Billowing black smoke coming from a home’s chimney and roof prompted an Arlington County Fire Department response this morning.
The chimney fire was first reported shortly after 9:30 a.m., at a home at the intersection of N. Fillmore Street and 2nd Street N.
At least two people were inside the house at the time, a fire department spokeswoman confirmed. Both escaped from the smoky structure unharmed.
Firefighters used chainsaws to get access to the chimney and extinguish the fire before it could spread. Some water damage from the firefighting effort was reported in the home.
Two blocks of N. Fillmore Street were closed as a result of fire apparatus on the scene.
The owner of a huge mansion in Lyon Park is asking for the county’s permission to use it as a bed and breakfast.
Yogi Dumera, the restaurateur behind Delhi Dhaba and Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill in Courthouse, recently filed a bed and breakfast use permit application for his 13,700 square foot house at 3120 N. Pershing Drive.
The item is on the Arlington County Board’s agenda for this Saturday, but county staff is recommending it be deferred to December to give Dumera time to discuss the proposal with the Lyon Park community.
The palatial house was controversial when it was built a decade ago, attracting opposition from neighbors, who said its massive size — compared to other homes in the community — was “absurd.” Neighbors at the time also worried about the house being used for commercial purposes.
From a 2005 Washington Post article:
“Its scale is absurd,” said neighbor Alan Tober, who, along with others, worries that the house will be used for commercial purposes — namely weddings.
But property owner Yogi Dumera said he has no such plans. He is only taking advantage of his large lot, he said.
Dumera has been trying to sell the house for the past two years, records show, dropping the asking price well under the property’s $4 million assessed value. With no buyers to be found, the home is now off the market.
The next step for Dumera will be presenting his bed and breakfast plans to a Nov. 9 meeting of the Lyon Park Civic Association.
Said a tipster: “I bet the civic association meeting where he consults with the neighborhood will be popcorn-worthy.”
Screen shot (above) via Zillow
(Updated at 10:40 a.m.) There was a break-in this morning at Nova Armory, the recently-opened gun store in Lyon Park, but no guns were taken, according to police.
Officers were dispatched to the scene just after 5 a.m. for an activated burglar alarm.
“Arriving officers located a broken door to the business and secured the scene,” according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report. “The suspects had fled prior to police arrival.”
Some items were stolen during the burglary, police said.
“Empty firearm cases were taken but there were no weapons inside,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
Police remained on scene to investigate.
A photo of the store’s back entrance shows doors and windows smashed in. The entrance is currently being repaired, we’re told.
POLICE ACTIVITY: PD responded to burglary alarm at gun store in 2300 block of N. Pershing Drive. No weapons taken. Police remain on scene.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) September 19, 2016
The assault was reported around 3:30 p.m., on the 2600 block of Arlington Blvd. Initial reports suggest that a man reached up the teen’s skirt and touched her inappropriately, before fleeing on foot.
The suspect was described as a Hispanic male in his late 40s, who was wearing work pants, work boots, a white hat and a white t-shirt at the time of the attack. Police are currently searching for the suspect.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 4 p.m.) A Woodbridge man has been arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a Lyon Park woman last month.
The sexual assault was linked via evidence to two attempted abductions in Arlington in 2007, according to Arlington County Police. A renewed investigation into those cold cases led to the arrest of 34-year-old Justin Poe.
Poe has not yet been charged in the May sexual assault.
“We are awaiting additional evidence and additional charges are expected related to the 2016 case,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department has arrested and charged a 34 year-old suspect with two counts of attempted abduction for his role in attacks stemming from 2007. Justin Wingate Poe, 34, of Woodbridge, VA is currently being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility. Additional charges are expected.
At approximately 4:56 a.m. on May 15, 2016 a female victim awoke in her residence in the 700 block of N. Edgewood Street to an unknown male sexually assaulting her. Following the attack, the male suspect fled the scene and the victim was able to contact 911. DNA evidence recovered from this assault was submitted to the state laboratory for analysis. The DNA results linked this case with an unsolved 2007 attempted abduction in the 1100 block of N. Vermont Street.
