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DNA evidence has linked a stolen handgun left in a car to a 32-year-old Alexandria felon, who now faces upward of two years in prison.

The .45 caliber Para Ordnance 1911 pistol was reported stolen from a car in Centreville on August 28, 2021, according to a search warrant affidavit. The same gun was recovered September 2, 2021, by Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police in an abandoned car that was reported stolen from Arlington.

The gun owner told police that he owned the gun for years, had not shot it in more than two years and did not allow anyone else to handle it, according to a search warrant affidavit.

More than six months later, on March 11, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science returned a certificate of analysis with a DNA profile of the suspect.

The suspect, who has more than 10 felony convictions, was arrested on April 11 — eight months after the gun was reported stolen. He was charged with petit larceny and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The latter charge carries a minimum sentence of two years in prison.

The suspect is being held without bond in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center and goes to court on June 18.

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A 20-year-old Washington D.C. man was arrested in Old Town earlier this month for carjacking an Uber driver and her customer.

Raphael G. Snead, Jr. was arrested at his grandmother’s house on March 3 by Alexandria Police in the 700 block of North Fayette Street. He was transferred on March 8 to Montgomery County, where he is currently being held without bond.

Snead is suspected of two carjackings — the first occurring on Feb. 7 at around 6:30 p.m. in the 8100 block of Fenton Street in Silver Spring. Snead allegedly pulled a gun on the victim in a parking lot, punched him in the jaw and drove away in his Honda CRV, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Three days later, on Feb. 10, a license plate reader alerted the Washington Metropolitan Police (MPD) of the stolen Honda, and MPD attempted to conduct a felony stop. Police pursued the suspect, who wrecked the car and fled on foot.

“The suspect ran to a 2014 Toyota Rav 4,” police said in the affidavit. “The vehicle was operating as an Uber and was occupied by a driver and a customer who was seated in the back seat and parked on Branch Avenue. The suspect jumped into the front passenger seat and began yelling at the driver to drive and forced the driver to get out of the car by punching her in the face several times with a closed fist. The suspect pushed the driver out of the vehicle and the back seat passenger was able to escape.”

The Uber driver later positively identified Snead in a nine-person photo lineup, police said in the affidavit.

Snead, who goes to court April 1, was charged with:

  • Armed robbery
  • Armed carjacking
  • First and second-degree assault
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Handgun on person
  • Handgun in vehicle
  • Firearm use
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Alexandria Police at night (staff photo by James Cullum)

A 30-year-old Alexandria man held without bond in the city jail is wanted across the country for at stealing at least luxury vehicles with fake identifications around the country.

Serge Ahmed Zeba, a native of Burkina Faso, West Africa, was arrested in the parking lot of the Extended Stay Hotel in the Landmark area on Jan. 26, and was charged with possessing a fictitious identification or license, possession of a stolen vehicle, unauthorized use of a stolen vehicle and providing a false identity to law enforcement.

Zeba was living in the hotel and was driving a dark-colored BMW X6, which was allegedly stolen from a dealership in Savannah, Georgia, in 2020. He is accused of using phony cash orders to buy multiple luxury cars, including

“Mr. Zeba voluntarily provided a Delaware Driver’s License when asked for identification,” police said in a search warrant affidavit. “The name on the ID provided was James Dingwall… but the name could not be confirmed through the Department of Motor Vehicles.”

Zeba allegedly tried to flee from police by starting the car and putting it into drive, but it stalled and the engine shut down.

Inside the car, officers found multiple identifications that did not belong to Zeba, as well as “cash, checks and what appear to be tools to manufacture and print identifications and checks,” according to the affidavit.

Police then found several outstanding warrants against Zeba, who has since been charged in federal court with identity theft and wire fraud.

In addition to numerous failed attempts, Zeba is accused of stealing the following vehicles:

  • A 2021 Audi Q8 from a dealer in Omaha, Nebraska
  • A 2022 BMW 840XI from a dealer in Lincoln, Nebraska
  • A  2021 Lexus RX350 from a dealer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • A 2022 BMW M850i X-Drive from a dealer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • A 2022 BMW X6 from a dealership in Towson, Maryland
  • A 2021 Lamborghini Urus from a dealership in Atlanta, Georgia
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Overall, Alexandria’s Part 1 crime rate is down 9% compared to 2020, but it’s still 8% higher than 2019, according to recently released figures.

Police released the city’s Part 1 crime statistics for 2021, as of Dec. 7, and included are the reported numbers of homicides, rapes, robberies, auto thefts, larcenies, burglaries and aggravated assaults.

