Hospital CEO Retiring Next Year — “Virginia Hospital Center President and CEO Jim Cole is stepping down after more than three decades with the organization. Cole, chief for 25 of his 35 years with the Arlington hospital, announced his retirement internally Monday. It’s set to take effect Sept. 1, 2020.” [Washington Business Journal]
County Crew Rescues Phone from Storm Drain — “So they got specialized shovels. And then the guy GOT INTO THE DRAIN and dig through the leaves, following the pinging and vibrating and found the phone! The phone was at 1% power when it came out. Still can’t believe it. Above and beyond. Kudos to Arlington County.” [Facebook/Arlington DES]
Bijan Ghaisar 911 Call Released — “Police in Arlington County, Virginia, have released part of a 911 call that set in motion a chase that ended when U.S. Park Police shot and killed Bijan Ghaisar in 2017… a caller tells Arlington County police that she is an Uber passenger whose ride-share was just involved in a crash, and the other driver, Ghaisar, has left the scene.” [WTOP, Fox 5]
It’s Giving Tuesday — Among the local nonprofits to consider donating to today, on Giving Tuesday, are: Doorways for Women and Families, Melwood, Arlington Thrive, Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network, Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Arlington Food Assistance Center, Offender Aid and Restoration, the Arlington-Alexandria Gay & Lesbian Alliance, and Culpepper Garden. [Twitter/@ARLnowDOTcom]
Del. Alfonso Lopez Named Co-Whip — “Majority Leader-elect Charniele Herring has appointed key leadership positions within the House Democratic Caucus. The whips and policy chairs will help guide the new Democratic majority through the 2020 legislative session.” [Press Release]
Ballston BID Holding ‘Cupcake Wars’ Event — “Join BallstonConnect Club and Cookology for a fun and interactive day of cupcake baking and decorating. Based on the popular Food Network show of the same name, guests will compete to create the most unique cupcake and take home the title of Cupcake Champion!” [Ballston BID]
A Few Flakes Expected Tonight — “In the evening, precipitation will probably take the form of scattered snow showers over most of the region, ending before midnight. Little to no accumulation is expected.” [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter/@NWS_BaltWash]
Kudos to the Leaf Collectors — “Hats of to these guys. Leaf collectors jumping out of their truck to help my elderly neighbor rake her leaves.” [Twitter/@KathieNotnow]
Heavy Traffic at DCA — Sunday, which was said to be the busiest travel day of the year, saw big backups on the roads at and around Reagan National Airport. [Twitter/@LukeBerndt, Twitter/@EvanLambertTV]
Arlington Seeking Park Ranger — “Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) currently has a vacancy for Park Ranger… Park Rangers patrol designated Arlington County Parks; provide visitor information and programming services; support other County programs (maintenance, sports, recreation); and… help ensure park security and visitor safety.” [Washington Post]
Yorktown Falls in Regional Final — “It was no easy path for the Yorktown Patriots finishing second in the region tournament. After a five-point first-round victory, third-seeded Yorktown (11-2) knocked off the host and second-seed Madison Warhawks, 25-10, in the semifinals. Then Nov. 30, Yorktown fell to the juggernaut, top seed, host and undefeated Westfield Bulldogs, 35-7, in the 6D North Region Tournament high-school football title game.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Arlington County Police are looking for a man who allegedly stole money from a tip jar and then bit a would-be Good Samaritan who tried to stop him.
The incident happened this past Thursday at Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters in Pentagon City, according to scanner traffic at the time.
“At approximately 1:47 p.m. on November 7, police were dispatched to the report of a fight,” an ACPD crime report says. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business in the 500 block of 12th Street S. and stole money from a tip jar before fleeing the scene on foot.”
The suspect was “tackled” by a bystander after running out of the business, according to police radio traffic, but after a brief struggle was able to get free and flee the scene.
