Arlington, VA

Arlington County police are stepping up patrols around Crystal City and surrounding neighborhoods amid a rash of carjackings.

There have been 18 carjackings in Arlington since January 2020, the police department said, compared to three total over from 2018 to 2019. Most — 13 out of 18 — have occurred along the Route 1 corridor, including 7 in the immediate vicinity of the Pentagon City mall.

It’s part of a regional crime trend, with other D.C. area jurisdictions similarly experiencing sharp rises in carjackings. ACPD says it has arrested or identified suspects already in custody in 8 of the 18 cases in Arlington.

To help combat the crime wave, the department “continues to deploy increased police resources, to include both visible and non-visible assets, in Crystal City and the surrounding neighborhoods.” It is also “engaging with community members and businesses in the area to share important crime and safety information.”

“The Department is deploying electronic signboards in various locations throughout the County as part of a high-visibility public awareness campaign,” ACPD said in a press release Tuesday.

The carjackers, police say, “often approach victims as they are exiting or sitting in their parked vehicles, brandish a firearm and demand the victim’s keys or property.”

“In some cases, the suspects approach the victim on foot while in others, the suspects approach in a vehicle later determined to be stolen,” police said. “Reported incidents in Arlington County have involved between one and four suspects.”

In the press release, the police department touted the arrests of four suspects seen acting suspiciously in a Pentagon City parking lot Saturday afternoon. More from ACPD:

At approximately 4:40 p.m. on February 13, officers working in the area were dispatched to the 900 block of Army Navy Drive for the report of a suspicious unoccupied vehicle. The reporting party advised they had observed four subjects exit the vehicle, walk slowly through the parking lot, appearing to be casing vehicles. Using law enforcement resources, officers determined the vehicle had previously been reported stolen from a carjacking in Maryland. Officers established a perimeter and the occupants were taken into police custody as they returned to the vehicle. [An 18-year-old suspect from Washington, D.C.] was found in possession of the vehicle’s key and was charged with Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. Two other occupants, an adult and juvenile, were charged with narcotics offenses.

Police offered the following safety tips for drivers to help avoid being a victim of a carjacking, car theft, or vehicle break-in.

  • “Exit your vehicle and continue to your destination promptly after parking”
  • “Park in well-lit, high traffic areas.”
  • “Be aware of your surroundings when entering and exiting your vehicle”
  • “Limit your use of devices that may distract you, such as cell phones and headphones”
  • “Don’t leave items unattended or visible in your vehicle”

Flickr pool photo (top) by Kevin Wolf. Map (below) courtesy ACPD.

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A teenager with a concealed handgun was taken into custody at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall yesterday afternoon.

The arrest does not appear to have a direct connection to the inauguration, though it took place on Inauguration Day as police were on high alert for possible security threats.

An officer in an unmarked cruiser spotted the teen tucking a gun into his waistband as he entered the mall with four other juvenile suspects, according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report and scanner traffic. The officer then called for backup, and police were able to arrest the teen in the vicinity of the food court.

More from the ACPD crime report:

WEAPONS VIOLATION, 2021-01200100, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 2:00 p.m. on January 20, an officer observed five juvenile subjects pass their cruiser and then stop a short distance away, at which point they observed one of the subjects readjusting a firearm in their waistband and then conceal it under clothing. The subjects entered a business and dispersed, however police subsequently located the subject with the firearm a few minutes later and made contact with him. They confirmed their status as a juvenile and located the firearm on their person. Petitions for Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Possession of a Handgun or Assault Firearm by a Juvenile were sought for the juvenile suspect.

Also in today’s crime report, two cars were stolen in the Country Club Hills neighborhood of north Arlington early Wednesday morning. Both cars were reported left outside unlocked, with keys inside.

