Press Club

(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) Expect significant police activity in the Ballston area following a pair of bank robberies.

The Citizens Bank at 4075 Wilson Blvd was the scene of an attempted robbery shortly after 2 p.m. The suspect ran off without cash after hopping the counter, per initial reports.

About 10-15 minutes later, a suspect matching the same description as the first successfully robbed the Bank of America directly in front of the Ballston Metro station.

The suspect remains at large and police are actively searching for him. Metro train traffic may also be disrupted as a result of the investigation.

So far no injuries have been reported. The man reportedly implied a weapon but none was seen.

The suspect is described as a short, middle aged Black male wearing a gray sweatsuit and carrying a plastic bag. The description differs from that of the taller, still-at-large suspect accused of robbing the Truist bank in Ballston last week.

Officers reportedly detained at least one or two people in the area matching the description of today’s robbery suspect, though it’s unclear whether either was determined to be the suspect.

Prior to last week, the last reported bank robbery in Arlington was in 2019.

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Boeing office complex and the Crystal City and Pentagon City skyline (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Aerospace and defense giant Boeing is moving its corporate headquarters from Chicago to Arlington.

The move, first reported by the Wall Street Journal and since confirmed by the company, “would place the aerospace company’s senior executives closer to key government decision makers in the nation’s capital,” the paper reported.

“Boeing announced today that its Arlington, Virginia campus just outside Washington, D.C. will serve as the company’s global headquarters,” Boeing said in a press release. “The aerospace and defense firm’s employees in the region support various corporate functions and specialize in advanced airplane development and autonomous systems. In addition to designating Northern Virginia as its new headquarters, Boeing plans to develop a research & technology hub in the area to harness and attract engineering and technical capabilities.”

“We are excited to build on our foundation here in Northern Virginia,” Boeing President and CEO Dave Calhoun, in a statement. “The region makes strategic sense for our global headquarters given its proximity to our customers and stakeholders, and its access to world-class engineering and technical talent.”

Boeing had nearly 500 employees at its downtown Chicago headquarters in 2020, Reuters reported last year, noting that amid the pandemic the building has not been well utilized.

Per the October article:

Other top executives, like newly minted CFO Brian West, are also based primarily on the U.S. East Coast and a hush has descended on the exclusive but functional top floor, although the pandemic has also been a major factor, the people said.

“It’s a ghost town,” one of the people added.

The headquarters — a 36-floor, $200 million riverfront skyscraper — sits at the crossroads of a cost-cutting campaign that has seen Boeing shed real estate, including its commercial airplane headquarters in Seattle.

Several people close to the company say cost cuts and a more hands-on corporate culture have raised questions about Boeing’s long-term future in the city, and in turn the broad direction Boeing intends to take as it tries to regain its stride.

Boeing opened its East Coast headquarters in the Crystal City area about eight years ago. The approximately 450,000 square foot office complex is two blocks from Amazon’s under-construction HQ2 and adjacent to Long Bridge Park.

Boeing has its name on the county park’s fields and aquatics center after making a $10 million donation.

Boeing headquarters in Crystal City (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

An Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman declined to comment on today’s news before the formal announcement, citing “competitive reasons and to protect confidential company information.”

Local broadcast outlets also reported on the move following WSJ’s scoop, citing “a Virginia state official.” The official noted that Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), a personal friend of Boeing’s CEO, both helped to woo the company, according to NBC 4.

Following the announcement, Warner praised Boeing’s move.

“For well over a year, I’ve been making my case to Boeing senior leadership that Virginia would be a great place for its headquarters, and late last year, I was happy to learn that my efforts were successful,” he said in a statement. “As the former Governor of Virginia, I was proud to secure Virginia’s standing as the best state for business and the best-managed state, among other honors, and I’ve been proud to work in my role as Senator to help continue to cultivate the kind of pro-business environment that world-class companies like Boeing need to grow and thrive.”

In a statement, Youngkin also praised the company and its CEO, while touting Virginia’s talented workforce.

