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The woman who was injured after being pushed out of an SUV near Ballston (via GoFundMe)

(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) An arrest has been made in the case of a woman who was pushed out of a moving SUV near Ballston.

Maryna Kapovska, 25, suffered severe injuries in the May 15 incident, which happened on Wilson Blvd just west of N. Glebe Road. She has been undergoing rehabilitation, including for a traumatic brain injury, according to a GoFundMe page that has raised $50,000 to cover Kapovska’s expenses.

Arlington County police announced this afternoon (Wednesday) that a man has been arrested in the case, following a “thorough investigation,” though there’s still no word on an exact motive.

Willie Clements, a 59-year-old Maryland resident, is now facing several felony charges after being taken into custody on Friday by Arlington County Police Department tactical officers. Police say the victim entered his black SUV while waiting for a rideshare driver in D.C. around 3 a.m.

Clements “was not employed as a rideshare driver and was not operating in a for-hire status,” according to police.

More from an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is announcing the arrest of a suspect following an aggravated malicious wounding investigation in the Bluemont neighborhood. Willie James Clements, 59, of Upper Marlboro, MD is charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding, Grand Larceny and Hit and Run. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

At approximately 3:06 a.m. on May 15, police were dispatched to the area of Wilson Boulevard at N. Vermont Street for the report of trouble unknown. The reporting party stated she was driving in the area when she observed a black SUV swerving and traveling at a high rate of speed. The passenger door to the vehicle then opened and the victim was pushed out onto the roadway. Responding officers located the female victim in the roadway and medics transported her to an area hospital with serious injuries.

The investigation revealed that earlier in the morning, the victim requested a rideshare service from the 800 block of Florida Ave NW, Washington D.C. to her residence in Arlington. While waiting for her driver to arrive, the suspect approached, the victim entered his vehicle and he drove away. The suspect was not employed as a rideshare driver and was not operating in a for-hire status.

Arlington County Police Department detectives conducted a thorough investigation including witness interviews and the review of crime scene and other evidence. The review resulted in additional information that led detectives to identify Willie James Clements as a suspect. Officers assigned to the department’s TAC Unit took the suspect into custody without incident on the afternoon of September 2.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information that may assist 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).

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow that the crime scene was “less than a mile” from where the victim lived. She was unable to say why the victim might have entered the suspect’s vehicle.

“This remains an active criminal investigation and to ensure the integrity of the prosecution, no additional details are available at this time,” Savage said.

Kapovska is originally from Ukraine and was quoted in news stories in February just before the Russian invasion.

“Our dad is defending our homeland while our mom had to flee the war to Germany,” her sister noted on the GoFundMe page.

Prior to the March incident, the 25-year-old attended a Ukrainian Orthodox church in Montgomery County weekly, sang in the choir, and posted regularly on Instagram to show support for her homeland, said a Montgomery County Media story.

As her rehabilitation continues — it’s expected to take 6-12 months, according to the GoFundMe page — she returned to Instagram two weeks ago after a long hiatus.

“Happy days,” Kapovska wrote in a post, with a photo from prior to her injuries. “Life divided into before and after. This is before, looking forward to after.”

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

A trio of catalytic converter theft suspects, all from Chicago, were arrested early this morning.

Arlington police say they were able to track down all three suspects after they tried to speed off in a car, which they then crashed in the Penrose neighborhood. They were later arrested in the northern portion of the neighborhood, near Sequoia Plaza and Butler Holmes Park.

The arrests, which come amid a rash of thefts of the valuable car part across Arlington, ultimately happened thanks to an alert resident who reported a vehicle break-in along 13th Road S., near the Arlington Village condos, around 2 a.m.

More from an Arlington County police crime report:

VEHICLE TAMPERING, 2022-08310022, 2700 block of 13th Road S. At approximately 1:55 a.m. on August 31, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tapering in progress. Responding officers located a parked vehicle on Walter Reed Drive at S. Randolph Street matching the description provided by the reporting party and observed three male suspects enter the vehicle. Officers activated their emergency equipment and attempted a traffic stop but the driver fled from the scene at a high rate of speed. Additional officers responded to the scene and located the unoccupied suspect vehicle crashed in the 2600 block of 2nd Street S. Officers established a perimeter and located one suspect at 1st Place S. and S. Barton and the other two suspects were located in the 100 block of S. Wise Street and taken into custody. A search of the suspect vehicle resulted in the recovery of two catalytic converters and power tools.

The three suspects, who range in age from 29 to 34, are facing a number of charges, including Eluding, Tampering with Auto, Larceny with Intent to Sell, Possession of Burglarious Tools and, in the case of one suspect, Hit and Run.

