Arlington, VA

(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A road was closed in Crystal City this morning due to a suspicious package investigation.

Police blocked off 26th Street S. between Crystal Drive and S. Clark Street, and are also working to block Crystal Drive.

The Arlington County Fire Department bomb squad responded to the scene to investigate the reported suspicious object, but ultimately officers from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency examined it and gave the all-clear, an ACFD spokesman said.

The area is home to a number of government and military offices.

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington County workers power washed away Black Lives Matter chalk art in front of a home in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood this morning.

An outraged neighbor posted on social media about the removal of the chalk art, which featured words and phrases like “There comes a time when silence is betrayal,” “Justice 4 All,” “MLK,” and “BLM.” A portion of the art was on the county-owned sidewalk and road, while the rest was in the home’s driveway.

“I am both saddened and outraged. My friend and colleague at Ashlawn has had a formal complaint made about her daughter’s chalk art on the driveway, sidewalk and street in front of their home,” wrote Dana Crepeau. “I spoke with the Arlington County employees, who did not want to remove the chalk but were told they must. I asked permission to post their photos.”

“It appears the neighbor who called the county has previously taken it upon herself to erase other chalk drawings in support of Black Lives Matter,” Crepeau added. She noted that today (Friday) is Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the emancipation of the last enslaved persons during the Civil War, which just became a state holiday in Virginia.

“Do I understand correctly that the county forced Black employees to erase messages in support of Black Lives Matter on Juneteenth and apparently saw no problem with that?” asked a commenter on Crepeau’s Facebook post.

“Yes, you are understanding this correctly,” she replied.

The residents were not home when an ARLnow reporter knocked on the door shortly before noon. The mother of the girl whose art was erased — Yvaal Hampton, a second grade teacher at Ashlawn Elementary — said in an email sent to the neighborhood listserv that “today, I feel like an outsider.”

Dear Boulevard Manor,

When my family and I moved into the neighborhood about a year and a half ago we were welcomed by a few amazing neighbors and I thought “this is going to be great.” Well today, I feel like an outsider. With the on-going racial climate that we are in, my kids and I wanted to express some of our feelings and thoughts in chalk outside of our house. Not a novice idea, right? Well this morning I hear loud voices outside of my window, so I go outside to see what’s going on. There were three African American city workers outside power washing our chalk expressions/drawing away because a neighbor complained. I had a lot of emotions running through me, but then one of the gentlemen said “Miss I don’t really want to have to do this, but my boss told be that I have to do it.” Then I felt sad for them, they were forced to remove a Dr. King quote and children’s artwork because a neighbor felt someway about it (angry, threatened… who knows). If it were flowers and sunshine drawings would she have complained?  Today, I feel like an outsider, but this outsider stands by her chalk messages “Justice for All”, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Thank you Dr. King for your wise words. #BlackLivesMatter

ARLnow is still awaiting an official statement from Arlington County, which held a Juneteenth Peace Rally in front of county government headquarters in Courthouse this morning. (Update at 9:15 a.m.: The county issued an apology last night.)

Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey told ARLnow that he is disturbed by the incident and awaiting more information on what happened. In the meantime, he offered an apology to the residents.

“We await a full understanding of the facts, but what is known at the moment disturbs us greatly,” Dorsey said. “It was a mistake to prioritize responding to this call during a pandemic where our workers should not be deployed unnecessarily. Furthermore, removal of the chalk art from a driveway apron, widely known to be the responsibility of the resident, was wrong.”

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(Updated at 8 p.m.) Arlington’s Emergency Communications Center (ECC), which handles 911 calls and the dispatching of emergency personnel, was evacuated late Friday afternoon, ARLnow has learned.

The evacuation happened around 4 p.m. Police officers were told during that time to restrict all radio transmissions to emergency traffic only. There was no indication that the disruption affected any crucial police operations.

A county spokeswoman tells ARLnow that the evacuation was due to a possible coronavirus case.

“Due to an employee reporting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 — and out of an abundance of caution — the Emergency Communications Center (ECC) is going through a deep-clean,” said Jennifer K. Smith. “The ECC relocated to the alternate ECC today, which provides 100% redundancy, and we expect the ECC to be back in its primary space Saturday evening.”

“Arlington maintains comprehensive continuity of operations plans to ensure continued access to critical services in public safety, including 911,” she added.

The backup facility has some drawbacks when it comes to mitigating the spread of disease, ARLnow hears, including being smaller, with less room for social distancing among the dispatchers.

File photo courtesy Arlington County

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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 11:55 a.m.) Chain Bridge was temporarily closed Friday morning due to a search and rescue operation.

Firefighters from D.C. and Arlington, along with U.S. Park Police, were searching for a fisherman who reportedly fell into the Potomac River and did not resurface.

Numerous emergency responders arrived on scene, looking for the man from the shoreline, the bridge and by boat. (The photo above shows a previous rescue operation in the same general area, in March.)

Inbound traffic on Glebe Road was being diverted onto Chain Bridge Road. As of 9 a.m. the incident was moving from being a rescue operation to a recovery operation, with the reported missing person presumed dead, and as of 9:45 a.m. Chain Bridge was being reopened.

The Washington Post reported late Friday morning that a 67-year-old man had died after falling into the river around 7:40 a.m.

More via social media:

File photo

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered all schools in the state to remain closed through the end of the academic year and certain non-essential businesses to close.

The governor made the announcement Monday afternoon, citing the need to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“School closures are necessary to minimize the speed at which COVID-19 spreads, and to protect the capacity of our healthcare systems,” Northam said.

All schools public and private are to stay closed at least through the end of the academic year. As a result, Arlington Public Schools says it is now working on a plan for what to do going forward, while awaiting further guidance from the state Dept. of Education.

