Press Club

(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) The Arlington County Board today called for action to stem the tide of gun violence, while groups of students around the county held walkouts in response to the elementary school shooting in Texas.

The Board condemned gun violence and urged state legislators to tighten gun control in a statement issued this afternoon.

Board members called on state lawmakers to close the gift exemption to background checks and allow local licensing and registration requirements for buying and selling guns, among other measures.

“There is a great deal more to be done to address gun violence, and we call on the Virginia General Assembly and the Governor to make protecting all Virginians a priority and to remove the restrictions that bar the Commonwealth’s localities from implementing the gun safety actions that make sense for our communities,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, students at Washington-Liberty High School, Arlington Career Center, Dorothy Hamm Middle School and Williamsburg Middle School participated in walkouts as part of a national effort led by Students Demand Action.

Around 20 students at Washington-Liberty participated in the demonstration, walking to Quincy Park, where students took turns giving short speeches.

One of the students participating said she had to ask her friends about their safety on three different occasions in a year due to issues related to gun violence.

“We’re so desensitized to our own deaths in this society,” she said, “People are desensitized to them dying, that’s terrible because this has happened so much.”

Students also talked about a shooting threat their high school received in October, which led to the school shutting down for the day. The threat turned out to be false.

“This nationwide walkout is mainly to protest the fact that we go to school, especially with bomb threats and shooting threats, and have to sit there, subconsciously knowing that ‘hey, we may be victim one day,'” Megan, a student, said.

Megan told ARLnow that she heard about the walkout from an email the school principal sent in the morning acknowledging the nationwide walkout, as well as hearing about the effort. Another participant, Grace, learned of the walkout from her friends and her mother. Both students said they had participated in several walkouts against school gun violence in the past.

“I went to this walkout because I think people should protest for things they believe in, and this is something I believe in,” Grace said.

Students at the Career Center walkout held up signs that read “Enough is Enough” and “Thoughts & Prayers are NOT Enough,” according to photos tweeted by CBS News correspondent Natalie Brand.

“We’re out here not because we want to skip class but because we fear for our lives going to school, because anyone can go out and buy an assault rifle and shoot up a school,” one of the students said in a speech, according to a video tweeted by Brand.

Arlington police stepped up patrols around schools in the wake of the mass shooting. Arlington Public Schools, in an email sent to families, said support services are available for students and staff trying to grapple with the horrific crime.

The County Board’s full statement is below.

Read More

0 Comments

Morning Notes

The sky is reflected off glass office windows in Ballston (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

It’s Bike to Work Day — “Bike to Work Day is back… This free event is open to everyone. Arlington will have ten pit stops and BikeArlington will host five pit stops in Rosslyn, Ballston, Columbia Pike, Shirlington, and Clarendon.” [BikeArlington]

Unleashed Dog Leads to Bluemont Brandishing — “At approximately 4:45 p.m. on May 18, police were dispatched to a report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was walking in the area when an unleashed dog ran towards him while barking. A verbal dispute ensued between the victim and dog owner, during which the suspect, who is known to the dog owner, became involved. The victim continued on his route, during which the suspect reapproached and allegedly brandished a firearm and threatened the victim.” [ACPD]

Metro Restoring Some 7000-Series Cars — “A seven-month train shortage that has brought lengthy waits for commuters is closer to ending after Metrorail’s oversight agency approved a request to reinstate some rail cars that were pulled from service because of a rare wheel defect. Transit officials submitted a plan to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission to restore a limited number of 7000-series cars.” [Washington Post, WMATA]

Slight Increase in Homeless Population — “Though down by more than half compared to a decade ago, Arlington’s homeless total rose from 2021 to 2022, according to new data. ‘There’s work to do,’ said Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti, parsing the new data during the May 17 board meeting. The… homeless count (conducted Jan. 26 with data recently released) revealed a total of 182 people living in shelters and on the streets in Arlington, up 6 percent from 171 a year before.” [Sun Gazette]

Op-Ed: Arlington Could Be National Model — “Arlington’s Missing Middle draft framework is extremely ambitious and might serve as a model for the entire country if the county board gets the policy details right to enable new construction.” [GGWash]

