Arlington County police and bomb squad personnel are on the scene of a suspicious vehicle in the county-owned surface parking lot in Courthouse.
An Arlington sheriff’s deputy spotted the suspicious truck earlier this afternoon while walking from the area near the movie theater to the jail. It’s described as a Hertz rental truck.
Two adult men who were inside the truck are being questioned by police. The bomb squad is preparing to open the back of the truck to see what’s inside. It’s expected to be another hour or two before the scene can be cleared.
Police have shut down parts of N. Courthouse Road, 14th Street and 15th Street near the scene. The county’s Emergency Operations Center has been evacuated.
A man entered the SunTrust bank at 3713 Lee Highway around 11:10 a.m. and passed a note to a teller demanding money. A weapon was implied but not seen, and the man reportedly fled before receiving any cash.
The bank is located within a Safeway supermarket in the Cherrydale neighborhood.
The suspect is described as a black male wearing a red Nationals hat, a navy blue raincoat, jeans and New Balance sneakers. The man was between 5′ 9″ and 5′ 10″, in his late 40s or early 50s, with a black and gray beard.
The suspect passed a note demanding money and implying a weapon, but appeared nervous and again fled before receiving cash. The suspect description is similar to that of the first attempted robbery, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
From a police press release:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit, along with the FBI’s Washington Field Office, is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a bank robbery suspect captured in surveillance footage at separate locations.
The initial robbery attempt occurred at 11:08 a.m. on June 10, 2013 in the 3700 block of Lee Highway at the Suntrust Bank inside of Safeway. Twenty minutes later, the suspect attempted to rob the PNC Bank located inside the Giant Food Store in the 2900 block of S. Glebe Road. On both occasions, the subject entered the bank and approached a teller with a handwritten note demanding money and implying he had a weapon. The suspect fled the scene on foot each time without receiving money.
He is described as black male in his late forties or early fifties with a medium build. He was wearing a striped polo shirt underneath a dark-colored jacket, with blue jeans and a Washington Nationals baseball hat.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of this individual is asked to contact Detective Gary Skeens at 703.228.4166 or Detective Richard Conigliaro at 703.228.4193 with the Arlington County Police Department or email@example.com. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
(Updated at 7:55 p.m.) John Malvar, an 18-year-old Arlington high school student, died after a skateboarding accident in Arlington Heights this afternoon.
The accident happened on the 300 block of S. Highland Street around 12:30 p.m. According to police, Malvar was skateboarding down the street while hanging on to the side of a pickup truck, driven by a 17-year-old male student at an unknown rate of speed.
Malvar somehow lost his balance and fell to the ground, hitting his head. He was not wearing a helmet. The fall caused “significant head trauma” and left a large pool of blood on the ground.
The teen was in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived on scene, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Medics performed CPR, Malvar regained a pulse, and he was rushed to George Washington University in critical condition, Sternbeck said. He was later pronounced dead.
Charges — reckless driving, most likely — are pending against the 17-year-old driver, according to Sternbeck. Malvar and the driver attend both Washington-Lee High School and the Arlington Career Center, according to Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia.
Malvar attended his senior prom last week, posting photos of himself and his date on Instagram (right). Washington-Lee High School’s graduation is set for June 20.
The 300 block of S. Highland Street was closed for several hours while crime scene investigators took photos and measurements of the accident scene. Detectives also interviewed witnesses and canvassed the street to see if any video surveillance systems might have recorded the moments prior to the accident.
Via Twitter, Washington-Lee Principal Gregg Robertson called Malvar “an awesome kid” who was proud of his perfect attendance this year. Robertson sent the following email to parents late this afternoon.
Dear Washington-Lee Community,
Regrettably, I must inform you that the injured student I mentioned in my earlier email has died. This is a difficult time for the Washington-Lee staff, students, and parents. The student involved was an incredible young man who contributed positively in many ways to our school and lives. The upcoming days will be difficult ones as we will be missing him and providing support to our Washington-Lee family. Please let us know of any students who may need individualized support. We have counselors available this evening until 6:00 pm and in the days to come. As I mentioned earlier, our thoughts remain with the families involved.
(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Patterson has been charged with murder in the shooting death of 22-year-old Alexandria resident Julian Dawkins.
“Earlier today, the Commonwealth’s Attorney requested that detectives apply for an arrest warrant for Patterson,” Alexandria police said in a press release. “The warrant was issued this afternoon and Patterson was taken into custody at a residence in Spotsylvania County this evening. No further details about the arrest are being released at this time.”
