Join Club

A “Family Fun Story Time Brunch” featuring a drag performer was disrupted Saturday by protests and a bomb threat.

About an hour before the event was scheduled to start at Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 23rd Street S.) the venue received an email threatening the performance and owner Freddie Lutz’s home, Lutz told ARLnow exclusively on Sunday.

Police were called, attendees were ushered to the rear parking lot, and a bomb-sniffing dog from the Pentagon was brought in to sweep the building. After a significant delay, the all clear was given and the show went on.

The crowd of local families, including babies and a grandmother, packed the venue — despite the delay, the threats and a handful of protesters outside “saying we’re going to hell,” according to Lutz.

“We weren’t super surprised when we got that email before the show,” Lutz said.

Neither was drag queen Tara Hoot, who said it’s happened numerous times before, including a similar incident in December in Takoma Park.

“I’ve lost count,” Hoot said of the threats. “It makes me sad that I’ve lost count. No one should lose count of the bomb threats they are getting.”

The brunch event promised “a SHOW that’s perfect for kids and kids at heart – fun for everyone,” featuring “songs, stories, puppets, bubbles and joy,” according to an announcement placed on ARLnow.

Arlington County police confirmed the incident and an ongoing investigation.

“At approximately 11:15 a.m. on April 6, police were dispatched to the report of a bomb threat emailed to a business,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow. “Responding officers made contact with the occupants, conducted a sweep of the business and no evidence of a crime was located. The investigation is ongoing.”

Lutz lamented the current “toxic” environment that has led to threats against drag performance. The national advocacy group GLAAD found “161 incidents of anti-LGBTQ protests and threats targeting drag events” over an approximately one-year period starting in early 2022.

“It’s crazy world we’re living in,” he said, noting that it used to be common for mainstream celebrities like Milton Berle and others to perform in drag without attracting significant controversy.

“It was just fun entertainment, and it still is,” he said, recounting the room full of smiling faces once the show got underway. “Everyone was laughing and enjoying it. I just don’t get it, this show is so innocent. My own niece and nephew and grand niece and nephew were in there and loving it.”

Videos Lutz shared with ARLnow showed kids and parents twirling rainbow streamers while Hoot sang, danced and used bubble gun toys to fill the room with bubbles.

Hoot said the protesters have followed her to various events, including storytime drag brunches at a since-closed restaurant on Capitol Hill, which also received bomb threats.

“I did gigs at Crazy Aunt Helen’s that were protested by religious zealots and had several bomb threats there,” the performer said. “They’ve started targeting my non-family focused events as well.”

Read More

2 Comments
Police car at night (file photo courtesy Kevin Wolf)

(Updated at 10:30 p.m.) Police responded to a bomb threat at an Arlington synagogue tonight.

Arlington County police were dispatched to Congregation Etz Hayim, along Route 50 in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, around 5:30 p.m. Initial reports suggest that someone texted a crisis hotline that they had placed a bomb at the synagogue and were also planning to stab people inside.

No bomb was found nor did any acts of violence occur, ACPD told ARLnow.

From a police spokeswoman:

At approximately 5:25 p.m. on November 17, police were dispatched to the 2900 block of Arlington Boulevard for the report of suspicious circumstances. The preliminary investigation indicates the suspect contacted a crisis hotline and allegedly made threats to bomb a house of worship. Responding officers made contact with the occupants of the property and searched the area and no evidence of a crime was located. The investigation is ongoing.

The threat comes at a time of rising antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war.

A tipster tells ARLnow that the threat was made during the congregation’s “Tot Shabbat” service.

“This service is aimed at kids under 6 and their families, and it is sponsored in memory of a stillborn baby,” the tipster said.

2 Comments
Swanson Middle School (photo via APS)

(Updated at 1 p.m.) Someone phoned in a bomb threat at Swanson Middle School this morning.

The caller claimed that bombs were planted in the middle school, in the Westover area. The school was quickly placed in lockdown, an Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirmed to ARLnow.

Police and fire department personnel — including bomb-sniffing dogs — were dispatched to the school around 9:50 a.m.

The following was sent to Swanson families just before 10:30 a.m.

Swanson Middle School remains in lockdown* due to a bomb threat made over the phone. The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) and Arlington County Fire Department are on the scene to determine the credibility of the threat. All students and staff are safe at this time. The safety and security of students and staff is our top priority.

At this time, we ask that parents stay where they are and remain available to receive updates and instructions as needed. Please do not come to the school. Additional details will be communicated as soon as they are known.

As of 11:15 a.m. Arlington County police said no explosives were found during a search of the school. Students were dismissed from school shortly thereafter.

“ACPD and ACFD have given the school an ‘all clear’ following a search of the school property,” families were told in an email. “The investigation into the circumstances of the telephone threat is ongoing.”

