Newsletter

Morning Notes

Prince Street in Old Town (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

Metro to keep reduced service through Dec. 31 — “Metro will continue offering reduced rail service through the end of the year, WMATA announced Monday.” [NBC4]

Bun Papa opens third location in Bradlee Shopping Center — “The newest Bun Papa location operates out of the future BeeLiner Diner which will open in Bradlee Shopping Center early next year.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Nominations sought for Alexandria Living Legends — “Once selected, each new Living Legend of Alexandria will be celebrated with a museum-quality photographic portrait, an interview with a professional print journalist and will have a segment in a lasting video produced by an award-winning film company.” [Zebra]

Virginia police stop teen suspect from jumping off bridge — “Virginia State Police stopped a teenager who was linked to several burglaries from jumping off the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, a report says.” [Patch]

2 Comment
Police looking at the body found in the water, near the unit block of Duke Street (via social media)

The body of what appears to be a woman was recovered from the Potomac River this morning in Old Town Alexandria.

The discovery was made just before 10:30 a.m. off Point Lumley Park near the Barca Pier, at the bottom of Duke Street. The woman was fully clothed and wearing shoes, video shared with ALXnow shows.

Police are trying to determine what happened to the person who died. Residents should expect “a heavy police response” in the area, APD says.

Updated at 7 p.m. — Alexandria police issued the following press release about the woman’s death.

The Alexandria Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division is investigating an undetermined death after a woman’s body was found in the Potomac River near Duke Street Saturday morning.

The initial call came from a citizen who was walking along the waterfront.

The call for service was received at approximately 10:00 a.m., Saturday, November 20th to the unit block of Duke Street. When officers arrived on the scene they discovered a deceased female, who appeared to be in her 60s, floating near the pier at Point Lumley Park.

The decedent was removed from the water and will be examined by the Medical Examiner to determine the cause of death. The decedent’s name will not be released for 24 hours until after the next of kin has been notified.

No foul play is expected at this time.

We are asking anyone with information related to this incident to reach out to Detective B. Gill at 202.621.3287 or call the Alexandria Police Department’s non-emergency number at 703.746.4444. Tips can be anonymous.

2 Comment

(Updated at 5 p.m.) A 26-year-old Alexandria man is being held without bond after allegedly shooting a man in the head in the West End on September 21.

Cornell Bangura was arrested on October 5, driving a maroon-colored Volkswagen Passat.

The incident occurred at around 1:15 p.m. in the parking lot at The Mason At Van Dorn Apartments at 251 S. Reynolds Street. Security video footage showed that a maroon-colored vehicle registered to Bangura pulled into the apartment complex property just four minutes before the 911 call, according to a search warrant affidavit.

A witness, who said he was cleaning his car, told police that the suspect knocked on the victim’s first floor patio window, and then saw the suspect and the victim yell at each other, according to the affidavit.

A witness told police that Bangura left the argument, walked to his car and then returned to the patio and fired five or six gunshots, according to the affidavit. The witness hid behind a trash can and said that the suspect got into a maroon-colored Volkswagen and drove away in the direction of S. Van Dorn Street.

A witness then heard the victim cry out that he was injured, and found the victim in the apartment with a handgun in his hand and a wound to his head. The victim threw down the gun when the witness walked in, and the witness drove the injured man to the hospital, according to the affidavit.

At the hospital, the victim told police that the suspect shot him “out of nowhere,” and that the apartment was not his, that it belonged to Bangura’s ex-girlfriend. After the shooting, Bangura allegedly boasted about it in text messages to the woman.

Bangura was charged with malicious wounding, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, and shooting into an occupied building.

0 Comments

The driver who struck and killed local resident Roy Saravia Alvarez on Saturday, Nov. 13, has been arrested by the Alexandria Police Department.

Police said that a warrant for involuntary manslaughter was issued and 45-year-old Fredy Ortiz-Dominguez of Hyattsville, Maryland, turned himself in to police custody yesterday (Thursday). Ortiz-Dominguez is being held at the Alexandria Detention Center without bail.

The crash occurred at 8:10 p.m. on Sunday at the 200 block of West Glebe Road in Arlandria. The victim was declared dead at the scene. Ortiz-Dominguez remained at the scene.

In a GoFundMe established to help cover funeral expenses, Alvarez’ family described him as a beloved grandfather who was kind-hearted and humorous. The GoFundMe has raised $16,125, exceeding its original goal.

Police noted that anyone with additional information is asked to contact investigators.

This case still remains an ongoing investigation, anyone with any information related to this incident is asked to please contact the investigating officer, Ofc. Wes Vitale at 703.746.6178 or call APD’s non-emergency number at 703.746.4444.  Tips or information can be anonymously submitted.