Group: ‘Missing Middle’ is ‘War’ — “With the release of the Missing Middle Phase Two Report on April 28, and the accompanying consultant analysis, the county is declaring war on single-family areas of Arlington… Developers, who have essentially run out of room among our 26 square miles, have pushed for Missing Middle up-zoning that will be politically and legally impossible to unwind, even if it falls short of stated goals or produces negative results.” [Arlingtonians for Our Sustainable Future]

Big Development Kicks Off in F.C. — “West Falls, a major mixed-use development near the West Falls Church Metro station, broke ground Thursday, less than a week after the development team closed on $391 million of financing. In this first phase of its long-planned development, the project, spearheaded by D.C.-based Hoffman & Associates and joined by real estate giant Trammell Crow Co., will comprise five buildings totaling about 1.2 million square feet.” [Washington Business Journal, Patch]y

Veep Coming to Falls Church — “Kamala Harris coming to [Meridian High School in Falls Church] tomorrow to talk electric school buses? The school didn’t name Harris in an email to parents about the event tomorrow, but they said it will stream live at [whitehouse.gov].” The event is scheduled for 3:40 p.m., which means motorcades through Arlington are likely this afternoon. [Twitter]

Plan for Yellow Line Bridge Work — “The City of Alexandria is preparing for a Yellow Line shutdown in Alexandria later this year due to bridge and tunnel rehabilitation and bringing the Potomac Yard Metro station into the system… Blue Line trains will be running frequently from the airport with a replacement ‘Yellow Line’ route running to New Carrollton during the September-October.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:53 am and sunset at 8:20 pm. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments
Arlington police car at night (file photo courtesy Kevin Wolf)

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) A wild scene played out Friday night along a quiet, dead end street in North Arlington.

Police say it started when a female resident brandished a gun at a person she knew, then “fired several shots into the front door of the home.” After police surrounded the home, the woman stepped outside and approached officers while still armed and ignoring verbal commands, according to ACPD.

She was reportedly tased and taken into custody without additional shots being fired.

The incident happened around 9 p.m. along the 3900 block of 26th Street N., near Potomac Overlook Regional Park.

More from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

At approximately 8:59 p.m. on May 13, police were dispatched to the report of a female subject who had brandished a firearm at a known individual inside a residence and subsequently fired several shots into the front door of the home. As arriving officers were establishing a perimeter, the female subject exited the home while brandishing the firearm. Officers gave the subject verbal commands to drop the weapon, however, the subject disregarded the officers’ commands and continued to approach them while holding the firearm. Officers continued to provide verbal commands to drop the weapon before deploying a taser and taking her into custody and recovering the firearm. She was transported to an area hospital for medical evaluation. No injuries were reported related to the shots fired inside the residence. The investigation is ongoing.

While the crime report is vague on the exact circumstances, a tipster tells ARLnow that this was likely a case of mistaken identity.

“An elderly woman (over 80) on 26th Street N. thought her new caregiver was an intruder and chased him with a gun,” the tipster wrote. “Arlington police were called to the scene and had to [tase] her (she is now in the hospital).”

Arlington police spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed that the person with the gun was an “older adult” but declined to say whether the person who was fired upon was a caregiver.

“ACPD does not provide personal identifying information, such as occupation, of victims,” she told ARLnow.

Asked about whether the woman is likely to be charged, Savage said that “no charges have been sought at this time.”

“The investigation is ongoing,” she said.

0 Comments
Arlington police car (file photo)

A 53-year-old Florida man is behind bars after being found with a gun, ammunition and drugs on the grounds of Washington-Liberty High School, police say.

Officers were dispatched to a parking garage next to the school, on the 1300 block of N. Stafford Street, around 5:45 a.m. Thursday for what was reported as a “suspicious” parked vehicle.

“Upon arrival, officers located the occupied vehicle and observed the suspect asleep behind the wheel and alleged drug paraphernalia in plain view,” said the latest Arlington County Police Department crime report. “During a search of the vehicle, a firearm, ammunition and controlled substances were recovered.”

The man, a resident of St. Augustine, Florida, was arrested is now facing an array of charges, ACPD said, including: “Possession of Schedule I/II Controlled Substance (x3), Possession of Schedule IV Controlled Substance, Possession of a Firearm on School Grounds, Possession of a Firearm while Possessing Schedule I/II Substance and Concealed Weapon Violation.”

“He was held without bond,” ACPD noted.

