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(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) All around Columbia Pike — and increasingly elsewhere in Arlington County — one graffiti message has been popping up: “hate.”

At first, it seemed to be concentrated around a stalled development project on the Pike, but now, the graffiti has been seen farther north in Cherrydale. It appears not to be confined to Arlington, either, as it was spotted earlier this year in Georgetown.

The persistent tagging is troubling a number of Arlington residents. It is also vexing those who report not seeing action taken after using Arlington County Police Department’s channels for recourse, including a non-emergency phone number and an online reporting system.

The most recent tag was on the building that is home to the Columbia Pike Partnership and the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington at 3045B Columbia Pike.

“We are checking camera footage,” museum president Scott Taylor told ARLnow, noting this is the first time the building has been tagged with the now ubiquitous slogan. “Police have been notified… We are saddened.”

Alyssa Trembeczki, who lives near Bob & Edith’s Diner, has seen the graffiti while out for runs and bike rides around the Pike, though she also reported seeing it at the corner of Langston Blvd and Military Road.

“I would love for whoever is doing this to stop since it’s making me feel unsafe in my own neighborhood and I’m sure others feel the same way,” she said.

She said she learned from police officers that whoever is tagging property is targeting places without security cameras.

Resident Tim Starker says he called the non-emergency number in early July to report one incident he noticed on S. George Mason Drive and Columbia Pike — and then twice more — but received no follow-up at any time.

“After about six weeks of no remediation, I emailed the [Arlington County] Board and got a canned response from a staff member advising to use the graffiti reporting function on the website,” he said. “The staffer eventually told me it was on private property so they had limited options.”

Another anonymous tipster, sharing photos from of similar graffiti in Cherrydale, echoed the dilemma of going to the county for issues on private property.

“This has been reported to Arlington County via their website but not sure they can intervene since these are private building(s) and utilities,” the tipster said.

Starker says he is waiting on a response from any County Board member, which he says is surprising.

“It’s an easy opportunity to address a constituent and at least explain the problem,” he said, noting the graffiti on S. George Mason Drive still there.

Later this morning, a county spokesperson said the graffiti at the location had been removed.

Tackling the graffiti and finding the culprit have been top priorities for Penrose Civic Association President Alex Sakes. He says last week, he met with ACPD, County Manager Mark Schwartz, Board Chair Christian Dorsey and Board Vice-Chair Libby Garvey for the second time to discuss solutions.

Sakes says ACPD recently completed a study, specifically for Penrose, about how to prevent crime through what he calls “environmental design.”

“We’re working on getting security cameras and motion-sensing lighting available to our Columbia Pike businesses… and a registry for existing security footage and data for current businesses that ACPD needs,” he said. “I’m beyond ready to get this stuff funded, purchased and installed. [I’m] tired of all these meetings.”

County Board spokesman David Barrera said the Board is aware of the graffiti concerns, noting they are most prevalent in Penrose and along Columbia Pike.

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A police officer plays a game of pickup basketball with local kids in 2018 (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) A new youth program could divert youth who commit misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies from the juvenile legal system.

Arlington police will be able to refer offending juveniles to local programs aimed at holding youth accountable outside of the court system, according to a press release from the Center for Youth and Family Advocacy (CYFA).

“Community-based diversion is critical to community policing because it recognizes young people’s capacity for change,” the organization said in a statement. “Community-based diversion also reduces the possibility of collateral consequences arising from legal system involvement, which can have lasting, and often unexpected, effects on a youth throughout their life.”

CYFA works Arlington County’s juvenile court services unit to provide a variety of youth-led programs, through which kids who acknowledge wrongdoing can make amends and rejoin their communities.

It offers programs such as “Youth Peer Court,” in which trained teens occupy the roles of prosecutor and defense attorney, judge and jury and help develop a plan the juvenile follows to repair the harm he or she committed.

Now, police will be able to refer kids to that program and another, in which kids learn how to facilitate conversations about issues impacting teens by those harmed and those doing the harm.

The nonprofit says its new partnership with ACPD, in the works since 2019, is a “radical change” in how Arlington County addresses delinquent behavior in kids and prevents them from being involved in the formal juvenile legal system.

Until recently, for instance, police officers were in Arlington Public Schools. The intent was to maintain school safety and provide mentorship, though there were community concerns that the school presence resulted in racial disparities in juvenile arrests.

For the police department, the CYFA partnership is a new way to stay involved in the lives of children without involving the full weight of the courts.

