Alexandria, VA

What a week in Alexandria.

With the region still reeling from the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol, Alexandria Police are mobilized and prepared to respond to security threats in the run up to the inauguration in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20. At this time it is not likely that a 6 p.m. curfew will be imposed on the city.

On the coronavirus front, the death toll in Alexandria now stands at 94, and the number of cases is 8,448 as of today, according to the Virginia Department of Health. This week, Governor Ralph Northam expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 65 years of age and older, in addition to anyone 16 and older with preexisting conditions.

Northam was in town on Tuesday in a vaccination event for Alexandria City Public Schools staff, and many called the event a turning point against the virus.

ACPS also postponed its partial reopening on Jan. 19 due to the virus, and School Board member Margaret Lorber took heat from the community (and later apologized) for supporting a cautious reopening by asking in a board meeting whether parents wanted their children alive or educated.

There was also a COVID-19 outbreak at the office of the Alexandria Clerk of the Court, leaving just four out of 22 employees working at the office.

Below are our top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandria Police Ask ATF to Help Stem 49% Surge in Gunfire Incidents
  2. American Physical Therapy Association to Open Next Week at Potomac Yard
  3. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  4. St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub Opens in North Old Town
  5. St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School Submits Plans for New Expansion
  6. Superintendent Says Reopening Plan Uncertain, School Board Member Lorber Takes Fire for Comments
  7. New Boarding House Planned Over Old Town Barber Shop
  8. Police Investigating Carjacking and Shooting
  9. Alexandria City Councilman Seifeldein Calls for Closure of Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center
  10. Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker Announces Candidacy for 45th District Seat
  11. “Lipstick on a Pig” Heritage Development in Old Town Headed to Planning Commission

Have a safe weekend!

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Morning Notes

Governor Recommends Staying Away From D.C. on Inauguration Day — “This afternoon, I spoke with @MayorBowser and @GovLarryHogan as we prepare for the upcoming inauguration. Virginia currently has 2,000 @VaNationalGuard members in Washington, D.C. to help protect the U.S. Capitol and keep the peace–and we will be there as long as we are needed.” [Twitter]

Beyer Calls for House Minority Leader McCarthy to Resign over Capitol Siege — “After terrorists shed blood in our Capitol, Kevin McCarthy went to the House Floor and led the renewed attack on our democracy. He echoed Trump’s incendiary lies and dehumanizing attacks on political opponents, and now claims to oppose ‘division?’ No. Kevin McCarthy must resign.” [Beyer.house.gov]

Man Shot on Quaker Hill Drive on Monday — “The shooting occurred in the 1100 block of Quaker Hill Drive around 6 a.m. The victim was shot multiple times and went to the 7-Eleven in the 3000 block of Duke Street to call 911. The victim was taken to the hospital. There was no initial information on a suspect.” [Patch]

Nothing Bundt Cakes to Open First Alexandria Bakery — “The bakery will open at 4553 Duke St., replacing a Subway sandwich shop in the Shoppes at Foxchase in Alexandria’s West End.” [Alexandria Living]

DASH Poetry Contest Deadline February 12 — “This morning the City of Alexandria and Alexandria Transit Company announced that submissions are being accepted for the eighth annual “DASHing Words in Motion” poetry contest. Writers aged 16 years or older are invited to submit a poem if they live, work, or study in Alexandria.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Sunny (during the day). High 49F. Winds light and variable… Clear (in the evening). Low 28F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Gelato Scooper, Barista — “Dolci Gelati is a coffee and gelato shop located in the heart of Old Town Alexandria. We are a charismatic, high-energy, people-oriented team seeking to add additional team members with both weekday and weekend availability. Full-time and part-time available.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria Police are working with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on investigating the steep uptick in gunfire incidents that have wounded city residents and terrorized communities.

There was a 49% increase in shots fired calls for service in 2020 over 2019. Over the weekend, APD released figures showing 57 incidents in 2020 versus the 37 incidents the previous year.

APD reported arresting 20 individuals, recovering 17 guns and other evidence connected to the 2020 incidents, in addition to executing 90 search warrants. November and September tied with 11 reported shots fired incidents last year, while the most peaceful months were December and February with two respective cases.

“We remain very concerned about the recent increase in firearm-related incidents in the City,” Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “Our Police Department is working aggressively to get the criminals and the weapons that are placing our community at risk off our streets. I’m pleased to see they have engaged our Federal partners to end these dangerous incidents.”

There have been two incidents of gunfire this month.

Police Chief Michael L. Brown will update City Council on the incidents at tomorrow’s (Tuesday) meeting.

“We are following every lead and working tirelessly to disrupt this criminal activity,” said Brown said in a statement. “We want to assure our community that this remains a top priority for the Police Department.”

