T.C. Williams High School graduation is this Saturday — “We’re counting down to #Titans2021 Graduation on June 12 by highlighting @tcwtitans seniors every day! Stay tuned to meet our first grad!” [Twitter]
Woman shot and car stolen in Alexandria area of Fairfax County — “A woman was shot and seriously wounded in a carjacking in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County Sunday night in Virginia, and the suspect made off with her Mercedes, police said. Fairfax County police said the carjacking happened just before 10:30 p.m. Sunday in the 3100 block of Franconia Road in Alexandria. That’s near the intersection with Telegraph Road and Jefferson Manor Park.” [WTOP]
City Arts District in Old Town North Takes Public Art to the Streets — “The Alexandria Office of the Arts has turned its attention north to the new City Arts District. A call went out this spring for art proposals to decorate the storm drain covers and surrounding cement aprons at up to 24 locations on the streets of Old Town North. Similar projects in London and San Francisco have been praised by the public.” [Zebra]
Racial equity forum on June 9 and 10 — “ACT for Alexandria will host a virtual IMPACT Racial Equity Forum June 9&10. The event provides an opportunity to learn, connect & commit to an equitable Alexandria. City Leaders will speak at the event. For more information & registration follow link.” [Twitter]
Today’s weather — “Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 89F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%… Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, with mostly cloudy skies overnight. Low 71F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Pet sitter — “Passionately Pets, a local In-Home Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Company, is currently hiring exceptional pet sitters and dog walkers to join our wonderful team. This position is fun and rewarding as you get to enjoy the outdoors, get exercise and be loved by amazing local dogs, cats and other companion animals!” [Indeed]
Alexandria Police Chief Michael Brown says that he’s on the level about his surprise retirement announcement, and that he and his wife will soon pulling up stakes for the West Coast in the near future to take care of urgent family business.
“This was a personal decision that my wife and I came to manifest in me having to retire,” Brown told ALXnow.
Brown has given a recommendation on who should be the acting chief until a permanent replacement is chosen at the conclusion of a national search. His last day is June 25. Right now he’s worried about summer crime, although says that crime levels are now returning to pre-pandemic levels.
The department is currently dealing with critical staffing issues, namely temporarily filling available street assignments for patrol officers by reassigning other officers.
“We’re meeting our staffing needs on the street,” Brown said. “We’re very concerned about what may happen this summer.”
APD is funded for 311 positions, and effective July 1 the department will have 305 officers on duty. Of those, six are on administrative duties pending the outcome of an investigation after a chase suspect died in D.C., and there are a number of officers on family medical leave and other various reasons, Brown said.
“In order to supplement provide some stability for those temporary shortages, we pulled other officers in to kind of fill the gaps for patrol,” he said. “And that’s normally customary in this business when you have these kinds of situations taking place.”
Brown added, “We’re seeing crime revert back to what was normal, with some minor suggestions to prior to the pandemic. We’re not seeing the same thing in terms of, for example, auto thefts, that we once saw. The shootings are also lower in number than we had last year, especially towards the summer.”
On the bright side, he said, three APD officers who were previously on administrative duties after a shootout in Old Town North have been cleared for duty by Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter. Additionally, APD will be reassigning six officers previously assigned to the School Resource Officer program, which Council eliminated last month.
As for the SROs, Brown said that he supported the program, but would not offer an opinion on Council’s decision.
“I thought there was value in the SRO program,” he said. “But then again, I don’t have the authority to make that decision. My job is to carry out the decision that was made by our elected officials.”
Brown also left six months before being vested in the city’s retirement system, although Brown says it doesn’t bother him and that the decision wasn’t about money. After a 46-year career in law enforcement, this isn’t his first retirement.
“The fact of the matter is, I’ve had several retirements,” he said. “I took this job because I cared about this police department.”
Brown started as a police officer in Los Angeles in 1977, and was the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol from 2004-2008. He was later California’s deputy secretary for public safety from 2008 to 2009, and then for six years was the director of the Office of Impaired Driving and Occupant Protection at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before being hired as Alexandria’s police chief in 2017.
Brown led the police department through a restructuring, as well as social unrest after the 2020 murder of George Floyd, the COVID-19 pandemic, and an uptick in shooting events and other crime throughout the city. He restructured the department from four to three divisions, and took away deputy chief of police positions and added an assistant chief. He also says that under his leadership the department made strides with its 21st Century Policing effort.
“Some would argue differently, but we became very transparent ,” Brown said. “We put all of our policies, we put all of our reports on use of force on our website so that people could see that information and be critical of it.”
