Arlington courts seek to reform alleged serial window smasher

Vehicle with windows smashed north of Courthouse (photo courtesy Rebecca M.)

(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) A man accused of shattering dozens of Arlington car windows with a BB gun in 2022 is now participating in a court-appointed reform program.

The suspect, who may be responsible for damaging up to 91 parked, unoccupied vehicles, is on the county’s Behavioral Health Docket and returns to a judge in Arlington County District Court on a regular basis, a clerk informed ARLnow.

Arlington County established the Behavioral Health Docket in 2019 to divert people with mental health issues into treatment instead of jail. It waives jail time for eligible participants if they agree to an intensive care program supervised by a judge. Today, it serves just under 15 people.

Participants typically have a high risk of reoffending but were charged with crimes that come with little prison time, including vandalism, which typically comes with no more than a year of prison time or a $2,500 fine, or both, sources familiar with the program say.

The Dept. of Human Services, probation officers, prosecutors and judges all have a say in how the docket functions, according to Chief Public Defender Brad Haywood.

“We all have different ideas of how the legal system should work, probably, but somehow we found a program that we can all stand behind,” he said this week in a budget hearing. “It’s only a few years old, but we’re already seeing so many really inspiring success stories. Every day, every week, every month year, we are increasing trust in each other and it’s just great. Not only is it working just on that level, but there’s always interest in scaling up.”

Court records related to this particular suspect’s program and his alleged crimes are not publicly available. However, online Virginia Judiciary records indicate that the Maryland man was arrested a second time in July 2023 on 10 counts of destruction of property and nine counts of petty larceny.

The court clerk indicated that the suspect will likely be in his current program for a substantial stretch of time.

A wave of vandalism swept over much of Arlington starting sometime around the evening of Oct. 20, 2022. Over several bewildering days, numerous car owners, many concentrated in Clarendon and Ballston, discovered their windows shattered by BBs.

Video showing some of the damaged vehicles suggests that at least one car was damaged twice.

“No car owner has… reported anything stolen,” says the description of the video, which was shot during the week of vandalism incidents and posted on YouTube by local resident David Cheek. “One car owner told me their car was damaged 2 days ago then again last night. Owner said her car will have to be parked in a garage from now on.”

Police identified a suspect and pulled him over on Oct. 27, 2022. They said they found a BB gun inside his vehicle and arrested him.

Press releases about the vandalism did not provide a possible motive. Prior to the suspect’s 2022 arrest, court records did not report any criminal charges against him in Arlington.