Arlington, VA

The owner of a local store went on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight last night to discuss the arrest of a store employee for shooting a would-be robber.

Jowan Zuber, owner of Arlington Smoke Shop in the Green Valley neighborhood, said 33-year-old Hamzeh Abushariah was sleeping in the store’s back office when he was awoken by loud noises. He encountered three masked suspects breaking in and fired three shots to scare them off, Zuber claimed.

One of the suspects, a boy under 18 years of age, was struck and suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

To Zuber’s surprise, police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney decided to level felony charges against Abushariah that could land him in prison for upwards of two decades, if convicted. Abushariah was denied bond, Zuber said, leading to concerns for his health while confined during the coronavirus epidemic.

“We thought we’re in the right. Three masked men at 4:30 on a Sunday morning,” Zuber told Carlson. “This is very sad for America today, as American citizens practicing the Second Amendment to protect the store and the lives.”

Zuber claimed that police asked Abushariah, “why didn’t you run out the back door?”

“This [tells] the criminals out there, hey we can rob stuff, kill people, hurt people, and guess what — people have to run out the back door,” Zuber said. “This is mind boggling.”

The Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, led by reform-minded prosecutor Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, defended the decision to charge Abushariah earlier this week.

“There’s evidence we are not at liberty to share that support the charges, the decision was not made lightly,” the office said on Twitter.

Update at noon — The Arlington County Republican Committee has weighed in on the controversy via Twitter, calling for charges against Abushariah to be dropped.

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(Updated at 9:55 p.m.) The coronavirus outbreak hasn’t held back the long arm of the law in Arlington.

Heavily-armed Arlington County Police tactical teams conducted a drug-related operation today, as seen in photos sent to ARLnow.

The incident pictured happened around 4:30 p.m. at the BB&T Bank parking lot (1100 S. Walter Reed Drive) near Columbia Pike. At least one person could be seen standing outside a car surrounded by officers dressed in camouflage uniforms.

A similar operation happened around 3 p.m. in the Green Valley neighborhood, according to a witness and a video reviewed by ARLnow.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed to ARLnow that “multiple individuals” into custody today as part of a “narcotics investigation.”

“The investigation is ongoing and there is no threat to public,” Savage said.

Additional details were not immediately available, and there’s no word on what charges, if any, will be filed against those in custody.

A similar amount of SWAT firepower was on display in February during another narcotics-related operation in the Virginia Square neighborhood.

Photos courtesy Michael Owings

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A 34-year-old resident of the Los Angeles area is in jail here after an incident involving police in Crystal City.

Officers were dispatched to the Americana Hotel, along Richmond Highway, around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday for a report of a trespasser in a hotel room. After police arrived, the suspect resisted arrest and spit on an officer, according to Arlington County Police.

The responding officer called for backup as the suspect resisted, per scanner traffic.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT, 2020-03240048, 1400 block of Richmond Highway. At approximately 9:31 a.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the report of a trespasser. Upon arrival, it was determined that prior to police arrival, an employee of a hotel located the suspect asleep inside a room and instructed him to leave, however he refused and began acting disorderly. Arriving officers made contact with the suspect, who continued to yell and refused to identify himself. As they attempted to place the suspect into custody, he actively resisted and spit on an officer. Eric Slocum, 34, of Manhattan Beach, Ca., was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery on Police, Obstruction of Justice, Trespassing and Drunk in Public. He was held on no bond.

Photo via Google Maps

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A Falls Church man has been arrested after police say he was seen pulling on car door handles in the Bluemont area early Tuesday morning.

The incident happened around 3:30 a.m. on the 5700 block of 8th Road N.

Arlington County Police say Kevin Gomez, 24, “was found to be in possession of alleged stolen items” and is now facing a theft charge. He also had outstanding warrants for his arrest from Fairfax County.

More from an ACPD crime report:

LARCENY (Significant), 2020-03240023, 5700 block of 8th Road N. At approximately 3:36 a.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious persons pulling on door handles of parked vehicles. Upon arrival, officers canvassed the area and observed a subject matching the description provided by the witness. When stopped by police, the subject provided false information related to his identification. During the course of the investigation, the subject was found to be in possession of alleged stolen items. Kevin Hernandez Gomez, 24, of Falls Church, VA was arrested and charged with Petit Larceny and Providing False Identity to Law Enforcement. He was also served with outstanding warrants out of Fairfax County.

Arlington experienced a string of car break-ins since mid-2019, though police have announced a number of arrests over the past month or so. Many of the break-ins have been crimes of opportunity, involving unlocked car doors or valuables in plain sight.

The police department is continuing to remind residents to take precautions, even as officers step up patrols.

From an ARLnow article on a break-in spree in January:

Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said police are taking a number of steps in response, but still need the public’s help.