0 Comments
Arlington police car at night (file photo courtesy Kevin Wolf)

A man was robbed in Rosslyn early Friday morning by a woman carrying a gun in a fanny pack.

The robbery happened around 3:45 a.m. along the 1600 block of 18th Street N., across from the H-B Woodlawn Secondary School building. The woman ran off with stolen cash but gave the victim his cell phone back after initially taking it, police say.

“The victim was inside the residential building when he was approached the unknown female suspect,” said an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The suspect grabbed at the victim and stole his cell phone, during which the victim attempted to take it back and the suspect made verbally threatening statements and opened her fanny pack to reveal a firearm. The suspect stole money from the victim before returning his cell phone and fleeing the scene.”

The crime report noted that the suspect was “wearing a black head scarf, black jacket, burgundy fanny pack, gray pants and black sneakers.”

“The investigation is ongoing,” ACPD said.

0 Comments
“This gun and ammunition were detected by TSA in a traveler’s carry-on bag at Reagan National Airport on March 24” (photo via TSA)

A local man is facing federal charges after bringing a handgun to Reagan National Airport.

The unnamed Arlington resident had a gun and five bullets found in his carry-on luggage at the airport’s security checkpoint, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

The agency said it is the eighth gun caught at a DCA checkpoint so far this year, potentially on pace to exceed last year’s total of 30 guns detected and confiscated.

Guns caught at National Airport (via TSA)

More from a TSA press release:

A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) prevented an Arlington man from bringing a loaded handgun onto his flight on Thursday, March 24. It was the eighth gun detected by TSA officers at the airport so far this year.

The .25 caliber gun, was loaded with five bullets and was detected via the X-ray machine as the man was entering the security checkpoint with his carry-on items. TSA officials notified the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police who confiscated the gun and cited the man on a weapons charge.

“I strongly recommend that any traveler who owns a personal firearm positively confirm where it is stored before departing from home,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. Before leaving for the airport, “find the weapon and see that it is safely secured. This will help ensure that it is not unwittingly stored in a carry-on item.”

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual may lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2022, about 86 percent were loaded.

0 Comments
1000 block of S. Frederick Street (via Google Maps)

Shots rang out in the Columbia Forest neighborhood near Columbia Pike last night, leading to a police investigation but no reported injuries.

“At approximately 6:24 p.m., police were dispatched to the 1000 block of S. Frederick Street for the report of shots heard,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Annemarie Antignano tells ARLnow. “Responding officers canvassed the area, recovered evidence confirming shots had been fired and located damage to an unoccupied, parked vehicle and an occupied apartment. No injuries related to the shots fired have been reported.”

Police said they did not have a description of the suspect or suspects.

“This remains an active criminal investigation,” Antignano wrote. “Anyone with information or home surveillance that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

Separately, this past weekend’s crime report included another gun-related incident from Friday night.

Police say a driver brandished a gun during a road rage incident near Clarendon, leading to the arrest of a D.C. man in the Virginia Square neighborhood.

From the crime report:

BRANDISHING (late), 2022-03110208, Wilson Boulevard at 10th Street N. At approximately 6:45 p.m. on March 11, police were dispatched to the late report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 6:00 p.m., the victim was driving in the area when the suspect attempted to unsuccessfully merge into his lane. The suspect then rolled down his window and a verbal dispute ensued before he allegedly brandished a firearm. The victim then drove away from the area. A short time later, officers located the suspect vehicle in the 800 block of N. Pollard Street and observed the suspect return to the vehicle. Officers initiated a traffic stop and took the suspect into custody without incident, during which a firearm was observed in the passenger seat and recovered. [The suspect], 30, of Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with Brandishing a Firearm. He was released on a summons.