More from ACPD:

GRAND LARCENY (series), 2021-0120038/01200054, 4400 block of 33rd Street N./4200 block of 32nd Road N. At approximately 8:04 a.m. on January 20, police were dispatched to the 4400 block of 33rd Street N. for report of a stolen vehicle. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 4:59 a.m., the suspect exited a white SUV driven by a second suspect, then gained entry to the victim’s unlocked vehicle and tampered with items. The suspect then entered a second vehicle, which was unlocked with the key inside, and stole it. The vehicle is described as a red 2018 Volkswagen GTI with Virginia license plates. A second vehicle [on] the 4200 block of 32nd Road N., which was unlocked with the keys inside… was also reported stolen overnight. The vehicle is described as a black 2013 BMW M5 with Virginia license plates F10MM5. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

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A 36-year-old man is behind bars after police say they caught him red-handed in the act of stealing packages.

The Springfield, Va. resident was in the Crystal City area, on the 300 block of 23rd Street S., when police say they spotted him “concealing alleged stolen packages” while returning to “a vehicle associated with a package theft reported to the officer on December 27.”

The man is now facing a burglary-related charge and four counts of petty larceny. Additional charges “are anticipated” and police are “working to identify and notify victims,” according to an Arlington County Police Department press release.

ACPD is asking Arlington residents to remain vigilant about so-called porch pirates, as a rise in e-commerce during the pandemic leads to more package thefts. The department is encouraging residents to take in packages as soon as possible after they arrive, or to use options like lockers or in-store pick up if they’re not going to be home during the delivery.

The full press release is below, after the jump.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Property Crimes Unit is announcing the arrest of a suspect in a package theft series. Haroon Cheema, 36, of Springfield, VA, was arrested and charged with Possession of Burglarious Tools and Petit Larceny (x4). Additional charges are anticipated. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on a secure bond.

At approximately 1:10 p.m. on January 3, a patrol officer observed an unoccupied vehicle with no license plates parked the 300 block of 23rd Street S. The vehicle matched the description of a vehicle associated with a package theft reported to the officer on December 27, 2020. A short time later, the officer observed the suspect return to the vehicle with a bag concealing alleged stolen packages. The suspect drove a short distance and was detained by officers as he exited the vehicle. During the execution of a subsequent search warrant on the vehicle, additional packages were located. Detectives are working to identify and notify victims.

Safety Tips and Crime Prevention Measures

Package thefts are often crimes of opportunity with suspects targeting items left unattended or out in plain view. While these crimes are often associated with the holiday season, they can happen at any time. The Arlington County Police Department encourages online shoppers to think ahead about delivery options and follow the below safety tips to help reduce the opportunity for package theft:

  • Schedule packages to arrive when you are home and track their progress during shipment
  • Bring packages inside as soon as possible after delivery
  • Have someone you trust accept the package if you will not be home during delivery
  • Require signature on delivery
  • Utilize other delivery options such as lockers or in-store pick up
  • Reschedule delivery or ask for a package hold when on vacation

Report Package Thefts to Police

If you have been the victim of a package theft in Arlington County, report to police using the online crime report.

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Morning Notes

NY Man Arrested for NYE Gunfire — “The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating the discharge of a firearm which occurred in the Rosslyn area on the morning of January 1, 2021. At approximately 1:48 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun in the 1500 block of Clarendon Boulevard… officers observed the suspect on the sidewalk holding a firearm as they arrived on scene. The suspect was compliant and taken into custody without incident.” [ACPD]

First Arlington Baby of 2021 — “What a way to ring in the #newyear! Welcome to the world, Mohamed! Our first [Virginia Hospital Center] #newborn of #2021 was born at 1:18 am this morning. Congratulations to the family, and thank you for letting us celebrate the new year with your bundle of joy!” [Twitter]

Parent Files Suit Against APS — “An Arlington Public Schools parent wants his daughter back in class so badly, he plans to file a lawsuit against the district. ‘We started the fundraising today, and we’ve already gotten a lot of great contributions from fellow parents,’ Russell Laird told Fox 5 Wednesday, referring to a GoFundMe campaign launched in an effort to raise $10,000 that would be used to sue Arlington Public Schools.” [Fox 5]

