County Board Race is Anyone’s Guess — The outcome of the Arlington County Board race between incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic challenger Alan Howze is far from certain. While Vihstadt is winning the fundraising battle, Howze is expected to benefit from far greater turnout than the 16 percent who voted in the special election this year. The last general election with a Senate race on the ballot saw a 55 percent turnout in Arlington. [Washington Post]
Vihstadt Peeved at ‘Pro-Streetcar Narrative’ — At yesterday’s County Board meeting, John Vihstadt complained about the county government’s pro-streetcar PR efforts. He suggested that he and fellow streetcar critic Libby Garvey, who make up 40 percent of the Board, should have their views heard through county government channels. Board Chair Jay Fisette slammed that idea, saying “it doesn’t make sense” for the county government to expend resources arguing against its own official policy. [InsideNova]
Cyclist Struck on Lynn Street — A bicyclist was struck by a vehicle on Lynn Street in Rosslyn, between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N., just before 9:00 this morning. The cyclist was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with an apparent dislocated collarbone.
Bank Robbery in Falls Church — The FBI is looking for a man who robbed a BB&T Bank on West Broad Street in Falls Church yesterday morning. [Federal Bureau of Investigation]
Zac Hanson’s Birthday — On this day 29 years ago, “MMMBop” singer Zac Hanson was born in Arlington. [Hello!]
(Updated at 4:55 p.m.) A robbery occurred just past noon today at a bank branch on Lee Highway.
The United Bank at 5350 Lee Highway, across from the Harris Teeter, was robbed by a man who implied a weapon and passed a note to the teller.
The man fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash before police arrived. Police searched the area for the suspect but were unable to locate him. The FBI is also on the scene and investigating the incident.
The suspect is described as a black male, about 6 feet tall, with a muscular build. He is said to be wearing a gray hat, shirt, and pants.
Wilson Blvd Sidewalk Improvements Delayed — Arlington County Board members were apologetic on Saturday after a resident complained about the state of sidewalks along Wilson Blvd in the Bluemont area. The first phase of an improvement project, which will only consist of repaving and restriping the road, is now not slated to take place until the spring. County leaders promised to try to implement the second phase, which will actually improve the sidewalks, sooner rather than later. [InsideNova]
Bar to the Rescue in Crystal City? — Crystal City property owner Vornado hopes Highline, a new bar coming to the neighborhood, will help its growing tech community there after work. Vornado is trying to restyle Crystal City — which has lost government tenants for millions of square feet of office space, as a result of BRAC — as a tech hub. [Washington Post]
Neighborhood Conservation Projects Approved — A $2.5 million slate of four neighborhood improvement projects was approved by the County Board on Saturday. The projects include three in north Arlington and one in south Arlington. [Arlington County]
Bank Robber Sentenced — A D.C. man who robbed two Wells Fargo banks in Arlington has been sentenced to 35 years in prison, federal prosecutors announced. James Link, 57, was accused of robbing a Wells Fargo branch on Nov. 25, 2013, injuring an elderly woman in the process, and a branch on Dec. 31, after which he and an alleged accomplice were arrested by FBI agents who were waiting outside. [U.S. Dept. of Justice]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
FBI Looking for Serial Bank Robber — The FBI is seeking information on a serial bank robber who hit a Capital One Bank in District Heights, Md. in May and the Wells Fargo in Courthouse last September. “In both robberies, the unidentified man displayed a note to tellers demanding money and threatening a violent attack against everyone in the bank,” according to the FBI. [Federal Bureau of Investigation]
Tag Readers Brought Arlington $744,000 — The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office was able to bring in $744,000 in unpaid taxes thanks to use of automatic license plate readers. That’s up 54 percent from last year. [InsideNova]
Rape Prevention Certification for Jail — The Arlington County Detention Facility has been recognized as meeting new federal Prison Rape Elimination Act standards. The jail is the first in the D.C. area to receive the certification. “This certification is a significant recognition of what we focus on every day — operating a safe and secure jail for our inmates and staff,” Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur said, in a statement. [Arlington County]
Two of the men who robbed the Wells Fargo Bank on Columbia Pike last New Year’s Eve were convicted of armed bank robbery today in federal court.
James McNeal, 63, of Hyattsville, Md., and Alphonso Stoddard, 59, of Forest Heights, Md., were each convicted of armed bank robbery, conspiracy to commit bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Stoddard was also convicted in connection with two other bank robberies around the D.C. area in 2013.
The men will be sentenced Nov. 7. Stoddard is facing a life sentence because of prior convictions, while McNeal is facing up to life in prison with a mandatory minimum of seven years.