Photo via Google Maps

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Runners at Washington-Liberty High School in the mist and fog (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

APS Test-to-Stay Date Set — “Arlington County Public Schools, in Virginia, is planning to launch its test-to-stay program Feb. 14, a school spokesman said. The coronavirus testing will initially be offered to students only, for free, at Syphax Education Center from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on school days.” [WTOP]

Police Probe Particularly Problematic Pothole — “Scanner: Police responding to intersection of Washington Blvd and N. Sycamore Street in East Falls Church for multiple reports of a large pothole damaging passing cars.” [Twitter]

Another Guy Arrested With Gun at DCA — “A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer stopped a West Virginia man from bringing a loaded handgun onto a flight leaving from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) early Tuesday morning, according to a TSA release. The TSA officer detected the .40 caliber gun while searching the Bunker Hill, West Virginia man’s carry-on items at a DCA checkpoint.” [Patch]

ART Performance Is Best in Region — From MetroHero: “Our January 2022 regional bus performance reports are now live! ART: B. DASH: B-. Fairfax Connector: B-. MTA Local Bus: C. Metrobus: C-. Ride On: D+.” [Twitter]

Marymount to Host National Event — “Marymount University has been selected by the Center for Excellence in Education to host the national finals of the 2022 USA Biolympiad, to be held on campus May 28 to June 9. The USA Biolympiad is the nation’s largest cost-free biology-education testing and training program for high-school students in the U.S.” [Sun Gazette]

Photos: Church’s Lunar New Year Celebration — “Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass in honor of the Vietnamese New Year at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington Jan. 30. Tet, or Vietnamese New Year, is celebrated Feb. 1 this year. Following Mass, Bishop Burbidge blessed a shrine to Our Lady of La Vang in a courtyard outside Holy Martyrs.” [Arlington Catholic Herald]

It’s Groundhog Day — Patchy fog today before 8 a.m. Otherwise, Groundhog Day will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 46. Sunrise at 7:12 a.m. and sunset at 5:31 p.m. Rain likely Thursday, mainly before 1 p.m. Otherwise cloudy, with a high near 56. [Weather.gov]

0 Comments

An Arlington man is facing numerous charges after an alleged abduction and shot fired along Columbia Pike.

The incident happened Tuesday night near the western end of the Pike in Arlington.

“At approximately 9:56 p.m. on January 11, police were dispatched to the report of a dispute,” said today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the known suspect and female victim became involved in a verbal dispute. During the incident, the suspect allegedly brandished a firearm, threatened the victim, attempted to force her into a vehicle before discharging a round into the air and fleeing the scene.”

A suspect was later arrested.

“Officers identified the suspect, obtained warrants and subsequently located him and took him into custody without incident,” ACPD said. The 27-year-old man is facing an array of charges including “Abduction, Brandishing a Firearm, Assault & Battery, Reckless Handling of a Firearm, and Discharging a Firearm in a Public Place.”

Separately, a 33-year-old Arlington man is facing charges after an incident Wednesday night in the Westover area, on the 1100 block of N. Kenilworth Street.

“At approximately 10:36 p.m. on January 12, police were dispatched to the report of a person with a gun. Upon arrival, officers determined the suspect’s location inside an apartment, announced themselves as law enforcement and gave him commands to exit,” said the crime report. “The suspect exited the residence with a firearm in his hands, complied with officers commands to drop the weapon and was subsequently taken into custody without incident.”

“The investigation determined that the witness was inside her residence when she heard a loud noise coming from across the hallway and observed the suspect allegedly banging on an apartment door, making threatening statements and armed with a firearm,” the crime report continued.

A suspect was arrested and is facing charges of Reckless Handling of a Firearm and Disorderly Conduct, according to ACPD.

0 Comments

(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington County police responded to a pair of gun crimes in and near Rosslyn over the weekend.

The first happened around 4:30 p.m. Sunday on the 1500 block of 17th Street N. Arlington police do not typically reveal which businesses have been the victims of crimes, but that’s the same block at the standalone Rosslyn Starbucks store.

“At approximately 4:31 p.m. on January 9, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery,” said an ACPD crime report today. “Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered the business, approached the register, brandished a firearm and stole money from a tip jar. The suspect then fled the scene on foot. Responding officers established a perimeter and searched the area with negative results.”

Less than an hour later, there was a report of a similar tip jar robbery by an armed man in D.C., near Metro Center. Initial reports suggested that a suspect was arrested.

Asked whether police believe the two incidents are related, ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage said she “cannot provide any additional details as [the D.C. robbery] is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department.”

“The robbery in Arlington has been assigned to our Homicide/Robbery Unit and our detectives are actively working with our law enforcement partners to determine if it is linked to any other cases in the region,” said Savage.

On Sunday night, another reported gun crime — the theft of a gun and a shot fired by the fleeing suspect — happened just west of Rosslyn along the 2500 block of 20th Road N.

