County Prepping New Tree Study — “Arlington leaders may take their next crack at guesstimating the number of trees in the county – a topic not without political as well as environmental ramifications – early in 2023, if all goes according to plan… estimating the cost at $100,000 to $150,000.” [Sun Gazette]
New Name for GMU Arlington Campus — “George Mason University announced today that its Arlington Campus will be renamed Mason Square as the new centerpiece of the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor for multi-disciplinary talent and business development, as well as a civic and cultural destination. Also being announced is Fuse at Mason Square, the name of the new technology-forward building that is the heart of Mason’s commitment to growing Northern Virginia’s next-generation workforce. A groundbreaking ceremony for Fuse at Mason Square will take place April 6.” [Press Release]
FBI Warns of ‘Sextortion’ of Boys — “The FBI Washington Field Office is warning parents and caregivers about an increase in incidents involving sextortion of young children. The FBI is receiving an increasing number of reports of adults posing as young girls coercing young boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos and then extorting money from them.” [FBI]
Nature Center Staffing Slowly Returning — “Don’t expect hours of operation at Arlington’s two county-government natures centers to return to pre-pandemic levels in the coming year, or maybe ever, but local leaders say that doesn’t mean nature programs won’t have priority in coming years… [the] hope for the coming year was to use funding for temporary workers to increase hours at the nature center, including perhaps evening hours.” [Sun Gazette]
Church Wins Climate Award — “Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ’s commitment to fighting climate change over the past 15 years landed it a top award in the 2022 Cool Congregations Challenge. Rock Spring, on Little Falls Road in Arlington, was named the 2022 winner of the Energy Saver category in the challenge, sponsored by Interfaith Power & Light, a nonprofit group that seeks to motivate people of faith to take steps to address climate change.” [Patch]
Alexandria Schools Propose SRO Extension — “Alexandria City Public Schools is requesting an extension of its controversial school resource officer (SRO) program through the end of the 2022-2023 school year. School Board Chair Meagan Alderton says that the extension is part of the reimagining of the $800,000 program.” [ALXnow]
It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 58 and low of 47. Sunrise at 7:05 am and sunset at 7:26 pm. [Weather.gov]
Arlington Public Schools will now involve the police anytime it learns of a student disseminating nude images or videos of kids and teenagers.
Now, school principals are required to notify the police when a student posts, distributes, displays or shares “material of a sexual nature” — specifically, “nude images or nude video of a minor,” according to the handbook. Students found doing this will also immediately receive an out-of-school suspension.
The offense joins a list of others requiring police intervention, including:
- Sale or distribution of alcohol
- Possession of weapons, including BB and airsoft guns
- Physical assault on a member of the school staff or students with a weapon
- Setting fires or using or possessing explosives or fireworks on school property
- False alarms and bomb threats
- School property theft or extortion
Virginia State Code requires schools to report to law enforcement certain incidents that occur on school grounds, school buses or during school-sanctioned activities, if they constitute a felony offense.
Per the state code, these offenses include assault that results in injury, sexual assault, abduction and stalking, conduct involving drugs and alcohol and possession of illegal firearms or explosives.
The law was amended last year so police intervention is no longer required for these offenses if they’re deemed misdemeanors.
The state list does not include the possession and distribution of nude images and videos of minors under the age of 18. Producing, publishing, selling or financing such content is, however, a felony offense for children and adults, and APS says it made the addition to align with these statutes.
The added offense was bundled in with a number of other changes aimed at making school discipline more “restorative” — that is, involving police less and seeking alternatives to traditional forms of punishment, which removes kids from school. This push within APS is concurrent with efforts in Arlington County to divert young people who commit certain crimes from the criminal justice system.
“There have been efforts at the staff level to bring a more restorative approach to our disciplinary policies for a very, very very long time,” said School Board Member Cristina Diaz-Torres of the bundle of new and revised policies.
“This has been a lot of important work to develop and it’s an important step forward,” she added. “This is a really, really momentous occasion to finally see it come to fruition.”
Board members voted on the same day that APS publicized its new Memorandum of Understanding governing when police can and cannot be in schools.
Although officers are no longer in schools on a daily basis, they are still dispatched for serious situations. Within the last year, police responded to what turned out to be false threats of a hostage situation at Yorktown High School in February and a false report of a school shooter at Washington-Liberty High School in October.
