Alexandria, VA

An Alexandria man and woman suspected of stealing clothes from Del Ray vintage shop La Brocante were chased and tracked down by locals before being arrested on Saturday evening.

The 59-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman were arrested and charged with petit larceny-shoplifting after getting their location from witnesses on what was otherwise a beautiful night along Mount Vernon Avenue.

At around 6:30 p.m. on April 10, the female suspect walked in and asked shop owner Alex Holden for help finding clothes for her baby granddaughter. Just a moment before, one of Holden’s employees was alarmed when the woman reportedly said that didn’t know whether she had a granddaughter or a grandson.

Then, a bystander ran into the shop and announced that the male suspect was running off with armfuls of children’s clothes.

Holden ran outside and saw the suspect allegedly walking quickly a block away with the clothes. That’s when she and a number of residents and  outdoor diners started to shout, “Stop that man!”

A chase ensued for more than a half hour as the suspect was pursued over fences and through neighborhoods, and even a man on an electric scooter. Holden eventually got into her car and tracked the suspect down. She drove alongside him as he ran, she said.

“He was running and I pulled even with him in my car,” Holden told ALXnow. “I yelled, ‘Give me my clothes! I’ve been working since 7 a.m. and I’m still at work!’ and you’ll never believe what he yelled back. He goes, ‘No way! This is what I do.’ That’s when I hit the gas and cut him off by blocking his path next to a fence. And you know what he did? He jumped the fence holding all those clothes. The guy was like a gazelle. I swear to God, and he was not a young man.”

Holden and a number of other Del Ray residents chased after the suspect, and, when he was cornered, he allegedly turned around and threw all of the stolen clothing, hangars included, in the air before taking off again. Police eventually caught up with the suspect after witnesses provided them with his location. The woman who was charged with him is suspected of acting as a diversion, and was followed to her car by residents who wrote down her license plate number.

“I went back to the store and people were sitting outside eating their dinner (on Mount Vernon Avenue) and clapping,” Holden said. “It was like dinner and a show for everyone eating out and watching us. It was wild.”

Holden wanted to thank the community for helping her.

The Del Ray community is not going to put up with this,” she said. “I mean, people were on their balconies shouting, folks were jumping fences. It was hilarious.”

Map via Google Maps

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The Del Ray Business Association has a bunch of efforts in the works to get business to local retailers and restaurants.

From now until April 15, visitors are encouraged to participate in DRBA’s “Cherry Blossom Challenge” scavenger hunt. There are 27 cherry blossoms hidden in storefronts along Mount Vernon Avenue with clues. Each numbered cherry blossom has a symbol near it, and participants need to mark down what those symbols are and then drop off their entries at the Pat Miller Neighborhood Square by April 15 for a chance to win a $50 gift card at a Del Ray restaurant or retailer.

Additionally, this year DRBA and the Old Town Business Association will compete in Spring2ACTion on April 28. The event is the largest single day of giving to nonprofits in Alexandria.

“If you normally give, we’d love for you to give through our DRBA page, because, of course, we’re going to have a raffle and some prizes to win,” Del Ray Business Association President Lauren Fisher said. “But that’s a big part of our mission is giving back to our community. Thank you for supporting not only our businesses, but also our nonprofits.”

In case you missed it, last week DRBA gave out a free trip to Delray Beach, Florida, which is worth about $2,500. Participants who spent more than $25 eating out at a Del Ray business received a raffle ticket, and the contest garnered more than $11,000 in receipts.

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There’s a line nowadays that snakes around the corner from the old Pet Valu store at 3819 Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria. The store has been repurposed as a vaccine site for Neighborhood Health, which has given away more than 16,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to low income and mostly minority residents.

“We have provided 16,000 vaccines between all the sites, and 85% of them have been to people of color,” Neighborhood Health Executive Director Dr. Basim Khan told ALXnow. “We’ve ramped it up over time since we started. So at this point we’re at 5,000 vaccines a week.”