McNeal, Stoddard and D.C. resident James Link were arrested after holding up the Wells Fargo at the corner of the Pike and S. George Mason Drive and making off with $47,000. A few blocks away, an FBI SWAT team, which had been conducting surveillance of the trio since before they arrived at the bank, apprehended them.
Link pleaded guilty to two counts of brandishing a firearm and admitted his involvement in four other bank robberies. He will be sentenced Sept. 12. Below is the press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia’s office:
James McNeal, 63, of Hyattsville, Maryland, and Alphonso Stoddard, 59, of Forest Heights, Maryland, were convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to commit bank robbery, armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Timothy A. Gallagher, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and M. Douglas Scott, Arlington County Chief of Police, made the announcement after the verdict was accepted on Aug. 8, 2014 by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, III.
Stoddard was convicted of charges involving three separate bank robberies, and McNeal was convicted for his involvement in one bank robbery. Stoddard faces a mandatory life sentence because of prior convictions for armed bank robberies, and McNeal faces a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. The two defendants will be sentenced on November 7, 2014.
According to court records and evidence at trial, the FBI identified McNeal and Stoddard as possible suspects in a string of bank robberies in late 2013 and kept the men under close surveillance. On Dec. 27, 2013, McNeal and Stoddard were followed by law enforcement agents as they cased two banks in Arlington, Virginia. One of the banks the defendants were seen casing was a Wells Fargo branch on South George Mason Drive.
On Dec. 31, 2013, McNeal left his residence in Hyattsville and picked up Stoddard before returning to the Wells Fargo branch in Arlington. At approximately 1:15 p.m., Stoddard and a third man, James Link, 56, of Washington, D.C., entered the bank. Inside the bank, Link brandished a firearm while Stoddard removed approximately $47,000 in cash from teller drawers. The two men exited the bank and returned to the vehicle where McNeal was waiting. The FBI and Arlington officers arrested the defendants approximately one block away from the Wells Fargo branch. A handgun and cash were found in the vehicle.
A search of McNeal’s house led to the discovery of an additional firearm believed to be used in earlier bank robberies, cash and gloves. Stoddard admitted to his involvement in armed robberies at a Wells Fargo in Rockville, Maryland on Oct. 29, 2013 and the Bank of Georgetown in Vienna, Virginia on Oct. 30, 2013. Link admitted he was involved in the Bank of Georgetown robbery and an armed robbery at a Wells Fargo in Arlington on Nov. 25, 2013.
Link pleaded guilty to two counts of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and admitted his involvement in four bank robberies. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 32 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 12, 2014.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from FBI’s Baltimore Division and the Arlington County and Fairfax County police departments. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of Columbia and the District of Maryland also provided assistance in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam B. Schwartz and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer A. Clarke are prosecuting the case.
Arlington County Police and the FBI are looking for a man who robbed a bank on S. Glebe Road Friday morning.
The suspect entered a PNC Bank branch, located inside the Giant Food Store at 2901 S. Glebe Road, around 10:20 a.m. and demanded money from a teller, according to the FBI. The suspect fled after obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash.
“The subject was described as a black male with a full beard and mustache and shoulder length dread locks,” the FBI said on its website. “He was described as wearing a black and brown suit, black shoes, sunglasses and a black bag across his body.”
The FBI offers up to $5,000 for tips that least to the arrest and conviction of bank robbers.
Photos courtesy FBI
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) Arlington County Police are on the scene of an attempted bank robbery at the M&T Bank at the corner of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.
The crime happened around 2:00 p.m. Initial reports suggest a man entered the bank and demanded cash from the manager, but fled empty-handed. The suspect was unarmed and no one was hurt.
Police set up a perimeter and were looking for the man, who reportedly fled eastbound on Lee Highway on foot. He’s described as a middle-aged white male, weighing about 200 lbs, wearing all black.
A suspect is currently in custody, according to scanner traffic.
The Capital One branch on the 3500 block of Columbia Pike was robbed around 5:40 p.m. A suspect approached a teller, implied a weapon and demanded money. He fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.
No one was hurt during the robbery.
“The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5’5” to 5’8” tall, with a medium build and wearing all dark clothing,” police said in a press release.
“If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective P. Mulvaney of the Arlington County Homicide/Robbery Unit at (703) 228-4239 or [email protected],” police said. “Anonymous tips can also be provided through the Arlington County Crime Solvers Hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Arlington County Police are on the scene of a bank robbery in Shirlington.
The robbery occurred around 12:15 p.m. at the BB&T Bank branch at 2700 S. Quincy Street. Two men in ski masks robbed the bank while armed with at least one handgun.
