Arlington, VA

A student allegedly made threats that led to Wakefield High School being placed in “secure the school mode” this morning.

The incident happened shortly before noon, prompting a large police response. It involved a student who was reportedly wearing a bulletproof or similar style vest.

“Just prior to 11:45 a.m., the School Resource Officer Supervisor received a call from a staff member at Wakefield High School regarding a student who had been involved in a physical altercation off school property,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “The student allegedly retrieved what was described as a bulletproof vest and made verbal threats.”

Multiple police units then started responding to the school and looking for the student.

“The SRO Supervisor coordinated a police response and officers located the student, who was a passenger in a vehicle, traveling in the area of S. Frederick Street and S. George Mason Drive and conducted a traffic stop,” Savage said. “The student was detained without incident. As a result of the incident, Wakefield High School was placed on secure the building which has since been lifted. The investigation is ongoing at this time.”

Arlington Public Schools is currently considering changes to its School Resource Officer program. A work group is expected to make recommendations to the School Board next month.

Jo DeVoe contributed to this report

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(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

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Police and bomb squad investigation on N. Stuart Street in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington police say they’re working with the FBI after two pipe bombs were found in a Ballston home.

The discovery was made Tuesday afternoon after police arrested 34-year-old Ryan Bosnick, while he was walking back to his house on the 1100 block of N. Stuart Street. Bosnick had been accused of making violent threats and possessing a sawed-off shotgun that he reportedly showed to friends at a Clarendon restaurant the day before.

The county bomb squad safely removed the pipe bombs from the home last night. Bosnick is being held without bond on numerous charges.

ACPD said in a press release this afternoon, below, that they’re conducting a joint investigation with the FBI. There is “no apparent ongoing threat to public safety,” police say.

The Arlington County Police Department is announcing the arrest of a suspect following an investigation into threats and the recovery of two improvised explosive devices (commonly referred to as pipe bombs). Ryan Bosnick, 34, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with Possession of Explosive Materials or Devices (x2), Possession of a Sawed-Off Shotgun, and Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to a Person. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

At approximately 7:47 p.m. on March 22, police were dispatched to the 1000 block of N. Fillmore Street for the report of an individual making threats. Upon arrival, it was determined that the two witnesses were eating at a restaurant when the suspect joined them for drinks. As they were conversing, the suspect made threatening statements to harm individuals known to him. The suspect later opened his backpack and revealed what was described as a two-piece shotgun made from metal pipes and a bag containing suspected shotgun ammunition. Upon leaving the restaurant, the witnesses reported the incident to police. During the course of the police investigation, officers identified the suspect and made contact with the female victim who was one of the targets of his threats. The victim revealed the suspect had also been sending her threatening text messages. A warrant for Threats of Death or Bodily Injury to a Person was obtained for the suspect at that time.

On the afternoon of March 23, officers took the suspect into custody without incident as he was walking in the area of Fairfax Drive and N. Stuart Street. At approximately 3:40 p.m., officers executed a search warrant at the suspect’s residence located in the 1100 block of N. Stuart Street. During the execution of the search warrant, a homemade sawed-off shotgun and two improvised explosive devices were located. The Arlington County Fire Department’s Bomb Squad responded to the scene and assisted with the removal of the devices from the residence.

Federal authorities from the FBI Washington Field Office responded to the scene and this remains an active joint criminal investigation. There is no apparent ongoing threat to public safety. Anyone with pertinent information related to this incident and/or the suspect is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Tip Line at [email protected], or anonymously to the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477)

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(Updated at 9:15 p.m.) A residential street in Ballston has been blocked off by police while Arlington’s bomb squad investigates “concerning materials” found in a home.

The discovery was made by police while executing a search warrant on N. Stuart Street between 11th Street N. and Washington Blvd. The raid happened in response to a suspect making violent threats against an individual, said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

The suspect is in custody and residences immediately surrounding the house have been evacuated as a precaution, Savage said. The road closure is expected to remain in place for an extended period of time.

In addition to Arlington County police and firefighters, federal law enforcement could also be seen arriving on scene. Savage said ACPD requested the assistance of “federal partners” in the investigation.

