Newsletter

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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Morning Notes

Alexandria man charged with storming U.S. Capitol on January 6 — “After storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, a Northern Virginia man began forming his own militia-like group in the D.C. suburbs and building up a supply of explosives under the guise of a Bible study group, according to federal prosecutors. Fi Duong, 27, appeared in court Friday and was released to home confinement pending trial, over the objections of prosecutors who sought stricter terms. According to the court record, at the time of his arrest he had several guns, including an AK-47, and the material to make 50 molotov cocktails.” [Washington Post]

Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication on July 24 — “Join Historic Alexandria in honoring Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial’s inclusion in the African American Civil Rights Network (AACRN). The free dedication will include a wreath laying by the 31st Masonic District, a reading by representatives of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), and remarks by Reverend Taft Quincey Heatley. The ceremony will take place rain or shine.” [City of Alexandria]

New mural in Old Town — “Check out the new mural being painted at ESP Tea and Coffee’s back patio area!” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies with periods of rain later in the day. High near 85F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph… Rain early (in the evening)… then remaining cloudy with showers late. Low around 70F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall near an inch.” [Weather.com]

New job: Bartender and server at Rock It Grill — “Busy karoake bar, the more experience you have, the more money you’ll make.” [Indeed]

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A 25-year-old Alexandria man is being held without bond in the city jail after allegedly eluding police outside William Ramsay Elementary School in the West End.

The suspect allegedly got into a phone argument with the mother of his child, and then waited for her outside the school building. The mother called police, and two responding police officers found the suspect waiting outside as the school day was ending and parents were picking up kids.

The suspect was asked to continue the conversation away from school grounds, and when he refused police told him he was being arrested. He then allegedly ran away from police.

An emergency protective order was later issued against the suspect, who was arrested 11 days later and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Map via Google Maps

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What a week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week is on Gregory Elliott, a special education teacher at T.C. Williams High School. Elliot also goes by the name of “Sugar Bear” for the D.C.-based go-go band Experience Unlimited, and their song “Da’ Butt” from the Spike Lee movie “School Daze” was featured at the Oscars, along with actress Glenn Close dancing to it.

This week was full of news.

City Manager Mark Jinks hinted at retiring, there was a chlorine spill at Lake Cook and the Alexandria Fire Department is contending with reports of racism, sexism and favoritism.

Additionally, a cyberattack on a gas pipeline resulted in a state of emergency throughout Virginia. We asked readers about it in our weekly poll, and out of 250 responses only 31% (78 votes) considered making alternate travel plans.

Election stories

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Go-go music star-turned Alexandria teacher ‘Sugar Bear’ in the spotlight after Oscars shoutout
  2. Landmark Mall developers to field public question in forum this week
  3. UPDATE: Woman arrested for firing gun near Alexandria Courthouse in Old Town
  4. AHDC proposes nearly 500 units of affordable housing for Arlandria
  5. ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria
  6. Here’s which City Council candidates signed the new ‘Alexandria Constituents’ Bill of Rights’ pledge
  7. Girlfriend of murder suspect arrested for breaking into home and beating up witness
  8. Election: Stark differences as Wilson and Silberberg face off in mayoral debate
  9. Racism, sexism and favoritism reported within the Alexandria Fire Department
  10. Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
  11. Wilson and Silberberg clash over new challenges, old wounds, and The Golden Girls

Have a safe weekend!

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Once a week, Alexandria Police are walking through Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties with residents.

The visits are part of an effort that launched in January to build trust between police and the mostly Black community in Old Town, which has suffered under the increase of crime during the pandemic.

Kevin Harris, president of the ARHA citizens association, has worked closely with police to create the walkthrough program. Harris, who lives with his wife and four children on ARHA property, is also a Democratic candidate for City Council.

“We put out flyers ahead of time, letting people know what’s gonna go on,” Harris said on the Saturday morning visits from police. “It’s going great, and it clearly is something that [police] like and that they want to continue, and not just in on our properties but across the city.”

Police Chief Michael Brown said he plans on gauging neighborhood concerns at town halls in the near future.

“We really want to understand the silent voices in the community,” Brown said, adding that he’s talked with residents in private settings. “I’ve actually enjoyed that opportunity, because of the dialogue that we were able to have. The real issue here is not so much being forward-facing giving out just hot dogs, but listening to the concerns of the people that are there. That’s their community and we need to understand it.”

Just last month, a chase suspect died after being arrested after he and his passengers allegedly fired multiple bullets at buildings and cars near ARHA property in Old Town North. Six Alexandria Police officers remain on administrative duties pending the outcome of an internal investigation on the incident.

