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Morning Notes

FBI Renews Search for Hotel Rapist — A cold case is getting hotter as the FBI steps up the search for a man who raped hotel employees in the D.C. area, including in Arlington, between 1998 and 2006. Authorities still don’t know who the suspect is, but in a first for the region, the man’s DNA profile has been indicted for the crime. [FBI, NBC Washington, WTOP]

‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Housed at Local Facility? — “The feds may use a local juvenile detention center to house some of the nearly 2,000 children they’ve separated from their parents at the Mexican border. Alexandria Mayor Allison Silberberg said she’s expressed ‘strong concerns’ with the board that runs the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, which has a contract to hold as many as 30 unaccompanied minors. The detention center is jointly run by Alexandria and Arlington.” [WUSA 9]

ACPD Helps Kid’s Dream Come True — “After over 900 days in foster care, Cameron’s wish came true when he found his forever family. During last week’s @Capitals visit, we were able to help him with his 2nd wish-touching the #StanleyCup! Today he stopped by to thank Officer Rihl for helping make his dream a reality!” [Twitter]

Local Tech Firm Signs Rosslyn Lease — As expected after being selected for a $60,000 Gazelle grant from Arlington County earlier this year, local tech firm Higher logic has signed a lease and is moving employees into a new 31,000 square foot headquarters space at Waterview Tower (1919 N. Lynn Street) in Rosslyn. The company, which makes community engagement software, acquired four companies last year. The new office offers “floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Potomac River, an open, collaborative environment, and much needed room to expand.” [Washington Business Journal]

Firefighters Help Cool Kids Down — Earlier this week, with sweltering temperatures putting a damper on outdoor activities, an Arlington County fire engine helped Patrick Henry Elementary students cool down during their field day. [Twitter]

ACFD Trains for Water Rescues — The Arlington County Fire Department has a water rescue team, and before yesterday’s rains the team was training in the rapids at Great Falls. [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Community Concerns Over Hospital Land SwapUpdated at 1:50 p.m. — Virginia Hospital Centers needs to expand to keep up with patient demand but the planned expansion is in a holding pattern as resident concerns are addressed. “Tracy Greiner, chair of a task force of three nearby civic associations, said the hospital has ‘failed to effectively address three years of homeowner feedback.’ Neighbors — some who’ve been in Halls Hill for three generations, others who just bought in — worry about traffic, nighttime lights and construction.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Beyer Wants Answers from FBI — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is requesting a meeting with the director of the FBI to discuss the investigation into the fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar by U.S. Park Police along the GW Parkway, to ensure that it proceeds expeditiously. Of note: “Beyer said that Arlington County, where the 911 calls came in, will not release the 911 tapes because the FBI hasn’t given them permission because it’s an ongoing investigation.” [WTOP]

Wilcox to Headline Arlington Gala — “Arlington’s own Amy Wilcox, a recording artist and star of A&E Network’s ‘Crazy Hearts: Nashville,’ will be the featured performer at the Arlington Community Foundation’s annual gala – ‘This Is Us’ – to be held April 21. The evening event will be held at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, with funds raised being used to support the philanthropic initiatives of the foundation.” [InsideNova]

Candy Dispute Prompts Call to Police — According to scanner traffic, police responded yesterday evening to a domestic incident in which “a father is not allowing his kid to have candy and they’re all fighting.” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

FBI Seeking Man Who Touched Girl at Cemetery — The FBI’s Washington Field Office is searching for a man who “inappropriately touched a girl as the two stood in a crowd during a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.” [NBC Washington]

Task Force Recommends ‘Fleet Elementary’ — The task force charged with recommending a name for the new elementary school being built next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School has settled its choice: “Alice West Fleet Elementary.” Fleet was the first African-American reading teacher in Arlington’s public school system. The task force did not recommend transferring the name of Patrick Henry, a slave owner, from the current school, which will be transferring its students to new new school when it is complete. [InsideNova]

Bicyclist Group Calls Out Biking Bullies — In a blog post, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association is calling out aggressive male riders who yelled insults at a female bike commuter on two separate occasions on the Mt. Vernon Trail. “This sort of behavior is totally unacceptable,” the group said. [WABA]

