Update at 11:50 a.m. — All lanes are now back open.
Update at 11:35 a.m. — The Key Bridge is being reopened, D.C. police said via Twitter. Traffic is currently flowing from the D.C. to Virginia side of the bridge, but so far the inbound lanes have not reopened. NBC Washington is reporting that the closure was due to a phoned-in bomb threat.
Earlier: Police have closed the Key Bridge to vehicle and pedestrian traffic due to police activity on the D.C. side.
No word yet on when the bridge might reopen.
Earlier: The Drewry Mental Health and Substance Abuse Center at 1725 N. George Mason Drive has been evacuated due to a bomb threat.
The bomb threat was phoned in by an adult female caller around 12:30 this afternoon, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. A total of five bomb-sniffing dogs — two from Arlington and three Alexandria — were brought in to sweep the building for any possible explosives. Two of the dogs got a “hit” on a spot within the center, according to scanner traffic, prompting the evacuation.
Arlington bomb squad units are currently on the scene investigating.
Police have shut down George Mason Drive in both directions between 16th Street and 20th Street. Buses are being rerouted as a result.
In addition to clients and staff of the Drewry Center, children have been evacuated from the NVFS Head Start Child Development Center on the premises. The Drewry Center is adjacent to Virginia Hospital Center, but the hospital is still open for normal business, according to Arlington County.
(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.
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) Police are questioning a “person of interest” in connection with a bomb threat at the Sheraton National hotel on S. Orme Street this afternoon.
The building was evacuated around 1:45 p.m. after a bomb threat was phoned in to the hotel. The caller claimed a bomb had been planted on street level and was going to detonate at 3:00 p.m., according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police shut down S. Orme Street between Columbia Pike and Southgate Road (the entrance to the Marine Corps’ Henderson Hall) as a precaution.
The bomb threat was called in to the hotel on the first day of the Human Capital Management Defense conference. Dozens of attendees of the conference, along with other guests and hotel staff, were evacuated. Scheduled speakers at the conference include a number of Department of Defense and U.S. government officials. There’s no indication the bomb threat was connected with the conference, according to Sternbeck.
Sternbeck said officers stopped a “person of interest” — a guest at the hotel — for questioning after the individual was pointed out to police by hotel staff. That individual is still being questioned, but the evacuees have now being let back into the hotel and S. Orme Street has been reopened.
At least a half dozen bomb sniffing dogs were on scene to assist with a search for any type of explosive device. Pentagon Police and Virginia State Police were also on scene. Sternbeck said the basement, garage and ground floor of the hotel were swept by K-9 units. The floor the person of interest was staying on was also swept, he said.
Bomb Threat in Rosslyn — A bomb threat called into Argosy University (1550 Wilson Blvd) around 6:00 last night prompted a large police response. Traffic issues were reported in the Rosslyn area while authorities cordoned off the building and investigated the threat. Eventually, the all-clear was given and the building was reopened.
Arlington’s Top Employers, Past and Present — Arlington County has seen significant turnover in its list of the top local employers over the past decade. Companies like MCI/Worldcom, Qwest and The Hecht Co. made the county’s top 20 employers list in 2002. In 2011, those companies are off the list, while companies like Boeing, The Nature Conservancy and Booz Allen Hamilton are now on the list. [Washington Business Journal]
CivFed Wants Board to Keep Sign Powers — The Arlington Civic Federation wants the County Board to continue exercising discretionary power over signage in the county. A rewrite of the county’s sign ordinance is underway, and is expected to delegate most sign decision-making away from the Board, in favor of more administrative decisions by county staff. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Wins Tourism Award — Arlington County has won a 2011 Shining Example Award from the Southeast Tourism Society in the “Tourism for Tomorrow” category. The award specifically honored Arlington’s electric Mobile Visitors Center, which serves visitors at six different Metro stations, five days per week. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
Update at 12:15 p.m. — The scene has been cleared and employees are being allowed back into the office.
Earlier: Arlington County’s bomb squad is investigating some sort of bomb threat inside an office building in Courthouse.
