Arlington Police HQ Evacuated Due to Bomb Threat — The Arlington County Police headquarters in Courthouse was evacuated for several hours Saturday night after police received an “automated phone call” that made a bomb threat. Bomb-sniffing dogs got a “preliminary hit” but a sweep of the building came up empty. [WJLA]
Arlington’s MLK Tribute — Arlington County held its 47th annual tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. on Sunday. County Board members were among those in attendance, honoring Dr. King. [WTOP]
Tax Bills Could Be Going Up — Unless the Arlington County Board lowers the property tax rate, the tax bill for the average homeowner will be going up to a record $6,011. The average assessed value of residential properties in Arlington increased 2.8 percent year-over-year. [InsideNova]
Tour of Ballston Tech Office — Ballston-based cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect has grown to more than 100 employees and is continuing to expand. The company’s “hip headquarters… comes complete with some beautiful design work and creative Star Wars-centric accents.” [DC Inno]
(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) Yorktown High School students, faculty and staff were evacuated after the school received a bomb threat.
Shortly after noon, the school received a call from a “computerized-automated voice” that said “I have a bomb on me,” said Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Students were evacuated to the school’s stadium while K-9 units from Arlington, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and the CIA searched the school.
The dogs did not find anything suspicious, but officers were posted by each of the school’s entrances as students re-entered Yorktown, Sternbeck said. Students and teachers were allowed back in around 1:35 p.m.
Arlington Public Schools sent the following notes to parents about the situation:
At approximately 12 p.m. today, Yorktown High School received an automated telephone bomb threat. As a precaution, all students and staff have been evacuated. Police have responded and are currently doing a search of the building. Everyone is safe and we will provide an update as soon as we have more information.
A short time ago, Arlington Police completed their search and have given the all clear. Students are now moving back into the building and classes are resuming. We appreciate everyone’s fast response and cooperation as well as the support of our Arlington County Police Department.
Yorktown High School was not the only Virginia school to receive a bomb threat. Approximately 10 minutes after Yorktown received the bomb threat, a school in Prince William county received the same phone call, Sternbeck said.
Arlington schools do not receive bomb threats very often, he said.
“We get them at malls more frequently than at schools,” Sternbeck said.
The bizarre incident happened around 10:30 p.m. Police received a call from a “concerned citizen,” reporting that a man was walking down the road with his pants around his ankles.
The man failed to comply with the commands of responding officers who tried to stop and question him, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Instead, he began walking down the middle of Lee Highway, shouting obscenities, daring police to shoot him and saying he had a bomb in his backpack, Sternbeck said.
Eventually, the man dropped the backpack in the middle of the roadway and was then taken into custody. Police shut down Lee Highway between N. Lexington Street and Sycamore Street while the county’s bomb squad evaluated the backpack. No bomb was found, and the road reopened after an “extended” closure, said Sternbeck.
The man has been charged with resisting arrest, assault on police and making a bomb threat, we’re told.
Updated at 2:40 p.m.: The Arlington County Police Department has cleared the scene. It is re-opening roads in the area, and shoppers and employees will soon be able to re-enter the mall.
Earlier: The Pentagon Centre Mall is under evacuation this afternoon as the Arlington County Police Department investigates a bomb threat.
The ACPD brought bomb-sniffing dogs to the complex that includes a Best Buy and Costco to evaluate the threat, received at 12:21 p.m., police said. Several streets in the area are shut down, plus the South Hayes Street entrance to the Pentagon City Metro station. Pentagon Police are assisting with the investigation.
Police have yet to find anything but continue to search, ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. Officers are sweeping the entire center, including the large Costco parking lot.
“It’s going to take a while to do a full sweep just because of the sheer size of the center,” Sternbeck told ARLnow.com.
The bomb threat was called in to the mall’s front desk, Sternbeck said.
A bomb threat was phoned into the Pentagon City mall on Christmas Eve, according to the latest Arlington County weekly crime report.
The bomb threat was called in around 1:00 p.m., just before a “black lives matter” protest at the mall. It’s unclear if the threat was in any way connected to or in response to the protest.
BOMB THREAT, 141224021, 1100 block of S Hayes St. On 12/24/14 at 1304 hours, unknown suspect called in a bomb threat to the Pentagon City Mall. Nothing suspicious found in garage area and mall did not evacuate.
PROTEST, 141224033, 1100 block of S Hayes St. On 12/24/14 at 1432 hours, approximately 15 individuals protested at Pentagon City Mall. No arrests made.
Also in the crime report, an armed robbery occurred in the Rosslyn / Courthouse area. The incident happened early last Monday morning.
