Arlington, VA

(Updated at 4 p.m.) A young man found dead inside a Ballston apartment building was the victim of a homicide, Arlington County Police said Tuesday afternoon.

In a brief statement, ACPD said Scott Ratigan, 24, died as a result of “trauma to the upper body.” It is Arlington’s first homicide of 2020.

Police were called to the AVA Ballston Square building at 850 N. Randolph Street around 5:30 p.m. Friday for a report of a man found unresponsive and bloodied in an apartment. He was declared dead on scene by medics. A 911 caller reported a strong smell of bleach in the apartment, according to scanner traffic.

More from ACPD:

Following an autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the suspicious death has been ruled a homicide with the victim suffering trauma to the upper body. The victim has been identified as Scott Ratigan, 24, of Arlington, VA.

This remains an active and ongoing criminal investigation. Arlington County Crime Solvers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for tips leading to the arrest of a suspect. To report anonymous tips, call the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS (8477)

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Arlington County Police and medics are on scene of a crash involving an Arlington County school bus and an electric scooter.

The crash happened around 3:45 p.m. at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Oak Street in Rosslyn. Initial reports suggest the scooter rider has serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Students were on board at the time but no injuries were reported on the bus, according to scanner traffic. The students were loaded onto another bus to continue their journey home.

N. Oak Street and at least one lane of Wilson Blvd was blocked at the crash scene as of 4:15 p.m., as police investigate the crash.

Vernon Miles contributed to this report

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(Updated at 11:25 p.m.) Arlington County Police responded to a bank robbery in the Courthouse neighborhood, just blocks from police headquarters, Monday morning.

The robbery was reported around 11:15 a.m. at the BB&T Bank at 2200 Clarendon Blvd.

The suspect reportedly fled the bank with cash and ran west on Clarendon Blvd. Soon after arriving on scene, officers took suspect in custody at the Courthouse Metro station, according to scanner traffic.

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(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A cyclist was struck by a driver at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and 10th Street N., near Clarendon., Friday morning.

Initial reports suggest the cyclist had severe injuries, including head trauma. The crash was first radioed in around 10:30 a.m. by a police officer who was on a traffic stop nearby.

The bicycle could be seen under a black Jeep on the west side of the intersection, in front of the Speedway gas station. A bike rack with a PeopleForBikes sticker could be seen on the back of the Jeep.

The victim was rushed via ambulance to a local trauma center.

“The cyclist was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed. “The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene. The investigation is ongoing.”

The intersection was partially closed by police but reopened as of 11:30 a.m., after detectives documented the scene.

Police said later Friday afternoon that the driver will face a traffic charge in the crash.

“[The driver] was cited with failure to yield,” said Savage. “The cyclist’s injuries are considered non-life threatening.”

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(Updated at 4:40 p.m.) Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced a major expansion of passenger rail service at an event in Crystal City Thursday afternoon.

Northam announced a $3.7 billion deal between the state and CSX that would:

  • Build a state-owned, passenger-only rail bridge over the Potomac, next to the existing, aging CSX-owned Long Bridge near Crystal City
  • Expand Virginia Railway Express (VRE) service by 75%, including by adding additional hours, more frequent trains, and weekend service
  • Expand Amtrak service from D.C. to points south
  • Build 37 miles of new track
  • Remove 5 million cars and 1 million trucks from Virginia highways each year, via increased passenger and freight rail service

Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol called the announcement “an exciting new chapter for passenger rail in Virginia” that will “improve the quality of life and economic opportunity” for thousands of Northern Virginia residents.

Cristol cited the example of rail commuters who will now be able to attend workforce training at night and take the train home, and families that will be able to take the train to the Air and Space Museum while avoiding traffic on I-95.

The deal “will contribute an additional $2 billion annually to Virginia due to expanded commuter activity made possible by a new Long Bridge,” estimated the the Stephen F. Fuller Institute at George Mason University.

The Greater Washington Partnership, a regional business organization, lauded the announcement as “game changing” for the region and “one of the biggest achievements for passenger rail service in the United States” in nearly half a century.

Today’s announcement made by Governor Northam to acquire rail right-of-way from Washington to Richmond and through to North Carolina and fund the expansion of Long Bridge, is game changing for the Capital Region’s transportation system, and represents a key achievement in implementing the Partnership’s Blueprint for Regional Mobility. This deal will establish near hourly rail service between Washington and Richmond, expand peak VRE service, initiate VRE weekend operations, and unlock run-through service for MARC trains into Northern Virginia. This is one of the biggest achievements for passenger rail in the United States since Amtrak was created almost 50 years ago. We commend Governor Northam and his team for their vision, leadership and execution of this historic effort. By working in partnership with Mayor Bowser, Governor Hogan and Amtrak President Richard Anderson, we can leverage this investment to radically improve the reliability and performance of our transportation network for all our residents and ensure the Capital Region from Baltimore to Richmond continues to be globally competitive.

