Arlington, VA

Two Arlington County firefighters were the only paramedics present at ground zero of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, treating and triaging injured law enforcement officers and attackers alike.

That’s according to a new report from the Associated Press, citing dozens of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

From the AP:

Two firefighters loaned to Washington for the day were the only medics on the Capitol steps Jan. 6, trying to triage injured officers as they watched the angry mob swell and attack police working to protect Congress.

Law enforcement agents were “being pulled into the crowd and trampled, assaulted with scaffolding materials, and/or bear maced by protesters,” wrote Arlington County firefighter Taylor Blunt in an after-action memo. Some couldn’t walk, and had to be dragged to safety.

Even the attackers sought medical help, and Blunt and his colleague Nathan Waterfall treated those who were passing out or had been hit. But some “feigned illness to remain behind police lines,” Blunt wrote.

Blunt, who’s also the Public Information Officer for the Arlington County Fire Department, said he and his colleagues were “among the first mutual aid teams to arrive,” and they “were critical to begin the process of driving protestors off the Capitol,” according to the AP.

The reporting suggests Arlington first responders had an earlier and more active role in defending the Capitol than previously known. County officials have not provided much specificity around what support Arlington police and firefighters provided in the District that day, and when.

ARLnow previously reported on large convoys of Arlington first responders that were seen heading into D.C. in the midst of the Capitol chaos that afternoon, and on video footage showing riot gear-clad ACPD officers pushing back unruly protesters that night.

At the time, a department spokeswoman declined to provide ARLnow with additional information on the deployments of Arlington police officers, citing the need to not divulge tactical information. Blunt, reached via email on Friday, declined an interview.

“Since the incident is still under investigation, we have decided not to provide interviews at this time,” he wrote. “Hopefully, my memo provided to the press via the FOIA request gives you some perspective of the challenges we had to face that day.”

ARLnow reported on Jan. 5 that Arlington police would be in D.C. as a result of a mutual aid request from the Metropolitan Police Department. Arlington officers would “assist our regional law enforcement partners in maintaining peace and order in the event of a significant disturbance or unrest,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

The AP report notes that county officials were informed that Arlington officers were responding to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol around 3:30 p.m., an hour or so after the ACFD medics started treating injured people on the Capitol steps.

…it was 3:39 p.m. when Penn emailed county officials that he had “just been notified” that Arlington officers were responding to the Capitol attack and had been absorbed into the overall response led by Capitol Police.

That was almost 90 minutes after the mob first busted into the Capitol and more than an hour after the medics began treating injured police on the steps.

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On Jan. 6, a group of ten or so men — at least one of whom was wearing a tactical earpiece — watched the storming of the U.S. Capitol from across the Potomac in Arlington.

Previously unpublished photos taken by ARLnow that day show the men loitering near the Marine Corps War Memorial, with the overrun Capitol in the background. Parked nearby are numerous vehicles, mostly pickup trucks and SUVs with out-of-state license plates.

One pickup truck, with large toolbox in the back, was left running.

The man with the earpiece appears to have been focused on some sort of communications device with an antenna. He was among a group standing outside, in the cold, wearing hooded sweatshirts and other inconspicuous cold weather gear. None were wearing the tactical vests and helmets that militia members who charged into the Capitol that day wore.

Still, the group was deemed suspicious enough that Arlington County police received at least one call from a passerby, concerned about what they were doing there. An officer drove by after the 4 p.m. call but didn’t see anything, according to police department spokesman Ashley Savage.

“At approximately 4:09 p.m. on January 6, the Emergency Communications Center received a report of 9-10 males acting suspiciously and looking around on the Iwo Jima War Memorial property,” Savage said in response to an inquiry from ARLnow. “The United States Park Police was notified to check the park area. ACPD patrol units checked Meade Street and Arlington property, nothing was located and the call was cleared.”

“I have no additional details to provide,” Savage added.

The photos above were taken by ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott around 3:30 p.m., just before Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he was sending the Virginia National Guard into D.C.

In recalling the moment, Westcott — a Navy veteran — said the gathering “had the feeling of a rally point.” He shot the scene from a distance with a 600mm lens, reluctant to get any closer due to potential safety concerns.

By nightfall, the men had dispersed, as ARLnow originally reported in an article about the curfew that night.