“ACPD officers proactively patrol Arlington’s neighborhoods to identify and prevent criminal activity,” Savage told ARLnow. “The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of residents. Residents are encouraged to report suspicious activity to police for investigation by calling 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.”

“We also encourage residents to reduce the opportunity for crime by participating in the 9 P.M. Routine,” Savage added, referring to the department’s campaign to remind residents to lock their doors and remove valuables from their cars.

 

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Morning Notes

Man Arrested After Door Incident at DCA — “A passenger on a flight operated by Frontier Airlines was taken into custody at Reagan National Airport Saturday, after allegedly using the emergency slide to exit the airplane, officials said.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Metrobus Rides Are Free, For Now — “To help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, Metrobus riders will be required to board using the rear doors and will not have to tap their fare cards, according to a letter sent to employees Sunday.
The change, which begins Tuesday, means rides essentially are free.” [Washington Post]

Don’t Flush Wipes Down the Toilet — From Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey: “Do NOT put wipes, paper towels etc in the toilet! They severely damage water treatment.” [Twitter, CNN]

County Trying to Help Small Businesses — “To mitigate some of the challenges and hardships experienced by small businesses as a result of COVID-19 related closures and modifications, Arlington County is finding new ways to reach out to business owners with counsel, resources and other options.” [Arlington County]

County Offers Help with Utility Bills — “If you are struggling to pay a County utility bill (water/sewer/refuse) at this time, please call the DES Customer Contact Center at 703-228-5000, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You may be eligible for special payment arrangements without accrual of additional late fees.” [Twitter]

Coronavirus Fraud Task Force Formed — “In response to the increased threat of fraud presented by the coronavirus, federal and Virginia state law enforcement leaders announced today the formation of the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force.” [Press Release]

Marymount Mulls Commencement Alternatives — “This Wednesday, Marymount University announced to students, faculty and staff that the online-only class period that started this week will be extended through the end of the spring semester, including final exams. It was also decided that the traditional commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 2020 would be canceled.” [Press Release]

Overnight Lane Closures in Rosslyn — “N Lynn St, SB Lee Hwy and the ramps to and from I-66 in Rosslyn will see overnight work requiring lane closures or full closures Mon night 3/23 – Thu night 3/26 in relation to the Lynn St Esplanade project.” [VDOT, Twitter]

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The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia — the top federal prosecutor for Northern Virginia — is lauding Arlington County Police for its response to a robbery in Pentagon City last night.

The incident happened around 5 p.m. Wednesday. Police say a group of juveniles approached a taxi driver near the Pentagon City Metro station, began rifling through the cab, and then punched the driver and took his phone and cash.

Officers quickly arrived on scene and took three suspects in custody. After a series of foot chases, and a swarm of officers providing backup, another three were taken into custody.

The victim was treated on scene for minor injuries. Three of the suspects are now facing charges.

From an ACPD crime report:

ASSAULT AND BATTERY (Significant), 2020-03180122, 1200 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 4:56 p.m. on March 18, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that the driver of a taxi cab was seated in his parked vehicle when a group of six juveniles approached. Suspect One allegedly opened the passenger door of the vehicle and began rifling through the victim’s property. The victim exited the vehicle and confronted the group at which point Suspect Two came up from behind and struck the victim. The juveniles then fled the scene with the victim’s phone and cash. An arriving officer located three of the juveniles and took them into custody without incident. Following brief foot pursuits, additional officers located the three outstanding juveniles and took them into custody. The victim was treated on scene by medics for minor injuries. Suspect One was charged with Grand Larceny. Suspect Two was charged with Assault and Battery and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony. A third juvenile suspect was charged with Conspiracy to Commit Grand Larceny.

U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger commended police for the swift response during trying times, “lest the rule of law disintegrate” amid the coronavirus outbreak.

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A 33-year-old D.C. man was arrested after police say he vandalized about 17 cars in the Courthouse area.

The vandalism was reported to police around 12:45 a.m. Saturday, near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Rhodes Street, which is roughly halfway between the Courthouse and Rosslyn Metro stations.

The suspect has been charged with both Destruction of Property and Public Intoxication, according to police.

More from an ACPD crime report:

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY (Series), 2020-03140010, N. Rhodes Street at Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 12:45 a.m. on March 14, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering. Upon arrival, officers located a subject matching the description provided by witnesses and took him into custody without incident. The investigation determined that approximately 17 vehicles had been damaged to include removal of rear windshield wipers, broken rear windshields and a damaged side mirror. Zachary Fithian, 33, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Public Intoxication and Destruction of Property. He was released on bond.

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Arlington County Police today announced an arrest related to the recent series of carjackings in Pentagon City.

“The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is providing an update into the investigation of armed robbery incidents in Pentagon City garages,” police said in a press release Monday afternoon. “A person of interest has been arrested in Maryland and future charges related to criminal incidents in Arlington are anticipated.”

