(Updated at 10:45 a.m.) Numerous Arlington County Police officers, SWAT team members and the county bomb squad were on the scene of an incident in the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood Thursday morning.
Police were spread across several blocks, in the area of several apartment buildings and the Quarterdeck restaurant. Several roads were closed in the area.
A resident described the incident to ARLnow.com as a “possible hostage situation.” Later Thursday morning, police confirmed that they had received a 911 call from an individual falsely claiming to be holding a family hostage.
More from an ACPD press release:
At approximately 6:05 a.m. on August 17, the Emergency Communications Center received an anonymous call from a subject claiming to be holding a family hostage in the 1200 block of Ft. Myer Drive. Due to the elevated level of threat by the caller, the Arlington County Police Emergency Response Team and Arlington County Fire Bomb Squad were deployed. Members of the SWAT Team made contact with the occupants of the residence and during the course of the investigation, it was determined that no crime had occurred. A protective sweep of the residence was conducted with negative results. The all clear was given at approximately 8:48 a.m.
Reporting false information to the police is a crime. The investigation into the identity of the caller is ongoing. Anyone with information related to this investigation should call the Arlington County Police Department at 703-558-2222. Tips can also be provided anonymously to Arlington County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.
The incident may be a case of “swatting,” which is defined as “the action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.”
— Tom Martin (@tomwayne) August 17, 2017
The scene was cleared at 8:48 a.m. There is no threat to public. Press release with details will be released shortly.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) August 17, 2017
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified today’s day of the week as Wednesday instead of Thursday.
(Updated August 16, 10:40 a.m.) With the summer almost at an end, several construction projects in Rosslyn and Clarendon are moving along.
In Rosslyn, a new six-story condo building is starting to rise in place of an aging low-rise apartment complex. The project, now called “Key and Nash” in signs posted nearby, will add 63 units at the corner of Key Blvd and N. Nash Street.
The project by Reston-based developer NVR, Inc., the parent company of homebuilder Ryan Homes, looks to be well on the way to completion.
Close by, demolition of the former Wilson School is over, and now workers have cleared the ground to start to lay the foundations for the new building.
The new school at 1601 Wilson Blvd, which will house the H-B Woodlawn and Stratford programs, is scheduled to open in fall 2019 and house 775 students across both programs.
But less than a block away, there appears to have been little progress as of yet on the proposed redevelopment of the 39-unit Queens Court apartment complex at 1801 N. Quinn Street.
The County Board approved in February a project by the local nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to bring 249 committed affordable units in a 12-story building.
And in Radnor-Fort Myer Heights, work is continuing on two new residential buildings and a rebuilt substance-abuse recovery facility. Crews and a variety of heavy machinery are on site at the project, known as Gables Pointe 14, at 1307 N. Rolfe Street. The 370 apartments in two buildings, underground parking and an 8,000-square-foot shared park are set to be complete in 2020.
The incidents happened around 10 p.m. in the Rosslyn and Radnor-Fort Myer Heights neighborhoods.
Police say the flasher first exposed himself to a female victim at the intersection of Clarendon Blvd and N. Rhodes Street. Police then received another call for a similar incident on the 1200 block of N. Queen Street.
More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-06120295, Clarendon Boulevard at N. Rhodes Street. At approximately 9:50 p.m. on June 12, officers responded to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown male suspect exposed himself to a female victim. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his mid-twenties, approximately 5’7″-5’8″ tall with a medium build. He was wearing a blue hoodie and cargo shorts. The investigation is ongoing.
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2017-06120300, 1200 block of N. Queen Street. At approximately 10:01 p.m. on June 12, officers responded to the report of an indecent exposure. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown male suspect exposed himself to a female victim. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his mid-twenties, approximately 5’8″ tall and weighed 160 lbs. He was wearing a dark colored hat, black hooded sweatshirt, shorts and sneakers. The investigation is ongoing.