Mt. Vernon Trail Upgrade Complete — The National Park Service has completed an upgrade to a portion of the Mt. Vernon Trail that runs through the Theodore Roosevelt Island parking lot. The upgrade includes a new crossing and speed table across the parking lot and the widening of the trail. [Greater Greater Washington]

Arlington Sells Bonds at Low Interest Rate — Arlington County solds $185 million in bonds at a relatively low 2.5 percent interest rate. “The interest rate we received today is one of the lowest we’ve ever received,” County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a press release. “However, it is slightly higher than the rate we received last year.” [Arlington County]

Tight Race in Va. Gov. Primary — The two candidates battling it out in the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary are in the midst of a tight race. The race between Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello is being portrayed as a contest between an establishment figure (Northam) and a progressive darling (Perriello). Primary voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, June 13. [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Beyer Responds to Furor Over Reported Comey Memo

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is weighing in on the widening scandal over fired FBI director James Comey’s memo, which alleged that President Trump asked him to end the bureau’s investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Beyer, who represents Arlington in Congress, is calling for a special prosecutor in the larger investigation into Trump and his presidential campaign’s ties to Russia.

He issued the following statement this afternoon.

Congress must seek answers and all available evidence of reports that Donald Trump dissuaded former FBI Director James Comey from pursuing an investigation into Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials. We also urgently need a special prosecutor to find the truth of the larger Trump-Russia story.

What tapes of the exchange detailed in the Comey memo exist? Who at the Department of Justice, including AG Sessions, knew of the memo and possible obstruction attempt? What are the contents of the conversations with Donald Trump detailed in the other Comey memos which are reported to exist? These are questions we must ask, and the public has a right to the answers.

If Donald Trump did indeed ask James Comey to “let” the Flynn investigation “go,” that would be a clear case of obstruction of justice. The FBI is not the President’s personal police force, and his reported request that the FBI “lock up” journalists should underscore the deep peril facing our democracy if he is allowed to treat it as such.

Comey has been invited to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next week.

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Rep. Beyer on Comey Firing: ‘Outrageous’

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) says President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is “outrageous” and comparable to President Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” firing of a special prosecutor during Watergate.

Eschewing the usual written statement and press release, Beyer released a video statement (above) via social media Wednesday morning, followed by additional tweets expressing his misgivings about the timing of the firing. The FBI is currently investigating Russian ties among key Trump campaign and administration figures.

Beyer, who represents Arlington in the House of Representatives, acknowledged that many Democrats disapproved of Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails during the presidential campaign, but said that Trump’s explanation of the firing was “flimsy.”

Just a few months ago, however, some of Beyer’s constituents were urging him to support the firing of Comey.

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FBI Seeking Info on Rosslyn Gas Station Robber

Robbery suspect (photo courtesy FBI)The man who robbed the Sunoco gas station in Rosslyn this week has robbed at least seven gas stations, convenience stores and drug stores in the D.C. area since last October, according to the FBI.

The Bureau says the man robbed a CVS in Seat Pleasant, Maryland and an Exxon in Northwest D.C. Tuesday morning, before robbing the Sunoco around 11 a.m. The man implied that he had a gun and then fled with cash, the FBI says.

The suspect, who’s considered to be “armed and dangerous,” is described as “a black male, approximately 5’10” tall, between 40 and 50 years of age, with a medium complexion and a black and gray colored beard.”

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the suspect’s identification, arrest and conviction. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the FBI Washington Field Office at 202-278-2000.

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Morning Notes

Volleyball in Fairlington (Flickr pool photo by James L.)

