Alexandria, VA

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.)

Henock Seyoum Pastoor, a 27-year-old Alexandria man, was arrested by Metro Transit Police on Thursday and charged with threats to bomb or damage buildings or means of transportation.

Pastoor’s arrest was made after approximately 200 of his neighbors were evacuated from their homes in the 1700 block of Dogwood Drive. Hundreds of residents in the area were briefly evacuated.

“MTPD apprehended Pastoor at his home, where he made references to explosive devices on the property,” MTPD said in a release. “Nothing dangerous to the community was found.”

Alexandria Police assisted in the investigation.

There were also suspicious packages investigated today in the 400 block of Dulany Street near the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in Carlyle.

The area reopened just before 4 p.m. after being closed down for three hours.

The latter incident is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Additionally, a suspicious package in the 5500 block of North Morgan Street only contained salt and pepper shakers, according to police.

Dulany Street and Dogwood Drive maps via Google Maps

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A number of Alexandria politicians support the guilty verdict against last year’s murder of George Floyd.

Mayor Wilson that Floyd’s memory will be honored in Alexandria when it improves the inequities associated to wealth, education, housing, health and injustice experienced by residents of color.

“We have a lot of opportunities to attack some of these systems that exist in our city that unfortunately prey upon the Black and brown residents of our city,” Wilson said in a candidate forum last night. “I proposed, with the support of all of my colleagues, to eliminate fares on our DASH bus system to help our transit-dependent residents in a significantly challenging time, which is a way that we can bring equity to that system.”

Wilson continued, “I’m proposing that we decriminalize some of our quality of life infractions that right now we send our police out to enforce areas that are primarily problem mediation opportunity. I want to get rid of escalating fines that criminalize poverty for a lot of our residents.”

Floyd was killed by then-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, and the video of his death sparked outrage throughout the country, including in Alexandria. Portions of the city were shut down during the summer for protests and vigils, and the event even turned the spotlight on the Alexandria Police Department.

Police Chief Michael Brown said last year that he was appalled by the video that showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes.

“I witnessed a homicide at the hands of a cop, and the victim of that homicide was Mr. George Floyd,” Brown said. “I had a very difficult time processing what I saw in that video, and it brought back a flood of memories from my youth in the 1960’s and various times throughout my career working with cops.”

Former Mayor Allison Silberberg, who is running against Wilson for the democratic nomination, said, “Thank God justice has been served.”

Councilman Canek Aguirre said that the guilty verdict is the first in a long list of steps that need to happen.

Councilman Mo Seifeldein tweeted that the conviction was an appropriate judicial outcome.

“Many victims of law enforcement brutality do not get access to justice due to a system that protects the bad actors,” Seifeldein said. “I am mindful of the resources and the public outrage that led the authorities to give this case its due consideration.”

City Council candidate Patrick Moran said that Floyd’s murderer would have gotten away with it 50 years ago when his father moved to Alexandria,.

“My dad moved to Alexandria 50 years ago to Del Ray,” Moran said. “It was redlined. There were no cell phones, let alone cameras on them. George Floyd would have been murdered by a policeman who would never have had a trial, let alone a conviction… So much injustice by the white folk that continue to keep the black folk in their place.”

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City Council unanimously approved the creation of an eight-member community policing review board [CPRB] at its public hearing on Saturday.

City Councilman Mo Seifeldein proposed the CPRB ordinance last year, and said that its creation is long overdue.

“I hope that the progress we made today begins to restore our residents’ trust in law enforcement,” Seifeldein said. “The country is traumatized almost daily with images of unjustified use of force at the hands of law enforcement. This has been the tragic reality of Black and Brown communities for years, and has largely been ignored.”

The ordinance will got into effect on July 1, 2021. The decision marks a definitive result from the social unrest that saw protests throughout Alexandria last summer after the death of George Floyd.