The last reported carjacking from a Pentagon City garage was on Friday, Feb. 21. It’s unclear whether the person who was arrested is suspected in all or only some of the previous incidents.

More on the arrest from ACPD:

This remains an open and active criminal investigation with Arlington County detectives continuing to work with our regional law enforcement partners from Prince George’s County Police, Metropolitan Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Members of the public are encouraged to continue to following safety tips and crime prevention measures while reporting suspicious activity in the area to law enforcement for investigation. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective S. King of the Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4243 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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A 28-year-old Fairfax woman has been arrested and charged with a stabbing over the weekend.

The incident happened around 4:20 p.m. Saturday, on the 4300 block of N. Pershing Drive in the Buckingham neighborhood.

Police say the suspect was engaged in a verbal argument with someone she knows when the dispute escalated to violence and the other person was stabbed multiple times. The victim was rushed to a local hospital with serious injuries.

Stephanie Batol was subsequently arrested and charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding, a crime punishable by 20 years to life in prison.

More from an Arlington County Police crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2020-03070146, 4300 block of N. Pershing Drive. At approximately 4:18 p.m. on March 7, police were dispatched to the report of an assault with a weapon. Upon arrival, it was determined that a verbal dispute between known individuals escalated and the suspect allegedly stabbed the victim multiple times. Officers arriving on scene rendered aid to the victim, then located the suspect and took her into custody without incident. The victim was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries. Stephanie Batol, 28, of Fairfax, Va., was arrested and charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding.

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Morning Notes

Biden Wins Virginia — “Virginia voters have overwhelmingly given former Vice President Joe Biden a sizable win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s primary election. According to unofficial state election returns, Biden has been called the winner of the state with 53.3 percent of what was a record primary turnout, and will capture the largest share of its 99 delegates.” [Patch, Washington Post]

Bernie Underperforms 2016 — In the two-way race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in 2016, Sanders captured 33% of the vote in Arlington. Yesterday, he received 19% of the vote, a close third to Elizabeth Warren at 20%.

FAA Taking Comments on DCA Noise — “After changing the routes for planes taking off from Reagan National Airport, in Arlington, Virginia, the Federal Aviation Administration is holding a public comment period. The comment period closes March 30. In an email, Libby Garvey, chair of the Arlington County Board, said that even if people in the community submitted earlier complaints, the FAA will not be officially considering them.” [WTOP]

Tafti Defends Changes at Prosecutor’s Office — “There’s this false critique that these reforms are making our communities less safe. We’ve been fed a story for decades that we have to incarcerate and have zero tolerance in order to be safe. More and more we are finding that harm reduction — for drug use, mental illness treatment, restorative justice — is more effective.” [Arlington Magazine]

Police: Two Arrested in Stolen Vehicle — “At approximately 2:40 p.m. on March 1, officers [in Pentagon City] were alerted to a license plate reader hit on a vehicle previously reported stolen out of Washington D.C. Officers observed two subjects walking away from the parked vehicle and conducted surveillance in the area. The subjects were taken into custody without incident as they returned to the vehicle… A search of the vehicle located suspected narcotics.” [Arlington County]

Chamber Cheers Tourism Tax Bill — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce celebrates the General Assembly’s establishment of permanent funding for tourism promotion in Arlington. This 0.25 percent Transient Occupancy Tax surcharge on hotel rooms is used exclusively by Arlington Convention and Visitors Service… to grow travel and tourism in Arlington. Previously, the tax surcharge was enacted with a July 1, 2021 sunset” provision. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Bill Could Boost N. Va. Metro Funding — “Northern Virginia localities could soon have the ability to spend more money on Metro service increases after state lawmakers approved a bill that tinkers with the dedicated funding agreement for the transit agency… Virginia’s total financial contribution to Metro can’t increase by more than 3% each year, a condition designed to impose fiscal discipline on the agency. The bill from Del. Vivian Watts, D-Annandale would exempt any costs associated with service increases from that cap.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Arlington County Police are continuing their crackdown on thefts and robberies in Pentagon City parking garages.

Police have stepped up patrols in the area after a series of armed carjackings and other crimes in shopping center garages. On Saturday evening, those extra patrols may have helped stop a trio of alleged, would-be thieves.

Three juvenile suspects were taken into custody following a foot chase, after they were seen pulling on car door handles in a garage along Army Navy Drive, according to police. The address is in the area of both the mall and the Pentagon Row shopping center.

More from an ACPD crime report:

VEHICLE TAMPERING (Significant), 2020-02290159, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 5:22 p.m. on February 29, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering with auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that a witness allegedly observed three suspects pulling on door handles of parked vehicles inside a garage. An arriving officer observed the suspects attempting to leave the scene in a stolen vehicle and activated his emergency equipment to stop the vehicle. Upon seeing police, the suspects fled from the vehicle on foot. Following a brief foot pursuit, all three suspects were apprehended. Petitions are being sought for the juvenile suspects.

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