Newsletter

It was a busy fall week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

Our top story this week was on a plan to completely close off the 100 block of King Street as a pedestrian-only zone. The plan has been in the works since 2019, and was put into action last year. ALXnow’s poll on the subject had very one-sided results, showing 91% (791 votes) in favor of a permanent change.

There was a momentous groundbreaking this week, as city leaders converged for the $454.4 million RiverRenew Tunnel Project. The project is a major overhaul to replace Old Town’s combined sewer system and prevent 120 million gallons of combined sewage from flowing into the Potomac River.

School violence has become a major issue in Alexandria, as videos of fights at schools are surfacing on the internet, there have been arrests at Alexandria City Public Schools, and protests in front of City Hall on Monday and Tuesday this week.

As for the Alexandria juvenile who was shot in the upper body at the McDonald’s in the Bradlee Shopping Center last week, police say that there have been no arrests yet.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. City looks to permanently ‘pedestrianize’ a block of King Street
  2. UPDATE: Alexandria man charged with homicide after stabbing at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Landmark area
  3. Total Wine is taking shape in Potomac Yard
  4. ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria
  5. Man buys luxury car with fake driver’s license at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria
  6. Protestors rally to return police to Alexandria schools, but officials say behind-the-scenes talks have stalled
  7. Man arrested for posting lewd photos of Alexandria stepsister on Twitter
  8. Firecracker shuts down Alexandria City High School football game
  9. Adoptable Chihuahua Dory only weighs 3.5 pounds
  10. Mayor Wilson: Potomac Yard construction delay ‘could have nothing to do with Metro station’
  11. Police: Juvenile shot at shopping center near Alexandria City High School

Have a safe weekend!

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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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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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Morning Notes

Missing man identified as car crash victim — “Jose Eduardo Gonzalez Calimayor has been located.  He was identified as the driver who died from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle crash in Prince George’s County on June 4, 2021.” [Alexandria Police]

Suspect arrested after murder near Hybla Valley — “A man is dead after a fatal shooting in Alexandria Saturday night. The Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) is investigating a homicide that occurred at the 7400 block of Vernon Sq. Dr. in Alexandria.” [WDVN]

There’s no face mask mandate in Alexandria… Yet — “No, there is not currently a mask mandate. @CDCgov recommends masks in indoor public places for communities in a state of substantial or high transmission, regardless of vaccination status. Alexandria is currently in a state of substantial transmission.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 91F. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy (in the evening). Low 73F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Teller at Wells Fargo Bank — “At Wells Fargo, we are looking for talented people who will put our customers at the center of everything we do. We are seeking candidates who embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in a workplace where everyone feels valued and inspired.” [Indeed]

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It was a quick week in Alexandria. Here’s the rundown.

With summer in full swing, three Alexandria athletes have made it on the U.S. Olympic Team — sprinter Noah Lyles, high-jumper Tynita Butts-Townsend and boxer Troy Isley.

In other sporting news, Old Town businesses beat Del Ray in a controversial softball game Wednesday, adding fuel to the fire of an intense rivalry.

It’s been super hot out lately, and the City urged caution and reminded residents to take advantage of special cooling centers.

On the COVID front, the city’s DASH bus service announced that one of its drivers passed away from complications from the virus.

Meanwhile, Mayor Justin Wilson believes that the city has met its 80% vaccination threshold, while Virginia Department of Health data says about 65% of residents over the age of 16 are partially vaccinated. The Alexandria Health Department, which just launched a COVID-19 test and vaccine pilot at T.C. Williams High School, says the data does not take into account city residents vaccinated in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

It’s also July 4 weekend, and in this week’s poll we asked whether readers plan on traveling, with 67% of respondents voting to stay home, 27% opting to travel by car and just 6% traveling by air.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Researchers call out shoddy craftsmanship in buried 18th century Alexandria ship
  2. Man suspected of raping 12-year-old stepdaughter in Landmark area flees to El Salvador
  3. Landmark Mall plan approved as Planning Commission demands better environmental considerations
  4. Alexandria leaders acknowledge serious security issues with elimination of school resource officer funding
  5. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  6. Alexandria eyes bus rapid transit and bike lanes for Duke Street
  7. Parker-Gray tiny lot home moves forward with some unique challenges
  8. Alexandria woman dies after veering off road on Interstate 95
  9. City talks strategy on making Chirilagua/Arlandria neighborhood Amazon-proof
  10. UPDATE: Man taken into custody as West End apartment barricade situation ends peacefully
  11. BREAKING: California man arrested for West End murder, indicted with 16 others in massive racketeering conspiracy

Have a safe weekend!