Boeing is one of America’s great pioneering businesses and we are thrilled the company has decided to headquarter in Virginia. The decision to call Virginia home shows that the Commonwealth is the premier location for aerospace companies. I look forward to working with Boeing to attract even more talent to Virginia especially given its reputation for engineering excellence. From day one, our goal has been to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I want to thank Boeing, its CEO Dave Calhoun, and its leadership for choosing Virginia.

Boeing did not reveal where in Northern Virginia it intends to open the new research and development hub.

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(Updated at 2:30 p.m.) Police are investigating a bank robbery in Ballston.

Initial reports suggest that a man robbed the Truist bank at 920 N. Taylor Street, a block from the Metro station, after implying that he had a gun. Police swarmed the area after the call came in around 2 p.m.

It was not immediately clear how much money the man stole. So far there are no reports of any injuries — nor any arrests — following the robbery.

The last bank robbery in Arlington, at least as reported by ARLnow, happened before the pandemic, on Dec. 30, 2019.

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30th Street S. and S. Abingdon Street (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 6:30 p.m.) Police swarmed the Fairlington neighborhood Friday afternoon after a car chase came to an end near Abingdon Elementary.

Virginia State Police troopers were chasing suspects in a stolen vehicle when the vehicle sped into Fairlington and then crashed, according to police.

“ACPD is assisting [VSP] with the search for three suspects who fled on foot from a stolen vehicle at S. Abingdon Street and 30th Street S.,” Arlington police said via Twitter shortly before 3:45 p.m. “Expect continued police activity in the area.”

The elementary school, which had already dismissed for the day but still had some teachers inside, according to a tipster, was quickly placed in “secure the building mode,” said Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia.

On a neighborhood Facebook group, a resident said she saw what happened.

“Happened right in front of me,” she wrote. “I was walking down Abingdon Street. Car was speeding chased by 2 police cars. Car made a sharp turn onto 30th and crashed into a parked car. Two people — looked like teenagers — got out and ran. Third person ran a different direction so I didn’t see.”

“I shudder to think what could have happened if this was just a bit earlier at school dismissal time,” the resident added.

The Fairfax County police helicopter was called in to help search for the suspects. As of 4:15 p.m., police started breaking down the perimeter they had previously established as part of the search and the school’s security stance was lifted, according to scanner traffic.

The suspects remain at large, according to a Virginia State Police spokeswoman, who recounted the series of events that led to the chase ending in Fairlington.

“At 3:17 p.m. Friday, a Virginia State Police trooper was alerted to a Toyota Camry that had been reported stolen traveling south on I-395 near Exit 4,” VSP’s Corinne Geller tells ARLnow. “When the trooper activated his emergency lights and siren to initiate a traffic stop, the vehicle refused to stop and sped away. A pursuit was initiated.”

“The stolen vehicle took Exit 4 and entered… Arlington. The driver of the Toyota lost control and the vehicle ran off the road and struck a light pole at S. Abingdon Street and 30th Street S.,” Geller continued. “The driver and two passengers fled on foot. A search perimeter was established and, with the assistance of Arlington police, a search was conducted in the area for the three males. None [were] located. The search was discontinued.”

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(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Several people are injured and one is reported to be trapped in their vehicle after a two-car crash in Ballston.

The crash happened shortly after 10 a.m. at the intersection of N. Glebe Road, N. Quincy Street and N. Henderson Road. An SUV flipped on its side and a car was badly damaged as a result of the crash.

Initial reports suggest that four people are hurt, including three who are likely to be transported via ambulance to the hospital. The nature of the injuries is not currently known, though there is no indication so far that any are life-threatening.

The person who was trapped has since been extricated by firefighters.

Glebe Road is closed in both direction at the crash site, which includes a large amount of debris scattered across the roadway.

The crash happened one block away from another crash that left an SUV on its roof Friday afternoon. It also comes less than 12 hours after a serious two-vehicle crash that closed Columbia Pike in front of Penrose Square last night.

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(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) A person is dead after leaping from an upper floor of an apartment building on Columbia Pike, amid a federal law enforcement presence at the complex.

