Alexandria, VA

An Arlington man is in custody after police say he robbed a 7-Eleven store in Arlington and attempted to rob a 7-Eleven in Alexandria’s Landmark area.

Michael Sheffey, 59, was arrested on Monday by Arlington County Police for a robbery of the 7-Eleven at 2815 S. Wakefield Street in Arlington on Saturday, Feb. 15. He has also been charged with attempting to rob the 7-Eleven at 30 S. Reynolds Street on Sunday, Feb. 16.

“Sheffey was arrested and is being held in Arlington,” Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow. “He has been charged in Alexandria for attempted robbery.”

Both alleged incidents are similar. They occurred early in the morning and the suspect, who wore a red jacket for both offenses, did not have a weapon, but punched the employees behind the counters at the registers of each store and made grabs for cash, according to police.

The Arlington incident on Feb. 15 occurred at around 5:48 a.m. The suspect, who was caught on surveillance footage, walked up to the register with merchandise and gave the employee cash. When the registered opened, the suspect allegedly punched the employee, “jumped over the counter and stole cash before fleeing the scene prior to police arrival,” according to Arlington County Police.

The Feb. 16 event occurred at around 6:15 a.m. The suspect walked up to the counter to buy a small cup of coffee, was told that it was $1.79 and, according to police, reportedly told the cashier, “that’s a lot,” and gave the cashier money.

According to a search warrant affidavit, during the transaction the suspect asked about when buses started to operate in the area, and as the employee turned to ask one of his co-workers, the register opened and the suspect allegedly punched the employee and lunged for the cash. The employees resisted and the suspect threw the cup of coffee in his face and was chased out of the store by another employee. Nothing was stolen.

The 7-Eleven at S. Reynolds Street is next to the Reynolds Street Bar and Grill, which has a security camera. Alexandria Police found footage of the suspect running from the 7-Eleven and driving away with his headlights off in a silver-colored Chevrolet Equinox in the direction of Edsall Road.

Based on surveillance footage, Alexandria and Arlington police determined that the same suspect committed both crimes. Police found that the vehicle Sheffey allegedly drove was still registered in the name of his wife, who died last year, according to the affidavit.

Sheffey lives in the Fairlington neighborhood, near Route 7 and the Alexandria border.

Anyone with information related to the investigation can contact Detective R. Ortiz of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-7402 or [email protected]. Information can also be given anonymously to the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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The intersection of N. Jordan and Duke Street, near the Foxchase shopping center, is closed due to a serious pedestrian crash.

“A pedestrian was struck,” said Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine. “It’s serious enough that they’ve called in the reconstruction team.”

Ballantine said the person struck was an adult male. On social media, police urged drivers to avoid the area.

Via social media, a witness reported that the man was bleeding from the head after being struck.

The incident comes just three days after another pedestrian was struck at Duke Street and Diagonal Road and a month after Alexandria artist Alfredo DaSilva was killed while crossing Duke Street at an intersection not far from today’s scene. Earlier this week a driver was charged with a deadly pedestrian crash on Duke Street in November.

A petition to reduce the speed limit on a portion of Duke Street east of Jordan Street from 35 to 25 mph has garnered just over 100 signatures.

Map via Google Maps

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A car crashed into the Pet Valu store in Arlandria just after noon on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

No one was injured in the incident at 3819 Mount Vernon Avenue, the driver was not charged and there were no customers in the store at the time.

“It was like a movie,” a store staffer told ALXnow. “I was very close to where she crashed. She slammed in really hard and she ran into the register. I just stood there watching in shock. It was like it happened in slow motion.”

The store recently replaced its front door and is in the process of replacing a couple of windows, staff told ALXnow.

The driver, who was going to the store to pick up dog food, was parking her new orange Subaru Forester, and stepped on the gas instead of the brake, we’re told.

“As soon as it happened, I got the lady out of the car and gave her some water,” the Pet Valu employee said. “She was in shock. She was like, ‘Am I inside the store?'”

The Pet Valu is next door to a Topper’s Pizza and MOM’s Organic Market, and is across the street from The Waffle Shop.

The driver ended up not buying dog food that day.

Map via Google Maps

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A man was struck and injured this afternoon on Duke Street by a driver in a Volkswagen Beetle.