Brown continued, “Policing is never stable. Policing will always change, and it will change based upon events; it will change upon public discourse; it will change because the community, or… the nation at large has other questions, or other expectations… The real challenge for the law enforcement community is to be able to listen and to be able to adapt in order to survive, because if we don’t survive the public will get rid of you.”
Brown’s tenure was punctuated by dramatic events, starting with the Simpson Field Shooting, and culminating with the pandemic and social unrest after the murder of George Floyd. He would later pen an op-ed saying that the video of Floyd’s death appalled him, and he spoke with city leaders to the public and later joined protestors at a demonstration outside police headquarters.
Brown said his laundry list of people to thank is long.
“I admire this department for what it does,” he said. “It’s a good department, filled with great people, and they are out there every day taking care of the citizens, the residents of this city. It was a blessing to have the opportunity to work with them.”
More details have emerged regarding a West End shootout last fall. Four adult males have been arrested in connection with the incident, and ALXnow has discovered that a mother of one of the suspects was shot in the arm and didn’t report it to police.
As previously reported, at around 5 p.m. on September 13, Alexandria Police responded to reports of 10-15 gunshots fired in the 3100 block of S. 28th Street near Ft. Ward Park.
A man was shot in the stomach and another man was also injured while driving with his girlfriend nearby at West Braddock Road and N. Van Dorn Street.
Witnesses told police that the shooting was sparked by a FaceTime argument between the suspects, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Alexandria Police arrested the following suspects, all of whom are being held without bond:
- Alexandria resident Adham Heiba, 18, who was booked on September 16 for discharging a firearm in public, use of a firearm in commission of a felony and attempted malicious wounding
- Prince William County resident Jamari Ankrah, 20, who was booked into jail on February 25 without bond for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and resisting arrest
- Prince William County resident Rashine Dainkay, 18, who was booked into jail on January 26 for distributing or possession with intent to distribute marijuana, distributing or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession of firearms while in possession of certain substances
- Alexandria resident Terrell Talley, 19, who was charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling and discharging a firearm in a public place
Ankhrah was allegedly seen shooting at a group of 10-15 people from inside of one of the cars. He was later arrested on Feb. 25, and allegedly attempted to elude police in a foot chase.
“When Mr. Ankrah was arrested he was… in possession of a handgun that was tucked in his waistband,” police reported.
Ankrah then allegedly told police that “he witnessed the offense and that an unknown subject shot at him, which ultimately led to his mother being shot in the arm,” according to police. “Mr. Ankrah stated that they did not report her injury or this offense to police.”
Dainkay was allegedly seen driving from the scene in a black Mercedes. A search of the vehicle later yielded an AK-47 assault rifle, according to police.
A 20-year-old Alexandria man faces life in prison plus 13 years for five felonies, including the murder of 47-year-old John Pope last fall in the West End.
Pope was shot to death on Sept. 30 at his home in the 5900 block of Quantrell Avenue in the Mayflower Square apartment complex. He later died at the hospital. It was the second murder (of three) that occurred in Alexandria last year.
Tavon Lanier, who was 19 at the time the incident occurred, was indicted with:
- First degree murder
- Use of a firearm in commission of murder
- Use of a firearm in the commission of a robbery
- Illegal possession of a firearm
“Alexandria Police responded to the apartment and found John Pope, a 47-year-old Alexandria resident, lying on the floor with an apparent gunshot wound to the abdomen,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter’s office said in a statement. “First Degree Murder and Robbery are both punishable by life in prison. The two Use of a Firearm charges carry a maximum penalty of 8 years in prison. The Illegal Possession of a Firearm charge carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. Therefore, the maximum total sentence in this matter is life in prison plus 13 years.”
A trial date has not been set.
As previously reported, Lanier was released on bond just eight days before Pope was killed. He was arrested on Sept. 22 for for allegedly breaking into his girlfriend’s apartment, stalking and threatening her and was released on bond by the magistrate’s office.
Lanier was convicted of identify theft in 2019, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 60 days in jail with 55 days suspended.
Alexandria Police are investigating a report that an object that was thrown at a vehicle just outside the city Courthouse.
The victim, who knows the suspect, called 911 and mistakenly reported that a gun was fired at their vehicle, according to police.
“The victim knew the person who threw something at their vehicle,” Alexandria Police Senior Public Information Officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow. “The victim called initially thinking that whatever it was was loud enough to think that there was something (gunfire).”
Alexandria police initially responded to the incident as a call for shots fired. No one was injured.
Police confirmed last week that roughly one-third of the the shootings last year were connected.
In 2020, Alexandria experienced an increase in shots fired calls with a total of 55 confirmed cases as compared to 37 in 2019. One-third of those occurred last fall, between September and December.
