Arlington, VA

(Updated at 11:30 a.m.) A 23-year-old from Stafford, Virginia is behind bars after police say he followed and groped a woman on a trail and stalked two others in Clarendon and Courthouse.

The first incident happened around 10 a.m. on a Tuesday in September. A woman was walking on the Custis Trail when she noticed a man following her. The man then caught up to her and groped her, before fleeing, according to Arlington County police.

Then, on the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 9, the man followed two different women in Clarendon and Courthouse, even following them into businesses, prompting calls to police, according to ACPD.

Police announced this morning that they had arrested Lamar McCarthy of Stafford and charged him with sexual battery and two counts of felony stalking. He is currently being held in the county jail.

This is not the first time the 23-year-old has been accused of such crimes. From the Falls Church News-Press in May:

Falls Church police said they arrested the man responsible for a string of incidents over the past few weeks where he either followed or chased after women on both the W&OD Trail and through residential neighborhoods.

Lamar Dontae McCarthy, a 23- year-old from Stafford, was charged with assault for his latest instance on Saturday, authorities said.

McCarthy is facing an assault and battery charge in connection to the May incident, one of three such incidents in Falls Church this spring, according to the paper. He appears to have been released on bond after his May arrest.

Arlington police are now asking any other potential victims of McCarthy to step forward.

More from an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is announcing the arrest of a suspect charged after following three women walking in Arlington County. Lamar Dontae McCarthy, 23, of Stafford, VA was arrested and charged with sexual battery and two counts of felony stalking. He is being held in the Arlington County Detention Facility on no bond.

At approximately 9:58 a.m. on September 8, police were dispatched to the 3100 block of Lee Highway for the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the female victim was walking on the trail when she observed the suspect walking towards her from a distance. She subsequently turned around and began walking away from the suspect, who increased his pace, closing the distance between them. The suspect caught up to the victim, grabbed her hip, and touched her inappropriately. The victim yelled, prompting the suspect to flee on foot prior to police arrival.

At approximately 1:27 p.m. on October 9, police were dispatched to the 3000 block of Wilson Boulevard for the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined the victim was walking in the area when the suspect followed her into a business. The victim recognized the suspect from a previous encounter in April and contacted police.

At approximately 3:37 p.m. on October 9, police were dispatched to the 2300 block of Clarendon Boulevard for the report of a suspicious person. Upon arrival, it was determined the female victim was on a walk when she noticed the suspect following her. The victim attempted to evade the suspect by taking various routes, sitting in a park and entering a business. The suspect continued to follow, prompting her to contact police.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with past inappropriate encounters with the suspect or who has additional information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective P. Peña at 703-228-4183 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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A man groped a woman on a trail near Ballston Monday afternoon, according to Arlington County Police.

The incident happened on the Custis Trail around 12:30 p.m. Police say the woman was jogging when the man, who had just jogged past her, turned around and grabbed her buttocks.

More from an ACPD crime report:

SEXUAL BATTERY, 2020-10050088, N. Glebe Road at 15th Street N. At approximately 12:37 p.m. on October 5, police were dispatched to the report of a sexual assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was jogging in the area on the Custis Trail when she observed the male suspect jogging towards her. After they passed each other, the suspect turned around, approached the victim from behind and grabbed her buttocks. The suspect fled on foot prior to police arrival. The victim was not injured. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male, pudgy, 5’6″-5’8″, with brown eyes, wearing a tan baseball cap, a white shirt, cargo shorts and white tennis shoes.

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Morning Notes

Amazon Buys Hotel Next to HQ2 Site — “Amazon.com Inc. has purchased the Residence Inn by Marriott in Pentagon City with plans to demolish it and expand its second headquarters, the company tells the Washington Business Journal. Acorn Development LLC, an Amazon subsidiary, paid $148.5 million for the building and its 1.5-acre site at 550 Army Navy Drive.” [Washington Business Journal]

Trail Roundabout Now In Use — A new roundabout along the Custis Trail is now in use, improving safety at a formerly hazardous T-intersection in Bon Air Park. [Twitter]

Changes for Missing Middle Housing Study — “Staff from the Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development (CPHD) presented to the County Board a revised Missing Middle Housing Study Scope and Charge, which was shaped by community feedback and informed by research.” [Arlington County]

Optimists Now Meeting in Person — “While many other service organizations across Northern Virginia have curtailed operations or moved to an online-only presence due to the public-health situation, the Optimist Club of Arlington is back with in-person meetings. The local club… resumed its twice-monthly meetings in July at Washington Golf & Country Club, with appropriate precautions.” [InsideNova]

Robo Mower Snatched, But Then Returned — “Though not a tale of high crimes and misdemeanors, the brief disappearance Tuesday morning of ‘Shultzy’ the robotic AutoMower caused a degree of excitement for one Maywood family.” [Patch]

ACFD Touts First ‘Whole Blood’ Use — “Crews responded for a person that suffered serious injuries after a long fall on Monday. Medics quickly administered whole blood, helping to stabilize the patient’s vital signs. This was the first use of our innovative whole blood program implemented earlier this month.” [Twitter]

Today: Virtual Pike Progress Luncheon — “Support our community with this year’s virtual ‘luncheon’ benefit! While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Columbia Pike, the region and indeed the world, our community is still strong.” [ARLnow Events, CPRO]

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Police are looking for a man they say ran up to a woman on a local trail and touched her inappropriately.

