Alexandria, VA

What an intense week in Alexandria.

Our top story was on the massive power outages that affected tens of thousands of residents on Friday, October 23. Without providing specifics, Dominion Energy told City Council this week that outages in Alexandria and Arlington were “unique,” and caused by a piece of equipment that failed at its Glebe Road substation. City Councilors responded that there have been at least eight outages since May.

Monday started with news that an Alexandria Police officer was shot in Old Town and that the 27-year-old suspect was found shot to death near a construction site.

Police were called to the Holiday Inn & Suites in Old Town North after reports that shots were fired in the lobby of the hotel. Police chased two suspects on foot and a shootout ensued. The officer was shot in the lower body and was later released, and the other suspect later turned himself in to police.

On the coronavirus front, there are now 74 deaths in Alexandria and there are now or have been more than 4,200 cases since the pandemic began in March. Latino residents continue to lead the case count. This week the Alexandria Health Department reported that majority of recent coronavirus cases in Alexandria might be the result of contacts at home, indoor gatherings and eating out.

Restaurant-wise, we reported the soft opening of a new chicken joint in North Old Town.

Additionally, the Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies art installation at Waterfront Park will be taken down next month at Waterfront Park, and the installation will temporarily be moved outside of Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron Street).

We also reported that more than 50% of Alexandria voters have already cast their ballots.

Additionally, more than 240 people participated in our weekly poll. With Halloween on Saturday, this week we asked about trick-or-treating plans, and 38% of respondents are not celebrating Halloween this year, 31% are not trick-or-treating but have other plans, 17% plan to trick-or-treat with modifications, and 14% plan to trick-or-treat as usual.

Here are ALXnow’s top stories of the week in Alexandria:

  1. BREAKING: Massive Power Outage Reported in Alexandria
  2. BREAKING: Virginia State Police Seek Alexandria Man After Police Shootout
  3. School Board Shelves Plan to Reopen Schools in 2021, Students with Disabilities Transitioning Back Next Month
  4. Republican Jeff Jordan Running Uphill Battle Against Incumbent Rep. Don Beyer
  5. Here’s Where Alexandria Residents Might be Getting COVID-19
  6. BREAKING: Shooting Suspect In Custody, Police Announce
  7. Police: Man Killed in Car Crash on N. Van Dorn Street
  8. Identity Released of Old Town North Suspect Killed in Shootout
  9. Police: Shots Fired in Braddock Area on Monday Night
  10. The Chewish Deli Opens New Location in Old Town
  11. Police Assist Man With Psychotic Episode in West End

Happy Halloween!

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Virginia State Police have identified the 27-year-old suspect who died in a shootout with Alexandria police in Old Town North on Monday, October 26.

Michael K. Nelson of Fairfax County was found dead with a stolen firearm near the intersection of Montgomery Street and North Fairfax Street, according to Virginia State Police. His alleged accomplice, 26-year-old Mitchell Thompson, later turned himself in and was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

“Nelson’s remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas for examination and autopsy, which remain ongoing,” according to VSP.

At around 5 a.m. that day, police responded to a call for shots fired inside the Holiday Inn & Suites (625 First Street) in Old Town North, according to police. Witnesses reported that a robbery occurred in the lobby of the hotel and that multiple shots were fired. Police established a perimeter and two suspects were spotted at around 5:50 a.m. and engaged in a shootout with police.

“When the officer and the two adult males reached the intersection of North Royal Street and Second Street, the officer and one of the two suspects exchanged fire,” according to VSP. “The officer was shot and both suspects fled the scene again on foot. The officer has been treated and released for non-life threatening injuries sustained in the shooting.”

Police expanded the search at 6:24 a.m. and police K9 teams found Nelson near the intersection of Montgomery Street and North Fairfax Street, according to VSP.

“As Alexandria police officers engaged with Nelson, shots were fired by both Nelson and officers on scene,” VSP reported. “Nelson died at the scene. A stolen firearm was recovered in his possession.”

VSP said the investigation is ongoing. Three Alexandria police officers are on routine administrative since the incident.

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The man wanted in connection to a series of shootings in North Old Town early Monday morning is now in custody.

Virginia State Police say Mitchell D. Thompson, a 26-year-old Alexandria resident, turned himself in.