Nat’l Landing Touts Transpo Projects — “National Landing, the renamed neighborhood of Crystal City-Pentagon City-Potomac Yards in Arlington and Alexandria, will become the country’s most connected urban center sometime in the next decade, its business boosters say. Eight major transportation projects are underway in the area, with the aim of turning what is often seen as a busy pass-through into a truly urban neighborhood where residents, office workers and visitors have easy access to local and regional amenities as well as long-distance travel.” [Washington Post]

Local Nonprofit Sees Surge in Aid — “The financial assistance nonprofit Arlington Thrive is helping four times as many people as families are devastated by COVID-19. ‘I was never thinking this would happen in America. I was working hard. I was working three jobs. I lost all three jobs,’ one client, a cook, waiter and ride-share driver, told News4’s Pat Collins.” [NBC 4]

Bikeshare Station Work — “Pardon our dust! In Jan & Feb, some @bikeshare stations in Crystal City, Pentagon City, & Potomac Yard will be replaced, expanded, moved, or removed and may be OFFLINE for a few hours or days.” [Twitter]

Reminder: Bus Changes in Effect — “Riders on the Arlington, Virginia, bus system will once again have to pay fares and enter the bus through the front door starting on Sunday. Arlington County said that both practices were suspended by Arlington Transit (ART) last March, but fares can now be paid by either using the SmarTrip card, SmarTrip app or by exact change at the fare box, while plastic glass barriers have been installed to protect the drivers at the front of the bus.” [WTOP]

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Two people, one from Arlington and another from Alexandria, have been arrested after a series of burglaries and vehicle tamperings.

The incidents happened early this past Friday morning, in the Rosslyn and Clarendon areas.

Police were called after two men were seen walking around and peering into cars in at least two parking garages. Officers arriving at the second garage found two suspects matching the description. The men were taken into custody and then found to be in possession of allegedly stolen items, including a bike, police said.

As previously reported, there has been a significant increase in vehicle-related property crime in Arlington over the past two years.

More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report, below.

BURGLARY/VEHICLE TAMPERING (significant), 2020-12180029/12180036/12180088, 2500 block of Clarendon Boulevard/1200 block of N. Rolfe Street/1800 block of N. Scott Street. At approximately 5:59 a.m. on December 18, police were dispatched to the 2500 block of Clarendon Boulevard for the report of two males looking into vehicles in a garage. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was approaching his vehicle in the garage when he observed two male suspects allegedly looking inside and contacted police, at which time the suspects fled the area. Arriving officers canvased the garage and area with negative results, and nothing was reported missing from the victim’s vehicle. At approximately 6:39 a.m., police were dispatched to the 1200 block of N. Rolfe Street for the report of two suspicious persons inside a garage. Arriving officers observed the two suspects still in the area and detained them without incident. One suspect was in possession of a bike allegedly stolen from the Rolfe Street scene. The suspects were positively identified by witnesses from both locations. During the course of the investigation, one suspect was determined to be in possession of items stolen from a vehicle parked in the 1800 block of N. Scott Street, a second stolen bicycle was located, and officers located a third bicycle with the lock cut. Breon Lassiter, 22, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Burglary with Intent to Commit Larceny (x2), Possession of Burglarous Tools, and Tampering with Vehicle (x2). He was held on no bond. Joshua Wallace, 26, of Alexandria Va., was arrested and charged with Burglary with Intent to Commit Larceny, Tampering with Vehicle, and Possession of Burglarous Tools. He was also served with an outstanding warrant for Probation Violation, and held on a secured bond.

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A 33-year-old man has been arrested and charged with dragging an Arlington County police officer with his car after being pulled over for speeding on I-66.

The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday on eastbound I-66, near Spout Run Parkway, and drew a large police response.

A motorcycle officer pulled over a driver for traveling 88 mph in a 55 mph zone. Then, after smelling marijuana, the officer requested the driver get out of the vehicle and sign the speeding ticket, according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report.

“The driver initially complied but became uncooperative and attempted to enter the vehicle after commanded not to do so,” the department said. “A brief struggle ensued, during which the officer advised he would deploy [pepper spray] if the suspect continued not to comply.”