The collision happened shortly before 1 p.m. today at the intersection of Duke Street and Diagonal Road, near the train station and the Motley Fool building.

An adult male victim suffered minor injuries and was transported to Inova Alexandria Hospital, according to police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine. The driver was cited for the crash, Ballantine said.

Photos from the scene show the car stopped in the crosswalk in the intersection. There was no visible damage to the vehicle.

Diagonal Road and a portion of Duke Street was closed for a period of time immediately following the crash.

Duke Street has been the scene of a number of notable pedestrian-involved crashes over the past few months.

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Alexandria Police are searching for two suspects who assaulted and robbed a pizza delivery driver early Wednesday morning on the 6100 block of Edsall Road.

The driver had just finished delivering a pizza at around 1 a.m. and got to his car when he was approached by two unknown suspects. The victim, who is a male in his 50s, was punched in the face during the incident and his cash and car were stolen, according to APD spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine.

One suspect brandished a handgun during the incident, police said. No suspect descriptions are currently available.

The victim was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

The incident occurred near a number of apartment complexes in the city’s West End and within walking distance of S. Van Dorn Street.

Image via Google Maps

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A man is in critical but stable condition after an overnight crash in Alexandra.

The crash occurred around 2:15 a.m. at King Street and Chesterfield Road, within the city’s northern border. The driver was initially trapped in the mangled car, a white Lexus, after crashing into a utility pole near the intersection. He was extricated from the wreck by firefighters.

It is not clear yet if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash since the driver was unconscious when emergency personnel got to him, according to an Alexandria Police spokesman. He was taken to George Washington University Hospital with serious injuries.

The crash occurred near the Shops at Summit Centre and the National Tire & Battery at 4720 King Street.

Photos via IAFF Local 2141/Twitter and map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Old Town Theater Sign May Be Removed — “The Board of Architectural Review is set to consider allowing the removal and relocation of the Old Town Theater sign and other exterior changes as the space is set to become a Patagonia retail store. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Council Chamber at Alexandria City Hall.” [Patch]

APD Investigates Gunshots in Landmark — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a ‘shots fired’ call for service in the 200 block of South Whiting Street. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

‘Normal Weekday’ on Seminary Road — Has the Seminary Road Diet produced a rush hour traffic nightmare, as some insist? Or is it just producing modest peak period delays, as data seems to show? Video posted by a local cycling advocate, shot shortly after 8 a.m. on a recent weekday, shows free-flowing traffic and no delays, though photos posted by road diet critics show backups at intersections. [Twitter, YouTube]

Students Write, Perform Play at Kennedy Center — “Two talented eighth grade students from George Washington Middle School had the experience of a lifetime when they wrote and performed in a play at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts earlier this month. Yahney-Marie Sangare and Sydney Payne were part of a team of young playwrights and actors who produced The Day Nothing Happened, a play about the desegregation of Stratford Middle School in Arlington.” [ACPS]

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Morning Notes

Still No Motive for Student Accused of Double Homicide — “George Ivan Maertens Aramayo said police have not told him why his daughter, 19, and Bianda, 21, were killed. He is not familiar with Mohamed Aly, the 18-year-old from Alexandria who is facing two first-degree murder charges. Aly attended T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, where friends say he was a strong student and athlete hoping to play college football.” [Washington Post]

APD Testing Electric Parking Enforcement Vehicle — “APD’s Parking Enforcement Unit conducted a test of an electric GO-4 vehicle today. Pictured is Parking Enforcement Officer Ms. Fuller, who has operated the GO-4 type vehicle for the last 23 years.” [Twitter]

For Alexandria Families, $100K Doesn’t Cut It — “An analysis by personal finance site MagnifyMoney found that in some pricey cities it’s particularly hard to make it on $100,000. ‘The worst metro area for a family earning $100,000 includes Washington, D.C. and neighboring cities Arlington and Alexandria, Va. After factoring in monthly expenses, families would be $315 in the red.'” [MarketWatch]

Fail: King Street Metro Screens — “The status of the fancy new displays at King Street Station: THREE bios screens and a fourth dead one. The one beside the manager’s station has been showing the bios screen for WEEKS.” [Twitter]

Patent Office Holding Job Fair — “The United States Patent & Trademark Office is holding a job fair and hiring 100s of engineers to examine America’s patents in 2020… The Patent Examiner Recruitment Open House event in Alexandria, VA is designed to attract soon-to-be graduates and professionals.” [Zebra]

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A 22-year-old man is in critical condition after being struck by a driver on North Van Dorn Street last night.