Police mitigation efforts have included community meetings, asking the public for help and increasing their presence in the West End and Old Town North.

“To avoid jeopardizing the active investigations into these incidents, the Police Department cannot release additional details to the public at this time,” police reported.

Incidents include a barricade situation with a woman allegedly firing on police in Potomac Yard, a police shootout in Old Town North that led to the death of a suspect, and three murders.

Anyone who hears gunfire is asked to call Alexandria Police Sgt. William Taylor at 703-746-6271. Callers can remain anonymous.

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Police are investigating another shots fired call at 5700 Eliot Court — barely a block away from a shooting last week — even as the police department prepares for a presentation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Police said on social media that the police responded to a shots fired call at Eliot Court in the West End at around 11 p.m. last night (Thursday). Senior Public Information Officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow that multiple shell casings were found at the scene but there was no property damage.

There is no info on how many shots were fired or suspects.

An update on the shots fired investigation is docketed for the city manager update at the Tuesday, Jan. 12, City Council meeting.

Image via Google Maps

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No injuries have been reported after another shooting in Old Town North, this time on Monday night (Dec. 28) near the intersection of North Henry and Montgomery Streets.

“There were multiple shell casings recovered,” Alexandria Police spokesperson Amanda Paga told ALXnow. “A building was hit, but no injuries were reported. It is an ongoing investigation at this time.”

No suspect information was available. The shots were reported at around 6 p.m.

The incident comes on the heels of a Dec. 20 shooting in the area of North Patrick and Montgomery Streets, which is one block away. The earlier shooting also took place at around 6 p.m.

The area where the shots were fired is near the Braddock Road Metro Station, Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties and the Charles Houston Recreation Center. It is also less than a half mile from a police shootout in October that left one man dead.

Police have asked for the public’s help and increased their presence after an uptick in shootings, many of which have occurred in Old Town North and the West End.

Map via Google Maps

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There were no injuries or arrests after another incident of gunfire in Old Town.

Alexandria police reported a call for shots fired early Sunday evening in the area of North Patrick and Montgomery Streets in Old Town.

Police spokesperson Amanda Paga told ALXnow that evidence was collected at the scene, but could not confirm how many shots were fired or if anything was hit. She also did not confirm when police received the call. The public was notified in a tweet at 6:06 p.m.

Alexandria Police has seen a surge in calls for shots fired this year.

The incident occurred a block north of the Charles Houston Recreation Center, and is near Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties and restaurants.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Man Shot to Death in Georgetown — “Officers from the Second District responded around 2:56 a.m., to the 3300 block of Water St., N.W., for the sound of gunshots. They found Franklin Hernandez Arevalo, 19, of Alexandria, Virginia suffering from a gunshot wound. D.C. Fire and EMS determined Arevalo had died and transported him later to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.” [Patch]

Beyer Says Trump Trying to Steal Election — “This is simple: Donald Trump is openly trying to steal an election he lost. He will not succeed, but we will remember who went along with it. ‘I was just following orders’ will not be accepted as an excuse for attempting to overthrow the results of an American election.” [Twitter]

ALIVE! Free Food Distribution is this Saturday — “On Sat, Nov 14, 8:30-10:30 am, @ALIVE4AlexVA will distribute food in Cora Kelly Elementary School parking lot (3600 Commonwealth Ave) and parking lot B-1 of NOVA-Alexandria Campus (3320 Bisdorf Drive; map at alive-inc.org).” [Twitter]

Free Flu Shots This Wednesday — “Now is the time to get a flu shot! The next Alexandria Inova Cares Clinic for Families FREE flu shot clinic for uninsured people is Wednesday, Nov. 11, 3-5 p.m.” [Twitter]

Virtual Alexandria Film Festival Kicks Off Nov. 12 — “There are about 50 films in this year’s festival.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s Weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). Areas of patchy fog. High around 75F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Partly cloudy skies during the evening will give way to cloudy skies overnight. Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 62F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Juvenile Detention Specialist — “The Detention Specialist work involves providing direct care to detainees in the custody of the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center. The primary responsibilities for the position are to provide security, safety and care for juveniles. The Detention Specialist shall receive direct supervision by the Assistant Shift Supervisor and Shift Supervisor.” [Indeed]

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It was a historic week in Alexandria.

Alexandrians overwhelmingly helped reelect U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Don Beyer, and 80% of voters chose Democrat former Vice President Joe Biden for president over incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

Out top story this week was election-related. It turns out that before election day several Alexandria households with Joe Biden signs were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile. The Chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee advised that anyone who receives such notes should call the police. The police, in turn, are sending along the information to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Additionally, 91 people participated in our weekly poll. This week we asked about election night plans, and 65% of respondents said they were staying home to watch the results, 24% had no eleciton night plans, 10% planned to protest that evening, and 1% were going to an election night event.