Asked by ARLnow about whether the suspects were previously known to ACPD or suspected in other catalytic converter thefts, police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said the investigation is still underway.

“Detectives will continue to investigate to determine if the suspects are linked to any other reported thefts,” she said, adding that “Virginia law prohibits the disclosure of someone’s prior criminal history.”

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(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) A woman has died after being struck by a driver who then fled the scene, according to police.

Viviana Oxlaj Pérez was walking near the Thomas Jefferson Community Center around 7:30 p.m. Monday when the driver of a truck struck her and then drove off, a family member told ARLnow.

Police and medics quickly responded and treated the critically injured woman, but she later died at the hospital.

Police closed the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Glebe Road, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, for about two hours to investigate the hit-and-run crash.

An online fundraiser was established for Oxlaj Pérez early Tuesday morning by her daughter, Hilary Lopez Oxlaj.

Reached by phone, Lopez Oxlaj said her mother was walking across the street with her bike, on her way to the nearby 7-Eleven store, when the driver blew through a stop sign at the intersection and struck her.

Lopez Oxlaj said her mother, who was 53, had lived near the Arlington Career Center for 17 years and was known as the “lady with the bike” who sells cold drinks and ice cream to soccer players at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center fields.

“She was a mother who worked very hard,” she said. “Everyone knew her as a very kind woman.”

Oxlaj Pérez was a married mother of six and frequent churchgoer, who would often donate food to people who were struggling, her daughter said.

Lopez Oxlaj hopes that her mother’s generosity is returned so the family can afford funeral expenses.

“We are collecting funds to… send my mother’s body to Guatemala,” Lopez Oxlaj wrote on the GoFundMe page. “She was a very hardworking lady fighting every day… Please ask for your help, it will be a great blessing.”

As of 11 a.m. the page had raised nearly $3,000 of its $25,000 goal from a few dozen donors.

Police said Tuesday morning that officers arrested the alleged driver, a 62-year-old Arlington man, after finding the striking vehicle about a mile away from the crash scene. Alcohol is “believed to be a factor in the crash,” according to police. The man is now facing numerous charges.

More from an ACPD press release, below.

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Morning Notes

Looking down Lynn St. on a rainy day (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Debating the Arlington Way — “Their unsigned flier asks whether the push for new housing types marks ‘the end of the Arlington Way,’ defined as a ‘long-standing tradition of public engagement on issues of importance to reach community consensus.’ The new ‘Arlington Way 2.0,’ it accuses, involves ‘lack of respect,’ ‘failed analysis’ and ‘governance problems’ as ‘partisans grab control of decision-making and steamroll the public.’ Those harsh words made me wonder, must the Arlington Way always mean ‘you get your way?'” [Falls Church News-Press]

CA Says No to Hypothetical Abortion Prosecutions — Arlington and Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti is among “more than 80 elected attorneys from around the country [who] vowed not to prosecute individuals who seek, assist in, or provide abortion care.” [Common Dreams, Vox]

Gunfire in Green Valley — “3700 block of Four Mile Run Drive. At approximately 2:35 a.m. on June 24, police were dispatched to the report of a dispute. Upon arrival, it was determined that following an ongoing dispute between known individuals, the suspect entered the victim’s home. The victim confronted the suspect and a verbal altercation ensued outside the home, during which the suspect brandished a firearm and discharged it. No injuries or property damage were reported.” [ACPD]

Dozen Officers Graduate from Academy — “Family, friends and colleagues gathered on June 22 to celebrate the achievements of Arlington County Police Department’s 12 newest officers as Session 146 graduated from the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy. During the graduation, the officers took their solemn oath to serve and protect the Arlington community and safeguard the Constitutional rights of all.” [ACPD]

Hit-and-Run Driver Causes I-395 Crash — From Dave Statter: “#caughtoncamera: For the 2nd time in less than 24 hrs a crash at I-395S Exit 8C. 3 cars involved, with the one causing it driving off.” [Twitter]

Awards for Arlington Students — “ACC/Arlington Tech TV Production students Lina Barkley & Ellie Nix take the 1st place gold medal for VA at the National SkillsUSA Television (Video) Prod. contest in Atlanta. Congrats to our National Champions! We are so proud!” [Twitter, Twitter]

CIP Hearing Planned Tomorrow — “Comments are welcome on Arlington’s proposed $3.9 billion FY 2023-2032 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) during a County Board public hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.  The public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. and those interested may register to speak in person or virtually by visiting the County Board website.” [Arlington County]

Fairfax Mulls Route 29 Name — “It’s possible Fairfax County will not be following Arlington’s lead in renaming its stretch of U.S. Route 29 as ‘Langston Boulevard.’ Fairfax County supervisors wish to rename Lee and Lee-Jackson Memorial highways… but a county survey – with an admittedly small sample size – found the public would prefer they just go with the roads’ numbers.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 81 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Police response to a hit and run suspect on Columbia Pike on Dec. 29, 2021 (via Arlington County)

(Updated at 2 p.m.) An Alexandria man suspected in five separate hit-and-run crashes was tased by police in an incident that shut down Columbia Pike last week.