While the Alexandria chapter of the International Union of Police Organizations  decried the board’s creation, there have been recent incidents that some say necessitate such a body, including a police chase that ended in a suspect’s death on April 12. Six Alexandria officers are on administrative duties while an internal review of the incident continues.

“It makes the argument stronger for a review board,” City Councilman John Taylor Chapman said, when asked about the April 12 incident.

Under the approved plan, an independent auditor will be hired and managed by the eight-person board. The board will then sign a memorandum of understanding with the Police Chief Michael Brown and City Manager Mark Jinks. The Board will be able to issue subpoenas and issue recommendations to the police chief and City Council.

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Morning Notes

TikTok captures promotion for first Hispanic Alexandria Fire Department battalion chief — “‘Hi dad, it’s Nicholle,’ the voice said before listing all the other people in the room. ‘It is my honor to announce your promotion to battalion chief.'” [7News]

Emergency alert at 10 a.m. announcing 16+ eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine — “On Monday, April 19, around 10 a.m., #Virginia will be issuing a Wireless Emergency Alert System message alerting everyone 16+ that they are now eligible to register for a #COVID19 vaccine under phase 2. More information: bit.ly/3mXUfTC #VaccinateVA” [Twitter]

Police honor good samaritan who identified crash suspect — “The Alexandria Police Department honored a man and his family with the Chief of Police Award on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, for their assistance in a deadly pedestrian crash from last year.” [Twitter]

DASHing Words in Motion Poetry Bus honors 10 Alexandria Poets, Poet Laureate — “On April 15, ten local poets were honored by the Alexandria Transit Company and The City of Alexandria Office of the Arts for their poetry submissions. Their winning submissions are posted inside each bus of the entire DASH bus fleet and on the Office of Arts website.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Considerable clouds early. Some decrease in clouds later in the day. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 68F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Clear (in the evening). Low 47F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Group fitness instructor — “This is an exciting opportunity for the right person to be an inspiring member of our team and help us to continue to share the Row House brand and experience to all people, everywhere. Coaches are hired as employees (not independent contractors) as we invest in your development and growth as a rowing-based fitness professional.” [Indeed]

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It was another busy week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.

This week, ALXnow profiled Mayor Justin Wilson and his opponent, former Mayor Allison Silberberg. The pair are facing off in the June 8 Democratic primary, and have vastly different ideas on city governance.

Alexandria Police released its 2020 crime data this week, revealing a 19% increase in Part 1 crime and 15% reduction in Nuisance crimes. ALXnow also reported a number of noteworthy crime stories, including the release of a video showing a chase suspect who died after his arrest in D.C. on April 12, and the indictment of a West End murder suspect.

This week also brought the unbelievable story of locals chasing down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray.

On the vaccine front, the Alexandria Health Department paused Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, following new concerns about potential side effects.

In school news, Alexandria City Public Schools will shift to three feet distancing in classrooms on April 26. Additionally, the School Board has started a conversation on reducing the number of members from nine to six.

Important stories

Top stories

  1. BREAKING: ‘Alexandria City High School’ chosen as replacement name for T.C. Williams High School
  2. JUST IN: Dr. Stephen Haering suddenly retires as director of Alexandria Health Department
  3. Southern Towers residents nervous as landlord steps up eviction proceedings
  4. Man stabbed at Old Town intersection
  5. NEW: Locals chase down suspected shoplifters in Del Ray
  6. JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
  7. Man faces 10 years for DWI in horrific West End crash in Safeway parking lot
  8. Planning Commission approves controversial subdivision, plants potential loophole for future denial
  9. JUST IN: Video released of police arresting chase suspect who died in D.C.
  10. JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
  11. JUST IN: West End murder suspect faces life plus 13 years in prison

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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A 23-year-old Washington, D.C. man faces at least two years in prison for allegedly breaking into two Alexandria pharmacies late last year.

The suspect will go to court April 28  on two counts of entering a structure to commit larceny and stealing more than $1,000 from the Walgreens at 1517 Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray on Dec. 8, 2020, and the MedPlus pharmacy at 5130 Duke Street in the West End, on Dec. 18.