Patterson, 44, was placed on paid administrative leave from the Arlington Sheriff’s Office following the May 22 shooting, which took place in Alexandria near Potomac Yard. According to scanner traffic that night, Patterson, who was off-duty, said he shot a man who pulled a knife on him.
Dawkins was a shuttle driver for the PBS NewsHour, which is produced in Shirlington.
Patterson was denied bond during his arraignment Friday morning, according to Del Ray Patch. At a press conference, prosecutors said that Patterson was seen arguing with Dawkins, walking away, then returning with his badge, gun and handcuffs. Dawkins had a pocket knife, but it was folded up and in his back pocket, WUSA reported.
As of Friday, the Arlington Sheriff’s Office has placed Patterson on unpaid administrative leave “pending the outcome of an internal investigation,” according to a news release.
Photo via Alexandria Police Department
(Updated on 5/20/13) Arlington County, Falls Church and Ft. Myer firefighters responded to a house fire in Lyon Park tonight.
This fire was reported around 5:45 p.m., at the corner of N. Highland Street and 7th Street. Firefighters arrived on scene, made their way into the burning home and attacked heavy flames throughout the structure. The fire was eventually brought under control around 6:10 p.m., but not before causing significant damage to the home.
Smoke could be seen and smelled from the Clarendon area, readers told ARLnow.com via Twitter.
Nobody was injured in the blaze, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl. The Red Cross is on scene, assisting the two adults and one child who lived in the house.
A 12-year-old boy was at home the time of the fire and managed to escape unscathed, Karl said. Two cats were also inside the house. One escaped unharmed and the other was later found injured inside the house, we’re told.
(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) Police are investigating a bank robbery at the BB&T Bank branch at Fairfax Drive and N. Taylor Street, about a block from the Ballston Metro station.
The robbery happened around 9:20 a.m. A 5’7″ black male suspect wearing a green trench coat and a Boston Red Sox hat entered the bank and passed a note to a teller demanding money, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The suspect did not imply nor display a weapon during the robbery, and fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash, Sternbeck said. Five employees and two customers were inside the bank at the time.
Police set up a perimeter but could not locate the suspect. He remains at large. Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the suspect.
“Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of this individual is asked to contact Detective Rosa Ortiz with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.7402 or firstname.lastname@example.org,” police said in a press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”
Surveillance photos courtesy ACPD
Update at 12:50 a.m. — Police have given the “all clear” and roads are being reopened. The package was disrupted “without incident” and no hazards were found, according to Arlington County Chief Fire Marshal Daniel Fitch.
Earlier: Arlington County police and the county’s bomb squad are investigating a suspicious package in the area of the Transportation Security Administration headquarters in Pentagon City.
Police are shutting down roads within a one block radius of the package, including S. Hayes Street and S. Fern Street between Army Navy Drive and 15th Street S. They have also closed off access to one of the Pentagon City Metro entrances.
According to scanner traffic, a witness told police that the package was dropped off on 12th Street S. by individuals in a white box truck, which then left the scene.
At around 12:35 a.m., the bomb squad conducted a controlled blast to “disrupt” the package. A loud boom could be heard in surrounding neighborhoods. (See video, below)
This was the second suspicious package in the area in the past week.
(Updated at 4:00 p.m.) James Sylvester Caroline pleaded guilty this afternoon to the murder of Columbia Pike jewelry store owner Tommy Kin Mo Wong.
Caroline entered the plea before Arlington Circuit Court Judge William T. Newman, Jr. Newman sentenced Caroline to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus an additional three years for a weapons charge. The plea removed the possibility of Caroline facing the death penalty.
As part of the plea deal, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos read a statement of facts about the case.
Wong was born in Hong Kong but eventually emigrated Northern Virginia, married and raised a family. After working for years in the jewelry business, he purchased the store at 3219 Columbia Pike, named it Capital Jewelers, and began selling and repairing jewelry and watches.
An industrious man with a well-established daily routine, Wong’s family became worried when he didn’t return home after work on Friday, July 27, 2012. They called police, who were dispatched to the store, and then his wife and daughter drove to the store themselves.
After receiving permission from the family, firefighters broke the front window of the store to allow police to gain entry. They found Mr. Wong, deceased from a gunshot wound, in a rear hallway.
Video surveillance from the store and the nearby Days Inn, obtained during the extensive investigation that followed, showed the tragic scene and its aftermath unfold.
A man in reflective vest, later identified as Caroline, was seen entering the store and looking at the display cases with Mr. Wong. The man then pulled out a .40-.45 caliber silver handgun, and ordered Mr. Wong to place jewelry in a bag. Mr. Wong complied, handed over the bag, then started backing away. The man shot him once in the chest and left the store, prosecutors said.
