Ahmad El-Khatib, 31, was arrested Sunday morning at a friend’s apartment building on the 800 block of N. Randolph Street. Police say El-Khatib had been out with friends in D.C. Saturday night and came back to his friend’s building.
Around 3:40 a.m., a 13-year-old boy who was sleeping in the club room of the building was awakened to find a stranger touching him in appropriately, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The teen immediately fled the room and reported the incident to a family member, who was working as the building’s overnight concierge.
The concierge reviewed surveillance footage and found that the incident had been caught on video, Sternbeck said. Later that morning, when El-Khatib was leaving the building, an employee identified him as the suspect in the video and called police. El-Khatib was arrested on scene, said Sternbeck.
El-Khatib, an Annandale resident, has been charged with aggravated sexual assault and is being held without bond.
El-Khatib is listed as the “founding director” of the NUR Center, an Islamic education, recreation and cultural center with locations in Loudoun County and on Carlin Springs Road in Falls Church. The center offers Montessori classes for ages 3-9, along with after school activities for ages 5-12 and youth day and summer camps.
Also on the NUR Center website, El-Khatib is listed as the coach of a martial arts team based at Abingdon Elementary School, in Arlington’s Fairlington community. On his LinkedIn profile, he’s listed as the “program director” of the NUR Center and a company called Arlington Day Camps LLC.
A website for Arlington Day Camps has the following biography for El-Khatib:
Ahmad El-Khatib has directed art, fitness, and enrichment camps in the DMV area for over 10 years. His programs have been offered at Fairfax County Rec Centers, Sport and Health Clubs, Abingdon Elementary, Drew Model School, Lyles Crouch Traditional Academy, and Randolph Elementary. In 2010, he founded the NUR Center, a Montessori School and After-School recreation center for children and adults. His working partnerships with local schools gave him the ability to establish strong relationships with some of the areas most extraordinary teachers. In September 2013, with the support of his staff and community, he established Arlington Day Camps in an effort to provide quality and affordable camps during school holidays and teacher work days.
A phone number listed for El-Khatib went straight to a full voicemail box. An employee at the NUR Center in Loudoun County did not have any information on El-Khatib’s arrest, and an email to the company has not been returned. Attempts to reach Mary El-Khatib, who’s listed as a NUR Center co-founder and a former Arlington Public Schools teacher, were also unsuccessful.
Last week, at least four cars were broken into and one was reported stolen in Fairlington. All of the cars broken into were unlocked, and the car that was stolen was reportedly unlocked with the keys left in the ignition.
Also last week, items were stolen from a number of cars within a one block radius of the 2000 block of S. Eads Street, in the Crystal City area, according to a crime report.
This past weekend, at least 16 cars were broken into in the City of Falls Church, according to the Falls Church News-Press.
Arlington County Police are continuing to remind residents to lock their cars and to not leave any valuables in plain sight within the vehicle when it’s parked.
Arlington K-9s to Retire With Handlers — The Arlington County Board on Saturday unanimously voted to officially sanction the transfer of ownership of retiring law enforcement K-9 officers to their handlers, thus allowing police dogs to live out their lives with their long-time partners. [NBC Washington, Arlington County]
Big Changes Coming to Crystal City Building — The U.S. Marshals Service is consolidating its offices into one Crystal City office building. That will leave another Crystal City office building, 1750 Crystal Drive, vacant. Owner Vornado is planning a big facelift for the building, with more glass and steel and less concrete on the outside. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington, Falls Church Renew Service Agreement — Arlington County will continue to provide court, jail, fire department and other services to the City of Falls Church, under a new agreement approved by the Arlington County Board on Saturday. Fall Church will pay Arlington just over $1 million per year for the services. [Arlington County]
McAuliffe to Start Marine Corps Marathon — Next weekend’s Marine Corps Marathon will be officially started by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. [Twitter]
M.J. Stewart Suspended at UNC — Former Yorktown High School football standout M.J. Stewart has been suspended from the University of North Carolina football team after being charged with assault in connection to an off-campus altercation. Stewart, a sophomore, had been a starting cornerback on the team. [Associated Press]
Resident to County: Cover Sandboxes — A Shirlington resident spoke before the County Board on Saturday to raise concern about uncovered sandboxes. She urged county officials to keep sandboxes covered when not in use, to keep pets and disease out. [InsideNova]
