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A 22-year-old Maryland man has been charged with the murders of an Alexandria man in 2022 and a Bristow man in 2021, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

On July 10, police arrested Corde Fitzhugh-Clingman, of Hyattsville, and charged him with two counts of first degree murder while armed for the 2022 death of 26-year-old Zekariya Elmi, of Alexandria, and the 2021 death of 24 year-old Muntsier Sharfi, of Bristow.

MPD offered $25,000 rewards for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in both cases. After his arrest, no information on how Fitzhugh-Clingman allegedly committed the incidents was released by police. Court documents related to his case in D.C. Courts are sealed and no court date has been set.

Elmi was shot in the 5000 block of South Dakota Avenue, Northeast, at around 11:30 p.m. on Monday, April 25, 2022. He reportedly crashed his car into a utility pole after the incident and he later died at the hospital.

Sarfi, a football player and 2020 graduate of the University of Virginia College at Wise, was found shot to death at around 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 8, 2021, in an overturned vehicle in the 3300 block of Southern Avenue, Southeast. Police found that he was shot a block away in the 3300 block of Eerie Street, Southeast.

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King Street Metro at sunset (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The price of riding on the Metro might go up and so could your tax bill.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said that the region will experience collective pain by bailing out the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from its projected $750 million budget deficit.

Wilson said there are no solutions that the city can afford to take off the table.

“We will have to determine ways to reduce the cost structure, the stakeholders will have to chip in and riders will likely bear some of the cost,” Wilson told ALXnow. “It’s going to involve some pain all around.”

WMATA gets billions annually from Alexandria, D.C., Maryland, other Northern Virginia jurisdictions and the federal government. Alexandria’s commitment this year is $56.6 million in operating dollars and $16.6 million in capital contributions.

“Following the exhaustion of federal relief funding in FY2024, Metro expects an operating deficit of $750 million in FY2025,” Metro announced in a budget presentation. “This is more than a one-year challenge. The deficit is projected to continue its growth through FY2035 even with continued ridership recovery.”

Metro Board Chair Paul C. Smedberg, a former member of the Alexandria City Council, said that the region needs a reliable transit system.

“Customers would see longer waits, constant gridlock, higher fares and reduced operating hours and the region’s economy could stagnate,” Smedberg said.

Without a funding increase from Alexandria and its neighbors, WMATA reported “unprecedented operating deficits” will force it to make drastic cuts to rail, bus, and paratransit services across the region.

“Balancing the budget with service cuts would require eliminating two-thirds of Metro’s existing service, with no service after 9:30 p.m.,” WMATA announced last month. “All but 37 of 135 bus lines would no longer operate, customers would wait 20-30 minutes for trains on all lines, and MetroAccess would serve a much smaller area with less hours.”

‘Metro At The Precipice’ is at the top left of this WMATA budget document (via WMATA)

In his monthly newsletter, Wilson said a “reckoning is afoot” for the transit system now that federal subsidies have dried up and ridership is inching toward pre-pandemic levels.

As of May, Metrorail and Metrobus ridership was 50% and 88% of pre-pandemic levels, respectively, according to WMATA.

“Transit is essential to our region’s economy and our quality of life, but the financial model that has supported its existence for a generation is upside down,” Wilson wrote. “The work ahead requires defining a new model to sustain transit for another generation.”

Metro laid out these drivers for the $750 million deficit:

  • Jurisdiction Subsidy Credit: At the onset of the pandemic, Metro provided support to jurisdictions in the form of a subsidy reduction and forgone three percent increases. Had Metro not provided this support, the jurisdictional subsidy would be $196 million higher in FY2025.
  • Decreased revenue since the pandemic: Overall ridership is forecasted to be approximately 25 percent below pre-pandemic levels in FY2025. In addition, shorter distance and weekend trips, which result in less revenue than long distance weekday trips, have seen the fastest recovery. These changes and related impacts to parking and advertising revenues are expected to continue to keep revenue below pre-pandemic levels in the short and medium term. FY2025 total revenue is expected be approximately $288 million below pre-pandemic levels.
  • Inflation and collective bargaining agreements: Historic inflation caused by the pandemic and related supply chain impacts made everything more expensive, raising Metro’s personnel and non-personnel costs. The vast majority of Metro’s workforce which operates and maintains the system participates in collective bargaining. Metro must comply with mandated annual increases under the terms of the respective collective bargaining agreements, which indexes compensation levels to inflation. This cost growth is responsible for $266 million.
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Alexandria Restaurant Partners is expanding their operations to D.C.’s Union Market. The company has bought the property at 400 Morse Street and plans to open its second Palette 22 location in late 2023.