“ACPD recognizes that using restorative justice programs for particular incidents involving youth provides an opportunity to divert youth from the criminal justice system while still holding them accountable for their actions and providing persons who have been harmed an opportunity to be actively involved in the resolution of their case,” department spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.

The two organizations will work together to educate locals about how to also utilize these two programs when police are not involved, CYFA says.

The nonprofit says the partnership advances the aims of the county’s Police Practices Group, which suggested more than 100 ways to reform policing in Arlington.

“It creates space to reframe police response from adversarial to solution-focused and provides an opportunity to shift cultural and societal reliance on police resources,” CYFA said.

In a Facebook post, the organization provided a “shoutout” to several officers within ACPD for their work to stand up the program, as well as to Chief Andy Penn and Deputy Chief Wayne Vincent “for their tremendous work on strategic planning.”

The organization additionally thanked County Manager Mark Schwartz and the Arlington County Board for supporting its efforts.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

Police on scene of shooting in Green Valley in 2022 (staff photo)

An Arlington County Police Department report released today puts on paper what we reported in March: crime was generally up in Arlington last year.

“The overall crime rate in Arlington County, reported as Group A Offenses (defined on page 18 of the Annual Report), increased 17.8% in 2022 as compared to the previous year,” the police department noted in a press release. “The total number of offenses (offenses per 100,000 persons) remains below the 2022 Virginia average.”

Crime stats from 2022 Arlington County Police Department annual report (via ACPD)

More from the press release:

Reported crimes against persons increased 16.4% in 2022 from 2021 totals with the primary drivers being increases in simple and aggravated assaults. Reported Crimes Against Property offenses increased 23%, compared to 2021 with marked increases in motor vehicle thefts, larcenies, fraud and destruction of property offenses.  Continuing a multi-year decline, reported crimes against society offenses decreased by 21.5%. The number of Group B Adult Arrests increased 5.4% as compared to last year, reflective of our commitment to thoroughly investigate criminal incidents and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

The report also suggests that the police department, while prioritizing recruitment efforts, is still struggling to attract a sufficient number of qualified recruits to become sworn officers. ACPD’s sworn staff, according to the new report, is 313, compared with 325 last year.

Crime stats from 2022 Arlington County Police Department annual report (via ACPD)

The annual report additionally shows higher levels of vehicle crashes — including those causing injury — compared to 2021, but fewer compared to 2019.

Traffic citations and warnings are lower last year at 17,506, compared to 19,935 in 2021, perhaps owing at least in part to a reduced police force. DUI arrests, meanwhile, are up: 424 last year compared to 382 in 2021.

Crime stats from 2022 Arlington County Police Department annual report (via ACPD)

Drug offenses were down significantly — 396 in 2022 compared to 575 in 2021 and 939 in 2020. That follows Virginia making it legal to possess small amounts of marijuana in mid-2021.

Crime stats from 2022 Arlington County Police Department annual report (via ACPD)

ACPD reported lower levels of opioid incidents and fatal overdoses last year, compared to 2021, but much higher levels compared to 2019.

Crime stats from 2022 Arlington County Police Department annual report (via ACPD)

The rise in the more serious, often violent “crimes against persons” was driven in large part by increases in simple assault and aggravated assault. There were also two murders and three negligent manslaughter offenses in 2022 compared to none for both categories in 2021.

Crime stats from 2022 Arlington County Police Department annual report (via ACPD)

Among property crimes, burglaries and break-ins were down in 2022 but destruction of property, fraud, theft and robbery were all up compared to 2021, according to police.

Crime stats from 2022 Arlington County Police Department annual report (via ACPD)

Nationally, the crime picture for 2022 was mixed, with some violent crimes down but other types of incidents rising.


Amid community pressure, Arlington County is taking a closer look at ways to improve safety in Green Valley.

Some residents are pushing for more action from the county on two fronts: dealing with nuisances and more actively policing criminal activity. In response to the mounting concerns, an internal county workgroup is beginning to meet this week to find ways to do just that.

The nuisances are related to drinking and smoking as well as public urination and loud music associated with some of the people who hang out around the John Robinson, Jr. Town Square, neighbors tell ARLnow. The criminal issues relate to gun violence, which some neighbors tie to the unaddressed open-air substance use.

Throughout the day, people can be seen hanging out in the area. Yesterday (Tuesday), for instance, ARLnow observed a handful of people sitting in folding chairs outside of The Shelton, an affordable housing building, while two other groups were congregated in the town square, talking and listening to music.

