Arlington, VA

(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Two people were wounded and one is dead after an overnight shooting on Columbia Pike

Police say they were called to the 3000 block of Columbia Pike — the same block as the Days Inn and the McDonald’s — just after 2:30 a.m. for a report of gunshots.

Later, two victims showed up at a local hospital “with injuries considered to be non life threatening.” After that, police say they located another victim deceased in a vehicle on the 3200 block of the Pike, the same block as the Audi dealership and the Westmont Shopping Center. It’s the county’s third homicide of 2020.

Columbia Pike was shut down in both directions between S. Glebe Road and S. Highland Street during the investigation this morning.

“Police remain on-scene and in the area investigating,” said Arlington County police. “Anyone with information is asked to call 703-558-2222.”

On Sunday afternoon, ACPD released more information about the shooting, revealing that it happened after a dispute outside of an unidentified business. The full press release is below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a shooting that took place on Columbia Pike in the early morning hours of June 28, 2020 that left one victim deceased and two victims with minor injuries.

At approximately 2:39 a.m., police were dispatched to area of the 3000 block of Columbia Pike for the report of shots fired and a large crowd dispersing outside of a business. While investigating the initial reports of shots fired, officers were notified that two victims had arrived at an area hospital seeking treatment for minor injuries. The preliminary investigation indicates that following a dispute between multiple parties, the suspect entered his vehicle and fired gunshots in the area of the crowd as he fled the scene.

As the investigation into the initial call continued, officers were dispatched to the 3200 block of Columbia Pike, where a third victim was located inside of a vehicle with trauma to the upper body. The victim was subsequently pronounced deceased on scene. Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The decedent is identified as Donovan A. Green Jr., 21, of Upper Marlboro, Md.

This incident remains an active criminal investigation. 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] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

This is the third homicide in Arlington County in 2020.

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Morning Notes

GOP Senate Primary Today — “Three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s Virginia primary are hoping to win a chance to defeat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner in November’s general election. Alissa Baldwin, Daniel Gade and Thomas Speciale will be on the Republican primary ballot.” [The Center Square]

Pike Housing Proposal Delayed Amid Outcry — “Faced with criticism on multiple fronts, Arlington County Board members on June 16 essentially threw a staff proposal under the bus, delaying for three months consideration of a controversial plan on how to prioritize affordable housing in the Columbia Pike corridor… It would have increased the maximum threshold, from the current 60 percent of area median income to up to as much as 100 percent, for individuals to qualify for assistance in buying properties.” [InsideNova]

River Rescues Near Chain Bridge Saturday — “D.C. firefighters and police officers on Saturday rescued eight adults and four children who became trapped on rocks in the Potomac River and were cut off from shore by rapidly rising waters in a sudden rainstorm.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Arlington Home Show Cancelled — The pandemic has led to the cancellation of the annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo, which had earlier been rescheduled for Saturday, June 27. [Arlington County]

ACPD Investigating Brandishing Incident — “On June 21, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was driving in the area of 31st Street S. and S. Abingdon Street when he was allegedly cut off by the suspect. The suspect then waved the victim in front of him and began following him. When the victim parked, the suspect pulled alongside his vehicle and a verbal dispute ensued, during which the suspect brandished a firearm.” [Arlington County]

Traffic Getting Back to Normal — “Car and truck volume trends in Virginia are moving back toward normal after plummeting during the COVID-19 shutdown, according to numbers released Friday by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Pandemic traffic on state-maintained interstates and primary roads hit a low on April 12, a Sunday… The numbers have gradually rebounded since, climbing back to around 20 percent below normal by the end of May.” [Virginia Mercury]

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Morning Notes

Juneteenth Rally in Courthouse Today — “Please join the Arlington Black Employees Council for a 2020 Juneteenth Peace Rally on Friday, 11a-12p, outside at the Bozman Gov’t Center. The event will include a George Floyd tribute and recognition of victims of violence.” [Twitter]