Amazon’s locally-based Vice President of Public Policy also hailed the agreement.

The full press release from the governor’s office about the deal is below, after the jump.

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(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Arlington County firefighters are on scene of a vehicle fire in Pentagon City, near the TSA and DEA headquarters and the front entrance to the mall.

A truck caught fire and was fully engulfed in flames, sending a column of dark smoke rising into the air — visible from nearby office buildings and I-395 — around 11 a.m., near the intersection of S. Hayes Street and 12th Street S.

The fire has been extinguished but Hayes Street is closed between Army Navy Drive and 12th Street S. Police are helping to direct traffic and preparing to reopen the southbound lanes of Hayes.

A video of the fire, taken from a nearby building, shows a small explosion as someone can be heard describing the fire — apparently to a 911 dispatcher — in the background. (Note: there is NSFW language in the video.)

More via social media:

Photo (top) via Arlington County Police Department. Video courtesy Christopher Chung.

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A medical emergency might have been the cause of a fatal crash last night on I-395.

The single-vehicle crash happened around 10 p.m. in the northbound lanes of the highway, near the Pentagon.

The driver of the car, a 54-year-old Maryland woman, was later declared dead at a local hospital. All northbound lanes of I-395 were closed as a result of the crash, which is being investigated by Virginia State Police.

More from VSP:

Virginia State Police Trooper T. Karbowski is investigating a fatal crash in Arlington County. The crash occurred Dec. 3, 2019 at 9:51 p.m. on Interstate 395 at the 8 mile marker.

A 2008 Nissan Altima was traveling north on I-395 when it ran off the left side of the interstate, sideswiped the Jersey wall and then struck an impact attenuator.

The driver, Eddy A. Hernandez-Torres, 54, of Adelphi, Md., was transported to a nearby hospital where she was declared deceased.

A medical emergency is being investigated as the cause of the crash. The Arlington County Fire Department assisted at the scene.

Photo courtesy Dave Statter

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(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) A large water transmission main serving Arlington ruptured early this morning amid falling temperatures, prompting major closures.

The water main break was first reported around 4:30 a.m. on the Arlington side of Chain Bridge. The northern end of N. Glebe Road, a portion of Chain Bridge Road and Chain Bridge itself were all expected to remain closed throughout the morning rush hour as a result.

(Chain Bridge and Chain Bridge Road has partially reopened as of 9:45 a.m. for drivers heading to and from D.C. and Fairfax County, VDOT said via Twitter.)

The rupture caused a portion of N. Glebe Road, on the hill leading to Chain Bridge, to collapse.

Large water transmission pipes run under the Chain Bridge, bringing water from the Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant in D.C. into Arlington. The pipe that burst was a 36-inch transmission main, significantly larger than the typical 12-inch residential water main, WTOP reported.

Though as of 6:35 a.m. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services (DES) reported that “crews have stabilized the transmission main break and pressure is being restored to County water lines,” much of the Arlington’s water service was impacted and nearly half of the county remains under a precautionary boil water advisory.

The boil water advisory is “expected to last until at least Sunday, after a series of testing,” according to Arlington Alert.

The closure of Glebe Road, meanwhile, is currently expected to last at least into the weekend.

The repair of the water main is expected to stretch into late Saturday or even into Sunday, DES Chief Operating Officer Mike Moon tells ARLnow. The road could remain closed until Tuesday, though there’s also a possibility it reopens this weekend, Moon said.

More permanent repairs to the road may be necessary even after it reopens, according to Moon. DES officials are still assessing the situation and expect to provide more information to the public on Saturday.

“It’s a major repair,” said DES spokeswoman Jessica Baxter. “Crews are working as fast as possible… but we don’t have a [solid] timeline for the repair and the restoration of the roadway.”

Moon noted that water service has been restored to most of Arlington thanks to redundancy in the system. There are three large transmission pipes that run from D.C. to Arlington — two hanging under the bridge, one under the river — that supply the county’s water, and there are multiple paths that the water takes into Arlington once its reached the Virginia side of the Potomac.

Arlington Public Schools, meanwhile, have closed today (Friday) due to the lack of water service, though football games will be played tonight

Two community centers are also closed, in addition to all APS facilities. Libraries are open but patrons are encouraged to bring bottled water.

Local restaurants, meanwhile, are using bottled water and disposable plates amid the boil water advisory, according to Washingtonian.

