(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Chris Zimmerman is retiring from the Arlington County Board to accept a position with the group Smart Growth America.
Zimmerman is expected to step down from the Board at the end of January. A special election will be held in the spring to fill his open seat.
A resident of the Douglas Park neighborhood off Columbia Pike, Zimmerman was first elected to the County Board in 1996. He is leaving the Board to join Smart Growth America as its Vice President of Economic Development.
After being reelected in 2010, Zimmerman said he initially intended to serve out his four-year term, but those plans since changed.
“Today I am giving my three months notice,” he said at an announcement in the County Board Room in Courthouse this afternoon. “I never planned to be a County Board member indefinitely… but the kind of position that I had hoped to find has come my way a bit sooner than I would have expected.”
“I will be pleased to return to the life of a regular citizen in Arlington,” Zimmerman said. “I cannot possibly express the gratitude I feel for the tremendous honor and opportunity I have been given to serve this amazing community. It is not an easy job, but it is as energizing and rewarding as any I can imagine having spent the past couple of decades doing.”
Zimmerman’s last day on the board will be sometime in January, he said, and there will be a special election in either late March or early April. In between, the County Board will conduct business with only four members.
Zimmerman touted Arlington County’s track record of promoting smart growth, in places like the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and along Columbia Pike. He said he looks forward to sharing lessons from Arlington’s economic development success with other communities.
“Today I feel great satisfaction for what we have achieved,” he said. “Arlington is looked upon with admiration in our region and beyond.”
Zimmerman’s colleague, County Board Chair Walter Tejada, stood beside him during the announcement and said afterward that Zimmerman will be missed on the Board.
“On behalf of the citizens of Arlington County, I want to thank you for your extraordinary service to our community,” Tejada said. “Our community is better and our quality of life is better since you came into office.”
During the announcement, Zimmerman noted that he had been doing some part-time work for Smart Growth America before he was asked to join full-time. Zimmerman survived a minor political controversy last year when it was revealed that he had done some consulting work for AECOM, a conglomerate that has had various contracts with Arlington County over the past few years, including some planning-related work for the streetcar project.
(Updated on 10/14/13) Arlington police and the county’s bomb squad responded a possible pipe bomb in the Arlington Heights neighborhood Sunday afternoon.
Just before 3:00 p.m., an off-duty police officer was asked for directions by a driver in a vehicle with New York tags. The officer noticed drug paraphernalia in the vehicle and called in backup, according to a fire department official.
The car was stopped and the driver detained on the 100 block of S. Highland Street. Officers then noticed a pipe with two caps on each end in the back of the stopped vehicle, the official said. Believing that the device could be a pipe bomb, the street was shut down between Arlington Blvd and 2nd Street S. and the bomb squad was called in.
A robot was used to inspect the device, and a technician in heavy protective gear attempted to defuse it. After a second technician inspected the vehicle, the bomb squad performed a controlled detonation. The robot was dispatched again, after which it was determined the pipe was empty. The driver of the car was interviewed and now faces a drug charge.
Residents in the area were asked to shelter in place in their homes during the incident.
Update at 3:20 p.m. — The package has been determined to be non-hazardous and the all-clear has been given.
Earlier: Arlington County’s bomb squad is on the scene of a suspicious package outside the Pentagon City Metro station.
Police have established a perimeter around the package, located behind a fence adjacent to a pedestrian sidewalk, near the intersection of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street. A bomb squad member in protective gear has walked over to the package and it is now apparently being inspected or analyzed remotely.
The east entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station, next to the Pentagon Centre shopping center, is closed.
(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Metro Transit Police have stepped up patrols in response to this afternoon’s deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon.
“Metro Transit Police Chief Ronald Pavlik has ordered all day-shift patrol officers to remain on duty through this evening’s rush hour to increase the security posture of the transit system,” Metro said in a press release. “Metro is taking this step in an abundance of caution. There is no specific or credible threat against the Metro system at this time.”
“Customers are urged to report suspicious activity or unattended packages by calling Metro Transit Police at (202) 962-2121,” Metro said. “Metro Transit Police continue to monitor events in Boston and will take appropriate measures to heighten security.”
Outside the Pentagon City Metro this afternoon, two Metro Transit Police officers watched riders enter and exit the station. One had military-style rifle and the other had a police dog.
So far, Arlington County Police do not have specific plans to step up staffing levels or patrols, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Arlington’s bomb squad also has not made any staffing changes, according to fire department spokesman Capt. Gregg Karl.
Local residents who have friends and loved ones at the Boston Marathon, meanwhile, have been using the Facebook pages of local running stores like Pacers and Potomac River Running to keep track of their whereabouts and well-being.
(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) A group of robbers got away with $609,000 worth of Rolex watches in a smash and grab robbery at Pentagon City mall this morning.
According to police, four men wearing ski masks and gloves entered the Tourneau watch store, near the main S. Hayes Street entrance to the mall, around 10:30 a.m. The men smashed the front of a display case with a hammer, then grabbed 23 Rolex watches valued at $609,000, police said.
The men then fled, hopped in a getaway vehicle parked in front of the mall with an accomplice in the driver’s seat, and took off. The car was described as a charcoal gray, four-door sedan.
The entire robbery took less than 30 seconds, according to police.
No customers or employees were on the “floor” of the store at the time of the robbery. One employee who was cleaning the outside of the store yelled for someone to call police during the robbery. Five employees were in the back of the store, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The crime is similar to another smash and grab robbery at the mall last month — during which 27 rings worth approximately $128,000 were stolen — but police so far have not been able to determine a definitive connection.
Surveillance video of the robbery is expected to be released at some point. Still images from the video are provided below.
The incident started earlier in the evening as a minor altercation between two students who lived in the same dormitory building. According to police, the suspect in the case – a 20-year-old student — confronted the victim in another student’s dorm room following the altercation.
At one point the suspect shoved the victim, and the victim responded by punching the suspect in the face, possibly breaking his nose, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The suspect then took out a small folding knife and cut the victim across the lower area of the stomach, from the front of his body to his back, exposing his intestines and cutting his pancreas, Sternbeck said.
When police arrived they found a large crowd of people around the victim, who was holding a t-shirt over his stab wound. They also observed someone throwing beer and liquor out of the room where the incident occurred, according to Sternbeck.
The victim was transported to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police found the suspect in a dorm room with his girlfriend. There was blood “all over the room,” Sternbeck said, primarily as a result of his broken nose.
Francis Joseph “Frankie” Maguire, 20, of Burke, Va., was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. He was to be held without bond until his arraignment, scheduled for today. No charges have been filed against the 18-year-old victim at this time.
No word on what the argument between the two men was about. Court records show that Maguire has also been charged with selling drugs on school property and the distribution of marijuana.
After the incident, Marymount’s Director of Campus Safety sent an email to students assuring them that “this was an isolated incident, and there was no danger to the campus community.”
Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department
An office at 1901 Ft. Myer Drive was raided, as was a townhouse just north of Rosslyn. So far, the FBI Washington Field Office is mum on the details.
“We are serving search warrants at multiple locations in Arlington this morning,” said spokesman Andrew Ames. “There is nothing public at the moment that we can share.”
A source tells ARLnow.com that the FBI was searching offices of the Rosslyn-based University of Management and Technology. The house that was searched is owned by the private university’s academic dean, according to property records.
UMT’s U.S. website was down, but is now working, and a Hong Kong-based website for UMT is still active. The school offers degrees in criminal justice, homeland security, information technology and business administration, among other areas of study. It advertises itself as “military friendly,” and accepts military personnel using the G.I. Bill. The school also accepts foreign students using F-1 visas and sponsored J-1 visa international exchange students.
According to a U.S. Department of Commerce web page, UMT has “deep roots in the Federal sector” and academic dean Dr. J. Davidson Frame is a “world-class leader in project and acquisition management.”
(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.
The crew was digging in the area of Carlin Springs Road and N. Kensington Street, near the W&OD Trail, when they discovered eight PVC pipes labeled “ammunition.”
The county’s bomb squad investigated the contents of the pipes and didn’t find any hazards, according to Arlington police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The pipes were about four feet long and contained rifle ammunition, Sternbeck said Thursday morning.
Police cordoned off the area around the pipes but there were no traffic diversions.
The find comes just over a year after VDOT contractors found PVC pipes full of guns buried along Patrick Henry Drive, leading to an FBI investigation. The suspect in that case, Cherrydale resident Rodney Gunsauley, pleaded guilty and was sentenced earlier this year to 40 months in prison.
Sternbeck said the pipes “appear to be related” to the Gunsauley case, but the FBI is continuing to investigate the incident. The Joint Terrorism Task Force was also notified of the investigation, he said.
Gunsauley buried items in multiple locations and likely couldn’t remember all of the locations where he hid his weapons and ammo, Sternbeck said.
All classes and activities have been canceled Monday at Arlington Public Schools in advance of the storm, which is now expected to drop 5 to 10 inches of rain and pack wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour between tonight and Tuesday.
Metro has suspended all rail, bus and MetroAccess service starting Monday. Service will remain suspended “until further notice.” ART bus service has also been suspended Monday.
Many flights departing out of and arriving at Reagan National Airport on Monday have been canceled, according to the airport’s Twitter account, although the airport itself will remain open.
Federal government offices will be closed Monday, and non-emergency employees are being granted excused absences.
Arlington courts, libraries, community centers and government offices will be closed Monday. Trash and recycling collection in Arlington has been suspended on Monday and Tuesday. Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan, meanwhile, has declared a state of emergency.
From a county press release:
County Manager Barbara Donnellan today signed a Declaration of Local Emergency for Arlington County in response to Hurricane Sandy. The County is activating its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to manage storm response. The hurricane is projected to impact the Arlington area with heavy rain and damaging winds from late Sunday night through Tuesday night.
This storm is expected to produce rainfall of between 5 and 10 inches in our area, which could cause localized flooding on area streets, low-lying areas, creeks and streams. The County expects significant tree damage, and residents, businesses and visitors should plan for widespread power outages as a result.
What Residents Can Do to Prepare
- Have flashlights and extra batteries, a battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio in case power goes out. Ensure mobile phones are fully charged. (And consider plugging in your old-fashioned land-line phone.)
- Have food that does not need refrigeration and one gallon of water per person per day. Other important items are a first aid kit, medication, and other supplies.
- Don’t forget your pets and others who may need special assistance, including elderly neighbors.
- With heavy winds expected, ensure outside items in yards and on decks and patios are secure.
- Clean out gutters, storm drains, etc. (keeping drains clear of trash, leaves and branches) so rainwaters can easily flow, reducing possible flooding and ponding. Also rake leaves to cut down on flying debris and prevent clogged storm drains.
- Have a communications plan. Make sure all family members understand who to call if you get separated.
- If you live in an area prone to flooding, be prepared to relocate your family and vehicle before flood waters have an impact. If you are driving and see a street that is flooded, turn around.
More details on the County website , including who to call after the storm, clean-up tips, handling home damage, and more. We will continue to update this page throughout the storm response; check back for updates or sign up for an RSS feed.
Emergency Winter Shelter Opening
The Emergency Winter Shelter (EWS) at Courthouse will open today, Sunday, Oct. 28, at 3pm and will stay open as long as needed (it normally opens Nov. 1). A-SPAN is conducting outreach to let the homeless population know this resource is available.
Key Phone Numbers
Write these down or print them out so you have then handy in case you lose power.
- Power Outages: Dominion Virginia Power, 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357)
- Natural Gas Emergencies: Washington Gas 703-750-1400 or 800-752-7520. If you smell gas, leave and call 9-1-1. Washington Gas Safety Page
- Trees Down : 703-228-6525
- Street Flooding, Water, Sewer and Storm-sewer: 703-228-6555 (emergency hotline)
(Note: During high rains, call volume is often greater than normal. Operators will respond to your call as soon as they can.)
- Traffic Signal Outages: 703-228-6511
Dominion Power Update
Dominion is currently expecting significant impact from the effects of Hurricane Sandy for much of their service territory. Their Northwest Regional Storm Center is regularly providing updates to government Emergency Operation Center (EOCs) in the region. Other news from Dominion:
- Dominion will open its Northwest Regional Storm Center at 6AM Monday October 29.
- 8,800 medical condition customers have been contacted via automated calling feature, in preparation of Hurricane Sandy, with the following message: This is an important message from Dominion. In advance of Hurricane Sandy, customers with medical needs should make preparations for extended outages. Participation in the medical needs program does not mean that you will be the first to have power restored. Please make an emergency plan for backup power or arrangements to relocate until power can be restored to your home. Thank you.
- They are working to secure additional resources to complement line, patrol and support teams.
- Additional tree crews are on hand to assist with restoration efforts.
Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency in Virginia on Friday.
Utilities and transit agencies are also preparing for the storm. Dominion says its crews, and mutual aid crews called in from out of state, are standing by to restore power following the storm. The company is warning of the potential for “prolonged power outages,” however.
“When customers lose their electric service during a major storm, their primary question is when their electricity will be restored,” said Dominion rep Rodney Blevins. “They expect our bucket trucks and line crews to be in the field as soon as the storm ends, or sooner, but strong winds may make working conditions too risky to proceed while the storm lingers.”
Although service will be suspended after Sunday night, WMATA says it has been testing drainage pumping stations and has been placing sandbags at Metro entrances in preparation for heavy rains.
“Customers are strongly encouraged to check wmata.com before traveling and to sign up for MetroAlerts to receive service information via email or text message,” the agency said via its web site. “During severe weather, customers are advised to travel only if absolutely necessary.”
Arlington County has compiled a list of phone numbers and storm clean-up tips residents can use to check on power outages, to report downed trees and wires, and to deal with water damage. Those seeking critical assistance — like food, shelter or other aid — can also call 2-1-1, a central hotline for human service agencies in the D.C. area. Tips for keeping pets safe in a storm are available online from FEMA.
Photo (top) courtesy @JoePraino
Update on 10/25/12 — Police have opened a criminal investigation into the video.
Patrick Moran, the son of 11-term incumbent Rep. Jim Moran (D), has resigned from his father’s campaign following the release of a video (above) that purports to show him going along with a scheme to commit voter fraud.
In the video, Moran, who worked as the campaign’s field director, is approached in a Courthouse eatery by an undercover videographer who discusses an idea for trying to fraudulently vote on behalf of 100 people on the voter rolls. The video then shows Moran seemingly suggesting that the man behind the camera forge utility bills to get around Virginia’s voter ID laws.
In a brief statement, the Moran campaign said Patrick Moran had resigned from the campaign.
“Patrick is well liked and was a well-respected member of the campaign team,” the campaign said. “This incident, however, was clearly an error in judgment. The campaign has accepted Patrick’s resignation, effective immediately.”
The video was released by Project Veritas, a nonprofit investigative group founded by conservative activist James O’Keefe, of ACORN video fame. Project Veritas’ stated mission is to “investigate and expose corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions in order to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.”
The campaign of Patrick Murray, Moran’s Republican challenger in the Nov. 6 general election, issued a statement expressing “concern” about the Moran campaign’s activities.
After seeing this video on several news sites, I am very concerned about the campaign activities of my opponent. While it is not clear whether or not there was any wrongdoing, I hope that local, state and federal election officials will look into this matter immediately.
The integrity of our nation is at stake, and it appears that my opponent’s campaign seems prepared to undermine free and fair elections right here in Virginia.
Sadly, anyone who is familiar with Jim Moran will not be surprised by this. The truth is that Moran has a long track record of hyper partisan behavior, racially charged comments and an infamous anger management problem. So this is more of the same embarrassing behavior that we’ve come to expect from Jim Moran and his campaign.
In a statement issued to the Democratic blog Blue Virginia, the Arlington County Democratic Committee said it has asked Patrick Moran to not return to the party’s office in Courthouse. Part of the undercover video was filmed in the office.
Arlington Democrats condemn any form of voter fraud. Any allegations that such conduct has been condoned – especially in Arlington – is something we take very seriously. We are concerned by the apparent remarks of Pat Moran in the hidden-camera video arranged by Mr. O’Keefe. While we do yet not know Pat Moran’s response to the video and Mr. O’Keefe’s allegations, we understand that Pat Moran has resigned from the Moran campaign, and we have asked him not to return to our offices. The Arlington Democrats are committed to making sure that all voters have a full and fair ability to cast their votes in accordance with applicable laws, and that commitment will not change.
The Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans, meanwhile, denounced what it termed “attempted Democrat campaign voter fraud.”
“This is an outrageous blow to the integrity of our electoral process,” said Matthew Burrow, Chairman of the organization. “Patrick Moran should have immediately denounced and reported any attempt to subvert the election process. Instead, he encouraged and even advised this individual on how to illegally cast ballots for other people. This level of corruption cannot stand.”
The release of the video comes on the heels of Moran — along with two other Virginia Democratic congressmen — publicly calling for an investigation into allegations of Republican voter fraud in Harrisonburg, Va. Moran repeated his call for investigations into voter fraud in a column published by the Falls Church News-Press this evening.
Update at 11:15 p.m. — Patrick Moran has issued a statement:
In reference to the “O’Keefe” video, at no point have I, or will I ever endorse any sort of illegal or unethical behavior. At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him.
In hindsight, I should have immediately walked away, making it clear that there is no place in the electoral process for even the suggestion of illegal behavior: joking or not.
In regards to my position on the campaign, I have stepped down because I do not want to be a distraction during this year’s critical election.
Meanwhile, Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under former president George W. Bush, is weighing in on the controversy. Fleischer said the Moran video might strengthen the case for laws requiring photo identification to vote.
“From now on, any law requiring photo ID to vote should be know as the Moran Act,” he said via Twitter.
Update at 11:55 p.m. — Independent candidate for Congress Jason Howell has also released a statement.
From the very beginning, our campaign has been about giving my neighbors the opportunity to vote for someone rather than merely against Jim Moran. I was saddened watching video of the apparent sting operation on Patrick. The Moran campaign may now have many distracting, legal and ethical questions to answer. Our campaign is about my generation taking responsibility for the systemic political and economic challenges we face as a country. We must do better. If you elect me on November 6th, a business owner, community volunteer, former accountant and jobs recruiter, we will do better.
A man was stabbed multiple times outside the Pio Pio restaurant at 3300 Wilson Blvd just after 1:30 this afternoon. He was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital in what’s now being described as life-threatening condition, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Police say the incident started when the victim, who was working in a nearby office building, spotted a man breaking into his car. The victim gave chase across Wilson Boulevard, and the two men got into a physical altercation outside Pio Pio. During the struggle the suspect took out a knife and stabbed the victim numerous times in the hands, shoulder, front, back and arms, according to Sternbeck.
Blood could be seen splattered on the walls and sidewalk outside of the restaurant.
After the stabbing the suspect took off south on N. Jackson Street, toward the Ashton Heights neighborhood. A police officer was flagged down by a witness at 1:38 p.m., Sternbeck said. Officers set up a perimeter and used a K-9 unit to try to track down the suspect, but police believe he may have stolen a white work van a few blocks away in order to flee the area. Officers are currently looking for the van, Sternbeck said.
The victim is being described as a 31-year-old resident of Montgomery County, Md. The suspect is described by police as a 28 to 32 year old Hispanic male, approximately 5’9″ and 150 lbs. He was wearing a white t-shirt that was likely ripped in the struggle, was well as dark blue jeans.
Warning: Readers might find one of the photos below disturbing.
Initially classified as “suspicious deaths” yesterday, police now say that they believe Arlington resident Keefe Spriggs, 59, and Carl Moten, 31, were murdered inside the apartment on the 1900 block of N. Culpeper Street.
No weapon was found inside the apartment, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Still, police are not saying whether a killer is on the loose. Instead, Sternbeck says the crime was an “isolated incident” and that local residents should not be worried about further violence.
Spriggs was a divorced father of two who worked in a body shop, WJLA’s Jennifer Donelan reported Wednesday evening. Moten, a cook at a restaurant in Falls Church, was an acquaintance of Spriggs and was staying at his apartment.
Both Spriggs and Moten had criminal records in Arlington, including DWI and eluding police for Spriggs, assault and probation violation for Moten, and possession of cocaine for both. Spriggs’ crimes dated back to 2003, however, and Sternbeck said so far there’s no indication of any other crime taking place inside the apartment other than the two killings.
After going more than two years without a homicide, these murders are the third and fourth homicide in Arlington so far this summer.
Photo courtesy WJLA/ABC 7
Police were called after a security guard spotted individuals on the roof. During their investigation, police found that the four adults and three juveniles had climbed onto the roof via a pole on the outside of the school, and proceeded to drink beer on the roof.
The former students, who graduated on Wednesday, June 20, tried to flee the scene. One of the subjects attempted to resist arrest and engaged in a physical altercation with an officer. He was transported to the hospital with minor injuries, but has since been released back into police custody for questioning.
According to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, this incident has similarities to one last week on the second floor of the school, which resulted in vandalism. K9 units were brought in to investigate today’s incident, but no vandalism was discovered. The former students are in custody speaking with detectives to see if they have information about last week’s incident. However, Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia says there was no vandalism last week, somebody simply set off a fire extinguisher.
“It’s just a poor decision on their behalf, to bring alcohol onto the school property and drink,” Sternbeck said. “They weren’t here to vandalize the property, they were just here to have a good time, but it was a poor decision making process.”
All the subjects will be charged with trespassing, and the adults will be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
“It’s an unfortunate incident,” said Bellavia. “They made a poor decision.”
It’s unclear if there will be any sort of punishment issued by APS. Bellavia said system officials will have to look into the incident, because the subjects are no longer students.
(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.