ARP opened its first Palette 22 location in Shirlington in 2017, and the new restaurant at 400 Morse Street NE will be a reimagining of the concept. It will still serve small plates and global street food.

“We want to create an interactive experience for our guests,” said ARP Partner Dave Nicholas. “Our vision is ‘Palette 2.0’ – with the design, layout of the two-story space, and menu – the customer experience will be taken to the next level. We will be featuring interactive elements like a variety of cooking stations where patrons can see and watch the culinary ‘exhibition’. Here, we’re interested in redefining what an open kitchen can be.”

Alexandria Restaurant Partners also owns Mia’s Italian KitchenVola’s Dockside GrillRiverside Taco CompanyJoe Theismann’s Restaurant, The MajesticAda’s on the River and Barca Pier and Wine Bar. The company also owns a Mia’s Italian Kitchen and Café Tu Tu Tango in Orlando, Florida.

“We’ve been watching Union Market develop, and we love the energy and sense of community,” said ARP Partner Scott Shaw. “We are deeply involved in the other communities we currently operate in and look forward to doing the same here. In terms of the concept, we think the Palette 22 – small plates, global street food, and local artists onsite – fit perfectly into the neighborhood and complements the nearby Union Market food hall. We also think Palette 22 fills a gap in the market, offering a high energy, approachable concept for a younger audience.”

Via Facebook

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Morning Notes

Mayor and family attend Nats game canceled after shooting outside stadium Saturday — “We’re okay and on the Metro home, but baseball games should not be called because of a shooting. This is effed up and we all know it. We just don’t want to do anything about it.” [Twitter]

Intertribal Creatives Collective provides home for native artists — “Step into the new Intertribal Creatives Collective in Old Town Alexandria, and you’ll find yourself in a Western-style trading post with a touch of modern-day cool.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Internet cost assistance available for Alexandria residents — “Need help paying for internet access? The Emergency Broadband Benefit gives discounts up to $50/month for those eligible and discounts on computer/ tablet purchases.” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies early, followed by partial clearing. High 89F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds (in the evening). Low 69F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Nose model — “I am looking to hire someone to model her nose while rubbing it, picking it, and making silly faces. Must be 18.” [Indeed]

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More details have been released on a string of 130 smash-and-grab burglaries at businesses in Alexandria and throughout the region.

A number of juveniles from around Alexandria have been arrested in connection to the incidents.

Last month, Alexandria Police said that one juvenile suspect was arrested.

In most cases, the suspects broke windows with rocks or bricks and drove away in stolen vehicles. During one three day stretch in February, there were approximately 35 incidents in Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax County and Fairfax City, according to a police search warrant affidavit.

At least three of the suspects were identified as members of the “Culmore City Gang,” which has ties to Fairfax County, police said.

One of the juvenile suspects, a D.C. resident, has been documented as a member of the gang for several years. He was identified on security camera footage from one of the incidents and was eventually tracked down in a stolen vehicle on March 18. Police said the suspect was arrested for probation violation but “fled from court-ordered custody at the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Facility.”

Numerous additional burglaries followed the juvenile’s escape. Hours after another incident on April 8, Arlington County Police tracked down the suspect who escaped with another juvenile (later issued a juvenile arrest warrant) in a stolen 2010 Ford Explorer.

The suspect who escaped custody was arrested after five separate incidents that occurred at businesses on S. Pickett Street in the West End on April 23. He was arrested the following day while allegedly fleeing a burglary incident at an Arlington pharmacy. On his phone police found photos and videos of the suspect and other juveniles holding large sums of money, drugs, firearms and ammunition — all while wearing clothing that was captured on security videos.