A police spokeswoman said the same suspect is believed to be responsible for both incidents, but there’s no word as to whether he may have committed other such indecent exposure crimes in the past.
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.
Ludvin Estrada, 41, was convicted of killing 27-year-old Eva Veliz on May 11, 1999. Police found Veliz dead inside the trunk of a car parked on the 1300 block of N. Pierce Street.
The pair were seen leaving together, after a night out, at approximately 2:45 a.m. on the day of the murder. At some point, the pair started arguing and Estrada strangled Veliz to death, prosecutors say.
Estrada then immediately fled to Guatemala.
Police issued a warrant for Estrada’s arrest, but were unable to find him in Guatemala. The Arlington County Police Department’s cold case unit took over the case in 2012.
A combination of case files, laboratory results and evidence from the crime scene led law enforcement authorities to Estrada in September 2016. He was then extradited to the United States.
More from ACPD:
A man who fled to Guatemala following the 1999 murder of Eva Veliz in the Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights neighborhood of Arlington County was sentenced in the Arlington County Circuit Court on Friday, March 17, 2017. Judge Daniel Fiore imposed the maximum judgement permitted by the plea agreement and sentenced Ludvin Estrada, 41, to forty-five years in prison.
On May 11, 1999, at approximately 4:33 p.m., Arlington County Police responded to the report of a 27-year-old female victim located deceased inside the trunk of a vehicle parked in the 1300 block of N. Pierce Street. The investigation revealed that on the evening prior the victim, Eva Veliz, and the subject, Ludvin Estrada, had been out dancing and were seen leaving together at approximately 2:45 a.m. on May 11, 1999. At some point during the evening, a verbal altercation ensued between the two and the subject strangled the victim causing her death. Estrada immediately fled to Guatemala.
A warrant was issued for Estrada in 1999 but efforts to locate him in Guatemala were unsuccessful. In 2012, the case was assigned to the Arlington County Police Department’s Cold Case Unit. Through a review of the case files, crime scene evidence and laboratory results detectives located additional information that verified Estrada’s involvement in the murder.
In September 2016, following a joint investigation by the Arlington County Police Department, the United States Department of State, the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, the United States Marshals Service and Guatemalan Law Enforcement, Estrada was extradited to the United States to face charges in the 1999 murder of Eva Veliz.
“Today’s sentence is the culmination of years of dogged work and perseverance by Arlington’s law enforcement community. A special thank you goes to Detective Rosa Ortiz who never, ever forgot about our victim. Together with two dedicated prosecutors, Assistant Commonwealth Attorneys’ Stephanie Siegel and Lindsay Brooker, this defendant was finally brought to justice.” said Theo Stamos, Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Arlington County Deputy Chief Daniel J. Murray, Commander of the Criminal Investigations Division said, “More than a decade ago, Eva Veliz was taken from her loving family in a senseless act of domestic violence. While this case was never a whodunit, Ludvin Estrada’s decision to flee the country made this investigation much more complex. This case demonstrates our commitment to pursue cases, no matter how much time has passed. The message to criminals and the families of the victims is clear — Arlington County will not waver in our commitment to investigate and prosecute cold case homicides.”
The break-in happened just after 7:30 p.m., at an apartment building on the 1300 block of Fort Myer Drive.
“An unknown subject entered a female victim’s residence,” according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The female victim was in a bedroom at the time and heard noises originating from the kitchen. The victim believed the subject retrieved a knife from the kitchen as he made his way towards her location.”
“The subject then tried to force his way into the bedroom but was unsuccessful in gaining entry,” the crime report continues. “The subject fled the scene shortly after. A K9 track of the area returned with negative results.”
The only description the victim was able to give officers was that the suspect was wearing gray shoes. Police say the investigation is ongoing.
A new mixed-income apartment building that provides the amenities of market-rate residences, even though 40 percent of its units are committed affordable housing, has opened near Rosslyn.
The Union on Queen building is located at 1515 N. Queen Street, in the Radnor-Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, roughly equidistant to the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations. It was partially funded with $6.8 million from Arlington’s Affordable Housing Investment Fund.