“At approximately 10:46 p.m. on January 9, police were dispatched to the report of shots heard,” said an ACPD crime report. “It was determined that the suspect stole Victim One’s firearm and a verbal dispute ensued when he attempted to get it back. The suspect allegedly discharged the firearm before fleeing the scene on foot. No injuries were reported.”

The suspect was identified and tracked down to the nearby Inns of Virginia motel.

“Officers identified the suspect, obtained warrants and determined he was inside a hotel room in the 3300 block of Lee Highway,” said the crime report. “Responding officers established a perimeter and took the suspect into custody without incident. The investigation determined that while inside the hotel room, the suspect allegedly became involved in a verbal dispute with Victim Two, during which he brandished the firearm and threatened her.”

The suspect, a 38-year-old Maryland man, “was arrested and charged with Discharge of a Firearm, Grand Larceny of a Firearm, Possession of a Firearm by a Felon and Brandishing a Firearm,” police said. “He was held without bond.”

0 Comments
Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti

Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti is welcoming a drop in car-related crimes, which have trended upwards during the pandemic years.

Preliminary data from the Arlington County Police Department indicates carjackings dropped from 16 in 2020 to eight in 2021, while car thefts dropped from 323 in 2020 to 306 in 2021. Finalized numbers will be published later this year in ACPD’s annual crime report.

“After a temporary rise in car thefts in the first half of the year, our office helped to spearhead the formation of a regional task force, resulting in a marked decrease in car-related crimes in the second half of the year,” Dehghani-Tafti, the top prosecutor for Arlington and the City of Falls Church, said in her most recent newsletter. “Most of the recent car thefts are a result of cars left unlocked, unoccupied and idling.”

In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, carjackings soared in Arlington — from one case in 2019 to 16 in 2020 — and the rest of the D.C. area. This uptick prompted more police patrols in the first half of 2021 and, by the summer, a coordinated regional response.

Preliminary data on carjackings and car thefts in 2021 (via ACPD)

From January through June, ACPD recorded 160 motor vehicle thefts and from July to December, ACPD recorded 146 similar crimes, which is “a good percentage drop,” Dehghani-Tafti tells ARLnow.

Per the 2020 annual report, motor vehicle thefts have a ways to go if they’re to fall back to levels last seen in 2018 and 2019, when there were 171 and 227, respectively.

Property crimes from 2016 to 2020 (via ACPD)

Dehghani-Tafti said she called attention to the drops in car-related crimes — as well as the zero recorded homicides last year and the lower rates of gun violence compared to other U.S. cities — in her newsletter to provide a counterpoint those who are saying crime is up under her tenure.

Dehghani-Tafti was elected in 2019 on a pledge to reform the criminal justice system by reducing racial disparities in prosecution as well as recidivism and incarceration, and investigating wrongful convictions. Last year, there was an effort to recall her that accused her of offering criminals lenient plea deals.

“[T]he more general point I was making in the digest is twofold: the first is that, contrary to some of the overheated rhetoric in certain quarters, crime remained low and we’ve kept our word in devoting resources to serious crimes, hence our record in the last year, including tackling a number of cold homicide and rape cases; second, I wanted to be intellectually honest that a lot of people deserve credit for crime being low, and to give them thanks for it,” she tells ARLnow.

Specifically, she thanked the Department of Human Services and the county government for funding social services, the Arlington School Board for diverting kids from the criminal justice system — it removed police officers from schools in 2021 — as well as ACPD for its deescalation work and community policing and the Sheriff’s Office for helping to reduce the jail population.

She says the jail population “consistently remains at its lowest levels in Arlington history,” although it has increased from a record low of 209 in June 2020 to 265 in December 2021.

As additional evidence of crime remaining low, she pointed to the zero homicides recorded in 2021 and relatively low rates of gun violence compared to other jurisdictions.

ACPD confirmed that no 2021 deaths have been ruled a homicide, which would be down from three in 2020 and two in 2019. There is, however, an open investigation into the deaths of two people in a Ballston apartment in December.

Two reported deaths in Arlington in 2021 fall outside ACPD’s jurisdiction and reporting: the man who stabbed, shot and killed a police officer outside the Pentagon this summer and the death of a security contractor at the U.S. State Department’s National Foreign Affairs Training Center.

Read More

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list