Arlington Remembers 9/11 — Arlington County is marking the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks with a solemn ceremony in Courthouse. A moment of silence will be held at 9:37 a.m. [Arlington County, Twitter]
Sidewalks on the Pike Still Need Work — The new Freedman’s Village Bridge over Columbia Pike includes new, wider sidewalks along the Pike, but there are problems. Just up from the new sidewalks, narrow old sidewalks have telephone poles in the middle of them, obstructing pedestrians and bicyclists. And there are multiple crossings among the new sidewalks that make the going slow. [Greater Greater Washington]
Letter Writer: Everything Is Awful — Most people probably find Arlington a pleasant place to live. But a resident who wrote a guest commentary about Arlington for a Falls Church newspaper finds a lot to dislike, warning Falls Church residents of Arlington as a “cautionary tale” of development gone wrong. The letter blasts Arlington’s overcrowded schools, “scorched-earth development practices,” “critical shortage of parkland and green space,” “failed policies and inadequate planning,” “poor local air quality,” lack of mature tree canopy and “urban heat island effect.” [Falls Church News-Press]
AHC Repays Loan — Nonprofit affordable housing developer AHC Inc. has made a $2.5 million loan repayment to Arlington County, one of the organization’s largest lump sum repayments. AHC presented retiring County Board members Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, along with other county officials, a giant check to mark the occasion.
Janet Howell Announces Breast Cancer Diagnosis — State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd), who represents part of Arlington, announced yesterday that she was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer. She has undergone treatment and says her prognosis is “excellent.” [Reston Now]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Gun Store Owner Blames Bloomberg — James Gates, the Marine Corps veteran who tried to open a gun store in Cherrydale, said that the cancellation of its lease after a neighborhood outcry was the fault of the former mayor of New York City. “When news of our planned location in Arlington became public, there were some local critics; however they enjoyed outsized influence when anti-civil rights campaigns backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg picked up their cause,” Gates said in a statement. [Washington Times]
Bee Swarm at Arlington Home — Hundreds, maybe thousands of honey bees have taken up residence in the chimney of an Arlington home. The homeowner called ABC 7 On Your Side after beekeepers wouldn’t help her out, because the chimney was too high, and after learning that it’s against the law to kill the bees with pesticides. “It seems as a homeowner the bees have more of a right to live in my home than I do,” said Alex Casiano. “While I understand honey bees are important to our environment, honey bees don’t pay my rent.” [WJLA]
Salary Boost for Acting County Manager — Three weeks into the job, Acting County County Manager Mark Schwartz is getting a modest raise. The County Board agreed to boost his $204,000 salary as a Deputy County Manager by 10 percent during his time as Acting County Manager. His predecessor, Barbara Donnellan, earned $269,742 per year. [Arlington County]
Alexandria Wants Citywide Residential Fiber — Alexandria is seeking a partner to build a citywide fiber optic network to serve homes and businesses. Alexandria’s request for fiber after Verizon abandoned plans to build out FiOS service in the city. Arlington County has built its own municipal fiber network, but it so far is only available to county government, schools and businesses. [Ars Technica]
Falls Church Paper Throws Shade at Arlington — McLean residents are stymying the City of Falls Church’s plan to renovate a city elementary that’s located in Fairfax County. That, however, is being used by a newspaper to make some serious insinuations about Arlington. “The main way the City of Falls Church pisses off its much bigger neighbors is by being successful,” writes the Falls Church News-Press in an editorial. “It really frustrates those who imagine that there could be a lot of money to be made by someone, not in Falls Church, if the City threw its hands in the air and abandoned its independence, becoming a drop-in-the-bucket neighborhood of either Fairfax or Arlington instead. People with big money who’ve spent a lot of it on cultivating political appointees or elected officials to do their bidding in the neighboring jurisdictions are angered by the fact they don’t own Falls Church officials in the same way.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Flickr pool photo by Airamangel
Snow Chance Today — Arlington may get some snow, sleet and freezing rain this afternoon. The area is under a Winter Weather Advisory, although forecasters think areas north and west of Arlington are at more of a risk of wintry weather and slippery roads. [Weather.com]
Two Dems Running for School Board — The deadline for candidates seeking the Democratic endorsement for school board was last night and two candidates filed before the deadline: Reid Goldstein and Sharon Dorsey. The Arlington County Democratic Committee will hold its school board caucus on May 14 and 16.