McAuliffe Under Investigation — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department for possible illegal campaign contributions. [CNN]

Board Accepting Feedback on Blue Ribbon Panel — The County Board’s so-called Blue Ribbon Panel was supposed to help the Board set county priorities without getting bogged down in bureaucracy and process. Instead, the panel’s implementation has been delayed and the county is now asking for public feedback on the panel and its charge. [Arlington County]

The Legacy of ACFD’s First Black Firefighters — The Halls Hill/High View Park community held an event this past weekend to honor the Arlington County Fire Department’s first black professional firefighters. Some members of the original group of 14 black firefighters to staff Arlington’s Fire Station No. 8 were on hand for the event. [InsideNova]

Don Rockwell Profiled — Don Rockwell, the mysterious proprietor of the influential Don Rockwell online restaurant forum, lives along Columbia Pike and dines out just about every day for lunch and dinner. At the end of the profile, Rockwell lists some of his favorite local restaurants and dishes. [Arlington Magazine]

Rosslyn Tops for Bike to Work Day — The Rosslyn Bike to Work Day pit stop was utilized by 972 cyclists this year, making it the busiest pit stop in the D.C. region. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by James L.

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Data Breach Affecting Some APS Employees

Arlington Public Schools administration building(Updated at 3:20 p.m.) More than two dozen Arlington Public Schools employees have had their social security numbers and tax information compromised in a data breach, according to a memo sent to APS employees Monday.

The breach exposed the W-2 tax forms of 28 APS employees, the school system said. APS issues around 7,000 W-2 forms to employees annually, according to Assistant Superintendent Linda Erdos.

The breach occurred on a third-party server and there is no evidence that APS’ own systems were compromised, the memo says. However, APS has notified the FBI about the incident.

More than 40 companies reported attacks that compromised employee W-2 data during the first quarter of this year, according to news reports.

The memo to employees is below.

Recently, the staff in our Information Services Department was notified that files of W-2 tax forms for 28 APS employees were discovered to have been stored by an unknown party on an out-of-state organization’s server that had been hacked.

After reviewing the circumstances and the contents of the 28 files, at this time we believe that the W-2s were generated individually through the “employee self-service” feature of our STARS ERP system. We have not found any indication or evidence at this time to indicate that this represents a breach of APS the data systems.  Currently, we believe that this is a limited incident.

Human Resources staff has contacted the 28 staff members directly to inform them of this discovery, and to provide them with some guidance to help them address the situation.

We have heard recent news reports that this has happened to other individuals in our region and throughout the country, particularly right now as we are at the conclusion of the federal tax filing period. Therefore, APS is taking several steps that are in line with our standard data practices. They will also assist us with our continued investigations, and will help to ensure that our data continues to be protected.

  • First, we have contacted the FBI and notified them about this incident.
  • We have also contacted the AT&T Cybersecurity Unit and they are performing a complete threat assessment for all of our APS systems.
  • Finally, while we will continue to collaborate with the FBI and all parties who are investigating this incident, we have also hired Dr. Naren Kodali, who is an information security expert, to consult on our APS data security systems.  Dr. Kodali is a highly-qualified and well-known professional in the field of cyber-security as well and is a professor of Information Security at George Mason University, and has also served as the Dean of Computer Information Systems at other universities.

In addition, as a precaution, we are providing all APS staff with recommendations of best practices that everyone should take to safeguard your personal information online, both at work and at home. Those tips have been posted online in the Staff Central section of the APS website.

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Canadian Embassy to Face Off Against FBI Hockey Team in Ballston

Charity hockey game (Photo via @CanEmbUSA)The feds will face off against some local Canucks in a friendly international competition in Ballston this weekend.

The 12th annual charity hockey game between the FBI and the Embassy of Canada Hockey Team will take place on Saturday, from 7-9 p.m., at Kettler Capitals Iceplex (627 N. Glebe Road).

The event is open to the public. Tickets are $5 at the door and raffle tickets will also be sold at the game.

All proceeds will go to the Soldier On fund, which helps Canadian military members and veterans “overcome their physical or mental health illness or injury through physical activity and sport.”

Photo via @CanEmbUSA

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FBI Seeking Information About Serial Gas Station Robber

Serial gas station robber (photo via FBI)

The FBI is seeking information about a man wanted for a string of eight gas station robberies, including one in Arlington.

The robberies occurred in Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Richmond and Washington, D.C. One of these includes the late morning armed robbery at a Shell station on Lee Highway on Nov. 19.