Neighbors, including Yordanos Woldai, say they don’t have an issue with people hanging out. They just want people not to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana outdoors, urinate in public or play music during quiet hours.

“Having lived in Arlington for such a long time, I am not aware of any other residential neighborhood where this conduct is allowed to happen in plain sight and not be addressed by the police,” Woldai tells ARLnow. “Children have to walk on the streets at times because there is no way to pass and there are broken beer bottles on sidewalks and grass.”

A few of the people hanging out told ARLnow that nearly everyone on the square yesterday likely came from outside Green Valley to this area to be together. Many grew up in the neighborhood but have since moved away.

One man, who appeared to be drinking beer from a plastic cup, put his hand out close to the ground and raised it up slowly to show how much of early childhood, marked in growth spurts, he spent in the neighborhood.

“They feel they are very much part of the community,” Woldai said. “I love the idea that people come to Green Valley to connect with old friends… It’s the illegal activities that are bothersome.”

Woldai addressed the Arlington County Board on Saturday about her concerns and said she had the support of 37 neighbors. This includes Lily Bozhanova, a Bulgarian immigrant who has lived in the area for five years with her family.

“My children are 5 and 7-year-olds. We often go to the spray park there and I sometimes have to explain to my children why they see people smoke or drink plein air. It’s not good but they see it every day and it’s a deterrent for going in the area,” she told ARLnow.

Bozhanova says she tries to avoid the area in the evening and lately Googled whether bullets can pass through brick.

“I shouldn’t be looking up to see whether my house can sustain gunshots. Brick is relatively safe, by the way,” she said.

Although she is grateful for the life she has built, she says, “it’s not exactly the American Dream we were trying to achieve moving here.”

Frank Duncan, a longtime resident of The Shelton (3215 24th Street S.) said he was shot last summer. A relative was also shot not long after.

“That’s the story about the life we live here,” he said.

Still, he said he cannot move away because it will be hard to find space in another low-income apartment building. He says he does what he can to promote safety in part by volunteering as a crossing guard for Drew Elementary School students.

Woldai ties the shootings to the nuisance issues.

“When people know there isn’t really a police presence in a neighborhood where you can drink and smoke marijuana, it attracts more serious crimes,” she said. “That has been a serious concern for residents living near the town square.”

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A 23-year-old Minnesota woman is facing a pair of charges after police say she drunkenly threw a bottle at a passing car.

The incident happened around 5:45 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday) in Pentagon City, at the intersection of 12th Street S. and S. Hayes Street, near the Metro station entrances.

“Police were dispatched to the report of a possible intoxicated subject walking in and out of traffic,” Arlington County police said today in a crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined the female suspect allegedly threw a bottle at the windshield of a passing vehicle.”

“Responding officers located the suspect on scene, took her into custody and she was evaluated by medics,” the crime report adds. “No injuries or property damage were reported. [The suspect], 23, of Brainerd, MN was arrested and charged with Throwing a Missile at an Occupied Vehicle and Public Intoxication. She was held without bond.”

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A 41-year-old man is in jail after police say he used a brick in an early morning robbery attempt.

The incident happened around 2 a.m. in Crystal City. Police say the man stood in front of a car, demanded cash from those inside, then bashed the car with the brick “multiple times” before the victims were able to flee.

Police responded and took a suspect into custody.

From today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ATTEMPTED ROBBERY, 2023-05070025, 1600 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 2:02 a.m. on May 7, police were dispatched to the report of a destruction of property. Upon arrival, it was determined the victims were inside their vehicle attempting to leave the area when the male suspect allegedly approached, stood in front of the vehicle while holding a brick, and demanded money. The suspect struck the vehicle multiple times with the brick before the victims were able to leave the area. No injuries were reported. Responding officers canvassed the area, located the suspect, and took him into custody without incident. [The suspect], 41, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Destruction of Property, Attempted Robbery, and Abduction. He was held without bond.

Also in today’s crime report: another incident of teens running after an alleged vehicle-related crime.

This incident happened around 9:30 p.m. in Pentagon City, and involved five juvenile male suspects fleeing on foot before all being apprehended, according to ACPD.

ATTEMPTED GRAND LARCENY AUTO (Significant), 2023-05060271, 1400 block of S. Joyce Street. At approximately 9:24 p.m. on May 6, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering. Upon arrival, an officer observed approximately five juvenile suspects allegedly tampering with two vehicles, one of which had a smashed rear window. The officer attempted to make contact with the suspects, during which they fled the scene on foot. Officers initiated foot pursuits, located the five juvenile male suspects and took them into custody. Two suspects sustained minor injuries and were treated by medics. Petitions are pending for the juvenile suspects.