ROBBERY,141229005, 1800 block of N Wilson BL. On 12/29/14 at 0330 hours, an unknown suspect displayed a handgun while demanding cigarettes and cash. Suspect description is black male, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and jeans.
The rest of the weekly crime report, after the jump.
Update at 11:50 a.m. — All lanes are now back open.
Update at 11:35 a.m. — The Key Bridge is being reopened, D.C. police said via Twitter. Traffic is currently flowing from the D.C. to Virginia side of the bridge, but so far the inbound lanes have not reopened. NBC Washington is reporting that the closure was due to a phoned-in bomb threat.
Earlier: Police have closed the Key Bridge to vehicle and pedestrian traffic due to police activity on the D.C. side.
No word yet on when the bridge might reopen.
Earlier: The Drewry Mental Health and Substance Abuse Center at 1725 N. George Mason Drive has been evacuated due to a bomb threat.
The bomb threat was phoned in by an adult female caller around 12:30 this afternoon, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. A total of five bomb-sniffing dogs — two from Arlington and three Alexandria — were brought in to sweep the building for any possible explosives. Two of the dogs got a “hit” on a spot within the center, according to scanner traffic, prompting the evacuation.
Arlington bomb squad units are currently on the scene investigating.
Police have shut down George Mason Drive in both directions between 16th Street and 20th Street. Buses are being rerouted as a result.
In addition to clients and staff of the Drewry Center, children have been evacuated from the NVFS Head Start Child Development Center on the premises. The Drewry Center is adjacent to Virginia Hospital Center, but the hospital is still open for normal business, according to Arlington County.
(Updated at 12:05 a.m.) Police are now clearing the scene at Ballston Common Mall after a phoned-in bomb threat.
Three separate bomb threats were phoned in to authorities: one to Prince George’s County dispatchers, one to Arlington, and one directly to the mall, according to Arlington County police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. It’s not clear if the threats all were made by the same individual.
Mall security has informed stores of the threat but decided not to evacuate, Sternbeck said. Police officers and two K-9 units searched inside and outside the building but found nothing.
“We want to be very thorough in our sweep and… in deeming it safe,” said Sternbeck during the search. “If we did find something we deemed legitimate we would have the authority to bring everyone out [of the mall].”
Dozens of shoppers and workers on their lunch break could be seen carrying on normal daily business inside the mall during the incident. One lane of Wilson Boulevard was partially blocked by police vehicles outside the mall. As of 11:50 a.m., most of the police response was packing up and starting to clear the scene.
(Updated at 4:20 p.m.) Police are questioning a “person of interest” in connection with a bomb threat at the Sheraton National hotel on S. Orme Street this afternoon.
The building was evacuated around 1:45 p.m. after a bomb threat was phoned in to the hotel. The caller claimed a bomb had been planted on street level and was going to detonate at 3:00 p.m., according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police shut down S. Orme Street between Columbia Pike and Southgate Road (the entrance to the Marine Corps’ Henderson Hall) as a precaution.
The bomb threat was called in to the hotel on the first day of the Human Capital Management Defense conference. Dozens of attendees of the conference, along with other guests and hotel staff, were evacuated. Scheduled speakers at the conference include a number of Department of Defense and U.S. government officials. There’s no indication the bomb threat was connected with the conference, according to Sternbeck.
Sternbeck said officers stopped a “person of interest” — a guest at the hotel — for questioning after the individual was pointed out to police by hotel staff. That individual is still being questioned, but the evacuees have now being let back into the hotel and S. Orme Street has been reopened.
At least a half dozen bomb sniffing dogs were on scene to assist with a search for any type of explosive device. Pentagon Police and Virginia State Police were also on scene. Sternbeck said the basement, garage and ground floor of the hotel were swept by K-9 units. The floor the person of interest was staying on was also swept, he said.
Bomb Threat in Rosslyn — A bomb threat called into Argosy University (1550 Wilson Blvd) around 6:00 last night prompted a large police response. Traffic issues were reported in the Rosslyn area while authorities cordoned off the building and investigated the threat. Eventually, the all-clear was given and the building was reopened.
Arlington’s Top Employers, Past and Present — Arlington County has seen significant turnover in its list of the top local employers over the past decade. Companies like MCI/Worldcom, Qwest and The Hecht Co. made the county’s top 20 employers list in 2002. In 2011, those companies are off the list, while companies like Boeing, The Nature Conservancy and Booz Allen Hamilton are now on the list. [Washington Business Journal]
CivFed Wants Board to Keep Sign Powers — The Arlington Civic Federation wants the County Board to continue exercising discretionary power over signage in the county. A rewrite of the county’s sign ordinance is underway, and is expected to delegate most sign decision-making away from the Board, in favor of more administrative decisions by county staff. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Wins Tourism Award — Arlington County has won a 2011 Shining Example Award from the Southeast Tourism Society in the “Tourism for Tomorrow” category. The award specifically honored Arlington’s electric Mobile Visitors Center, which serves visitors at six different Metro stations, five days per week. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White
Update at 12:15 p.m. — The scene has been cleared and employees are being allowed back into the office.