Police Investigating Columbia Pike Robbery — “At approximately 1:24 a.m. on June 17, an officer was flagged down by the victim stating they had just been robbed. The investigation determined that the victim had exited a business when two unknown suspects approached him. One of the suspects struck the victim with an object appearing to be a firearm, causing him to fall to the ground. The suspects searched the victim’s person and fled the scene without taking anything from the victim.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Helps the Homeless During Pandemic — “In April, Arlington launched a homeless outreach coalition to help identify unsheltered individuals at high risk for COVID-19 and connect them with available resources and services. The coalition is comprised of stakeholders from the Police Department, Department of Human Services, and Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN). ” [Instagram]

Coronavirus Signage in Rosslyn — “The Rosslyn Business Improvement District decked out the neighborhood with a variety of light-hearted messages as part of an awareness campaign launched this week to encourage social distancing as the region loosens stay-at-home restrictions imposed to fight the spread of Covid-19. Through the messages — which are stamped to the sides of trash cans, in the windows of office buildings and on public benches — the BID hopes to remind people not to let their guard down.” [Washington Business Journal]

Backyard Blues Fest on Saturday — “CPRO is planning an alternative Backyard Blues Festival on June 20 from 5-7 p.m. Arlington community radio station WERA 96.7 FM will play a curated selection of blues while various local restaurants will offer special discounts on food and drinks, which can then be enjoyed in one’s backyard or patio with the radio cranked up.” [ARLnow]

Nearby: Falls Church Closes for Juneteenth — “In keeping with Governor Northam’s declaration designating Juneteenth as a state holiday, the City of Falls Church will also observe the holiday. City of Falls Church Government administrative offices will be closed. Employees who staff essential programs and services will work as scheduled.” [City of Falls Church]

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After months of uncertainty, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization announced that the group’s annual summer movie series would be converted into a new drive-in theater format.

“On Saturday nights throughout July and August, CPRO will be showing blockbuster hits on the big screen at the Arlington Career Center parking lot (816 S. Walter Reed Drive),” the organization said in a press release.

The movies are scheduled to start at sunset, sometime between 8-8:30 p.m.

The event will remain free and open to the public, but with limited space, participants will have to register in advance. Attendees will also be asked to remain in their vehicles during the movie. Public restrooms will not be available.

An area will be set aside for households without vehicles, which CPRO said can be identified on the registration form.

The lineup (below) is a fusion of the earlier schedule for movie nights at Arlington Mill and Penrose Square, now that the only screenings will be at the Career Center.

  • July 11: Jurassic Park
  • July 18: The Secret Life of Bees
  • July 25: Twister
  • August 1: Crazy Rich Asians 
  • August 8: Apollo 13
  • August 15: Ready Player One 
  • August 22: Coco 
  • August 29: Mary Poppins Returns 

“2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbia Pike Movie Nights and we had already hosted several rounds of voting to let the people pick this year’s line-up, so we were really eager to find a way to host the event safely,” CPRO Program Director Stephen Gregory Smith said in a press release. “So we worked with [Arlington Public Schools], libraries, and county staff to secure the Arlington Career Center parking lot and come up with a plan to allow everyone to still enjoy their favorite movies together — while still apart — this summer.”

Photo via CPRO

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The Dept. of Justice has filed a civil action that would seize nine acres of county land on the eastern end of Columbia Pike by eminent domain, in order to expand Arlington National Cemetery.

The suit appears to be part of the long-standing plan to expand the cemetery around the Air Force Memorial, and includes no indication of resistance from the county. Arlington endorsed the federal proposal in April, which realigns and upgrades a portion of Columbia Pike in exchange for the county-owned land next to the cemetery.

As of Tuesday morning neither the Justice Department nor the county responded to requests for comment by ARLnow.

The action was announced Monday, with the DOJ touting it as a win for both military veterans and local residents.

“When completed, the Arlington National Cemetery Southern Expansion Project will provide for approximately 60,000 additional burial sites, including an above ground columbarium,” said a press release. “The expansion will extend the timeline for Arlington National Cemetery to continue as an active military cemetery.”

“The expansion project will benefit Arlington County and its residents by, among other things, burying overhead power lines and incorporating the Air Force Memorial and surrounding vacant land into Arlington National Cemetery,” the press release continues. “The project will transform Columbia Pike from South Oak Street to Washington Boulevard by re-aligning and widening it. The project includes streetscape zones with trees on both sides of Columbia Pike, adding a new dedicated bike path, and widening pedestrian walkways. The project also provides for the construction of a new South Nash Street.”

