Newsletter

What an interesting week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

World champion sprinter Noah Lyles brought home his bronze medal from the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday. In a frank, TED Talk-like speech at Alexandria City High School, Lyles talked about the importance of mental health as he struggled to perform at the games.

“A lot of people will look at the Olympics this year like something was different with the athletes,” said Lyles. “Well, it was a lot of difference because we had so much weight that we had to hold onto — about two years. I was no different.”

On the COVID-19 front, while the transmission level remains high in Alexandria, this week the city tied with Arlington for the lowest seven-day positivity rate in Virginia. Large outdoor public events are still happening, too, and on Monday, a vast majority of local elected officials and candidates converged for the Alexandria Democratic Committee’s annual Labor Day Picnic, which included an appearance by gubernatorial candidate, former Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Man arrested for spending spree after finding wallet in Bradlee Shopping Center parking lot
  2. COVID-19 Update: Alexandria ties with Arlington for lowest seven-day positivity rate in Virginia
  3. BREAKING: Pedestrian critically injured in Old Town car crash
  4. Mark Center development plans head to Planning Commission this week
  5. Alexandria Police union calls out years of executive mismanagement
  6. JUST IN: Suspects arrested after allegedly firing shots at Alexandria Police
  7. BREAKING: Video shows brawl at Alexandria City High School cafeteria just two days after school starts
  8. Mayor outlines upcoming plastic bag tax plans
  9. Village Brauhaus aims for rooftop expansion
  10. No injuries or arrests after shots fired in Old Town Sunday night
  11. Most expensive homes sold in Alexandria in August

Have a safe weekend!

Via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr.

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Morning Notes

Gun used in murder belonged to suspect’s bondsman — “The homicide of Alexandria resident Karla Dominguez last summer sparked widespread uproar because her alleged murderer, Ibrahim Bouaichi, had been released on bond in April despite having been indicted for allegedly raping and assaulting Dominguez in October 2019. Now, new information reveals that the bondsman who posted bail for Bouaichi knew him beforehand and that both the vehicle and weapon Bouaichi used to commit the murder belonged to the bondsman, Man Nguyen.” [Alex Times]

Twenty years later, residents recall the September 11 attacks — “Two residents had been on the plane that hit the Pentagon and many more residents had friends and other people from their lives who had been killed or impacted by the attacks on New York City and the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania. On Friday, Sept. 14, the city held a candlelight vigil at Market Square, with residents filling the area in front of city hall and overflowing onto King, Cameron and Fairfax streets.” [Alex Times]

River Farm negotiations continue despite developer interest — “The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is claiming that a developer has given a letter of intent to purchase River Farm. The American Horticultural Society, which listed River Farm for sale in 2020, said it continues to only consider an offer from NOVA Parks.” [Patch]

Wegmans announces May 2022 opening in Carlyle — “Wegmans is building an 81,000 square-foot store in Alexandria just west of Hoffman Town Center off of Eisenhower Avenue. The grocery store at Carlyle Crossing is part of a mixed-use project on a 5-acre site.” [Alexandria Living]

Patrick Henry Recreation Center offers co-ed pick-up indoor futsal —  “All games have a running 8-minute clock, three goals to win, or the team ahead after 8 minutes stays on the floor. This drop-in program is free for City of Alexandria residents.Teens ages 12 to 15 meet every Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Adults ages 16 and up meet every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.” [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny. High 78F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 56F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Watch officer — “The Watch Officer oversees the Department of Emergency & Customer Communications (DECC) call center operations and provides supervision to the department’s Public Safety Communications Supervisors. This position is responsible for monitoring, analyzing and assessing the potential impact that local and national threats may have on City-wide systems and resources; maintains communication with stakeholders including departmental staff, local and regional emergency communications officials, and the public; manages the department’s quality assurance program and accreditation program; and serves as the notification point-of-contact for information responsible for managing the Employee and Public Alerting System utilized by the City.” [Indeed]

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No one was injured or arrested after shots were fired early Sunday evening (August 29) in the 4600 block of Duke Street in the West End.

The incident occurred at around 5:30 p.m. near the Shoppes at Fox Chase and the 4600 Duke Street Condominiums. A helicopter assisted in the search for the suspect.

“Evidence was recovered at the scene,” police tweeted. “No injuries were reported.”

There was also a two-car crash on Duke Street last night. There were no injuries, although traffic traveling west was temporarily shut down.

Via Google Maps

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What a week in Alexandria.

Public uproar over Sunday’s flooding spilled out throughout this week, which continued to be threatened by near-daily flash flood advisories from the National Weather Service.

Our top story was on Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, who criticized City Manager Mark Jinks on the city’s stormwater infrastructure. Mayor Justin Wilson says that multiple projects are underway and take time, and that the city is now looking into whether spot improvements and any other projects can be accelerated.

The group DrainALX has also gained popularity, as it continues to catalog stormwater issues and complaints. One Del Ray resident even told us that she’s turned to therapy after repeatedly spending thousands on a continually ruined basement.

