A 17-year-old former Alexandria City High School student was found guilty Tuesday for last year’s fatal stabbing of 18-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez in the parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center.
Judge James C. Clark found the teen guilty of second-degree murder and murder by mob and said that the case is a tragedy for all involved. The defendant sat silently as Clark rendered his decision at the conclusion of the two-day bench trial. He faces between five-to-40 years in prison for the second-degree murder charge and five-to-40 years for the murder by mob, or lynching, charge.
“(The defendant) injected himself into that fight,” Clark said while rendering his verdict, and said that the suspect “made the unspeakably poor decision to approach Mr. Mejia Hernandez and interject himself in a fight he was involved with and stabbed him in the chest.”
Clark continued, “There was clearly a mob in the Bradlee parking lot. (The defendant) injected himself in that fight, not in the heat of passion or out of fear of Luis Mejia Hernandez.”
The stabbing occurred during a brawl between two rival gangs of Alexandria City High School teenagers on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 — a week before graduation. The fight was over within one minute, and Mejia Hernandez was fatally stabbed in the heart. An autopsy showed that he also had abrasions to his neck, chin, the back of his hands, abdomen and knees, according to the medical examiner who testified that the cause of death was a 7/8-inch stab wound to the chest.
“I’m very happy,” said Osmin Mejia Romero, the victim’s father, after Clark announced the verdict.
Defense attorney Sebastian Norton argued that his client acted in self-defense, was frightened and not a member of the mob — all claims that Clark refuted when announcing his verdict. Norton showed still images from videos of the incident revealing Mejia Hernandez winding up his right hand to strike the defendant, and said that the stabbing was “tragically an unlucky shot.”
The defendant told police during his interrogation that two rival gangs, which he dubbed “Chiri” and “West,” agreed to fight that day at the Bradlee Shopping Center.
“(The defendant) reasonably feared death or great bodily harm,” Norton said. “What happened on May 24 was a tragedy.”
Commonwealth’s Attorney David Lord said that the defendant callously found the fight he was looking for.
“Fifty random students of a city high school didn’t meet near the McDonald’s in order to eat cheeseburgers and ice cream,” Lord said. “(The defendant) was looking for a fight that day and he found one.”
The defendant is being held in the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center and will be sentenced on September 28. Clark has the option to sentence him entirely as a juvenile or adult, or combining a juvenile and adult sentence. Clark said that between now and September should give him time to determine the character of the defendant and whether he’s a “gang banger.”
An 16-year-old Alexandrian is in custody after allegedly pistol-whipping his father over a fight about taking out the trash.
The incident occurred at around 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at an apartment in the 3300 block of S. 28th Street in the West End. After the incident, police received a call from the father, who reported that the argument was sparked when he told his son to take out the trash.
“His son became angry and began yelling,” police said in a search warrant affidavit. “His son then pulled out a black gun, possibly a Glock, from his waistband and pointed it at his father… (The father) said his son… shouted that he was going to kill him, racked the slide of the gun, pointed it at his father’s upper stomach/chest area, and pulled the trigger.”
The gun misfired, the father told police.
“(The son) became frustrated that it did not fire and then hit his father in the back/side of the head with the butt of the gun,” police said in the search warrant affidavit. “(The father) also advised that his son is on probation for an armed robbery (with a firearm) of sneakers.”
The son’s mother was also in the room, and disputed the account. She told police that the father was “egging” on their son and that she saw a black object being pointed at the father, but said it was not a gun, according to the search warrant affidavit.
The father told police that his partner was lying to protect their son, but “he was not going to let someone try to kill him then hit him with a gun and not tell the truth,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.
The suspect and his mother missed an appointment with police to turn him in on August 2. Warrants were then issued for the juvenile suspect for attempted malicious wounding, possession of a firearm by a minor, possession of a firearm by a felon and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
The 16-year-old was eventually apprehended, and is now in custody in the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center. Alexandria Police could not release any further information on his status.
The Alexandria Sexual Assault Center and Domestic Violence Program is available 24/7 to listen and help at 703-746-4911.
“If you are a neighbor and know that an abusive incident is occurring, call the police immediately,” the city said. “Calling the police is simply the most effective way to protect the victim and children from immediate harm.”
Two Alexandria juveniles were arrested earlier this month for shooting a gun in Arlandria.
The incident occurred at around 11 p.m. in the 3800 block of Executive Avenue. Police were alerted by a witness that two juveniles shot a handgun in an alleyway and fled on foot. The witness saw the 15 and 17-year-old suspects then run into a nearby apartment building and the lights turn on in an apartment, according to a search warrant.
“The weapon used in this incident was recovered by officers,” Alexandria Police public information officer Marcel Bassett told ALXnow.
The 15 and 17-year-olds were charged with illegal discharge of a firearm and illegal possession of a firearm by persons under 18 and transported to the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.
The two adults in the apartment told police that the teenagers moved in with them two months ago and pay $350 in monthly rent, according to the affidavit.
Alexandria nonprofit ALIVE! will conduct six free food distributions throughout the city this month.
No identification is required to pick up the groceries, produce, chicken, eggs and bread.