At approximately 2:27 a.m. on May 28, 2007 a female victim was walking in the 1100 block of N. Vermont Street when an unknown male suspect confronted her from behind and attempted to cover her face with a plastic bag. The victim screamed and the suspect fled the area on foot. The plastic bag was processed for evidence and a latent fingerprint was recovered.
An additional attack occurred on June 7, 2007 at approximately 1:20 a.m. when a female victim inside her residence in the 2600 block of Lee Highway heard a knock on her door. When she opened the door, an unknown male subject standing against the wall just outside the door attempted to place a plastic bag over the victim’s head. The victim screamed and the suspect fled the scene on foot. The victim was able to provide a detailed description of the suspect to police and a composite sketch was released to the public.
Upon receiving the link between the 2007 and 2016 cases, Arlington County Police Department detectives began an intensive investigation including the review of cold case files, crime scene evidence and laboratory results. The review led to additional information that led detectives to identify Justin Wingate Poe as a possible suspect. Forensic evidence and thorough investigative efforts linked the suspect to the incidents in the 1100 block of N. Vermont Street and the 2600 block of Lee Highway.
Officers from the Arlington County Police Department’s Tactical Unit and the Prince William County Police Department took Poe into custody at his residence in Woodbridge, VA in the evening hours of June 17, 2016. Poe has been charged with two counts of attempted abduction. Additional charges are expected. The apprehension of Poe was the direct result of outstanding police work and the leveraging of resources from our regional law enforcement partners.
The investigation into Poe is ongoing. Anyone who has information regarding these incidents or concerning Poe is asked to call Detective Sloan at 703.228.4198 or [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
The incident happened just after 2 a.m., early Saturday morning, at Long Branch Elementary School on N. Fillmore Street in Lyon Park.
According to police, an officer patrolling the area noticed the men creeping around the school with flashlights and then going inside via an “unsecured” door. By the time the suspects left the school, with Apple iPad tablets in hand, more officers had arrived and they were taken into custody, said ACPD.
The men, both Arlington residents in their early 20s, were charged with burglary and grand larceny. From the ACPD crime report:
BURGLARY, 160521007, unit block of N. Fillmore Street. At approximately 2:10 a.m. on May 21, an officer working in the area observed suspicious persons. He observed the individuals shining flashlights towards the school and enter through an unsecured door. Officers confronted the individuals upon their exit from the school. The suspects fled but were ultimately apprehended and determined to be in possession of Apple Ipads. Dvonte Medious-Jackson, 21, of Arlington VA, was charged with burglary and grand larceny. James Minor, 22, of Arlington VA, was charged with burglary and grand larceny.
The incident happened around 5 a.m. Sunday morning. Police say a woman “awoke to an unknown male sexually assaulting her.” After the attack, he fled the scene.
Police are looking for a man in a tan four-door sedan, who was last seen wearing a black hooded shell jacket with a hood.
From an ACPD press release:
The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and locating a suspect involved in the sexual assault of a female victim which occurred at a residence in the 700 block of N. Edgewood Street in the early morning hours of May 15, 2016.
At approximately 4:56 a.m. a female victim awoke to an unknown male sexually assaulting her. Following the attack, the male suspect fled the scene. The victim was then able to call 911. The victim advised that earlier in the evening, at approximately 2:30 a.m., upon returning to the residence she observed an unknown adult male walking away from the rear of the home. That individual left the area in a tan colored four door sedan. He was described as wearing a black hooded shell jacket with the hood up. The male suspect involved in this incident was described as wearing similar clothing.
Detectives from the Special Victim’s Unit are actively investigating this incident. Responding officers attempted a canine track in the area with negative results and officers canvased the area speaking with possible witnesses. Officers will continue conducting extra checks in the area.
If anyone has information on the identity of this individual or details surrounding this incident, please contact Detective G. Sloan of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 703.228.4198 or at [email protected] To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
Nova Armory, a firearms retailer, opened in March in Lyon Park amid local controversy. The store’s owner, Dennis Pratte, is now suing dozens of residents and lawmakers, accusing them of trying to interfere with his business.