Arlington police and medics were dispatched to the Infinity Apartments at 955 S. Columbus Street shortly after 10 a.m. for a person who jumped from the building and was in cardiac arrest. Responders were told to expect plain clothed U.S. Marshals Service personnel on scene.

Initial reports suggest that the person jumped from the fifth floor of the building, was impaled on a fence, and is deceased. Police requested that a tarp be brought to the scene.

ACPD set up a command post and officers appeared to be taking equipment to and from the pool area of the complex. Personnel with “U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force” ballistic vests and a battering ram can be seen in the parking lot of the complex, which is located just south of Columbia Pike and the Arlington Mill Community Center.

In a press release about the incident Friday afternoon, Arlington police said that the person who died was a suspect in a robbery in Loudoun County. The Marshals Service and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office “were attempting to serve an arrest warrant at the residence” when the person “attempted to exit the residence through a window and fell.”

The full press release is below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is conducting a death investigation in the Columbia Forest neighborhood.

At approximately 10:02 a.m. on March 25, Arlington County Police and Fire were dispatched to the 900 block of S. Columbus Street for the report of cardiac arrest. Upon arrival, an adult male was located unresponsive outside of a residential building. Medics pronounced him deceased on scene. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.

The preliminary investigation indicates the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, consisting of members from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service, were attempting to serve an arrest warrant at the residence related to a robbery that occurred in Loudoun County, Virginia. Upon knocking and announcing themselves, the subject allegedly attempted to exit the residence through a window and fell.

The circumstances of the fall remain under investigation. Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) A large fire department response is on scene at the Ballston Quarter mall for a fire on the third floor of the building.

Initial reports suggest that the fire was in a sauna inside the men’s locker room of the Onelife Fitness gym. Light smoke could be seen coming from the roof of the gym near the Ballston pedestrian bridge.

A larger response was dispatched to the mall after the first firefighters on scene confirmed a “working fire” inside the sauna. The flames have since been brought under control, according to scanner traffic.

So far no injuries have been reported. Wilson Blvd is currently blocked in front of the mall.

The gym was evacuated due to the fire. Patrons in their exercise gear could be seen standing around in other parts of the mall.

Firefighters are now starting to set up fans to remove the thick smoke that has filled the gym.

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Leaves and a face mask on the ground in Crystal City (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Arlington County is making masks optional in county facilities — from community centers to County Board meetings — starting tomorrow (Thursday).

The county made the announcement this afternoon, following the lead of Arlington Public Schools, which made masks optional for students and staff on Tuesday.

“This decision follows new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued on Feb. 25, 2022, which updated how it monitors COVID-19’s impact on our communities,” the county said in a press release. “For the public and most employees, masks will no longer be required inside County facilities, so long as Arlington is in the ‘Low’ level,” as defined by the CDC.

Only about 13 daily cases and 0.3 daily hospitalizations are being reported per 100,000 Arlington residents, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. That’s well below the threshold for Covid levels to be considered low by the CDC. All full-time Arlington County government employees, meanwhile, have been vaccinated or obtained valid vaccine exemptions, the county said this week.

Covid cases in Arlington as of 3/2/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

Earlier today neighboring Falls Church also announced that masks would be “welcome [but] no longer required in city facilities.” Additionally, the biggest office building in Arlington — the Pentagon — is now a mask-optional zone.

The dropping of mask mandates in Arlington is a dramatic reversal from just over a month ago, when the County Board expressed support for Arlington Public Schools suing the state over Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order to let parents opt kids out of mask wearing at schools.

At the time, in late January, the average rate of new Covid cases in Arlington was roughly ten times the current level.

As of today daily Covid cases in the U.S. have dropped to the lowest level since July 27, 2021, CNN reports.

The full county press release about the masking change is below.

Effective Thursday, March 3, 2022, Arlington County will no longer require masks for the public and most employees while inside County government facilities.

This decision follows new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued on Feb. 25, 2022, which updated how it monitors COVID-19’s impact on our communities.

The CDC’s new tool – COVID-19 Community Levels – looks at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area to determine a level of low, medium, or high.

Currently, Arlington County is “Low,” meaning individuals may choose to wear a mask based on personal preference and level of risk of developing severe illness.