Opower Losing Money, Hiring — Courthouse-based Opower, a publicly-traded energy software company, reported its latest financial results yesterday. For 2014, the company reported $128.4 million in revenue, a 45 percent increase over 2013. Its operating loss was $40.8 million. The company is continuing its hiring spree, adding employees locally and at its offices in London, San Francisco, Tokyo and Singapore. [DC Inno, Yahoo Finance]
Armed Bank Robbery in Falls Church — A Wells Fargo bank in Falls Church was robbed yesterday by two armed men known as the “Black Hat Bandits.” The men are suspected of robbing seven other banks around the D.C. area. Arlington County police assisted Falls Church police in looking for the suspects immediately after the robbery. [Falls Church News-Press]
Old Map of Arlington — An 18th century map of what is now Arlington County shows mills along Four Mile Run and the “Road To The Falls,” known now as Glebe Road. [Ghosts of DC]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Robocall in County Board Primary — No candidate has officially announced for Arlington County Board yet, but one likely candidate is already doing some polling. Peter Fallon reportedly sponsored a “robocall” poll last night that asked questions about local issues important to the voter and whether the voter wants experience or a fresh face in this election cycle. [Blue Virginia]
Suspicious Item at Falls Church City Hall — Falls Church City Hall was evacuated yesterday evening due to a suspicious object found in the lobby. The Arlington County bomb squad investigated and determined that the object was “a training aid used by explosive K9 teams.” The building reopened around 8:15 p.m. [City of Falls Church]
Arlington Man Charged with Rape — A 33-year-old Arlington man has been charged with raping a Maryland woman in a Delaware hotel over the weekend. [News Journal]
Photo courtesy Peter Roof
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department is on the scene of a two-alarm fire at the Eden Center in Falls Church.
Three people were transported to the hospital after a reported explosion in the mall on the 6700 block of Wilson Blvd, according to ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. The injuries are described as non-life threatening.
Falls Church spokeswoman Susan Finarelli said initial inspections suggest that the explosion and fire is believed to be accidental.
Firefighters on the scene reported that the explosion might have originated in the utility closet of a jewelry shop. The windows of the Princess Diamonds store, in the Saigon East section of the shopping center, appear to have been blown out.
Building inspectors are being requested to investigate whether the explosion caused structural damage. Health inspectors are being called to the scene to evaluate a smoke-filled supermarket near the fire.
#ACFD 2nd Alarm and RIT Level II dispatched. Fire has been located and being extinguished. Checking for extension. Primary searches neg.
— ARL Firefighters (@IAFF2800) January 14, 2015
The Eden Center celebrated its 30th anniversary last month — complete with dancing, music, and a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Local dignitaries, community and business members, and customers joined the celebration. As locals know, Eden Center (6751 Wilson Boulevard) is a Vietnamese shopping center in Falls Church — just across the Arlington border — that offers an “authentic Vietnamese vacation without the jetlag.”
“The Eden Center first opened its doors in 1984 and today is recognized as a major cultural tourist attraction and the ultimate Vietnamese shopping experience. We open a new chapter today by celebrating our 30th Anniversary and the Grand Opening of our newest tenant, the Good Fortune Supermarket,” said Alan Frank, VP and General Counsel of The Eden Center.
The new Good Fortune Supermarket spans an impressive 44,000 square feet and is the largest international grocery store inside the Beltway. It is also the first that utilizes 100% LED lighting together with an energy efficient roof and HVAC. Expansive fresh seafood and produce displays are already attracting customers from Arlington, D.C., Alexandria and Fairfax County.
For local Washingtonians, we are lucky that an authentic Vietnamese experience is right in our backyard. The Eden Center is a cultural and economic home for Vietnamese-Americans and a unique cultural experience for all visitors. The face of Eden Center showcases architectural designs reminiscent of historic and modern day Saigon, including avenues named after famous Generals who served in the South Vietnamese Army. Experience the roots of the culture through the more than 115 Vietnamese restaurants, retailers, and service stores.
The cuisine offered at The Eden Center businesses is one that is most impressive; it attracts patrons near and far. The Eden Center is the local home to the sought after dishes of phở and bánh mì. Eateries within the center have gained acclaim from popular shows such as Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and the Food Network.