Additionally, there were two separate incidents of alleged gun brandishings, both along Columbia Pike over the weekend. One involved an implied gun and the other a BB gun, according to police.

BRANDISHING, 2023-05060148, 900 block of S. Dinwiddie Street. At approximately 12:29 p.m. on May 6, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined the suspect approached the two victims, allegedly physically assaulted Victim One and made threatening statements implying he had a firearm before leaving the scene. The victim reported minor injuries and did not require medical attention on scene. During the course of the investigation, the suspect returned to the area and was taken into custody without incident. [The suspect], 25, of Arlington, Va. was arrested and charged with Brandishing and Assault and Battery. He was held without bond.

BRANDISHING, 2023-05070094, 4800 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 12:13 p.m. on May 7, police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, officers located the suspect on scene and took him into custody without incident. The investigation determined the suspect approached the known victim, told him to leave the area and when the victim refused, the suspect allegedly brandished a firearm. Officers recovered a BB gun on scene. No injuries were reported. [The suspect], 44, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Brandishing and Disorderly Conduct. He was held without bond.

Jail entrance at the Arlington County Detention Facility (file photo)

An employee of the Arlington County Public Defender’s Office appears to have been duped into smuggling drugs into the local jail.

An apparent misunderstanding over recent changes to the delivery of personal mail could have contributed to the advocate’s arrest, according to her boss, Chief Public Defender Brad Haywood.

Last month, a 32-year-old woman was arrested and charged with unauthorized delivery in jail in connection with an offense that allegedly occurred in mid-February, per court records. The employee reportedly delivered papers to the jail in her capacity as an investigator for the Public Defender’s Office, but the papers — unbeknownst to her — had been soaked in drugs. The delivery also circumvented a new jail policy.

The case was transferred to the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney to prosecute.

“We had to get a special prosecutor for that because of a potential conflict of interest,” Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said. “Loudoun handled that and it would be inappropriate for me to have been involved in the decision making.”

Two sources confirmed to ARLnow that the court quickly granted a prosecutor’s motion to dismiss the charges. This was done on the grounds that she lacked knowledge that she delivered contraband to the jail. Loudoun’s Commonwealth’s Attorney did not respond to requests for comment before publication time.

Charges are still pending for another woman in connection to this case. Cassandra Bertrand, 30, was arrested and charged with the distribution of and conspiracy to distribute Schedule I/II drugs. She is also charged with two counts of delivering drugs to a prisoner.

When asked about this case, a spokeswoman for the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the jail, provided the names and charges for the two defendants but declined to comment further.

“To ensure the integrity of the ongoing criminal investigation and prosecution, additional details are not available for release,” spokeswoman Amy Meehan said.

Closing the mail drug smuggling loophole

Like detention facilities around the country, the Arlington County Detention Facility is combatting a relatively new way of smuggling drugs inside: mail.

Personal correspondence is dipped in or sprayed with a synthetic drug and sent to the inmate, who smokes it or tears up the paper and sells bits to others.

This method has been around for several years, per a 2016 Washington Post article, but a recent spate of such smuggling attempts have received media attention this year. There were instances in Chicago, in Massachusetts and on Riker’s Island in New York City, where love letters and cards from children were soaked in fentanyl.

In the Arlington case, law enforcement sources tell ARLnow the letter was coated in a synthetic cannabinoid called nicknamed “K2” or “Spice.” The chemical name, ADB-Butinaca, is identified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule I drug.

“The jail is aware this is a new trend and as of February 1st, we use a third-party digital mail center to scan all incoming, personal mail which is then forwarded to the inmates’ tablets,” Meehan said.

Per a notice she shared with ARLnow, all mail addressed to inmates must be sent to a post office box in Missouri. The policy for legal mail, however, has not changed.

Legal mail is a broad category that can encompass papers that — to the Sheriff’s Office — look an awful lot like personal mail. In this case, printed copies of photos were shared with the client because they would be entered into the record in the inmate’s upcoming court appearances.

The photos, which are called “mitigation materials” in the legal community, are intended to humanize the person facing a potential sentence. But it may not have looked that way to the Sheriff’s Office.

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National Mall during peak bloom weekend, as seen from Arlington (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The District of Columbia’s attorney general has responded to a scathing letter to D.C. officials sent by Virginia AG Jason Miyares (R).