For the public and most employees, masks will no longer be required inside County facilities, so long as Arlington is in the “Low” level.

Masks are still required in some specific locations, such as public transportation and where health or medical services are provided. People may choose to mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.

People who are at increased risk of severe illness–and family, friends, and coworkers who spend time with them–should consider taking extra precautions even when the COVID-19 Community Level is low.

This change in the County’s mask policy is consistent with the recent guidance issued by CDC and Virginia Department of Health, as well as Arlington Public Schools.

The pandemic is not over, but we are in a new phase. Although COVID-19 continues to circulate, we now have vaccines, tests, and treatments that work, and most Arlingtonians have some immunity from vaccines or past infection.

Vaccination remains the leading public health prevention strategy to protect individuals and communities from COVID-19. The CDC recommends everyone 5 years and older be up to date, meaning a person has received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. To find a vaccine location near you, visit vaccines.gov, walk-in to one of the County’s clinics, or call our COVID-19 hotline at 703-400-5368.

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(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Arlington Public Schools is effectively repealing its mask mandate for all students and staff.

The move, which takes effect tomorrow (March 1), responds to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which was released on Friday. No opt-out form is required for those who do not wish to wear masks.

The CDC changed how it measures the severity of Covid at the local level and relaxed its masking guidelines. Now, it advises most Americans to wear a mask only when Covid-related hospitalization rates are high so as not to overwhelm hospitals. When that rate is low or moderate — it’s currently low in Arlington County, according to the CDC — people can forego face coverings.

More from a School Talk email sent to APS families this afternoon:

Dear APS Staff and Families,

On Friday evening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published updated guidance that included new metrics for measuring COVID-19 community levels.

The CDC’s new guidance lists Arlington’s current COVID-19 community level as low, and states that masks should be optional in communities at the low level.

APS will continue following the CDC’s guidance for operating safely to allow everyone — students, families, staff and visitors — to decide whether they will wear a mask at school and on the school bus. This change takes effect March 1, and there is no opt-out form required. APS will adjust these requirements, should community levels change. More information is available online.

Mask-wearing is a personal decision based on individual circumstances, and I ask everyone to support our students and each other. We will continue to foster inclusive, safe and supportive learning environments for all. Families, please talk to your student(s) regarding your expectations for mask-wearing and remind them to be kind and respect their peers as they exercise decisions to wear a mask or not.

Although APS is dropping its mask mandate, Arlington’s Public Health Division is waiting for more guidance from the state, says spokesman Ryan Hudson.

The county has required visitors to county facilities to wear masks if they can’t maintain six feet of distance from others. Arlington Public Library has required visitors age two and older, regardless of vaccination status, to mask up since August, which also won’t be changing right now, says library spokesman Henrik Sundqvist.

“In light of the CDC updating the way it monitors COVID-19’s impact on our communities, Arlington County is awaiting updates on the Virginia Department of Health’s mask guidance,” Hudson said. “At this time, there are no changes to the mask policy for County employees and government buildings.”

Right now, the VDH page on masking recommendations is blank save for the following message: “VDH is currently reviewing its mask guidance. Thank you for your patience; updated information will be available soon.”

Once a decision is made, Hudson said, the county will update residents via newsletter, website updates and social media.

“Layered prevention strategies — like staying up to date on vaccines and wearing masks — can help prevent severe illness and reduce the potential for strain on the healthcare system,” he noted.

There hasn’t been a blanket mask mandate in Virginia since former Gov. Ralph Northam lifted it for those who are fully vaccinated in May of last year. But Arlingtonians have had to wear masks in public schools, county buildings and libraries. Anecdotally, residents also stepped up voluntary masking whenever Covid cases surged.

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Two people were arrested along Columbia Pike today after a man was shot to death Saturday morning a few blocks away.

Arlington County police say a 46-year-old woman has been charged with murder and a 48-year-old man was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection to the death of 45-year-old D.C. resident Reginald Scott, who was found dead in a parked car.