The incident happened around 10 a.m. Saturday, on the Custis Trail near Lee Highway and the Spout Run Parkway.

Police searched the trail and the surrounding area for the suspect, but he was able to get away. He’s now being sought on a potential charge of sexual battery.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report, below.

SEXUAL BATTERY, 2020-09080051, 3100 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 9:58 a.m. on September 8, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 9:50 a.m., the victim was walking on the trail when she observed the suspect walking towards her from a distance. She subsequently turned around and began walking away from the suspect, who increased his pace, closing the distance between them. The suspect caught up to the victim, grabbed her hip, and touched her inappropriately. The victim yelled, prompting the suspect to flee on foot prior to police arrival. The victim was not injured. The suspect is described as a Black male, 35-40 years old, with an afro, wearing a long sleeve red flannel shirt with a white shirt underneath, shorts, and a blue surgical mask. The investigation is ongoing.

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Updated at 1:25 p.m. on 9/7/20 — A suspect has been arrested in the case.

Arlington County police are looking for a middle-aged man with a penchant for bicycling, yelling, mooning, and hitting people.

Police say the man has been involved in at least five separate incidents since the morning of August 11, as described in the press release below. Most involve the cyclist approaching on a trail and becoming enraged at pedestrians who get in his way or tell him to slow down.

There may be even more “trail rage” incidents, like this August 13 confrontation on the Mt. Vernon Trail that’s being investigated by U.S. Park Police.

“I can confirm we’re working with our regional partners to determine if this series is linked to other cases in the area,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow.

The police department released the photo of a man they say is the suspect, above, taken during an incident on Aug. 29. Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

More from the press release:

The Arlington County Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance identifying a suspect involved in a series of incidents along Arlington trails. In the month of August, police received five reports of an aggressive cyclist involved in confrontations with pedestrians walking along trails. Based on witness interviews and evidence collected, detectives are investigating this as a series involving the same individual.

  • At 7:25 a.m. on August 11, police were dispatched to an assault that just occurred in the area of S. Glebe Road and S. Four Mile Run Drive on the Four Mile Run Trail. Upon arrival, it was determined the male and female victims were walking along the trail when a cyclist approached them yelling to stay on the right side of the yellow line. When the male victim yelled back, the cyclist approached and circled the victims on his bicycle before pulling down his shorts and exposing his buttocks. The cyclist then allegedly struck the male victim on the arm and unsuccessfully attempted to take the female victim’s phone from her hand.
  • At 5:03 p.m. on August 15, police were dispatched to the late report of an assault on the W&OD trail between Sparrow Pond and Columbia Pike. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 10:06 a.m., the male and female victims were walking on the trail when they were approached from behind by a cyclist traveling at a high rate of speed. When the male victim took out his cell phone, the cyclist allegedly attempted to strike the him twice, making contact on the second attempt. The suspect then pulled down his shorts and exposed his buttocks before riding away.
  • At 3:35 p.m. on August 16, the reporting party and male victim were walking on the W&OD Trail in the area of Columbia Pike at S. Four Mile Run Drive when they were approached from behind by a cyclist. The cyclist allegedly yelled for the pedestrians to get off the trail and passed closely by at a high rate of speed while yelling obscenities. When the male victim yelled back, the cyclist allegedly pulled down his shorts and exposed his buttocks. The cyclist then rode back towards the reporting party and victim, continuing to yell obscenities before making a U-turn and leaving the area.
  • At 11:39 a.m. on August 21, police were dispatched to the late report of an assault which occurred on the Custis Trail at approximately 10:30 a.m. Upon arrival, it was determined the female victim was running on the trail in the area of N. Frederick Street when she was approached from behind by a cyclist. As the victim attempted to move over, the cyclist passed her at a high rate of speed and allegedly struck her in the back of the head and neck with an open hand and yelled for her to move over.
  • At 7:24 p.m. on August 29, police were dispatched to the area of S. Park Drive and S. Columbus Street on the W&OD trail for the report of an assault and battery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the male and female victims were walking along the trail when they were approached from behind by a cyclist traveling at a high rate of speed. When the male victim yelled for the cyclist to slow down, the suspect dismounted, confronted the victim and allegedly struck him in the face.