Our weekly poll also found 55% of respondents (193 people) have experienced flood damage to their homes, 14% (74 people) have experienced other sorts of property damage and 31% (159 votes) have never had any property damaged by a storm in the city.

This weekend’s forecast is partly cloudy with a 50% chance of scattered thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon, followed by a 40% chance of thunderstorms Sunday night.

School issues

The week before school starts, the School Board unanimously approved Thursday night the requirement that ACPS staffers get the coronavirus vaccine.

“We do have authority to require testing and require vaccinations,” Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said at the board meeting. “However, there have been no cases where someone has contested that requirement. That has not occurred as of yet, and I’m sure it’s going to begin soon…”

In the meantime, Alexandria is also prepping COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. As Alexandria looks to accelerate stormwater projects, Sheriff gives city manager a D-
  2. The Four Mile Run Bridge in Arlandria will not fully reopen until fall 2025
  3. Institute for Defense Analyses announces Potomac Yard move-in later this year
  4. Woman behind DrainALX campaign shares frustrations and hopes from locals after Sunday flood
  5. HUD Secretary Fudge visits Alexandria, says affordable housing is a Biden Administration priority
  6. New census shows Alexandria not majority-white
  7. Alexandria School Board to discuss mandatory vaccinations for staffers this week
  8. After rampant flooding over weekend, another Flash Flood Watch is in effect for Alexandria
  9. Poll: Have you gotten the infamous mite bite in Alexandria?
  10. Alexandria Fire Department struggling with staffing shortage and forced overtime
  11. Stuck in quandary, Del Ray flooding victim seeks therapy

Have a safe weekend!

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An Alexandria man was arrested on July 29 after shooting and killing his cat during an argument with his girlfriend in their Landmark area apartment.

Alexandria Police responded to a call for shots fired at an apartment in the 6000 block of Edsall Road at around 1:15 a.m. The suspect’s girlfriend said she and her boyfriend got into an argument while watching television. The woman said that she recently bought a handgun after a destruction of property incident, and that her boyfriend took the gun and shot a round at their bed in anger.

Their cat was lying underneath the bed at the time he allegedly fired the gun. The cat was shot and killed.

Police said that the suspect’s reaction was unusual.

“Due to (the suspect’s) intense crying and snot, it was hard to observe any signs of intoxication such as bloodshot or dilated eyes or slurred speech and make an accurate determination if (he) was under the influence of narcotics at the time,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.

The suspect has three prior felony convictions, according to police. He was arrested for negligent discharge of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

via Google Maps

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A 26-year-old Alexandria man is being held without bond for gun possession and selling marijuana in the West End.

On June 29, Alexandria Police conducted a search of suspect’s apartment in the 5400 block of Roanoke Avenue after a weapons offense, according to a search warrant. They found a gun, and also 3.7 pounds of marijuana in plastic bags, two digital scales and $4,200 in cash.

Before leaving the apartment, police called the suspect on his phone. He answered, and reportedly admitted to police that the marijuana and firearm belonged to him. He also said that he was out of town and would turn himself in when he returned.

The suspect was arrested on July 19 while walking his dog. The suspect said he had to call his girlfriend to pick up the dog, and the officer saw him open and delete items on his Snapchat account. The phone was then seized.

The suspect’s apartment is near to where police uncovered a complex drug trafficking operation earlier this year.

via Google Maps

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More details have been released on the murder of a 23-year-old man in the West End last year, and the criminal organization the suspect was involved with that was brought down by the Alexandria Police Department.

The victim, Yousef Omar, was found shot multiple times on Saturday, November 7, 2020. He was in the driver’s seat of a 2016 silver Mercedes E350, and a firearm was found near his body, as well as numerous shell casings, indicating that he may have fired at his attacker.

In June, 23-year-old Ahmed Mohammed Shareef, of Cosa Mesta, California, was indicted for Omar’s murder, and was one of 17 people indicted and arrested on charges related to a massive racketeering conspiracy that involved a “complex drug trafficking organization” allegedly responsible for the sale of approximately $500,000 worth of marijuana.

A witness told police that they saw Shareef and Omar driving together, and saw Shareef “exit the vehicle and proceed to shoot the victim multiple times as he sat in the driver’s sear, striking him multiple times,” police said in a search warrant. “The suspect then ran to a waiting vehicle, entering the front passenger seat and fleeing the scene.”

Shareef, wounded by a gunshot, checked himself into Howard University Hospital a half hour after the murder, police said.

Omar was parked across the street from the Newport Village apartment complex near Fort Ward Park, and was pronounced dead shortly after the shooting — at around 3:30 p.m. It was the third and final homicide of the year.

“The investigation also revealed that the likely motive (of the murder) was over an unresolved drug debt and potential interference by the victim to pry customers away from the (drug trafficking organization),” police said.