The suspects were arrested Sunday morning at a bus stop at Columbia Pike and S. Quincy Street. Witnesses described to ARLnow a “heavy police presence and crime scene tape” across a two-block stretch of the Pike after the arrests.

Scott was found dead about four blocks, shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday, inside a car that was parked in a business parking lot on the 3600 block of the Pike.

No motive for the killing has been released.

More on today’s arrest from an ACPD press release:

The preliminary investigation into the suspicious death indicates the victim, Reginald Scott, 45, of Washington D.C., suffered an apparent gunshot wound. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death. This incident is being investigated as a homicide.

During the course of the investigation, detectives developed possible suspect descriptions based on evidence located at the scene and witness interviews. Arrest warrants were obtained and the suspects were located near a bus stop at Columbia Pike and S. Quincy Street on the morning of February 27. They were taken into custody without incident. April Puckett, 46, of No Fixed Address has been charged with Murder, Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony and Felon in Possession of a Firearm. James Harris, 48, of No Fixed Address has been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Murder. The suspects are being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Detectives continue to investigate the events that preceded the homicide. Anyone with information that may assist with this investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected]

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Update at 4:15 p.m. on 2/11/22 — Arlington police have released more information about the threat. Police say an anonymous caller claimed to be armed with hostages inside one of the Yorktown High School bathroom, in what was later determined to be a false report. From ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department continues to investigate a telephone threat to Yorktown High School. At approximately 1:26 p.m. on February 10, police were dispatched to the 5200 block of Yorktown Boulevard for the report of a threat. The reporting party advised dispatch that the Main Office had received an anonymous call from the suspect who was alleging to be a student and making threats to ‘shoot up’ the school. The school was placed on lockdown as police responded to investigate the credibility of the threat.

Upon arrival, officers made telephone contact with the suspect who reported he was armed, had taken two hostages inside a bathroom in the school and was making threats to harm them. A perimeter was established and officers searched the school’s bathrooms and found no evidence of the suspect’s claims. Officers then completed a cautionary search of the school and evacuated students who were transported by bus to a nearby location for parent reunification. No injuries were reported and no evidence of a crime was located inside the school.

“Yesterday’s response highlights how seriously the Arlington County Police Department takes reports of potential violence within our community,” said Chief Andy Penn. “I commend our officers and public safety partners on their immediate and coordinated response to ensure the safety of our community. I recognize incidents involving threats have significant impacts on the wellbeing of all involved. I want to thank the Yorktown High School students, staff, parents and community members for their patience and support during yesterday’s incident. We will continue to work collaboratively with Arlington Public Schools to ensure the safety of students and staff.”

During the course of the investigation, officers determined the call originated from out of state and there was no credible threat to the safety and security of the students or staff. This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Earlier: A threat of violence prompted a lockdown, evacuations and a massive police response in and around Yorktown High School this afternoon.

As of 5:15 p.m. road closures were being lifted and police said they had completed clearing the school. “No evidence of a crime was located at the school,” ACPD said.

Police were first dispatched to the school around 1:45 p.m.

“YHS is on lockdown while ACPD investigate[s] an anonymous threat,” Arlington Public Schools spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow at the time.

Arlington County police set up an incident command center outside of the school as dozens of emergency personnel started arriving. There was no report of any actual violence, though police investigated an unconfirmed report of a gun being found inside a bathroom.

“All students and staff are safe,” Yorktown families were told in a brief email early on.

An officer with a gun drawn inside the school could be seen in a photo shared with ARLnow. Numerous officers with rifles and tactical gear were seen entering the school. The incident was coordinated on ACPD’s encrypted radio channels.

Parents, some of whom gathered outside the school shortly after police arrived, were told to gather at the nearby Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road) to pick up their kids. Groups of students could be seen being led to the complex by police. Buses were brought in for students who usually take APS transportation.

Streets around the school were shut down, and the large response prompted police to re-prioritize some calls for minor issues while the fire department requested help filling fire stations, according to scanner traffic. Arlington firefighters and medics were dispatched to the school for a possible medical emergency and also to stage personnel at both the school and the Knights of Columbus, in case of injuries or other medical emergencies.

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