Earlier Monday, APS told parents that it would start to introduce new instructional material to middle and high school students this week.

Elementary teachers will not introduce new content within the timeframe that schools are currently set to be closed. Secondary teachers may begin introducing new content the week of March 23. We recognize that all students do not have the same ability to regularly access and attend to learning new skills or content while at home. Secondary teachers who are introducing new content are mindful of the opportunity gap that this is likely to create and will plan strategies to address it.

While virtual learning can never replace classroom instruction, teachers are providing instructional activities meant to help students maintain their skills and knowledge and prepare for what’s coming next. We understand this comes with both challenges and perks as adults and students work to establish new routines.

Given the extended school closures, state officials are going to with localities on a plan to provide childcare to essential workers, like those who work in healthcare, Northam said.

Northam also announced today that, as of just before midnight on Tuesday, he was ordering certain non-essential businesses closed. That includes recreational and entertainment businesses, like bowling alleys, as well as personal care services that can’t social distance, like barber shops and salons.

Restaurants will only be able to remain open for carryout, curbside pickup, and delivery, Northam said, finally providing the state backing to what Arlington County leaders had been calling for since last week.

The business restrictions will be in effect for at least 30 days, Northam announced.

“We do not make these decisions lightly,” the governor said. “But COVID-19 is serious and we must act.”

“We’re acting judiciously and with full regard to the consequences,” Northam added. “Our priority is to save lives. We have a health crisis, and we have an economic crisis, but the sooner we can get this health crisis under control, the sooner our economy will recover.”

Among the businesses deemed essential, which will be able to stay open, are grocery stores, pharmacies and banks. Construction activities will be allowed to continue, and “construction product retail stores” can stay open, the governor said. Virginia ABC liquor stores will also stay open.

Northam did not order churches and other houses of worship closed, but he encouraged them to practice social distancing.

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The number of known coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Arlington have risen to nine.

That’s up from five as of Friday afternoon. The figures are being reported by the Virginia Dept. of Health, which as of noon on Monday reported 51 cases statewide, with only 489 people tested.

Arlington was third among Virginia jurisdictions in terms of coronavirus cases, with Fairfax and James City counties each reporting 10 cases.

“VDH is no longer reporting the pending number of tests as testing capacity has expanded to include commercial laboratories,” the health department said. “Commercial laboratories report all results to VDH. Information will be updated daily, Monday-Friday at noon; and will be updated daily on weekends.”

Over the weekend, Arlington County declared a local emergency in response to the ongoing outbreak. The county has been listing changes to county government services and events, along with tips for prevention and testing.

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

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One of Arlington’s biggest annual events has been cancelled and its biggest sports league suspended, as a result of coronavirus concerns.

Ballston Quarterfest made the announcement shortly after 3 p.m.

“The health and well-being of our community is the top priority at the Ballston BID,” said a PR rep for the business improvement district. “It is for this most important reason that we have made the difficult decision to cancel Quarterfest this year, which was scheduled for Saturday, May 16.”

“At this time, we plan to move forward with other, smaller events and will continue to follow Arlington County-recommended procedures for events, which may include canceling or postponing some additional or perhaps all public programs and events taking place in the near future,” the rep said.

The Arlington Soccer Association, meanwhile, has announced that it is suspending operations, practices and games until at least the end of the month.

“In light of the actions taken today by US Youth Soccer and the US Soccer Federation to suspend operations, Arlington Soccer is suspending all club-related practices, games and other activities effective immediately through March 30, 2020,” the league said. “At that time, we will reevaluate the situation and provide families with an update on next steps. While we are disappointed to have to make this decision, we believe it is in the best interest of our players, their families and our employees”

The pair of Thursday afternoon announcements will nix a street festival in Ballston attended by tens of thousands of people each year, to the benefit of local restaurants, and at least temporarily pause a league with 9,000 players. The actions are in line with health authorities’ recommendation to avoid large gatherings and social contact, to help head off the rapid spread of the disease.

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(Updated at 9:15 p.m.) A second office in Crystal City is being sanitized after another coronavirus exposure.

“In the last hour, we were notified of a confirmed case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) relating to a guest of a tenant occupying space at 2345 Crystal Drive,” said a memo sent by property owner JBG Smith earlier today and obtained by ARLnow. “The tenant is located on the 11th floor of 2345 Crystal Drive. It is our understanding that the guest of the tenant attended a meeting within the tenant’s space for approximately one hour on Thursday, March 5th, and the guest later tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, March 9th.”

“The tenant has notified their staff and has advised any staff that was in contact with the infected individual to self-quarantine,” the memo continued. “The tenant has also engaged an environmental contractor to begin disinfecting their space.”

Amazon has one of its temporary HQ2 offices at the building, but ARLnow hears that the affected office is not Amazon’s.

On Monday ARLnow first reported that another person who had tested positive for coronavirus had visited a pair of offices on the northern end of Crystal City.

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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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Update at 5:15 p.m. — Power has been restored to the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, but another, separate outage has been reported near Wakefield High School.

Earlier: Nearly 9,000 Dominion customers in Arlington are without power this morning.

A widespread outage is affecting portions of Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square, Ballston and neighborhoods to the north, including Cherrydale and Donaldson Run.

As of 8:45 a.m. Dominion’s power outage map lists 8,844 customers without power and an estimated restoration time of 11 a.m.-2 p.m. There’s so far no word on what caused the outage.

Police are working to control traffic as some intersections with dark traffic signals, according to scanner traffic.

Update at 9:10 a.m. — The number of customers without power is down to around 3,800, with the outage now running from Virginia Square to Rosslyn, north of Clarendon Blvd, according to Dominion’s map.

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