A man was robbed of his gun by an armed, masked man over the weekend in the Green Valley neighborhood, according to Arlington County police.
The alleged incident happened around 8:30 a.m. Saturday on the 2400 block of S. Lowell Street.
“The victim was waiting outside for a ride to a shooting range when he was approached from behind by the unknown suspect,” said today’s ACPD crime report. “The suspect then grabbed a case containing a firearm from the victim. When the victim turned around, he observed the suspect pointing a firearm at him. The suspect then fled on foot.”
“The suspect is described as a Black male, approximately 6’1″-6’2″, wearing blue jeans, a black hooded jacket, black ski mask, and black and red shoes,” the crime report continues. “The investigation is ongoing.”
The robbery was not reported to police until Monday afternoon, the crime report noted.
Pandemic-related data trends in Arlington are pointing in a positive direction, at least for now.
As of Tuesday morning, the average daily rate of new cases is 94, compared to a local pandemic peak of 123.4 average daily cases one week ago. Since Saturday, 340 new cases have been reported.
Two new COVID-related deaths have also been reported since Saturday. There have been 20 new hospitalizations over the past week, according to Virginia Dept. of Health figures.
The average rate of vaccinations is also up in Arlington, after nearly two thousand Arlington Public Schools employees received vaccine doses on Saturday and Monday. According to state health department data on vaccinations, as compiled by ARLnow, an average of 419 daily vaccine doses have been administered in Arlington over the past week, up from just over 200 daily doses a week ago.
As of this morning, according to VDH, a total of 6,364 doses have been administered in Arlington, with 656 people having received the full two-dose course of the vaccine. The latter represents 0.34% of the county’s adult population.
ARLnow has heard numerous complaints from readers about the vaccination effort so far, ranging from concerns about vaccinations not going quickly enough, to a botched rollout of the county’s vaccine scheduling system, to assertions that people who do not currently qualify for vaccinations are being allowed to register and receive them.
Arlington officials, meanwhile, say the biggest constraint to local vaccinations is a lack of supply from the state, not challenges with vaccine scheduling and administration. Virginia officials, in turn, say they’re only expecting first-round 110,000 doses per week from the federal government.
The county issued the following press release about vaccine supply on Monday.
Arlington County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said today that the County’s ability to inoculate those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is limited only by the availability of vaccine supply.
“Today Arlington will be inoculating 900 Arlington County teachers, after inoculating 900 on Saturday,” de Ferranti said. “We have the capacity to do at least 2,000 doses per day or 14,000 per week, and we can do more if we were assured a greater supply. The County Manager and our Public Health Director have informed me that currently, we are being promised only 1,400 doses this week of the first-dose vaccine.
“Arlington has the infrastructure, staff, and preparation in place to continue to deliver the vaccine at the scale of these two events, and we are ready to use considerable additional staff from our Fire Department to scale immediately to do more vaccines. Supply of vaccine is the only limitation on our ability to put shots in arms,” de Ferranti said. “While we are aware that the uncertainty of federal distribution to the states seems to be affecting our local supply, we seek a commitment from the Virginia Department of Health that more doses will be allocated to Arlington. We are ready to expand our weekly throughput immediately to 10,000 doses per week, but we need assurance from VDH on delivery of first vaccines and greater clarity about the arrival of second doses.”
Voting has been extended one week in our first-ever Arlies awards.
If you haven’t heard, the Arlies are ARLnow’s community awards, honoring Arlington’s top local places, people and companies — as chosen by our readers.
Last week, we launched our first-ever Arlies awards ballot, and quickly received almost 500 responses. Thank you to everyone who already voted for supporting your favorite local places and businesses.
Instead of closing the survey as planned this week, we’ve decided to extend the end date through Tuesday, January 26, so that ARLnow’s vast popularity doesn’t steal the spotlight from Inauguration Day. This should also give the procrastinators (you know who you are) more time to vote for your favorite coffee shop, family restaurant, or comment section “pixeltarian.”