The full press release is below.

Read More

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The Arlington County Board is set to consider a school expansion project that will involve changes to a local library.

Arlington Public Schools is requesting a use permit to add 150 seats to its Arlington Tech program at the Arlington Career Center. It’s the prelude to a larger expansion project for the facility at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive, which would add 800 new high school seats and a 200,000 square foot addition by 2025.

The current project would add the new student capacity — bringing the total Arlington Tech seats from 350 to 500 — via interior changes, namely the use of what is currently the second floor of the Columbia Pike Branch Library. The library, in turn, would be modernized consolidated on the first floor of the building.

“Both floors of the existing Columbia Pike Branch Library will be renovated, with the second floor converted to classroom space for APS use during school hours and County use outside school hours,” a county staff report says. “There are no proposed changes to the façade of the building.”

If approved, Construction is expected to kick off in July or August and run through late fall. The library would be closed for 3-4 months, prompting some concerns from nearby residents.

“The Arlington Heights Civic Association expressed their concerns regarding the closure of the library during the renovations,” the staff report notes. “Residents will be able to access other full-service libraries to use the same services offered at this location, including the Shirlington, Aurora Hills and Glencarlyn branches, as well as the use of public computers at the nearby Walter Reed Community Center.”

The item at the end of the agenda for the Board’s meeting this coming Saturday.

More from the county staff report:

The Board will consider Arlington Public Schools’ request for an amendment to its Use Permit for the Arlington Career Center, located at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive. If approved, the amendment would allow APS to add 150 seats for the Arlington Tech high school program through interior renovations that would include renovating both floors of the Columbia Pike Branch Library. The number of seats at the Career Center would be increased from 800 to 950. The plan calls for converting the library’s second floor to classroom space during school hours and County use outside school hours. The modernized library would be consolidated on the first floor. During the anticipated three to four months of renovations, the library would be closed. If the plan is approved, APS expects to begin construction in July or August 2020 and finish in late fall. To read the staff report, scroll to Item No. 34. on the agenda.

As a result of the renovations, the total ACC building capacity will increase from 800 seats to 950 seats. With its existing functions consolidated to the first floor, the library will be modernized with new technology, furniture, and equipment that improves the delivery of current resources and programs. During the renovations, which are anticipated to last for approximately three (3) to four (4) months, the library and its programs and services will be closed. Due to financial costs and the short-term nature of the closure, there are no plans to set up a temporary library location. However, residents will be able to access other full-service libraries to use the same services provided at this branch, including the Shirlington, Aurora Hills and Glencarlyn branches, as well as the use of public computers at the nearby Walter Reed Community Center.

While the renovations were initially intended to occur during the 2020 summer break and completed in time for the 2020-21 school year, due to the uncertainty related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) the planned renovations have been delayed with an anticipated construction start date of July/August 2020. APS intends to proceed with the renovations as soon as reasonable in coordination with pandemic recovery. In the interim, to accommodate the growing enrollment at Arlington Tech, APS is pursuing alternatives over the 2020 summer break to increase seat capacity including minor interior renovations to add a new science lab and rightsize existing classrooms, as well as the temporary installation of eight (8) additional relocatables on the existing parking lot.

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As Arlington’s restaurants try to return to some semblance of normalcy during the first phase of reopening, some local restaurants are anxiously awaiting Arlington County approval of temporary outdoor seating permits.

Owners of two eateries along the Columbia Pike corridor, Ethiopian restaurant Dama Pastry & Cafe (1505 Columbia Pike) and Ididos Coffee and Social House (1107 S. Walter Reed Drive) said getting access to outdoor dining is a crucial part of getting business back to normal.

“We are just waiting,” said Hailu Dama, owner of Dama Pastry & Cafe, which has a small parking lot in front of the restaurant, located near the Air Force Memorial. “We applied for outside dining and are waiting for Arlington County. Once that gets approved, we’ll put up tents and have some small space on the side. So far, that’s what we’re thinking about.”

Currently, Dama said his small business needs the boost — opening up an outdoor space would expand their capacity at a critical time.

“It’s just been very slow,” Dama said. “We closed for about a month because of the employees and the whole situation. We reopened three weeks ago and it’s been picking up a little bit, but to get to the point pre-corona… it’s going to take some time.”