It’s unclear what the as-yet unidentified men were doing at the memorial that afternoon. Was their presence purely coincidental, or somehow connected to the pro-Trump rally and subsequent violence at the Capitol?

What is known is that somewhere outside of the District that day, according to federal prosecutors, a “quick reaction force” with a stockpile of weapons was allegedly ready to join the fight if ordered to do so by President Trump.

At a Friday court hearing for Jessica Watkins, a member of the Oath Keepers militia from Ohio who is accused of helping to plot the attack on the Capitol, prosecutors told a federal judge that “[it is] our understanding” that the quick reaction force did exist and was stationed somewhere near D.C.

A court document filed on Feb. 11, as cited by The Daily Beast, details the purpose of the quick reaction force, at least according to federal prosecutors.

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Morning Notes

Rosslyn Dog Park Now Open — “Thanks to the support of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and R-DOGS, there’s a new interim dog park on the western side of Gateway Park. Now that’s something to bark about!” [Arlington County, Instagram]

Arlingtonian Confirmed as U.N. Ambassador — “The Senate voted 78-20 on Tuesday to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.” The long-time Arlington resident “has promised to restore the U.S. role as a defender of human rights and will look to repair multilateral relationships that fractured under former President Trump.” [Axios]

Crashes on I-395 Yesterday Morning — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “The units from Station 9C ran a three vehicle accident early this morning on 395NB. Upon arrival, they discovered a trapped patient who was quickly extricated. Two patients were treated and transported with non-life threatening injuries.” [Twitter, WUSA 9]

YHS Students to Continue Athletics in College — “A dozen Yorktown High School athletes participated in recent college signing ceremonies to continue their playing careers at the next level.” [InsideNova]

Local Woman Sickened By New Puppy — “An Arlington mother and daughter are warning those interested in purchasing a new pet about a disease called campylobacter. Audrey Glitt was thrilled when her mother, Katrina Metzler, brought home a new puppy named Fernweh as a surprise — but shortly after the dog’s arrival, the excitement quickly faded to worry. ‘I think it was about, a week later after we had gotten her, I started getting really sick and I couldn’t get out of bed,’ said Glitt.” [WDVM]

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Morning Notes

Another Snowstorm on the Way? — “Confidence is growing in a messy mix of wintry precipitation in the Washington region Thursday, the latest in a parade of wintry weather events since late January… Parts of the region could see significant amounts of snow and/or ice before a possible change to rain. The precipitation, which may be heavy at times, is likely to continue into Thursday night or very early Friday morning.” [Washington Post]

More Details on Pike CVS Development — “Last summer, the public caught wind of upcoming plans to redevelop the Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center on Columbia Pike in Arlington. Now… [a] rezoning application has been filed to apply Columbia Pike-specific zoning to the property at 2601 Columbia Pike (map) in order to deliver The Elliott, a six-story building with 248 apartments with a new CVS pharmacy and a grocery store on the ground floor.” [Urban Turf]

Equinox Isn’t Coming to Clarendon — “An affiliate of Regency Centers Corp. has sued an affiliate of upscale fitness chain Equinox for more than $20 million for allegedly pulling the plug on a planned location at the Market Common retail center… Clarendon Regency IV LLC sued Equinox Clarendon Inc. in U.S. District Court in Alexandria in mid-November for breaching the terms of its lease for space on the first and second floors of the nearly 68,500-square-foot building at 2801 Clarendon Blvd.” [Washington Business Journal]

Capitol Police Officer Died in Arlington — “Smith returned to the police clinic for a follow-up appointment Jan. 14 and was ordered back to work, a decision his wife now questions… Police found him in his cherished Ford Mustang, which had rolled over and down an embankment along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, near a scenic overlook on the Potomac River. He was the second police officer who had been at the riot to take his own life.” [Washington Post]

Reaction to Senate Trump Vote — Arlington’s Congressional delegation expressed disappointment with the acquittal of former President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial. Said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.): “A bipartisan majority of Senators voted today to send a clear message to future presidents that conduct of this nature is impeachable, intolerable and disqualifying. When the history books on this moment are written, I believe that judgment will be clear.” [Blue Virginia]

Solving Arlington’s Hunger Problem — “The pandemic has made it harder for many Americans to feed their families. After the COVID-19 outbreak, Arlington’s Department of Human Services estimated nearly 16,000 residents needed food assistance. Now the Capital Area Food Bank estimates 26,000 are at risk of hunger in Arlington. County leaders have a plan to help.” [WJLA]