There are three Neighborhood Health vaccine sites in the city, at Alfred Street Baptist Church, Virginia Theological Seminary and on Mount Vernon Avenue. There are also sites near Seven Corners, at Macedonia Baptist Church in south Arlington and along Route 1 in Fairfax County.

“With minorities being vaccinated at much lower rates than white residents, we set up a program to address this issue to increase equity in the vaccine rollout,” Khan said. “Our focus is with the underserved communities that we’re trying to reach with the goal of preserving access for our own low income patients, because as you know our patients are predominantly low income, uninsured immigrant people of color.”

The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership was able to work with the landlord of the Arlandria storefront to provide the space to Neighborhood Health rent-free. Vaccines are provided by the city of Alexandria and Fairfax County, as well as the federal government, since the nonprofit is a federally qualified health center.

“Initially, our goal was to do 2,000 vaccines per week,” Khan said. “It seemed like a monumental task, but as you see we’re at 5,000 a week now, because obviously the demand is there. There is no waiting list and we will continue until the job is done.”

Courtesy photo/Mark Haney

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If you’re tired of being cooped up and want to take advantage of the spring weather, the Del Ray Vintage and Flea Market is returning on April 10.

The market will return for its third season in two open-air lots at the corner of Mount Vernon and Bellefonte Avenues in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, according to a press release.

“The market provides vendors and shoppers an opportunity to participate safely at an outdoor event on a monthly basis during April-December,” the release said. “By using two adjacent parking lots — Del Ray Pysch & Wellness (1900 Mt. Vernon Ave.) and the Salvation Army Citadel Corps (1804 Mt. Vernon Ave.) — there is ample room to offer a wide variety of vendors for shoppers, also including food, live music, and antique appraisals. Vendors from Alexandria as well as greater Northern Virginia set-up to sell their wares.”

The market was founded in 2019 to celebrate vintage goods and antiques, and since then has become a community tradition.

“I always love the thrill of finding new treasures as well as letting go of my own so new owners can appreciate them,” co-founder Amy Eggers said in the release. “My aesthetic changes often so the flea market is the perfect place to source new decor and home accessories with character.”

The release also noted that on-site antique appraisals were added to the market in 2019, operated by appraiser and Del Ray resident Monika Schiavo, who also runs an online series called Trash or Treasure through The Zebra Press.

Photo via Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market/Facebook

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Alexandria Police are investigating the death of a 49-year-old homeless woman who was found in the 4100 block of Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria early Tuesday morning.

The woman was spotted by a passerby at around 5:30 a.m., according to police. The public was notified of the incident via Twitter just after 7 a.m. and one lane of north bound traffic on Mount Vernon Avenue was briefly shut down.

Police tweeted that the victim was a well known homeless woman and that the death is not suspicious in nature.

Map via Google Maps

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Three years after opening on Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria, Pet Valu will close its doors by Dec. 29.

The Canada-based pet store chain announced last month that it was shuttering its 358 locations in the U.S. due to the impact of COVID-19.

Staffers at the Arlandria location told ALXnow that they are waiting for updates from management on when exactly the store will close, and some are even expecting Christmas Eve (Thursday, Dec. 24) to be their last day in business.

“(A)ll stores will be closed by December 29,” Pet Valu replied to a customer on Facebook. “(P)lease call ahead to your local store for more information and for store hours.”

The store is offering sales of 50% to 70% off remaining merchandise. Even the fixtures are for sale.

“The Pet Valu U.S. team is proud to have met the needs of our devoted pet lover customers in the U.S. for more than 25 years,” Jamie Gould, Pet Valu, Inc.’s newly appointed Chief Restructuring Officer, said in a press release. “However, the Company’s stores have been significantly impacted by the protracted COVID-19-related restrictions. After a thorough review of all available alternatives, we made the difficult but necessary decision to commence this orderly wind down.”

Pet Valu at 3819 Mount Vernon Avenue is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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There’s been another indecent exposure in Del Ray, this time in an alleyway in the unit block of East Bellefonte Avenue.