If you haven’t voted, write your favorites in each category in the ballot below, we’ll tally the votes and announce the winners soon after.
As a reminder, readers will only be able to submit it once, and we’ll monitor submissions for attempts at repeated voting to ensure the integrity of the voting process.
Having trouble with the embedded form below? You can also take the survey here.
More Issues With Vaccination Effort — “Hoagland’s struggle to register for a vaccination started when he did not get a confirmation email back from Arlington County’s Health Department after adding his name to a virtual waitlist. After he got in touch with a representative who was able to confirm his spot in line, Hoagland learned that the county’s system is not able to push confirmation emails to anyone with a Verizon or AOL email account.” [WTOP]
Limited Vaccine Doses Available — “In a conference call with reporters on Saturday afternoon, the Virginia’s vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said after the current stockpile of over 900,000 first-round doses is exhausted, further doses may be slow coming. Avula said the commonwealth has been told by federal administrators that at least until sometime in March, there will be no more than 110,000 new first-round doses available per week for Virginians.” [WTOP, WRIC]
Teacher Vaccination Kicks Off — From County Board member Katie Cristol: “A great image from @Matt4Arlington, as 900 @APSVirginia educators get their first dose today – with 900 more to follow Monday. We are ready to replicate this scale daily for frontline workers and our community members & will keep fighting for as many doses as the state can send.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Car Crashes into Condo Complex — “A car crashed through a brick wall and into the side of the Barkley Condominiums along Columbia Pike today. No word on injuries.” [Twitter]
Injury at Powhatan Skate Park — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “Earlier today we safely removed a patient during a minor technical rescue incident at Powhatan Skate Park. The patient had minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital in stable condition.” [Twitter]
Fundraising Effort Collects $120K — “More than $120,000 was raised in December to fulfill all of the year-end wishes of 24 Arlington-serving nonprofit organizations, part of an effort sponsored by the Arlington Community Foundation.” [InsideNova]
TAPS Tapped for Inaugural Events — “The Biden Inaugural Committee has announced participants in the virtual ‘Parade Across America’ for Inauguration Day. Two D.C.-area groups have been picked to take part in the parade, including the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors, or TAPS, in Arlington, Virginia.” [WTOP]
Reminders: COVID Event, Wednesday Closures — Today at 5:30 p.m., as part of a national event “honoring the lives we have lost to COVID-19,” Arlington is encouraging churches to ring their bells, businesses to light their buildings, and residents to put a lighted candle in a window. Tomorrow, due to Inauguration Day, county government offices and services are closed, and parking enforcement will not be enforced. [ARLnow, Arlington County]
It’s been, to say the least, a busy couple of weeks for local news.
At this point next week is not looking any less eventful, though barring breaking news we will not be publishing on Monday on account of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday. (Note the county government closures and lack of parking enforcementon Monday.)
Below are the most-read ARLnow stories of the past week.
- Police Release Surveillance Video of ‘Person of Interest’ in Ballston Murder
- Four Bridges Connecting Va. to D.C. Will Be Closed Starting Tuesday
- ‘The G.O.A.T’ Has Officially Closed in Clarendon
- Arlington Residential Property Values Soar
- Two Injured After Cars Careen into Potomac River
- Demolition Permit Application Filed for Dominion Hills Mansion
- Airbnb Cancelling D.C. Area Reservations Next Week
- Coronavirus Cases Pass 10,000 Mark in Arlington
- As Vaccinations Continue, County Officials Are Trying To Find Ways To Move Quicker
Feel to discuss any of those stories, or anything else of local interest, in the comments. Have a nice weekend!
Acknowledging that “many residents are frustrated,” Arlington officials on Friday urged patience with the county’s vaccine distribution, while calling on the state for more doses.
Earlier this week, vaccinations in Arlington were happening at a pace of just over 200 per day. At that rate, it would take more than two years just to give a single dose of the two-dose vaccine to every adult resident of the county.