The investigation of the drug trafficking organization resulted in the arrest of 17 individuals, including Shareef, and seizure of $500,000 worth of marijuana, nearly $275,000 in cash, 23 firearms, cocaine and other drugs, digital scales, money counters, fake identifications and a number of vehicles.

Police found that the suspects’ drug trafficking organization was operational for years, with suspects ferrying marijuana between Los Angeles, California, and airports around Alexandria, in large suitcases on commercial airliners. In many instances, the suspect who checked the baggage in California would not get on flights and the bags, with different names on identification tags, would be picked up by other suspects in Virginia. The marijuana in the luggage was found in vacuum-sealed bags.

“The method included top tier traffickers purchasing flights for individuals and packing large suitcases with other materials to conceal large quantities of marijuana, ensuring that the bag was checked approximately 50 minutes before the flight left and would often be picked up by different individuals at DCA (Washington Reagan International Airport) and IAD (Dulles International) airports in the Commonwealth,” police said.

The investigation, which included multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the region and in Washington State and California, resulted in the seizure of 23 firearms, nearly $275,000 in U.S. currency, as well as cocaine and other controlled substances, digital scales, electronic money counters, fake identifications and multiple vehicles.

Shareef faces life in prison for the murder charge, three years for the firearms charge and up to 40 years for the racketeering charge.

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Five Alexandria men have been arrested and charged with attempted felonious assault by mob after a shots fired incident in Old Town North on July 21.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred at around 6:35 p.m. in the 800 block of N. Henry Street in the Parker-Gray neighborhood. Multiple buildings were struck during the incident.

Arrested were Dennis Keels, 28, Samuel Felton, 24, Corey Mason, 21, Bob McNeely Jr., 21, and Javon Williams, 22.

“Keels was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and discharging a firearm in public places,” Alexandria police said in a release. “Felton was also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. McNeely was also charged with discharging a firearm in public places.”

Earlier this month, police also found a firearm inside a gray Honda Accord that Felton and Mason allegedly drove, and which is in police possession.

Alexandria has wrestled with an uptick in shootings in the area since last year, even going so far as to ask residents for help in identifying suspects. The area where the shots were fired is near the Braddock Road Metro StationAlexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties and the Charles Houston Recreation Center.

The incident was investigated by Alexandria Police, with help from the Prince George’s County Police Department and the U.S. Marshall’s Capital Area Region Fugitive Task Force.

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What an unexpectedly busy summer week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story was on an Alexandria woman who claims she was roofied at a restaurant on the waterfront on the evening of July 9. A police report has been filed, and no charges have been made.

This week we sat down with acting Police Chief Don Hayes, who said that he’s thrown his hat in the ring with City Manager Mark Jinks to keep the top job. Hayes, a 40-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department took over after the sudden departure of Chief Michael Brown last month, and will have to contend against candidates in a national search.

The Tokyo Olympics also start this week, and the games will include three T.C. Williams High School graduates — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley. In fact, Lyles just had a comic book biography published in the Washington Post. If you’re a fan of the Olympic games, check out this list of local restaurants celebrating with special events and meals.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Woman claims she was roofied at Old Town restaurant
  2. Residents protest against conditions at West End apartment complex
  3. Developers eye Beauregard redevelopment with West End upgrades on the horizon
  4. Former chef at ‘The Alexandrian’ opening new restaurant in Arlandria on Monday
  5. No injuries after shots fired in Braddock area on Wednesday
  6. DASH takes lessons from D.C., Baltimore and Oregon in eliminating bus fares
  7. ‘Call Your Mother Deli’ signs lease in Old Town
  8. After last month’s Democratic primary, Republican Darryl Nirenberg tops campaign donation leaderboard
  9. New city health improvement plan aims to fix inequities
  10. Poll: Have you been to the Winkler Botanical Preserve?
  11. Lee-Fendall House to throw speakeasy party to finance building repairs

Have a safe weekend!

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An Alexandria man was caught trying to get past a security checkpoint with a .38 caliber handgun and seven bullets at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Friday, July 18.

The man had his weapon confiscated and now faces upward of $10,000 in federal financial civil penalties.

This was the sixth gun that Transportation Security Administration officers seized in a little more than a week. Three guns and a knife were recovered on July 14, and guns were also found on July 8 and July 11. So far this year there have been 18 guns caught at National Airport, an increase from 10 guns in 2020, 14 guns in 2019, 16 gunds in 2018 and 13 guns in 2017.

“The number of guns that our TSA team here at Reagan National Airport have caught this year has skyrocketed,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA Federal Security Director for Reagan National Airport. “We have caught more guns in just the first seven months of this year than any other full calendar year. The most common excuse we hear is that someone forgot that they had their gun with them. That’s just not acceptable. And let me be clear that even if you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, you still cannot bring it on to your flight. Bringing a loaded gun to a checkpoint is careless and an accident waiting to happen. If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times.”

Passengers are allowed to check their firearms, provided that they are declared and in hard-sided and locked cases.

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