A Falls Church woman is facing numerous charges after police say she fled from officers after a hit-and-run crash — all while a child was in her car.
The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Day, in the Green Valley area. It started with a crash on S. Glebe Road, just north of the I-395 interchange, and ended with a second crash less than a mile away.
From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
At approximately 1:25 p.m. on December 25, police were dispatched to the report of a crash with injury. As officers arrived on scene, one of the vehicles involved in the initial crash fled the scene. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle, however, the suspect disregarded and continued driving at a high rate of speed in the area. Officers did not pursue the vehicle and followed at a distance. Officers observed the suspect strike another vehicle at the intersection of S. Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive, causing extensive damage, then come to a stop on Walter Reed Drive. The suspect exited the vehicle and was subsequently taken into custody by arriving officers without further incident. […] [The suspect], 25, of Falls Church, Va., was arrested and charged with Hit and Run – Attended Property: Injury/Damage >$1000 (x2), Eluding, and Abuse & Neglect of a Child, and issued summons for Improper Registration and No Insurance. She was held on a secured bond.
ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said there was a child in the 25-year-old woman’s car at the time of the crashes, leading to the child abuse charge.
Only one minor injury was reported in the Christmas crashes.
“The driver of the second vehicle involved in the first crash sustained minor injuries and was evaluated on scene by medics,” Clark said. “No injuries were reported in the second crash.”
Lockheed Downsizes Arlington Presence — “Lockheed Martin Corp. has re-upped its Crystal City presence, but for less space. The nation’s largest government contractor renewed its lease at 2121 Crystal Drive, but for only 180,000 square feet, downsizing from 220,000 square feet, according to CBRE. That 18% contraction accounts for one floor of the 12-story, 505,000-square-foot office building.” [Washington Business Journal]
More Office Interest in Ballston — “It’s masks on as Mark Witschorik readies for another tour at Ballston Exchange. The 783,000-square-foot office complex at the heart of the Arlington neighborhood was once the home of the National Science Foundation, but since it left in 2017, developer Jamestown has worked to bring new office users into the building… Witschorik, Jamestown’s senior vice president of asset management, says things are picking up.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Man Sentenced in Child Porn Case — “An Arlington man was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for production and receipt of child pornography… According to court documents, Abraham Razook, 43, admitted to sexually exploiting a prepubescent minor on multiple occasions and producing videos of this abuse.” [Dept. of Justice]
German Struggles at APS Abate — “Arlington school officials say they’re hoping to be back on track by the end of the month to address yet another crisis that popped up at the start of the school system – the lack of a teacher to instruct students in certain German-language classes. The educator who instructed the classes was among those who left the school system at the start of the school year, requiring some students taking German to receive instruction online as a stopgap measure. That provoked a furor among some impacted students and their parents.” [Sun Gazette]
The series was announced last month by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl, known for telling wild tales that later turn out to be false, often holding press conferences outside Burkman’s Rosslyn townhouse as part of their publicity campaigns.
(Burkman’s local notoriety includes being banned from holding press conferences at a Rosslyn hotel, having police called on one of his townhouse press conferences after protesters and hecklers showed up, allegedly staging a fake FBI raid at his house, and getting shot in a Rosslyn parking garage.)
In videos posted to YouTube, the duo purport to lure government officials to a home in order to engage in sexual activity a woman posing as a teen girl. Parts of the series appear to be filmed in Rosslyn.
The flyer, shown above, highlights one person who was featured in the pilot episode, said to be a former Trump campaign field director who later received a political appointment to a federal agency.
The flyer claims there is an “ongoing investigation by Arlington PD into his solicitations for sex with decoy posing as an underaged teen girl.” ARLnow is not naming the individual because there is no indication that he is accused of a crime by an actual law enforcement agency.
“This is not a flyer created or supported by ACPD,” said police department spokeswoman Ashley Savage, asked whether such an investigation was underway.
“As always, we would encourage anyone with information regarding possible criminal activity in Arlington to report information to ACPD for investigation by calling the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency,” she added.
There’s a reason why Wohl and Burkman may be resorting to low-tech ways — like duct taping a flyer to a bus stop — to promote their online video series. Both men have been banned from Twitter for violating rules against misinformation.
A man who worked as an assistant at Carlin Springs Elementary School is facing sex assault charges.