“He is in police custody and being processed on the felony warrant for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon,” said VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller. “Additional charges are pending, as the investigation remains ongoing at this time.”

State police released additional information Monday night about incidents that led authorities to urge residents to lock themselves in their homes and eventually resulted in a shootout in which one suspect died.

The series of events started with an armed robbery at the Holiday Inn on First Street around 5 a.m. Almost an hour later, two suspects, including Thompson, were spotted, ran from police, and engaged in a shootout during which an officer was shot, VSP said. Just before 6:30 a.m., following a K9 search, one of the suspects was located and a second shootout between the suspect and police ensued, after which the suspect was found dead.

More from a state police press release:

The incident began Monday at approximately 5:01 a.m. when the Alexandria Police Department received a 911 call for shots being fired at a hotel in the 600 block of First Street in Old Town Alexandria. As officers were responding to the scene, two individuals involved in the shooting had fled the hotel on foot. A perimeter was immediately established and search efforts were underway. Further investigation at the hotel determined that an armed robbery had taken place inside the hotel. No one inside the hotel was injured.

At approximately 5:50 a.m., an Alexandria Police Officer located two suspects – one of them Thompson – and a foot pursuit was initiated. When the officer and the two adult males reached the intersection of North Royal Street and Second Street, the officer and one of the two suspects exchanged fire. The officer was shot and both suspects fled the scene again on foot. The officer has been treated and released for non-life threatening injuries sustained in the shooting.

The search perimeter was expanded and police K9 teams located, at approximately 6:24 a.m., one of the suspects near the intersection of Montgomery Street and North Fairfax Street. As Alexandria police officers engaged with the adult male suspect, shots were fired by both the suspect and officers on scene. The male suspect died at the scene. A stolen firearm was recovered in the male suspect’s possession. No law enforcement at this location were injured.

The man’s remains have been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas for examination and autopsy. Next of kin notification is still pending.

The investigation remains ongoing at this time into all three incidents by state police, with the assistance of the Alexandria Police Department and the ATF.

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(Updated at 11:10 p.m.) At least three Alexandria Police officers are on routine administrative leave after a shootout that left one suspect dead near the intersection of N. Fairfax and Montgomery Streets.

At 5 a.m., police responded to a call for shots fired inside the Holiday Inn & Suites (625 First Street) in north Old Town, according to police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine. Once at the scene, police were told by witnesses that a robbery occurred in the lobby of the hotel and that multiple shots were fired.

Police established a perimeter and located a possible suspect and a chase ensued on foot, Ballantine said. The suspect allegedly shot an officer in the lower body at N. Royal and 2nd Street. The officer sustained a non-life threatening wound and has since been released from the hospital.

The male suspect then ran to the area of N. Fairfax and Montgomery Streets and more gunfire was exchanged.

“Officers shot toward the suspect and the suspect shot toward the officers,” Ballantine said. “The suspect was found deceased in the bushes when the sun came up.”

Ballantine did not confirm whether police shot the suspect.

Heavily-armed officers could still be seen searching the area after the suspect was found dead.

“Alexandria police officers and K9s, including some with tactical gear, are walking through North Old Town to search for additional evidence as part of the ongoing investigation into this morning’s shootings,” according to police. “The public should not be alarmed at this police activity, but please avoid the area today if possible.”

This afternoon, Virginia State Police identified a 26-year-old Alexandria man, Michael David Thompson, as a person of interest in the shootings. He has since turned himself in, state police announced Monday night.

VSP provided additional information about the investigation:

The Virginia State Police, at the request of the City of Alexandria Police Chief, is investigating a series of shooting incidents that occurred Monday morning (Oct. 26, 2020). State and local police are still working to locate Mitchell D. Thompson, 26, of Alexandria, Va. He is now wanted on one felony count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and is believed to be currently armed. The public is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026 or email at [email protected] with any information related to his whereabouts. Thompson is a white male with brown eyes and long, brown hair he was last seen wearing in a “man-bun.” He is 6’8 in height and weighs 245 lbs.

The incident began Monday at approximately 5:01 a.m. when the Alexandria Police Department received a 911 call for shots being fired at a hotel in the 600 block of First Street in Old Town Alexandria. As officers were responding to the scene, two individuals involved in the shooting had fled the hotel on foot. A perimeter was immediately established and search efforts were underway. Further investigation at the hotel determined that an armed robbery had taken place inside the hotel. No one inside the hotel was injured.

