Press Club

It’s unclear why, but the FBI was out in force along Columbia Pike this morning.

Photos show several unmarked federal law enforcement vehicles, including a Lenco BearCat armored SWAT vehicle, in front of the Siena Park Apartments on the 2300 block of the Pike.

An agent in camouflage and tactical gear could be seen holding a shield inside the open doors of the moving BearCat.

Arlington County police deferred comment, noting that “the police activity is part of an active FBI investigation.” The FBI, in turn, confirmed the activity but said little else.

“The FBI is present at the 2300 block of Columbia Pike, Arlington, VA, conducting court authorized law enforcement activity,” Washington Field Office spokesperson Samantha Shero tells ARLnow. “The FBI cannot comment further due to an ongoing investigation.”

More details about the investigation are unlikely to be released today or tomorrow, Shero noted.

The last widely reported FBI investigation in Arlington happened in the Ballston area in March 2021.

Hat tip to John Antonelli

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The crow that was shot by a blow dart Tuesday morning (photo courtesy AWLA)

Arlington’s animal control office is trying to figure out who shot a crow with a blow dart in Fairlington this morning.

Several people in the neighborhood called police and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) around 11 a.m. this morning to report the incident. Animal control officers found a crow that had been critically injured by the dart, which was apparently shot from a blow gun.

The crow is now en route to a wildlife center for surgery, but it’s unclear whether it will survive, AWLA said. In a statement, below, the organization said shooting a crow is illegal under the Federal Migratory Bird Act and “will not be tolerated in Arlington County.”

The incident happened about three weeks after commercial property owners in nearby Shirlington started using an artificial fog to try to get a large murder of migratory crows to flock elsewhere. The wintering crows and their prodigious droppings on local sidewalks and vehicles are a long-standing issue in Shirlington, dating back to at least 2017.

More on this morning’s blow dart shooting and its aftermath, from AWLA, is below.

Today at approximately 11am, our officers and 911 Dispatch Center received multiple calls from the public about a crow that had been shot in a Fairlington neighborhood. Our animal control officers immediately responded and found a critically injured crow who had been shot with a blow-gun. Officers brought him back to AWLA for triage where they cut off the barb from the dart and applied basic wound care. One of our officers then began the drive to a wildlife center where the crow will undergo surgery to remove the dart. The officer is currently still on route to the center and unfortunately there is a chance the crow. may not survive the drive. Thankfully, our officers have checked the area and have not found any more injured animals.

“This is why we put so much time and emphasis on teaching tolerance and harmonious coexistence with wildlife. When groups, associations, or organizations teach intolerance for living things, our native wildlife pays the price.” ~ Jennifer Toussaint, Chief of Animal Control.

Crows are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act. This type of activity is illegal and will not be tolerated in Arlington County. We are asking that anyone who may have seen any related activity in the area over the past 8-12 hours to please call our Animal Control team at (703) 931-9241.

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Wakefield High School (file photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Someone is apparently setting trash cans on fire at Wakefield High School.

Firefighters were on scene at the school this afternoon after a fire in a trash can filled part of the second floor with smoke, according to scanner traffic. It’s the second trash fire in recent days at the school, we’re told.

“This week on two different occasions, someone has set on fire the trash cans in different bathrooms and cause the fire department to be dispatched,” a tipster tells ARLnow. “This is dangerous.”

A video sent to ARLnow earlier this week, below, appears to show the first fire.

Fire marshals were dispatched to the school today to investigate the fire. At least one person was evaluated for smoke inhalation by paramedics.

An Arlington Public Schools spokesman told ARLnow that there were two fire alarms at the school this afternoon, the first of which was mechanical in nature. Wakefield’s principal sent an email to families this afternoon providing additional details about the incidents.

Dear Wakefield Community,

I want to provide an update on today’s fire alarms. As I mentioned in an earlier School Talk message today, students were evacuated because of a fire alarm. This was caused by a mechanical issue. The ACFD gave the all clear 10 minutes after the alarm. As students were reentering the building, the fire alarm went off again. This time, it was caused by a fire set in a bathroom trash can. One student was evaluated by EMS for potential smoke inhalation but was not transported to the hospital. Thankfully the student is fine and is with their parents.