Work on the 12-story, 193-unit structure, built as a public-private partnership, began at the end of 2014. It was touted as a way to provide affordable housing for those who need it — those making up to 50-60 percent of area median income are eligible for the committed units — while also providing attractive apartments for market-rate tenants.
“What makes Union on Queen so unique is that it offers ALL residents the same award-winning levels of innovation, convenience, amenities and design synonymous with the Bozzuto name in some of DC’s most premier apartments,” a PR rep said. “While most mixed-income communities often lack the luxuries and appointments of market-rate residences, Union on Queen delivers outstanding levels of service and detail for everyone.”
“There are a lot of places that would say, ‘Dumb it down, cheaper, less efficient. It’s affordable housing in there,'” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said during the groundbreaking ceremony two years ago. “But that’s not the way this community works. We want every building to be indistinguishable from the next.”
More on the project, via a press release from developers Bozzuto and Wesley Housing Development Corporation, after the jump.
A driver struck and seriously injured a bicyclist this afternoon near Courthouse.
The crash happened shortly before 4 p.m. at the intersection of Fairfax Drive and N. Queen Street, in the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood.
A woman in a Nissan sedan struck the adult male cyclist near the entrance to Route 50. The car’s windshield shattered from the force of the impact on the passenger side of the vehicle. Damage was also visible on the side and hood of the car.
The cyclist was transported via ambulance to the trauma center at George Washington University Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Officers remained on scene to investigate the crash, said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
The driver remained on scene. No word yet on whether any charges will be filed.
An unknown male caller phoned in the bomb threat Tuesday afternoon. No explosives were found.
From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
BOMB THREAT, 160816032, 1400 block of N. Courthouse Road. At approximately 1:20 p.m on August 16, an unknown male subject called an office within the courthouse building and made a bomb threat. A K-9 sweep of the building was conducted with negative results. There is no suspect(s) description.
On Monday night, a resident in the Radnor/Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, near Rosslyn, reported hearing a loud “pop” inside their home.
Police arrived and found that a single gunshot had been fired into the residence. From ACPD:
MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED DWELLING, 160815043, 1200 block of N. Rhode Street. At approximately 9:17 p.m. on August 15, two residents heard a loud pop inside their residence. Upon police investigation, it was determined that a single gunshot round had entered the residence causing minor damage. Police conducted checks in the area and found no similar incidents. There is no suspect(s) description and the investigation is ongoing.
The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, after the jump.
More than 500 people have signed a petition calling for the Arlington County Board to take Rhodeside Green Park in Rosslyn off the list of potential locations for a temporary fire station.
As of 10:00 a.m. today, the Change.org petition titled “Save Rhodeside Green Park – No to Fire Station” has 550 signatures, over halfway to its goal of 1,000.
Arlington County originally proposed building the temporary fire station behind the future the H-B Woodlawn school in Rosslyn, but agreed to consider other locations after parents spoke out against the plan, citing concerns about student safety and the loss of open space.
The petition cites concerns about losing “one of the last green spaces we have” in the neighborhood and calls for the County Board to select an alternate location.
From the petition:
On Saturday, July 16, the Arlington County Board voted unanimously to consider the Rhodeside Green Park at the corner of Rhodes Street and Clarendon Blvd. as a location to construct a temporary fire station. This station location would remain in place for at least 3 years while a new fire station is constructed as part of the new school development on Wilson Blvd. next to what is currently Wilson School. The Board plans to take final action at a meeting scheduled for September 24th, 2016. The first time Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights Civic Association (RAFOM) heard Rhodeside Green Park was one of 3-4 possible sites was at the July 16 Board meeting. There was no notification or consultation with the residents of Bromptons Rosslyn Homeowners Association (BARHOA), residents living in apartments and condos near the park, or anyone else impacted. Rhodeside Green was created during development of BARHOA then turned over to Arlington County in 2002 as part of a deal to create green space for our area. We request the Board not stray from the original intent. Construction of a temporary fire station will displace one of the last green spaces we have in Ft. Myer Heights. We are grateful for the services provided by the Arlington County Fire Department, this in no way diminishes our support and gratitude for what they do for all of us every single day. This petition is about protecting a cherished park that serves as a place for children to play, residents to gather, and for a small part of nature to exist within our over developed neighborhood. We urge the Arlington County Board to remove Rhodeside Green from consideration and select one of the alternate locations under consideration.