Over the past two days the pace has quickened, with more than 400 doses administered each day. As of Friday morning, a total of 4,573 doses had been administered and 550 people in Arlington had been fully vaccinated.
Still, ARLnow has received a barrage of emails in recent days from people saying Arlington should be moving faster, given the more than 3,000 coronavirus deaths per day nationwide and the growing prevalence of a more contagious virus strain.
“The inability to ramp up to a more reasonable speed is terrible,” said one person. “People are dying.”
In a press release today, the county said it is “moving quickly to ramp up access for eligible Arlingtonians.”
“This weekend, the Arlington County Public Health Division will hold two clinics to vaccinate 1,800 individuals from the Childcare/PreK-12 Teachers/Staff priority group identified in Phase 1b,” the press release noted.
But even that effort is not without controversy.
As ARLnow first reported Thursday, the county-led registration process for Arlington Public Schools employees to sign up for vaccinations was botched, with many not receiving the emails and links required to register. Some of those that did manage to register and get a confirmation email the first time around were subsequently told that it was not actually a confirmation of an appointment.
“You received the WordPress confirmation due to an error in the technology that allowed more appointments to be booked than were available,” school employees were told this afternoon, in an email from Arlington’s public health division.
Some who received that initial confirmation were not able to secure a spot when registration reopened last night, we’re told.
“There were limited slots available,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia explained today. “Public Health sent an email last night to those staff who didn’t receive an appointment to schedule one of the remaining available slots. Those remaining slots were filled by this morning.”
Ryan Hudson, spokesman for Arlington public health, said the county is now waiting on more vaccine supply and cannot say for sure when the remainder of APS employees will be vaccinated.
“We can’t give a specific date when all APS teachers and staff will be vaccinated, as the ability to schedule appointments will depend on increased distribution of vaccine from Virginia,” he said.
“The expansion of people eligible under Phase 1b unfortunately does not increase Arlington’s limited supply of vaccine doses,” Hudson added. “The County began establishing its distribution plan and infrastructure in 2020. Arlington is prepared to expedite appointments as soon as the County receives additional doses from Virginia.”
County health director Dr. Reuben Varghese told the Arlington County Board earlier this week that the county was still working to establish infrastructure for mass vaccinations. Asked by ARLnow why that process did not start sooner, County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said much work was done leading up to the arrival of the first vaccine doses.
“Freezers were ordered, [a] website was developed and we already had a pre-existing relationship with Virginia Hospital Center,” he said today. “Many other infrastructure steps were taken, but demand [for the vaccine] so far exceeds supply. Other Northern Virginia jurisdictions and D.C. are also seeing similar challenges. We are working to get as much of the vaccine as soon as possible. We are asking for as much patience as folks can find.”
In this afternoon’s press release, de Ferranti defended the efforts of Varghese and County Manager Mark Schwartz.
“As the situation continues to change rapidly, our County Manager and Public Health Director are working flat-out to secure vaccines and to get them into arms,” he said. “The Board has assured them that we will provide whatever resources are needed to get this done.”
Workers are removing roof shingles from the Febrey-Lothrop house in Dominion Hills.
The 114-year-old home, which preservationists have been trying to save against the wishes of the current owners, currently has a demolition permit application pending with the county, after having a sewer cap permit approved.
While the demolition permit has yet to be issued, what might be prep work was underway this afternoon, ahead of expected rain tonight. A worker in a full protective suit and ventilator could be seen removing roof shingles — potentially asbestos shingles.
That has prompted alarm among some of the local preservationists hoping to pressure the county to somehow stop the demolition. An online petition calling for the demolition permit to be denied, despite county officials suggesting that would be illegal if all the paperwork was otherwise in order, is currently up to about 875 signatures.
The home sits on a 9+ acre estate most recently owned by sportsman Randy Rouse, who passed away in 2017. Local activists have been pushing Arlington officials to buy the property, preserve the house, and use the rest of the property for a park or other public uses — something they say is a “generational” opportunity, given the lack of large, open privately-owned parcels in the county.