There have been two homicides so far this year — a woman killed earlier this month and the stabbing death of a man in September. Both incidents occurred in the West End of the City.

Burglaries saw the biggest increase in number this year, with 39% more than in 2020 and 50% more than in 2019. Aggravated assaults increased 3% when compared to 2020, and 10% more than in 2019.

All other Part 1 crime has gone down. There have been 10 reported rapes so far this year, 16% less than in 2020 and 50% less than in 2019; Auto thefts have gone down 32% when compared to 2020, but just 5% more than in 2019; and with the holidays weeks away, larcenies are down 9% so far compared to last year, but 7% higher than in 2019.

The below numbers are not finalized and are subject to change.

Crime Type 2019 2020 2021
Homicide 2 3 2
Rape 20 12 10
Robbery 82 87 79
Aggravated Assault 196 208 215
Burglary 117 126 175
Larceny 2,093 2,473 2,244
Auto Theft 233 359 245
Total 2,743 3,268 2,970
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Alexandria Police are looking for a man who bought a luxury car with a fake driver’s license at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria.

On August 29, the suspect walked into the dealership and picked out a 2021 Lexus LS400 and provided the salesperson with an Oklahoma driver’s license, according to police. The customer also allegedly told the salesperson that he’d recently relocated from Oklahoma to Richmond.

“The customer provided insurance document(ation) issued by AAA Insurance listing his current residence in Richmond,” police said in a search warrant. “The dealership completed a credit history check using identification for (the victim) and approved the customer for financing to complete the purchase.”

Police added, “The customer purchased the vehicle and drove the vehicle off the dealership’s parking lot.”

The next day, August 30, an Oklahoma man called the dealership asking about a credit check that was made the day before in his name. The man said he didn’t buy a car at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria and sent along a photo of his driver’s license. The photos didn’t match, as the victim is an older white male and the suspect is a Black male.

The vehicle was later recovered in Henrico, Virginia, and returned to the dealership.

The suspect has not been arrested.

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Alexandria Police are reporting double-digit increases in burglary and drunk driving arrests so far this year.

In an update to the Health and Safety Coordinating Committee, police reported a 35% increase in driving while intoxicated arrests (136 incidents) — as of August 2021.

The DWI arrests were expected, police said, “as COVID-19 restrictions have lightened and nightlife activities expanded their hours and operation this year.”

There has also been a a 63% increase in burglaries, with 135 reported arrests over the 83 at this point in 2020.

“While the rate has slowed from the pace through April, this increase is driven by an increase in Commercial Burglaries due to Asian restaurants being targeted early in the calendar year, a Fairfax County-based juvenile crew heavily targeting Northern Virginia in March through May, stealing currency from registers, and residential burglaries,” police reported.

The theft of vehicle parts also jumped 49%, and the theft of car parts valued at over $1,000 (mostly tires, catalytic converters and airbags) jumped 106%.

There have been 127 aggravated assaults so far this year, down from 136 at this point in 2020; eight rapes reported this year, down from 11 in 2020; and 65 robberies in 2021, up from 63 in 2020.

There have been no homicides so far this year, while there was one homicide by this point in 2020 (three total in 2020) and one homicide in 2019 (two overall for that year).

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A man is under arrest after an armed carjacking in the West End on Tuesday night.

Police did not release the suspect’s name, what he was charged with, or the kind of weapon used. They only tweeted out two messages on the incident, which they say occurred at around 8:45 p.m. and ended at around 10 p.m.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred in the Cameron Run Station area, and ended in the 500 block of Cameron Station Boulevard near Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School.

via Google Maps

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Alexandria Police are investigating thefts from more than 60 vehicles that were made between June 14 and 15 in the West End.

The thefts from 11 areas occurred in the overnight hours, and the suspects broke car windows, and stole wallets, keys, money, and other personal items.

No one has been arrested in connection to the incidents and no suspect descriptions are available, according to APD senior public information officer Amanda Paga.

“This investigation is ongoing,” Paga said in a press release. “Anyone with information or video of these break-ins should call the Alexandria Police Department’s non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. No detail is too small.”

The Arbors on Duke apartment complex on Duke Street was one of the areas that was hit, and a resident told ALXnow that numerous complaints that their parking garage is routinely left unsecured have been ignored by property management.

Police are asking residents to take personal items from their vehicles, not to park them in the same spot for extended periods and to keep them locked.

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Morning Notes

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]

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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.”

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