The well-known restaurant, Rice Paper, was recently named one of Washingtonian Magazines “Best Restaurants”. Eden Kitchen, and its famous “Pho Factory” brand of pho is one of the largest restaurants at Eden Center.
Salons abound! From inexpensive haircuts to hair coloring to permanent make up, the 10 Eden Center salons will take good care of you at reasonable prices.
Jewelry has always been an important reason to visit Eden Center. Fifteen stores provide a wide variety of diamonds, jewelry and gems. Eden Center jewelers design and make jewelry on premises. Many of the jewelry stores have been at Eden Center since the 1980’s. Check out the new stores and visit an old favorite!
Whether you are in the mood for some hot phở, sweet chè or bubble tea, visit Eden Center and experience an authentic Vietnamese vacation without the jetlag. For more information on shops and events, visit www.edencenter.com.
The preceding was a promoted post sponsored by the Eden Center.
County Board Race is Anyone’s Guess — The outcome of the Arlington County Board race between incumbent John Vihstadt and Democratic challenger Alan Howze is far from certain. While Vihstadt is winning the fundraising battle, Howze is expected to benefit from far greater turnout than the 16 percent who voted in the special election this year. The last general election with a Senate race on the ballot saw a 55 percent turnout in Arlington. [Washington Post]
Vihstadt Peeved at ‘Pro-Streetcar Narrative’ — At yesterday’s County Board meeting, John Vihstadt complained about the county government’s pro-streetcar PR efforts. He suggested that he and fellow streetcar critic Libby Garvey, who make up 40 percent of the Board, should have their views heard through county government channels. Board Chair Jay Fisette slammed that idea, saying “it doesn’t make sense” for the county government to expend resources arguing against its own official policy. [InsideNova]
Cyclist Struck on Lynn Street — A bicyclist was struck by a vehicle on Lynn Street in Rosslyn, between Wilson Blvd and 19th Street N., just before 9:00 this morning. The cyclist was transported to Virginia Hospital Center with an apparent dislocated collarbone.
Bank Robbery in Falls Church — The FBI is looking for a man who robbed a BB&T Bank on West Broad Street in Falls Church yesterday morning. [Federal Bureau of Investigation]
Zac Hanson’s Birthday — On this day 29 years ago, “MMMBop” singer Zac Hanson was born in Arlington. [Hello!]
Michael Gardner, the Falls Church resident whose 2012 sexual battery conviction was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court earlier this year, has been indicted in another molestation case.
Gardner was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child after an Arlington Circuit Court grand jury returned two indictments on Monday. He’s being held without bond at the Arlington County jail.
The indictment charges Gardner with the molestation of a female family member who was under 13 years of age at the time. The two alleged offenses took place in 2009.
“The allegations came to light only after Gardner was released from prison after his conviction was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court,” Falls Church authorities said in a press release this morning. “The victim in the most recent case related the incident to an individual who, by law, is a mandated reporter of child abuse allegations.”
Gardner’s next court appearance is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 6. He is also facing a new trial in the previous molestation case. That trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 2, 2015.
Gardner was originally convicted in May 2012 of molesting two girls during a sleepover birthday party for his daughter in 2011. Gardner is a former chairman of the Falls Church City Democratic Committee and his wife, Robin Gardner, was formerly mayor of Falls Church.
Gardner’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.