The suspect is described as a White male with the appearance of someone in his 50’s, approximately 5’8″ to 5’11” with an athletic build and gray hair. He was riding a black bicycle and wearing sunglasses, a white helmet, black shorts, white shirt with red and black trim, red socks and white shoes at the time of the incidents.

Anyone who has information regarding the identity of the cyclist or details surrounding these incidents, is asked to contact the Police Department’s Tip Line 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).

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A portion of the Custis Trail will be detoured next week for construction of a roundabout.

The roundabout is being installed on the south side of the pedestrian underpass beneath I-66, which is currently a somewhat dangerous T-intersection. The project is part of VDOT’s larger I-66 widening project.

For two weeks, from Monday, Aug. 24 to Sunday, Sept. 6, those heading to and from the W&OD Trail on the Custis Trail will be detoured around Bon Air Park, via Wilson Boulevard and N. Lexington Street.

More from VDOT:

The Custis Trail will close in Arlington’s Bon Air Park between the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail and the I-66 underpass for up to two weeks for construction to create a roundabout to enhance safety for trail users. The closure is planned from Monday, August 24, through Sunday, September 6. Detour signs will be posted to direct pedestrians, cyclists, and other trail users around the closure. This work is being done as a component of the Transform 66 Inside the Beltway Eastbound Widening Project.

A posted detour will route users around the closure using the W&OD Trail, Wilson Boulevard, N. Lexington Street, and N. 9th Road to reach the bike/pedestrian bridge over I-66. Delineators will be placed temporarily on a short span of Wilson Boulevard to separate cyclists from vehicle traffic and provide a wider bike lane to allow cyclists to travel in both directions for about 500 feet. The sidewalk on the north side of Wilson Boulevard will also be available for trail users.

A roundabout is being constructed on the south side of the Custis Trail I-66 underpass to improve safety and sightlines for pedestrians, cyclists, and other users of the Custis Trail and Bon Air Park. The Custis Trail remains closed under I-66 for safety reasons while an additional travel lane is added overhead. The trail is expected to fully reopen in late October 2020.

The I-66 Eastbound Widening Project will add a travel lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 and install approximately 12,000 linear feet of new and replacement noise barriers. The project also includes constructing a new direct access ramp from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro Station at the Route 7 interchange, and a new W&OD Trail bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29).

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(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) A fanny pack-clad man exposed himself to female jogger on a local trail, according to Arlington County Police.

The incident happened around 11 a.m. Monday. A crime report lists the location as being in proximity to intersection of 15th Street N. and N. Quincy Street, on the Custis trail near Washington-Liberty High School.”

“The victim was running on the Custis trail when she observed the suspect turn away from the trail, then turn back towards her, exposing himself,” ACPD says. “The suspect fled prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a white male in his 20’s, with brown hair, wearing blue shorts, no shirt, and a black fanny pack. The investigation is ongoing.”

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Morning Notes

Sietsema’s Dining Guide Includes Arlington Spots — Out of 77 restaurants on Washington Post food critic’s prestigious  annual Fall Dining Guide, four are Arlington-based or have Arlington outposts: Thai Square on Columbia Pike, Sfoglina in Rosslyn, Jaleo in Crystal City, and Buena Vida in Clarendon. [Washington Post]

Dance Flash Mob in Ballston — “Flash Mob in #Ballston! Volunteers and @BMDCdance treated @marymountu’s Ballston Center students to an impromptu performance at the Fall Wellness Fair! #LifeisFull” [Twitter]

Man Arrested for Sexual Abuse of Child on Metro — “Patel was stopped by MTPD officers shortly before 6 p.m. after a juvenile male victim reported that the suspect sat next to him and then groped him aboard a Yellow Line train traveling between Pentagon and L’Enfant Plaza stations. The train was in the District of Columbia at the time of the offense.” [WMATA]

ACPD Encouraging ‘See Something, Say Something’ — “While the overall crime rate is down regionwide, in 2019 there’s an increase in the number of people calling police in Arlington, Virginia; and the police chief thinks it is because people are becoming engaged with law enforcement. And that’s a good thing.” [WTOP]

‘Trail Rage’ Incident in Arlington — “At approximately 4:50 p.m., the victim and a friend were riding their bikes along the Custis Trail when they had a brief exchange with the suspect who was traveling by bicycle in the opposite direction. The suspect later caught up to the victim on the trail, became aggressive and struck the victim’s bike with his tire, before the victim was able to ride away. The suspect again caught up to the victim, attempted to grab his personal belongings, before the victim kicked the suspects’ bicycle and rode away.” [Arlington County]

Lee Highway Planning Meeting Today — “From 12-3:30pm: Lee Highway-area residents, business owners, community members and other stakeholders are encouraged to attend the Plan Lee Highway: Open Design Studio.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

Nearby: Rabid Raccoon in Falls Church — “On October 4, a sick raccoon was euthanized by City of Falls Church Police in the area of Lea Court and S. Spring Street. On October 9, the Fairfax County Health Department confirmed that the raccoon was suffering from rabies. In this case, there was no human exposure to the animal, however, the community should be cognizant of the rabies threat at all times.” [City of Falls Church]

Flickr pool photo by Lisa Novak

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(Updated at 3:15 p.m.) A portion of the Custis Trail in Arlington will be soon detoured for the next year as crews continue to work on the widening of Interstate 66.