Miyares suggested that the District is soft on crime, endangering Virginia residents who visit as well as neighboring jurisdictions like Arlington. The letter was sent as “a direct response to the tragic murder of Christy Bautista,” an Arlington woman stabbed to death in a D.C. hotel room, allegedly by a man with an extensive criminal history.

In reply, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb (D) penned a lengthy letter asking Miyares “for help to stop illegal gun trafficking into DC,” noting that “Virginia is the largest source of illegal firearms recovered here,” per a spokeswoman. Additionally, the letter points out that Virginia cities like Richmond have “experienced increased crime rates substantially higher than the national average.”

Schwalb goes on to highlight that serious crimes in the District are prosecuted in the federal court system. The D.C. court is overloaded and understaffed, resulting in delays and a “public safety crisis,” Mayor Muriel Bowser has previously asserted.

“I also invite you to join me and Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown in advocating for DC’s autonomy over our local criminal justice system,” Schwalb wrote. “As a fellow attorney and attorney general, I know you can understand how difficult it is for a community to improve public safety when it lacks meaningful control over its criminal justice system.”

Schwalb’s letter was sent prior to today’s mass shooting at a Northeast D.C. funeral home and stabbing on a Metro train at the Columbia Heights station.

The full letter is below.

Attorney General Miyares:

As the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, I share the frustration and anger regarding senseless killings and violent crime expressed in your April 6 letter to local District leaders. No issue is more important to the more than 700,000 residents of the District than enhancing public safety and preventing violent crime. Just like people in Richmond, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Newport News — each of which has experienced increased crime rates substantially higher than the national average over the past several years — residents of and visitors to Washington, D.C. deserve to feel safe and be safe.

Promoting public safety should be a bipartisan endeavor, not fodder for divisive political grandstanding. Developing and implementing practical solutions that will make our communities safer, now and in the long run, requires thoughtful, data-driven analysis and comprehensive, collaborative strategies. While there are several unsupported assertions and conclusions in your April 6 letter with which I disagree, I do agree with your observation that the proximity of our respective jurisdictions means that enhancing public safety is a regional issue which we must address cooperatively. To that end, I hope you will support efforts to improve public safety in the DMV region.

Improving public safety begins with curbing gun violence. As a necessary first step, we need to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who intend to cause harm. In communities around our country—urban, suburban, and rural—the presence of illegal guns is far too pervasive. Gun trafficking patterns remain remarkably consistent year to year from state to state, and most firearms recovered in the District originate in Virginia. According to the two most recent trace data reports from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Virginia is, by far, the source state for the most illegal firearms recovered in DC. Virginia is the source for nearly four times the number of illegal firearms recovered in the District than the next leading source state, Maryland, which has stricter gun laws. In 2020, of the 1,580 illegal firearms recovered in the District, 667 originated in Virginia. In 2021, Virginia was the source state for 619 of the 1,574 illegal firearms recovered in the District. By contrast, the District was the source for only 58 and 67 of the illegal firearms recovered in 2020 and 2021.

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View of the D.C. monuments and skyline from a flight arriving at DCA (file photo)

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) has sent a scathing letter to D.C.’s mayor and city council today, accusing them of jeopardizing public safety due to lax law enforcement.

The letter follows the stabbing death of an Arlington woman in a D.C. hotel room this past weekend. The Yorktown High School alum was pronounced dead in the room and the suspect, a 43-year-old man with an extensive criminal history, was taken into custody and charged with murder.

The suspect was released from jail by a judge this winter following an alleged armed robbery in October, NBC 4 reported.

“The letter is a direct response to the tragic murder of Christy Bautista over the weekend,” the Attorney General’s office said in a press release that also accuses D.C. officials of an “inability and refusal to enforce their public safety laws and address their crime spike.”

In the letter, Miyares writes that “due to the proximity of our communities, D.C.’s crime problem has become Virginia’s crime problem.”

Republicans in Congress have been on the offensive against D.C.’s government, accusing the District of being soft on crime.

With Democratic votes and President Biden’s signature, a D.C. crime bill that reduced the maximum sentence for carjacking, among other changes, was overturned last month. Meanwhile, GOP members grilled D.C. officials on crime during a House committee hearing last week.

There’s some debate over the actual direction of crime rates in the District, with news headlines this year like “Crime in D.C. dropped in 2022” and “Despite Falling Violent Crime, Some Adams Morgan Residents Say They Feel Less Safe” contrasting with “After violent weekend, D.C. homicides up 40 percent over last year.”