The suspect is described as a white male, 30-40 years old and approximately six feet tall with facial hair. In surveillance footage of each of the robberies, he is seen wearing a gray pullover, khaki shorts or jeans, a blue baseball hat.

More information from a press release:

Law enforcement authorities are seeking an armed unknown male subject who has committed eight robberies at gas station convenience stores in Virginia and Washington, DC, between mid November and December of 2015.

The armed robberies occurred as follows:

  • Nov. 15 at 11:48 am: Exxon Gas located at 8715 Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA
  • Nov. 19 at 11:34 am: Shell Gas located at 5630 North Lee Highway, Arlington, VA
  • Nov. 23 at 12:05 pm: Valero Gas located at 5516 Mudd Tavern Road, Woodford, VA
  • Nov. 25 at 11:24 am: Mobil Gas located at 10800 Fairfax Boulevard, Fairfax, VA
  • Nov. 27 at 11:55 am: Exxon Gas located at 3535 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
  • Nov. 29 at 12:23 pm: Shell Gas located at 6519 Arlington Boulevard, Falls Church, VA
  • Dec. 01 at 01:34 pm: Shell Gas located at 805 E. Parham Road, Richmond VA
  • Dec. 04 at 08:59 pm: BP Gas located at 6701 Wilson Boulevard, Falls Church, VA

During each robbery, the subject purchased an item from the gas station attendant, produced a black handgun and reached over the counter to pull cash from the cash register.

REWARD
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of this unknown robber.

SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND DANGEROUS
The FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Arlington County and Fairfax County, Virginia Police Departments are investigating these robberies and request that anyone with information call the FBI at 202-278-2000. You may also contact your local FBI office; or submit a tip on the FBI’s website by visiting tips.fbi.gov.

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Serial Robber Strikes Columbia Pike Capital One Bank

"Forever Loyal Bandit" robbing the Capital One Bank on Columbia Pike (photo via ACPD)

Arlington County Police and the FBI are seeking a serial bank robber who robbed a bank on Columbia Pike Friday afternoon.

The suspect, dubbed the Forever Loyal Bandit by the FBI, passed a note to a teller at the Capital One Bank at 3532 Columbia Pike around 4 p.m. He received an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the scene.

This was the fifth bank robbery perpetrated by the Forever Loyal Bandit since June 2014, the FBI said. The “Forever Loyal” name is a reference to a t-shirt worn by the suspect in two of his first three robberies, all of which occurred in Falls Church last summer.

The suspect went dark after an Aug. 2014 robbery, then reappeared a week ago, on Oct. 30, when he robbed the Capital One Bank at Seven Corners Center, which he had also robbed last year.

The suspect is described as a black male, between 6’0″ and 6’3″. He’s said to be in his 30s, 40s or 50s. During the Pike robbery, the man was wearing a black baseball hat, a white and black long-sleeved Izod polo shirt and black pants.

The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the Forever Loyal Bandit. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 202-278-2000, or Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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Is That an FBI Surveillance Plane Over Arlington?

Flightrader24 track of possible surveillance plane over Arlington

A small prop plane was flying circles over Arlington, Alexandria and D.C. yesterday, and one tipster says it was probably an FBI surveillance plane.

The Cessna 182T Skylane plane was tracked by the website Flightradar24, flying around parts of Arlington. The Associated Press reported last month that the FBI uses that exact model of plane, equipped with high-resolution video cameras and cell phone trackers, to conduct surveillance flights over U.S. cities.

The AP also reported that such flights sometimes orbit Reagan National Airport.

“I stumbled on [the website] yesterday and much to my surprise there was one of those planes flying over Arlington,” said the tipster. “Just thought others in Arlington would be curious to know it is happening here as well as all over the country as the AP points out.”

The Washington Post reported in May that a Cessna 182T, registered to a company in Bristow, Va., was tracked flying over Baltimore during the Freddie Gray riots.

ARLnow.com has fielded occasional questions from readers over the past year or so about small aircraft seen circling overhead. The flights have struck readers as odd because with few exceptions FAA regulations limit aircraft flying over the immediate D.C. area to government aircraft and flights arriving and departing at Reagan National.

