Arlington, VA

It’s finally time: we’re just hours away from the ball dropping in Times Square, and we can now reveal the top 5 most-read Arlington stories of 2019.

There’s a theme for this year’s top articles: they’re all breaking news stories.

We’re grateful for the Arlington community trusting ARLnow to quickly and accurately report the big local stories as they’re breaking. We’ll continue to provide up-to-the-minute coverage in 2020, now with the added resources of a slightly bigger news team and a new staff photographer.

Without further ado, here are the top stories of the year:

5. Traffic Nightmare Continues As I-495 Inner Loop Remains Closed (41,253 views)

A tanker truck that overturned on the Beltway caused an extended closure of the Inner Loop that extended through the evening rush hour and into the night. That, in turn, produced the most apocalyptic traffic Arlington has seen, at least since the unexpected evening rush hour snow event in January 2016. Fun fact: the photos of a solid 1.5+ mile line of traffic on N. Glebe Road, approaching Chain Bridge, was taken while walking ARLnow’s official newshound, Barley.

4. Police Investigating Death at Whole Foods Parking Lot (49,684 views)

A man was found dead in a car in the Clarendon Whole Foods parking lot one summer night in August. Police investigated and determined that “there is no known threat to the public.” Such language often suggests either a death from a medical emergency or from suicide, though no cause of death was publicly announced.

3. Torrential Rain Causes Major Flash Flooding in Arlington County (64,709 views)

This, in our opinion, was the biggest Arlington news story of the year. The July 8 flash flooding in Arlington was more widespread and damaging than perhaps even our reporting conveyed. What started as a seemingly simple heavy rain became a historic deluge, ending with hundreds, if not thousands, of flooded basements around the county. Homeowners and local businesses alike were left cleaning up a soggy mess, as were some car owners who parked in the wrong place or drove into high standing water (don’t do that!) Eventually an emergency was declared and disaster relief made available. Arlington County not only reported millions in damages to public property, but is now likely to spend many millions more in flood mitigation efforts over the next decade or more.

2. Mass Panic in Ballston After Unsubstantiated Report of Active Shooter (69,711 views)

We now know what happened: a teenager who shouted a video game reference — “Pennywise has sharpshooter activated” — at a showing of the movie “IT Chapter 2” accidentally caused a mass panic, with people in Ballston running away in terror, hearing rumors of a mass shooting at the mall. The panic made national news even though it was completely unfounded, a sign of the times when mass shootings are an all-too-common occurrence. If we may brag a bit: thanks to our on-the-ground reporting, ARLnow reported very early and very clearly that there was a “panic” but “no evidence of a shooting.” On this particular night, breathless reporting about a “possible mass shooting” without the disclaimer, as could be seen on social media and elsewhere, only served to frighten, not inform.

1. Two Shot in Crystal City Office Building (92,320 views)

The initial scanner dispatch rang a bell in our newsroom: police were dispatched to an office in Crystal City for a report of a man having a domestic dispute with a woman who worked in the office. A similar dispatch, to the same office, had piqued our attention a month earlier and prompted an ARLnow editor to Google the name of the office and its address. This time, however, the nature of the call became more dire — 911 callers from inside the office were telling police that the man had locked himself in a room with the woman and that he might have a gun. Officers arrived on scene and shortly thereafter came another radio transmission: “shots fired, shots fired!” That’s how the double shooting in Crystal City on Aug. 28, our most-read story of the year, played out in real time. It turns out that the suspect, Mumeet Muhammad, was a convicted murder, and both he and an officer fired weapons during the incident. Muhammad and the woman were both shot — it’s unclear by whom, exactly — but survived.

See this year’s other top stories: No. 6-10, 11-15 and 16-20.

Feel free to discuss the most-read stories of 2019, or any other local stories, in the comments. Have a great new year, Arlington — see you in 2020!

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