Initial reports suggest the threat was made to the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, at 2111 Wilson Boulevard. Bomb-sniffing dogs from the Arlington County Police Department and Virgina State Police are on the scene. Americans for Prosperity employees have been evacuated, but employees in other offices have been allowed to remain.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has been the source of some controversy recently. Among other incidents, the group was accused of sending error-filled ballots to Democrats in Wisconsin during a contentious election this month.
David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, the original founders of AFP’s predecessor organization, have been major supporters of numerous conservative causes. The New Yorker has reported that Americans for Prosperity provides organizational and financial support to the Tea Party movement.
Bomb Threat on DCA Flight — There were some tense moments at Reagan National Airport yesterday after a flight from Dayton, Ohio was sequestered and searched for explosives. Nothing was found, however. An individual who made a bomb threat at the Dayton airport ticket counter was taken into custody, the FBI said. [Bloomberg]
New Principals Named — Arlington Public Schools have named two new principals. Kenwyn Schaffner has been named the principal of Jamestown Elementary School and Bridget Loft has been named the principal of Swanson Middle School. “Ms. Loft was greeted by cheers and a standing ovation when she was introduced to the Swanson staff after the announcement of appointment,” an insider tells us. [Arlington Public Schools]
Rousselot Endorses Areizaga-Soto — Former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot has endorsed Jaime Areizaga-Soto in his primary battle against Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola for state Senate. [JaimeForSenate.com]
ART Drivers File Human Rights Complaint — Striking Arlington Transit bus drivers have filed a complaint with the Arlington Human Rights Commission, claiming “ongoing sexual harassment from county contractor Forsythe Transportation.” [Washington Examiner]
Jogging With Grassley — Part-time Arlington resident Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently went jogging through his neighborhood with 15 young constituents who were in town for the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. [ECT.coop]
Flickr pool photo by Christaki
(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) The all-clear has been given after a bomb threat at Wakefield High School.
The school was evacuated after the threat was called in to 911 at 10:45 a.m., from a pay phone within the school, according to police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal.
The school One class was in the midst of Advanced Placement testing at the time.
Police dogs from five different law enforcement agencies — including Arlington, Pentagon, Fort Myer, Virginia State Police and the U.S. Marshals Service — conducted a sweep of the building. Students and teachers gathered at the school’s football field after the evacuation and are now heading back to class.
(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) Police investigated a bomb threat at the WJLA (ABC 7) building (1100 Wilson Blvd) in Rosslyn this afternoon.
Initial reports suggest the threat was non-specific. Pedestrian traffic was still allowed in and out of the building as normal as police and building employees searched in and around the building. A police dog could be seen sniffing around news vans at the station’s parking lot.
Police are in the process of clearing the scene. No threats were found, according to Arlington police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal.
County Gears Up for Pothole Repairs — Arlington County and VDOT are preparing for a big spring pothole push. Crews have been out 5-6 days per week filling potholes, but as things warm up they may be able to start making more permanent repairs. You can report a pothole over the phone at 703-228-6570. [Sun Gazette]
Man Who Threatened Metro Sentenced — The Arlington View man accused of threatening to blow up Metro trains and Georgetown sidewalks has been sentenced. Awais Younis, 25, pleaded guilty in federal court to sending threatening communications. Younis, who said he never actually intended to carry out the threats, was sentenced to time served, a two-year supervised release, anger management courses and mental health counseling. [WTOP]
Rosslyn Blasting Starting Soon — The Rosslyn Metro entrance project has hit bedrock and will soon start blasting. The blasting will take place nightly between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m. for several months. Arlington County says the contractor is taking steps to minimize noise and vibration from the blasting. [TBD]
Crystal City Office Building to Be Renovated — An old 1960s-era office building at 1411 Jefferson Davis Highway will be renovated into “prime Class A office space” after BRAC forces its current tenant, the National Guard, to move out at the end of the year. [Washington Business Journal]
Englin Will Seek Re-Election — Del. David Englin, whose district includes part of South Arlington, says will not be seeking higher office this year. Instead, Englin announced yesterday that he will be running for re-election.