This is the second incident involving a trash can fire this week. This type of behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. These incidents are being investigated and we will take appropriate disciplinary actions for those involved.

The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. If a student knows anything about these incidents, please have them speak to an administrator.

After school activities that take place inside the building are canceled for today.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chris Willmore
Principal

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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

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(Updated at 12:35 p.m.) A man suffered critical injuries after falling from the Pentagon City mall parking garage Monday afternoon.

The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. at the large parking garage on the 800 block of Army Navy Drive. 911 callers reported that the man fell about 50 feet to the concrete below.

“Crews arrived on scene and found an adult male suffering from life threatening injuries,” Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Nate Hiner told ARLnow Monday evening. “That individual was transported to an area hospital where he remains in critical condition. The details surrounding events prior to the injury are being investigated by ACPD.”

Police remained on scene for several hours investigating what happened.

On Tuesday, the Arlington County Police Department revealed in its daily crime report that the man was a shoplifting suspect who was allegedly fleeing from a security guard and attempting to jump over a railing when he fell.

From ACPD:

LARCENY (Significant), 2022-03070149, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 4:02 p.m. on March 7, police were dispatched to assist the Fire Department with an injury from a fall in the 800 block of Army Navy Drive. The investigation determined the suspect had entered a business, allegedly concealed merchandise under his coat and left without paying when an employee approached and offered assistance. A security guard entered the area and began to follow the suspect who then ran to the parking garage and attempted to jump over a railing before falling to the ground. Medics transported the suspect to an area hospital with serious injuries. A summons for petit larceny was obtained for the suspect.

Closure due to crash on the GW Parkway (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) Northbound lanes of the GW Parkway were closed before Key Bridge today due to a serious crash.

The crash happened shortly before 11:45 a.m. and reportedly involved a vehicle that ran off the side of the roadway and overturned, injuring several people.

Northbound traffic was at a near-standstill for nearly a mile, between the Roosevelt Bridge and the crash.

All lanes reopened by 1:45 p.m., according to WTOP.

Map via Google Maps

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(Updated 5:30 p.m.) The child who was struck by a driver a few weeks ago while riding his scooter in Westover has returned home, police say.

A Cadillac sedan struck the child in the afternoon on Nov. 17 as the driver exited a county-owned alley onto N. Longfellow Street. The boy was reportedly pulled from under the vehicle and was conscious when medics arrived to rush him to a local hospital.

“The toddler has been released from the hospital and is reportedly doing well,” said Ashley Savage, a spokeswoman for Arlington County Police Department, told ARLnow yesterday afternoon.

No additional details about the nature of the toddler’s injuries were provided, although initial reports indicated he had suffered a serious head injury.

The driver stayed on scene while police began their investigation, which Savage said Tuesday “remains an active and ongoing critical crash investigation.”

Following the crash the look of the alley has changed, as some thick hedges — one of a number of safety concerns neighbors articulated about the alley — have come down. Workers could be seen trimming back the hedges last Thursday.

Reached by phone Tuesday, a family member of the homeowner declined to comment about the hedges.

On the day of the crash, Arlington County’s code enforcement division received a complaint about the house with the hedges, spokeswoman Erika Moore told ARLnow Wednesday afternoon.

“Code enforcement cited the property owner under Chapter 10 of the County Code and sent a notice as required,” she said.

Chapter 10 covers trash, recycling and care of premises, and says the following: “It shall be the joint and several duty of each owner or occupant of property to cut back or remove trees or parts thereof, hedges, shrubs, vines and other vegetation which encroaches upon any sidewalk, alley, roadway, street or highway and which impairs or obstructs any pedestrian or vehicular traffic.”

Other safety threats in the area, according to residents, include drivers traveling at a high rate of speed on N. Longfellow Street and on the alley, which connects N. Longfellow Street and the cul-de-sac at 15th Road N. Additionally, streetlights on the alley were dim or out, making it hard to see after nightfall, though the crash occurred during daylight hours.

