It’s not clear what started the brawl, but it quickly grew in size and prompted a large police response. Six people were arrested and several people were taken to Virginia Hospital Center for injuries. At least one police officer suffered minor injuries but did not require hospitalization, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
“A huge melee broke out and spread into the mall,” Sternbeck said of the early Wednesday morning incident. “Nobody wanted to cooperate with police.”
From the ACPD daily crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 12/05/12, 4200 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At 1:35 am on December 5, a large fight involving several subjects broke out. As a result of this large fight, six suspects were arrested for a variety of different charges. A few of the victims/subjects were taken to Virginia Hospital Center for treatment of injuries ranging from swelling to lacerations. Mitchell Thach Khlock, 22, of Springfield, Va. was arrested on charges of obstruction of justice, resisting arrest, malicious wounding, and assault and battery. Smeth Snguon, 33, of Sterling, Va. and Vireak Snguon, 30, of Arlington, Va. were arrested and charged with assault by mob. Saloeun Chea, 28, of Alexandria, Va. was arrested on charges of malicious wounding and assault by mob. Carlos Enrique Lopez, 23, of Alexandria, Va. and Ray Shawn Banks, 23, of Arlington, Va. were arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and disorderly conduct. All suspects are currently being held without bond.
From gift wrapping to assisting Santa, volunteers are needed to help with a number of upcoming holiday events. More information about the items listed below, as well as other volunteer opportunities, can be found online.
- The Holiday Project of the National Capital Area seeks volunteers for one-on-one visits with local nursing home residents on Christmas Day. Many of the residents will not have any other visitors during the holidays, so they consider this time a special treat. Children are welcome and pets are welcome with advance notice. For information or to sign up, contact Robin Wiley at 703-370-0370.
- Deliver gifts to local children with incarcerated parents as part of Offender Aid Restoration‘s annual Project Christmas Angel program. Volunteers pick up the gifts on Thursday, December 13 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. and deliver them from December 14 through December 23. Each child receives a gift with a personalized note from their parent. Volunteers must have a car and a valid driver’s license. A partner is suggested (though not required) because parking in some neighborhoods can be a challenge. Contact Emily Freeman at 703-228-7031.
- The Civitan Club of Arlington needs help at the Photos with Santa booth at the Ballston Mall. Volunteers are needed from now through December 24 and must be at least 15-years-old. Helpers will perform various tasks including processing orders, taking photos, printing photos and directing people through the process. Contact Leandra Finder at 703-473-7245.
- The Reading Connection (TRC) seeks “Gift Wrap for Reading” volunteers for various shifts from December 8-24. Volunteers will gift wrap purchases at the Clarendon Barnes & Noble in return for donations to TRC. Contact Stephanie Berman at 703-528-8317 x10 or sign up online.
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Arlington police and firefighters are on the scene outside the Ballston Common Mall for a report of a man who fell about 30 feet from the Ballston public parking garage.
The incident happened on the Glebe Road side of the parking garage, near the intersection with Carlin Springs Road. The victim is described by police as a 40-year-old white male.
Witnesses saw the man dangling from the first level of the parking garage, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police were called, but the man fell before they arrived on scene. He suffered a traumatic head injury and was rushed to Inova Fairfax Hospital, Sternbeck said.
According to Sternbeck, the man was involved in a hit-and-run accident on the G-4 level of the parking garage today. Investigators believe he was attempting to flee the scene when he climbed onto the ledge of the garage, but he didn’t realize how high up he was until it was too late. Sternbeck said police and paramedics have had “frequent contact” with the man in the past for alcohol-related incidents.
Police have closed down the sidewalk and blocked two out of three northbound lanes of Glebe Road while they continue to investigate.
Everybody’s talking about Sandy, but another big arrival is coming to town soon: Santa.
Simon Malls says photos with Santa will begin two weeks from today, on Friday, Nov. 9, at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (1100 S. Hayes Street).