Flickr pool photo by Rukasu1
Update at 2:30 p.m. – The ‘all clear’ has been given. Streets and sidewalks are being reopened.
Police have shut down sidewalks in the area of Wilson Boulevard and North Quincy Street in Ballston due to a bomb threat at Everest College (801 N Quincy St).
The building has been evacuated and will be searched by police.
North Quincy Street has been closed between Wilson Boulevard and 9th Street. Traffic on Wilson Boulevard is unaffected.
County No Longer Offering iParks — The company that makes the iPark electronic parking pass has stopped manufacturing the device due to financial problems. That has prompted Arlington County to stop selling iParks, pending the company’s effort to stay in business. More from TBD.
O’Leary, Morroy Announce Reelection Bid — Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary and Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, both Democrats, announced their bids for reelection at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting. See the video from Blue Virginia.
Arlington Man Indicted for Bomb Threats — The 25-year-old Arlington View resident who, according to the FBI, threatened to bomb Georgetown streets and Metro trains on Facebook has been indicted by a federal grand jury. More from WTOP.
Learn More About Redistricting in Virginia — The League of Women Voters of Arlington will be holding a public forum tonight on the upcoming redistricting process in Virginia. The forum will take place from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association building, located at 4301 Wilson Boulevard in Ballston. Free parking is available in the building after 5:30.
Petition Workers Indicted for Voter Fraud — Two individuals who worked on the unsuccessful effort to change Arlington’s form of government have been indicted for election fraud. William Cockerham and Cheryl Simmons are expected to have their trial dates set this morning. Earlier this year we exposed Simmons as a paroled felon, ineligible to collect the 2,214 petition signatures she claimed to have collected. More from the Washington Post.
ART Bus Lives Up to Its Name — Arlington’s transit agency has deemed its “Art on the ART Bus” experiment a success. The program placed artwork on an ART bus in connection with a new exhibit at the Arlington Arts Center. The arty bus launched on Dec. 11 and will continue rotating throughout the ART system for the next couple of months. More from the Arlington Transit Blog.
Court Appearance for Facebook Bomb Threats Suspect — The Arlington man who threatened via Facebook to place bombs in Georgetown and on Metro trains has been denied bail. Awais Younis, who lives in the Arlington View neighborhood, appeared in U.S. District Court yesterday. A judge ordered the 25-year-old held without bond, saying his arrest provides additional incentive for Younis to carry out his threats. More from WTOP.
Flickr pool photo by Plaszloc
This is the house on 11th Street South in the Arlington View neighborhood where alleged “wannabe jihadist” Awais Younis lived with family members.
Younis, also known as Sundullah Ghizai and Mohhanme Khan, was arrested by the FBI last week and charged with threatening — via Facebook — to set off pipe bombs in Georgetown and on Metro trains.
Younis, graduated from Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School in 2004. A high school classmate and neighbor said the Afghanistan native was “real quiet.”
“He stayed to himself, kind of like an outsider,” LaRondre Gaskins told WUSA 9. “No friends but certain things that happened he was real weird about, like when 9-11 happened… he clapped about it in class.”
A family member, meanwhile, called the charges “bullsh-t.”
Younis, who is in his mid-20s, will undergo a court-ordered mental health evaluation. A court hearing is scheduled for Dec. 21.
All was quiet at Younis’ house this morning. There was little activity on the street, save an elderly woman taking items out of her SUV.
On the porch in front of the red brick home, Encyclopedia Britannicas were stacked haphazardly in a potato chip box. Down the side of the house, an Afghan rug was folded next to a Dell computer box, apparently waiting to be taken away as trash.
The FBI’s terrorism task force has arrested a 25-year-old Arlington man on suspicion of making bomb threats via Facebook.
Awais Younis was taken into custody on Dec. 7. In court documents, he’s accused of threatening to use pipe bombs to blow up a busy section of Georgetown. He’s also accused of threatening to place bombs on Metro trains.