The man in the vest was seen from the Days Inn getting into a Ford Explorer with the bag of jewelry, then driving away.
Police released surveillance images from the store, which led to a tip that the vest belonged to Parkinson Construction, which was doing masonry work on the new Wakefield High School, about two miles away. After police visited the job site, they received a call from the company’s attorney, informing them that one of their workers, James Sylvester Caroline, had recently applied for a transfer from the Wakefield job.
Caroline, who was on parole for credit card fraud, was found to drive a Ford Explorer. With that and other evidence, police obtained a warrant and, after Caroline left Wakefield on Aug. 1, 2012, he was pulled over by the Arlington police tactical unit on nearby King Street. The 53-year-old D.C. resident was arrested and held on an unrelated probation violation. He was charged with Wong’s murder two days later.
Detectives reportedly found papers in Sylvester’s car with the addresses of other jewelry stores which had recently been robbed. They found a pocket watch, believed to be stolen from Capital Jewelers. And they found a photo on Caroline’s cell phone depicting him with the silver handgun.
Upon further investigation, police found that Caroline had sold a watch at a pawn shop in Maryland 2-2.5 hours after the robbery on July 27. The watch, a Breitling, was determined to have been stolen from Capital Jewelers thanks to a serial number match.
Caroline displayed little emotion during the proceedings. With a team of three attorneys by his side, he quietly answered Judge Newman’s questions, affirming his agreement to and understanding of the plea.
Caroline’s family was in the courtroom for the judge’s sentence, but Wong’s family decided not to attend.
This article will be updated
(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) Police and firefighters responded to a two-alarm house fire this morning on the 2300 block of N. Dinwiddie Street, near the intersection of Lee Highway.
The two-story house was fully engulfed in flames when rescuers arrived.
At least two people are reported to be hurt, and were transported via ambulance to a local burn center. Drew Lofton, a witness, says one woman jumped to safety from a second story window, at the encouragement of neighbors who rushed to the house after spotting the smoke and flames. A third resident was rescued from the basement.
Samantha Pozo tells ARLnow.com that she was in the basement of the house and was rescued, along with her two pet ferrets, by a firefighter. The basement was filling with smoke and she was still on the phone with a 911 operator when a firefighter found her and escorted her to safety.
“He came to me and he said to go,” Pozo said. “He took my ferrets and we just got out of there.”
Pozo, who was uninjured, says the fire started suddenly.
“I heard an explosion from the kitchen, I believe,” she said. “Then I saw fire and smoke outside my door.”
According to Pozo, a student at Northern Virginia Community College, six women live in the house. Her roommate downstairs was at school at the time of the fire.
Police shut down westbound Lee Highway at Glebe Road and several neighborhood street for more than two hours due to the large fire response.
Heat from the fire melted the siding on an adjacent house, and caused damage to the side of another adjacent house.
The Federal Transit Administration has declined Arlington and Fairfax County’s joint application for funding for the planned Columbia Pike streetcar system.
In a press release (below), both counties say they will continue pursuing federal funding for the streetcar.
Arlington and Fairfax Counties have been informed that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has not included the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project in its Small Starts program for Fiscal Year 2014. The FTA today released its FY 2014 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations.
Arlington County Board Chairman J. Walter Tejada today reaffirmed the County’s commitment to the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project and noted that the County has not received any official evaluation of the project or explanation for the FTA’s decision. He cautioned against speculating about the reasons for the FTA’s action pending clarification.
“Arlington, in partnership with Fairfax County, is committed to building a modern streetcar line along Columbia Pike as the best long term transit investment,” Tejada said. “We will continue to explore all financing options, including federal financing. While we are disappointed at not being included this year, we believe our application was strong, and will continue to work with FTA for inclusion into the Small Starts/New Starts program.”
“The Pike streetcar will address the community’s needs by providing greater capacity on one of the Commonwealth’s most heavily traveled corridors,” Tejada said. “It will encourage more people to use transit, will reduce congestion, help us meet our affordable housing goals, and will support the sort of development that the community wants.”
Fairfax County Supervisor Penny Gross reaffirmed Fairfax County’s commitment as well. “The Columbia Pike Streetcar Project is vitally important to the economic revitalization of Columbia Pike and the Skyline/Bailey’s Crossroads area of Fairfax County, which has long desired connection to a rail transit network,” Gross said. “Although I am disappointed that our joint application for Small Starts funding was not approved this year, I am confident that the strong community and business support for the project and the long collaborative partnership between Fairfax and Arlington counties will merit federal funding in the future.”
