Post Content
Alexandria Police lights (staff photo by James Cullum)

After a lengthy trial, a hung jury couldn’t reach a verdict against a 24-year-old California man accused of murdering a man in the West End in 2020, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney will retry the case in February.

On Thursday (Dec. 15), the jury remained deadlocked on whether Ahmed Mohammed Shareef should be charged with murder or manslaughter in the Nov. 2020 shooting death of 23-year old Yousef Omar. The jury did, however, find Shareef guilty of racketeering with 20 others for operating a drug trafficking organization between the D.C. Metro area and Los Angeles, California.

Shareef is claiming self-defense and pleaded not guilty to all charges. He will be retried for the murder charge on February 16, Alexandria’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter told ALXnow.

“The jury trial was extremely lengthy,” Porter said. “It started the very beginning of November, and was a six-week trial. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury convicted him of racketeering, but was unable to reach a verdict on the murder charge. The case has been continued to February 16.”

Sentencing is being withheld for the racketeering charges until the conclusion of the upcoming murder trial. Shareef faces life in prison for the murder charge and up to 40 years for the racketeering charge.

Omar was found shot multiple times in the driver’s seat of a 2016 silver Mercedes E350 on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 17, 2020. A firearm was found near Omar’s body, as well as numerous shell casings, indicating that he fired at his attacker. A half-hour after the shooting, Shareef checked himself into Howard University Hospital with a gunshot wound, police said in a search warrant affidavit.

The investigation of the drug trafficking organization resulted in the arrest of 20 individuals, including Shareef, and the 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.

“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 in a search warrant affidavit.

A witness told police that they saw Shareef and Omar in the Mercedes, parked across the street from the Newport Village apartment complex near Fort Ward Park.

The witness saw Shareef “exit the vehicle and proceed to shoot the victim multiple times as he sat in the driver’s seat, striking him multiple times,” according to the search warrant affidavit. “The suspect then ran to a waiting vehicle, entering the front passenger seat and fleeing the scene.”

The incident was the third and final homicide of 2020.

A police investigation determined that Shareef and his co-conspirators ferried marijuana from Los Angeles to the D.C. Metro area 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 in the search warrant affidavit.

(The story previously said incorrectly that Shareef is defending himself. That is not accurate. He is instead claiming self-defense.)

2 Comment

A man acquitted by reason of insanity for a brutal stabbing death in Old Town has been ordered to stay off all social media except LinkedIn.

The news came Thursday afternoon, after 38-year-old Pankaj Bhasin was ordered by the Alexandria Circuit Court to stay off the websites after lying about himself and his whereabouts during a period that he was in prison for murder.

Bhasin was conditionally released from the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services in May — four years after stabbing 65-year-old Brad Jackson to death with a box cutter. Bhasin said that he thought Jackson was a werewolf, and stabbed him 53 times. He was conditionally released on May 27, 2022, after being diagnosed as bipolar by five doctors and found not guilty by reason of insanity in July 2019.

After his release, Bhasin opened a Facebook page where he listed that he was in India at the time of the murder, according to court records. He also created dating application profiles and wrote that he’d recently returned from traveling for two years.

“I’m an easy going adventurer who believes in a universal connection with all and love to explore n try new things,” Bhasin wrote on a dating app, according to the motion to amend the terms of his conditional release. “Also, recently getting back from two years of travel…”

Bhasin also wrote that he is interested in “travel, kayaking, dancing, photography, camping, reading, concert n all things fun,” and that he has an ENFP-A personality — someone who is extraverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving.

Bhasin’s attorney, Peter Greenspun, sent out a statement that Bhasin is “doing extremely well,” but did not discuss the decision of the court. He said that Bhasin is remorseful for Jackson’s death.

“Mr. Bhasin is not on any social media or dating sites,” Greenspun said. “He has and will continue to follow all of the directions of the City of Alexandria Circuit Court.”

A review hearing is scheduled for December to assess Bhasin’s release.

5 Comments

Updated at 3 p.m. The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is hoping to limit access to the internet for a man acquitted for reason of insanity for a brutal stabbing death in Old Town.

Pankaj Bhasin, now 38, was conditionally released from the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services in May, nearly four years after killing 65-year-old Brad Jackson. Bhasin said that he thought Jackson — a complete stranger — was a werewolf, and used a box cutter to stab him 53 times. Bhasin was later diagnosed as bipolar by five doctors and was found not guilty by reason of insanity in July 2019. He was conditionally released in on May 27, 2022.

After his release, Bhasin opened a Facebook page where he listed that he was in India at the time of the murder, according to court records. He also created dating application profiles and wrote that he’d recently returned from traveling for two years.