There are instances, however, when the FAA allows commercial general aviation flights over the restricted air space for aerial photography or research purposes.

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Photos Released of Masked Lee Highway Bank Robbery Suspect

Arlington County Police and the FBI have released photos of the man who robbed the Capital One Bank at 4700 Lee Highway Monday afternoon.

The photos (above) show the man dressed all in black, wielding a pair of scissors while robbing the bank. His face is covered by what police say is a black cloth.

The suspect remains at large. In an ACPD press release, investigators say they’re seeking tips in the case.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit, along with the FBI’s Washington Field Office, is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a bank robbery suspect captured in surveillance footage.

On Monday, July 6, 2015, at approximately 4:59 p.m., an unknown male subject entered the Capital One Bank branch in the 4700 block of N. Lee Highway and robbed the bank while brandishing a pair of scissors. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of money, the subject fled the bank.

The suspect is described as a male of unknown race and between 5’4″ – 5’7″ tall with a slim build. At the time of the incident, the suspect was wearing a black long sleeve shirt, black pants and no shoes with white socks. He had a black cloth covering his head.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the bank robber.

The Arlington County Police Department and FBI’s Washington Field Office are investigating this bank robbery and request that anyone with information call the FBI at 202-278-2000 or Detective Munizza with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.4171 [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

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Morning Notes

Man cleaning up trash on Four Mile Run Drive

Alleged Bank Robber Was Staying at Retirement Home — The FBI tracked down an accused bank robber in an Arlington on Friday thanks to his cell phone usage. The so-called Bicycle Bandit is accused of a dozen bank robberies, including a robbery in Alexandria just a few hours prior to his arrest. Investigators used phone records to figure out his identity. The suspect, Woosen Assaye, was staying at his father’s apartment at The Carlin retirement home at the time of his arrest. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]

Arlington Named Healthiest County in Va. — A new study has named Arlington County as the healthiest county in Virginia. Albemarle, Fairfax and Loudoun ranked second, third and fourth, respectively. [Associated Press]

Fehr Reads to Key Students — Washington Capitals player Eric Fehr read his new anti-bullying book to students at Key Elementary School yesterday. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Auto-play video]

Board Considers Affordable Housing Report — The Arlington County Board on Monday heard a comprehensive report about affordable housing in the county. [InsideNova]

Blue Line Issues — A Blue Line train suffering mechanical problems offloaded passengers at the Pentagon station this morning, causing overcrowding on the platform. [Twitter]

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FBI Raid in Buckingham Targets Bank Robbery Suspect

FBI training exercise (file photo courtesy of Lucy Brookover)(Updated at 5:35 p.m.) FBI agents raided an apartment — apparently connected to a bank robbery suspect — in Arlington’s Buckingham neighborhood Friday evening.

The agents were “executing search warrants as part of a bank robbery investigation,” according to FBI Washington Field Office spokeswoman Lindsay Godwin.

The agents arrested Wossen Assaye, Godwin said, suspected of robbing the Apple Federal Credit Union on Sir Viceroy Drive in Alexandria on Friday, March 20. He appeared in federal court in Alexandria today.

The raid happened at an apartment building near the intersection of Carlin Springs Road and N. Thomas Street around 4:00 p.m. Friday. The law enforcement show of force attracted considerable attention from neighbors, who emailed and tweeted ARLnow.com asking for additional information.

“About six suburbans of FBI with military fatigues just pulled into that area where the apartment building is on Carlin Springs and Thomas,” a resident, John Broehm, said in an email shortly after the raid. “There were lots of Arlington sheriffs there too. Although from their demeanor it seemed like it maybe was an exercise. No one seemed to be concerned about anything.”

“FBI turned from northbound Glebe onto Carlin Springs and pulled into the lot at that church between Glebe and Vermont/Park Drive,” Broehm said in a follow-up email, referring to the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington. “The guys in military gear got out and walked across the street to the apartment building where Arlington County Sheriff already was. But they were letting traffic and people go by on Carlin Springs.”

File photo (courtesy of Lucy Brookover)

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