Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Groups to Review Arlington’s Form of Gov’t — “Two citizen engagement groups have launched exploratory projects that delve back in Arlington’s racial history. The Arlington Civic Federation last month assembled a task force to review that and other questions about modernization — such as whether the county manager should be elected. And a new group called the Arlington Alliance for Representative Government is planning to boost political participation through ‘education, policy development, advocacy and innovation.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Latest on Intel Official’s Death — “The wife of a high-ranking CIA operative who shot and killed himself two weeks after their wedding has claimed that he was intending to murder her and ‘take me to the afterlife.’ Sara Corcoran, 46, said that Anthony Ming Schinella, the most senior military affairs analyst in U.S. intelligence, was suffering from PTSD after being involved in four wars, and after almost 30 years in the CIA. Schinella, 52, died on June 14 in Arlington, Vi”rginia.” [Daily Mail]

Dove Rescued from Car Grille — “This very lucky dove is safe thanks to Officer Byrnes! The dove was hit by a car and got stuck in the grille. Officer Byrnes was able to safely remove her and transported the dove to a local wildlife rehabber, who will release her back into the wild when she’s feeling better.” [@AWLAArlington/Twitter]

More on Prosecutor’s Supreme Court Petition — “Dehghani-Tafti’s motion is supported by an amicus brief from 62 prosecutors around the country, including the district attorneys in New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. It’s also supported by Jeff Haislip, the Fluvanna County, Va., prosecutor who is chair of the Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Services Council, and the prosecutors in Alexandria city, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.” [Washington Post]

APS Modernizing Black History Teachings — “Glad to see @APSVirginia will join 15 other school divisions in teaching a new African American History course this fall. Through 1970s VA was using textbooks with images like this, teaching a false narrative about the reality of Black Virginians. Time to tell the true story.” [@AdamEbbin/Twitter]

APS Going Back to School Next Week — “Arlington Public Schools will start the 2020-2021 academic year with all-virtual learning for all students. The school will continue with online-only education until at least early October, midway through the first quarter of the school year, at which time officials will assess the possibility of reopening based on public health data.” [Washington Post]

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Morning Notes

Israeli Company Opening Arlington HQ — “An Israeli renewable energy company now plans to open its first-ever U.S. headquarters in Arlington County. Energix Renewable Energies Ltd. announced Thursday that it will set up shop at 2311 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said state officials managed to win the new headquarters over pitches from North and South Carolina.” [Washington Business Journal]

Official’s Death Raises Questions — “One of the nation’s highest-ranking intelligence officials died by suicide at his home in the Washington, D.C., area in June… Ashley Savage, a spokesperson for the Arlington County Police Department, said the department’s investigation of the Schinella case remains open. She said the Arlington police notified the CIA about Schinella’s death, and that the Arlington police provided assistance to the CIA.” [The Intercept]

W&OD Project in Falls Church Underway — “In a preview of what could be to come in Arlington, regional officials on Aug. 26 broke ground for a 1.5-mile upgrade to the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Regional Trail in the city of Falls Church. The effort, expected to be completed next summer, represents “the most visionary development on the W&OD in a generation.” [InsideNova, WTOP]

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Arlington County has been working with a pair of local hotels in an effort to keep vulnerable populations safe during the pandemic.

Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services is currently renting out the Highlander Motel (3336 Wilson Blvd) in Virginia Square, and previously rented the Days Inn along Columbia Pike, to serve as a quarantine location for people with the virus or at high risk of complications.

Both hotels offer modestly-appointed rooms that have individual HVAC units and are accessible via open air walkways. Among those housed in the hotels are low-income and homeless individuals who have nowhere else to go.

ARLnow previously reported in early April that the Highlander was being looked at as an “alternative site” for temporary COVID-related housing.

“In April 2020, Arlington rented two hotels to provide quarantine/isolation space for low-income individuals who were living in overcrowded or congregate settings, and unable to effectively quarantine or isolate,” Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick confirmed to ARLnow last week.

“Individuals served are COVID-19 positive, presumed positive, directly exposed, or at high risk of complications due to health conditions,” Larrick said. “To date, the quarantine/isolation hotels have served 108 individuals.”

Larrick said the Days Inn was rented through June 30, but the Highlander is still being rented by the county.

“At the quarantine/isolation hotel, there are currently 39 individuals being housed, occupying 38 rooms,” Larrick said last week. “Four of these individuals are COVID-19 positive; 5 of these individuals are presumed positive; and the remainder of the individuals (30) are at the Highlander due to their high-risk status.”

Such utilization is considered a best practice for preventing the spread of disease. Other cities and counties have similarly rented hotels for coronavirus-related uses.

The use of the hotels came to light after ARLnow received a series of tips from local residents. Some noted that the Highlander had no vacancy and was booked solid indefinitely — unusual during a pandemic that has hit the hotel industry hard. Others, who live near the hotel, noted a frequent presence of police officers and county employees.