Earlier: Arlington County’s bomb squad is investigating some sort of bomb threat inside an office building in Courthouse.
Initial reports suggest the threat was made to the conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, at 2111 Wilson Boulevard. Bomb-sniffing dogs from the Arlington County Police Department and Virgina State Police are on the scene. Americans for Prosperity employees have been evacuated, but employees in other offices have been allowed to remain.
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has been the source of some controversy recently. Among other incidents, the group was accused of sending error-filled ballots to Democrats in Wisconsin during a contentious election this month.
David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, the original founders of AFP’s predecessor organization, have been major supporters of numerous conservative causes. The New Yorker has reported that Americans for Prosperity provides organizational and financial support to the Tea Party movement.
Bomb Threat on DCA Flight — There were some tense moments at Reagan National Airport yesterday after a flight from Dayton, Ohio was sequestered and searched for explosives. Nothing was found, however. An individual who made a bomb threat at the Dayton airport ticket counter was taken into custody, the FBI said. [Bloomberg]
New Principals Named — Arlington Public Schools have named two new principals. Kenwyn Schaffner has been named the principal of Jamestown Elementary School and Bridget Loft has been named the principal of Swanson Middle School. “Ms. Loft was greeted by cheers and a standing ovation when she was introduced to the Swanson staff after the announcement of appointment,” an insider tells us. [Arlington Public Schools]
Rousselot Endorses Areizaga-Soto — Former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot has endorsed Jaime Areizaga-Soto in his primary battle against Arlington County Board member Barbara Favola for state Senate. [JaimeForSenate.com]
ART Drivers File Human Rights Complaint — Striking Arlington Transit bus drivers have filed a complaint with the Arlington Human Rights Commission, claiming “ongoing sexual harassment from county contractor Forsythe Transportation.” [Washington Examiner]
Jogging With Grassley — Part-time Arlington resident Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently went jogging through his neighborhood with 15 young constituents who were in town for the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. [ECT.coop]
Flickr pool photo by Christaki
(Updated at 12:55 p.m.) The all-clear has been given after a bomb threat at Wakefield High School.
The school was evacuated after the threat was called in to 911 at 10:45 a.m., from a pay phone within the school, according to police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal.
The school One class was in the midst of Advanced Placement testing at the time.
Police dogs from five different law enforcement agencies — including Arlington, Pentagon, Fort Myer, Virginia State Police and the U.S. Marshals Service — conducted a sweep of the building. Students and teachers gathered at the school’s football field after the evacuation and are now heading back to class.
(Updated at 1:10 p.m.) Police investigated a bomb threat at the WJLA (ABC 7) building (1100 Wilson Blvd) in Rosslyn this afternoon.
Initial reports suggest the threat was non-specific. Pedestrian traffic was still allowed in and out of the building as normal as police and building employees searched in and around the building. A police dog could be seen sniffing around news vans at the station’s parking lot.
Police are in the process of clearing the scene. No threats were found, according to Arlington police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal.
County Gears Up for Pothole Repairs — Arlington County and VDOT are preparing for a big spring pothole push. Crews have been out 5-6 days per week filling potholes, but as things warm up they may be able to start making more permanent repairs. You can report a pothole over the phone at 703-228-6570. [Sun Gazette]
Man Who Threatened Metro Sentenced — The Arlington View man accused of threatening to blow up Metro trains and Georgetown sidewalks has been sentenced. Awais Younis, 25, pleaded guilty in federal court to sending threatening communications. Younis, who said he never actually intended to carry out the threats, was sentenced to time served, a two-year supervised release, anger management courses and mental health counseling. [WTOP]
Rosslyn Blasting Starting Soon — The Rosslyn Metro entrance project has hit bedrock and will soon start blasting. The blasting will take place nightly between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m. for several months. Arlington County says the contractor is taking steps to minimize noise and vibration from the blasting. [TBD]
Crystal City Office Building to Be Renovated — An old 1960s-era office building at 1411 Jefferson Davis Highway will be renovated into “prime Class A office space” after BRAC forces its current tenant, the National Guard, to move out at the end of the year. [Washington Business Journal]
Englin Will Seek Re-Election — Del. David Englin, whose district includes part of South Arlington, says will not be seeking higher office this year. Instead, Englin announced yesterday that he will be running for re-election.
Flickr pool photo by Rukasu1