The crash happened near the intersection with Taney Avenue around 6:15 p.m. Police say the victim was rushed to the local hospital, while the driver remained on scene.

APD is investigating the crash and asking any witnesses to step forward. More from a press release:

The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a traffic crash that occurred on Wednesday, February 12, in the vicinity of North Van Dorn Street and Taney Avenue.

At approximately 6:15 p.m., police responded to the area for a pedestrian struck in the intersection of North Van Dorn Street and Taney Avenue. Initial investigation indicates Mr. Erick Berrios Revello, a 22-year-old Bolivian resident, was crossing North Van Dorn Street when he was struck by a motor vehicle. Mr. Berrios Revello is in critical condition from his injuries at a local hospital. The driver of the vehicle remained on the scene.

Members of the Crash Reconstruction Team and Criminal Investigations Section are investigating the crash. The investigation is ongoing. Alexandria Police ask that witnesses with information regarding this incident contact Officer Charles Gardiner at 703.408.6375.

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated at 7 p.m.) A T.C. Williams student was arrested at the school today (Thursday) and charged in the killing of two people on a rural Virginia Highway, NBC 4 first reported.

Ntombo Joel Bianda, 21, of Alexandria, and Ayanna Munne Maertens Griffin, 19, of Germantown, Maryland, were found shot to death along Route 58 in southern Virginia over the weekend.

The Alexandria Police Department confirmed to ALXnow that its officers were on scene at the high school for the arrest of a T.C. student. The case is being investigated by Virginia State Police, an APD spokesman said.

State police released the following press release about the arrest late Thursday afternoon.

An 18-year-old Alexandria male has been arrested and charged in Saturday’s double homicide in Halifax County. On Thursday (Feb. 13, 2020) morning, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office took Mohamed A. Aly into custody without incident in Alexandria, Va. Aly has been charged with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Aly will be held at the Blue Ridge Regional Jail in Halifax, Va.

At 2:51 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 8), Virginia State Police responded to Route 58 in Halifax County near Melon Road. A silver 2009 Nissan Maxima was located in the median with Ntombo Joel Bianda, 21, of Alexandria, Va., and Ayanna Munne Maertens Griffin, 19, of Germantown, Md., found deceased and lying in the grass nearby. Both had suffered gunshot wounds.

“State police personnel have been working around the clock pursuing multiple leads related to this homicide investigation,” said Capt. David O. Cooper II, Commander of the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office. “We cannot thank the public enough for providing the tips and information necessary to aid our special agents with effecting an arrest so quickly.”

Since Saturday, the FBI Richmond Field Office, ATF and several other local law enforcement agencies have been assisting state police with the homicide investigation. State police has also been assisted with various evidentiary searches in Halifax County by K9 teams from the Virginia Department of Corrections and Bedford County Sheriff’s Office.

As the investigation remains ongoing at this time, the Virginia State Police is still encouraging anyone with information about this incident or individuals involved to contact us at 434-352-7128 or #77 on a cell phone or to email [email protected]. Anonymous calls are welcome.

A student at T.C. Williams tells ALXnow that the suspect, Mohamed Aly, “was telling all his friends” about the slaying. That account could not be immediately confirmed by police.

Aly was a popular student and a player on the varsity football team, and a few of his T.C. classmates expressed support for him on Snapchat Thursday night.

Via Twitter, T.C.’s athletic director discouraged players from speaking to members of the media.

Just after 5 p.m., principal Peter Balas sent the following email to T.C. Williams families, acknowledging the arrest and saying that counselors will be available at the school “over the next few days.”

Dear T.C. Williams Parents and Guardians,

We are writing to inform you that a T.C. Williams High School student was arrested today for his alleged involvement in a crime that occurred outside of the City of Alexandria and our community. We are complying with authorities as they conduct their ongoing investigation, and we are referring all questions to Virginia State Police. It is ACPS policy to not comment on an active police investigation.