As of April, it is believed that the suspects “have stolen ignition keys from vehicles, utilized them in a burglary,” police said in the affidavit. “After utilizing the vehicle in the burglary, the suspect returns the vehicle to the owner, but keeps the ignition key, returning to the vehicle to commit more thefts.”

Police arrested another juvenile outside his home in Fairfax County on April 27, and he was allegedly was in possession of a stolen firearm.

On May 13, another juvenile suspect was arrested after a brief chase in Arlington. The driver was taken into custody, and inside the vehicle police found a stolen firearm and a blue canvas beg containing “approximately $10,000 of electronic cigarettes similar to ones reported stolen in ongoing regional burglaries.”

Anyone with information on the incidents is asked to contact Detective Walter Boyd at 703-746-6245 or [email protected] or Detective Edmund Dougherty at 703-746-6697 or at [email protected].

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(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.

Map via Google Maps

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After working decades to get legislation passed for a museum dedicated to women’s history on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the National Women’s History Museum is negotiating to open a two-level 40,000-square-foot location at Union Station.

The proposed museum’s administrative offices have been based in the Alexandria’s West End since it was founded in 1996, with the goal of eventually opening on or near the National Mall. Last month, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1980, the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act, but it does not include a timeline or location.

The NWHM is now waiting for Senate approval and for an appropriate space to eventually open up.

“We are delighted that the legislation we fought so hard to get introduced all those years ago has overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a bi-partisan basis,” the museum said in a press release. “We urge the Senate to pass it, and the president to sign it… but we also understand the reality that the timeline is uncertain and the bill still needs to be funded.”

“Under the best of circumstances, a Smithsonian Museum dedicated to women’s history likely will be years — if not decades — away,” the press release adds. “Despite these challenges, we remain laser-focused on the urgency of representation — of sharing women’s stories, exploring their contributions to our national narrative, and creating a space that communicates the breadth and depth of women’s experiences and accomplishments. Time is of the essence, and as a private organization, we remain committed to building this museum now!”

“That’s what I was hired to do, to build a museum,” NWHM Executive Director Holly Hotchner told ALXnow. “The minute you get involved with government, there is no way to know a timeline or if something will get done. It is completely up to Congress, the Senate and the president of the United States, so our desire is to get a museum up and running and quickly as possible.”

For 17 years, Hotchner was the founding director of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, and she said that much of what will be included in the museum depends on its location. She wants a facility with rotating exhibits, with items like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s gavel, historic papers, photographs, diaries and testimonials.

“We’re in conversations with the Smithsonian about how to work together, but it’s a moveable situation,” Hotchner said. “The bill just passed, and there is the expectation it will pass in the Senate, but no money has been raised and the Smithsonian has a huge list of priorities that has to be funded on the Mall, like the Air and Space Museum, which is in the middle of a huge renovation.”

Photo via National Women’s History Museum/Facebook

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Morning Notes

New Office to Residential Conversion — “A Mark Center office building in Alexandria is now set to be converted into apartments. D.C. real estate investment firm PRP LLC plans to convert 4900 Seminary Road, a 12-story, 209,000 square foot building, into residential… PRP wants to put 213 market-rate units into the building, which also has room for about 4,100 square feet of ground-floor retail.” [Washington Business Journal]

Mayor Reacts to Retrocession Suggestion — “With Democrats now in control of the Virginia Statehouse, Republican Delegate Dave LaRock says he is concerned that liberal values are taking over so he’s calling for Arlington and Alexandria to be split off and given to D.C… Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson calls LaRock’s statements a ‘comical clown move.'” [Fox 5, Twitter]

Send-off For Historic Fire Apparatus — “The Friendship Fire Company purchased an ornate hose reel carriage in 1858. Now, thanks to the support of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association, community donors, and its win as the No. 1 Virginia Endangered Artifact of 2019, Historic Alexandria is sending the hose carriage off for much-needed conservation.” [Zebra]

Lawmakers Considering Shopping Cart Bill — “Senate Bill 631 would make it so that the cost of removal, including disposal, of an abandoned shopping cart will be charged to the cart’s owner. The ordinance originally applied just to Fairfax County, but Surovell said Arlington and Alexandria asked to be included in the new legislation.” [ARLnow]

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