On the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 29, police were dispatched to the intersection of the Pike and S. Greenbrier Street for a report of a crash. They encountered a man in a damaged vehicle who refused to come out.

Even as more officers arrived, the man just sat in the vehicle, at some point reaching for something under the seat, according to scanner traffic at the time. Police, fearing that the man might have a weapon, requested bulletproof shields, while additional units rushed to the scene.

Eventually, officers used a Taser to subdue the man and take him into custody. Columbia Pike was blocked during the evening rush hour incident.

A subsequent investigation determined that the 34-year-old man had struck four vehicles in Arlington and one in Fairfax County before finally coming to a stop at the Pike and Greenbrier, according to police. He’s now facing multiple hit and run charges, as well as a charge of driving under the influence.

None of the hit-and-run victims were injured, police said.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report, below.

HIT AND RUN (significant), 2021-12290153, Columbia Pike at S. Greenbrier Street. At approximately 4:39 p.m. on December 29, police were dispatched to the report of a hit and run just occurred. Based upon information from witnesses in the area, arriving officers located the suspect vehicle, which had sustained significant damage, and attempted to make contact with the suspect. The suspect ignored multiple lawful commands from officers to exit the vehicle. Officers then removed the vehicle’s driver side window and attempted to remove the suspect, however the suspect continued to ignore their commands and resist arrest. Officers deployed a TASER and the suspect was subsequently taken into custody without further incident. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that prior to officers arrival, the suspect allegedly struck four vehicles in Arlington County and was involved in an additional hit and run in Fairfax County. No injuries were reported by the victims and the suspect was treated on scene by medics before being transported to an area hospital to be medically evaluated. [The suspect], 34, of Alexandria, Va., was arrested and charged with Felony Hit and Run (x2), Attempted Felony Hit and Run, Driving Under the Influence, and Obstruction of Justice. He was also served with outstanding warrants out of Fairfax County. He was held without bond.

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Morning Notes

Geese clean themselves in Boundary Channel (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Hotel Redevelopment Plan Paused — “The redevelopment of one of Arlington’s oldest hotels looks to be on hold indefinitely, as the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic disrupt the hospitality-focused project. Grant Investment Properties is asking county planners for more time to complete its overhaul of Rosslyn’s old Best Western Iwo Jima, now known as the Red Lion Hotel Rosslyn Iwo Jima, at 1501 Arlington Boulevard. A site plan for the project projected that it would be finished by March 2022, but the Chicago-based firm filed papers last week to ask for an extension through March 2025.” [Washington Business Journal]

Proposed APS Changes Questioned — “Based on feedback from the Arlington School Board, the Arlington Public Schools system is focusing on what they call more equitable grading practices. The preliminary proposal calls for: No late penalties for homework… No extra credit… Unlimited redoes and retakes on assignment… No grading for homework.” [WJLA, Washington Post]

Hit and Run Crash in Bluemont — From yesterday afternoon: “Several lanes of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Dr are closed after a reported hit-and-run crash in the intersection. Police and Fire Dept. on scene.” [Twitter]

Video: Crash on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “Watch: Another left turn in the middle of an interstate ends badly. 1p, I-395S at Rt 1. Third one recorded at this spot in the last month.” [Twitter]

Toby’s May Be Expanding to Vienna — “Toby’s Homemade Ice Cream, which saw a boost in sales over the summer thanks to the debut of its cicada sundaes, appears to be branching out. The Arlington-based shop, located along a Washington Boulevard in the Westover neighborhood, plans to open a new location at the Cedar Park Shopping Center in Vienna, according to Fairfax County permit data.” [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Fire and EMS Staffing Stretched — ” Fairfax County saw its largest-ever increase in coronavirus cases among fire and emergency medical responders this month, mirroring a surge in case rates compared to 2020. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department data shows that there are 53 positive cases and 14 in quarantine, all staying at home to curb the spread of COVID-19.” [FFXnow, DCist, Twitter]

Crash and Arrest Block the Pike — Columbia Pike was blocked at S. Greenbrier Street yesterday evening after a crash in which one of the drivers reportedly refused police commands to exit the vehicle and was later tased. [Twitter]

It’s Thursday — There will be drizzle and possible fog before 2 p.m. on an otherwise cloudy day, with a high near 55. Sunrise at 7:26 a.m. and sunset at 4:54 p.m. Tomorrow, on New Year’s Eve, expect mild weather, with cloudy skies, a high near 60 and a low around 51. [Weather.gov]

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A Falls Church woman is facing numerous charges after police say she fled from officers after a hit-and-run crash — all while a child was in her car.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Day, in the Green Valley area. It started with a crash on S. Glebe Road, just north of the I-395 interchange, and ended with a second crash less than a mile away.