Mesfin Demise, a partner in Ididos Coffee and Social House said he’s similarly hoping outdoor dining can help boost slow sales.

“There’s been a little back and forth on outdoor seating,” Demise said. “That has not happened yet, it’s probably a day or two delay. Once we get that permit for temporary outdoor dining, then we should be really great.”

Ididos opened for takeout, Demise said, but as a coffee shop, business had really suffered.

“April was really bad, business-wise,” Demise said. “May picked up, but it’s not back to normal. It was about 20% down from where we used to be. It’s mainly because of the community that we were so close.”

Demise said Columbia Pike neighbors rallied to support local businesses during the pandemic, something for which he’s deeply appreciative.

“With the County approving, hopefully, we can do outdoor seating,” Demise said. “I think that will boost sales. I don’t want to say we’ll go back to normal, but right now it still hurts.”

Even with the permit, though, Demise said the state has still put limitations on outdoor seating that he said business owners should be the ones to set.

“Outdoor seating is 50% of indoor seating,” Demise said. “In our case, we have 13 seats allowed, so we can only do six seats outdoors. That limitation probably hurts, but it’s better than nothing.”

Demise said it took a lot of work, but he’s been able to keep most of his employees and adjust schedules to keep nearly everyone on payroll. He said he’s looking forward to being able to bring people to the restaurant to sit around.

“People loved to sit around the restaurant, so missing that was a big challenge,” Demise said. “Adjusting to simply pouring coffee or lattes and sending them to customers, that’s been very difficult.”

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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The front of a CVS store along Columbia Pike was smashed overnight in what police say was a burglary attempt.

The driver of a car ran into the entrance to the store near Penrose Square, at 2601 Columbia Pike, in the wee hours of the morning. It’s unclear if anything was stolen. The vehicle was found abandoned nearby and the suspect remains at large.

“At approximately 3:32 a.m. on June 2, police were dispatched to the report of a single vehicle crash into a building,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report. “The vehicle fled the scene prior to police arrival but was located unoccupied in the 2600 block of 12th Street S. At the time of the report, it was unknown if anything was stolen from the business. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.”

This morning customers could be seen doing their shopping inside the store, despite the mangled entrance.

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The annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival isn’t exactly canceled this year, but with lingering concerns about large crowds during the phased reopening of the region, the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization is radically rethinking the event while hoping to keep the spirit intact.

Officially, the 25th Pike Blues Festival will be held in 2021, but in the meantime, CPRO is planning an alternative Backyard Blues Festival on June 20 from 5-7 p.m.

Arlington community radio station WERA 96.7 FM will play a curated selection of blues while various local restaurants will offer special discounts on food and drinks, which can then be enjoyed in one’s backyard or patio with the radio cranked up.

“The Blues Festival has always been such a wonderful celebration of our community and, as it was necessary to postpone it this year, we really wanted to find an alternative celebration that could still bring the community ‘together,'” CROP Executive Director Kim Klingler said. “All of us at CPRO have been eagerly anticipating the 25th Annual Blues Festival and were quite disappointed at the prospect of cancelling the festival completely. But, through our partnership with Arlington Arts, we were able to connect with WERA and come up with a creative way to keep groovin’ and show that defiant, hopeful spirit that truly exemplifies Columbia Pike.”

CPRO isn’t the first local organization to try to encourage Arlingtonians to jam out to music outdoors at the same time. The Crystal City BID launched a similar Front Porch Friday series in April. Klingler said the idea of playing music over the radio outdoors is “very retro.”

“The Columbia Pike community really feels a strong sense of pride and ownership over the annual Blues Festival,” Klingler said. “It is hard to imagine summer on Columbia Pike without the blues.”

Klingler said the festival will include giveaways and social media contests. CPRO is still working through the details of the specials on food.

“We are still working out a few details with our vendors, but we’re hopeful all of the local restaurants who have participated in the festival for years will participate this year as well,” Klingler said. “Most of our vendors are brick and mortar restaurants located near Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Dr. where the festival typically takes place and we wanted to ensure we are supporting them through these difficult times in any way we can. Listeners can order their favorite festival foods and have their beer and wine delivered. New District Brewing Co. is even preparing a specialty ‘Blues Fest Brew’ for the occasion.”

