Alexandria, VA

Alexandria Police are investigating an armed robbery yesterday (Tuesday) that left a West End man with minor injuries. The incident occurred just before 9 p.m. in the 5700 block of Exeter Court.

The victim suffered a minor injury and his phone and cash were stolen, but he did not go to the hospital, according to police.

The victim said he did not know the suspects.

The area where the incident occurred is near the Shops at Mark Center shopping mall, and less than a mile from where an armed robbery occurred in October.

Map via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Beyer Urges Senate to Remove Trump After House Impeachment — “Donald Trump is a clear and present danger to the United States, and a menace to the Constitution. The events of the past week, my conscience, my oath of office, and my duty to the people of Northern Virginia allow no other course than to vote for his impeachment. I urge the Senate to remove him from office as swiftly as possible.” [Beyer.house.gov]

Police Seeking Alexandria Man For Assaulting Woodbridge Boy — “Ian M. Simpson is wanted after police said he attempted to strangle an 8-year-old boy during after two arguments between the two relatives.” [Patch]

Police: Business Robbed on N. Quaker Lane Wednesday Morning — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a robbery from a business in the 1600 block of N. Quaker Lane. It happened around 5:45am. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]

WATCH: Governor Northam Gives State of Commonwealth Speech — “My 2021 State of the Commonwealth address is starting–watch live.” [Twitter]

Poll Opens to Select New Names for T.C. Williams High and Matthew Maury Elementary Schools — “Between now and Jan. 27, we are asking everyone to help us whittle down names that have been suggested by our students over the last month. Don’t like any of the options you see? The community will also be given another chance to make suggestions at this time.” [Zebra]

Casa Chirilagua Gets Desk Donations from Building Momentum — “Casa Chirilagua, a non-profit serving the Arlandria neighborhood in northern Virginia near Reagan National Airport, has been one of the largest recipients and distributors of the desks. Adriana Gómez Schellhaas, executive director of Casa Chirilagua, said the non-profit has distributed over 50 desks to homes and learning centers in their community.” [USChamber.com]

Today’s Weather — “Some clouds in the morning will give way to mainly sunny skies for the afternoon. High near 55F. Winds light and variable… A few clouds from time to time in the evening. Low 31F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Experienced Servers at Mia’s Italian Kitchen — “We are searching for Experienced Servers to join our Team at Mia’s in OLD TOWN” [Indeed]

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Police say a man was robbed in Alexandria on Duke Street last night (Tuesday) just east of Ewald Park.

“The victim, male, reported that while walking in the 4300 block of Duke Street, an unknown, male suspect approached them from behind, and took property from their person at gunpoint,” said Lt. Courtney Ballantine, a spokesperson for the police department.

Ballantine said the incident occurred around 11 p.m. and there is no suspect information available.

“We always encourage folks that want to help to call the non-emergency phone number and ask to speak to an officer with any information,” Ballantine said.

The police non-emergency number is (703) 746-4444.

Image via Google Maps

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Several people were threatened at gunpoint twice by the same group of armed robbers in the West End in late September.

New details in a police affidavit show that several men who had been threatened by a group of robbers had tried to take a circuitous route home to avoid showing where they lived, only to run into the robbers again with a repeated demand for cash.

“One of the victims, who spoke the best English… stated that he and four of his friends were [on] Sheffield Court,” the affidavit said. “They were walking back to their apartment… when five black males approached them, one of them on a scooter.”

The victim said that three of the men who approached them had firearms in their waistbands and one of the suspects said the victims each had to give $20.

“[The victim] and his friends told the suspects that they didn’t have any money and pulled out their wallets to show them that they were empty,” the victim said. “The victims convinced the group of suspects to let them leave and the victims started to walk down Sheffield Court towards Sanger Avenue so they didn’t lead the suspects back to their apartment. Once the victims got to Sanger, the same group of suspects approached them again.”

This time, the men pulled their guns out of their waistbands and, again, demanded $20 from the group.

The second robbery was interrupted by the sound of sirens, and the suspects fled down the street.

