also really difficult just because we don’t yet have that longitudinal data yet, this is just a school year. We don’t know if this is better or worse than two years ago, or three years ago or 10 years ago.”
The data shows that 26 Alexandria City Public School students were arrested in the final two quarters of the 2021-2022 school year. There were also 34 students injured, 28 reported fights/assaults and 11 incidents of sexual assault/sexual misconduct. With the four quarters of the year combined, 46 students were arrested and 68 injured.
Board Member Abdel Elnoubi agreed with Simpson Baird.
“Wait and let’s have a goal that hopefully we start seeing numbers come down,” Elnoubi said. “Don’t look at raw numbers. Don’t look at that in a vacuum, because we It doesn’t mean much unless you put it in context. I just encourage community members to keep that in mind.”
John Contreras, the ACPS director of Safety and Security Services, said that not all incidents were criminal in nature, like when a child needed help getting unstuck in their second grade classroom, or when a golf cart battery caught fire at Alexandria City High School.
“It is important to note that APD (Alexandria Police Department) calls for service are not solely in relation to support for incidents that are criminal in nature,” Contreras said. “It includes a wide variety of things, including missing students, that sort of thing, not an actual criminal act, but we do sometimes someone need assistance or police to help us look for a student that may have not come on time.”
Contreras also said that arrests increased because of large groups of students fighting.
“One assault by mob… resulted in six arrests,” Contreras said. “Another was three — three arrests in one incident.”
Contreras recalled another incident of students smoking marijuana in an ACHS bathroom.
“A teacher goes in there (the bathroom), notices that the aroma in there smelled like marijuana, a controlled substance that’s not supposed to be at the school, but interviews with students or a search of their belongings did not reveal anything. It’s still reported to us as a controlled substance violation of some sort. Law enforcement was collaborated with, but it didn’t really resulting with anything other than administrative response at the school level.”
Alicia Hart, the chief of Facilities and Operations, said that the report is the new baseline for the school system.
“This really is the true baseline for incidents, calls for service and arrests and should be used to note changes in school division safety,” Hart said.
Interim Superintendent Melnie Kay-Wyatt said she wants the numbers in the report to go down.
“I really think it’s just allowing probably another full school year this school year for us to get some more data to really start measuring,” Kay-Wyatt said.
Agenda Alexandria will discuss student safety on Monday, September 26, at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (101 Callahan Drive) at 6:30 p.m.
A 14-year-old Alexandria boy was arrested and charged with robbery after allegedly pistol-whipping a juvenile in the West End.
The incident occurred on Tuesday, July 5, in the 400 block of N. Armistead Street. Police found the juvenile victim with a “large amount of blood” on his hands, as well as abrasions on his head and cheek, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The victim told police that three suspects stole his backpack and Apple Air Pods by force, and that one of them hit him with a plastic gun.
“One of the suspects possessed an apparent plastic gun and pistol whipped (the victim) with the weapon while in the process of stealing their property,” police said in the search warrant affidavit. “Another suspect displayed a knife and threatened to use it against (the victim) during the incident.”
The suspect who allegedly hit the victim was positively identified in a photo line up, and was arrested and charged with robbery from person. He was taken to the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.
Twenty six Alexandria City Public School students were arrested in the final two quarters of the 2021-2022 school year. There were also 34 students injured, 28 reported fights/assaults and 11 incidents of sexual assault/sexual misconduct.
There were also 15 seized weapons, including seven knives and three stun guns/tasers.
That’s according to a School Safety Data report to be presented to the School Board on Thursday (September 22). With the four quarters of the year combined, 46 students were arrested and 68 injured.
The report sheds light on the safety situation within the school system, which came under intense scrutiny when School Resource Officers were defunded between August and October of last year. The SROs — police officers assigned to the city’s high school and middle school campuses, were brought back by City Council after a violent first few months back to in-person schooling.
Most notably, just before the end of the school year an Alexandria City High School senior was stabbed to death in broad daylight in the parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center.
In the first two quarters of the 2021-2022 school year, 20 ACPS students were arrested. There were 41 reported fights/assaults and 13 seized weapons, including a gun, five knives, a stun gun, two fake weapons, and pepper spray. There were also two robberies, three drug offenses, a bomb threat and 13 pulled fire alarms.
There were 194 total incidents reported in the third and fourth quarters.
- 36 incidents characterized as “other” (parking lot accidents, trespassing, mental health episodes, property lost/damaged)
- 34 injuries that required medical assistance
- 28 fights/assaults
- 19 incidents with drugs
- 15 incidents with weapons
- 14 reports of a missing student
- 12 incidents of prohibited items/materials
- 11 incidents of sexual assault/sexual misconduct
- 11 incidents of online threats
- Six pulled fire alarms
- Two Child Protective Services reports
- Two reports of suspicious activity
- Two reports of vandalism
- Two reports of theft
There were 82 incidents reported at the Alexandria City High School campuses, 65 incidents at the city’s two middle schools and 35 incidents at elementary schools. There were also 84 police calls for service — 48 at the high school campuses, 30 at the middle schools and four at elementary schools.
- 16 students were arrested for fights/assaults
- Four students were arrested for drug possession
- Three students were arrested for alcohol possession
There were 14 students arrested an the Alexandria City High School campus and 12 middle school students arrested. A vast majority of the students arrested are minorities.
The School Board will also get an update on the School Law Enforcement Partnership (SLEP) Advisory Group. That group is tasked with making a recommendation on the future role of school resource officers within the school system. The 16-person group has conducted three meetings so far, and plans to have its final recommendations to the School Board by mid-December.