On Friday, July 31, there was a particularly jarring scene: several police vehicles and people in full hazmat suits in the Highlander parking lot.

“There are police there currently in gas masks and hazmat suits,” said a resident who contacted ARLnow. “I live in the area and am concerned that no one has been notified of what’s going on.”

“This is a frequent occurrence,” the resident said of the police presence. “I inquired with the county about what is going on but they told me they could not give me an answer.”

Larrick and a police spokeswoman said what the resident saw on July 31 was a death investigation — one of the hotel occupants died of suspected non-COVID-related natural causes.

“At approximately 9:56 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a possible death,” stated an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “Upon arrival, an adult male was located deceased inside a hotel room. Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Based on the preliminary investigation, the death is not considered suspicious.”

Larrick said that the county is grateful to the owners of the hotels — including Billy Bayne, owner of the Highlander and frequent critic of the county, who “really stepped up and helped” by providing a service that other hotel operators might have shied away from.

“The County truly appreciates how these businesses stepped up in the pandemic crisis to address an emerging community need,” Larrick said. “This space has undoubtedly helped us keep people safe and contain the spread in the community.”

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Narcotics may have claimed two more lives in Arlington over the weekend.

Police removed two bodies from an apartment along N. George Mason Drive in the Buckingham neighborhood Sunday night, a local resident told ARLnow. A police spokeswoman tells us that the preliminary death investigation pointed to drugs as a likely cause.

“At approximately 6:52 p.m. on August 2, police were dispatched to the 300 block of N. George Mason Drive for the report of a possible death,” said Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage.

“Upon arrival, an adult male and female were located deceased inside a residence,” Savage continued. “Based on the preliminary investigation, the deaths are being investigated as possible overdoses. Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”

Arlington has seen a resurgence in opioid overdoses and deaths this year, as the pandemic leaves people jobless and at home, exacerbating substance abuse issues. The surge threatens to reverse progress since the opioid crisis in Arlington peaked in 2017.

Two weeks ago, ACPD revealed that its officers had used life-saving Naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses nine times so far this year. Prior to the weekend’s deaths, the county had recorded 38 opioid overdoses and 10 deaths so far this year, compared to 42 overdoses and 6 deaths for all of 2019.

More from a police press release:

Since the start of the year, nine individuals have recovered from opioid overdoses following the deployment of Nasal Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) by responding officers. This comes as the number of police investigated incidents involving opioids begins to rise, with fatal incidents now surpassing those reported in 2019. The opioid crisis remains a significant issue facing our community. The Arlington County Police Department is sharing information and resources to promote awareness, prevention and action to ultimately save lives.

Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Arlington

Starting in 2016, the Arlington community began seeing a significant increase in the number of opioid overdoses and deaths reported in the County. To help individuals, families, parents and friends understand the risks associated with opioids and resources available to help with this growing crisis, Arlington developed the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative (AARI). AARI is a collaborative program comprised of stakeholders from across the county including treatment providers, first responders, the justice system, schools, the hospital, and non-profit organizations. The initiative takes a multi-faceted approach to addressing the opioid epidemic by focusing on prevention and education, addiction treatment, response and recovery and criminal investigation and enforcement. […]

Investigating Opioid-Related Incidents

Detectives from the police department’s Organized Crime Section assist with every opioid-related overdose and collaborate with detectives from the Homicide/Robbery Unit on fatal incidents to ensure a complete and thorough investigation. Prioritization has been placed on investigating cases involving heroin and opioids and identifying those that distribute dangerous controlled substances within our community. Whenever possible, overdose victims are referred to the DHS’ overdose outreach program for follow-up after an incident involving opioids. This referral system has led to an increase in the number of individuals seeking treatment for opioid use disorders through County programs.

Additional Resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are numerous treatment resources available in Arlington and through the Department of Human Services. Assistance is also available through Operation Safe Station, a designated safe environment where individuals wishing to seek help with their drug use can self-report and receive services, without fear of prosecution and incarceration. Community members are also encouraged to prevent medication misuse or overdose by safely disposing of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medication in one of Arlington’s four permanent drug take-back boxes or by requesting a free deactivation bag.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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A 24-year-old man was struck and killed while walking on I-66 over the weekend.

The fatal crash happened early Saturday morning, around 12:30 a.m., near the Lee Highway exit (Exit 73) in Arlington.

Virginia State Police say Justin Angel of Stephen City, Virginia, “was walking in the eastbound lane of I-66 when he was struck by a 2017 Dodge Journey.” Angel died at the scene.

“The driver of the Dodge was not injured in the crash,” VSP said. “The crash remains under investigation.”

It’s unclear why the victim was walking in the highway.

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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Update on 5/12/20 — In an update, Arlington County Police say a man has been charged in connection to this incident, which is still considered a “suspicious death.” From ACPD:

This incident remains classified as a suspicious death. Detectives continue to investigate the events that preceded the death and are working with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine cause.