So far this year there have been three confirmed shots fired incidents, with two of them taking place a block apart.
Police said in a press release that they are working with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on the case and have made 20 arrests.
Anyone who hears gunfire is asked to call Alexandria Police Sgt. William Taylor at 703-746-6271. Callers can remain anonymous.
In an update to the City Council, Police Chief Michael Brown said many of the recent shots fired incidents in Alexandria are related.
It wasn’t exactly surprising news, given that many of the shootings took place in the same concentrated areas — two this month took place less than a block apart — but it was a rare glimpse into investigations where local police are keeping their cards close to their chest.
“These are active investigations [that are] currently going on, so I have to be careful not to disclose too much information,” Brown said.
There were 55 confirmed cases of shots fired in 2020, Brown said, adding that roughly one third of them were related to a particular criminal activity — he wouldn’t specify which — and one-third of the shootings took place between September and December.
The types of shootings are often unalike, though. Brown said one of the three shootings earlier this month involved a car pulling alongside another and the driver of one shooting into the other vehicle.
One of the most high-profile incidents was a shootout in the West End in September as drivers and passengers in multiple vehicles exchanged fire. At least one person, Adham Heiba, was arrested in connection to the shooting and police have been investigating others.
In total, Brown said police have made 20 arrests, executed 90 search warrants, and removed 17 guns and other weapons.
A heat map showed that the majority of the shootings were in North Old Town.
Map via City of Alexandria
Police are investigating another shots fired call at 5700 Eliot Court — barely a block away from a shooting last week — even as the police department prepares for a presentation at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Police said on social media that the police responded to a shots fired call at Eliot Court in the West End at around 11 p.m. last night (Thursday). Senior Public Information Officer Amanda Paga told ALXnow that multiple shell casings were found at the scene but there was no property damage.
There is no info on how many shots were fired or suspects.
An update on the shots fired investigation is docketed for the city manager update at the Tuesday, Jan. 12, City Council meeting.
NOTIFICATION:: The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a “shots fired” call for service in the 5700 block of Eliot Court that occurred just after 11:00 pm. Multiple shell casings were recovered, but no injuries were reported. Expect police activity in the area.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) January 8, 2021
Image via Google Maps
Police say there was another “shots fired” call in the city’s West End last night; the latest in a series of shootings in Alexandria this year.
The shots came from the 200 block of Century Drive, near Landmark Mall. Police say they found no victims or damage at the scene, but found spent shell casings.
My goodness. I was driving south on Van Dorn and heard 9 pops. Was wondering if they were a gun discharging.
Thanks for posting this and taking care of our community
— NatsFan416⚾ (@DrooooClip) December 1, 2020
There have been injuries in other shootings around town, though it’s unclear how many, if any, of the shootings are related.
So far, there have been 46 confirmed cases of shots fired in Alexandria, an increase over last year’s 37 cases.
Image via Google Maps
A 23-year-old man was shot in Old Town early Tuesday evening, as Alexandria Police continue to investigate an uptick in shots fired calls for service.
At around 5:40 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 24), police announced they were responding to a call for shots fired in the 1200 block of Wythe Street in Old Town — not far from a police shootout that killed one man last month.
The victim was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police provided no suspect description and no arrests were made.
NOTIFICATION :: The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a “shots fired” call for service in the 1200 block of Wythe Street. Expect police activity in the area.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) November 25, 2020
“The Alexandria Police Department continues to actively investigate the increase in weapons offenses involving shots fired this fall and has increased targeted patrol coverage, following an unusual spike in incidents in September and October,” police said in a press release. “Following is additional information since the previous update.”
APD noted that the police have executed 50 search warrants in connection to the recent incidents, made over 14 arrests and recovered over 14 weapons, though the police declined to provide additional details. Consequently, police will increase patrols over affected areas.
“Investigating weapons offenses and preventing future incidents is a major priority for the Alexandria Police Department,” said Police Chief Michael Brown in the release. “While the number of incidents is returning to previous levels, we urge the public to provide any available information about those who may be involved.”
Police said there were seven incidents in October. One incident on Oct. 24 involved a security guard at a restaurant shooting a suspect in self defense and another where police exchanged gunshots with two armed robbery suspects, the release said.
“The three November incidents to date include two illegal firearm discharges without injuries and the November 7 homicide of Yousef Tarek Omar,” the release said. “Residents are urged to call or text 911 immediately if gunfire is heard. All reports will be promptly investigated.”
Police also noted that some of the calls were found to be fireworks or gunshots from police training at the firing range on Eisenhower Avenue.
Below is a list of confirmed shots fired incidents, showing the increase in 2020 compared to 2019.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott