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 14. One 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.”
A man was stabbed in the Braddock area on Friday night, adding to a number of violent incidents to occur in the area in recent days.
The incident took place around the 800 block of N Patrick Street, near the Braddock Road Metro station and the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority public housing units.
The victim is a white male who was stabbed in the upper body, ALXnow observed. No other suspect information was available. There were a number of witnesses and no one has yet been arrested.
There have also been two reports of gunshots in the area since July 9.
NOTIFICATION :: The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a felonious Assualt in the 800 block of North Patrick Street. Expect police activity in the area.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) July 18, 2020
Staff photo by James Cullum
Edgardo Roman Guevara, 20, was arrested on March 31, and 19-year-old Cesar Loza Castillo was arrested on March 27. Both have been charged with malicious wounding and assault by mob, and are being held without bail in the Alexandria Jail.
Police interviewed the victims on the evening of March 15 at Inova Alexandria Hospital. They admitted to meeting at the park at night to smoke marijuana with the suspects in a secluded wooded area. Once there, however, things took a dark turn.
“At this time, [one victim] saw a hand come across his face and felt his neck being cut. [He] then fled the park heading back towards his vehicle,” notes the affidavit.
The victim pushed away the knife, and was then stabbed in the back. The other victim was then allegedly pinned against a tree by both suspects and stabbed repeatedly. The victims escaped from the scene and were driven to the hospital by another friend.
Police located Guevara’s cell phone at the scene of the crime, and the suspects were positively identified by the victims in a police lineup.
Image via Google Maps
John Phillip Lambert was arrested and charged with malicious wounding after allegedly stabbing the victim in the left armpit with a pocketknife while giving him a bear hug.
Officers found three drunk individuals in the Arlandria-area apartment, according to a police documents.
“Once on scene, officers entered the apartment and discovered a male victim suffering from an apparent puncture wound to the upper body,” notes the police search warrant affidavit. “Officers… noticed an abundance of apparent blood throughout the apartment and observed what they believed to be a pocketknife on the floor of the bedroom.”
The victim, who was transported to George Washington University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, said that he and Lambert were arguing and drinking.
“At one point, [the victim’s] former boyfriend grabbed him in a ‘bear hug’ and when he released him, they were both covered in blood and he had an injury under his left armpit,” notes the affidavit.
The officers arrived at the scene to find the victim, his roommate and Lambert “highly intoxicated.”