More from the crime report: “Two employees of the business began following the suspect and called for help. Two bystanders caught up to the suspect and became engaged in a struggle with him. The suspect bit one of the bystanders, broke free and fled on foot prior to police arrival. The bystander sustained minor injuries.”
Because the bite reportedly drew blood, the suspect is now wanted on a charge of malicious wounding.
“The suspect is described as a black male, 25-29 years old, with facial hair and dreadlocks, wearing a gray sweatshirt with a black hood, gray sweatpants and red headphones,” the crime report said. “The investigation is ongoing.”
A band of brothers from Arlington saved a five-year-old girl from drowning this week during a trip to Ireland.
On Monday, three brothers — Walter Butler (21), Eoghan Butler (18), Declan Butler (18) — were enjoying a rare sunny Dublin day at a beach with their brother-in-law Alex Thomson (24) when they heard someone crying for help. The group leaped into action after spotting a young girl on an pink inflatable floaty, who was being pulled away by the ocean current.
The group was able to rescue the girl and carry her back to safety, as first reported by Ireland’s Evening Herald.
The boys’ mother, Meagan Cummings, told ARLnow that her children were visiting Ireland to bury their grandfather, who was born there and emigrated to the United States years ago. But there was also something very special about the fateful day of the rescue.
“Their grandfather, when he lived in Ireland many years ago, got on a ship to join the United States Navy. When he was coming over there was a telegram waiting for him that said his younger brother had drowned,” said Cummings. “The anniversary of his brother drowning was Monday.”
Cummings said the drowning death had made her and her parents fearful of water. That was one the reasons she encouraged her six children to learn to be good swimmers. The three Butler boys swam with the Overlee swim team for several years, and Walter and his sister were also on the Washington-Lee High School swim team.
“Only for them my daughter wouldn’t be here today,” said the father of the six-year-old girl, in an interview with the Irish Times. The man said he was unable to reach her from the shore, and could only watch as the current dragged the girl away and led her to lose her grip on the floaty she was clinging to.
“You could see the brave little girl fighting for her life, her head bobbing under and breaking the surface, she clearly could not swim,” Walter told the newspaper. “She was doing everything she could to stay alive.”
Three of the brothers swam for twenty minutes — almost a mile in total — to reach the girl. They took turns carrying her as they made their way back to the shore. Eoghan told the Irish news site the Independent that the girl was a “nervous wreck” and they calmed her by asking about her birthday and her favorite color.
Walter currently serves in the United States Coast Guard as a Health Services Technician. His mother said he put his training to use, assembling a plan for his three brothers to swim the distance and retrieve the girl while he met them halfway, to save his strength in case he needed to administer first aid.
'I was thinking we couldn't lose that little girl', young men who rescued child (5) swept out to sea on inflatable lilo speak out https://t.co/AHBF4b09F3 pic.twitter.com/430sTHqbef
— Independent.ie (@Independent_ie) July 23, 2019
Alex, who is married to the brothers’ sister Juliana, told the Independent that he thought of his own growing family during the rescue.
“The main thing I was thinking about was we couldn’t lose that little girl,” he said. “I’m expecting a daughter in October, and was empathizing with the father’s fear.”
Authorities reported the girl was taken to the hospital after the rescue and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Her father confirmed on Tuesday she was recovering back at home.
“The way I feel about it they were given a chance to rise to their best. And they did,” said Cummings, the boys’ mother. “And that just made me feel so proud.”
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
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.
A 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.
Citizen witnesses act of kindness.Officers purchase hat &dinner for man wearing plastic bag in rain #ProtectAndServe pic.twitter.com/hsIucRLkHJ
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) May 23, 2016
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.”
(Updated at 2:20 p.m on 12/23/21) 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 [Redacted], 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. [Redacted] was charged with robbery. He’s currently being held at the Arlington County Detention Facility after his bond was denied.
Update at 5 p.m. — [Redacted] is a competitive figure skater and works as a skating coach at nearby Kettler Capitals Iceplex, we’re told.
A 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.
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