“Because of the threat, students will be dismissed at 11:30 a.m.,” the message continued. “The safety and security of your child is our top priority.”

0 Comments
(Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington National Cemetery was closed for most of the day today due to a bomb threat.

The cemetery said on social media Friday morning that the threat is being investigated.

“The cemetery’s response teams and local law enforcement partners are on site investigating the threat,” ANC said. “The public is requested to avoid the area and wait for updates posted to our social media platforms.”

An Arlington County police K-9 unit was dispatched to the cemetery around 8:40 a.m. for what was described as a threat received via email.

Officials said shortly after 3 p.m. that no threat was found but the cemetery remains closed except for funerals.

More from a press release:

Arlington National Cemetery officials and Joint Base Myer Henderson-Hall emergency services responded to a bomb threat early this morning. The cemetery closed to the public and funeral services scheduled this morning were postponed. The cemetery’s response teams and local law enforcement partners spent the morning on site investigating the threat. Nothing suspicious was found, and law enforcement safely cleared all areas.

The cemetery will remain closed for the remainder of the day to visitors and family pass holders. We are focusing our efforts now on working with families to ensure that funerals scheduled earlier this morning and this afternoon will be conducted later today.

Arlington National Cemetery’s commitment to providing a safe and secure environment for our visitors, families and employees guided our actions this morning.

“Every threat to Arlington National Cemetery is taken seriously. I want to thank our visitors and family members for their patience and understanding, and an extensive team of our law enforcement partners across the National Capital Region for their swift and thorough response. We will spend the remainder of the day focused on our mission of laying our service members and their loved ones to rest,” said Army National Military Cemeteries and Office of Army Cemeteries Executive Director Karen Durham-Aguilera.

For additional information please contact: 703-614-0024 and follow Arlington National
Cemetery on our social media platforms @ArlingtonNatl and this website.

2 Comment

(Updated at 4 p.m.) Portions of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall were closed this afternoon after a suspicious package at one of the gates.

A witness described seeing a “large law enforcement response inside the base with crime scene tape and everything blocked off within a few hundred yards” of the Hatfield Gate, near the intersection of 2nd Street S. and Washington Blvd.

Around 2:30 p.m., a spokeswoman confirmed to ARLnow an “active situation” at the base.

“Hatfield Gate, the main gate at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall accessed of Washington Blvd., is closed at this time due to an incident at the gate,” said JBMHH Community Relations Officer Leah Rubalcaba. “Details of the incident are not in as it is an active situation. In the interim, traffic to the base is being diverted to Wright Gate and the Henderson Hall Gate.”

Via social media, the base announced that its medical clinic and exchange store, along with some roads, had been closed. ARLnow also hears that the child care center on the base was evacuated.

Just before 4 p.m. the “all clear” was given.

“There was a suspicious package detected at the gate,” Rubalcaba said. “It was checked out and we just received the ‘all clear’ a few minutes ago. Hatfield Gate has re-opened and operations are back to normal.”

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Clerk Hires Fmr. School Board Member — “Former School Board member Nancy Van Doren in February started work as one of a number of deputy clerks under Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson, with her bailiwick the land-records division and its staff of five… that led to speculation that Ferguson – who served on the County Board before being elected clerk in 2007 – might be preparing for a departure when his current term expires at the end of 2023. That’s not the plan, Ferguson told the Sun Gazette.” [Sun Gazette]

Bomb Threat in Rosslyn — “The police activity in Rosslyn [Sunday] was due to a phone threat received by a tenant at 1100 Wilson Blvd, police tell ARLnow. The office building is home to Politico, UVA grad programs, TV station WJLA and others. The ‘all clear’ [was] given, after the building was evacuated.” [Twitter]

Last Month’s Real Estate Stats — “Based on just 352 closed sales in Arlington County, the median price was $650,000, down 4% from last April, according to Long & Foster Real Estate. The number of homes for sale in Arlington County was up 76% from a year ago, but as evidence of the fast pace at which homes are selling, the number of new listings coming on the market outpaced total inventory. Sellers in Arlington County got an average of 101.5% of their list price.” [WTOP]

Woman Arrested for Striking Officer — “The female suspect was allegedly inside the business opening merchandise, refusing to leave and threatened staff about having a weapon. The arriving officer located the suspect who was uncooperative, refused to follow commands and claimed to have a firearm in her pocket. While taking her into custody, the suspect resisted arrest and struck the officer multiple times.” [ACPD]

Reflecting on ER Chief’s Pandemic Posts — “Social media was a lifeline for many throughout the #pandemic. In March 2020, VHC’s Dr. Mike Silverman, Chair of the Emergency Department, began using @Facebook as a way to keep our community informed about what was happening behind the scenes in local hospitals.” [Virginia Hospital Center/Twitter]

Aging Home’s Future in Doubt — “The quaint 1889 Queen Anne-style home a couple of hundred yards from the East Falls Church Metro may soon meet the wrecking ball. What for decades has been called the Fellows-McGrath House (6404 Washington Blvd.) was sold by owner Pam Jones this February for $1,088,295. The purchaser, Manassas-based FNM Investments LLC, led Jones to suspect her cherished home of 17 years — a one time bed and breakfast known as Memory House — will be torn down.” [Falls Church News-Press]

0 Comments

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) The “all clear” has been given after a bomb threat in the Crystal City/Potomac Yard area.