“I’m an easy going adventurer who believes in a universal connection with all and love to explore n try new things,” Bhasin wrote on a dating app, according to the motion to amend the terms of his conditional release. “Also, recently getting back from two years of travel…”

Bhasin also wrote that he is interested in “travel, kayaking, dancing, photography, camping, reading, concert n all things fun,” and that he has an ENFP-A personality — someone who is extraverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving.

On Thursday (September 15), the Commonwealth’s Attorney will argue to amend Bhasin’s conditional release by either preventing him from using social media and online dating applications or installing software to allow the Community Services Board to monitor his activity.

“Given the violence involved in this case, our office is extremely concerned about the acquittee being in the community,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter told ALXnow. “We are trying to do everything wr can to ensure he is not in a position to commit further acts of violence.”

“Of particular concern, the acquittee appears to be actively engaged in deception regarding his recent history,” the Commonwealth said in its motion. “For example. he states that he has been ‘recently getting back from two years of travel and he appears to have created artificial check-ins to overseas locations, giving the impression that he was there during a period of time he was incarcerated and standing trial for murder.”

The motion continued, “In this case, because the acquittee may be meeting potential romantic partners while not only concealing, but actively lying about his recent history, those individuals may be put at risk during a period of time when the acquittee is first transitioning to the community. In light of the acquittee’s online conduct, public safety calls for modification of the terms of his release.”

Bhasin’s attorney, Peter Greenspun, said that Bhasin is “doing extremely well,” but did not discuss the Commonwealth’s motion to amend the conditions of his release.

“Mr. Bhasin has expressed his remorse for Mr. Jackson and those who knew him in every setting possible, including in his treatment,” Greenspun said in an email. “While those expressions may, understandably, not be enough for those who are suffering, it is sincere and constant, and has been an important part of his recovery.”

A review hearing is also scheduled for December to assess Bhasin’s release.

4 Comments
Two people were killed in the 200 block of Century Drive on Saturday, July 16 (staff photo by James Cullum)

After being arrested for suspected burglary, Francis Deonte Rose, 27, has officially been charged in connection with last month’s double homicide at a West End apartment complex.

Rose is charged with the murders of Adrian Dejesus Rivera Guzman and Juan Carlos Anaya Hernandez on Saturday, July 16, in the Assembly Alexandria apartment complex on the 100 block of Century Drive.

“Mr. Rose is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of firearm use in commission of a felony,” the City of Alexandria said in a release. “Mr. Rose was arrested on the day of the incident and continues to be held at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria.”

The victims were reportedly innocent bystanders of a botched robbery.

Rose was released from jail in Arlington earlier this year and allegedly broke into the same apartment complex three weeks before the murder.

2 Comment
Two people were killed in the 200 block of Century Drive on Saturday, July 16, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

The big news in Alexandria this week was a double homicide in the West End and the news later that the suspect had been released from jail in Arlington earlier this year.

Former Mayor Kerry Donley also died of a heart attack last week with funeral services scheduled for this Sunday, July 24.

On the brighter side: a special use permit filed with the city earlier this week revealed that Andy’s Pizza is planning on making its way into Old Town at the former Meggrolls spot (107 North Fayette Street).

Top Stories

  1. BREAKING: Botched burglary leads to double murder in West End
  2. Alexandria man charged for allegedly selling fentanyl from hotel rooms
  3. Alexandria double murder suspect was released from jail in Arlington earlier this year
  4. West End murder suspect charged with burglary, both shooting victims innocent bystanders
  5. Funeral arrangements for former Mayor Kerry Donley announced
  6. Acclaimed local pizza chain Andy’s Pizza coming to Old Town
  7. All-affordable housing development in Fairlington to open this fall
  8. Bonaventure breaks ground on senior apartment complex near Braddock Metro
  9. City of Alexandria awarded $10M for two transportation projects
  10. Sidewalk sale returning to Old Town next month
0 Comments
Two people were killed in the 200 block of Century Drive on Saturday, July 16 (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated at 4:30 p.m. on 7/20/22) The man arrested after the fatal shooting of two construction workers in Alexandria over the weekend was set to be tried for weapons and drug charges in Arlington earlier this year, but charges were dropped.

The reason: a ruling that police conducted an unconstitutional search prior to a 2020 arrest.

Francis Deonte Rose, 27, has so far only been charged with burglary in connection to an incident earlier Saturday morning at an Alexandria apartment complex, but additional charges are expected.

Police say two workers, ages 48 and 24, were shot in the head and were “innocent bystanders to the whole situation.” Officers had been called to the Assembly Alexandria apartment complex around 7:30 a.m. Saturday for reports of someone kicking in the doors at “multiple” apartments, our sister site ALXnow reported Monday.