Five local residents launched their own legal offensive when they filed an appeal to Arlington’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), challenging the county’s decision to issue Nova Armory a Certificate of Occupancy, which is required for businesses with a physical location in Arlington.
Arlington County has previously said that there is nothing it can do legally to prevent a gun store from opening, as long as it follows zoning rules and files all the proper paperwork.
The appeal was submitted by residents Julia Young, Emily Hughes, Bernadette Brennan, Grace Chan and Nathan Guerrero on March 2, along with the $575.40 filing fee.
In a report to the BZA, Arlington’s Acting Zoning Administrator, Arlova Vonhm, recommends denying the appeal and upholding Nova Armory’s Certificate of Occupancy at 2300 N. Pershing Drive. Vonhm addressed each of the challenges made by the residents:
- Appeal: In a media interview, Dennis Pratte said his 16-year-old daughter was the store’s owner, and thus he erroneously listed himself as the owner on the application.
Staff position: “Mr. Pratte has clarified in subsequent media interviews that he is training his daughter to take over the business, but that he remains the principal on all leases, permits, and legal documents.”
- Appeal: The description of the store as a “retail” location is false because Nova Armory’s website describes “wholesale pricing.”
Staff position: “While the applicant’s website advertises wholesale pricing, this appears to be an advertisement of advantageous pricing to retail consumers, rather than a statement of intention to engage in wholesale trade.”
- Appeal: The store is called NOVA Armory, but the business name was listed as Broadstone Security, LLC on the application.
Staff position: “The Zoning Ordinance does not prohibit the use of fictitious trade names, which is a common practice for retail businesses.”
- Appeal: The Zoning Administrator who issued the Certificate of Occupancy “did not research whether or not the applicant was a valid holder of a Federal Firearms License.”
Staff position: “Given that the Zoning Administrator does not have the authority to enforce state or federal laws and regulations, the Zoning Office does not as a matter of general practice verify required compliance with state or federal licensure requirements for firearms store or any other type of business.”
- Appeal: The Certificate of Occupancy “should be revoked due to an inaccurate record of ownership of the premises.”
Staff position: “Property owner information was not material to the review of the proposed land use or the issuance of the permit to authorize said land use on the subject property, therefore it would not be a valid reason for the Zoning Administrator to revoke it.”
The BZA is slated to consider the appeal, along with a long slate of others, either Wednesday night or at a possible carryover meeting Thursday. The board is not required to follow the staff recommendation when making its decision.
Apparently misunderstanding the nature of the appeal — any citizen who says they’re “aggrieved” by a zoning decision can file an appeal — Nova Armory posted several messages on Twitter Tuesday decrying elected officials and an “abuse of power” by county government.
Arlington holds so-called public meeting to try & close gun shop but fails to tell owner or landlord- tomorrow 7pm pic.twitter.com/vkOluYWHBg
— NOVA Armory (@NOVAarmory) May 10, 2016
NOVA Armory will continue to fight this abuse of power and attempts to close us down. Anti's and elected's want to play hardball- game on!
— NOVA Armory (@NOVAarmory) May 10, 2016
McAuliffe to Sign Bills at Wakefield HS — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will sign two pieces of school-related legislation during a visit to Wakefield High School Thursday morning. McAuliffe will sign SB 336/HB 895, which updates and modernizes high school graduation requirements, and SB 573/HB 279, which makes it easier for those in Career and Technical Education fields to become adjunct teachers.
Clement Calls for More Paving — Perennial candidate Audrey Clement, who is running as an independent for County Board, is calling for Arlington County to accelerate its street paving. “There are way too many potholes and cracked and broken pavements for Arlington residents to drive or walk safely to work, school, or shopping centers — let alone to bike,” Clement said. [Audrey Clement]
County Regroups After Crowdfunding Fail — Arlington County tried to raise $10,000 in donations to make the Glebe and Lang Street Community Garden accessible to those with disabilities. After raising only $465, the county is looking for matching funds in its budget to build a scaled-down version of its original plan. [Washington Post]
Basketball Star Selling Lyon Park Home — Trajan Langdon, who recently was named Assistant General Manager of the Brooklyn Nets, is selling his Lyon Park home for $2 million. Langdon was a first round draft pick who struggled in the NBA but went on to stardom in the Euroleague. The home includes a soda machine and a giant walk-in shoe closet. [Real House Life of Arlington]
Proposed CIP Doesn’t Include New High School — Arlington Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan includes additions to Arlington’s three comprehensive high schools, which will add 800 seats, but does not include a plan for a new high school. Even with the additions, Arlington’s public high schools are expected to be overcapacity by the early 2020s. [InsideNova]
Update at 5:00 p.m. — A copy of the lawsuit can be downloaded here.