The county is set to study the property, to determine whether it should be given a historic district designation that would restrict changes, but the owners appear to be moving forward with a demolition project before that could be put into place.
An accountant representing the trust that owns the property did not respond to an earlier request for comment from ARLnow.
The value of homes in Arlington County has soared during the pandemic.
Residential property values in Arlington are up 5.6%, while commercial property values slumped 1.4% from last year, according to newly-released stats. Arlington County is starting the process of mailing the new assessments out to homeowners and commercial property owners.
“Arlington’s overall property tax base grew modestly from last year due to continued residential growth despite a slowdown in some commercial sectors due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the county is saying in a letter to property owners. “Property values increased 2.2% overall in Calendar Year (CY) 2021 compared to 4.6% growth in CY 2020. New construction contributed to 1% of the 2.2 % overall property assessment growth.”
The sharp rise in residential property assessments shows “the continued attractiveness of our Arlington community, even as our businesses and residents face the burdens and challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Manager Mark Schwartz. The average value of existing residential properties is now $724,400, up from $658,600 two years ago.
The average value of hotels, meanwhile, plummeted amid the pandemic, while apartment and office buildings increased in value — with the latter propped up by the arrival of Amazon.
“Overall commercial property assessments decreased by 1.4% over the previous year, mainly driven by a double-digit decrease in the hotel sector where operations have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the county said. “Apartment and general commercial (malls, retail stores, gas stations, commercial condos, etc.) property values saw small decreases offset by new construction. After strong growth in CY 2020, apartment property assessments increased by 0.8% overall in CY 2021. General commercial property assessments increased by 0.1% overall.”
“While many office property assessments decreased due to increases in vacancy rates and changing demand for office space, total office property values increased by 0.8% over last year,” the county added. “The overall office market tax base increased, in part, due to the increased presence of Amazon and the related development activity.”
Last year, assessments rose 4.6% on average — 4.9% for commercial properties and 4.3% for residential properties. The big rise in 2021 residential assessments will likely result in another effective tax hike for homeowners.
Last year, Arlington’s property tax rate — $1.026 per $100 in assessed value — was held steady despite the higher property values. This year, budget pressures brought on by the pandemic have prompted the county to warn of the likelihood of both budget cuts and tax rate hikes.
The height of Arlington’s budget season is set to kick off on Feb. 20, with the release of the County Manager’s proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget. The final budget is expected to be adopted on April 17. The county’s new fiscal year begins July 1.
“The County continues to feel the economic impacts on local revenues, including the slowdown in sales, meals and hotel taxes, as well as cost increases and additional costs related to the pandemic,” the county said in a press release today. “The projected budget shortfall remains at more than $40 million, excluding the needs of the Arlington Public Schools (APS).”
Police are releasing new photos, video and information in the year-old unsolved murder of a 24-year-old man in a Ballston apartment.
Scott Ratigan was founded bloodied and unresponsive in his bedroom, at the AVA Ballston Square apartment building (850 N. Randolph Street), around 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2020. Police now say he suffered “trauma to the upper body.”
ARLnow reported at the time that the 911 caller — now identified as a relative of Ratigan — reported a strong smell of bleach in the apartment. Police now say that “evidence recovered at the scene indicates the suspect(s) attempted to clean the crime scene prior to fleeing the residence.”
Today, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the crime, Arlington County police also released video and three surveillance images of a “person of interest” — seen leaving the area while wearing a mask, before that became commonplace during the pandemic.
“The individual is described as a White male, approximately 5’6″ – 5’8″ tall, weighing 150 – 175 lbs, dressed in all black, carrying a black backpack and walking with his feet turned inward, often referred to as a pigeon-toed gait,” ACPD said. “Detectives would like to identify and speak with this individual.”
