It was another busy week in Alexandria.
Our readers overwhelmingly responded to Sunday’s protest at the Alexandria home of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and the story has more than 380 comments. This week also saw its first homicide, which occurred in the West End, in addition to a number of crime events in the Braddock area.
Not included in our weekly list is late-breaking news on Friday that Alexandria City Public Schools want a virtual-only school year starting in September. Residents have been waiting throughout the summer for the school system to make up its mind, and ACPS has conducted numerous virtual chats with students, parents and staff over the last several weeks.
Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.
- Activists Protest at Alexandria Home of Acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf
- BREAKING: Police Investigating Homicide in West End Residential Community
- Former APD Officer Peter Laboy Gets His Driver’s License Seven Years After Being Shot in the Head
- Just Listed in Alexandria
- Students and Residents Putting Daily Cover Over T.C. Williams High School Name
- BREAKING: Flooding Reported in Parts of City, AFD Responding to Multiple Emergency Calls
- Shots Fired Tuesday Night in Braddock Neighborhood
- Alexandria Delegate Wants City to Fire Officials or Police Who Espouse QAnon Theories
- Save the Tree Petition at T.C. Williams High School Garners Nearly 1,000 Signatures
- Man Injured in Violent Carjacking in Old Town
- COVID-19 Update: Deaths at 57, Case Count at 2,735 in Alexandria
Have a safe and fun weekend!
Staff photo by James Cullum
The 17-year APD veteran spent years trying to legally drive again, and now after two years without any seizures and after passing all of his tests, the former motorcycle cop is back on the road and his license has no restrictions.
“Do you like my car?” Laboy asked ALXnow. “I have a brand new 2020 Kia Forte GT. I love it.”
Laboy had to go through driving therapy at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in D.C., in addition to passing written and driving tests. Looking back, he laughs at the process that took years of doctors visits and paperwork.
“I didn’t exactly ace it,” Laboy said. “I get to the written test, and the woman gives me a piece of paper and she says I need to match A with one and B with two and C with three all the way to Z. It was funny, though. I couldn’t finish doing it because, you know, if you asked me to tell you the alphabet right now I couldn’t do it. I told her that I didn’t know my alphabet. She started laughing.”
On February 27, 2013, Laboy was shot in the head by Kashif Bashir, a Woodbridge resident and cab driver who was stalking a woman in Old Town. Laboy was a motorcycle cop at the time and was stepping off his bike after pulling the cab over when Bashir shot him. Laboy’s helmet was still on, and it saved his life, and Bashir was later found not guilty for reasons of insanity. He was later arrested again after his release for allegedly setting two houses on fire, setting a car on fire and illegally buying two handguns and silencers.
After the shooting, Laboy was invited to the White House to view the July 4 fireworks by then-Vice President Joe Biden, who also dropped off donuts for him at APD headquarters. He received medals and commendations, and then left the force in 2014 and his motor unit number, Motor 8, was retired. Now, between driving to Dumfries to pick up his kids and driving around Alexandria, all he wants to do is volunteer for the police department.
“Whatever they want me to do, I’m available,” he said. “And now I’m driving, which is awesome.”