The incident occurred at around 6:30 a.m. on Friday, November 20. There was also another incident in the 2200 block of Mount Vernon Avenue at around 6 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, according to Del Ray activist Gayle Reuter. The police did not file a report for the Nov. 13 incident, Reuter said, as the officer told the victim who witnessed the exposure to call him if she saw the suspect again.

A woman reported to police that the suspect, a bald Black man in his 30s, was masturbating with his pants around his ankles.

“We would love for the police to find out who this is and continue to keep the community apprised of what’s happening,” Reuter told ALXnow. “It’s surprising that when there’s this many people out on the street that he would have that much nerve to do this.”

There were also two reports during August of a suspect with a similar description performing lewd behavior in an alleyway in the 2200 block of Mount Vernon Avenue. The incidents occurred at around 10 p.m. on August 13 and August 25. The incidents are occurring in alleyways near busy areas near businesses and homes.

Alexandria Police Sgt. Mike Nugent recently told the Del Ray Business Association that cases like this often involve the homeless, and that the department is seeing homelessness rising in the nearby neighborhood of Arlandria.

“Call the police right away, and try to recall as much detail as possible. A lot of these cases in the city are connected to homeless,” Nugent said. “If you see something, get away from the danger if there is danger.”

Maps of East Bellefonte Avenue and Mount Vernon Avenue via Google Maps

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Alexandria Police are investigating the shooting of two people in separate incidents over the weekend in Alexandria.

A juvenile was shot in the leg on Friday night, October 23, in the 1800 block of Diagonal Road in Old Town, according to police. The teenage victim was taken to the hospital by his mother, and police found shell casings at the scene.

The suspects in the case are not known, and police incorrectly tweeted that no one was injured.

The second incident occurred a few hours later on Saturday morning, October 24, in Arlandria. After midnight, a security guard got into a fight with a patron at Lilian’s Restaurant at 3901 Mount Vernon Avenue. The patron was shot in the upper body and was taken to the hospital in serious condition, according to police.

The security guard was not charged and the incident is under investigation.

Maps of Old Town and Mount Vernon Avenue via Google Maps

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Cristian Velasco has been ready to open Del Ray Boccato since August, and hopes to start business by the end of the month.

There’s only one final hurdle — getting his business license approved.

Velasco frequently posts on social media that the gelato shop at 2400 Mount Vernon Avenue will soon open.

Velasco, a native of Peru, received his degree from Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa and worked s a chef throughout the D.C. area before taking a trip to Venice, Italy. That’s where he says he fell in love with gelato.

“Venice was a romantic chapter of my life where I moved on from the kitchen to the beautiful frozen dessert,” Velasco said. “The ingredients are so important. I use organic ingredients and I’ve created some really great tropical flavors from the Caribbean and Latin America.”

He continued, “And I’m conscious of dietary restrictions. Like the dark chocolate gelato. It’s milk-free. It’s basically a sorbet, but it’s so intense with such a great body that it feels like it’s made with milk.”

After 10 years in business, Velasco closed Boccato Gelato in Clarendon in 2018. He also owned a location in Old Town for a year-and-a-half at 1012 King Street, which is now occupied by Killer E.S.P.

Almost !!

Posted by Del Ray Boccato on Monday, October 12, 2020

Photo via Del Ray Boccato/Facebook

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A dog suffered minor injuries after being hit by a car that then crashed into a parked car at the 7-Eleven at 3412 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray on Wednesday night, October 14.

The dog had a cut above her right eye and swelling on her back and side. The dog and her owner were out walking when the accident occurred.

The accident occurred at around 11 p.m. The driver of an older model Honda Accord was parked facing the intersection of Mount Vernon Avenue and Glebe Road, and then popped the parking barrier, drove into Mount Vernon Avenue, circled around and then hit a parked car at full speed. Airbags in both cars were deployed.

“I could have died at a 7-Eleven,” a witness said. “I was just standing there. He must have been going 20, 30 miles per hour.”

The driver of the car was not injured and told ALXnow that his breaks malfunctioned. He told police through a translator that he’d only owned the car a short amount of time.

Map via Google Maps

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