The Arlington County Fire Department bomb squad truck arrived at the scene around 4:30 p.m. Later Tuesday night, the police department said that “evidence of bomb making materials were recovered” and that the street remained closed due to an “additional suspicious item” being found.

At 9:10 p.m., police said the all clear had been given and the road would reopen soon.

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(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) Players on the Wakefield High School varsity football team were called racial slurs during a recent game against Marshall High School, an Arlington Public Schools spokesman confirms.

Students Lukai Hatcher and Izaiah Lang took to social media last night (Wednesday) to post about the events they say transpired during the away game on Friday, March 5.

“Me and my teammates were called racial slurs, taunted, and even spit on by Marshall players,” they said in a widely-shared joint statement posted on Facebook, Instagram and elsewhere. “We also experienced unfair treatment by each of the refs and were harassed from the sidelines by coaches and Marshall parents.”

Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed a portion of the allegations.

“An incident did occur between Marshall and Wakefield high schools where Marshall players used racial slurs at the Wakefield football team,” Bellavia tells ARLnow.

“The Wakefield administration as well as other APS officials have been in contact with Marshall High School, VHSL officials and the referee association about this incident,” Bellavia said. “APS administrators have been meeting regularly with the Wakefield team and parents to provide support since the incident occurred.”

Game footage shows a fight breaking out between the teams. APS confirmed that three Wakefield students were given three-game suspensions as a result of the fights, but the sanctions have since been knocked down to one-game suspensions per Virginia High School League guidelines.

Wakefield ended up losing the game to Marshall, 19-18.

Hatcher and Lang alleged in their statement that what happened on March 5 has happened before.

“Marshall High School’s athletic teams have been known to demonstrate a culture of racism and unsportsmanlike behavior,” including foul play on the basketball court, they said. “We are shining the light on the continuing culture of tolerance for unjust and discriminatory practices in sports for minority athletes and seeking accountability in support of change.”

“We as a team complained to the refs all game about the way that we were being treated yet the flags were consistently thrown on us and even our coaches,” Hatcher and Lang added. “We should not be punished for defending ourselves and each other especially because during the entire game the refs, [whose] job it is to ensure each game is fair and who were supposed to protect and defend us, did not.”

Principal Chris Willmore said in a letter to families Thursday afternoon that “the adults who were responsible failed” the Wakefield players.

“The administrative team and I are outraged by the blatant acts of racism our players were subjected to during the game and that the officials did nothing to intervene despite our urging and even after our coaches signaled them to the behavior multiple times during the contest, allowing the situation to escalate,” he wrote. “This is unacceptable.”

“All coaches have been instructed to leave the field/court immediately if our student-athletes are subject to racist, bigoted behaviors. Our student-athletes will not be put into a position like this again,” Willmore continued, adding that there have been “other incidents that we’ve have experienced in the past.”

APS Superintendent Francisco Durán also issued a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Our leadership and School Board are calling on VHSL and all parties involved in extracurricular activities to reform and change their practices to ensure our schools and athletic events are free of racism, bigotry, hate speech and unsportsmanlike conduct,” he said, in part. “APS encourages all students and staff to continue to stand up and call out acts of racism, hate speech and other forms of discrimination when they see them.”

In a statement, Fairfax County Public Schools said it “does not accept acts of intolerance” and has “expectations of behavior in our students and staff.”

“At FCPS, our primary responsibility is the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Every student must understand the value of appreciating each other’s differences, extending common courtesy, and treating each other with respect,” the statement said. “We must all be committed to do better.”

The administration conducted a thorough investigation involving VHSL, officials, staff, players and families from both teams, according to the statement. The school system said it is working with the school, FCPS leadership and coaches from both teams to develop a plan for restorative justice.

In speaking out publicly, Hatcher and Lang said they were pressing for change.

“This isn’t new and enough is enough!” they wrote.

The full statement from Wakefield High School’s principal is below.

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Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Francisco Durán announced return-to-school dates Tuesday afternoon, nearly 11 months since schools first closed at the outset of the pandemic.

Students will start trickling into their buildings by grade level on Tuesday, March 2. By Tuesday, March 16, all students who have chosen to be in-person will be able to go to school twice a week, either Tuesdays and Wednesdays or Thursdays and Fridays.

Teachers and staff, who have been re-entering their classrooms in phases since last week, will return one week before students, Durán said. This month, APS will end or scale back the programs currently providing some students with limited in-classroom instructional supports.