Several months ago, an ARLnow reporter observed detectives holding large poles in the courtyard between the apartment building and Wilson Blvd, perhaps in an effort to ascertain the person’s height. Until this morning’s press release, police have steadfastly declined to divulge additional details about the case in response to numerous inquiries from ARLnow.
The Ratigan family is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the murder case.
The full ACPD press release and additional surveillance images are below.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is seeking the public’s assistance identifying a person of interest captured in surveillance video as they continue to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of 24-year-old Scott Ratigan one year ago. The Ratigan family has established a reward fund of $25,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) involved in Scott’s homicide.
At approximately 5:29 p.m. on January 17, 2020, police were dispatched to the 800 block of N. Randolph Street for the report of cardiac arrest. Upon arrival, it was determined a relative of the victim entered his bedroom after becoming concerned he had not recently been heard from. The adult male victim was located inside his bedroom suffering from trauma to the upper body and was pronounced deceased on scene by medics. An autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide. Evidence recovered at the scene indicates the suspect(s) attempted to clean the crime scene prior to fleeing the residence.
Surveillance video recovered from an exterior camera shows a person of interest leaving the area around the suspected time of the homicide. The individual is described as a White male, approximately 5’6″ – 5’8″ tall, weighing 150 – 175 lbs, dressed in all black, carrying a black backpack and walking with his feet turned inward, often referred to as a pigeon-toed gait. Detectives would like to identify and speak with this individual.
To date, detectives have conducted an intensive investigation into this incident including collecting information, analyzing crime scene evidence, speaking with witnesses and canvasing the area near the crime scene. Detectives continue to actively follow investigative leads in this case but believe there is someone, somewhere with information that will allow us to solve this case and seek justice on behalf of the Ratigan family. If you have information in this case, no matter how insignificant you may feel it is, we implore you to come forward and speak with detectives.
Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected]
Local 911 Dispatchers Can Work Remotely — “On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center (ECC) became one of the first centers in the nation to implement capabilities that allow fire and emergency medical services (EMS) dispatchers and supervisors to deliver critical emergency communications services no matter where they are. Now, Arlington Fire-EMS dispatchers and supervisors are able work from a remote location, including from home.” [Arlington County]
Grocery Workers Unaware of Vaccine Availability — “Grocery store workers in Arlington can now sign up for Covid vaccine… But Arlington County is apparently not notifying grocery store workers about this option… At our local Arlington grocery store, a staff person in the management office indicated they were not aware of either option, when my wife and I called.” [Blue Virginia]
Apple Stores Temporarily Closing — Updated at 8:55 a.m. — “Apple is temporarily closing its Washington, D.C. retail stores ahead of the United States presidential inauguration. Five stores in the Washington metro area will close through at least January 21… Stores in Arlington, VA at Pentagon City and Clarendon, as well as in Maryland at Bethesda Row will close from Saturday.” [9to5Mac]
Beyer Wants Cameras for Federal Officers — “Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) announced today that they will reintroduce their Federal Police Camera and Accountability Act, which would require uniformed federal police officers, including U.S. Capitol Police, to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in police vehicles.” [Press Release]
Attempted Armed Robbery on Columbia Pike — “At approximately 8:18 p.m. on January 13, police were dispatched to the late report of an attempted armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 5:04 p.m., the suspect was inside a business when they approached the front of the store, threatened the victim with a knife and demanded they open the drawer to the cash register. The suspect then fled the business when the victim yelled and another employee ran to the front of the store.” [ACPD]
Water Main Repair on Carlin Springs Road — “Water main break… Tomorrow, Friday Jan. 15, from 7am to 5pm, the two center lanes on S Carlin Springs Rd from 1st St S to 3rd St S will be closed. A traffic detour will be in place.” [Twitter]
Pelosi Endorses McAuliffe — “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is endorsing Terry McAuliffe’s campaign in a very crowded Democratic primary that will winnow the field of those seeking to be the next governor of Virginia.” [Axios]