The Jolly Old Elf will be available for photos at Pentagon City mall through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. He’ll also be present for a special holiday shopping night from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, and available for photos with pets (no exotic pets, please) from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Nov. 25 through Dec. 2.
St. Nick’s arrival in Arlington is a bit earlier than last year. His appearances at Pentagon City mall last year started on Nov. 12, 2011. No word on when Santa will be coming to Ballston Common Mall, but last year his first appearance in Ballston was scheduled for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Mental Evaluation for Fire Bomb Suspect — Lawyers for Leon Traille, Jr., the man accused of trying to fire bomb the Ballston Common Mall food court last week, have asked the federal judge in the case to grant a mental health evaluation. Traille is charged with arson and faces 5 to 20 years in prison if convicted. [Washington Post]
Disturbance at Arlington Screening of ‘Hating Breitbart’ — A liberal activist is accused of disrupting the Friday night showing of the documentary Hating Breitbart at the Regal theater at Ballston Common Mall. Moviegoers say the activist, Ryan Clayton, shouted at the screen and laughed loudly at inappropriate times during the film about the late conservative media icon. [The Hollywood Reporter]
D.C. Sniper’s Ex-Wife Talks at Ft. Myer — Mildred T. Muhammad, the ex-wife of executed D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad, spoke earlier this month at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Muhammad, who was abused by her ex-husband, was the guest speaker at the base’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month observance. [U.S. Army]
New ‘Car Free Diet’ Video — Arlington County Commuter Services has commissioned a new series of videos for its ‘Car Free Diet’ campaign. The theme of the videos is “What’s Your One?” — and they make the case for walking, biking or taking public transit instead of driving. The videos will play on Arlington TV, the county’s cable channel, and prior to movie previews a the Regal Ballston Common and the AMC Loews Shirlington theaters. Disclosure: ACCS is an ARLnow.com advertiser. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Arlington County Police, the county bomb squad and FBI agents are on the scene at the Woodbury Park Apartments, on the 2200 block of 11th Street N. near Clarendon, searching the apartment of Leon A. Traille, Jr.
Video of the search, courtesy of Fox 5, can be found below. So far, there’s no indication that the apartment building has been evacuated, but the investigators are still on the scene. Bomb technicians entered the apartment via the window.
Social media accounts linked to Traille, along with public records, suggest he’s an out-of-work computer programmer who has previously lived in Georgia, Oregon and New York City.
DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG
Arlington County Police have filed charges against the suspect in yesterday’s attempted fire bombing of the Ballston Common Mall food court.
Leon A. Traille, Jr., 29, of no fixed address, has been charged with reckless endangerment, attempted malicious bodily injury by use of fire, and use of a fire bomb.
Traille is due in Arlington County Court this morning for a preliminary hearing. Traille is still being interviewed by federal investigators, but Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said he has so far not been very cooperative. Federal charges, which may supersede the local charges, have also been filed (see below).
Sternbeck said the crime Traille is accused of — tossing a glass bottle, with a lit wick and containing a flammable liquid, into the mall food court — was likely not an act of terrorism.
“Right now we don’t believe it’s an act of terrorism,” he said. “It’s more like it’s an act of stupidity.”
The LinkedIn account for an individual with the same name and age as Traille says he’s a computer programmer who has been out of work since Aug. 2011. According to public records, Traille has previously lived in Georgia and Oregon. A public records search turned up no prior criminal history.
Update at 12:35 p.m. — Traille is being now facing a federal arson charge, which carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison if he’s convicted. The U.S. Attorney’s office has released the criminal complaint against Traille and issued the following press release.
Leon Alphans Traille Jr., 29, has been charged with committing arson for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail into the food court area of the Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, Va.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Richard W. Marianos, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and M. Douglas Scott, Arlington Chief of Police, made the announcement.
Traille was taken into custody on Oct. 18, 2012, and was charged through a federal criminal complaint this morning with arson, which carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, if convicted. He will make an initial appearance at 2 p.m. before United States Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan in Alexandria federal court.