“I am encouraged by recent improvements in the health metrics, with case positivity rates and other indicators currently decreasing in Arlington and neighboring communities,” Durán told APS families via email. “Over the past two weeks, staff have returned to our buildings to prepare for the upcoming transition and to further strengthen our mitigation efforts.”

The superintendent was set to announce these dates during next week’s School Board meeting, but his plan changed last week, in response to a press conference in which Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam urged school systems to reopen by March 15.

More than half of APS staff members have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to date, according to Durán, with new appointments being added “all the time.” Staff who received the vaccine in mid-January are now scheduling their second dose appointments, he added.

Durán said families will be receiving further communication from APS regarding in-person days, the instructional model, transportation and any changes to teachers or classroom assignments.

He urged the school community to be “vigilant and work together,” after a year marked by protests and counter-protests over the ongoing closure of Arlington schools. Some APS families and many teachers have opposed the reopening of schools until more vaccinations could be administered.

“Our ability to continue moving ahead depends on all of us wearing masks, staying home when sick, and following all the other mitigation strategies recommended by Public Health to reduce the spread of the virus,” Durán said.

Durán added that he will share more information at the Feb. 18 School Board meeting.

The back-to-school scheduled announced today is below.

March 2-5:

  • PreK-2nd grade students
  • All students enrolled in Countywide Elementary Special Education Programs (PreK-5th grade – mini MIPA, MIPA, Life Skills, Communications and Deaf and Hard of Hearing – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
  • Elementary students enrolled in Interlude

March 9-12:

  • 3rd-5th grade students
  • 6th and 9th grade students
  • All students enrolled in Countywide Secondary Special Education Programs (6th-12th grade – MIPA, Life Skills, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Shriver Program – in person four days a week, Tues-Fri)
  • Secondary students enrolled in Interlude and PEP program

March 16-19:

  • 7th-8th grade students
  • 10th-12th grade students

Special programs will end or be scaled back on the following days:

  • Friday, Feb. 19: five-day instructional learning supports for identified students at four elementary schools will switch to Mondays only.
  • Friday, Feb. 19: the seven meal drop-off locations that are not school-based will cease operating.
  • Friday, Feb. 26: the “work space” program for secondary students will stop running.

Image via APS/Twitter

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Amazon has unveiled plans for the PenPlace site in the second phase of its $2.5 billion HQ2 in Pentagon City, including a lush office building shaped like a double helix.

The company will build 2.8 million square feet of office space across three 22-story buildings, an amenity building with a community gathering space and daycare center, and three retail pavilions. The focal point will be The Helix: a 350-foot tall spiraling office building that recreates a climb in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

PenPlace will also have three acres of open space with a dog run and a 250-seat amphitheater, for public use.

Amazon will start filing designs and technical documents with Arlington County Tuesday morning, Amazon spokesperson Adam Sedó said during a call with journalists on Monday.

The tech giant aims to go before the Arlington County Board by the end of 2021, with construction starting in 2022 and ending in 2025, said John Schoettler, Amazon Vice President Global Real Estate and Facilities, during the call. He affirmed that so far, HQ2 remains on-schedule.

PenPlace is bounded by Army Navy Drive, S. Fern Street, 12th Street S. and S. Eads Street. Amazon owns the entire block after it bought a hotel on the site in September. The hotel is currently being torn down.

Schoettler said Arlington County has given Amazon more flexibility for this phase than for the first phase of development on the Metropolitan Park site, which includes two, 22-story concrete office buildings, retail and open space.

“The County Board told us for PenPlace, we really want you to push the envelope,” he said. “It really gave us a clean canvas to try new things.”

The Helix will be the highlight of the site and the tallest building, said Lead Architect Dale Alberda, who works for the international architecture firm NBBJ and helped to design The Spheres within the company’s Seattle headquarters. Throughout PenPlace, he said, the designs keep employees, who will number 25,000 across HQ2, close to nature and the community.

“Amazon has been challenging us to think about how people can connect to nature not just outside when the weather is good, but inside as well, so that it’s available all day, all the time,” Alberda said.