Police say Jonathan Zapata, a 30-year-old Arlington resident, sexually assaulted a female family member under the age of 18 over the course of two years from 2016-2018. He was arrested this morning in the Buckingham neighborhood and is facing two felony sex offense charges.
Arlington Public Schools has placed Zapata on administrative leave from his instructional assistant position, police said in a press release.
“The preliminary investigation has not uncovered evidence of inappropriate contact with children at the school,” the Arlington County Police Department said. “Anyone with information about Mr. Almanza Zapata that may be pertinent to this case and/or who has had past inappropriate encounters with him is asked to contact Detective S. Gomez at 703-228-4173 or [email protected]”
More from ACPD:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is investigating a suspect charged with sex offenses and is seeking additional information and possible victims. Jonathan Almanza Zapata, 30, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with Forcible Sodomy and Aggravated Sexual Battery. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.
At approximately 10:36 p.m. on September 26, police were dispatched to a residence in the Douglas Park neighborhood for the late report of a sexual assault. Upon arrival, officers met with the female juvenile victim who reported that the suspect allegedly inappropriately touched and sexually assaulted her during incidents believed to have occurred between September 2016 and June 2018. Following an investigation by the Special Victims Unit, warrants were obtained for the suspect and he was taken into custody without incident this morning in the 4300 block of N. Pershing Drive. The suspect is known to the victim and this is considered a domestic-related incident.
Arlington Public Schools has placed Mr. Almanza Zapata on administrative leave from his position as an instructional assistant at Carlin Springs Elementary School. The preliminary investigation has not uncovered evidence of inappropriate contact with children at the school. This remains an ongoing and active criminal investigation. Anyone with information about Mr. Almanza Zapata that may be pertinent to this case and/or who has had past inappropriate encounters with him is asked to contact Detective S. Gomez at 703-228-4173 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
A boy was walking his dog in Cherrydale when a stranger tried to engage him in conversation and then started following him around.
That’s according to Arlington County police, who describe the Saturday afternoon incident near the intersection of N. Monroe Street and 18th Street N. as an attempted abduction.
The suspect fled the scene in a black SUV and remains at large. Police say they are still investigating.
More from an ACPD crime report:
ATTEMPTED ABDUCTION, 2021-08070159, N. Monroe Street at 18th Street N. At approximately 3:47 p.m. on August 7, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined that the juvenile male victim was walking his dog in the area when the unknown male suspect attempted to engage him in conversation. The victim ran from the scene and observed the suspect following after him. As the victim returned to his residence, he observed the suspect turn and run back towards his vehicle. The suspect is described as an unknown race male, approximately 5’9″ to 5’10” tall, 170 – 180 lbs with long black hair. He was wearing a black long sleeve shirt, black ski hat, black pants with a tear on the right leg above the knee, a black mask and gray shoes. The suspect vehicle is described as a black SUV. A canvass of the area by responding officers concluded with negative results. The investigation is ongoing.
A teen driver allegedly eluded police before being apprehended near the Arlington Mill Community Center with a baby that wasn’t properly secured and a gun that was stolen.
The incident started Thursday evening around 7:40 p.m., when an Arlington County police officer conducting speed enforcement on S. George Mason Drive between Route 7 and Four Mile Run Drive spotted a speeding car.
“An officer conducting speed enforcement in the 1800 block of S. George Mason Drive observed a driver traveling at a high rate of speed while trailing another vehicle,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “As the officer attempted to stop the driver, he sped up, went around the other vehicle and fled through a red light.”
The officer searched the area and found the car parked on the 900 block of S. Columbus Street, just across Columbia Pike from the Arlington Mill center. The driver and a passenger were detained.
“The officer located a baby in an unsecured carrier in the vehicle. During the course of the investigation, officers recovered a stolen firearm and determined that the driver did not have a license,” said the crime report. “The driver, a juvenile, was arrested and petitions were obtained for Receiving a Stolen Firearm, Possession of a Handgun by a Juvenile, Eluding Police, No Driver’s License and Cruelty to Children.”
“Child Protective Services was notified regarding the baby,” the crime report adds.
A federal grand jury has indicted an Arlington lawyer on charges related to paying underage girls for sex.
Matthew Erausquin, 46, was arrested in November after a 1.5-year-long investigation. He was charged in Alexandria federal court with sex trafficking minors, producing child pornography, and charges related to transporting or forcing victims to cross state lines for sex.