Photo Courtesy of Arlington County
Tacos El Chilango parks at the corner of 14th Street N. and N. Quinn Street nearly every day. From the truck, people can see drivers whiz by on Route 50. Before customers get a $2.50 taco (or five), they might stand in a line that goes down the block. The menu is limited to only six kinds of meat tacos and a small selection of drinks. But no one is complaining.
Making Yelp’s Top 100 List in 2014 was no easy feat. Engineers from Yelp took into account number of reviews and star ratings to reveal the most popular spots in the country, over the past 10 years that Yelp had been up and running. Tacos El Chilango made number 58.
Jesus and Juan Antonio Santacruz opened the truck together in Arlington in 2007. Juan Antonio now runs El Chilango’s D.C. location (1119 V. Street NW), which opened in 2012. It has a somewhat larger menu including veggie options and indoor and outdoor seating space.
When the two first opened shop, they were inspired by their parents, who moved from Central Mexico to Mexico City in the 1950s and opened their first taco business.
“My parents had the house, and in the front they had the business, so we practically lived there. We are eight siblings and we all have taco shops,” Juan Antonio said.
Five taco stores are in Mexico, and three are in the U.S.– the two El Chilango locations, and Tacos El Papi, another truck, owned by their eldest brother, is parked on Columbia Pike in Arlington.
Juan Antonio and Jesus established their space because Jesus lives nearby, and one winter they got snowed into the spot. People started noticing the truck because there aren’t really other businesses around. And so they stayed.
What makes these tacos special? People could look to the 349 Yelp reviews (only five of which are under three stars) or ask someone who took to the street at lunchtime today.
Maurice Dayton calls himself a “religious patron” of El Chilango. He said he comes to get his lunch at the truck at least twice a week. He’s not the only super fan — 55 Yelp reviews used the word “love” to describe their feelings for the fresh tacos.
“I’m not lying, I’m from Texas and I know a thing about tacos, this is the closest I’ve come to being back home with tacos, and I have to say, it’s even better,” Dayton said.
Jesus says the secret to the tacos is never changing the recipe — and keeping ingredients fresh every day.
“A lot of people ask for sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and we say ‘no.’ We like to keep them authentic, the way we grew up with them, the way we make them in Mexico. We make everything pretty much every day,” Santacruz said.
Dayton lives in Maryland but works in a nearby State Department office, where he says everyone makes the walk down to the truck. He mentioned a few other spots he said had good tacos, but they didn’t compare.
“I just absolutely love coming here. You have to try the El Mixto. They’re some of the absolute best tacos anywhere. I wish I could franchise this place,” Dayton said, laughing.
Matt Evans is a longtime patron of the truck who just moved in Arlington, just blocks away from El Chilango’s parking spot — a move he’s very excited about.
“I have a lot of coworkers who are super into District Taco, and hands-down this is way better than District Taco. It’s that authentic, it’s like California tacos,” Evans said.
It makes sense that they would be authentic, as “Chilango” is a Mexican slang word meaning the people who live in or come from Mexico City. And Juan Antonio says even though there is the most business on Fridays and Saturdays, the truck is busy year-round.
“Even when it’s so hot or so cold, people want tacos,” he said.
Police say 30-year-old Sunny Parekh was arrested without incident at his home on the 1400 block of N. Scott Street, near Courthouse, last night (Wednesday). He’s been charged with the Nov. 10, 2014 robbery of the Presidential Bank on the 900 block of N. Stuart Street.