From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

At approximately 1:25 p.m. on December 25, police were dispatched to the report of a crash with injury. As officers arrived on scene, one of the vehicles involved in the initial crash fled the scene. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle, however, the suspect disregarded and continued driving at a high rate of speed in the area. Officers did not pursue the vehicle and followed at a distance. Officers observed the suspect strike another vehicle at the intersection of S. Glebe Road and Walter Reed Drive, causing extensive damage, then come to a stop on Walter Reed Drive. The suspect exited the vehicle and was subsequently taken into custody by arriving officers without further incident. […] [The suspect], 25, of Falls Church, Va., was arrested and charged with Hit and Run – Attended Property: Injury/Damage >$1000 (x2), Eluding, and Abuse & Neglect of a Child, and issued summons for Improper Registration and No Insurance. She was held on a secured bond.

ACPD spokeswoman Kirby Clark said there was a child in the 25-year-old woman’s car at the time of the crashes, leading to the child abuse charge.

Only one minor injury was reported in the Christmas crashes.

“The driver of the second vehicle involved in the first crash sustained minor injuries and was evaluated on scene by medics,” Clark said. “No injuries were reported in the second crash.”

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Emergency response (seen near the top of the screen) to kid struck by driver along Langston Blvd

Arlington County police are investigating a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured a kid who was riding a bike.

The crash happened around 8 a.m. at the intersection of N. Glebe Road and Langston Blvd, formerly known as Lee Highway.

“The driver of the striking vehicle fled the scene following the crash and responding officers located the unoccupied vehicle on Lee Highway,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “The bicyclist, a juvenile, was transported to an area hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.”

The crash and the emergency response shut down multiple lanes at the intersection for about an hour during the rainy morning rush hour.

Police are continuing to search for the driver.

“The investigation is ongoing,” said Savage.

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The former Uber driver who allegedly struck Advanced Towing owner John O’Neill last year entered a plea agreement on July 23.

Gigssa Bekele Bengessa pleaded guilty to reckless driving in a parking lot and to a felony hit and run. He will face some jail time and three years of probation.

In January 2020, Bengessa attempted to drive out of the towing lot in Ballston as O’Neill was closing the gate, according to a police report from the time. Bengessa struck him, a dumpster and light pole.

Per the plea agreement, provided to ARLnow, he will be sentenced to jail for a net of 10 days — 90 days, with 80 days suspended. During the time of his suspended sentence, he will be supervised. His driver’s license will be suspended for six months.

Provided that Bengessa meets all the court’s prescriptions over the next three years, he will be able to have the felony charge knocked down to a misdemeanor, the agreement said.

Bengessa has three years to pay court costs as well as $5,516.35, plus interest, to O’Neill for restitution.

He is being required to “follow all treatment recommendations made” after a psychologist’s evaluation from March 2020, according to the plea deal, and will “undergo any further mental health evaluations deemed appropriate” by his probation officer.

Further, Bengessa will be “prohibited from driving or operating any and all rideshare vehicles, including but not limited to: Uber, Lyft, taxi service, or any vehicle for hire,” the plea deal said.

The agreement comes as the Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, is preparing to go to trial in a lawsuit against Advanced Towing. The suit was filed in June 2020 and a trial date is scheduled for Oct. 6 of this year.

Herring’s complaint alleges that Advanced Towing has violated state and county towing code provisions, resulting in towing conduct that is “frequently predatory, aggressive, overreaching and illegal.”

“Virginia consumers should not have to worry about towing companies acting illegally or employing predatory, unsafe business practices,” Herring said in a statement last year. “My team and I will continue to hold towing companies and bad actors accountable when they break the law and take advantage of consumers.”

This is not the first time such an accusation has been leveled against the company. Advanced, which tows cars that are considered to be trespassing on private lots and then charges the vehicle’s owner a fee, faces frequent accusations of “predatory” towing.

The company gained national notoriety in 2015 after video emerged of an ESPN reporter, whose car was towed, berating an Advanced employee.