At approximately 5:50 a.m., an Alexandria Police Officer located two suspects – one of them Thompson – and a foot pursuit was initiated. When the officer and the two adult males reached the intersection of North Royal Street and Second Street, the officer and one of the two suspects exchanged fire. The officer was shot and both suspects fled the scene again on foot. The officer has been treated and released for non-life threatening injuries sustained in the shooting.

The search perimeter was expanded and police K9 teams located, at approximately 6:24 a.m., one of the suspects near the intersection of Montgomery Street and North Fairfax Street. As Alexandria police officers engaged with the adult male suspect, shots were fired by both the suspect and officers on scene. The male suspect died at the scene. A stolen firearm was recovered in the male suspect’s possession. No law enforcement at this location were injured.

The man’s remains have been transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Manassas for examination and autopsy. Next of kin notification is still pending.

The investigation remains ongoing at this time into all three incidents by state police, with the assistance of the Alexandria Police Department and the ATF.

Mayor Justin Wilson said that he appreciated APD’s quick response in finding the suspect, getting the word out to the public and protecting the public from harm.

“My concern right now is with our officer who was injured,” Wilson said. “I know the entire community joins me in wishing for a quick recovery for the officer and expressing our gratitude for their service to our community in a very dangerous situation this morning.”

During the incident, North Old Town was on lockdown as residents were urged to seek shelter while police searched for the suspects. Residents from Washington Street to the river were urged to stay indoors with the doors and windows locked until notified otherwise by police.

More from social media:

James Cullum contributed to this story

Photo and video via Taylor Brown / Map Via Google Maps

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Alexandria has seen a spike in the number of shots fired calls over the last two months, and police are asking the public for help.

“While there is no acceptable level of gun crime, we are especially concerned about recent incidents in which conflicts between people have escalated to the use of firearms,” Police Chief Michael L. Brown said in a statement. “As we continue to make progress in these cases, we ask for the public’s help in providing any available information.”

There were 16 calls for shots fired in August and September, including the city’s second murder of the year on Sept. 30. On Sunday, police arrested a suspect in the death of 57-year-old John Pope, who was shot at his home on Sept. 30.

There have been 34 reports of gunfire throughout the city this year, and there were 37 reports of gunfire in 2019, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

“Of the 16 incidents in August and September 2020 involving shots fired, investigators have ruled out at least seven as having any connection to each other,” police reported in a press release. “These include two unrelated incidents involving neighbors, a domestic dispute, an accidental self-inflicted injury, and a robbery. One incident involved the arrest of a person who fired shots, with no victims or witnesses located.”

The release continued, “Detectives are working to determine whether any of the other nine incidents may be related, and to apprehend all those responsible. Several involved property damage and one involved a non-life-threatening injury. Five occurred in Old Town, and the Police Department has significantly increased patrol presence in those areas. The remaining four incidents occurred in different parts of Alexandria.”

There was a shootout in the West End on Sept. 13, and guns were drawn in a failed attempted robbery less than a mile away  on Sept. 30. In Old Town there have been five calls for shots fired over the last two months, and the surge in shooting led to an increased police presence over the summer in the Parker Gray neighborhood in Old Town.

The first murder of 2020 was also committed in the West End on July 29.

The most recent incident occurred early on Sunday morning. No suspects were arrested and no one was reportedly injured after shots were fired in the 100 block of South Whiting Street in the West End.

Graph via City of Alexandria

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A Del Ray man was shot in a home invasion early on Sunday morning, September 27.

“This was a targeted offense,” Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow. “The victim was an adult male who was shot by the person who forced entry into his residence.”

The suspect forced entry into the home and demanded money from the victim. Nothing was taken and the victim suffered non-life threatening injuries after being shot once.

The incident occurred at around 2:15 a.m.

No suspect description was available and the suspect is not known to the victim, according to police.

NOTIFICATION :: The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a residential burglary and felonious assault in the 300 block of Hume Avenue. Expect police activity in the area.

Posted by Police Department, City of Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday, September 26, 2020

Map via Google Maps

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It’s the end of a busy week in Alexandria.

This week, our top story was City Council’s decision to extend the state of emergency in the city until March 31, 2021. That means that by the spring the city will have been under a state of emergency for more than a year.