Alexandria Police identified the suspect via security footage. The suspect was seen with an unidentified man allegedly stealing narcotics and then getting into a dark-colored Dodge Charge in the parking lot.

The suspect was not arrested after the discovery.

Instead, police placed a GPS tracker on the Dodge Charger and 10 days later discovered that it was parked in front of the MedPlus pharmacy at the same time that it was being robbed of narcotics, according to a search warrant affidavit.

APD, in coordination with the Metropolitan Police Department, caught up with the suspect at his home in northeast D.C. He was arrested on Jan. 26, and remains in the city jail.

There, officers found “narcotics listed as stolen by employees of both MedPlus and Walgreens,” according to police.

Walgreens and MedPlus photos via Google Maps

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A 34-year-old Arlington man was charged with distributing methamphetamine after reporting to police that he was the victim of an armed robbery in his fifth floor room at the Embassy Suites in Old Town.

On March 24, at around 7:15 a.m., Alexandria Police responded to a 911 call and met the suspect in the lobby. He told police that he’d just been robbed of money by a man with a knife in his room. He also said that a backpack belonging to a friend of his was stolen.

The officer asked if there was anything illegal in the room, and the suspect reportedly said, “There is some meth in the room, but it’s for personal use,” according to a police search warrant affidavit.

In the room, the officer found a clear bag, inside of which was a glass pipe. The officer asked the suspect what the pipe was for, and he reportedly said it was for smoking methamphetamine.

Later that day, officers searched the room and, in the safe, found 144 grams of suspected methamphetamine, marijuana and thousands of dollars. They also found digital scales, empty plastic bags and “numerous” syringes in a desk drawer, “one of which contained an unknown suspected narcotic liquid while the others appeared to be empty,” according to police.

The suspect was booked and released later that day on his own recognizance. The man suspected of robbing him at knifepoint was not arrested.

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Nuisance crimes fell nearly 15% last year in Alexandria, and it’s largely due to the decriminalization of marijuana and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to police.

On Friday, the Alexandria Police Department released its stats on Nuisance crimes, which are “unreasonable and unlawful use of property, which causes inconvenience or damage to others.” They include destruction of property/vandalism incidents, drug offenses and disorderly conduct.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and the decriminalization of marijuana impacted nuisance crimes in 2020,” said Police Chief Michael Brown in a statement. “Nightlife activities were largely shutdown or restricted starting in mid-March, which impacted nuisance crimes involving alcohol.”

Earlier this month, police also revealed a 19% increase in Part 1 crime (crimes against people) in 2020 versus 2019.

As for Nuisance crimes, there was a 28% increase in destruction of property/vandalism calls for service, while public drunkenness fell 28%, driving under the influence fell nearly 40%, and liquor law violations dropped 54%.

There was also a 38% decline in drug and narcotic offenses. Marijuana was decriminalized last July, and since then anyone caught with up to once ounce is issued a $25 civil fine.

Below are the 2020 and 2019 Nuisance crime stats for Alexandria:

2020 Part 2 Nuisance Crimes Chart

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A 52-year-old Alexandria man faces up to 10 years in prison after allegedly driving while intoxicated and pinning a man who was packing his car with groceries in a West End parking lot.

On April 12, Catalin Filipeanu was indicted by the Grand Jury for the City of Alexandria for maiming a person by driving while intoxicated and possession of Xanax.

The 59-year-old victim lost both of his legs.

The incident occurred on Jan. 5, 2021 in the parking lot of the Safeway at 299 S. Van Dorn Street in the Van Dorn Plaza shopping center. Filipeanu stayed at the scene and waited for police.

“Maiming-DWI is a felony offense punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years in the penitentiary and a fine of not more than $100,000,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter’s office said in a statement. “Xanax is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a fine of not more than $1,000.”

There were also two incidents last year of pedestrians in Alexandria who lost limbs after being struck by cars.

No trial date has been set.

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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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