According to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, a man possessing a distinctive gray and red backpack threw a lit improvised explosive device, sometimes called a Molotov cocktail, into the food court area of Ballston Common Mall in Arlington. The device – a brown glass bottle fixed with matches – did not explode, but it produced a flame that was extinguished. After throwing the device, the man proceeded to the second floor skyway area of the shopping mall and dropped a bag containing three additional Molotov cocktails before exiting the mall.
The complaint alleges that witnesses who saw the man throwing the device provided law enforcement with a description matching that of Traille, and a video surveillance system allegedly caught a picture of Traille as he exited the shopping mall. He was apprehended yesterday afternoon in a public area nearby the mall in possession of the gray and red bag.
This case was investigated by the ATF’s Washington Field Division, FBI’s Washington Field Office, and the Arlington Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Fitzpatrick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia’s National Security and International Crime Unit.
Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Update at 11:25 a.m. — Charges have been filed against the suspect, identified by police as 29-year-old Leon A. Traille.
Update at 6:40 p.m. — See video of the suspect being arrested, courtesy of Fox 5, below.
Update at 5:55 p.m. – A “person of interest” was detained at Courthouse Plaza, near the Arlington County government building on the 2100 block of Clarendon Blvd, around 3:00 p.m. The county’s bomb squad was called to inspect the suspect’s belongings — a gray and red backpack containing electronics and other items — but no hazards were found.
Police were first tipped off about the suspect when someone inside the Cheesecake Factory in Clarendon saw a man, who matched the suspect description from news reports, walking down Clarendon Boulevard, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The suspect is in custody and is being questioned at police headquarters.
Update at 5:15 p.m. — Wilson Boulevard has reopened to traffic and the mall has reopened to shoppers, according to Arlington County.
Earlier: Arlington County (Va.) Police and federal agents are searching for a man who threw a Molotov cocktail-like incendiary device inside the Ballston Common Mall.
The man threw what was described as a “flaming bottle” from an upper level of the mall down to the food court. The device, said to be 40 ounce beer bottle, possibly containing gasoline or a similar substance, shattered on impact but did not explode, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. No one was injured.
Two to three additional bottles, which “smelled like gasoline,” were found in a bag by mall security after the man fled.
Employees and shoppers are being allowed to stay in the mall, but all mall and parking lot entrances are being blocked by police and no one is being allowed in. Police are currently reviewing security camera footage and police K-9 units are searching the inside and outside of the mall. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is taking over the investigation, according to ACPD spokesman Lt. Michael Watson. The ATF, Department of Homeland Security and Pentagon Police are assisting with the investigation.
Asked whether this was an incident of terrorism, Sternbeck said it’s “too early to tell.”
Police are looking for a slender 5’11″ black male, in his late 30s, with medium-length curly hair and a beard. He was seen wearing a gray jacket, a white dress shirt, a necktie and a white or gray backpack with a red inverted ‘V’ on it.
Eastbound Wilson Boulevard has been shut down outside the mall due to the emergency response.
Arrest photos (below) courtesy Meet Kadiwar
Update at 1:50 p.m. — Police have issued the following press release about the incident.
Arlington County Police are investigating an incident today involving a “molotov cocktail” at Ballston Common Mall. At 12:10 p.m., a call came into Arlington’s Emergency Communications Center, reporting that a lit bottle had been thrown into the Food Court from the top level of the mall.
The initial investigation revealed that a black male with curly hair and wearing a gray jacket stood on the top level of the mall and dropped the bottle into the Food Court. The 40-ounce bottle was filled with an unknown substance, with a fuse attached. The bottle shattered, but there was no explosion or fire. There were no reported injuries. The suspect fled the scene on foot and remains at large at this time.
Three additional bottles of similarity were found on the second level of the mall.
Arlington County Police evacuated the mall and established a perimeter when they arrived on scene. The investigation is ongoing.
Police are asking anyone with any knowledge of this incident to call the non-emergency line at 703.558.2222.
The store is moving into the former Saah Furniture store at 2330 Columbia Pike, according to permits.