“At least one of the robbers was armed and jumped the teller counter to obtain money from teller drawers,” police said. “After obtaining the money, both subjects exited the bank with an undisclosed amount of money.”
Investigators could be seen on the ramp from Shirlington Circle to I-395 photographing and picking up a large amount of cash, stained red from a dye pack, on the side of the road. Police scanner traffic also reported that a gun was thrown out of the getaway vehicle on Shirlington Circle, as the suspects fled northbound on I-395 toward D.C.
Four bank employees and three customers were inside at the time of the robbery. Two customers who werethere spoke to reporters after coming out of the bank. They saw the men with their masks and a gun and said they were “very scared.” Customers and bank employees were herded into the bank vault during the robbery, the customers said.
Immediately following the robbery, police were told to be on the lookout for two black males, approximately 30-35 years of age, driving a large blue SUV with D.C. tags.
“Subject one is described as a tall male wearing a dark colored jacket, black ski mask that covered his head, grey or light colored gloves, grey pants and a black backpack,” police said. “Subject two is described as wearing a dark colored jacket with a grey hooded sweatshirt underneath that was pulled over his head and a ski mask covering his face and light colored gloves.”
From an ACPD press release:
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of these bank robbers.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Arlington County, Virginia, Police Department are investigating this bank robbery and request that anyone with information call the FBI at 202-278-2000 or Detective Cynthia Garcia with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.4195 or [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
An FBI SWAT team observed while three men allegedly robbed the Wells Fargo at Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive at gunpoint on Tuesday, apprehending the suspects a block away after the robbery had been committed.
The men — two from Maryland and one from Washington, D.C. — had been under FBI surveillance after being suspected of committing several bank robberies around the D.C. area, according to federal prosecutors.
The men left the bank with $47,000, but were apprehended a block north on George Mason Drive. They have been charged with armed bank robbery.
Below is the full press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – James McNeal, 63, of Hyattsville, Md., James Link, 56, of Washington, D.C., and Alphonso Stoddard, 59, of Forest Heights, Md., were charged today by criminal complaint with armed bank robbery.
Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the initial appearance of defendants Link and Stoddard before United States Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson.
The defendants each face a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment if convicted.
According to court documents and court proceedings today, the FBI received information in December 2013 that McNeal, Link and Stoddard had been responsible for the armed robberies of multiple banks in the Washington metropolitan area. After identifying the subjects, the FBI kept the three men under close surveillance, which included observing the defendants as they cased banks in Arlington, Va. for potential robberies.
On December 31, 2013, FBI agents followed the three subjects as they drove from Maryland to a Wells Fargo bank branch in Arlington. An FBI SWAT team was prepositioned near the Wells Fargo bank before the defendants arrived. At approximately 1:15 p.m., Link and Stoddard entered the bank with their faces covered. Link brandished a gun and pointed it at individuals in the bank, while Stoddard jumped the teller counter and removed approximately $47,000 in cash from teller drawers. The two men exited the bank and returned to their vehicle, where McNeal was waiting.
As the three subjects attempted to flee the scene, FBI and Arlington County Police apprehended them approximately one block away. A handgun and cash were found in the vehicle. A search of McNeal’s house in Hyattsville, Md. led to the discovery of additional firearms, gloves and items of clothing that were linked to previous bank robberies.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office with the assistance of the FBI’s Baltimore Division and the Fairfax County and Arlington County police departments. The United States Attorney’s Offices for the District of Columbia and the District of Maryland also provided assistance in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Adam B. Schwartz is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
(Updated 2:20 p.m.) Three suspects have been apprehended after a bank robbery on Columbia Pike.
The Wells Fargo Bank at the corner of S. George Mason Drive and Columbia Pike was robbed this afternoon, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Three suspects have been taken into custody, he said.
The robbery occurred around 1:20 p.m., according to scanner traffic.
Significant police activity at the intersection is impacting traffic and 16-line Metrobuses. Northbound George Mason Drive is closed at Columbia Pike.
(Updated at 2:05 p.m.) An elderly woman was taken to the hospital after being injured in a bank robbery on N. Glebe Road.
The robbery happened around 11:20 a.m., in the Wells Fargo bank at the corner of N. Glebe Road and Lee Highway.
Police say two black males entered the bank, displayed a handgun, and ordered everyone inside to the floor. An 82-year-old woman was hurt when one of the robbers threw her to the ground while exiting the bank, said Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
About 14 people were inside the bank at the time of the robbery, according to Sternbeck.
The men fled the scene with an undetermined amount of money and remain at large. The woman was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with minor injuries, Sternbeck said.