In addition to New District, Sloppy Mama’s Barbeque and Rincome Thai Cuisine are listed as event participants.

“We hope everyone will drag their radios outside — or tune in online — and spend a couple hours filling backyards across Arlington with the best blues has to offer,” Klingler said. “I think we’ve all had the blues for a while now and a Backyard Blues Fest could be just what we need.”

Image via Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization

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The Boston Market restaurant at 3233 Columbia Pike has closed its doors permanently.

“Thank you for your support and patronage,” says a sign on the door. “It has been a privilege and honor to serve you. Unfortunately, this Boston Market restaurant has closed. It would be our pleasure to serve you at one of our nearby Boston Market restaurants.”

The nearest location of the rotisserie chicken chain is now outside the Beltway, on Route 1 in Fairfax County.

There’s no word as to whether the closure was due to or accelerated by the pandemic. While numerous local restaurants have been reopening for takeout and delivery, in part due to receiving forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans, there have also been a trickle of recent permanent closures, including Champps in Pentagon City and Momofuku in D.C.

Hat tip to Jim M.

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A new walk-up coronavirus testing site opened Tuesday along Columbia Pike.

The testing center is a partnership of Arlington County, Virginia Hospital Center and Arlington Free Clinic. At a media briefing yesterday, officials from all three spoke about the importance of the facility in the fight against the virus.

With the new testing site “we can get services to the more vulnerable and low income individuals,” who might not have access to a vehicle for drive-through testing sites or to health insurance to pay for testing, said Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington Public Health Director.

“They often have limited access to health care and because of their work, they don’t have the opportunity sometimes to stay home like a number of the people in our region,” Varghese said.

The new testing site is open from 1-5 p.m. weekdays, and available to anyone who makes an appointment by calling (703) 558-5766. Health insurance is not needed and those who require extra treatment after testing may be referred to the Arlington Free Clinic.

Arlington County has seen the highest proportion of COVID-19 cases in the 22204 zip code, along the Columbia Pike corridor, emphasizing the need for more testing in the area.

The latest countywide statistics from the Virginia Dept. of Health report 1,460 coronavirus cases, 300 hospitalizations and 69 deaths in Arlington. That’s an increase of 44 cases, 12 hospitalizations and 3 deaths overnight.

Statewide, VDH reports 26,746 cases, 3,520 hospitalizations, 927 deaths and just over 180,000 tests administered.

More on the walk-up testing center, via a county press release:

Arlington County, in partnership with Virginia Hospital Center and the Arlington Free Clinic, will open its first walk-up COVID-19 sample collection site at the Arlington Mill Community Center, 909 South Dinwiddie Street.

“Arlington is committed to assuring everyone in our community has access to the testing they need during this pandemic,” said Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington Public Health Director. “This is an important partnership that will help our more vulnerable or low-income groups who do not have access to cars to walk up and get tested.”

“This is an exciting effort to create a more equitable testing model for everyone who needs it,” said Nancy White, Executive Director, Arlington Free Clinic. “This model aligns with our mission to provide high-quality health care to low-income, uninsured Arlington residents through the generosity of donors and volunteers.”

“Virginia Hospital Center is happy to lend the expertise we have gathered from the North Quincy drive-through site to support the efforts at Arlington Mill,” said James Meenan, Director of the VHC Outpatient Lab. “Our primary focus is always the health and safety of our community and increasing access to testing is a critical step forward in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

  • The clinic opens Tuesday, May 12 and will operate weekdays between 1-5 p.m.
  • To be tested, patients must obtain a clinician referral and then schedule an appointment by calling 703-558-5766. Patients must schedule an appointment before visiting the collection site.
  • Residents without health insurance can still access testing through the walk-up collection site by calling the appointment number. A VHC clinician will screen for symptoms over the phone and provide a follow-up referral to the Arlington Free Clinic if needed.
  • Individuals who visit the collection site should follow the instructions of their health care provider and self-isolate while they await their results.
  • Patients with an appointment may access the clinic at Arlington Mill Community Center by entering through the outdoor plaza facing Columbia Pike.
  • Individuals must bring proof of identity (U.S. government ID not required).

To protect patient privacy, media access to the site will be restricted.

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