Project work on the Columbia Pike Streetcar continues, including conceptual engineering and environmental efforts to finalize project facilities and secure required environmental approvals.
Streetcar funding to come from variety of sources
Arlington and Fairfax applied to the FTA’s Small Starts program in September 2012. The program offers up to $75 million in funding for projects costing less than $250 million to design and build. The funding plan for the Streetcar relies on a combination of federal, state and local funding, with Arlington’s local funding coming from the tax on commercial properties that is dedicated to transportation. Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell recently signed into law a new transportation funding bill that makes more money available to Northern Virginia for infrastructure investments such as the streetcar.
In the spring of 2006, both the Arlington County Board and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors endorsed a streetcar line for Columbia Pike that would stretch nearly five miles from Pentagon City to the Skyline Drive area of Fairfax County. The streetcar would serve a corridor that is in the midst of a dramatic transformation into a more transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly, vibrant Main Street, a vision developed through years of community planning. Arlington’s plan for the streetcar includes an aggressive plan to preserve affordable housing and diversity along the Pike.
Both the Arlington and Fairfax boards reaffirmed their decisions in the summer of 2012, when they chose streetcar as the locally preferred alternative for Columbia Pike and opted to apply for federal funding under the FTA’s New Starts/Small Starts program.
To learn more about the Columbia Pike Streetcar, visit the County website.
(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) A two alarm fire destroyed a house and sent two children to the hospital this morning.
The fire was reported at a home on the 2000 block of S. Lincoln Street, in the Nauck neighborhood, around 7:45 a.m. Two children who were inside the home were transported to Children’s Hospital for possible smoke inhalation. The fire was extinguished around 8:15 a.m.
Firefighters from Arlington and Alexandria responded to the blaze. The family that owns the home is being assisted by the Red Cross.
Fire photos courtesy @CAPT258 and Daniel Fitch
The fire, which was was reported just before 11:00 a.m., started on the first floor of the duplex, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
Six individuals, including several children, were transported to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
The incident happened around 8:30 p.m. at S. Arlington Ridge Road and S. Lang Street. According to police, a young adult male was walking on the sidewalk when a black male wearing a black hooded sweatshirt approached him and demanded money.
The victim was shot once in the leg and the suspect fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.
Police established a perimeter and brought in K-9 units and the Fairfax County Police helicopter to search for the suspect, but were unable to locate him. Both Gunston Middle School and nearby Oakridge Elementary School were hosting evening activities at the time and were locked down for a period after the incident.
The victim was transported to George Washington University hospital with what is described as a non-life-threatening injury, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Some roads in the area are still blocked off as police continue to investigate the crime.
The last reported non-fatal shooting in Arlington County occurred on May 29, 2012, outside of a hotel in Crystal City. A man suffered two non-life-threatening gunshot wounds during that incident. The murder of
(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) A car has plowed into the front of a Pizza Hut restaurant on Lee Highway.
Arlington County police and firefighters responded to the Lee Centre shops on the 3300 block of Lee Highway just before 1:00 p.m. for a report of a car into a building. Upon arrival, they found a Honda Fit hatchback that had driven through the front door of the Pizza Hut. Half of the car was in the restaurant, stopped only by the order counter.
The 86-year-old female driver was extricated from the car by firefighters, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. She suffered no visible injuries but was taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
Amazingly, even though it was lunch time, there were no customers inside the store at the time of the accident. Four employees were inside at the time, according to police, but nobody was hurt.
The car was removed from the building by a tow truck around 1:30 p.m. An Arlington County building inspector has determined that there is no structural damage to the building, but the restaurant will be boarded up until its front facade can be repaired.
Photo courtesy @CAPT258
An Arlington County jury has returned guilty verdicts in the trial of 26-year-old Javon Martin, who was implicated in the 2009 murder of Lyon Village resident Carl Diener.
The jury found Martin guilty of robbery and first degree felony murder today, according to prosecutors. He faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. The sentencing phase of the trial will begin this afternoon.
During the trial, which began last Monday, the jury heard testimony from Roger Clark III, Martin’s co-defendant, who pleaded guilty to Diener’s murder in January 2012. Clark described the crime as an early-morning robbery that went wrong when Diener fought back and turned out to be stronger than the men expected. During the struggle, Diener was fatally stabbed.
The case was prosecuted by Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Molly Newton and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney John Lynch.
A more detailed statement from prosecutors is expected later today.