Southwest Air ‘Love’ Story at DCA — “And of course, there’s the inspiring story of Reecie and Imani. Reecie met Imani in 2018 after Imani requested that her plane return to the gate [at Reagan National Airport] before taking off. Imani was the maid of honor in her best friend’s wedding, but she was too nervous to fly.” [Twitter]

Jenna Bush’s Worst Date Happened in Arlington — “Hoda Kotb asked Jenna about her worst first date ever and boy, did the story deliver. ‘My worst first date involved the Secret Service, let’s just leave it at that,’ Jenna said, laughing…. She explained that they were in Arlington, Virginia, where her now-husband was living at the time. He had realized he was running out of fuel, so he tried to get to a corner gas station that was up a slight hill. ‘He started to go up the hill and then booooop, crash.'” [Today Show]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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(Updated at 12:15 p.m.) Flags at the U.S. Capitol has been ordered to half-staff in honor of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.

Sicknick passed away last night “due to injuries sustained while on-duty” during the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol on Wednesday.

“Officer Sicknick was responding to the riots on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol and was injured while physically engaging with protesters,” said a U.S. Capitol Police press release. “He returned to his division office and collapsed.  He was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.”

Fellow officers paid tribute to Sicknick outside the Capitol last night. This morning, the Arlington County Police Department — which responded to help quell the chaos in D.C. — offered its condolences.

Also this morning, Arlington’s congressman, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), issued a statement on the officer’s passing. Sicknick lived in a southern portion of Beyer’s district, north of Lorton.

Officer Brian Sicknick gave his life in the line of duty to keep us safe. I mourn his loss, and send my deepest condolences to his family. His murder multiplies the pain of this dark moment for our nation, and those who brought about this awful crime must be prosecuted and brought to justice.

Officer Sicknick was 42 years old, a military veteran who went on to serve in the United States Capitol Police for twelve years. He made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting those trapped in the Capitol amid a violent assault on our democracy itself. Like others before him who died in defense of the people’s representatives, he deserves to lie in state.

Shortly after noon, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also issued a statement.

Pam and I are deeply saddened by the death of United States Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick, a resident of Northern Virginia.

Officer Sicknick died as a result of injuries sustained during the insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday. He was 42 years old and a military veteran who had served with the United States Capitol Police for 12 years.

Officer Sicknick was killed while doing his job–defending those trapped in the Capitol building amid a violent attack on our democracy. His death is a tragedy, and those responsible must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

My prayers and those of the entire Commonwealth go to his family, his loved ones, and his fellow officers who work every day to protect the seat of American democracy from those who would seek to destroy it.

Photo via Tyler Merbler/Flickr

 

Yesterday (Wednesday) was Matt de Ferranti’s second full day as the Arlington County Board’s 2021 chairman.

Yet, he was already faced with a crisis and had to determine how to best protect the citizens of Arlington during one of the more frightening days in modern American history when a mob of Trump supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol.

In an exclusive interview, de Ferranti tells ARLnow that he heard from more than 300 Arlingtonians via emails and calls throughout the day. He was also in conversation with County Manager Mark Schwarz and Alexandria mayor Justin Wilson.

Based on those conversations, he convened a closed meeting of the County Board at 4:45 p.m to discuss “the events that have occurred” in D.C. and protecting Arlington from “potential terrorist activity.”

This is where last night’s curfew, requested by the Board and approved by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, was decided.

“We felt it was in the safety interests and the best interests of our residents to have a curfew starting at six o’clock,” said de Ferranti. “We thought it was best to air on the side of precaution and safety, given the disturbing images that we saw in Washington and at the Capitol.”

And last night, Arlington was calm.

“I checked with the county manager this morning and last night, there were no incidents at all in Arlington,” says de Ferranti, referencing a lack of activity related to the Capitol chaos. “The curfew was the appropriate step out of an abundance of caution.”

He was aware of at least one hotel in Arlington that hosted group of Trump supporters. The situation was monitored, he says, but he was not aware of any behavior that rose to a level of concern.

Scanner traffic and social media reports also suggest that groups returning from D.C., including individuals flouting mask requirements, were congregating at the malls in Pentagon City and Ballston around the start of the curfew. They quickly dispersed, apparently after getting dinner. ARLnow reporters driving through Arlington’s Metro corridors spotted no large groups congregating outside after the curfew.