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What was an intense week in Alexandria. Here is the rundown.

History was made, as the new marquees at Alexandria City High School and Naomi L. Brooks Elementary Schools were unveiled this week, and the name changes to T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School will go into effect July 1. It’s a victory for civil rights, as the namesakes of both old schools had backgrounds steeped in racism. Maury was a Confederate leader and Williams was an ACPS superintendent who worked intently against racial integration.

City Manager Mark Jinks on Tuesday also announced his intention to retire at the end of the year. Jinks, who made the announcement to City Council, hinted to ALXnow last month that he was seeking retirement. Today (Friday, June 25) is also the last day for retiring Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown, who will be moving to the West Coast to deal with family matters. Assistant Chief Don Hayes is taking over as acting chief until a national search narrows down a preferred candidate for the job.

Law enforcement events also dominated this week’s coverage. On Tuesday, first responders saved a woman experiencing a mental health crisis who was dangling perilously off the Monroe Avenue Bridge, followed by news Wednesday that a suspect was arrested for a West End murder along with 16 others in a massive racketeering conspiracy. On Thursday, a barricade situation in the West End ended peacefully.

In this week’s poll, when asked whether transit improvements would make residents more likely to take the bus, 48% said they don’t take the bus often and won’t likely change their habits; 38% said they don’t often take the bus, although transit improvements might change that; and 14% said that they already frequent the Metro and DASH bus systems.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Alexandria woman dies after veering off road on Interstate 95
  2. Man suspected of raping 12-year-old stepdaughter in Landmark area flees to El Salvador
  3. JUST IN: Thieves break into more than 60 vehicles in West End
  4. JUST IN: Rarity as American Viper Rattlesnake found in Old Town
  5. Massive redevelopment of West End apartment building has neighbors worried about street parking impact
  6. UPDATE: Alexandria first responders save suicidal woman on Monroe Avenue Bridge
  7. City Council emphasizes marketing funding for Alexandria’s ‘Hot Girl Summer’
  8. Mother and boyfriend allegedly beaten by knife-wielding ex in Old Town North
  9. With eviction moratorium expiring, city pushes renters and landlords toward rental assistance
  10. Shortened Alexandria Birthday celebration is still on for July 10
  11. BREAKING: California man arrested for West End murder, indicted with 16 others in massive racketeering conspiracy

Have a safe weekend!

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It was another busy week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.

This week, ALXnow profiled Mayor Justin Wilson and his opponent, former Mayor Allison Silberberg. The pair are facing off in the June 8 Democratic primary, and have vastly different ideas on city governance.

Alexandria Police released its 2020 crime data this week, revealing a 19% increase in Part 1 crime and 15% reduction in Nuisance crimes. ALXnow also reported a number of noteworthy crime stories, including the release of a video showing a chase suspect who died after his arrest in D.C. on April 12, and the indictment of a West End murder suspect.

This week also brought the unbelievable story of locals chasing down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray.

On the vaccine front, the Alexandria Health Department paused Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, following new concerns about potential side effects.

In school news, Alexandria City Public Schools will shift to three feet distancing in classrooms on April 26. Additionally, the School Board has started a conversation on reducing the number of members from nine to six.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. BREAKING: ‘Alexandria City High School’ chosen as replacement name for T.C. Williams High School
  2. JUST IN: Dr. Stephen Haering suddenly retires as director of Alexandria Health Department
  3. Southern Towers residents nervous as landlord steps up eviction proceedings
  4. Man stabbed at Old Town intersection
  5. NEW: Locals chase down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray
  6. JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
  7. Man faces 10 years for DWI in horrific West End crash in Safeway parking lot
  8. Planning Commission approves controversial subdivision, plants potential loophole for future denial
  9. JUST IN: Video released of police arresting chase suspect who died in D.C.
  10. JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
  11. JUST IN: West End murder suspect faces life plus 13 years in prison

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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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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Alexandria Police say the COVID-19 pandemic had a lot to do with a 19% crime surge 2020.