The food can be found at the following pop-up sites:
- Friday, March 4, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. — Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (200 S. Whiting Street)
- Thursday, March 10, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. — William Ramsay Rec Center (5650 Sanger Avenue)
- Friday, March 18, from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. — Old Town Community Church (212 S. Washington Street)
- Saturday, March 19, from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. — Fairlington United Methodist Church (3900 King Street)
- Saturday, March 19, from 10:00 – 12 p.m. — UNCUT Youth (1501 Cameron Street)
There will also be three larger distribution events on Saturday, March 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m:
- Drive through and walk-up — Cora Kelly Elementary School (3600 Commonwealth Avenue)
- Drive through — NVCC Alexandria Campus (parking lot B-1 via 500 Dawes Avenue)
- Walk-up — William Ramsay Recreation Center (5650 Sanger Ave)
An Alexandria juvenile was apprehended and transported to the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center after allegedly robbing another juvenile of $8 with a fake handgun.
The incident, which occurred at around 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12., was reported to police by the victim’s parent. The parent reported that one juvenile held a gun on the victim while the other took $8 and “attempted to take the victim’s shoes and coat,” police said in a search warrant affidavit.
“It was investigated and discovered that all parties involved in this incident were juveniles who’ve interacted with each other in the past,” Alexandria Police spokesman Marcel Bassett told ALXnow
The victim was not injured.
Police found the suspect at home, and after being given Miranda warnings admitted to stealing the $8 with a replica handgun described as a Glock; with a blue slide,” police said in the warrant.
A 15-year-old Alexandria male was charged with felonious assault after allegedly stabbing a man twice in the parking lot in the Landmark area of the West End.
The incident occurred Monday, October 11, at around 10 p.m. in the parking lot of 101 S. Whiting Street.
Security footage from a nearby gas station showed the suspect walking toward the apartment complex minutes before the incident, police said in a search warrant affidavit. Surveillance footage from the apartment complex then captured the suspect allegedly walking from car to car and pulling on door handles.
“The first few handles he pulled, the doors did not open and (it) appeared the vehicles were locked,” police said in the affidavit. “Once the subject found an unlocked door, he immediately entered the vehicle and sat in the drivers seat… Approximately 10-15 seconds later, the victim walked up to his vehicle and attempted to open the door.”
The affidavit continued, “At this time, I observed the suspect leap from the vehicle and start a physical altercation with the victim. During this time the victim was attempting to restrain the suspect and hold him until help arrived. Once the suspect was controlled, I observed him strike the victim two times in the shoulder and torso area.”
The victim’s lung was punctured, and one of his arms was stabbed.
“The victim received serious but non-life-threatening injuries as a result of the encounter,” Alexandria Police Captain Chris Wemple III told ALXnow. “Alexandria Police detectives were able to later identify the suspect as a 15-year-old juvenile and charge him with felonious assault.”
On October 16, the suspect’s father listed him as a runaway. He later returned home — nearly two miles away from the scene of the incident — and was interviewed by police on October 28.
The Alexandria Police Department announced that a 17-year-old male has been arrested and charged with crimes related to a shooting on Four Mile Road last week.
Last Sunday, Oct. 10, a juvenile male was shot at Park Vue of Alexandria apartments (511 Four Mile Road) just before noon. The victim had a gunshot wound on his upper body, but the injuries were considered not life-threatening and he was taken to the hospital.
The suspect fled the scene before police arrived, a police press release noted.
Police, on Monday, announced making an arrest in the case.
“Alexandria Police officers arrested a 17-year-old male on Friday, October 15, 2021, in connection with the October 10 shooting,” Police said in a release. “He was charged with Malicious Wounding, Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile. He is being held at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.”
Two Alexandria teenagers were arrested earlier this month for a number of serious firearm-related crimes.
The 17-year-olds were pulled over on Route 1 by Virginia State Police at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4, after allegedly assaulting a man and stealing his wallet.
The suspects were pulled over driving a black Audi Q5 SUV after being followed by their alleged victim, who called police while driving northbound on Interstate 395 near the King Street exit.
The suspects were arrested for possession of a stolen firearm, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
After their arrest, one of the suspect’s fathers asked that police search his home for weapons and contraband, and requested that the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center hold him because “he is afraid of his safety,” according to a search warrant affidavit.
The father described his son as angry and violent, and told police that in January he found a loaded firearm and marijuana in his home.
Alexandria City Councilman Mo Seifeldein wants the underutilized 60-year-old Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center to shut down.
Staff from the City of Alexandria, Arlington County and Falls Church will make recommendations over the next several months on how to proceed with the building at 200 S. Whiting Street in the West End, which houses youth with serious offenses and behavioral issues from the three jurisdictions.
Seifeldein said that the detention center facilitates inequality, as the inmate population is disproportionately made up of minorities.
“We must work to institute a new, community-based system that best responds to the needs of all of our children and students,” Seifeldein said. “Black youth are consistently and disproportionately detained and incarcerated during pre- and post-trial adjudication, compared to their white counterparts.”
A cost benefit analysis released last fall revealed that the facility is underutilized, with Black juveniles making up an estimated 60% of inmates, followed by 39% white inmates, 31% Hispanic inmates and about 5% listed as other/unknown. There were 150 juveniles committed in fiscal year 2019, and saw a 72% reduction in the number of inmates between 2006 and 2019. That led to a reduction of beds at the facility from 70 to 46 in 2016.
Fairfax County reportedly does not want the inmate at its juvenile detention center, although last fall was at 25% capacity with 121 beds.
“We must work towards creating meaningful restorative outcomes that address the root causes of misbehavior and help our children work beyond their mistakes in order to create promising futures,” Seifeldein said. “This begins with closing the Northern Virginia Detention Center.”
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]