Nova Armory claims that opponents “conspired to destroy the business, harassed the owner and landlord and mailed death threats,” reports the Washington Post. The business is suing the 64 people in Richmond Circuit Court, seeking $2.1 million for “lost revenue and damages.”
The lawsuit makes good on threats the store made in March.
“The actions of these local crazies against our business is approaching the level of ‘tortious interference,'” the store said in a press release at the time.
Among those reportedly being sued are the seven state lawmakers who signed a letter of opposition to the store’s landlord, plus County Board member Christian Dorsey and School Board member Barbara Kanninen.
“We’ve told our lawyers to concentrate on any actions in which we are deprived of our civil liberties by these so-called public servants — they’ll regret any abuse of their authority,” the March press release said.
The Lyon Park Citizens Association tells ARLnow.com that neither it nor its attorney is aware of any legal action against the civic association, which held meetings and votes in response to residents’ concerns about the store.
This morning, before news of the lawsuit was confirmed, John Goldener, president of the civic association, called any such action “a flagrant abuse of the legal system.”
“Our focus is and has always been communication and community,” Goldener said. “If Mr. Pratte’s focus, however, is on generating frivolous lawsuits to frighten residents and artificial controversy to drive sales, then we have grossly misjudged his intentions and stated commitment to become a part of our community.”
Eleven homes on the 900 block of N. Daniel and Danville streets are connected to a failing sewer line that runs through their backyards. The line is believed to date back to the 1920s, when the first of the homes in the neighborhood were built.
As we reported in 2013, county workers had been clearing occasional blockages of the line, until the county determined that it did not actually own the line — it was privately constructed and the county had “no rights to operate or maintain this line.”
Facing steep plumbing and excavation costs for connecting to a public sewer line, homeowners threatened legal action. On Tuesday, the County Board settled the matter by voting unanimously to approve a compromise agreement with the homeowners.
Arlington will roughly split the cost of connecting all 11 homes — $253,980 plus a $50,000 contingency — and will advance the other half of the money to seven homeowners who asked for help financing the work. The seven homeowners will repay their share over seven years, at 2 percent interest, via the establishment of a “service district” that will levy a frontage assessment on their property.
Arlington County said the compromise was necessary because the private sewer line was failing and beyond repair, and a major sewage backup in the midst of a protracted legal dispute could have resulted in a significant public health hazard.
” The amount of time required to resolve the disagreement would delay the time when remedial action could be taken, thereby threatening the likelihood of a public health emergency, and would result in costly litigation for all involved,” notes the staff report. “In an effort to prevent further delay, the County and the property owners negotiated an agreement that would promptly address the looming public health concern.”
The incident happened just before 11:30 a.m., in a low-slung commercial building on the 2700 block of Washington Blvd.
Police say a maintenance worker accidentally tumbled out of a second-floor window and landed on his head. He was transported to George Washington University Hospital with serious injuries.
Police and occupational safety authorities are investigating the accident.
Photo via Google Maps
On Saturday, March 26, 16-year-old Lauren Pratte took part in the grand opening of her new retail gun store, NOVA Armory, on Pershing Drive in the Lyon Park neighborhood.
The public turned out in big numbers to check out the inventory in Pratte’s store. Officials from the National Rifle Association, headquartered in Fairfax County, and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a pro-gun organization, also showed up to celebrate the store’s opening.
The popularity of guns in the United States has never been stronger. More Americans own guns today than ever before. The strong demand for guns is excellent news for gun retailers like Pratte. Black Friday 2015 was the single biggest gun-purchasing day ever in U.S. history, with more than 185,000 background checks processed by the FBI.