If convicted, he faces between 15 years to a lifetime in prison, although sentences for federal crimes are typically shorter than the maximum penalties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a press release.
“The defendant allegedly used his money and power to sexually exploit minors,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to holding accountable those who prey on and victimize children, and to seeking justice for society’s most vulnerable members.”
Court documents allege that Erausquin paid for sex with six underage girls and three young adults over three years. During that time, the documents say he secretly recorded some of his encounters.
He allegedly met some of the girls on Seeking Arrangement, a website where men seek younger partners looking for financial help. In other instances, prosecutors say he posed as an 18 or 19-year-old on the dating app Tinder.
“Erausquin lured the girls into commercial sex arrangements, paying the girls between $500 to $800 each per sexual encounter and offering to pay at least $1,000 for threesome sexual activity,” said the Eastern District of Virginia U.S. Attorney’s Office. “In addition to these payments, Erausquin gave the girls marijuana and expensive gifts, such as [Tiffany & Co.] purses.”
According to a Fairfax County police affidavit, the investigation began in 2019, after a high school student reported to police that a man in his 40s had paid two victims $1,000 for a threesome, Virginia Lawyers Weekly previously reported.
One girl alleges that she “passed out after taking a hit of marijuana at Erausquin’s Arlington apartment, then woke up with no clothes on,” according to the Washington Post. Some were lured to the area from out of town with first-class plane tickets purchased by Erausquin, the Post also reported.
According to an affidavit, some underage victims told police that he likely knew they not yet 18.
Erausquin was a founding partner of the Alexandria office of the firm Consumer Litigation Associates. CLA has since removed his office from its list of locations.
Flickr photo by Joe Gratz
Police are looking for a man who allegedly exposed himself to a girl in the Cherrydale area late last week.
The incident happened around 12:3o p.m. Friday on the 3200 block of Lee Highway. Police say the man called the girl over to his car to ask for directions, then grabbed her phone.
When the girl went to grab the phone back, she saw the man masturbating, according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report.
More from ACPD:
INDECENT EXPOSURE (late), 2021-02120080, 3200 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 12:26 p.m. on February 12, police were dispatched to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 10:00 a.m. on September 14, 2020, the juvenile female victim was walking in the area when a male suspect inside a vehicle called out to her asking for directions. As the victim was showing directions on her phone, the suspect grabbed the device from her hands. As she got closer to the window, she observed the suspect’s pants were down and he was masturbating. The victim grabbed her phone back from him and he fled the scene at a high rate of speed. The suspect is described as a Black male, approximately 35 – 40 years old driving a black Honda CRV. The investigation is ongoing.
Sexual Battery Suspect Arrested — “At approximately 1:12 p.m. on November 20, police were dispatched to the 4200 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of a suspicious person matching the description of the suspect in the November 17 incident. Responding officers located the individual and took him into custody without incident.” [ACPD]
Local Attorney Accused of Sex Offenses — “A Northern Virginia attorney was arrested Thursday in Miami and accused of coercing underage girls into sexual activity. Matthew Erausquin, a founding partner of the firm Consumer Litigation Associates’ Northern Virginia affiliate, is charged in Alexandria federal court with sex trafficking involving six minors.” [Washington Post]
Hospice Worker Accused of Sexual Assault — A 57-year-old Arlington man has been charged “with sexually assaulting a hospice patient in October. Detectives were first notified on Nov. 11, that an 80-year-old Reston man disclosed to a family member that he awoke to [the man] performing a sex act on him in his home.” [Fairfax County Police]
Man Arrested After Incident in Park — “Arlington County Police say that a local man tried to kick a dog and then pepper sprayed its owner Thursday afternoon at Chestnut Hills Park.” [Patch]
SUV Fire in Westover — Washington Blvd was blocked around lunchtime Sunday due to a vehicle fire near Westover Village. The SUV was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. [Twitter]
MyEyeDr Opening Today in Ballston — The new MyEyeDr location in Ballston is set to open today, according to a press release. The chain bills itself as “one-stop shop to get an eye exam, buy new eyewear or even shop for sunglasses.”
Metro Making Budget Cuts — “Metro board members unanimously approved service cuts and a buyout plan Thursday aimed at avoiding as many layoffs as possible as the transit agency faces a $176 million budget shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic.” [Washington Post]