Newsletter

It was a historic week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.

President Joe Biden visited the Neighborhood Health COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary on Tuesday, just before announcing that the date for adults to get access to the vaccine has been moved to April 19.

The Alexandria School Board, on Thursday night, voted to change the name of T.C. Williams High School to Alexandria City High School.

The School Board also voted unanimously to reduce the distancing requirement in ACPS schools from six feet to three feet, all the while community support is growing to expand in-person instruction to more than the current two days a week. Summer school is currently planned to begin in July and will be four days a week, and ACPS is planning on reopening to five days a week at the beginning of the next school year.

Our top story was on the T.C. Williams Titans junior varsity football team walking off the field after an incident with the Robinson Rams on Monday night. Robinson Rams players allegedly spit at and made a racial slur against T.C. players. The incident has prompted Fairfax County Public Schools to announce a “stand-down” meeting for all athletic teams and coaches to discuss “appropriate behaviors required to play sports in FCPS.”

Additionally, six Alexandria Police officers were placed on administrative duties after a chase suspect died while in custody. Police responded to a call for shots fired in the 800 block of North Patrick Street, and multiple buildings and vehicles were struck. The driver of the vehicle crashed on Interstate 295, and then jumped over an overpass barrier and fell more than 20 feet and was tased by police, arrested and later died.

Important Stories

Top Stories

  1. JUST IN: T.C. Williams JV football team walks off field after alleged racial slur, spitting incident
  2. BREAKING: Shots fired in Old Town leads to chase that ends in D.C.
  3. JUST IN: President Biden set to visit Alexandria vaccination site Tuesday
  4. National Park Service announces George Washington Parkway to go on a diet
  5. Neighborhood Health vaccinating thousands at sites in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County
  6. JUST IN: Woman arrested after fight on King Street Metro station platform
  7. UPDATE: $8,500 reported stolen in terrifying West End robbery
  8. JUST IN: President Biden visits COVID-19 vaccine site at Virginia Theological Seminary
  9. COVID-19 update: Alexandria moves into vaccination phase 1C
  10. JUST IN: Six Alexandria Police officers put on administrative duties after chase suspect dies
  11. Fairfax County man arrested for three burglaries, released three days later

Have a safe weekend!

Photo via T.C. Williams Football Boosters/Facebook

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A 35-year-old Washington, D.C. man was sentenced to 21 years behind bars on Tuesday for a Northern Virginia crime spree at a number Alexandria banks and area businesses in 2018 and 2019.

Freddie Lee McRae robbed a Wells Fargo bank branch on Nov. 13, 2018, and reportedly told the teller in a note that he had a gun and would “kill all the bankers” in the bank unless they paid up. He pointed a gun at the teller and then fled the scene with $8,750.

Less than a month later, McRae robbed a Burke & Herbert bank branch in the city and pointed a gun at the teller. He then racked the slide, demanded large bills and fled with $1,366. He also robbed a BB&T branch in the city A week later, and later admitted to robbing a Bank of America in Springfield in October 2018, a Capital One in Bowie, Maryland, in Jan. 2019 and a Capitol One in Arlington on Feb. 11, 2019.

On April 21, 2019, McRae stole $2,160 from the Legend Kicks & Apparel store in Arlington. He pointed a gun at employees and told them to empty their pockets and lie on the ground. Police ended up chasing him on the George Washington Parkway, and he ended up jumping out of his car before it crashed into the Potomac River. He then tried to escape by jumping in the river.

“This case involved a chilling armed robbery spree during which innocent community members were threatened with serious injury or death if they did not comply with repeated demands for money,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are thankful to our law enforcement partners for their thorough investigation across multiple jurisdictions to bring the defendant to justice, including apprehending him after he jumped out of a moving vehicle prior to it crashing and sinking into the Potomac River.”

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More details have emerged after a West End robbery at gunpoint that left three men beaten and tied up with phone charging cords.

The incident was reported at around 11:30 p.m. on March 19 at an apartment in the 5000 block of Seminary Road. Police also reported that one of the victims’ cars was stolen.

One victim told police that there was a knock on the apartment door, and he blacked out after being pistol-whipped as soon as it opened.

The resident of the apartment told police that he fell asleep on his bed and woke to find an unknown suspect with their hand over his mouth. The victim said that two of his friends were also in the apartment at the time, and that four masked men entered and held them at gunpoint, according to a police search warrant affidavit.

The resident told police that one of the suspects reached into his pockets, took his wallet and stole $8,000.

The third victim told police that he, too, was pistol-whipped and regained consciousness as his friends untied his bonds. He told police that $500 was stolen and that he had no idea why they were targeted.

Map via Google Maps

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It was quite a week in Alexandria.

Our top story this week was on a man who allegedly crashed his car headfirst into the Verizon store near Potomac Yard. The suspect was later arrested in North Carolina.

The week was full of big news. Former Mayor Allison Silberberg announced her candidacy against Mayor Justin Wilson for the June 8 Democratic primary, and ALXnow has learned that the Del Ray Business Association is planning a debate.

One of our favorite stories this week was on Tobi, the Alexandria dog without front legs who needed a new $2,350 wheelchair. Within a day of posting the story, Tobi’s GoFundMe goal was reached. The fundraiser has since raised $3,590, and Tobi’s owner says the excess funds will be donated to help another disabled pet get a wheelchair.

As of noon Friday, our unscientific poll on mayoral candidates had 1,111 votes, but only 537 views. Former Mayor Allison Silberberg trailed by a large percentage for the first several hours, but she later received a surge of votes that led to her getting 589 votes, or 53%, to Wilson’s 432 votes, or 39%. Republican candidate Annetta Catchings, who also announced her mayoral candidacy this week, got 90 votes, or 8%.

Other important stories:

ALXnow’s top stories:

  1. BREAKING: Man rams car into Verizon Store near Potomac Yard
  2. Waterfront Commission tries to avert ‘Disneyland-like’ development in Old Town
  3. Flight attendant Annetta Catchings running for Alexandria mayor as a Republican
  4. Chadwicks going double-decker on outdoor dining at upcoming BAR meeting
  5. BREAKING: Former Mayor Silberberg rematch as she enters democratic primary for mayor
  6. City Councilman Seifeldein quits meeting after argument with mayor
  7. Three men tied up and robbed in West End
  8. GoFundMe launched to get wheelchair for Tobi, an Alexandria dog with no front legs
  9. Just Sold in Alexandria: March 23, 2021
  10. Republican J.D. Maddox announces run for 45th District seat
  11. Al’s Steak House to endure under new management

Have a safe weekend!

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Updated at 3:30 p.m. — Four people have been arrested and charged with robbing a juvenile of a pair of shoes at gunpoint in the West End on Tuesday (March 23).

Alexandria Police said the incident occurred at around 8:30 p.m. in the 5400 block of Knole Court, which is near Holmes Run.

The victim suffered a minor injury, and the suspects were arrested a short time later after being pulled over by police two miles away in the 600 block of South Pickett Street.

Police arrested Nicholas Kumar Bansal II, 24,  Jacob Benjamin Bansal, 20, Nathan Temesgen, 19, and a juvenile suspect. Charges included armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, conceal carry without a permit and other traffic offenses.

Map via Google Maps

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Alexandria Police are investigating a robbery that occurred at the Tobacco and Vape King store at 408 E. Glebe Road was robbed on Saturday night.

Police said a suspect walked into the shop on Saturday night and demanded money. The suspect, who fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash, did not present a weapon or imply that he had a weapon, according to police.

The incident occurred Richmond Highway and across the street from Potomac Yard.

No suspect description was available.

Map via Google Maps

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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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