Although only 16, Pratte had long considered the idea of owning her own business and controlling how it is run. Pratte chose to open a gun store largely due to her father’s experience as a gun store owner.
“When I brought up the idea to my dad, he was really supportive and he was all for it, willing to help me open this and run it. I’m very excited about the future for this,” Pratte said in an interview with ARLnow.
At the grand opening, Pratte stood near the front door, inviting people to check out the store’s inventory. The handguns on display cost anywhere from $249 to $999, while many of the shotguns, rifles and other firearms have much higher price tags. When she wasn’t greeting people at the door, Pratte was working behind the store’s counter answering questions about the shop’s merchandise.
Because she is only 16, Dennis Pratte, Lauren’s father, holds the federal firearms sales license for the store and applied for and signed the store’s certificate of occupancy. In an interview with the Washington Post, Dennis Pratte said NOVA Armory is “a family owned and operated business — and more specifically a female, minority-owned business.” Dennis Pratte’s wife, Yong OK Pratte, is listed on paperwork as an officer for one of Pratte’s previous gun businesses.
Dennis Pratte told ARLnow that Lauren, a junior in high school, wants to go to law school and eventually become a corporate attorney. “What a better way to learn about business than actually start a business,” Dennis Pratte said at the store’s grand opening. “From day one, she’s filed all the paperwork, and I signed it. That’s what we thought would be a great education for her.”
Lauren emphasized she will never be working at the store by herself. She will always have her father or another licensed gun seller with her when she is working at the store.
The gun store, the first in Arlington aside from a pawn shop at the corner of Lee Highway and Kirkwood Road that sells guns, has generated controversy over the past month as nearby residents and local politicians expressed concerns about a gun retailer opening in the neighborhood.
On March 2, state lawmakers who represent Arlington, sent a letter to the landlord who is leasing the space to NOVA Armory expressing their concerns about the gun store. “We strongly encourage you to reconsider your decision to grant a lease to NOVA Armory,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
“It’s not appropriate for people, elected officials specifically, to treat legal business owners as they did,” Dennis Pratte said in the interview.
Police say a man was riding his moped down the street just after 2 a.m. on Sunday when he was struck on the helmet by an unknown object. The incident happened on N. Pershing Drive, near Lyon Park and the intersection with N. Fillmore Street.
While trying to flee the area the man lost control of his moped. Then, the victim told police, four people set upon him and began beating him. One of those suspects was known to the victim, said Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage.
“The victim advised four Hispanic males in dark clothing were involved in the assault,” Savage said. Police “canvased the area and were able to locate two suspects matching the victim’s description. Two suspects remain at large.”
From an ACPD crime report: “Byron Gamaliel Jimenez Vail, 26, of Arlington VA, was arrested and charged with assault by mob and drunk in public. Anacleto Perez Aguilar, 21, of Arlington VA, was arrested and charged with assault by mob and drunk in public. Both subjects are being held on a secured bond. The investigation is ongoing.”
Buyers Found for Market Common — A pair of buyers has reportedly been found for the Market Common mixed-use development in Clarendon. Regency Centers and AvalonBay are said to be partnering to buy the shopping center and apartment complex for $410 million. [GlobeSt.com]
Lyon Park Gun Store Opens — After a month of controversy, Nova Armory opened its doors on Saturday, with dozens of gun enthusiasts showing up to support the store. In a rally nearby, local lawmakers urged residents to continue the fight against the store, but said that due to Virginia law there was nothing else they could legally do to prevent the shop from opening. [Washington Post]
Teen Employment Expo Scheduled — Teens seeking summer jobs and employers seeking seasonal help will be meeting next month at Arlington’s 2016 Teen Summer Expo. The expo, on April 23 at Wakefield High School, is expected to attract some 1,200 teens looking for summer jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities. [Arlington County]
Arlington Tech Event Tomorrow — There’s one day left before ARLnow.com’s Arlington Tech discussion and networking event. The event is taking place starting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Highline RxR (2010 Crystal Drive) in Crystal City. Food and a drink will be provided. [Eventbrite]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman