Updated at 2:40 p.m.: The Arlington County Police Department has cleared the scene. It is re-opening roads in the area, and shoppers and employees will soon be able to re-enter the mall.
Earlier: The Pentagon Centre Mall is under evacuation this afternoon as the Arlington County Police Department investigates a bomb threat.
The ACPD brought bomb-sniffing dogs to the complex that includes a Best Buy and Costco to evaluate the threat, received at 12:21 p.m., police said. Several streets in the area are shut down, plus the South Hayes Street entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station. Pentagon Police are assisting with the investigation.
Police have yet to find anything but continue to search, ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. Officers are sweeping the entire center, including the large Costco parking lot.
“It’s going to take a while to do a full sweep just because of the sheer size of the center,” Sternbeck told ARLnow.com.
The bomb threat was called in to the mall’s front desk, Sternbeck said.
Police say a male suspect put the victim in a chokehold while a female suspect went through his pockets and stole a cell phone.
From the ACPD:
ROBBERY, 150325003, 5100 block of Columbia Pike. At 12:38 am on March 25, an unknown male suspect placed the victim into a choke hold while a female suspect went through his pockets and stole his T-mobile cell phone. The male suspect was described as a black male in his 20′s, approximately 6’0 and 230 lbs. He was wearing a dark color baseball cap, dark long sleeve shirt and dark color pants. The second suspect was described as a black female in her 20′s. The suspects fled the scene on foot prior to officers arrival.
Last weekend, police found a man who had been knocked out, lying on the ground in Clarendon. A 49-year-old Woodbridge man was arrested and charged with malicious wounding.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 150322006, 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard. At 12:30 am on March 22, officers located a 26 year old male victim on the ground and unresponsive. The victim was transported to George Washington Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Investigation revealed that the suspect assaulted the victim. Ivan Deloria, 49, of Woodbridge, VA, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding. The suspect was held with not bond.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
Police: Pair Stole Car, Shrimp, Underpants — (Updated at 2:00 p.m.) A man and a woman allegedly under the influence of crack cocaine and alcohol were arrested in Rosslyn Tuesday afternoon. Police say the pair had stolen a car, men’s underwear and a “large quantity of shrimp.” [MyFoxDC]
Playgroup Controversy in Fairlington — Members of a cooperative playgroup that uses the Fairlington Community Center say that Arlington County is attempting a “takeover of the group.” The parents say the county is trying to buy the playgroup’s toys, take over registration and raise the playgroup fee from $20 to $190. [Patch]
How One Teacher Is Using iPads — There’s some question about just how well Arlington Public Schools has trained its teachers on the use of technology in the classroom — particularly the individual iPads and MacBooks that are being assigned at certain grade levels. One teacher at Carlin Springs Elementary School, however, is taking advantage of the iPads in a big way, using them for various interactive lessons. That, officials say, is indicative of how such technology will increasingly be used in schools. [InsideNova]
ACFD Metro Training — Arlington firefighters are participating in department-wide Metro safety training this month. [Twitter]
Some 3,700 people participated in Saturday’s Shamrock Crawl, an annual St. Patrick’s Day-themed bar crawl in Clarendon, according to police.
That’s down from nearly 5,000 attendees for last year’s crawl. Unlike last year, however, this one resulted in relatively few arrests.
Police say they arrested two people in direct connection to the crawl — one for assault and battery, and the other for drunk in public. That compares to more than two dozen arrests during last year’s event, including a bar crawl attendee who was arrested for allegedly showing up naked at the Arlington magistrate’s office in search of her incarcerated husband.
The Arlington County Police Department credited planning and cooperation among police, bars, event organizers and neighbors for the largely drama-free afternoon.
“It was a lot smoother of an operation,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “We have to credit the bars that participated as their staff refused to let people who were highly intoxicated in. There was a great working partnership for this event between police and the participating businesses.”
“It was a year-long planning process… there were constant meetings among county staff, the civic associations, the businesses and the bar crawl hosts,” Sternbeck added. “It showed positive results in terms of behavior.”
Sternbeck said police “could have arrested quite a bit more for drunk in public” but instead focused on getting those individuals home safely via taxicabs. New this year, Sternbeck and another police department employee live-tweeted the bar crawl and set up an outdoor photo booth — complete with props including a McGruff the Crime Dog mascot head — where they mixed fun with a bit of public outreach.
“We definitely spoke to them directly about responsible partying, appropriate behavior and transportation usage,” he said.
Despite helping to drastically reduce crime, police did take note of one area for possible improvement.
“The biggest problem I saw was people darting into the street before waiting for the appropriate time to cross,” Sternbeck said. Several police department tweets showed attendees dressed in green crossing in the middle of busy roads, in front of cars.
Per new bar crawl regulations that were approved last year, bar crawl organizer Project DC Events was to pick up the tab for police overtime associated with security for the event. Sternbeck was unable to say what the bill was for this weekend, though the Washington Post previously reported that the cost to police was between $15,000 and $20,000.
Photos courtesy Arlington County Police Department
The enforcement detail will take place during the morning rush hour and around lunchtime, at intersections in Rosslyn, Courthouse and on Columbia Pike.
Among the intersections where officers will be stationed is the so-called Intersection of Doom at Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street.
In addition to issuing citations, police personnel will be handing out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and again from noon to 1:00 pm, officers with the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2015 Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program. The pedestrian safety enforcement detail will be held in the Rosslyn, Courthouse and Columbia Pike areas. This campaign will run from March 23, 2015 through April 19, 2015. Officers will enforce traffic, bicycle and pedestrian laws at the intersections of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, N. Courthouse Road and N. 15th Street, Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike and S. Scott Street.
The detail is part of the 2015 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign and the Arlington Police Department’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Awareness Program to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety across the region. These programs are set up to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Approximately 25 percent of the traffic fatalities in the Washington area are pedestrians and bicyclists, with nearly 90 deaths per year.
Officers will ticket motorists who violate traffic laws or do not yield for pedestrians in crosswalks. In addition, pedestrians will be cited for jaywalking. Public Service Aides will hand out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who commute through these busy intersections.
Arlington’s rate of Part I offenses (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft) dropped 8.22 percent from 2013 to 2014, and the total of 3,863 Part I offenses was the lowest in the county since 1961, ACPD said.
“The historically low crime rate is a true testament to the partnership among the community and Police Department,” Police Chief Doug Scott said in a press release, his last as ACPD chief before his retirement became official this week. “We will continue make these partnerships even stronger as it has made our community safer.”
Arlington had one homicide last year — a domestic murder-suicide in December — and rape incidents increased from 26 in 2013 to 27 in 2014. Other crime categories all fell year-over-year:
- Robberies decreased 12.7 percent
- Burglaries decreased 14.17 percent
- Larcenies decreased about 7 percent
- Motor vehicle thefts decreased about 7 percent
- Aggravated assaults decreased 19.4 percent
“Even with crime rates at historic lows, the Arlington County Police Department will continue to actively patrol and maintain safety, and will attempt to identify causes for crimes so that they may be addressed,” ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said in the release.
Next Thursday, March 19, members of the ACPD’s Second District team will be serving as baristas at Java Shack from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. The ACPD has pre-paid for $100 worth of drip coffee to give out to customers, and officers will be serving it as well as making themselves available to the community.
ACPD’s Second District covers from Ballston to Rosslyn, Crystal City and Pentagon City and the residential neighborhoods closeby. Capt. Kamran Afzal is the commander of the second unit, and he said the event is a way to talk to the community “with no agenda.”
“We’re just trying to engage the people that we serve over a cup of coffee,” Afzal told ARLnow.com over the phone today. “Anything goes, whatever people want to discuss, we’ll discuss, and maybe humanize each other.”
The First District unit of ACPD hosted a similar event at Metro 29 Diner in January, Afzal said. The Java Shack, under new management since January, will look to do more community-oriented events like ‘Coffee With a Cop’ in the future.
“‘Coffee With a Cop’ is a great example of the types of community events that have defined Java Shack’s growth over the years,” Java Shack manager Robert Peck said in a press release. “We are honored to host the Second District Team and look forward to giving our baristas a break while the police run the counter.”
Photo courtesy Sean Douglass
Pasha Cafe Changes Name — Pasha Cafe, at 3911 Lee Highway, has changed its name to Bistro 29. Owner Bill Hamrock tells ARLnow.com that “75% of the menu is the same,” but there have been some changes. “Some of our new items include: Fried Green Tomatoes, Shrimp ‘Tempura,’ Shrimp and Crab Potstickers, Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Balsamic Glazed Chicken and a Grilled Chicken Salad with Fried Brie and Mango Buttermilk Vinaigrette.” [Bistro 29]
Cigar Connection Closes — The Cigar Connection store across from the Ballston Metro station has closed after 12 years in business. [Facebook]
Garden Tool Lending Starts Wednesday – Arlington Public Library will restart its garden tool lending program for the season tomorrow, March 11. The program allows Arlington County residents with a library card to borrow gardening tools from Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street). The library says it’s the only such program in the D.C. region. [Arlington Public Library]
Celebrity Spotting in Ballston — Dancing With the Stars champion Julianne Hough and her boyfriend, Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich, were spotted grabbing a bite to eat at A-Town Bar and Grill in Ballston over the weekend. We’re told the couple arrived after the Caps beat the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night.
Arlington Startup Gets Acquired — Veenome, an Arlington-based tech startup, has been acquired by New York-based Integral Ad Science. Veenome’s software analyzes video content on web sites on behalf of advertisers. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Pose for Breakfast Club Scene — Five Arlington County school resource officers recreated an iconic scene from the movie The Breakfast Club, as part of a recruiting campaign for the police department. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Police say two men in their mid-20s were chucking snowballs near the entrance to the Ballston bar early Sunday morning when a couple approached.
The male half of the couple asked twice that the men stop throwing the snowballs so he and his girlfriend could safely enter the establishment.
“[Expletive] your girlfriend, and [expletive] you,” was the reply, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
At that point, one of the suspects threw a snowball that pegged the woman in the back. The boyfriend, 30, and the snowball tosser then came face-to-face, police say, at which point the suspect “threw a haymaker” at the boyfriend. The boyfriend responded by dodging the punch, then landing a punch of his own, breaking the suspect’s nose, Sternbeck said.
The suspect’s acquaintance, who moments earlier tried and failed to break up the fight, then allegedly stepped in and attempted another wild punch. The boyfriend dodged that punch, as well, then “body slamed suspect No. 2 to the ground,” according to Sternbeck.
Shortly thereafter, Arlington police officers arrived and broke up the fight.
Neither suspect required an ambulance ride to the hospital, Sternbeck said. All parties involved declined to prosecute and were subsequently released without any charges being filed.
The alleged incident happened Saturday around 10:15 a.m. Police say a jogger was crossing 10th Street at N. Barton Street when a man driving an older BMW “nearly struck” him in the crosswalk.
A verbal exchange ensued and in a “fit of rage” the driver “proceeded forward” with the jogger still in front of the car, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
“The driver proceeded forward causing the victim to jump on the hood and was driven approximately 20-30 feet before hitting the brakes and throwing the victim to the ground,” according to the crime report. “The victim did not sustain injury and the suspect fled the scene, located at his residence a short time later. Geoffrey Fisher, 65, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with attempted unlawful wounding. He was released on a $5000 unsecured bond.”
A witness told police that the jogger had the walk signal when he was initially almost struck.
A homeowner on the 200 block of N. Fillmore Street says he woke up just after midnight to the sounds of someone trying to open the front door. He went downstairs and discovered a man apparently passed out on the porch.
After trying but failing to wake him up, the homeowner called police. In an email, he described to ARLnow.com what happened.
Last night at 12:05 am (early Thursday morning 3/05/15) I was woken up by what sounded like somebody trying to operate the handle on my front door. That was followed by a ring of the doorbell. I walked downstairs and turned on my porch lights to discover somebody slumped over on my porch furniture. I turned on all of the outside lights hoping that would force him to move, but it didn’t work so I called 911 to report it. The operator said she would send medics and police.
A few minutes later one fire truck, one ambulance and one police car arrived. It took them a few minutes to get the man to respond to them. I overheard him tell the officer that he lives at “Pottery Barn,” but eventually I’m pretty sure he said he lives somewhere on Lee Highway.
He was placed in the back of a police cruiser and presumably taken to jail. He was VERY inebriated.
According to Arlington County police spokesman, the man was arrested, charged with being drunk in public and held at the jail until sober.
This past Saturday, in a similar incident, a homeowner in nearby Ashton Heights woke up and discovered a 22-year-old Arlington man asleep and covered in vomit in his dining room.
The department did not specify where exactly the checkpoint would be, but did say that Fairfax County would also be conducting its own checkpoint in conjunction.
From an ACPD press release:
On Friday, March 6, 2015 the Arlington County Police Department will conduct a joint sobriety checkpoint with assistance from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, and the Fairfax County Police Department across two jurisdictions. These enforcement efforts are in support of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National crackdown program on drunk driving that focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.
Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers. Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation and possible testing for intoxication.
The maximum penalty in Virginia for the first conviction for driving under the influence is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.
Police say a homeowner on the 700 block of N. Lincoln Street awoke around 2:00 a.m. Saturday, went downstairs to let his dog outside and discovered a man he did not known passed out on his dining room floor, covered in vomit.
The homeowner attempted, unsuccessfully, to wake the man up. He then called police.
“The subject was highly intoxicated and confused,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “He was unable to stand on his own.”
The man was transported to Virginia Hospital Center, then arrested upon being released. Matthew Needles, 22, was charged with unlawful entry and felony destruction of property — for allegedly destroying a rug worth more than $1,000.
Police say Needles admitted that he had been drinking at Mister Days the night before. He didn’t know how he got into the house, Sternbeck said.
Police say they caught a man they suspect of breaking into dozens of cars in Rosslyn “red-handed” over the weekend.
The arrest happened around 1:40 a.m. Saturday, on the 1100 block of Wilson Blvd.
Arlington County police officers were conducting a plainclothes detail in Rosslyn, in response to the break-ins, when they spotted a man who looked like a “person of interest” seen in earlier security camera images.
The man, 54-year-old Antoine Kennedy, was “caught red-handed attempting to break into a vehicle with a screwdriver,” according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Kennedy, who is homeless and was known to stay in the Rosslyn area, is suspected of “at least 50 vehicle break-ins in the month of February,” Sternbeck said. Police are continuing to investigate whether Kennedy might have been responsible for even more break-ins.
Kennedy has been charged with habitual petit larceny, possession of burglarious tools and felony destruction of property. He was held without bond.
ACPD announced the new cameras in a press release late Friday afternoon, saying they will be installed “in the near future” and, when installed, they would be operational 24 hours a day.
Plans have been in the works for the cameras since March 2012. The cameras were reported delayed in June 2013, “still delayed” in October 2013 and “still in the works” in August 2014. The police department’s press release said “construction is expected to start” at Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.
The cameras will be placed at the following intersections, according to ACPD:
- Eastbound on Columbia Pike at S. Glebe Road
- Westbound on Columbia Pike at S. Glebe Road
- Eastbound on Columbia Pike at S. George Mason Drive
- Northbound on N. Glebe Road at Washington Boulevard
- Westbound on Lee Highway at N. George Mason Drive
- Northbound on 23rd Street S. at US Route 1
- Southbound on 23rd Street S. at US Route 1
The intersections were chosen, police said, based on accident rate, pedestrian safety, the rate of red light violations and the “ability of police to apprehend violators safely within a reasonable distance from the violation.”
Motorists photographed running a red light get a written warning for 30 days after the cameras are installed. After the month-long grace period, violators will receive a $50 citation, but not be assessed points on their driving records. There are already four red light cameras in Arlington — two on Lee Highway in Rosslyn, one at N. Glebe Road and Fairfax Drive in Ballston and one at Lee Highway and Washington Blvd in East Falls Church.
Those four cameras have issued almost 35,000 citations since they were installed in 2010. Per Virginia State Code, police are only allowed to place cameras at 10 intersections in the county at one time.