“The officer deployed their OC Spray in an attempt to gain control of the driver, however he was still able to re-enter the vehicle,” the report continues. “As the suspect fled the scene in the vehicle, he dragged the officer for a short distance. The officer suffered minor injuries and was treated on scene by medics.”

A lookout for the vehicle was broadcast, but police were unable to find it. Then, after using “various investigative tools,” police were able to get in touch with a family member of the suspect, who subsequently turned himself in last night.

“Ahmad Rahim, 33, of Chantilly, Va., was arrested and charged with Malicious/Unlawful Wounding of Law Enforcement, Eluding, Reckless Driving, and Obstruction of Justice,” police said. “He was held on no bond.”

Update on 12/17/20 — The officer who was dragged is Officer Adam Stone, a well-liked veteran of ACPD’s Motor Unit. Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage declined to provide additional details about the incident, “to ensure the integrity of the investigation and prosecution.”

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A man accused of burglarizing homes in the Penrose neighborhood, and in one instance touching a woman inappropriately during a break-in, has been arrested.

The arrest happened around 1 a.m. this morning in the Penrose neighborhood. Police say they were staking out the area around Friday’s sexual battery incident, on the 2500 block of Arlington Blvd, when officers “observed the suspect acting suspiciously as he entered the backyard of residences.”

“While additional units responded to assist with the investigation, the suspect entered his vehicle and attempted to flee the scene,” Arlington County Police said in a press release Tuesday afternoon. “A traffic stop was initiated, and the suspect was taken into custody without incident. During a canvas of the scene, officers located several window screens which had been cut and removed from the frames to include at the address of the original incident.”

“Alijah Hall, 26, of Waldorf, MD, was arrested and charged with Burglary: Break and Enter at Night with Intent to Commit a Felony or Larceny and Possession of Burglarious Tools,” police said. “He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.”

The press release added that “anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective J. McGrath at 703-228-4244 or [email protected].”

“Information may also be provided to the Arlington County Police Tip Line at [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477),” said ACPD.

Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department

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A local teen is in custody and two others are being sought by police after an alleged drug deal led to a serious assault.

The incident happened shortly after 11 p.m. last night in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood, near Ballston. Police say an arranged sale of narcotics ended with the victim being beaten with batons by several people.

The victim was hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Police searched the area and arrested a 19-year-old suspect while he was walking along the nearby Custis Trail. Two other suspects have been identified and are expected to face charges, police said.

More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING BY MOB, 2020-12140181, 4600 block of 13th Street N. At approximately 11:17 p.m. on December 14, police were dispatched to the report of a fight in progress. Arriving officers located the victim, who had sustained serious injuries, and rendered aid prior to the arrival of medics. The victim was transported to an area hospital with serious, but non life threatening injuries. The investigation determined that the victim and three suspects met for the arranged sale of narcotics, and a physical altercation ensued between the parties. The suspects allegedly struck the victim multiple times with batons, causing lacerations. A bystander yelled at the involved parties, at which time, the suspects fled on foot. Officers canvasing the area located Suspect One walking on the Custis Trail, made contact with him, and took him into custody without incident. Anthony Silvers, 19, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding by Mob. He was held on no bond. The other involved suspects were identified and charges are pending.

Also on Monday, a pair of suspects broke into, damaged and stole from four businesses in Clarendon and East Falls Church.

From ACPD:

COMMERCIAL BURGLARY (series), 2020-12140035/0039/0052/0089, 2100 block of N. Westmoreland Street/1100 block of N. Hudson Street/ 3000 block of Washington Boulevard. Overnight on December 14, two unknown suspects forced entry to four businesses, causing damage. At approximately 2:27 a.m., the suspects forced entry to business one in the 2100 block of N. Westmoreland Street, tampered with items, and stole a safe. At approximately 2:20 a.m., the suspects forced entry to business two, also in the 2100 block of N. Westmoreland Street, and rummaged through items, however, nothing was reported stolen. Between 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m., the suspects forced entry to a third business in the 1100 block of N. Hudson Street and stole a safe and an undisclosed amount of cash. At approximately 2:45 a.m., the suspects forced entry to a fourth business in the 3000 block of Washington Boulevard, and stole an undisclosed amount of cash. Suspect One is described as a tall male, wearing a light colored jacket with the hood up, dark pants, black shoes and light colored gloves. Suspect Two is described as a tall male, wearing a black sweatshirt with the hood up, black pants, white gloves, black shoes, and a light colored face wrap. The investigations are ongoing.