The FBI and Alexandria police assisted with the investigation and arrest, according to an Arlington County Police Department press release (below).
Parekh is currently being held at the Arlington County Detention Facility, which incidentally is located just three blocks from his home.
“He can probably see it from his cell window,” noted Arlington police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “It wasn’t a far drive.”
Parekh is also a suspect in two other bank robberies, in Alexandria and the District. No word yet on whether charges have been filed for either of those robberies.
A bank robbery suspect was taken into custody by the Arlington County Police Department, with assistance from the FBI Washington Field Office and Alexandria Police Department, at his residence in the 1400 block of N. Scott Street. Sunny Parekh, 30, of Arlington, VA, was arrested during the evening of April 8, 2015 and charged with bank robbery. He is being held without bail.
At approximately 3:59 p.m. on November 10, 2014, the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center was alerted of a bank robbery that had just taken place at the Presidential Bank, located in the 900 block of N. Stuart Street. The suspect entered the bank just prior to closing time and handed a teller a note that demanded money and implied he had a weapon. The teller gave the suspect an undisclosed amount of money and the subject fled towards Ballston Metro Center.
After months of police investigation and collaboration with partner law enforcement agencies, Parekh was identified as the primary suspect. Officers took the subject into custody without incident and he is being held at the Arlington County Detention Facility. “The closing of this case by our investigators was the direct result of outstanding work by our patrol officers and the leveraging of the resources of our FBI and Alexandria colleagues with whom we work closely on a daily basis,” commented Daniel J. Murray, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Investigations Division.
Two new residential buildings and a rebuilt substance-abuse recovery facility have been given the green light by the Arlington County Board.
The development, called Gables North Rolfe Street, will have 395 residential units and a public, 8,000-square-foot park featuring three mature oak trees. The developer, Gables Residential, will also tear down and construct a new building for Independence House, a transitional living facility for those recovering from substance abuse.
The complex will be located on the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street, near Courthouse.
Thirty-nine of the units will be committed affordable housing and the developer also has the option to install a $75,000 work of public art on the site or donate to the county’s public art fund as a community benefit. The development was approved unanimously on Saturday.
“This redevelopment addresses some of the important priorities that the Fort Myer community identified in the Fort Myer Heights North Plan,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a press release. “It includes on-site affordable housing, brings a new public park to Fort Myer and preserves some beautiful, mature trees. Importantly, it also rebuilds Independence House, the County’s transitional living facility.”
Before approving the development, County Board members inquired about the option for a small, 1,000-square-foot community retail option in the site plan application, a provision the developer was initially hesitant to put in. Real estate attorney Evan Pritchard, representing Gables at the Board hearing, said they would be open to building a retail space if they can find the right vendor to operate a convenience store, serving the residents and park users.
“It remains to be seen, as we go forward with the project, whether it happens or not,” Pritchard said of the retail.
The construction is expected to take two years, and it would include building four levels of parking; two below-grade and two above-grade.
The Independence House would be rebuilt, but not expanded, because more residents might limit the program’s effectiveness. The new building will have 14 single-occupant units, which provides more flexibility with which users can join the program.
“The existing size is ideal for the group work that happens in the evenings, working on life skills and recovery,” county Department of Human Services substance abuse treatment supervisor Nancie Connolly told the Board. “The larger numbers of individuals would make it more institutional rather than transitional living, which has more independence.”
Only one public speaker — frequent Board critic Jim Hurysz — gave testimony at the Board hearing. The lack of speakers and issues with the proposal, which includes three parcels of county land and a number of community benefits, was “remarkable,” Hynes said.
(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A new 2.17 acre apartment development is likely coming to the Courthouse area.
Gables North Rolfe Street is planned as a two building, 400,000 square feet, 395 unit apartment complex on the 1300 block of N. Rolfe Street, in the Radnor / Fort Myer Heights neighborhood, just off of Route 50.