Miyares’ full letter is below.

Dear Mayor Bowser and City Council Members:

It has become painfully apparent that Washington, D.C., can protect neither its residents nor the thousands of Virginians who commute daily to the city for work or entertainment. As the chief law enforcement officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I feel responsible for the safety of all 8.642 million Virginians.

Unfortunately, due to the proximity of our communities, D.C.’s crime problem has become Virginia’s crime problem.

I refuse to stand by quietly as you continue to deny, reject, and refuse to address your very prevalent crime spike that is impacting D.C. residents and its visitors and commuters. Your unwillingness to enforce your laws and hold violent offenders responsible puts your residents and mine at risk.

Over the weekend, Christy Bautista, an innocent young woman from Virginia, was murdered in the supposed safety of her hotel room less than an hour after checking in to attend a concert in your city. A Capitol Hill staffer was brutally attacked in broad daylight. Over the summer, a young Arlington woman was harassed on the metro, and countless Virginians have been murdered in D.C. over the last three years, including Aaron Bourne, Kenithy Manns, Christian Gabriel Monje, and Ahmad Clark.

Yet, D.C. Council Chairman Mendelson recently denied that D.C. had a crime crisis. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. has seen two consecutive years of over 200 homicides — a distinction the city hasn’t reached in nearly two decades. In addition, carjackings have been steadily rising for the last five years. Homicides in Washington, D.C., have increased by 31% since this time last year, sexual assault increased by 84%, and motor vehicle theft has increased by 107%. In general, crime in 2023 has risen by 23%.

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A 27-year-old Maryland man has been arrested and charged with yesterday’s robbery of the Bank of America on Columbia Pike.

Police say Jaquan Royal passed the teller a note and implied that he had a weapon, then fled with cash. No one was physically hurt.

From an Arlington County police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department has charged a suspect for his involvement in a bank robbery in the 3400 block of Columbia Pike. Jaquan Deandre Malik Royal, 27, of Prince George’s County, Md., was taken into custody in Fairfax County. Charges in Arlington County are for Bank Robbery and Armed Robbery.

At approximately 10:29 a.m. on April 4, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery in the 3400 block of Columbia Pike. Upon arrival, it was determined the suspect entered the bank and allegedly passed a note to the teller demanding money and implying he had a weapon. He then fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash. No weapon was seen or displayed, and no injuries were reported.

This incident remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact police 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.

Royal has a past arrest record in Arlington and Fairfax counties.

In the summer of 2022 he was arrested and charged with robbing a Wells Fargo Bank on Richmond Highway. The ultimate disposition of that case is not immediately clear, as ARLnow does not subscribe to Fairfax County’s paid circuit court records service.

In 2020, Royal was arrested and later convicted of petty larceny in Fairfax County, according to Fairfax County General District Court records.

Royal was arrested twice in Arlington last year and accused of a Nov. 26, 2020 armed carjacking in Crystal City and a Dec. 23, 2022 shooting. In both instances, charges were later dropped.

In February of this year he was arrested on grand larceny and other charges in Fairfax County, stemming from a December incident. He was released on his own recognizance in early March 2023, ahead of a preliminary hearing scheduled for May.

Christy Bautista in the 2010 Yorktown High School yearbook (photo courtesy of Arlington Public Library’s Center for Local History)

(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) The woman murdered in a D.C. hotel room this past weekend was an Arlington native who attended Yorktown High School.

Christy Bautista was a student at Yorktown High School from 2007 to 2010, per high school yearbook photos, and was in orchestra her freshman year. She previously attended Swanson Middle School, confirmed by other former students and address records.

Bautista was a graduate of James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

Bautista, 31, was in the city to attend a concert, her family told NBC4, and had checked into the Ivy City Hotel on New York Avenue in Northeast D.C at around 6 p.m. Friday night.

Less than an hour after arriving, a man brutally attacked her with a knife inside her hotel room. Security cameras showed the man entering the room, followed by an audible struggle, court records note.

Thirteen minutes later, District police entered the room and arrested a 43-year-old man. Bautista was pronounced dead at the hotel at 7:10 p.m.

The suspect is being charged with first-degree murder, per court documents. It’s believed that he and Bautista did not know each other.

A GoFundMe campaign has been established to help Bautista’s family with funeral expenses. As of midday Wednesday it has raised nearly $10,000.


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