Staff photo by James Cullum
Police Shooter Bashir Takes Insanity Defense for Alleged Stalking/Arson — “[Kashif] Bashir is charged with felony counts of arson, attempted arson, and making a false statement on a consent form to purchase a firearm, as well as nine counts of misdemeanor stalking, unauthorized use of an electronic tracking device, and possession of a firearm by a person acquitted by reason of insanity.” [WTOP]
Residents Cope With Cabin Fever — “Next week puts a little more pressure on me, because when my kids don’t have structure, then they do a lot of fighting.” [Alex Times]
Del Ray Restaurant Status Update — Among the closed restaurants are Los Tios Grill, Nectar Coffee and Wine Bistro, The Garden, and Live Oak Restaurant. Here’s a list of local eateries that are open for carryout and delivery. [Facebook]
Visit Alexandria Provides Updated Citywide Eatery List — “In case you need a quick reference, here’s a list of Alexandria restaurants open for takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery. For details, go to ALXatHome.com.” [Twitter]
ICYMI: Torpedo Factory Art Center Closed Until Mid May — “Hoping everyone is staying safe and healthy during this time. The Torpedo Factory will be closed till mid May. Please visit our artists through their fb pages, Instagram and websites.” [Facebook]
Bag Tax Bills on Bubble as General Assembly Revisits Budget — “Legislators are currently concerned with the immediate threat of the Coronavirus, its impact on Virginians and on the state budget. The implementation of the bills could take a back seat, for now, to the more immediate healthcare and economic problems stemming from the crisis.” [Gazette]
SCAN of Northern Virginia Gets Grant to Combat Child Abuse — “Unfortunately, we anticipate that incidences of child abuse and neglect will skyrocket because of the COVID-19 epidemic… But we have an opportunity this month–during National Child Abuse Prevention Month–to make sure our community is aware of this threat and empowered to protect children and support parents when they need it most.” [Zebra]
Alexandria Times Raises $975 in FOIA Fund — “During the first quarter of 2020, eight people donated a total of $975 to the Alexandria Times FOIA Fund. The Times made three FOIA requests of the City of Alexandria in the first quarter of 2020.” [Alex Times]
Center for Alexandria’s Children Recognizes ‘National Go Blue Day’ — “Don’t forget to #WearBlue for Child Abuse Prevention Month — and please post your photos and tag The Center for Alexandria’s Children, Inc. Raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention by showing your BLUE all over social media!” [Facebook]
It was quite a year in Alexandria. It’s safe to say that 202o will be just as busy, but in the meantime let’s take a look at the top stories from the last year.
1. The Seminary Road Diet
Few local transportation stories have gotten as much attention as City Council’s 4-3 decision on the Seminary Road diet. The move seems simple enough — consolidating from four to two lanes in both directions between N. Quaker Lane and Howard Street with a turn lane in the middle and bike lanes on both sides. Public discord over the change prompted the creation of a Facebook page, which has dramatically turned up the temperature on the issue, even leading to City Councilwoman Amy Jackson to publicly call for a complete reversal on the decision and restart of the process.
See: More Work on Seminary Road This Spring If the State Will Pony Up the Cash
More: Virginia Theological Seminary Weighs In Favor of Seminary Road Diet
2. Legendary Titans Pass Away
Alexandria lost a number of inspiring figures in 2019, including members of the state championship-winning 1971 T.C. Williams High School football team. The team, who were immortalized in the 2000 film “Remember The Titans” starring Denzel Washington, lost coach Herman Boone, assistant coach Bill Yoast and players Petey Jones and Julius Campbell.
3. ACPS fully Accredited for First Time in 20 Years
It took two decades, and in September Alexandria City Public Schools system announced that all of the city’s public schools reached their state mandated benchmarks to be fully accredited for the 2019-2020 academic year. Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings said that the success didn’t come by chance and that it took six superintendents and a lot of “planning, preparation and dedication for all students to experience success regardless of their life circumstances” to get ACPS where it is today.
All ACPS Schools Fully Accredited for First Time in 20 Years – ACPS Express https://t.co/mjsBbdCHM9
— Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. (@DrHutchings) September 30, 2019
4. Ground Broken at Potomac Yard Metro Station
After decades of finalizing plans and making deals, ground was finally broken in December for the construction of the Potomac Yard Metro station. The plan is to open the $320 million station by spring 2022, and while development will result in the demolition of the Regal Potomac Yard movie theater, the area will positively be booming with the eventual addition of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, a new mixed-use redevelopment, Amazon HQ2 in Crystal City and much more.
“This has been a quarter-century in the making,” Mayor Justin Wilson said at the groundbreaking. “This is a big… deal.”
5. Alexandria’s Summer Metro Shutdown
Did you have to get creative in your commute over the summer? You weren’t alone. Thousands of commuters in the area were forced to make alternate plans so that Metro could make crucial improvements to all of the station platforms south of the Reagan National Airport station. The shutdown meant expanded Metro and DASH bus routes, morning trolley rides from the King Street station, Potomac Riverboat Company Water Taxi ferries from the Alexandria Waterfront into the District and more. The renovation is part of a $300-$400 million project to rebuild 20 outdoor platforms throughout the Metro system. Once reopened, commuters were introduced to new speakers for clearer public announcements and emergency notifications, stainless-steel platform shelters, passenger information display screens and energy-efficient LED lighting.
— The Zebra (@ZebraAlexandria) September 9, 2019