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Morning Notes

Dog and Owner Help Foil Purse Snatching — Mazel was a very good boy. The miniature bull terrier and his owner chased down a purse thief in Clarendon Tuesday evening, retrieving the purse and all of its contents. The thief remains at large but the purse owner is very grateful to get her belongings back prior to a planned vacation. [NBC Washington]

Arlington Woman Plows Into Falls Church Store — A 41-year-old woman from Arlington drove her car through the sliding doors of a Falls Church Rite Aid store this past weekend, damaging shopping carts and an interior wall. She was arrested and charged with DUI. [Falls Church News-Press]

Planet Money Looks at I-66 Tolling — NPR’s popular Planet Money podcast took a look at the sky-high tolls now in effect during certain times on I-66. There is “a beautiful, econ 101 logic behind a toll that spikes when demand spikes,” the podcast explains. [NPR]

White Christmas Looks Unlikely — The odds are low that the Washington area ends its recent draught of white Christmases next week. However, some snow on Christmas Day appears to be a possibility. [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Jim Webster

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Police: Man Seeking Attention Threatened Restaurant Patron With Scissors

An Indiana man walked into a Crystal City restaurant Wednesday night, wrapped his arm around the neck of a female diner and threatened her with a pair of scissors, police say.

The attack happened just before 5:30 p.m. on the 2200 block of Crystal Drive.

Police say the man was “in search of individuals that would acknowledge him” and “the incident occurred after the victim did not acknowledge the suspect.” The suspect was taken into custody after bystanders intervened, potentially saving the woman from being maimed.

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage described to ARLnow.com what happened:

After the suspect placed his arm around the victim’s neck and threatened her, a male witness approached the suspect from behind, bearhugged him and took him to the ground. Additional witnesses assisted in gaining control of the suspect, disarming him of the scissors and detaining him until police arrived and took the suspect into custody.

The immediate intervention by good Samaritans stopped an active threat against the victim and potentially saved her from serious injury.

More from an ACPD crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-09130224, 2200 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 5:24 p.m. on September 13, police were dispatched to the report of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a male suspect entered a restaurant, approached a female victim, placed his arm around her neck and threatened her with a pair of scissors. Witnesses came to the side of the female victim, intervened and detained the suspect until police arrived. Neal Jesspace, 49, of Jamestown, IN was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding. He was held on no bond.

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ACPD Officer’s Act of Kindness Spreads on Social Media

ACPD officer buying a man a hat at Pentagon City mallA woman who witnessed an act of kindness by an Arlington County Police officer has helped to share it via social media.

While visiting the Pentagon City mall on Saturday with her son, Beth Schweinefuss says that she saw a man walking around the food court and standing by himself with a plastic bag on his head.

“We were sitting on the third floor of the mall resting and doing some people watching,” Schweinefuss told ARLnow.com. “We both noticed the gentleman in the food court standing by himself and wearing a plastic bag on his head. His mannerisms suggested to me he was possible talking to himself and was just looking around and listening to something on a portable tape recorder. That caught our attention.”

Soon after, a couple of police officers went down to the food court to speak to the man and Schweinefuss noted that instead of kicking him out of the mall, they spent a few minutes talking to him, taking care to speak to him with respect.

“They were smiling and chatting and doing their best to make this gentleman feel valued,” she said.

Eventually, all but one of the officers left. The officer who stayed took the man to a hat kiosk, helping him to pick one out and paying for it with his own money.

“It was moving to us because clearly this gentleman was in from the rain and rather than just escorting him out of the mall, the officers obviously took that time to find out what was going on with him and to provide some relief,” she said. “They clearly didn’t HAVE to do this, but they saw a person in need and helped. It was an opportunity for us to talk about people in need and how to help, but also to talk about how we so often see the negative encounters people have with police and it was very uplifting to see a positive encounter.”

Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage said Schweinefuss contacted the department via its Facebook page, to share the story. After doing some digging, Savage was able to confirm that the officer had not only bought the man a hat, but had bought him dinner as well.

“We take protecting and serving beyond just our enforcement of the law. We like citizens to help each other and so the fact that we were able to do that and this woman and her son were able to see it and share a little bit of a life lesson — that’s more than we could really ask for in these types of situations,” said Savage.

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Ballston Resident Helps Disabled Man Lost on the Metro Get Home

Rosslyn Metro by BrianMKA

Yesterday’s evening commute for Ballston resident Andrea Gagliardi was following the normal routine, until she found herself helping a disabled man find his way home.

The man — who Gagliardi described as approximately 50 years old, mute and mentally disabled — was being helped by another woman when she arrived at the Courthouse Metro station. That woman was visibly upset, saying someone had dropped him off at the station, leaving him to figure out how to get to an address written on the back of a business card.

“I couldn’t believe someone had just left him,” Gagliardi told ARLnow.com this morning. “The other woman was truly an angel for finding him and initiating the help because I might not have noticed him if she hadn’t called me over.”

The woman asked Gagliardi if she recognized the address. Though she didn’t, she thought she recognized the ZIP code and confirmed it was also in Ballston.

“I offered to take him on the train since I was going that direction, hoping there would be police at my station,” she said. “I wasn’t going to try and take him to the address. It could’ve been any place that wasn’t safe for him or me to be.”

“I didn’t feel threatened by the man at all,” Gagliardi added. “He was pleasant and friendly throughout the trip. I just think he was embarrassed, so I kept ensuring him we would figure it out together.”

Gagliardi was surprised to find a lack of police presence at the Ballston station and decided to get the attention of the station manager, who at first thought the man couldn’t speak English. Once he realized the man couldn’t speak at all, that’s when Gagliardi said he understood the gravity of the situation and Metro officials took over.

“The manager led him away from the crowds, so I left the station looking for a police officer, but no such luck,” she said. “I knew I had done the right thing, but I started feeling guilty thinking I should’ve stayed and made sure he was okay. If I could do it again, I would’ve stayed.”

The incident Monday was the third time in a little over the year Gagliardi has come to the assistance of someone in need at an Arlington Metro station. The first was an intoxicated man who almost fell onto the tracks, and last month a woman was stuck on an elevator.

“At first I thought why does this always happen to me,” she said. “But in each of the three scenarios I’ve been involved in, there have been other people also helping.”

Gagliardi is a contractor for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an agency that touts the value of “See something, say something.” She also took a course in college called “Disability?” that taught her how to better understand people, both with and without disabilities.

Gagliardi said these experiences and her own morals put her in a good position to help the man Monday evening. She hopes that others would do the same.

“Everyone has different abilities and disabilities and at times may need help, just like at any time, I may need help,” she said. “I also learned to be compassionate and to do for others what I would want done for me.”

Approximately an hour after posting her encounter with the lost man on social media, Gagliardi got the response from Metro officials she was hoping for.

According to a Metro spokesperson, the station manager notified Metro Transit Police about the situation shortly before 5:30 p.m. They transported the man to the address to ensure his safe arrival before confirming the address was, indeed, his residence.

Gagliardi commended Metro officials for their response and helpfulness, its special services like MetroAccess, and their frequent safety announcements, including the one that recites Metro Police’s phone number — which Gagliardi has memorized.

She also hoped her story would raise awareness of services available in the D.C. area to people with disabilities — like Red Top Cab’s discount program — and opportunities to ensure safe transportation with companies like Uber. With such services, those caring for disabled individuals should never have to send them off to rely on the kindness of strangers to get to their destination.

“Though this story had a happy ending, it easily could have not,” she said. “I hope people pay more attention to what is happening around them because you can help someone. Don’t assume someone else will do it, even if all you can do is the police or notify officials around you.”

“Anyone can help,” Gagliadri added. “Don’t be a bystander. Do it yourself. That could be you someday.”

Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA

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Do-Gooders Help Police Chase Down Alleged Thief

Zachary Dewulf (photo via ACPD)Two shoppers helped the Arlington County Police Department arrest a suspect accused of robbery in Ballston yesterday.

The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. on the 900 block of N. Stuart Street, about a block away from Ballston Common Mall.

The suspect — Zachary DeWulf, 22, of Springfield, Va. — allegedly pushed a 65-year-old man down while he was trying to withdraw money from an ATM and stole the man’s two wallets. According to police, that’s when two witnesses took action.

“Two patrons of an adjacent shop witnessed the robbery and immediately chased the suspect on foot,” according to a police press release. “During the chase, one of the witnesses was able to flag down an Arlington County officer, who joined the chase and apprehended the suspect shortly after in a parking lot in the 4200 block of Fairfax Drive.”

The victim was not hurt. Dewulf was charged with robbery. He’s currently being held at the Arlington County Detention Facility after his bond was denied.

Update at 5:00 p.m. — DeWulf is a competitive figure skater and works as a skating coach at nearby Kettler Capitals Iceplex, we’re told.

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Good Samaritan Stops Cell Phone Robbery

Rosslyn BID employee prevents cell phone theftA Rosslyn Business Improvement District employee saved a woman’s cell phone during a robbery this afternoon.

The woman was texting behind the McDonald’s, on N. Lynn Street, when a man ran past and snatched her cell phone out of her hands, the BID employee said. Neither he nor the victim wished to be identified.

The woman called for help, and another BID employee got on the radio to describe the suspect, a black man in dark clothing, he said. Standing at the corner of N. Lynn and 19th Streets, he saw the suspect run by.

“I just asked him to give me the phone,” the good Samaritan said, “and he did, then he ran off toward the Metro. He had two phones in his hand and he gave me one of them.”

The BID employee and the woman gave their accounts to the police before speaking with ARLnow.com.

“I guess [the suspect] wasn’t trying to get into any trouble,” he said. Asked why he thinks it was so easy for the suspect to give up the phone, he said: “It’s just a good weekend, I guess.”

As of earlier this afternoon, the suspect was still at large.

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Police Deliver Pizza, Plaques to Good Samaritans

A trio of Good Samaritans were rewarded for their heroic deeds with a fresh pizza delivered by the Arlington County Police Department.

Police officers dropped off the pizza and some commemorative plaques on Friday night as a way to say ‘thank you’ to three men who helped stop a late night attack in Ashton Heights over the summer.

According to police, two of the men were sitting out on their porch, waiting for a pizza delivery around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14, when they heard a woman scream. The woman, police say, was knocked to the ground by a 25-year-old man after repeatedly rebuffing his unwanted advances. Upon hearing the scream, the men chased down the suspect and held him until police arrived. The third man rushed to the victim to comfort her while awaiting police.

The suspect, Fidencio Gonzalez-Acetun, was arrested and charged with abduction. He’s currently awaiting trial.

During the course of their heroism, the men missed their pizza delivery. As a good-humored recognition of their small sacrifice, police delivered a hot, fresh pizza along with the plaques on Friday.

The men told NBC4 that the gesture “means a lot” to them.

Photo courtesy Arlington County Police Department

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Crime Report: Neighborhood Watch Edition

In this week’s Arlington County crime report, a suspected burglar was caught after a handyman working on a neighbor’s house saw the crime in progress and called police.

BURGLARY-ARREST, 09/15/11, 3500 block of N. 13th Street. On September 15 at 12:44 pm, a man was seen breaking into a residence. He was located by police and in possession of items from the house. Michael Porter, 53, of no fixed address, was charged with Burglary and Grand Larceny. He was held on a $1,500 bond.

The rest of this week’s crime report, including a man charged with assaulting a police officer during a DWI arrest, after the jump.