Schoettler said Amazon is also working hard to use sustainable energy. As part of its goal of LEED Platinum certifications — and to meet its pledge to be carbon neutral by 2040 — the buildings will be powered by a solar farm in southern Virginia.

The headquarters will feature one-quarter mile of new protected bike lanes and more than 950 onsite bike spaces as well as below-ground parking for about 2,100 cars and underground loading zones for trucks. There will also be a new bus platform on 12th Street S. near the main entrance to PenPlace.

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A widespread power outage is currently affecting parts of Arlington.

More than 3,500 Dominion customers were without power in the county as of 9:30 p.m. Affected neighborhoods include Ballston, Bluemont, Buckingham, Ashton Heights and Lyon Park, according to the power company’s outage map.

Residents near those neighborhoods might have seen their power flicker around 9 p.m.

The outage happened after a driver in a Toyota Prius slammed into a utility pole in the Buckingham area. On social media, the Arlington County Fire Department said it is “unknown” when power will be restored.

Update at 10:15 p.m. — Power has been restored to most customers, but about 500 in the Buckingham area, near the crash, remain in the dark.

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Police are releasing new photos, video and information in the year-old unsolved murder of a 24-year-old man in a Ballston apartment.

Scott Ratigan was founded bloodied and unresponsive in his bedroom, at the AVA Ballston Square apartment building (850 N. Randolph Street), around 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2020. Police now say he suffered “trauma to the upper body.”

ARLnow reported at the time that the 911 caller — now identified as a relative of Ratigan — reported a strong smell of bleach in the apartment. Police now say that “evidence recovered at the scene indicates the suspect(s) attempted to clean the crime scene prior to fleeing the residence.”

Today, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the crime, Arlington County police also released video and three surveillance images of a “person of interest” — seen leaving the area while wearing a mask, before that became commonplace during the pandemic.

“The individual is described as a White male, approximately 5’6″ – 5’8″ tall, weighing 150 – 175 lbs, dressed in all black, carrying a black backpack and walking with his feet turned inward, often referred to as a pigeon-toed gait,” ACPD said. “Detectives would like to identify and speak with this individual.”

Several months ago, an ARLnow reporter observed detectives holding large poles in the courtyard between the apartment building and Wilson Blvd, perhaps in an effort to ascertain the person’s height. Until this morning’s press release, police have steadfastly declined to divulge additional details about the case in response to numerous inquiries from ARLnow.

The Ratigan family is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the murder case.

The full ACPD press release and additional surveillance images are below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is seeking the public’s assistance identifying a person of interest captured in surveillance video as they continue to investigate the circumstances that led to the death of 24-year-old Scott Ratigan one year ago. The Ratigan family has established a reward fund of $25,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) involved in Scott’s homicide.

At approximately 5:29 p.m. on January 17, 2020, police were dispatched to the 800 block of N. Randolph Street for the report of cardiac arrest. Upon arrival, it was determined a relative of the victim entered his bedroom after becoming concerned he had not recently been heard from. The adult male victim was located inside his bedroom suffering from trauma to the upper body and was pronounced deceased on scene by medics. An autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide. Evidence recovered at the scene indicates the suspect(s) attempted to clean the crime scene prior to fleeing the residence.

Surveillance video recovered from an exterior camera shows a person of interest leaving the area around the suspected time of the homicide. The individual is described as a White male, approximately 5’6″ – 5’8″ tall, weighing 150 – 175 lbs, dressed in all black, carrying a black backpack and walking with his feet turned inward, often referred to as a pigeon-toed gait. Detectives would like to identify and speak with this individual.

To date, detectives have conducted an intensive investigation into this incident including collecting information, analyzing crime scene evidence, speaking with witnesses and canvasing the area near the crime scene. Detectives continue to actively follow investigative leads in this case but believe there is someone, somewhere with information that will allow us to solve this case and seek justice on behalf of the Ratigan family. If you have information in this case, no matter how insignificant you may feel it is, we implore you to come forward and speak with detectives.

Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected]

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(Updated at 10:25 p.m.) Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew in Arlington and Alexandria.

The governor says that there will be “limited exceptions” to the curfew. He has also declared a State of Emergency. The curfew matches that declared by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser amid chaos at the U.S. Capitol.