This situation was handled today according to protocol, and the safety and security of our students and staff were never at risk. Protecting members of our school community is always our top priority, and we take any matter relating to the safety of our schools very seriously. As a precautionary measure, additional security will be in place at the school tomorrow.

We should expect that there will be a variety of reactions to what has occurred, and the most important thing we can do is to be supportive and encourage an open expression of emotions. Counselors will be available for students and staff members at the school over the next few days. We encourage your child to reach out for support as needed. We will be monitoring students carefully over the next few weeks. If you feel that your child or family needs assistance, please contact the school administration at 703-824-6800, and we will do everything we can to help you.

Sincerely,

Peter Balas
Principal
T.C. Williams High School

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Bianda’s memorial fund. So far it has raised just over $7,000.

James Cullum contributed to this report

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Alexandria Police are investigating the theft of nearly $184,000 from the city’s finance department in a suspected phishing scheme.

On Jan. 28, the department made a payment of $183,956.10 to what it believed was Integrity Construction Services, a vendor to Alexandria City Public Schools. The president of the company, Alex Lucas, told police that he is the victim of a phishing attack. The payment was actually sent to an unknown cyberthief.

Police were notified of the theft on Feb. 5.

“The suspect sent and received multiple emails from Mr. Lucas’ account until he was able to get in contact with someone from City of Alexandria Finance,” police reported in a search warrant affidavit. “From there, the suspect successfully changed the method and destination of payment for Mr. Lucas’ contract with the City of Alexandria.”

The finance office, which is located at City Hall (301 King Street), started receiving fraudulent emails last October requesting a change from a paper check payment to electronic funds transfer. An accounting manager with the city took multiple steps to verify the account information. The first email to the finance office was sent on Oct. 18, 2019, and the office continued to receive emails until Feb. 5, 2020, documents show.

The individual portraying themselves as a representative from Integrity Construction Services communicated via email and sent a voided check at the request of the account manager, according to police. The voided check showed the name of the vendor, but the account belongs to a woman in South Carolina.

Police spoke with Lucas, who told them he had no knowledge of what transpired, and subsequently hired an IT consultant who determined he was the victim of a phishing scam.

“The suspect who successfully phished Mr. Lucas’ email address gained access and established rules with the Outlook 365 program Mr. Lucas used,” police reported in the affidavit.

Alexandria spokesman Craig Fifer said that the city was not the victim of a phishing attack.

“The city provides training to all employees on how to avoid phishing attacks, and this was not a case in which the city was the victim of a phishing attack. This was a breach on the vendor’s side,” he said. “The city and ACPS are reviewing our vetting practices to improve those controls and keep this situation from happening in the future.”

Fifer added that the city is still in the process of paying the vendor.

“It’s slightly delayed by the investigation, but we’re in the process of making that payment,” he said.

If the thief is caught, he or she could face felony charges punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

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Alexandria Police are investigating more than $40,000 in car parts stolen from BMW of Alexandria in the Landmark Mall parking garage.

On Jan. 17, the sales manager for BMW of Alexandria (499 S. Pickett St.) told police that 10 BMW M-Series sedans and sport utility vehicles stored at the property had been stripped of their wheels and put on concrete blocks. The passenger side front windows were smashed and the lug bolt locks were taken from the glove compartments.

Video surveillance footage found two unknown suspects entering the parking lot at around 3:15 a.m. in an older GMC Yukon XL/Chevrolet Tahoe or a GMC Yukon XL/Chevrolet Suburban. The license plates of the GMC could not be read, but the vehicle is missing the passenger-side rear chrome wheel cover.

“The suspects were on the top floor of the parking garage for about 35 minutes before leaving the area,” police reported in a search warrant affidavit. “In the surveillance footage, two suspects can be seen and multiple car alarms are sounding from the victim vehicles… No other vehicles or persons are seen on the property of the mall with the exception of the Landmark Security vehicle in the former location of the Macy’s Department store.”

Landmark Mall is closed except for Carpenter’s Shelter, the Sears department store and two auto service centers.

Image via Google Maps

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