One person, 19-year old Vince Mason Jr., was arrested at the scene while others fled into the nearby forest. Police couldn’t locate the other suspects, though the next day a pistol was found there. Another one of Mason’s associates matched a description from witnesses and is currently being investigated.

Image via Google Maps

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A 34-year-old Washington D.C. man labeled the Beltway Bank Bandit by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, pleaded guilty to three counts of brandishing a firearm during a series of bank and shoe store robberies in and around Alexandria in 2018 and 2019.

Freddie Lee McRae will be sentenced on February 23, 2021, and faces up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison. On November 13, 2018, McRrae robbed a Wells Fargo Bank in Alexandria, handed the teller a note and demanded money, indicated that he had a gun and said he would “kill all bankers” if his directions were not followed. He then pointed a handgun at two tellers and ran out of the bank with $8,750, according to prosecutors.

The following month, McRae robbed a Burke & Herbert branch in Alexandria. He walked up to a teller and said, “Gimme your money,” and then pointed a gun at the teller.

“As the teller gathered money, McRae racked the slide on the pistol and demanded all large bills,” according to United States Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia. “McRae fled with approximately $1,366 in cash.”

McRae was arrested after robbing the Legend Kicks & Apparel in Arlington on April 21, 2019. After a brief police chase on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, McRae jumped out of his moving car before it crashed and sank in the Potomac River, and then unsuccessfully tried to escape by jumping in the river.

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The Alexandria Police Department is investigating two armed robberies that occurred over the weekend.

At around 8:30 p.m. on Friday, October 23, a male juvenile was robbed of personal belongings in the 3400 block of Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray. The victim was not injured and police did not provide information on the suspect or if a weapon was involved.

The Del Ray incident occurred a few hours before a man was shot five blocks away by a security guard at 3901 Mount Vernon Avenue.

At around 3 a.m. on Saturday, October 24, a man was robbed of personal belongings and assaulted by two suspects at gunpoint in the 100 block of S. Bragg Street in the West End. Again, police provided no suspect description.

West End and Del Ray Maps via Google Maps

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This was a big week for Alexandria.

Our top story this week was the Alexandria School Board’s decision to reopen schools for students with disabilities, while the future reopening of school for elementary, middle and high schoolers remains in doubt.

Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. said that the only feasible option for reopening schools — based on distancing and staffing constraints — would be for students to rotate to in-person schooling only one day per week. Hutchings also appeared on CNN and said that ACPS is not likely to fully reopen until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus.

We also reported that the Alexandria City Council approved plans for Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus and the North Potomac Yard development plan, virtually paving the way for the college to open its doors to hundreds of students by 2024.

“This is a very significant set of decisions for the city, and is really going to shape, not just a portion of our city, but really the entirety of our city for a long period of time to come,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 75 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,100 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count.

Governor Ralph Northam and Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine were in the city on Monday to unveil a team of new zero emission DASH electric buses.

We also reported that the City Council unanimously approved naming the 1000 block of Montgomery Street in Old Town “Earl F. Lloyd Way” in honor of the first Black man to ever play in the National Basketball Association.

Restaurant-wise, we spoke with one of the owners of a pizza and burger joint that is taking over the former location of Pizzeria Paradiso on lower King Street. The Chewish Deli is also now open in Old Town, and the owner of Del Ray Boccato says that his gelato shop will soon open.

Additionally, more than 175 people participated in our weekly poll. With the November 3 election around the corner, this week we asked about voting plans, and 65% of respondents voted by mail/absentee, 31% plan to vote on election day, and 4% are not voting.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  2. City Releasing Torpedo Factory Draft Action Plan Today
  3. City Council Approves Virginia Tech Innovation Campus and North Potomac Yard Development Plan
  4. Alexandria Student Called N-Word in Online Forum, and Not By Another Student
  5. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  6. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  7. One Arrested After Attempted Armed Robbery in Alexandria’s West End
  8. Report: ACPS Superintendent Sends Child to Bishop Ireton High School
  9. Female Suspect Flees, Nothing Taken in Attempted Old Town Bank Robbery
  10. Alexandria and Arlington Want a New Future for the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center
  11. Alexandria Courthouse Deep Cleaned After Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via ACPS/Facebook

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Nothing was taken in an attempted robbery at the BB&T Bank at 300 S. Washington Street on Tuesday, October 11.