Dinette Design sells custom-designed furniture, including couches, chairs and tables. It’s unclear if the Ballston Common Mall location at 4238 Wilson Blvd is still open; no one answered the phone there earlier today (Thursday) and the store was recently holding a “closing” sale.
No word yet on when Dinette Design will be open on the Pike, but interior construction appears to just be getting underway now.
Wednesday’s “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” brought record nationwide sales to the fast food chicken chain, CNN reported today (Thursday).
The event, organized on Facebook to demonstrate support for the restaurant after its CEO came under fire for remarks critical of same-sex marriage, drew large crowds across the country, including in Arlington.
Natalie Yang, owner of the Crystal City franchise at 2200 Crystal Drive, said her store had one of its busiest days in memory. She added her staff “treated it just like any other busy day.”
A reader sent in the photos above, which show a long lunchtime line stretching down the sidewalk on Crystal Drive.
The Ballston Common Mall Chick-fil-A also reportedly had a larger than normal lunchtime turnout. Franchise owner Andrea Hevia said Wednesday morning that her store hadn’t made any special plans to accommodate the rush, but one tipster said an ‘Appreciation’ crowd showed up anyway.
“This was one of the biggest expressions of support for free speech and free enterprise in recent Arlington memory,” the tipster wrote.
Yang said the line at her store reached Ted’s Montana Grill, about a half-block distance.
“We were too busy to even take pictures,” Yang said.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee promoted “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” on Facebook to counter a boycott of the Atlanta-based chain by same-sex marriage activists. The boycott came after Chick-fil-A President and CEO Dan Cathy spoke publicly about his company’s opposition to gay marriage.
In July, the mayors of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco made clear their distaste with Cathy’s remarks, and discouraged the company from placing franchises in their cities. Huckabee praised the company, which doesn’t operate on Sundays, as a “true American success story.”
“Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant,” Huckabee wrote on Facebook.
There were reportedly no counter-protests or demonstrations on Wednesday at the Crystal City Chick-fil-A location. Yang said her staff was too wrapped up with serving customers to notice anything past the long line.
“We treat every one here with honor, integrity and respect,” Yang said. “We appreciate their support. And we didn’t run out of food.”
According to police, a juvenile female was using the restroom in a restaurant at the Ballston mall last night (Monday) when she saw an odd shadow on the ground. She reportedly looked up to see a man peeping over her stall. The girl reports the man then ducked into a stall, because she could see his feet as she left.
The girl, who is visiting from Ireland, left the restroom and told the 19-year-old woman and 22-year-old man she was with what had just happened. According to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, the woman and man then found the suspect and confronted him. He claimed to have been confused about which restroom he had been in.
Although it’s not certain that this is the same man who has been reported in two other indecent incidents recently, it appears there are similarities. He’s described as a white male in his 50s, with grayish-brownish hair to his shoulders. At the time of last night’s incident, he was described as wearing a light colored button down shirt over a darker colored shirt, with baggy blue jeans and black and white sneakers.
“He does have some similarities to the previous offender,” said Sternbeck. “If this is the same person, he’s been frequently engaging in crimes of this nature, whether exposures or peeping. We want to get him into custody immediately.”
As with the previous incidents, there was a lag between the time of the incident and reporting it to police. Police ask any victims or witnesses of these types of crimes to report them immediately to increase the chances of the suspect being caught. Confronting the suspect is not recommended because it’s unknown if he may try to inflict harm.
The alleged incident happened around 9:00 p.m., in front of a church on the 600 block of N. Vermont Street, in the Bluemont neighborhood near Ballston. Police say a woman noticed a man following her while she was out walking her dog. She tried to alter her route and at one point shouted “stop following me,” but the man then grabbed her from behind, fondled her, and tried to pull down her pants, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
During the attack the woman managed to knee or kick the suspect in the stomach, knocking him to the ground. She ran away and sought help, while the suspect was seen by a witness fleeing in the direction of Ballston Common Mall, according to Sternbeck.