Alexandria police radio traffic at the time suggested that the burglary suspect was the ex-boyfriend of an apartment resident and known to carry a gun.

Rose, meanwhile, has a history of gun charges. In 2019, a then-24-year-old Rose was arrested by Metropolitan Police in D.C. and charges with Carrying a Pistol without a License, Bench Warrant, Possession of Unregistered Ammunition, and Possession of an Unregistered Firearm.

The .45 caliber handgun he was allegedly carrying in the Columbia Heights neighborhood was confiscated, according to an MPD press release.

In October 2020, Rose was arrested again, this time in Arlington.

Francis Rose’s mugshot in Arlington in 2020. (Via Arlington)

From Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage, provided to ARLnow:

At approximately 10:23 p.m. on October 17, 2020, officers conducted a traffic stop in the 2300 block of Richmond Highway for a suspended operator’s license. During the course of the investigation, the passenger was found to be in possession of narcotics and a loaded handgun and ammunition were located in a bag alleged to belong to the passenger. Francis Rose, 25, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substance (x2), Possession of a Firearm while in Possession of a Controlled Substance (x2), Possession of a Firearm as a Convicted Felon, Possession of Ammunition as a Convicted Felon and Carrying a Concealed Weapon.

Rose was charged with intent to manufacture, sell or distribute cocaine and fentanyl, according to court documents, as well as possession of a gun and ammunition by someone convicted of a felony within the past 10 years.

The charges against Francis Rose, which were then droppedA grand jury indicted Rose in September 2021, and he was set for a jury trial this past February when defense attorneys made a motion to suppress evidence in the case.

That motion was granted by Arlington Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman, according to court records, and charges were then dropped for a lack of evidence. Rose was later freed.

In all, he was in the county jail from Oct. 18, 2020 until Feb. 23, 2022, according to the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office.

Reached via email by ARLnow, Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said the case was made impossible to prosecute after the judge’s ruling.

“As court records show, our office attempted to proceed on those charges, but during a suppression hearing, a judge ruled that the police had performed an unconstitutional search and, as the law required, suppressed the evidence in the case,” the county’s top prosecutor said. “Obviously, we could not prove a case without the evidence, and therefore dismissed it.”

“My heart breaks for the families and loved ones of the people killed this weekend,” Dehghani-Tafti said.

Asked about the case, an Arlington police spokeswoman said “ACPD does not opine on decisions made by the court.”

The defense motion to suppress the evidence, obtained by ARLnow from the circuit court after the initial publication of this article, argues that both the drugs and the guns should be excluded from any jury trial. It says that officers found the gun in a bag that Rose was wearing but ordered by officers to leave in the car. The bag was then searched and the gun found, followed by the discovery of “a small quantity” of drugs, the motion says.

The motion argues that police had “no authority to order Mr. Rose to leave his cross-body bag in the vehicle” and that the search was predicated on a smell of marijuana that was coming from the car — which was driven by a female companion — but not from Rose himself.

Judge Newman granted the motion.

Final court order in the Francis Rose case earlier this year (via Arlington County Circuit Court)

The defense attorney listed for Rose could not be reached by phone. Her firm’s website notes that challenging police searches is one of the ways it works for clients.

“As a legal term, guilty refers to the legal standard that requires the government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” says the website. “Often, the government cannot meet this burden due to procedural hurdles, the passage of time, and missteps by law enforcement — even if you actually committed the offense. Furthermore, if the police violate your constitutional rights to obtain evidence of guilt, then knowing how to exclude that evidence is critical.”

34 Comments

Morning Notes

Boats at the Old Town Waterfront (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Alexandria Man Killed in D.C. — “A 22-year-old man from Alexandria was shot and killed over the weekend in Washington DC, authorities said. Keonte Broadus-Gallman was found around 9 p.m. in the 1900 block of Anacostia Drive after authorities received a report of an unconscious person, the Metropolitan Police Department reported.” [Daily Voice]

Alexandria Recognized by State Planning Association — “The City of Alexandria is the winner of two prestigious awards. Today the Virginia Chapter of the American Planning Association’s (APA Virginia) recognized the Department of Planning and Zoning with the Commonwealth Plan of the Year Award for its Arlandria-Chirilagua Small Area Plan and the Red Clay Development of the Year Award for its Landmark Mall Redevelopment Plan.” [Zebra]

Carpenter’s Shelter Finalist for Award — “AHDC is honored to share that The Bloom and Carpenter’s Shelter has been selected as a Terwilliger Center finalist for Innovation in Attainable Housing:” [Twitter, ULI]

It’s Tuesday — Humid and mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:00 am and sunset at 8:32 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

The two men shot to death Saturday morning (July 16) were innocent bystanders of a botched burglary, and a suspect is being held without bond in the Alexandria jail.