Surveillance photos courtesy of ACPD
Four men who robbed a Navy Federal credit union in Ballston last December have been sentenced to 60 years in prison.
The men, ages 21 to 24, were convicted in June of three armed robberies in Northern Virginia during the 2012 holiday season. The third robbery, of the Navy Federal, the last of their crime spree.
They robbed the credit union (875 N. Randolph Street) on Saturday, Dec. 22 in a heavily-armed heist reminiscent of a Hollywood movie. No one was hurt and, because police were able to track the money, the men were arrested within an hour of the robbery.
The men were convicted and sentenced in federal court. From the U.S. Attorney’s Office:
Keith Willie Reed, 24, of Washington, D.C.; Tobias Richard Dyer, 21, of Upper Marlboro, Md.; Anthony Cannon, 24, of Washington, D.C.; and Stanley Winston, 23, of Washington, D.C., were each sentenced today to 60 years in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for conspiracy, robbery affecting interstate commerce, armed robbery of a credit union, use of a firearm during crimes of violence, and being felons in possession of firearms. They were also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $76,915.15.
Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Claude M. Hilton
Reed, Dyer, Winston, and Cannon were found guilty after a jury trial on June 21, 2013. According to court records and evidence adduced at trial, the defendants committed three armed robberies in Northern Virginia during the December 2012 holiday season. Specifically, on December 7, they robbed VVM, Inc., located in Fairfax County, Virginia. Two days later, they robbed the Shoppers Food Warehouse on Jefferson Davis Highway in Alexandria, Virginia. Then, on December 22, they robbed the Navy Federal Credit Union on Randolph Street in Arlington, Virginia. The total loss amount from these three armed robberies was over $75,000. In each robbery, three of the defendants entered masked while the fourth waited in a stolen getaway car. All four were arrested within an hour of the Navy Federal Credit Union robbery when law enforcement was able to track the money.
This case was jointly investigated by FBI’s Washington Field Office and Baltimore Field Office, and the Metropolitan, Fairfax County, Arlington County, and Alexandria Police Departments. Assistant United States Attorneys Patricia T. Giles and Rebeca H. Bellows are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Flickr photo by Joe Gratz
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Police are on the scene of a robbery at the Pentagon Federal Credit Union branch in Pentagon City.
The PenFed branch is located on the ground floor of the Transportation Security Administration headquarters at 701 12th Street S.
Two men entered the credit union around 1:20 p.m. and passed a backpack and a note demanding cash to the teller, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The men were given an undisclosed amount of cash. They then fled and were last seen getting into a blue-and-white taxicab.
According to scanner traffic, the cab was likely an Arlington Blue Top cab that was waiting at the cab stand between the Pentagon City Metro station and the Ritz Carlton hotel.
No one was hurt during the incident, Sternbeck said. Arlington police are investigating the robbery in cooperation with the FBI and the TSA. From a police press release:
Suspect one is described as a black male, approximately 6’0” tall with a skinny build and a short beard. He was wearing blue jeans, a blue jacket, along with a black and red hat and glasses at the time of the incident. Suspect two is described as a black male, approximately 5’10” and was wearing blue jeans, a grey hooded sweatshirt and blue jacket.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of these individuals is asked to contact Detective Gary Skeens with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.4166,[email protected] or [email protected]. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
The credit union is located within the TSA headquarters complex. Its entrance faces a public plaza that’s open to pedestrians but closed to vehicle traffic. There is an entrance to the TSA headquarters building within the branch, according to TSA spokesman Mark Howell, but one must present an ID badge to use it.
A guard station is located about 100 feet from the credit union, but Howell said the contract guards who man it are trained to initially call police in the event of a crime. They do not provide security to PenFed, which leases space in the building from the property owner, not from TSA.
Police released the following surveillance footage from the robbery:
(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) Police are on the scene of a bank robbery in Courthouse.
A man robbed the Wells Fargo Bank at 2200 Clarendon Blvd just before 1:00 p.m. today (Friday). The bank is in the courtyard of Courthouse Plaza, just steps from the Arlington County government office building and a couple of blocks from police headquarters.
The suspect presented a note to the teller implying he had a gun, and fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash, according to police. He “was in and out within minutes,” said police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Police quickly surrounded the bank following the robbery, but the suspect remains at large. The FBI also responded to the call, which is protocol in a bank robbery.
The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s or 30s, between 5’6″ and 5’9″, wearing a black windbreaker, a “boonie” hat and dark blue jogging pants with light blue piping on the leg. The man had a thin build and a short beard, police said. He was last seen running northbound in the area of Me Jana restaurant, according to scanner traffic.