After calling in a K-9 unit and establishing a perimeter, police found a man matching the suspect’s description trying to change his clothes in an alley outside Ballston Common Mall. The man was arrested and was positively identified by the victim, according to Sternbeck. Police also determined that the suspect had stolen the clothes he was trying to change into.
Nathanael Lovett, of no fixed address, has been charged with abduction with intent to defile, grand larceny and trespassing. Lovett, who’s in his late 20s, was also arrested in March after a police officer saw him allegedly masturbating outside the 7-Eleven store at 3510 Wilson Boulevard in Virginia Square.
(Updated at 12:05 a.m.) Police are now clearing the scene at Ballston Common Mall after a phoned-in bomb threat.
Three separate bomb threats were phoned in to authorities: one to Prince George’s County dispatchers, one to Arlington, and one directly to the mall, according to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. It’s not clear if the threats all were made by the same individual.
Mall security has informed stores of the threat but decided not to evacuate, Sternbeck said. Police officers and two K-9 units searched inside and outside the building but found nothing.
“We want to be very thorough in our sweep and… in deeming it safe,” said Sternbeck during the search. “If we did find something we deemed legitimate we would have the authority to bring everyone out [of the mall].”
Dozens of shoppers and workers on their lunch break could be seen carrying on normal daily business inside the mall during the incident. One lane of Wilson Boulevard was partially blocked by police vehicles outside the mall. As of 11:50 a.m., most of the police response was packing up and starting to clear the scene.
There’s a lighthouse inside the Ballston mall right now, but it’s probably not what you think. It’s one of the many structures on display made entirely of canned food, all for a good cause.
The American Institute of Architects Northern Virginia Chapter and the Arlington Food Assistance Center have teamed up for the ninth year to present the Canstruction competition. Teams of architects build structures made entirely out of canned food. All the food donations, which typically add up to tens of thousands of pounds, are then donated to AFAC.
Tonight, the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at Rock Bottom Brewery, starting at 6:00 p.m. The displays will remain intact throughout the mall until 8:00 a.m. on Saturday.
Your days of waiting in long lines to pick up and send packages at the post office could be over. Ballston Common Mall is one of the first commercial locations in the country to debut a new program from the United States Postal Service called gopost.
The service is designed to make sending and receiving packages easier, because they’re delivered just like regular mail. There’s no need to bring a slip to the post office and wait in line to receive the item. Postal carriers pick up and drop off items at the boxes just like a regular mail box. There’s no additional fee to use the service.
Users set up an account online and choose which location they’d like a package sent to. They’ll receive an email or text message that their package has arrived. At the gopost site, customers check in on a computer and receive their items from the designated post office box. If a signature is required, the customer simply signs the computer screen with a finger.
Users who want to send a package will print postage from their home computers, attach it to the package and drop the package off at a gopost site. The onsite computer informs the postal service that a package needs to be picked up.
USPS spokeswoman Laura Dvorak believes the program will be popular because it’s convenient.
“Why do you want to wait for your package, when your package can wait for you?” Dvorak said. “This way, you don’t waste your time.”
Several post offices throughout Northern Virginia, including the Arlington South Post Office (1210 S. Glebe Road), have installed gopost boxes. Ballston mall is the first non-post office site to feature the service. Dvorak says the location was chosen due to its proximity to many businesses and hotels in the area, as well as the mall being open to the public most hours of the day. It has 80 lockers of three different sizes.
“It’s a matter of convenience,” Dvorak said. “Customers would have access nearly around the clock.”
Customers will need to make one trip to a post office while setting up their registration. A USPS employee will validate the person’s identity and give more information about what items are allowed to be shipped. When the user logs in from a personal computer, the postal services knows who’s requesting shipping services.
“We know the account, we know who that person is,” Dvorak said. “It’s a very important security feature for gopost.”
The service kicked off at Ballston mall last week. It will be expanding throughout Northern Virginia this year. Future gopost locations include grocery stores, pharmacies, transportation hubs and other shopping centers.