The crash led the Westover Civic Association to ask on Nextdoor for reports of similar accidents or incidents in the area, which the civic group intends to present to the Arlington County Board.

In conjunction with a fatal crash one week prior in Green Valley, near Drew Elementary School, the incident prompted Arlington County to launch a review of a common thread between them: alleys.

“Our team is evaluating the crash locations in detail now and will conduct a holistic assessment on alleys from now into the spring,” Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien told ARLnow on Tuesday.

In the other crash, a man who was reportedly speeding down an alley on his motorcycle collided with a school bus carrying children.

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W&OD Trail crossing near the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and S. Four Mile Run Drive (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) A pedestrian was struck and seriously injured by a driver who then fled the scene last night.

The crash happened near the intersection of S. George Mason Drive and Four Mile Run Drive, just before 8:30 p.m. The road was closed while police investigated.

The W&OD Trail crosses just north of the busy intersection, next to a service road that’s also labeled as S. Four Mile Run Drive.

“At 8:25 p.m. on November 29, police were dispatched to a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian at S. Four Mile Run Dr. and S. George Mason Drive,” Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Upon arrival, officers located the pedestrian, an adult male, in the roadway. He was transported to an area hospital and remains hospitalized in critical condition.”

“During the preliminary investigation, officers did not locate any witnesses to the crash and there is no description of the striking vehicle,” Savage continued. “The circumstances of the crash remain under investigation. Anyone with information that may assist with the investigation is asked to contact ACPD’s Tip Line 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).”

Photo via Google Maps

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Prompted by two critical crashes in two weeks, Arlington County is taking a look at a common thread between them: alleys.

Last week in Westover, a car struck a toddler, who is now recovering from serious injuries, while exiting an alley onto N. Longfellow Street. Neighbors say the alley is frequented by cyclists and pedestrians, including students from nearby schools, but has dangerous blind spots.

Two weeks ago in Green Valley, a motorcyclist — who witnesses say exited the 23rd Street S. alley at a high speed — died while trying to avoid hitting a school bus. Instead, he flew off his motorcycle and into the bus, which had children onboard.

A team that includes Arlington County police, Virginia State Police, transportation engineers, public health representatives and a representative from the County Manager’s office will be evaluating these crashes, while county transportation engineers will be looking at other local alleys to find improvements, says Katie O’Brien, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Services.

“As part of our Vision Zero Action Plan, we regularly review and evaluate critical crashes to identify actionable items that we can implement and respond to quickly,” O’Brien said. “In addition to reviewing this terrible incident [in Westover], the team is taking a systematic examination of alleys throughout the County to improve safety given the recent tragic crash that also occurred at an alley on 23rd Street S.”

The toddler from Westover remains hospitalized but is recovering, says Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. The child, who was pulled from under the striking car before first responders arrived on scene, suffered serious injuries including, reportedly, a fractured skull.

Meanwhile, the body of the 26-year-old Alexandria man who died in the motorcycle crash will be transported overseas for his funeral.

Both crashes remain active and ongoing investigations, Savage said, adding that there are no additional details to provide.

Blind spots add peril to Westover alley  

In Westover, neighbors say the alley where the crash occurred is frequented by students headed to Swanson Middle School and folks on bikes and with strollers, who use a hole in the fence at the end of the alley to get to school or to the Custis Trail.

“It’s actually a more trafficked area than it might appear to be,” said one neighbor, Stefanie Cruz.

But it has blind spots for drivers. Where it intersects with N. Longfellow Street, there’s a large hedge to the right and a house to the left that neighbors say can obscure oncoming pedestrians, playing kids and traffic.

“It’s a dangerous alley, and it’s been a dangerous alley, and I don’t know if anyone’s been paying attention to that,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it took something like this to make the alley safer.”

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A child, reportedly 2 years old, was struck by the driver of a car in the Westover neighborhood Wednesday evening.

The crash happened shortly after 4 p.m. on the 1500 block of N. Longfellow Street, less than a block from The Italian Store and other Westover shops.