Council also approved a proposal adding Virginia Tech’s initials to the Potomac Yard Metro station. Now the name “Potomac Yard – VT” goes before the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for final approval.

Evenings have been busy on the crime front, as there were calls for shots fired on Monday nightTuesday morning and Wednesday night.

Alexandria City Public Schools, on Friday, also sent out surveys to families regarding a phased reentry for in-person instruction, while reporting that 93% of students have checked into their online classes. Parents of younger students are complaining about too much screen time, and ACPS staff will present the School Board with an update on how the VirtualPLUS+ model is going in mid-October.

On Thursday, hundreds of residents honored late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a candlelight vigil.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. UPDATE: Alexandria City Council Extends State of Emergency to March 2021
  2. ‘Landmark Overlook’ Would Completely Transform 8 Acres Across from Landmark Mall
  3. Alexandria Commuters to be Impacted by Arlington National Cemetery Metro Station Improvements
  4. Alexandria Restauranteur Participates in COVID-19 Vaccine Trial
  5. ‘Lipstick On A Pig’: BAR Rejects Heritage Old Town Proposal
  6. Did You Know: There’s An Old Bell in the Alexandria City Hall Clock Tower
  7. Just Listed in Alexandria
  8. West End Assisted Living Facility Going to Alexandria Planning Commission
  9. Police Investigate Shots Fired in Landmark Area
  10. ‘why ALEXANDRIA’ Podcast Launches in Del Ray
  11. Restaurants and Other Businesses for Sale in Alexandria

Have a safe weekend!

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A 33-year-old man was struck by a bullet as he was driving in the 4600 block of W. Braddock Road early on Sunday evening.

The shooting occurred at around 5 p.m., and the victim was shot by a suspect in a vehicle driving in the same direction, according to police.

“The driver and victim was struck by a bullet and was transferred to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries,” Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow.

The incident occurred not far from a shooting incident that occurred on August 17. It is near Interstate 395, the Southern Towers apartment complex and a number of businesses.

The incident occurred about a mile-and-a-half from a residential community where the city’s first murder was committed at the end of July.

Map via Google Maps

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A male juvenile is in custody after allegedly firing a gun in Arlandria just after midnight on Saturday morning.

The suspect was arrested near the Four Mile Run Bridge after four shots were fired just outside the Park View apartment building at 511 Four Mile Road. ALXnow saw the suspect run from the scene after the shots were fired, and then his arrest.

Police discovered blood on the street, but no victim was found. Police also did not disclose what the juvenile was charged with.

Police said that this incident is not connected to the multiple calls for shots fired in Old Town.

Courtesy photo/ Map via Google Maps

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A 27-year-old Alexandria man has been charged with illegally shooting a handgun in the Parker Gray neighborhood of Old Town, Alexandria.

The incident in the 1200 block of Madison Street was one of two shootings that occurred in the area on September 2, and police are not releasing the identity of the suspect on the grounds that it will impede their ongoing investigation. Police responded to calls for service of multiple shots fired at around 5:40 p.m.

Police also responded to another call for shots fired at around the same time that day in the 700 block of North Fayette Street, which is right around the block from the 1200 block of Madison. No one was reportedly injured in both incidents, and police said that the shootings are part of an ongoing investigation.

There was also a shooting in the 1200 block of Madison in late July.

There have now been multiple reports of shootings in Old Town since July 9. There was also a stabbing in the area on July 17 and a violent carjacking on Euille Street on July 14One suspect was arrested after a July 11 shooting, but their identity was not released.

The shootings have largely occurred in and around Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority public housing properties near the Braddock Road Metro station, and ARHA is now installing security cameras, according to sources. Police have also increased their uniformed and non-uniformed presence in the area.

Map via Google Maps

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Even though it’s just three blocks away, Heather Lesley doesn’t let her teenage daughter walk to the Braddock Road Metro station to meet her when she gets back from work.

“I don’t feel comfortable letting her do that anymore,” Lesley told ALXnow. “My neighbor has bullet holes in the brick wall of their home.”

Ever since the pandemic started, Lesley has noticed an uptick in violent crimes in her neighborhood in the Parker Gray section of the city, and it was only three weeks ago that she called the police after hearing four gunshots. She’s a U.S. Air Force veteran with two kids and her husband is deployed overseas with the Army until next year and is now considering moving from the area.