Police released the city’s Part 1 crime statistics for 2020 on Tuesday, and included are the reported numbers of homicides, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults.

“2020 provided a unique set of challenges,” Police Chief Michael Brown said in a statement. “Our officers dedicated themselves to protecting the City and community members, while working through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, both at home and on the job, as well the fallout and questions brought on by the death of George Floyd. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Violent crime reportedly increased 3.33% over last year. There were three three homicides in 2020, up one death over 2019, and aggravated assaults increased 6%, with 208 incidents reported.

Residential burglaries fell “drastically” while commercial burglaries climbed nearly 50%, “likely due to stores being temporarily closed or having limited hours,” according to police.

Vehicle thefts also increased 54%, and police said the cause is largely from owners leaving cars unattended and unlocked during the pandemic. Police also reported that few thefts from vehicles involved use of force.

“There are simple steps vehicle owners can take to reduce their risk of becoming victims. Check on your vehicle daily, make sure the doors are locked and there are no valuables inside,” Brown said. “You should also move the vehicle periodically to reduce the appearance it is not being used.”

Below are the 2020 and 2019 Part 1 crime stats for Alexandria:

Crime Type 2019 2020 Change
Homicide 2 3 1
Rape 20 12 -8
Robbery 82 87 5
Aggravated Assault 196 208 12
Burglary 117 126 9
Larceny 2,093 2,473 380
Auto Theft 233 359 126
Total 2,743 3,268 525
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What a week full of news in Alexandria.

With city offices closed due to Veterans Day on Wednesday, there were still a number of big stories.

For the second week in a row, our top story was on a fraudulent mailer that was sent out to a number of residents before election day. In the story, households with Joe Biden signs posted in front yards were sent letters with a Northern Virginia postage mark stating that Biden is a pedophile.

On Monday, we reported the third murder in the city this year. Yousef Tarek Omar, a 23-year-old Texas man, was shot to death in the West End on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 7. Police have released few details of the incident, except the victim’s name, the general time of the incident and that it occurred in the 4800 block of W. Braddock Road.

City Councilwoman Del Pepper announced on Tuesday that she will not seek reelection. Pepper has been on the Alexandria City Council since 1985.

“There’s really not much to say,” Pepper told ALXnow. “There’s a time for everything, and I just felt this was my time. I have enjoyed every minute that I’ve served on the City Council.”

We also covered the city’s recovery plan for parts of the city devastated by the pandemic, and it lists a number of programs and strategies for impacted residents and businesses.

On the coronavirus front, Alexandria surpassed 4,500 cases since the beginning of the pandemic in March. The number of fatalities is still 76, and Latino residents have the highest number of infections.

Additionally, our weekly poll got a lot of attention this week. This week we asked about Thanksgiving plans, and 60% of respondents said they were eating at home with their household, 30% are planning a small gathering with at least one guest, and 10% are planning a large gathering of family/friends.

  1. Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
  2. BREAKING: 23-Year-Old Shot to Death in City’s Third Murder of the Year
  3. ‘Clyde’s at Mark Center’ and Other Businesses for Sale in Alexandria
  4. Del Ray Staple Al’s Steak House for Sale After Owner’s Death
  5. The Waypoint at Fairlington to Break Ground Next Month
  6. Councilwoman Del Pepper Announces She’s Not Running for Reelection
  7. City Council to Consider Publishing Names of Delinquent Real Estate Taxpayers
  8. Upcoming Signage Plan Could Subtly Shape New Potomac Yard Skyline
  9. One Person Injured in West End Carjacking
  10. Alexandria Parents Start #OpenACPS Sign Campaign as School System Begins Partial Reopening
  11. Alexandria Surpasses 4,500 Cases of COVID-19, Counts Now Rising at Summer Pace

Have a safe weekend!

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