Starting Monday, September 16, trail riders and walkers will not be able to follow the Custis under I-66 where the trail now passes near Bon Air Park until fall 2020, per the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Instead, the department will detour people over the highway via an existing pedestrian bridge about 750 feet from the underpass.

“Extensive work will occur on the I-66 bridge that runs above the trail, which requires the underpass to be closed for safety,” VDOT officials wrote in a statement yesterday (Wednesday.) “As part of the construction, the Custis Trail alignment will be modified to improve safety for trail users.”

The pedestrian bridge travelers will be re-routed to is paved and connects the Custis Trail to Fairfax Drive near Kensington Street.

The trail closure itself was previously expected to start this past May.

“Construction schedules can be fluid with design built projects, but overall we are still on track and schedule,” VDOT spokeswoman Michelle Holland told ARLnow today (Thursday.)

The $85.7 million highway widening project also closed a section of the W&OD Trail between Little Falls Street and Lee Highway. That trail section will remain closed until next fall as crews build a new bridge over Lee Highway.

Holland said while construction crews work on widening the I-66 overpass near Bon Air Park, crews will also add a rotary to the south side of the Custis passage underneath. The new roundabout is designed to eliminate the sharp right turn into the tunnel that currently causes conflicts between those entering versus exiting the passageway. She added that current plans call for no trees to be cut down in the park.

As part of the I-66 project, officials have pledged to make several improvements to county’s trails, including new park benches, bike shelters, fencing, and trail signage.

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The widened stretch of the Custis Trail through Rosslyn finally opened to pedestrian and cyclist traffic late yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon.

The new improvements widen the Custis Trail along westbound Lee Highway from N. Lynn and N. Oak streets, a popular stretch of the trail that connects the Metro corridor to the Key Bridge and the Mount Vernon Trail.

After months of passing each other in the narrow confines of the slimmed-down path along Lee Highway, cyclists and pedestrians both immediately took to the new trail. The former travel lane has now been blocked off with orange barriers.

Even with the widening wrapped up, the project website said work will still continue on installing permanent signs along the trail, but with a minimal impact on trail traffic.

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(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) It was clear skies for commuters this morning (Friday) celebrating Bike to Work Day.

The annual tradition encourages commuters to ditch their cars and ride their bikes to and from work. In Arlington, 10 pit stops and themed celebrations were sprinkled across the county.

The Bike to Work event at Rosslyn’s Gateway Park filled the park with spandex-clad cyclists mingling and expressing exuberance at the perfect weather. In the tight-knit community of cyclists, there were frequent reunions between riders throughout the park.

“It was a great ride today,” said Henry Dunbar, director of active transportation for Bike Arlington and a coordinator of the event. “This is about as ideal as it gets.”

Dunbar said the event caters to the one-third of riders who are first-time bicycle commuters. Dunbar said the goal is to teach them about bicycle safety and encourage them to make bicycle commuting a daily habit.

For new riders, Dunbar said the best thing to do is find a more experienced rider and tag along with them.

“Ride with experienced cyclists,” Dunbar said. “All the brochures in the world aren’t as good as someone guiding you through that one tricky intersection on your way into work.”

Dunbar nodded over to the N. Lynn Street and Lee Highway intersection — a crossing regularly packed with cyclists, pedestrians and cars. The crowding is exacerbated by construction around the intersection that’s part of the Custis Trail improvements — construction Dunbar said is likely to continue for another full year.

Several bicycling-focused organizations had stands set up in Rosslyn to help encourage a car-free lifestyle. Robert Santana attended on behalf of the Arlington Car-Free Diet campaign and distributed information about the impending Metro closures.

“I was worried we’d be talking mostly to people who were already car-free,” Santana said, “but people have seemed really interested.”

Tents were set up around the park, with businesses like Nando’s Peri-Peri offering free meals or other local organizations offering bicycle-specific services.

“Today has been fantastic,” said Bruce Deming, a “bike lawyer” who specializes in representing injured cyclists. “There’s a huge crowd, just tremendous turnout. I’m proud to be a part of this event.”

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