“Arlington was safe last night and is safe now,” said de Ferranti. He does not anticipate a curfew in Arlington tonight.

As reported, Arlington County Police did receive and agree to a request from D.C. police to send officers to the District.

“We got a request and we felt that it was in the interest of safety as we were watching, really, what I would describe as rioters, not protesters, but rioters,” de Ferranti says. “Our officers helped the D.C. police department.”

ACPD received a mutual aid request from MPD for today as well, which they are fulfilling.

However, de Ferranti says the intention was to assist D.C. police and not federal government agencies.

“We were very clear that they were going to only operate under an incident commander who was with the D.C. police. We are not at all interested in working with the federal government at this stage because of what we saw in June,” he said, referring to the controversial use of Arlington officers as mutual aid to U.S. Park Police outside the White House this summer.

When asked if ACPD received any mutual aid requests from any federal government agencies yesterday, de Ferranti responded, “no, not to my knowledge.” He noted, however, that the police department did receive a mutual assistance request from U.S. Capitol Police for today, but are unable to provide officers due to already fulfilling the request for MPD.

More than 50 Capitol and D.C. police officers were injured, some seriously, in Wednesday’s violence, the U.S. Capitol Police Chief said in a statement.

The County Board Chair said none of the Arlington officers who were deployed across the river were “seriously injured.” He says one fell “in the course of trying to protect,” but beyond a bit bruised, that officer is “fine.”

Last night Arlington officers in riot gear could be seen alongside Virginia State Police — who were also deployed en masse at the D.C. mayor’s request — protecting the front of the Capitol.

As for inauguration which is less than two weeks, de Ferranti says the county is preparing for it.

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Morning Notes

Beyer: Trump Must Be Removed — Rep. Don Beyer: “Donald Trump is a danger to our democracy. I continue to support his impeachment and removal from office, and am looking carefully at new articles of impeachment being drafted and offered by my colleagues… Congress must ensure Trump’s removal from office by the swiftest and surest method available: confirmation of the American people’s will as expressed in the 2020 election.” [Press Release]

Bishop: ‘Saddened and Appalled’ — From Bishop Michael Burbidge, of the Arlington Diocese: “Today, I was saddened and appalled to see the violence at the US Capitol that disrupted a constitutional process. I ask all people to pray for unity and healing in our nation. May God bless and protect this great country and grant us the peace for which we long.” [Twitter]

Northam: ‘Virginia Will Be There’ — Gov. Ralph Northam: “I continue to pray for the safety of every member of the House and Senate, all the staff, the journalists, everyone who works in the Capitol. And I commend the Virginia National Guard and Virginia State Police for quickly stepping up in this time of great need. Let me be clear: Virginia will be there for as long as it takes to protect our nation’s capital and ensure the peaceful transfer of power.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Lopez Discussed Capitol Chaos on BBC — Del. Alfonso Lopez appeared on BBC’s Newsnight, discussing the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol: “This is an extreme group that have bought into the misinformation from the Trump family,” he said. [Twitter]

State to Speed Up Vaccinations — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced new actions to support the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution program and accelerate the pace of vaccinations across Virginia.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

Now for Something Completely Different — “About this time yesterday I posted a video of an Arlington fox playing with dog toys — I’m just gonna re-post now for anyone who needs a break from today’s news cycle.” [Twitter]

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Arlington County Police officers in riot gear could be seen defending the U.S. Capitol tonight in a new video.

The video (below) shows ACPD officers alongside Virginia State Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police in front of the Capitol, keeping back an angry pro-Trump crowd. The video-taker says it was taken around 5:40 p.m., just before a curfew took effect in D.C. and Arlington.

Later in the video, Metropolitan Police officers can be seen pushing back the crowd, to jeers. At one point, a man holding a large Confederate flag starts fighting with police and is taken to the ground by a group of baton-wielding D.C. officers.

Large contingents of Arlington police and Virginia State Police are in the District as a result of a mutual aid request from D.C. authorities amid the storming of the Capitol.

The sight of riot gear-clad Arlington officers in the District is striking given the events of this past summer, when similarly-equipped Arlington officers — supporting U.S. Park Police outside the White House after a mutual aid request — were pulled from D.C. after being pressed into service clearing crowds for a presidential photo op.