The investigation took place on the 3500 block of S. Clark Street, a block that includes the U.S. headquarters of grocery chain Lidl and an LA Fitness location.

An Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman declined to specify who or what received the bomb threat, but did note that several nearby businesses were evacuated during the investigation.

Arlington County firefighters and other law enforcement agencies are assisting with the investigation, said ACPD’s Ashley Savage. Assistance was provided by the explosives detection K-9 units of Virginia State Police, the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, Amtrak, and and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, she said.

The large police presence and road closures prompted delays for some buses, Metro said earlier via social media.

Photo courtesy anonymous

0 Comments

(Updated at 4 p.m.) An office building in Crystal City has been evacuated after a company inside reportedly received a bomb threat via email.

Police and firefighters were first dispatched to 1919 S. Eads Street for a report of a bomb threat around 2:15 p.m. Among the building’s tenants are the Consumer Technology Association and Inside Washington Publishers.

Shortly after the initial dispatch, it was reported that the fire alarm in the building was sounding and people were evacuating.

This is the second bomb threat to prompt an office evacuation in Crystal City so far this month.

Meanwhile, another emailed bomb threat has been reported at 4300 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, headquarters to energy company AES and home to other offices and retail businesses.

News outlets are reporting that “dozens” of bomb threats have been reported at news outlets and other businesses and institutions across the U.S., though the threats are not believed to be credible. The FBI is monitoring the situation, both in the D.C. area and nationwide.

0 Comments

(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) A portion of S. Clark Street in Crystal City remains closed by police due to a bomb threat.

Clark Street is currently closed between 23rd Street and 26th Street while Pentagon and Arlington County bomb squads investigate a reported threat at a Department of Defense facility. Bomb-sniffing dogs are searching the building to ensure there are no explosives inside.

Pedestrians were moved away from the area as a precaution.

“Avoid the area and follow police direction,” said an Arlington Alert about the incident.

Update at 11:35 a.m. — The “all-clear” has been given and first responders are preparing to leave the scene.

0 Comments

(Update at 3:15 p.m.) Arlington National Cemetery is now back open to the public, after investigators determined that a bomb threat made this morning was unfounded.

Cemetery officials evacuated the burial ground earlier this morning, and now say the cemetery will remain open until 7 p.m. tonight, as usual.

Earlier: Arlington National Cemetery was evacuated this morning (Wednesday) due to a bomb threat, and is now closed to visitors for the rest of the day.

Cemetery officials wrote on Twitter that visitors and employees alike were safely escorted off the premises as the investigation continues.

Both cemetery officials and emergency services workers from the nearby Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall are investigating.

0 Comments

An 18-year-old Marymount University student has been charged with making a bomb threat against the campus.

Police say Samuel Nwalozie, a D.C. resident, posted the threat via social media. The university’s main campus in north Arlington was evacuated the morning of Easter Sunday — which was also April Fools’ Day — while officers and bomb dogs swept the school’s grounds and buildings.

“The investigation determined there was never a physical threat to the safety of the students, staff of campus,” Arlington County Police said in a press release Monday afternoon.

The school was closed for the holiday weekend at the time.

Nwalozie is being held without bond at the county jail in Courthouse.

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department has arrested a suspect for his involvement in a bomb threat at Marymount University. Samuel Nwalozie, 18 of Washington, D.C. was arrested and charged with Communicated Threats to Bomb a Structure. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility without bond.

At approximately 8:49 a.m. on April 1, police were dispatched to the 2800 block of N. Glebe Road for the report of a bomb threat posted on social media. Arriving officers immediately began an intensive investigation and a possible suspect description was developed based upon information contained in the social media post and information provided by a witness. Police attempted to locate the suspect on campus and contact him unsuccessfully. The campus of Marymount University was subsequently evacuated while officers continued to investigate. Shortly after 12:00 p.m. the suspect was taken into custody by police just outside of campus. Out of an abundance of caution, EOD K9s continued to sweep campus prior to its re-opening. The investigation determined there was never a physical threat to the safety of the students, staff of campus.

This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective J. Bamford at 703-228-4197 or [email protected]. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

Update at 3:15 p.m. — Marymount University issued the following statement about the arrest Monday afternoon.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list