In a statement, Arlington County reiterated that during the curfew “it is illegal for any person to be present in any street, park, or other public place, unless an exception applies.” Those exceptions include “persons traveling to and from home, work, or places of worship; government, emergency services, and hospital personnel; members of the news media; and persons seeking emergency services. “

“Violation of the curfew order is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both,” the statement said.

All was quiet in portions of Arlington’s Metro corridors seen by ARLnow reporters after 6 p.m. In Rosslyn, a group of men gathered at the Marine Corps War Memorial dispersed as night fell. No crowds could be seen in Ballston, Crystal City and Pentagon City, though a few individuals were walking around, perhaps unaware of the curfew that had gone into effect less than an hour prior.

A few pro-Trump supporters, sporting MAGA hats, were seen on the street clutching bags of take-out in Crystal City.

The curfew has prompted some businesses to close early. Among them is District Taco, which is closing its Arlington and Alexandria at 8 p.m. A Safeway spokesperson retracted an earlier statement that Arlington stores were closing early.

Several Arlington County offices will be closed on Thursday, the county announced Wednesday night.

“In the interest of public safety and to allow law enforcement officers to continue a visible presence in the community, Arlington County and the City of Falls Church Circuit Court, General District Court, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court will be closed on Thursday, January 7, 2021,” the county said.

More police and fire department resources, meanwhile, have been heading from Arlington into D.C., including several Arlington medic units and a convoy of Virginia State Police cruisers.

Earlier, the County Board convened a closed meeting at 4:45 p.m. today (Wednesday) to discuss “the events that have occurred” in D.C.

The meeting was closed so that the Board can consult “with the County Attorney concerning authority of the County Board to protect public safety by restricting the assembly of persons and movement of people, and discussions to protect public safety as it relates to potential terrorist activity,” said newly-elected Chair Matt de Ferranti said.

Also on the video conference were Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz, Alexandria City Manager Mark Jinks, and Arlington-Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti.

“Folks, please stay safe,” de Ferranti said at the conclusion of the closed meeting. “We anticipate that within the coming minutes to the next half hour, we will be coming forth with a County statement with respect to this evening. So, stay home, stay safe, take care of yourselves and take care of each other.”

After the curfew was issued, Dehghani-Tafti issued a statement via social media.

“Our overarching goal is to keep the community safe,” she wrote. “And, while we respect the right to peacefully assemble and protest, Arlington will not tolerate violence or disorder in our community. These are difficult and stressful times, in which we all need to play our part in maintaining calm. We have much work to do when we get through this, and we have the fortitude to do it.”

Jo DeVoe, Jay Westcott and Matt Blitz contributed to this report.

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(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Arlington ambulances have been ordered to avoid transporting patients to hospitals in the District, amid ongoing chaos around the U.S. Capitol.

The broadcast went out on Arlington County Fire Department channels just before 3 p.m.

ARLnow is hearing that additional Arlington police officers are heading to D.C., perhaps as well as officers from other law enforcement agencies. Video shows and at least one witness reports numerous emergency vehicles heading into the District.

As of 3:25 p.m., a convoy of more than dozen Arlington police and fire department vehicles — some unmarked — could be seen heading down Washington Blvd in Clarendon.

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage declined to provide additional information about deployments today, beyond confirming her earlier statement that ACPD is assisting D.C. police under a mutual aid agreement.

“ACPD does not provide tactical information such as the number of officers deployed,” Savage said. “There has been no change to the deployment of officers to D.C. under the mutual aid agreement with the Metropolitan Police Department.”

The District has instituted a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz, via a spokeswoman, said Arlington has no plans for a curfew.

Just before 3:30 p.m., Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said members of the Virginia National Guard and Virginia State Troopers will be sent to D.C., at the request of Mayor Muriel Bowser. Maryland’s National Guard is also being deployed.

Arlington’s congressman, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), tweeted just after 4 p.m. that he is “in a safe location” on Capitol Hill.

Businesses, including Safeway (in the District but not in Arlington or elsewhere) and the Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, are closing early due to the violence in the District. Metrorail service is ending early, at 8 p.m., while Metrobus and ART bus service is ending at 9 p.m., per the transit agencies.

As of 5 p.m., the Arlington County Board was discussing a possible response to security threats in closed session.

More via social media:

File photo (top). Matt Blitz contributed to this report.

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