Map via Google Maps

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Two men who were allegedly caught inside a business during a burglary, but initially refused to come out, prompted a large police response over the weekend

The incident happened around 1:30 a.m. Saturday on the 2500 block of Wilson Blvd, roughly between Clarendon and Courthouse.

Police, after being flagged down and told 0f the possible burglary, spotted the men inside the business and ordered them to come out. After they refused a standoff ensued, and the U.S. Park Police helicopter and a SWAT team were called in.

“As Emergency Response Team officers prepared to make entry to the building, one suspect surrendered himself to police and was taken into custody without further incident,” said today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The second suspect was located inside a closet during a search of the building and taken into custody without further incident.”

Two Arlington men, ages 46 and 34, were arrested and now face several burglary-related charges.

Police did not reveal which business was burglarized.

Photo via Google Maps

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A Virginia man has been arrested for a series of rape cases in Arlington that date back to 1991.

Arlington County Police say Michael F. Thompson, who is now 63 and a resident of Virginia’s Northern Neck region, used a gun to rape at least two women near the East Falls Church Metro station. He was linked to the cases after a reexamination of evidence, including DNA evidence, that ACPD’s Cold Case Unit initiated in 2017.

Thompson was identified as the suspect due to “forensic evidence combined with thorough investigative efforts,” and was arrested at his home on Tuesday morning, according to police.

ACPD is now asking anyone with additional information about the nearly 30-year-old cases to step forward.

More from a police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Cold Case Unit is announcing the arrest of a suspect in a cold case rape series. Michael F. Thomson, 63, of Montross, VA, was arrested and charged with two counts of the following charges: Rape, Abduction with the Intent to Defile, Forcible Sodomy and Use/Display of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony. Additional charges are anticipated. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility without bond.

Between January and December 1991, Arlington County Police investigated multiple reports of rapes and attempted rapes involving female victims walking from the East Falls Church Metro Station. In each reported incident, the victims were approached by an unknown male who displayed a firearm. Three cases were linked by DNA evidence with a fourth case being investigated as part of the series due to similarities with the other cases.

At approximately 6:00 p.m. on January 17, 1991, the female victim was walking home from the East Falls Church Metro in the 4800 block of Little Falls Road when an unknown male suspect approached her, brandished a firearm and forced her into a grassy area between two homes. The suspect raped the victim before fleeing the scene on foot.

At approximately 7:40 p.m. on February 13, 1991, the female victim was walking from the East Falls Church Metro to her parked vehicle in the 2300 block of N. Tuckahoe Street when she observed the unknown male suspect walking towards her. The suspect brandished a firearm, forced the victim to the side of a residence where he raped her before fleeing the scene on foot.

At approximately 10:00 p.m. on March 6, 1991, the female victim was walking home from the East Falls Church Metro in the 6300 block of Lee Highway when she was approached by an unknown male who alleged to have a firearm. The suspect forced the victim to the back of a nearby residence and directed her to remove her clothing. The suspect placed the firearm to her head and told her to be quiet. The suspect then asked the victim if she wanted him to leave and when she said yes, he fled the scene on foot.

At approximately 7:08 p.m. on December 2, 1991, the female victim was walking from the East Falls Church Metro to her parked vehicle in the 6100 block of N. 22nd Street when she was approached by an unknown male suspect brandishing a firearm. When the victim screamed, the suspect ran away and fled from the scene in a vehicle. As the suspect was fleeing, he dropped the baseball hat he was wearing. DNA from the baseball hat was later linked to DNA recovered in the January 17 and February 13 incidents.