Pursuant to our investigation, the condition of the body indicates the death occurred days prior to police being summoned to the residence. Roscoe James Shaw, 51, of Arlington, VA, has been arrested and charged with Virginia Code § 18.2-323.02 Concealment of Dead Body. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

Original article: Arlington County Police are investigating a “suspicious death” in the Ashton Heights neighborhood, south of Ballston.

The death was discovered following a police dispatch around 4:45 p.m. Friday.

Officers responded to the 200 block of N. Piedmont Street, which is primarily a collection of garden apartment buildings, “for the report of suspicious circumstances,” ACPD said in a press release.

The SWAT team was later called in to make entry into a residence. A tipster described a large police presence in the area.

“Any info on whatever is happening around N. Piedmont Street and Glebe,” the tipster asked around 9:15 p.m. “Fifteen plus cops, road shut down, full tactical gear.”

Upon entering the residence, police say they found a man dead inside.

The death is considered “suspicious” and is being investigated by homicide detectives and the medical examiner. If determined to be homicide, it would be the third homicide in the county so far this year. The last reported homicide happened on April 23.

More from the police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a suspicious death in the Ashton Heights neighborhood.

At approximately 4:44 p.m. on May 8, police were dispatched to the 200 block of N. Piedmont Street for the report of suspicious circumstances. During the course of the investigation, information was developed about a possible deceased individual inside a residence. Officers established a perimeter, secured a search warrant and entry into the residence was made by members of the SWAT team. Once inside, an adult male was located deceased.

Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The identity of the decedent is being withheld pending proper identification and notification of next of kin.

This remains an active and ongoing criminal investigation. Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Detective S. King of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4243 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) Arlington County Police are conducting a death investigation in the Fairlington neighborhood.

Initial reports suggest that a person with a head wound was found dead behind the closed Fire Station 7, on the 3100 block of S. Abingdon Street. The scene is also near a row townhouses and a small commercial building that includes a child care center.

Officers have strung crime scene tape around much of the area and have kept news photographers well away from where the body was found.

Residents should expect an extended police presence in the area while detectives gather evidence. A police spokeswoman said the death is thus far not considered suspicious.

Map via Google Maps. Jay Westcott contributed to this report.

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Police are investigating a death on the Metro tracks in Arlington over the weekend.

Arlington County firefighters were dispatched to a Metro tunnel near the Pentagon City station shortly after 8:30 a.m. Sunday, according to ACFD spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli, after a track inspector found a person on the trackbed.

Medics pronounced the individual dead on the scene and the investigation was turned over to Metro Transit Police, Tirelli said. A Metro spokesman did not respond to a request to comment from ARLnow.

Blue and Yellow line service was suspended between National Airport and the Foggy Bottom and L’Enfant Plaza stations, respectively, until shortly after noon Sunday. At the time Metro’s Twitter account described the incident as a “police investigation” and “an unauthorized person on the tracks.”

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) A young man found dead inside a Ballston apartment building was the victim of a homicide, Arlington County Police said Tuesday afternoon.

In a brief statement, ACPD said Scott Ratigan, 24, died as a result of “trauma to the upper body.” It is Arlington’s first homicide of 2020.

Police were called to the AVA Ballston Square building at 850 N. Randolph Street around 5:30 p.m. Friday for a report of a man found unresponsive and bloodied in an apartment. He was declared dead on scene by medics. A 911 caller reported a strong smell of bleach in the apartment, according to scanner traffic.

More from ACPD:

Following an autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the suspicious death has been ruled a homicide with the victim suffering trauma to the upper body. The victim has been identified as Scott Ratigan, 24, of Arlington, VA.

This remains an active and ongoing criminal investigation. Arlington County Crime Solvers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for tips leading to the arrest of a suspect. To report anonymous tips, call the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS (8477)

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Arlington County Police are investigating what the department characterized as a suspicious death.

Officers and medics were dispatched to an apartment at the AVA Ballston Square building (850 N. Randolph Street) around 5:30 p.m. Friday. Initial reports suggested that a young man was in cardiac arrest, with blood coming from his upper extremities, and that several other people were inside the apartment at the time.

“Upon arrival, an adult male victim was located deceased inside a residence,” police said in a press release. “Cause of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”

“This remains an active criminal investigation and the preliminary investigation has not revealed an immediate threat to the community,” ACPD said. “Anyone with information related to this case is asked to contact Detective J. Senn of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4049 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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Police are conducting a death investigation after a person died on a Yellow Line train Tuesday evening.

Arlington County medics were dispatched to the Pentagon Metro station around 4:15 p.m. for a report of a person suffering a medical emergency on a Yellow Line train bound for Huntington. The individual was found unresponsive and in cardiac arrest, and was declared dead shortly after medics arrived on scene, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli.

Metro Transit Police and officers from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency both responded to the Metro station with medics.

The incident prompted delays and single-tracking on the Blue and Yellow lines. The single-tracking ended shortly before 5 p.m.

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