The tract of land on which the project will be built is steep, wooded and also includes a handful of older single family homes and small apartment complexes. Because Arlington County owns three parcels of land on the site, it has been able to work with developer Gables Residential on a number of public benefits.
Among the the benefits, to be paid for by the developer:
- A new, 8,000 square foot public park that will include a 200-year-old tree
- LEED Gold certification for the apartment complex
- Thirty-nine units of committed affordable housing
- A stand-alone, 14-unit transitional living facility, for those recovering from substance abuse. This will replace the existing Independence House facility on the site, according to Arlington Dept. of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
The project is expected be considered by the County Board at its February meeting, in two weeks.
Discussing the project at last night’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting, County Board Chair Mary Hynes said the benefits from such projects represent key Democratic values.
“Affordable housing furthers diversity, inclusivity and sustainability, all of which are values… that have driven this community,” she said.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story reflected County Board Chair Mary Hynes’ remarks that the planned transitional living facility was for those who were just getting out of jail. A county spokesman says that is incorrect, and that the facility will be for substance abuse recovery.
(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) A passenger van overturned after hitting a parked car and sending both vehicles tumbling down an embankment in Ft. Myer Heights at about 10:45 this morning.
A witness told ARLnow.com that the driver of the van lost control of his vehicle on 14th Street N. The van swerved into a parking lot on the 1700 block and hit the trunk of a parked Honda sedan. The Honda was sent over the curb and down the embankment, taking out a small tree with it, the witness said.
The van flipped onto its side, and both vehicles came to a stop on Fairfax Drive, adjacent to Route 50. Police remained on scene for an hour as the vehicles were cleared and towed away.
There were no injuries as a result of the collision. Police declined to comment on if the van’s driver would be charged.
Construction on 193 new apartments — including 78 affordable units — in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood has begun, and county officials and developers celebrated today with a groundbreaking.
The project, called Union on Queen, will raze three buildings to erect a 12-story tower, which will contain 181 apartments. The two buildings that make up the Pierce Queen Apartments, built in 1942 on the 1600 block of 16th Street N., will be gutted, but preserved and renovated. They will be converted into 12 affordable units.
The project is a public-private partnership among The Bozzuto Group, nonprofit developer Wesley Housing and Arlington County, which is providing debt financing. Construction began a few weeks ago, according to Bozzuto President Toby Bozzuto, and is expected to last two years, putting the project on track for an October 2016 opening.
The process to get the apartments from proposal to site plan approval to construction was not an easy one. The project was deferred by the Arlington County Board before its March 2013 approval for design and parking concerns. It also faced issues securing affordable housing grants from both the county and the state.
The developers and public officials in attendance at this morning’s groundbreaking all noted how tough of a slog the approval process was. Wesley Properties President and CEO Shelley Murphy said the company’s founder called Pierce Queen Apartments “the project from hell” when the company acquired it in 1991.
“This is as good an example of why Arlington succeeds as anything,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “We actually follow through. Follow-through is hard. We all create plans, we all create visions, we write beautiful words, we put it on a shelf. In Arlington, we work really hard to bring the vision to life, to make the investments and the hard calls to make things work.”
Rep. Jim Moran didn’t step up to the podium — “One of the nice things about retiring is that I don’t have to stand up at any more podiums and microphones,” he joked — but said “Arlington County works, and it works because they understand that communities and their economies are a reflection of a collective decision-making on the part of thousands of families.”
Arlington approved $6.8 million in Affordable Housing Investment Fund money toward the project, which also received assistance from the Virginia Housing Development Authority. The state money wasn’t easy to secure, several of the speakers said, partly because the development’s total cost was close to being ineligible for state money. Eventually, the sides struck an arrangement and Fisette said the apartments will be up to the high standards the county has set.
“There are a lot of places that would say, ‘Dumb it down, cheaper, less efficient. It’s affordable housing in there’,” Fisette said. “But that’s not the way this community works. We want every building to be indistinguishable from the next.”