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An act of Congress may help to streamline the planned Long Bridge project.

The project to build a new rail bridge across the Potomac, accompanied by new bike and pedestrian facilities, is one of the key components of a $3.7 billion plan to expand passenger and freight rail in Virginia.

To help it along, this week the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill that would cede National Park Service land near the river to Virginia or D.C. “as necessary for the Long Bridge Project.” The land transfer would reduce the complexity and cost of the project, as well as the time required to complete it.

The bill still must pass the Senate and be signed into law by the president. Its passage was hailed by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and the National Landing Business Improvement District as an important step forward.

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Complaints over helicopter noise in Arlington are likely to soon be better tracked by the federal government.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a veto-proof version of the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act, and it includes a provision directing the Secretary of Defense to “develop a process to receive, track, and analyze complaints of military rotary wing aircraft noise in the National Capital Region that are registered on the noise inquiry websites of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that the NDAA will be approved before the end of the year, while questions remain if President Trump will attempt to veto it.

Congressman Don Beyer tweeted that the addition of the language to the NDAA and its passage is a win for the region. Helicopter noise has long been a topic that he’s worked on, and over the summer Beyer wrote in an email to ALXnow that his office consistently receives a high volume of helicopter noise complaints.

“We get calls about airplanes on approach and departure to and from DCA, and increasingly about military helicopters across the region, many of which fly in and out of Fort Belvoir,” Beyer wrote. “I had a town hall on the issue a few years ago in Fairlington, which has been particularly affected, and it was clear that people wanted ways to track and report noise complaints, and to have a forum for ongoing discussion about ways to mitigate that noise which would include input from the local community.”

Beyer recently joined a number of D.C.-area lawmakers in asking for the Defense Department to study helicopter noise in the area.

The noise issue has been a growing concern for years. Last year, the U.S. Army revealed one reason for some extra noise: it was conducting a secret operation that required the use of Blackhawk helicopters.

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

County Board to Consider Bridge Pact — “The Arlington and Alexandria governments are planning to formalize their long-shared responsibilities for maintenance of five bridges that span Four Mile Run between the two communities. The new agreement sets out the share of funding for future short-term and long-term rehabilitation of the five bridges – at West Glebe Road, Arlington Ridge Road, Shirlington Road, Route 1 and Potomac Avenue – as well as maintenance costs.” [InsideNova]

Meal Donation to Hospital — Per a spokeswoman: “At 12:45 p.m., roughly 1,500 meals from local restaurants will be delivered to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington as part of a 9/11 Day and World Central Kitchen initiative to support first responders and frontline healthcare workers on the 19th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The local restaurants participating in the delivery to Virginia Hospital Center are Arepa Zone, La Ceiba and Bistro Bis.”

Board to Vote on ART Facility Contract — “The Arlington County government is moving forward with planning for reconstruction of its Arlington Transit (ART) operations and maintenance facility, located on Shirlington Road in the Four Mile Run/Green Valley area. County Board members have been asked to approve a contract of roughly $3.9 million for planning, design and construction-administration services for the $81 million project. Stantec Architecture is receiving the contract.” [InsideNova]

Local Bars Welcome NFL Season — “‘We’re delighted to have live sports back,’ said Dave Cahill, general manager of Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington, Virginia. ‘We’re fortunate here at the Four Courts; we have three different rooms, and we have a large outdoor area. So we have 18 televisions inside and three TVs outside. Having three rooms, it’s going to allow us to spread people out all over the rooms, 6 feet apart and still enjoy the football,’ he said.” [WTOP]

GOP Senate Candidate Addresses Civ Fed — “His longshot candidacy notwithstanding, Daniel Gade received a polite reception from delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation. ‘I’m the sort of person who will always tell you the truth,’ the Republican U.S. Senate nominee said at the Sept. 8 event. His opponent, incumbent Democrat Mark Warner, was invited but did not attend the forum, convened online due to the public-health pandemic.” [InsideNova]

County Encourages Local Hotel Bookings — “For most of us with out-of-town family and friends, it’s been far too long since we’ve been able to get together. And with safety being everyone’s top priority, you may not be comfortable yet hosting guests in your Arlington house, condo or apartment. With plenty of space, great fall deals and packages, and an array of enhanced health and safety programs, Arlington’s 44 hotels can offer the ‘spare bedroom’ for your visitors this fall.” [Arlington County]

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