Western Smoke Causing Hazy Skies — “The local National Weather Service office pointed out today in its technical discussion that the smoke is caught in the jet stream and moving overhead around 20,000 to 25,000 feet high. Smoke from the historic fires out West now covers much of the country, and it is expected to continue to be an issue in the days ahead.” [Washington Post, Twitter]
Board Approves Road Project — “Arlington County Board members on Sept. 12 approved a contract worth up to $805,000 for improvements to the intersection of 18th Street North with North Glebe Road and North Wakefield Street, aimed at providing a better walking and biking experience for children and others headed to Glebe Elementary School.” [InsideNova. Arlington County]
Ret. Deputy Seeking Answer to 9/11 Mystery — “Nineteen years after the 9/11 attack at the Pentagon, a retired Arlington Sheriff’s deputy still doesn’t know if the badly injured man he pulled from the burning building survived. He doesn’t know his family or even his name — and Art Castellano still cries about it whenever something reminds him of that day. Now, WUSA9 is trying to help reunite the two men.” [WUSA 9]
Teacher Seeking Desk Donations — “Students across Northern Virginia are turning homes into classrooms, so Arlington art teacher Jeff Wilson decided to rally the community to help. Wilson posted a request online for people to donate their old desks to help students who are learning from home.” [WJLA]
Local Business Legend Dies — “Russell A. Hitt, who helped transform the family business into one of the nation’s largest and most successful general contracting firms, died Sunday at his Falls Church residence. The 85-year-old Arlington native is survived by his wife of 66 years, Joan; four children and 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, many of whom now work at Hitt Contracting Inc.” [Washington Business Journal]
No, the FBI Didn’t Conduct a Raid in Rosslyn — “The FBI’s Washington field office says it did not raid the home of Arlington conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman, despite a Washington Post story that apparently took Burkman’s word that his home had been tossed by federal agents.” [Washingtonian, Daily Beast, Washington Post]
Police have arrested nine people in Arlington accused of engaging in sex work, after the department teamed up with the FBI to investigate child sex trafficking.
“The goals of this proactive operation, which occurred on March 21-22, 2019, were to attempt to locate any juveniles being exploited into sex trade and help raise awareness about sex trafficking in our community,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage wrote in a statement today (Wednesday.)
Savage told ARLnow that “no underage individuals were identified during the operation, however, police continue to follow up on investigative leads developed during the operation” and that the suspects charged with prostitution-related crimes were not necessarily involved in human trafficking.
Together with the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, police say they arrested nine people involved in sex work on a variety of charges, including 8 misdemeanors and 2 felonies.
- Misdemeanor prostitution and felony child endangerment charges against Faith Horton, 22, of Front Royal, Virginia.
- Misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor against Lillian Moody, 22, of Front Royal, Virginia.
- Felony use of a vehicle to promote prostitution against Gary Dulaney, 70, of Clifton, VA.
- Misdemeanor prostitution charges against Marquilla Braxton, 21, of D.C.; Ashley Kibler, 22, of Washington, Virginia; Debbie Sanchez, 26, of Sacramento, California; and Wanxiu Kang, 45, of Flushing, New York.
Katherine Haberman, 22, of Las Vegas, Nevada, was also charged with misdemeanor prostitution as well as a marijuana possession charge.
Three suspects have been released on a summons and have not had mugshots taken, per county police policy.
Savage said police and FBI investigated classified ads suspected of involving child sex trafficking.
Arlington police urge anyone with information about potential human trafficking situations in the county to call the Arlington non-emergency line at 703-558-2222 or call the police anonymous tip line 1-866-411-8477.
Victims of human trafficking can call the free 24-hour hotline from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.
The FBI’s Washington office is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the man’s capture, up from $5,000, and investigators believe he’s now been involved in 20 robberies across Virginia, Maryland and D.C. over the last year or so.
County police believe a man walked into the Capital One bank at 3532 Columbia Pike around 2:15 p.m. Monday, brandishing a gun and passing a teller a note demanding money. However, he fled the scene before he could get any cash.
Police released surveillance photos yesterday (Thursday) of the man wearing a mask and hard hat, which the FBI believes is consistent with the “Bank Bandit’s” previous robberies. Investigators say he’s passed a threatening note to tellers in each of his robberies, and has “worn different disguises such as a baseball cap, wig, gloves, hijab or hoodie to alter his appearance,” according to a news release.
The FBI believes the man has previously robbed banks in Alexandria, Falls Church and Centreville, but this is the first incident he’s been involved in Arlington.
Investigators describe him as a black man in 20s or 30s, standing between 5’7″ and 6’2″, weighing between 160 and 170 pounds.
The FBI is asking anyone with more information to call 202-278-2000 or submit a tip at tips.fbi.gov.
The #FBI has doubled the #reward to $10,000 for information leading to the capture of the "Beltway Bank Bandit." Have info? Submit a tip at https://t.co/t8G7LO4hxu #Wanted https://t.co/AZwvolZekC pic.twitter.com/YJKxTr7WeH
— FBI Washington Field (@FBIWFO) February 15, 2019
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]
Community Concerns Over Hospital Land Swap — Updated 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]
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
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.
Video statement: the Comey firing is an abuse of power that jeopardizes the #TrumpRussia investigation.
We must have a special prosecutor. pic.twitter.com/5Ec7pZG7K8
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) May 10, 2017
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.”
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) May 10, 2017
To state the obvious, we can disapprove of both Comey's handling of Clinton investigation and the circumstances of his firing.
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) May 10, 2017
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) May 10, 2017
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.
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]
Flickr pool photo by James L.
(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.