According to a presentation that will be delivered to the School Board: “The mission of the SLEP advisory group is to assist ACPS leadership, the Superintendent and the School Board in reimagining the school law enforcement partnership with the Alexandria Police Department in order to ensure a positive, safe and equitable school experience for all students.”
Agenda Alexandria will discuss student safety on Monday, September 26, at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (101 Callahan Drive) at 6:30 p.m. Panelists include Alexandria Police Chief Don Hayes, ACPS Chief of Student Services and Equity Julie Crawford, Rene Islas of The Community Group and former ACPS Superintendent Herb Berg.
A teller at the Alexandria DMV Customer Service Center (2681 Mill Road) has been charged with credit card fraud after allegedly using a stolen Visa gift card to pay for the license renewal of a friend.
The 40-year-old woman was arrested on credit card fraud charges on September 2, more than three months after a wallet with credit cards was stolen from a car in Loudoun County.
The incident occurred on May 28 in front of a house on Cardinal Flower Lane in Aldie, Virginia. The victim reported to police that her Kate Spade wallet with multiple credit cards was stolen and that the cards were then used to buy five Visa gift cards at three separate CVS stores in Maryland, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The incident occurred about 25 miles from the suspect’s home in the 100 block of Lynhaven Drive.
Two of the gift cards were used by two male suspects at a Lowe’s in Fairfax County that same day, May 28. The following day, a male suspect used another of the cards at a Walmart in Fairfax County. Neither of the alleged accomplices have been charged.
The suspect works as a teller at the Alexandria DMV Customer Service Center (2681 Mill Road), and on June 2 allegedly used one of the stolen Visa gift cards to pay for the license renewal for a friend, according to a search warrant affidavit. Police were able to see video of the transaction, which shows the suspect reaching over the counter to pay for the renewal with one of the gift cards.
“DMV law enforcement was able to video and documents of the transaction, including a DMV Teller Transaction Audit of the event,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.
The suspect was arrested on September 2 and released the same day on a $2,000 bond.
A man acquitted by reason of insanity for a brutal stabbing death in Old Town has been ordered to stay off all social media except LinkedIn.
The news came Thursday afternoon, after 38-year-old Pankaj Bhasin was ordered by the Alexandria Circuit Court to stay off the websites after lying about himself and his whereabouts during a period that he was in prison for murder.
Bhasin was conditionally released from the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services in May — four years after stabbing 65-year-old Brad Jackson to death with a box cutter. Bhasin said that he thought Jackson was a werewolf, and stabbed him 53 times. He was conditionally released on May 27, 2022, after being diagnosed as bipolar by five doctors and found not guilty by reason of insanity in July 2019.
After his release, Bhasin opened a Facebook page where he listed that he was in India at the time of the murder, according to court records. He also created dating application profiles and wrote that he’d recently returned from traveling for two years.
“I’m an easy going adventurer who believes in a universal connection with all and love to explore n try new things,” Bhasin wrote on a dating app, according to the motion to amend the terms of his conditional release. “Also, recently getting back from two years of travel…”
Bhasin also wrote that he is interested in “travel, kayaking, dancing, photography, camping, reading, concert n all things fun,” and that he has an ENFP-A personality — someone who is extraverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving.
Bhasin’s attorney, Peter Greenspun, sent out a statement that Bhasin is “doing extremely well,” but did not discuss the decision of the court. He said that Bhasin is remorseful for Jackson’s death.
“Mr. Bhasin is not on any social media or dating sites,” Greenspun said. “He has and will continue to follow all of the directions of the City of Alexandria Circuit Court.”
A review hearing is scheduled for December to assess Bhasin’s release.
An Alexandria man is being held without bond for allegedly brandishing a handgun and destroying property near his West End apartment.
Jimmy Simms, 38, was charged with brandishing a firearm, destruction of property, driving on a revoked/suspended license and reckless driving.
The incident occurred just after midnight on Monday, August 22. The victim, a man driving west on West Braddock Road, reported to police that he was threatened by a man with a gun driving a silver GMC Arcadia.
The victim was at a red light behind the GMC, and when the light turned green, “the vehicle began driving approximately 10 miles per hour and slamming onto the breaks,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.
The affidavit continued, “(The victim) then passed the vehicle and turned left onto North Van Dorn Street. The (suspect’s) vehicle then drove on the wrong side of the road to get past him and began driving in front of him while slamming on his breaks several times again. The (suspect’s) vehicle pulled over into the bike lanes and as (the victim) was driving past, the suspect, later identified as Mr. Jimmy Simms, pointed a black handgun at him.”
The victim drove away to a parking lot in the 2600 block of N. Van Dorn Street, when he heard a car crash coming from a parking lot a block away in the 2500 block. The victim then confronted Simms with a can of pepper spray, and Simms ran into a nearby apartment building, according to the search warrant affidavit.
Witnesses told police that Simms had a black handgun in his waistband when he entered the building. He was arrested inside his fourth floor apartment, and allegedly told police that he had a gun, but that “you’ll never find it.”
Simms goes to court for the offenses on Wednesday, September 14.
A man was shot in Arlandria on Sunday night, according to Alexandria Police.
The incident occurred at around 7:30 p.m. in front of an apartment building in the 3800 block of Old Dominion Boulevard. A 50-year-old man was shot and transported to George Washington University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The male suspect fled on foot and has not been arrested. Witnesses said that they heard two shots fired in rapid succession, and shell casings were found on the ground in front of the property.
Anyone with information on the incident can contact Detective Robert Hill via [email protected] or 703-746-6712. Callers can remain anonymous.
Notification:: There is a heavy police presence near and around the 3800 block of Old Dominion Boulevard. This is in response to a shots fired call for service. One person was reported injured and taken to the hospital. APD is on scene and investigating. pic.twitter.com/RsKhS5J1Zm
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) September 12, 2022