The victims — identified as construction workers Adrian Dejesus Rivera Guzman, 48, and 24-year-old Juan Carlos Anaya Hernandez — were both shot in the head. The shooting and burglary incidents occurred at the Assembly Alexandria apartment complex in the 100-to-200 blocks of Century Drive.

Francis Deonte Rose, 27, no fixed address, was arrested and charged with statutory burglary, destruction of property. Additional charges are pending, police said.

“The victims were innocent bystanders to the whole situation,” Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett told ALXnow. “While we’re keeping an open mind currently, we believe that there’s no threat to the public, and that we have suspects in this incident accounted for.”

Police were called at 7:28 a.m. for a report of a burglary at 150 Century Drive, followed by a call for shots fired at 8:53 a.m. and then another burglary call at 9:10 a.m.

The first caller told police that their door was kicked in by the suspect, and Rose is suspected of breaking into “multiple” apartments, police said.

The incidents are the fifth and sixth homicides in Alexandria this year.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Detective Stephen Riley at 703-746-6225. Callers can remain anonymous.

Below is a recording of Alexandria police radio traffic during the July 16 incident.

Map via Google Maps

0 Comments

Updated at 1:40 p.m. Two people were shot to death in a burglary gone wrong in the West End on Saturday morning (July 16).

One person of interest is in custody, and police continue to investigate multiple crime scenes at an apartment complex in Century Drive.

The identities of the victims have not been released.

The shooting and burglary incidents occurred at the Assembly of Alexandria apartment complex in the 100-to-200 blocks of Century Drive. The identities of the victims and their relationships with each other have not yet been released.

Police received the call for shots fired at around 7:30 a.m.

“The first victim was found dead when police arrived,” Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett told ALXnow. “The second victim was pronounced dead at the hospital.”

Residents outside the apartment complex have been turned away from entering. One single mother and her two children sat on a curb, and she complained that the area is unsafe.

“We hear gunshots all the time, mostly on the weekends,” the woman said. “My car was broken into and my debit cards have been stolen… There’s no security here, and I am trying to figure out how I can get out of my lease.”

Complex owner Greystar says on its website that Assembly Alexandria enjoys “resort-inspired amenities,” although a number of residents say that the property has no security and that the doors to apartments have only single locks on the handles.

“See this key?” said one resident, raising a key from their keychain. “There’s no double locks. This is all it takes to get into our apartments. Anybody can get in.”

Two people were killed in the 200 block of Century Drive on Saturday, July 16, 2022. (Via Google Maps)

Alexandria Police will send out a press release updating the public on the incidents later today, Bassett said.

The incidents are the fifth and sixth homicides in Alexandria this year.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Detective Stephen Riley at 703-746-6225. Callers can remain anonymous.

Via Google Maps

2 Comments
Virginia State Police (photo via Virginia State Police/Facebook)

Virginia State Police announced that Alexandria resident Derrick R. Adjei has been arrested and charged in both a homicide in Richmond and a police pursuit along I-95 that followed.

Adjei is charged with the murder of Kyle Stoner, a local artist and cook who was killed outside of City Dogs restaurant, WTVR reported.

Virginia State Police said in a release that around 11 p.m. on Sunday, July 3, a trooper observed Adjei’s Toyota 4Runner traveling north at around 101 mph.

“The trooper activated his emergency lights and sirens to initiate a traffic stop on Interstate 95 near the 127 mile marker in Spotsylvania County,” the release said. “The Toyota refused to stop and, instead, accelerated and sped away from the trooper. A pursuit was initiated and continued north through Stafford County and into Prince William County, with the Toyota passing vehicles on the shoulder and traveling in excess of 100 mph.”

Adjei tried to exit in Lorton and head toward Route 1, but most control of the vehicle and ran off the road, striking a utility pole and then a tree.

“The driver, Derrick R. Adjei, 24, of Alexandria, Va., was taken into custody,” the release said. “He was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of minor injuries sustained in the crash. Adjei was then transported to Rappahannock Regional Jail. A firearm was recovered from the Toyota.”

Police said further investigation connected Adjei with Richmond police’s homicide investigation.

“State police charged Adjei with one felony count of eluding police and for reckless driving,” the release said. “Further investigation resulted in the state police making contact with the City of Richmond Police concerning that agency’s ongoing homicide investigation.”

Photo via Virginia State Police/Facebook

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list