4 Comments

Morning Notes

School Board discusses SRO return, updating police MOU — “…the School Board discussed the short-term, and potentially long-term, future of the [School Resource Officer program] at a meeting on Nov. 11.” [Alexandria Times]

Restaurants in Alexandria offer Thanksgiving packages to go — “You can explore multi-course Thanksgiving menus and special to-go offerings from a variety of Alexandria restaurants.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Bells are ringing for Del Ray’s annual holiday and business decorating contest in Alexandria — “In the Del Ray section of Alexandria it means the Annual Holiday Home and Business Decorating Contest is about to begin.” [Zebra]

Alexandria mom frustrated with school violence caught on video — “More violence was reported at schools in Alexandria, Virginia — all caught on video. The 7News I-Team has been all over this major issue for weeks.” [ABC7]

9 Comments

A student was suspended last month at Francis C. Hammond Middle School for allegedly writing about ‘shooting up the school’ on Discord with another student.

On October 26, the school resource officer at Francis C. Hammond Middle School was alerted by school staff that the student was interviewed and suspended.

The incident occurred on October 26, according to a police search warrant affidavit.

In an anagram, the student first wrote, “nodt moce ot shcloo no wendsydya,” which, when rearranged, reads, “Don’t come to school on Wednesday.”

A classmate responded by writing: “bruh don’t be shooting da school dafuq.”

The student responded by writing, “I’m not [name] told me not to. But imma give it 2 weeks at the most.”

When asked to clarify what he was deciding, the student then stated “shooting up the school.”

The student, when interviewed at his home, admitted to police that he sent the messages and that he deleted them on his phone, according to the affidavit.

2 Comments

Morning Notes

Man Fatally Struck on Alexandria Sidewalk — “A man died after he was hit by a truck when its driver jumped a sidewalk on Saturday night in Alexandria, Virginia. His family wants to know why the driver is not behind bars and said they think the driver’s actions after the crash may have killed their loved one.” [NBC4]

Alexandria named second-biggest art-buying city in US by Artfinder — “Yesterday the company released a list of the top art-buying cities in the U.S.  It appears that Alexandria residents love their art, because our city came in second place, behind Savannah, Georgia.” [Zebra]

Chopt opens its doors in Kingstowne — “Chopt Creative Salad Co. will open its doors Wednesday, Nov. 17 in the Kingstowne Towne Center, the company announced Tuesday.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Alexandria tutoring consortium awarded $16K grant from AT&T — “[Alexandria Tutoring Consortium] (ATC), which helps the youngest students enrolled in Alexandria’s public schools learn to read, is the recipient of a $16,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation.” [Zebra]

Alexandria police union pleads for more pay and resources — “The union has requested a 10% raise while the city council is considering a 1.5% raise.” [WUSA9]

0 Comments

Alexandria City Public Schools staff and the Police Department are hammering out a revised memorandum of understanding (MOU), and while few details have been released, the school system says that the school resource officer (SRO) program will change next year.

It’s been more than a month since City Council reversed its decision and brought back SROs. The initial decision to defund the officers redirected $800,000 in SRO funding toward mental health resources for students. It created a rift between City Council and the School Board, but after numerous violent incidents with weapons in schools, School Board Chair Meagan Alderton and Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. pleaded for their return.

Council’s decision continues to fund SROs for the remainder of the year at Alexandria City High School, Francis C. Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School.

“The SROs are not going back into our school buildings as they were prior to the pandemic,” John Contreras, ACPS director of Safety and Security Services, told the School Board at last Thursday night’s meeting.

School officials met with police on Nov. 5 with proposed changes to the MOU that was approved last year. The old document has “measurable objectives” for SROs to complete quarterly performance and after-action reports after incidents with students, and more focus will be put on data collection in the latest version

“The reason we got here was because one side of the argument was that we didn’t have enough data to keep the SROs,” School Board Member Christopher Suarez said. “The other side of the argument was we didn’t have enough data to eliminate the SROs. Everyone said there wasn’t enough data. So, the data is really fundamental to this.”

While ACPS is also considering creating an SRO Task Force with subcommittees made up of staff, students and members of the community, the next MOU will be similar to the last one, Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. told the Board.

“A large majority of the sections (of the MOU) are staying intact,” Hutchings told the Board. “Most of what the revisions are providing are more finite details as to what the roles are more clearly for ACPS and what the roles are more clearly for APD when SROs are in the buildings.”

In the event that City Council decides in the next budget cycle to defund SROs again, Hutchings said the school system would have to return to a “call for service MOU model.”

“We would more than likely have to return to something like that if the SRO program is not funded past June 2022,” Hutchings said.