In 2017, the Cold Case Unit initiated a fresh look at these unsolved cases including the review of cold case files, crime scene evidence and laboratory results. The DNA was resubmitted for additional analysis including phenotyping and genetic genealogy. The analysis resulted in additional information that led detectives to identify Michael Francis Thomson as a possible suspect. Forensic evidence combined with thorough investigative efforts linked the suspect to the 1991 incidents. He was taken into custody without incident at his residence on the morning of December 1, 2020.

This remain an active criminal investigation and anyone with information related to this series is asked to contact Detective R. Ortiz at 703-228-4702 or [email protected] Information may also be provided to the Arlington County Police Tip Line at [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

A Metro employee beat a coworker unconscious at the Pentagon station in 2017, after becoming enraged because the victim helped a rider, according to recent court filings about a previously-reported incident.

The day after the March 8, 2017 incident, it was reported by the Washington Post and other local outlets that a station manager assaulted a fare technician, who was “taken to the hospital and evaluated, but was not admitted and did not have visible injuries.” The station manager was arrested, though few other details were released and no motive given.

New information about the attack came to light as a result of a federal lawsuit filed by the victim, as relayed by the Twitter account @unsuckdcmetro, suggesting that the attack was more serious than first reported — and the result of an unusual workplace dispute.

Court filings detail what happened that day between the fare technician, Teshome Workagegnehu, and the station manager, Martin Van Buren.

Plaintiff began working for WMATA as a mechanic in June 2012. On March 8, 2017, he went to the Pentagon train station in Virginia to repair SmartTrip card machines. While he was there, he got into an argument with Martin Van Buren, the on-duty train station manager.

According to plaintiff, Van Buren became upset after plaintiff assisted a customer purchase a SmartTrip card. Van Buren told plaintiff that helping customers was outside of plaintiff’s “responsibility,” and plaintiff disagreed.

Then Van Buren allegedly punched plaintiff in the face, pinned him to the ground, and continued punching him. Plaintiff was taken to a hospital where he stayed overnight. Police arrived at the scene and defendant Van Buren was arrested.

Van Buren was convicted of simple assault, a misdemeanor, in Arlington General District Court in May of that year. He was sentenced to a net of 15 days in jail — 180 days, with 165 suspended — according to court records.

Later, Teshome Workagegnehu alleged that he was improperly denied the ability to sue WMATA. Last week, however, a D.C. federal appeals court affirmed a lower court ruling that he can’t sue because his injuries were work-related and covered by workers compensation.

The appeals court ruling has more details about what happened, saying that Van Buren “swore at and dismissed the customer” who asked for help, before Workagegnehu stepped in.

Teshome Workagegnehu and Martin Van Buren, both WMATA employees, were in a Metro station kiosk in Arlington, Virginia when a customer approached and asked for help with using the SmarTrip vending machine. Van Buren swore at and dismissed the customer. When the customer became flustered, Workagegnehu volunteered to help since he was going to maintain the machines anyway. Van Buren told Workagegnehu not to touch the machines, but Workagegnehu thought he was joking. Workagegnehu helped the customer, performed his maintenance, and then returned to the kiosk. Van Buren told Workagegnehu it was not his responsibility to help customers, and a brief verbal exchange followed as to each person’s job responsibilities.

While the two discussed their job responsibilities, Van Buren suddenly attacked Workagegnehu. Van Buren pinned Workagegnehu to the ground and punched him until he was unconscious. As Workagegnehu awoke, Van Buren said they should stop fighting because they would lose their jobs. But when Workagegnehu stood to leave, Van Buren attacked him again. Several customers and other employees saw the incident. Police arrived and arrested Van Buren, who was later convicted of assault. Workagegnehu sustained severe injuries and required hospitalization.

Workagegnehu was “faced with substantial hospital bills” after the attack, per the court document. He sued after WMATA did not initially approve his workers compensation claim.

The court ordered the workers comp claim paid, but Workagegnehu continued to pursue a suit against WMATA for the assault and the infliction of emotional distress. That was dismissed after the court ruled that the Virginia Workers Compensation Act barred it.

File photo

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