“I was in bed watching a movie, with two teenagers downstairs,” Lesley said. “I went to my back window and I couldn’t see anything, because last summer a man got shot and made his way to our mailbox area in our homeowners association, and that’s where EMTs found him, so I knew to look for something.”

The Alexandria Police Department’s strategy to combat the uptick in violent activity is to increase their presence in the area, and Lesley and her neighbors have noticed more APD cruisers parked at the Post Office at 1100 Wythe Street. Police are also asking for information from those who have witnessed some of these incidents to call 703-746-4444 or 911 in an emergency.

“Clearly we are concerned about the uptick in firearm-related incidents in Parker Gray/Old Town, and around the City,” Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson told ALXnow. “The Police Department has had increased presence, both marked and unmarked in the neighborhoods for the past several weeks and that will continue.”

According to a community crime map, there have been five aggravated assaults in Old Town this month alone, dozens of “other” assaults, and two residential burglaries. Also this month, Wilson appealed to the police to do something about an increase in vehicle thefts.

There have been reports of four shootings in Old Town since July 9. There was also a stabbing in the area on July 17 and a violent carjacking on Euille Street on July 14One suspect was arrested after a July 11 shooting, although police would not release their identity since it would impede the investigation. In June, a man drove himself to the hospital after being shot in the 700 block of North Fayette Street.

As previously reported, there was also a crime spree in the city during the height of the pandemic during a reduction of police presence. Additionally, on March 31, a 17-year-old was shot in what police suspect was a targeted attack. The victim was playing basketball on Tancil Court and his mother later refused to let him talk to police out of fear for his safety, according to police records.

Many of these incidents have occurred within a mile of each other, sometimes within blocks.

On July 30, Police Chief Michael L. Brown conducted an in-person community meeting at Charles Houston Recreation Center to talk about the incidents. He was joined by Wilson and City Manager Mark Jinks.

“The other difficult thing about these shootings is that they’re not happening on a regular basis, or a scheduled basis, they’re happening at a variety of times,” Brown said. “We’re trying to stop this trend.”

Many of the incidents are occurring around Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority public housing, and for the last several months the ARHA board of directors has had special virtual meetings every week to discuss developments during the pandemic.

“It’s unfortunate that these things are happening but we have increased policing that we feel will make a huge difference,” said ARHA Board Member Willie Bailey, who is also a former city councilman. “We have stepped up security at the properties by installing more cameras. We have also started an ARHA Resident Safety Committee where the residents can discuss their issues and have a say in the safety and well-being of their community.”

Lesley’s husband comes home next summer from his deployment, and she says she will make up her mind to move between now and then.

“We love this area, we love this neighborhood and Old Town,” she said. “We love our neighbors, but it’s beginning to be too much.”

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It was another busy week in Alexandria.

Our readers overwhelmingly responded to Sunday’s protest at the Alexandria home of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and the story has more than 380 comments. This week also saw its first homicide, which occurred in the West End, in addition to a number of crime events in the Braddock area.

Not included in our weekly list is late-breaking news on Friday that Alexandria City Public Schools want a virtual-only school year starting in September. Residents have been waiting throughout the summer for the school system to make up its mind, and ACPS has conducted numerous virtual chats with students, parents and staff over the last several weeks.

Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.

  1. Activists Protest at Alexandria Home of Acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf
  2. BREAKING: Police Investigating Homicide in West End Residential Community
  3. Former APD Officer Peter Laboy Gets His Driver’s License Seven Years After Being Shot in the Head
  4. Just Listed in Alexandria
  5. Students and Residents Putting Daily Cover Over T.C. Williams High School Name
  6. BREAKING: Flooding Reported in Parts of City, AFD Responding to Multiple Emergency Calls
  7. Shots Fired Tuesday Night in Braddock Neighborhood
  8. Alexandria Delegate Wants City to Fire Officials or Police Who Espouse QAnon Theories
  9. Save the Tree Petition at T.C. Williams High School Garners Nearly 1,000 Signatures
  10. Man Injured in Violent Carjacking in Old Town
  11. COVID-19 Update: Deaths at 57, Case Count at 2,735 in Alexandria

Have a safe and fun weekend!

Staff photo by James Cullum

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