ASSAULT AND BATTERY ON POLICE-ARREST, 09/17/11, 1200 block of S. Glebe Road. On September 17 at 10:45 pm, a man assaulted a police officer as he was being arrested for DWI. Jose Moreno, 38, of Arlington, was charged with Assault and Battery on Law Enforcement, Driving While Intoxicated and Refusal to Submit to a Breath Test. He was held without bond.

ROBBERY, 09/18/11, 2400 block of Shirlington Road. On September 18 at 9:30 pm, a man was assaulted from behind and robbed of cash. The robbery was reported the next day. The suspect is a 25 year-old African American male, 140 lbs, who was wearing a small cap on his head at the time of the assault.

ASSAULT AND BATTERY, 09/17/11, 5900 block of Arlington Boulevard. On September 17 at 3 am, an intoxicated woman claimed that a cab driver punched her after exposing himself to her when he drove her home.

ASSAULT AND BATTERY, 09/18/11, 3100 block of Wilson Boulevard. On September 18 at 12:40 am, a man punched a bouncer. The suspect is known.

ASSAULT AND BATTERY, 09/18/11, 2000 block of N. Cameron Street. On September 18 at 4 am, several unknown men assaulted a man walking home. He was unsure if they were trying to rob him. There are no descriptions of the suspects.

ASSAULT AND BATTERY, 09/21/11, 900 block of S. Buchanan Street. On September 21 at 1:30 am, a man assaulted his sister-in-law’s boyfriend.

EXPOSURE, 09/19/11, 1700 block of Arlington Boulevard. On September 18 at 11 pm, a man stood outside a woman’s apartment and exposed himself while shining a flashlight. There is no suspect description.

BURGLARY, 09/15/11, 2800 block of Wilson Boulevard. Between 8 pm on September 14, and 7 am on September 15, an unknown subject entered an office through a window and stole various items. There is no known suspect description.

BURGLARY, 09/16/11, 5200 block of N. Carlin Springs Road. On September 15 at noon, a man walked into an elderly woman’s house without permission asking for money and food. The suspect is an African American male in his 40’s and approximately 5’9″.

COMMERCIAL BURGLARY, 09/14/11, 2000 block of Wilson Boulevard. Between 10 pm on September 13, and 9 am on September 14, an unknown person broke into a restaurant and stole money. There is no suspect description.

ATTEMPTED BURGLARY, 09/17/11, 3500 block of S. 9th Street. On September 17 at 10 pm, two men attempted to enter a house through the front door. They fled in a green Toyota 4runner when confronted by the homeowner. One suspect was a white male and the second was an African American male.

ATTEMPTED BURGLARY, 110919063/37, 3623 S. Four Mile Run Drive. On September 19 at 9 pm, an unknown person broke a window in an attempt to enter a house. The suspect left when a homeowner called out. There is no suspect description.

PEEPING TOM, 09/16/11, 700 block of N. Nelson Street. On September 16 at 12:45 am, a woman awoke to see a man looking in her bedroom window. The suspect then fled. He was an unknown race male, 5’9″ with a thin build. The suspect was also wearing a dark colored t-shirt and dark cargo shorts.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (SERIES), 09/15/11, 4900 block of N. 18th Street. Between 9:30 pm on September 14, and 7 am on September 15, an unknown person broke into at least two cars on the same block and stole various items. There is no suspect description.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (SERIES), 09/17/11, 1700-1900 blocks of N. Cameron Street. Between 2 am on September 17, and 8 am on September 18, an unknown person broke into at least three cars in the same area and stole various items. There is no suspect description.

STOLEN VEHICLES

9/18/11, VA XTF4203, 2004 Pontiac Grand Am, white, 800 block of Army Navy Drive
9/18/11, Unknown tag, 2000 Chevy Impala, silver, 2100 block of N. Edison Street
9/19/11, CO 068RKH, 2007 Suzuki motorcycle, white, 2200 block of N. 12th Court

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