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A Virginia State Police trooper was seriously injured after a driver plowed into the back of her cruiser on I-66 in Arlington.

The crash happened around 11:30 p.m. Friday, on eastbound I-66 near East Falls Church and the Sycamore Street exit, in a work zone.

“A 2014 Volkswagen traveling east on I-66 through a mobile Work Zone changed lanes and crashed into the rear of a Virginia State Police patrol car,” VSP said in a press release. “Both the female driver and the male passenger fled the scene on foot.”

Arlington County police assisted VSP in apprehending the passenger, who’s being charged with being drunk in public and obstructing justice. The driver remains at large.

VSP said the trooper was seriously injured but after a hospital stay she is now at home recovering.

Late last year six highway workers were injured after being struck by an alleged DUI driver along I-66 in Arlington. In June a man was struck and killed while reportedly walking in an eastbound lane of I-66 after midnight.

More from a press release:

Virginia State Police is reminding motorists to make safety a priority when traveling through active Highway Work Zones after a trooper was struck in Northern Virginia Friday night (Nov. 6). Trooper M. Hart was seated inside her patrol car when it was struck. Trooper Hart was transported to Fairfax Inova Hospital for treatment of serious, but non-life threatening, injuries. She was released later Saturday morning and is recovering at home.

At approximately 11:27 p.m. Friday, a 2014 Volkswagen traveling east on I-66 through a mobile Work Zone changed lanes and crashed into the rear of a Virginia State Police patrol car. The crash occurred just prior to Exit 69 in Arlington County. Both the female driver and the male passenger fled the scene on foot.

With the assistance of Arlington County Police, state police located and apprehended the passenger, Christopher G. Rush, 37, of Woodbridge, Va. Rush refused to assist state police with identifying the driver. Rush was arrested for being drunk in public and obstruction of justice. He was transported to Arlington County Detention Center.

The female driver was not located and state police is still investigating to identify her. The crash remains under investigation.

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(Updated at 12:30 p.m. on 10/30/20) A juvenile suspect is facing a number of potential charges after a reported hit-and-run crash on Columbia Pike overnight.

The crash happened just before 12:30 a.m. Thursday, at the intersection of the Pike and S. George Mason Drive.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that after the suspect vehicle struck the victim’s vehicle, approximately 5-6 juveniles exited the vehicle and fled on foot,” Arlington County police said today in a crime report. “Arriving officers located the subjects in the area and identified the driver of the vehicle at the time of the crash.”

“The two occupants of the victim vehicle sustained minor injuries,” the crime report continues. “During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect vehicle had previously been stolen from Fairfax County earlier in the evening.”

ACPD says the suspect was also “found to be in possession of a controlled substance” and is now facing petitions for Hit and Run, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle with Intent to Procure or Pass Title.

Separately, on Wednesday evening, S. Carlin Springs Road was blocked near Campbell Elementary School due to an incident involving Virginia State Police. Witnesses report seeing police with guns drawn.

https://twitter.com/cdemers80/status/1321582460237471744

The Arlington County Police Department said officers assisted state police with a suspect search, but referred additional questions to VSP. On Friday, state police provided additional information about the incident — which turns out to be the conclusion of a vehicle pursuit that started on I-395 — to ARLnow:

At 4:57 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2020, a Virginia State Police trooper observed a 2007 Honda Civic traveling on I-395 abruptly slow to 35 mph (55 mph posted speed limit). The trooper pulled in behind to see if the vehicle was experiencing a problem or the driver needed assistance. The vehicle took the Shirlington Exit and kept going well under the speed. The trooper also observed that the temporary license plate tag was unsecured and initiated a traffic stop. The vehicle pulled off the right shoulder on North Quaker Street. But, as the trooper walked up to the vehicle to talk to the driver, the Honda pulled away at a high rate of speed and a pursuit was initiated. The Honda finally stopped in the 600 block of Carlin Springs Road and one of the passengers fled the vehicle on foot.

The driver, Prince Jakim I. Maldonado, 21, of Woodbridge, Va., was taken into custody without incident at the scene.  The passenger, Joshean D. Stokes, 20, of Dumfries, Va., was taken into custody without incident at the scene. Both Maldonado and Stokes were charged for felony possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, felony possession of Schedule I/II controlled substance with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm while in possession of a Schedule I/II controlled substance, along with several misdemeanor charges. Maldonado was also wanted out on outstanding warrants in Prince William County. Both were transported to Arlington County Jail.

During the course of the short pursuit, the trooper witnessed objects being thrown from the window of the Honda. The trooper returned to that location and recovered a handgun and ammunition.

The search continues to locate the second passenger who fled on foot and left his wallet and ID behind in the vehicle.

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