0 Comments

In the last few months, a head-long battle between Alexandria’s police and firefighters against city leadership has come to a head as first responders unions say underpayment has left staffing at critical levels.

City staff recently laid out the potential costs to implement a pay raise for first responders, but unions representing those first responders say that sticker shock is less intense in the broader context of the budget.

“The question we should be asking is, ‘Is ensuring high-quality first responder services a priority for this community?'” said Captain Josh Turner, President of the firefighter union IAFF Local 2141. “For a 10% pay increase for our entire fire department, it would only take an additional $3.4 million in the proposed upcoming $780 million budget. That’s less than 0.5% of the upcoming budget. So if this is an actual priority for Council, finding $3.4 million in the existing budget shouldn’t be difficult.”

A 1% pay increase would cost around $3 million and the city would need to increase the tax rate by 0.7 of a cent if it wanted to pay for the increase from tax revenue, acting Human Resources Director Jen Jenkins said at a City Council retreat.

A breakdown of the 1% pay scale increase costs indicated that general city staff comprised $2 million of the $3 million total. At the retreat, City Manager Mark Jinks noted that city employees aren’t unionized like police or firefighters are, but shouldn’t be left out of the pay raise discussion.

For the first responders, the breakdown was:

  • Police Department: around $400,000
  • Fire Department: around $340,000
  • Sheriff’s Office: around $200,000

Not only have first responders said a 1% increase would be “insulting”, Turner said there are alternative sources to pay for the increase.

Turner noted that the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report given to the City Council last night (Tuesday) indicated that there was around $1.9 million left over from the past fiscal year. The chart shows $2.9 left over in the police budget.

“That’s half the money we would need for a 10% increase right there in the leftovers from last year,” Turner said. “We’re not asking the City to go bankrupt, or to deplete the rainy day fund, or for the City to ruin their bond rating. We’re just saying that, if it’s a priority, the City has the money to pay their first responders fairly.”

Marcus Downey, vice president of the police union IUPA Local 5, also objected to the characterization of a tax increase being the only option for funding the pay raise.

“The archaic excuse of requiring a substantial tax increase and placing the burden on City residents is straight out of Alexandria City Hall’s playbook,” Downey said. “Pre-election, we were told employee compensation would be a priority. There were literally zero comments about a need to increase taxes. Less than a week after the election, the conversation quickly shifted to ‘the residents will have to pay more in taxes.'”

Both police and firefighter unions have said low levels of staffing threaten the reliability of city services. Union representatives have previously claimed the low staffing could lead to the closure of a station, a claim Mayor Justin Wilson said was untrue.

“For us, at the end of the day, we’re talking about people,” said Turner. “We’re talking about a half percent for our first responders to get a fair shake — not for a park or for a building or for inanimate objects. We’re talking about people. People who came to work throughout the entire pandemic, running the risk of exposing themselves, and their families, to COVID, in order to serve the City.  People who in some cases have worked over 70 hours a week to provide life-saving services to the citizens of Alexandria.”

The FY 2023 budget discussion is currently in the early stages, with a proposed budget scheduled to be presented on Feb. 17, 2022.

32 Comments

Two Alexandria men were arrested last month for shooting a gun from a vehicle in the city’s Arlandria neighborhood.

The incident occurred at around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 8. Two Alexandria Police officers in an unmarked SUV observed a white Mercedes-Benz disregard a red light at the intersection of Russell Road and Mount Vernon Avenue, according to a search warrant affidavit. Police then began to follow the car.

The white Mercedes-Benz then began to circle around the Arlandria neighborhood.

“As the vehicle approached the McDonald’s and Volkswagen dealership in the 100 block of W. Reed Avenue, the officers observed muzzle flashes coming from the driver’s side window,” police said in the search warrant.

Police conducted a high-risk stop and pulled the suspects over. They found the “firearm was located in the back seat of the vehicle and the shell casings were on the driver’s side floor,” police said in the affidavit.

The gun, a Polymer80, is a “ghost gun” with no serial numbers.

Police believe that the passenger, 22-year-old Jason Castillo, took the gun from a book bag, reached across the driver and fired out of his window. Castillo told police that he has been targeted by members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang, and that he thought that they were being followed by MS-13, not the police.

Both the suspects “stated the shots were to scare or warn them (MS-13) from continuing to follow them around the neighborhood,” police said in the affidavit.

Castillo is being held without bond for shooting from a vehicle, carrying a loaded firearm in public, shooting in a public place, speeding and disregarding a traffic signal. The driver, 20-year-old Erick Romero Molina, was released on $3,000 bond on September 9, and was charged with carrying a loaded firearm in public, shooting in a public place and malicious shooting at a vehicle. Both men go to court on November 15.

Via Google Maps

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list