Photo courtesy Arlington County Sheriff’s Office
Candidates Push for Streetcar Referendum — Both Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican David Foster promise to introduce legislation in Richmond to allow Arlington residents to vote on the Columbia Pike streetcar. Last month, Arlington County Board members said they do not have the authority to put such a referendum on the ballot. Even if the measure would pass through the General Assembly and were approved by Gov. McAuliffe, it likely wouldn’t take effect until July 2015. [InsideNova]
Politico Moving in Rosslyn — Politico is leaving the space it shared with WJLA and NewsChannel 8 at 1100 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, but it’s not moving far. The publication has signed a long term lease at 1000 Wilson Blvd. [Washington Business Journal]
McCoskrie Lands Falls Church City Attorney Position — Carol McCoskrie, Arlington’s former Assistant County Attorney, has been approved as the new City Attorney for the City of Falls Church. McCoskrie spent 24 years working for Arlington County, mostly focusing on land use and development. [City of Falls Church]
Last Days for APAH School Supply Drive — There are only two days left to help the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing with its backpack and school supply drive, which benefits Arlington children in need. APAH will accept donations of new supplies like pencils, glue, backpacks, scissors and erasers at its office at 2704 N. Pershing Drive until Friday (August 15). [APAH]
Dems Back Special Election Candidates — At its meeting last night, the Arlington County Democratic Committee formally nominated Carla de la Pava for treasurer and endorsed Nancy Van Doren for School Board. Both candidates are running in special elections to take place at the same time as the November 4 general election. [InsideNova]
Possible Attempt to Resurrect Arlington’s Tourism Tax — Two candidates looking to fill the seat of Del. Bob Brink both said at a recent debate that they would introduce legislation to bring back Arlington’s tourism surtax on hotel bills. Democrat Richard “Rip” Sullivan and Republican David Foster both favor the tax, which had been in place for 21 years until it lapsed in 2011, due to anger over the County Board suing the state and federal governments over high occupancy toll lanes. [InsideNova]
Arlington Man Wins Axe Throwing Competition — Arlington resident Christopher R. Miller won the 2014 Lizzie Borden Axe Throwing competition in Falls Church. He is the brother-in-law of last year’s winner. [Falls Church News-Press]
(Updated at 12:35 p.m.) The Arlington County Board has agreed to help fund a new fire engine, ambulance, ladder truck and three additional firefighters at the Falls Church Fire Station (6950 N. Little Falls Road in Arlington).
The station is located in Arlington but the land and building are owned by the City of Falls Church. According to the county staff report, half of the station’s coverage area is in Falls Church, while the other half is in Arlington. The partnership contract between the two jurisdictions had not been updated since it was passed in 1989; the new agreement the Board approved on Saturday would replace the former contract.
The Arlington County Fire Department staffs and operates the station alongside the Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department.
“The new Fire and Emergency Medical Services Agreement between Arlington County and the City of Falls Church is a much-needed update to an agreement that dates back to 1989,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in an email. “This new agreement better serves both communities, by more clearly defining operations and cost-sharing, and taking into account how service delivery has changed since 1989.”
The new agreement calls for three more full-time equivalent positions, for which the county and city will split expenditures. Despite the new purchases and new positions, county staff doesn’t anticipate any additional “net tax support.”
“While the County has additional expenses under the new agreement, such as Fall Church Fire Station maintenance,” the staff report states, “these additional expenses will be offset by additional reimbursements from the City.”
The old agreement, staff writes, did not clearly define how costs for maintenance and replacement of outdated equipment would be split between the two jurisdictions. In the first year of the new agreement, Falls Church has agreed to pay for capital improvements to the station to “bring the facility to an acceptable operating baseline.” The county has agreed to be responsible for maintenance and the city will fund all capital improvements going forward.
The city will pay the county $150,000 a year for capital investments, which the county will manage, and $738,000 for the initial improvements, which include replacing windows, overhead doors, and HVAC design.
Photo via Falls Church Volunteer Fire Department
(Updated at 3:10 p.m.) Firefighters from Arlington and Fairfax counties battled a two-alarm fire in the central business district of Falls Church.
Units on scene reported flames coming from a 5-story office building at 150 S. Washington Street. Falls Church Police Department spokeswoman Amy Betor said it took firefighters “about 30 minutes to extinguish.” Scanner traffic reported there were initial problems with water pressure at the scene.
There were no injuries reported, despite the office building being occupied at the time.
The fire appears to have started from an electrical room on the second floor, Betor said. A web search revealed real estate company Redfin has an office in Suite 200 of the building, but those on scene couldn’t confirm which company’s office the fire started in.
Randy Karn works on the third floor of the building, and said he started smelling “something electrical burning” about 10 minutes before the fire alarm went off.
“I went out into the office and after about 60 seconds it was filled with smoke,” Karn told ARLnow.com as he was standing outside the building. “It was time to go. I left my wallet, I left my keys, I left my laptop and got out of there.”
Arlington County provides firefighting services to the City of Falls Church under contract. Karn said he estimated the firefighters took between 10 and 15 minutes to arrive. The fire “had a hell of a time getting going,” building slowly, but flames were already showing out of the window by the time firefighters arrived on scene.