Brown also said that APD’s Community Relations Division is working on sending out multiple surveys to business and residential communities throughout the city on police and crime issues that need to be addressed. Additionally, officers will be focused on walking or bicycling through specific neighborhood beats — a far cry from the worst days of the pandemic when officers were being taken off the streets.

“This pandemic has been a struggle for everybody, and the police department as well,” he said. “We’d like to get back to normal as quickly as we can, but we’re still going to be safe about it.”

There was a surge in gunfire incidents and other crime last year, including a harrowing shootout that left a suspect dead. Three APD officers remain on administrative duties as a result of that incident as well. The incidents prompted ARHA to install security cameras at its properties.

ARHA CEO Keith Pettigrew says that most of the crime is from outside actors, not ARHA residents.

“Too many times they (residents) get painted with that brush that they’re the problem,” Pettigrew said. “ARHA residents want to be part of the solution.”

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Alexandria Police are investigating two armed robberies that occurred within a half hour of each other in Del Ray and Arlandria on Tuesday (May 4) afternoon.

A male victim was robbed of his cell phone at gunpoint by two male suspects at around 12:15 p.m. in the unit block of E. Oxford Avenue in Del Ray. Then at around 12:40, another male victim was robbed of his cell phone and wallet at gunpoint by two male suspects in the 3900 block of Courtland Circle in Arlandria.

“The suspects fled both scenes in a vehicle,” APD Senior Public Information Officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow. “Suspect descriptions are still being developed.”

No one was injured in the incidents.

E. Oxford Avenue map and Courtland Circle map via Google Maps

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A 50-year-old Alexandria man is being held without bond in the city jail for allegedly firing a bullet that struck the door of a 7-Eleven near the Braddock Road Metro station.

Melvin Farmer was booked into jail on April 15 — three days after the incident — and charged with attempted malicious wounding and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. He was previously convicted of six felonies, including breaking and entering, malicious wounding and being a fugitive from justice.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred at around 8:30 p.m. at the 7-Eleven at 421 E. Braddock Road, which is next door to Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap and across the street from George Washington Middle School.

Security footage from a nearby surveillance camera captured Farmer allegedly urinating on the side of the building, and then walk into the store. Farmer then “appears to get into an argument with another known subject near the register of the 7-Eleven and continue to argue outside of the store,” according to a police search warrant affidavit.

Farmer is then seen walking back to his silver minivan to retrieve a handgun, according to police.

“The other male is seen walking and then running while Farmer proceeds to raise his right hand in what appears to be a shooting motion,” police reported. “An ashtray portion of a trash can is seen jumping from its resting location.”

Police said that Farmer then entered the store with what appeared to be a gun in his right hand, and that he quickly looked around and walked out. He was then seen getting into his minivan and driving away.

Police recovered a shell casing near where Farmer’s minivan was parked, and a lead slug near the trash can.

Farmer was arrested at the Best Western in Springfield, and was scheduled to check out of his room on April 16, according to police. He goes to court for the incident on May 18.

Map via Google Maps

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A man was robbed at gunpoint in a residential area of the West End on Tuesday night, according to Alexandria Police.

Police tweeted that at around 11:20 p.m., the victim was walking in the 200 block of Century Place when he was approached by a suspect, who displayed a handgun.

The suspect allegedly stole personal items and the victim was not injured.

No suspect description was provided.

Map via Google Maps

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A 20-year-old Alexandria man faces life in prison plus 13 years for five felonies, including the murder of 47-year-old John Pope last fall in the West End.

Pope was shot to death on Sept. 30 at his home in the 5900 block of Quantrell Avenue in the Mayflower Square apartment complex. He later died at the hospital. It was the second murder (of three) that occurred in Alexandria last year.

Tavon Lanier, who was 19 at the time the incident occurred, was indicted with:

  • First degree murder
  • Use of a firearm in commission of murder
  • Robbery
  • Use of a firearm in the commission of a robbery
  • Illegal possession of a firearm

“Alexandria Police responded to the apartment and found John Pope, a 47-year-old Alexandria resident, lying on the floor with an apparent gunshot wound to the abdomen,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter’s office said in a statement. “First Degree Murder and Robbery are both punishable by life in prison. The two Use of a Firearm charges carry a maximum penalty of 8 years in prison. The Illegal Possession of a Firearm charge carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. Therefore, the maximum total sentence in this matter is life in prison plus 13 years.”

A trial date has not been set.

As previously reported, Lanier was released on bond just eight days before Pope was killed. He was arrested on Sept. 22 for for allegedly breaking into his girlfriend’s apartment, stalking and threatening her and was released on bond by the magistrate’s office.

Lanier was convicted of identify theft in 2019, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 60 days in jail with 55 days suspended.

Photo via Facebook

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