At around 4:45 p.m., which is 15 minutes before the bank closes, a woman walked into the bank and handed a teller a note demanding money. Nothing was taken and the suspect fled the scene, according to Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine.

No suspect description is available.

The bank is located two blocks south of King Street. It is one of a half dozen banks along Washington Street, which bisects the George Washington Memorial Parkway between Mount Vernon and Washington, D.C.

Map via Google Maps

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What a week it’s been in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was the report that Alexandria City Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Hutchings, Jr. sends one of his children to Bishop Ireton High School. In case you missed it, the story first broke in Theogony, the T.C. Williams High School newspaper.

Hutchings also presented his plan for a phased reopening of ACPS starting next month. The results of a survey over virtual schooling were also released, revealing that screen time and childcare were among the top concerns of students, staff and families.

On the health front, Alexandria exceeded 4,000 total cases of COVID-19 since the first case was reported on March 11.

Additionally, more than 200 people participated in our weekly poll on traveling this holiday season, and 56% reported they will not travel, 27% still plan on traveling, and 17% still haven’t decided.

Crime-wise, we reported that a woman was assaulted in Arlandria on October 11; an arrest was made after an attempted armed robbery in the West End; a West End gas station was robbed of $1,700 in tobacco products; a woman ended up not being charged after firing a warning shot at a man in the 4300 block of Duke Street; and the mother of a man whose truck was stolen in Del Ray received an unexpected phone call from the thief.

There was some good news.

The southern entrance of the Potomac Yard Metro station is really taking shape, at least on paper. This week, the final plans going to the city were made public. The Board of Architectural Review will look at them at their meeting on Wednesday, October 21.

And in recognition of Oyster Week, ALXnow on Thursday emceed the first-ever “Pearl of Alexandria Oyster Eating Contest” between rival Del Ray and Old Town business owners.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories this week in Alexandria:

  1. Report: ACPS Superintendent Sends Child to Bishop Ireton High School
  2. Police: Illegal Drugs Sold in West End Via Snapchat During Pandemic
  3. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  4. BREAKING: Suspect Arrested for West End Murder
  5. ISIS ‘Beatles’ Held in Alexandria Jail, Charged with American Murders in Syria
  6. Here’s What the Potomac Yard Metro Station’s Southern Entrance Will Look Like
  7. Superintendent Proposing Phased Reopening of Alexandria City Public Schools Starting in November
  8. A Dozen Restaurants are Participating in Old Town Oyster Week
  9. VIDEO: West End Murder Victim Identified
  10. ‘Brewski’s Barkhaus’ is Opening This Saturday
  11. Old Virginia Tobacco Co. Moves Directly Across Street from Longtime Old Town Tobacconist

Have a safe weekend!

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Alexandria Police arrested a 19-year-old man they say was hiding in the woods after an attempted armed robbery in the West End.

The incident occurred at 10:50 p.m. on September 30, and the four male victims were walking when they were approached by five men demanding money. Three of the suspects showed handguns in their waistbands, but nothing was stolen, according to police.

“After leaving the area, the suspects re-approached the victims and demanded money again,” police reported in a search warrant affidavit. “This time, three male suspects pulled handguns out while demanding money.”

The attempted robbery occurred a mile from where a man was shot and killed earlier that day. The area is near the intersection with North Van Dorn Street, which runs alongside Interstate 395 and is around the corner to the Winkler Preserve.

One of the victims told police that two suspects, one wearing a white hoodie and the other in a black hoodie, ran into the woods on the east side of Knole Court.

Vince Mason, Jr. was found “hiding” in the woods, according to police. Mason was then positively identified by one of the victims.

“A white hoodie was found hanging on the dumpster and Mr. Mason Jr. admitted that it was his,” notes the affidavit. “The trees/woods that Mr. Mason Jr. had been hiding in were extremely dense, and it was dark outside. As such, law enforcement was unable to conduct a thorough search of the area.”

At 4 p.m. the next day, police found a handgun in the woods close to where Mason was arrested.

Map and photo via Google Maps

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