School News

Alexandria City Public Schools were back in action this week — sort of. While the ACPS opened in-person classes on Thursday, fewer than 10 students made it to class. There were about 60 students eligible to go back to school, since only kids with kindergarten through second graders with disabilities were allowed to attend Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School.

It was the first in-person public schooling in Alexandria since the pandemic shut down schools in March. ACPS plans to expand opening for all citywide special education students by December. Meanwhile, however, hundreds of parents want the school system to open and have started the #OpenACPS messaging campaign.

Also in school news, a two-year-long court battle was settled with the city and 15 Alexandria homeowners were settled regarding the addition of stadium lights to Parker-Gray Stadium at T.C. Williams High School.

The Week in Crime

The week started with news that there were two shootings in Alexandria over the weekend.

The was also the story of a 17-year-old on the run since last month after allegedly stealing a car in the West End. The juvenile, who later admitted stealing the car, was seen by the victim — a federal law enforcement officer — driving past his house, and the victim got into another of his cars and followed the suspect. The victim got the juvenile out of his car and held him at the scene until police arrived, and the juvenile left the area after being charged.

We also covered the story of the ‘Beltway Bank Bandit’. Freddie Lee McRae, 34, of Washington D.C., pleaded guilty to three counts of brandishing a firearm during a series of bank and shoe store robberies in and around Alexandria in 2018 and 2019. He will be sentenced on February 23, 2021, and faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison.

Health and Business

As of Friday there were 76 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Alexandria, and the case count stands at 4,444, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

We also reported that longtime Del Ray staple, Al’s Steak House, is for sale since the owner passed away.

This week also saw fewer continued and initial unemployment claims in Alexandria.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. Braddock West Project Headed to Planning Commission Later This Year
  5. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  6. Soft Opening for New Chicken Joint in North Old Town Today
  7. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  8. Juvenile Allegedly Steals Car and is Tracked Down by Victim in the West End
  9. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  10. The Alexandria Drive-In Just Kicked Off an Encore Series on Halloween
  11. Did You Know: The Tall Ship Providence Encountered a Ghost Ship in 1777

Have a safe weekend!

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Alexandria Police are investigating two incidents of gunfire over the weekend.

The first incident occurred at around 3 a.m. on Halloween morning in the 300 block of S. Reynolds Street in the Landmark area. Multiple shots were fired in a parking lot.

On Sunday, Alexandria police also reported shots fired in the 400 block of N. Van Dorn Street. The incident occurred about a mile away from the S. Reynolds Street incident. Multiple shell casings were found along a trail, according to police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine.

No one was arrested for either incident.

S. Reynolds Street and N. Van Dorn Street maps via Google Maps

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What an intense week in Alexandria.

Our top story was on the massive power outages that affected tens of thousands of residents on Friday, October 23. Without providing specifics, Dominion Energy told City Council this week that outages in Alexandria and Arlington were “unique,” and caused by a piece of equipment that failed at its Glebe Road substation. City Councilors responded that there have been at least eight outages since May.

Monday started with news that an Alexandria Police officer was shot in Old Town and that the 27-year-old suspect was found shot to death near a construction site.

Police were called to the Holiday Inn & Suites in Old Town North after reports that shots were fired in the lobby of the hotel. Police chased two suspects on foot and a shootout ensued. The officer was shot in the lower body and was later released, and the other suspect later turned himself in to police.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 74 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,200 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count. This week the Alexandria Health Department reported that majority of recent coronavirus cases in Alexandria might be the result of contacts at home, indoor gatherings and eating out.

Restaurant-wise, we reported the soft opening of a new chicken joint in North Old Town.

Additionally, the Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies art installation at Waterfront Park will be taken down next month at Waterfront Park, and the installation will temporarily be moved outside of Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street).

We also reported that more than 50% of Alexandria voters have already cast their ballots.

Additionally, more than 240 people participated in our weekly poll. With Halloween on Saturday, this week we asked about trick-or-treating plans, and 38% of respondents are not celebrating Halloween this year, 31% are not trick-or-treating but have other plans, 17% plan to trick-or-treat with modifications, and 14% plan to trick-or-treat as usual.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  2. BREAKING: Virginia State Police Seek Alexandria Man After Police Shootout
  3. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  4. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  5. Here’s Where Alexandria Residents Might be Getting COVID-19
  6. BREAKING: Shooting Suspect In Custody, Police Announce
  7. Police: Man Killed in Car Crash on N. Van Dorn Street
  8. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  9. Police: Shots Fired in Braddock Area on Monday Night
  10. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  11. Police Assist Man With Psychotic Episode in West End

Happy Halloween!

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