More on the boil water advisory, from a county press release:

As a precaution, Arlington County has issued a Boil Water Advisory for customers in the eastern area of the County (excluding Crystal City) who may be impacted by a large water transmission main break at Glebe Road and Chain Bridge Road. (See area… on the map.) The break caused pressure drops in several locations across the County. The advisory is a safety measure because of the depressurization.

If you live in the affected area, you should bring your water to a rolling boil for three minutes then cool before:

  • Drinking
  • Brushing teeth
  • Washing fruits and vegetables
  • Preparing baby food and formula
  • Making ice
  • Giving to pets

Information will be shared when the advisory has been lifted. Check the County website for updates.

Map via Google Maps. Some photos via Arlington DES/Twitter.

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(Updated at 10 a.m.) Firefighters are on scene of a possible apartment fire at the River Place residential complex in Rosslyn.

Heavy smoke was reported on a lower floor of one of the high-rise buildings, on the 1000 block of Arlington Blvd. A second alarm was dispatched as a precaution, according to scanner traffic.

“Expect a large fire department response in the area,” ACFD said via social media.

Firefighters investigating the source of the smoke now believe it was from a small kitchen fire, which has since been extinguished.

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(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Arlington Public Schools may shuffle nearly a quarter of its elementary school students around to combat the county’s persistent overcrowding problems.

During a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, school officials proposed moving the majority of McKinley Elementary School students to the new Reed Elementary School, among other switches.

The Arlington School Board is expected to take action on one of two final proposals during its meeting on February 6, 2020. If approved, it would take effect for the 2021-22 school year, per APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

“Some of our schools can’t manage the student’s lunch time, we have students who eat lunch as early as 10 a.m. and as late as 2 p.m.,” said Lisa Stengle, executive director for the APS Department of Planning and Evaluation.

“We like to keep kids together. The more we can keep groups of kids together, the better,” she said.

The first proposal idea APS shared with parents would mean:

  • The majority of current McKinley students would move to Reed.
  • The Arlington Traditional School (ATS) program would move to the McKinley building.
  • Key Immersion School would move to the Arlington Traditional School building.
  • The Key building would become a neighborhood school.

According to officials, 40% of McKinley students live in the Reed School walk zone, meaning more students who are currently riding the bus would have the option to walk to school. In addition, it would provide 100 additional seats for new ATS students.

The second proposal calls for the same McKinley, Reed, and ATS switches, plus:

  • Campbell Elementary School moving to the ATS building
  • Key, along with its immersion program, would move to the Carlin Springs Elementary School building
  • The majority of students at Carlin Springs would move to the Campbell Elementary School building
  • Campbell building becomes a neighborhood school
  • The Key building becomes a neighborhood school

Both plans are expected to affect some 20-30% of Arlington elementary school students.

“[Moving schools allows] APS to use all schools to maximum capacity, keep together as many students in each school community as possible, and keep as many students as possible walking to their neighborhood schools,” officials said in a press release.

The proposals are a larger part of the APS Elementary School Planning Project, which calls for the planning of capacity solutions as Arlington’s elementary student population is expected to exceed 30,000 by 2023 — with significant growth in the Rosslyn, Ballston, and Columbia Pike areas.

The fiscal impact of either proposal remains to be determined, according to APS Transportation Planning Director Kristen Haldeman.

Alternatively, per the planning website, if APS chooses to only redraw elementary school zoning districts without moving schools, it would affect up to 41 percent of Arlington’s elementary school population and incur additional transportation costs.

In addition, Spengle noted the county will need to build up to three new elementary schools by 2029 in order to accommodate growth, including in and around Pentagon City.

The school system will spend the next several months collecting community feedback before the School Board makes a final decision, with public meetings on:

  • November 5: An online information session on APS Engage in English and Spanish
  • November 5-24: An online community questionnaire at APS Engage
  • November 15 and 22: “Friday Facebook Live” sessions with new FAQs answered.

Several community forums are also scheduled for December, plus a School Board public hearing on January 30 at 7 p.m. in the Syphax Education Center.

The discussions come after APS redrew the boundaries of eight elementary schools last year in order to accommodate the opening of Alice West Fleet Elementary School.

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Updated 10:50 p.m. — The fire alarm has stopped and residents are returning to the building.

First responders are on the scene at 3601 Fairfax Drive where dozens of residents have been evacuated from Latitude Apartments after reports of a fire.

Residents on multiple floors of the building reported seeing and smelling smoke coming out of the building.

Nate and Kelli, two residents of the building, said the alarm went off around 10 p.m. They were on the roof when the alarm went off and they could smell smoke.

As of 10:30 p.m. firefighters were still working through the building.

Airey and Vernon Miles contributed to this story

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