Initial reports suggest that the driver of a black Cadillac sedan struck the child while exiting an alley, crossing a sidewalk and turning onto Longfellow Street. The child was reportedly pulled from under the vehicle and was conscious when medics arrived, but suffering from a potentially serious head injury.

An ambulance rushed the injured child to a local hospital.

A kid’s scooter could be seen under the car as a distraught woman talked to first responders. The car’s driver remained on scene.

“[The] preliminary investigation indicates the child was removed from under the vehicle prior to the arrival of public safety personnel,” Arlington County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow. “Police remain on scene investigating the crash.”

Update at 12:15 p.m. — Arlington County police just released additional information about the crash, while asking for members of the public to come forward with additional information. The child, who suffered what was initially reported as a serious head injury, is now said to be in critical but stable condition at a local hospital.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a critical crash which occurred in the Westover Village neighborhood on the evening of November 17, 2021.

At approximately 4:09 p.m., police and fire were dispatched to the 1500 block of N. Longfellow Street for the report of a crash with injuries involving a pedestrian. Arriving public safety personnel located the pedestrian, a toddler, on the sidewalk next to the striking vehicle. He was transported to an area hospital with serious injuries and is currently listed in critical but stable condition.

The preliminary investigation indicates the pedestrian was riding a scooter when he was struck by a motorist exiting an alley. He was removed from under the vehicle prior to the arrival of public safety personnel. The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene.

This crash remains under investigation and details of the investigation will be presented to the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for review. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective D. Johnson at [email protected] or 703-228-4193. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Arlington police and firefighters are on scene of a fatal crash involving a motorcyclist and a school bus with children on board.

The crash happened around 2:45 p.m. on S. Kenmore Street in front of Drew Elementary, in the Green Valley neighborhood.

A school bus with 14 students on board struck a man who was riding a motorcycle, according to police. The man, who was reportedly wearing a helmet, was found lying unresponsive in the roadway.

Police have closed S. Kenmore Street, likely for an extended period of time while detectives investigate the crash. The victim remains in the roadway, covered in a white sheet, while police tape has been placed around the crash site.

School counselors are being requested to the scene for the children who were on board the bus at the time of the crash. No physical injuries were reported among the students, who have since been taken off the bus.

Despite the location of the crash, we’re told that that bus came from a school other than Drew.

Witnesses, some of whom were sobbing as they spoke to ARLnow, said the motorcyclist was someone they saw often in the neighborhood. They said he had just driven out of an alley at a high rate of speed and tried to lay down his motorcycle when he saw the bus coming. He “went flying” and was run over by the bus, witnesses said.

The man’s injuries were such that first responders immediately radioed that he was deceased after arriving at the scene and failing to find a pulse.

Neighbors said that numerous kids and adults witnessed the crash, which happened in a busy area next to a park on a sunny, warm autumn day.

The neighbors who spoke to ARLnow said that the deceased man was in his early 20s and worked at a nearby auto rental and repair shop.

“They are good guys,” a neighbor said of the workers at the family-owned shop.

Update on 11/11/21: Arlington County police just issued the following press release about the fatal crash.

The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a fatal motorcycle crash that occurred on the afternoon of November 10, 2021.

At approximately 2:49 p.m., police were dispatched to the 3500 block of 23rd Street S. for the report of a vehicle crash with injuries involving a school bus and motorcycle. Upon arrival, officers located the unresponsive motorcyclist partially under the school bus. He had succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased on scene. The school bus had fourteen students onboard at the time of the crash. The students safely exited the bus, were evaluated by medics and no additional injuries were reported.

The preliminary investigation indicates the motorcyclist was traveling at a high rate of speed from an alley on 23rd Street S. onto S. Kenmore Street. He tried to avoid the oncoming school bus by laying down the motorcycle and ultimately ended up partially under the bus. The deceased has been identified as Stevan Zikic, 26, of Alexandria, VA.

This crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact Detective L. Lugasi at [email protected] or 703-228-4054. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Matt Blitz contributed to this report.

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