Crime Report: Robber Steals Security Guard’s Gun

Police are investigating an unusual robbery that happened early Sunday morning along Columbia Pike.

The robbery happened outside of a business near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive. Police say a man walked up behind an armed security guard and stole his gun while pushing him to the ground. He then assaulted a second victim before running off “with an undisclosed amount of cash.”

During the incident one of the victims “recovered the firearm stolen from the first victim,” according to police.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ROBBERY, 2018-09300031, 4800 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 2:24 a.m. on September 30, police were dispatched to the report of a possible robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that the first victim was patrolling a business as an armed security guard when the suspect approached him from behind, pushed him to the ground and stole his firearm. The victim ran after him and encountered two additional victims, who had been walking in the area when they were approached by the suspect, who demanded money and valuables. When one victim claimed to have no possessions of value, the suspect struck the victim and became engaged in a physical altercation with the second victim. During the incident, the victims recovered the firearm stolen from the first victim. The suspect then fled the scene on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.  The suspect is described as a tall, black male wearing black puffy jacket and jeans. One victim was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The investigation is ongoing.

Later Sunday, police responded to a report of a home invasion robbery in the North Highlands neighborhood near Rosslyn.

Just before 5 p.m., according to a crime report, residents encountered an armed man inside their home. The suspect allegedly stole cash and fled, but was later arrested by police while walking east on the Custis Trail.

BURGLARY WITH INTENT TO ROB, 2018-09300173, 2100 block of N. Troy Street. At approximately 4:49 p.m. on September 30, police were dispatched to the report of a home invasion. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victims were inside their residence when they heard a loud noise and went to investigate. The victims then encountered an unknown suspect brandishing a firearm. The suspect stole an undisclosed amount of cash and personal property before fleeing the scene on foot. Arriving officers established a perimeter and a lookout for the suspect was broadcast based on the description provided by the victims. Officers located a suspect matching the description walking east on the Custis Trail and took him into custody without incident. Angelo Shepherd, 30, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Burglary with Intent to Rob, Possession of a Firearm by Convicted Felon, Possession of Ammunition by a Felon and Assault. He is being held on no bond.

This past Friday evening, meanwhile, police were called to the 3000 block of Clarendon Blvd in Clarendon for a report of a drunk man mooning passersby.

More from ACPD:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2018-09280217, 3000 block of Clarendon Boulevard. At approximately 5:25 p.m. on September 28, police were dispatched to the report of a drunk in public. Upon arrival, officers located the suspect and determined he was intoxicated and had exposed his buttocks to multiple people passing by. William Klugel, 62, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Indecent Exposure and Drunk in Public.

The rest of the past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, is below.

RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE, 2018-10020160, N. Glebe Road at N. Carlin Springs Road. At approximately 3:27 p.m. on October 2, an officer on routine patrol was alerted to a License Plate Reader hit on a vehicle previously reported stolen out of Fairfax County. Officers effected a traffic stop and as they attempted to make contact with the driver of the vehicle, the driver attempted to flee on foot, but was quickly taken into custody without incident. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the driver of the vehicle was also wanted out of Fairfax County. Maryjane Melka-Doucette, 24, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny: Motor Vehicle Theft, Possession of Marijuana and Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2018-10010055, 1300 block of S. Rolfe Street. At approximately 5:43 a.m. on October 1, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 10:00 p.m. and 5:43 a.m., an unknown suspect(s) gained entry to approximately 5, mostly unlocked vehicles, tampered with items and stole items of value. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2018-09280030, 1200 block of S. Arlington Ridge Road. At approximately 2:58 a.m. on September 28, police were dispatched to the report of a fight in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect, who was not working as a rideshare or taxi driver, picked up the victim and three friends in Washington, D.C. After stopping to drop off the victim’s friends, the suspect continued, but refused to stop at the victim’s address or let the victim exit the vehicle. A verbal altercation ensued, which escalated and became physical. The victim and suspect exited the vehicle and the suspect struck the victim in the head, causing a laceration. Rick Ramey, 34, of Bryans Road, Md., was arrested and charged with Abduction and Malicious Wounding. He was held on no bond.

GRAND LARCENY (Significant), 2018-09280120,4100 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive. At approximately 11:34 a.m. on September 28, police were dispatched to the report of a hit and run. Upon arrival, it was determined the suspect had been sent home from his employment at a car wash due to showing signs of intoxication. The suspect returned to the car wash and, shortly after, drove a customer’s vehicle off the property, went over a median and struck a concrete piling and a parked vehicle. The suspect then exited the vehicle and fled the scene on foot back to the car wash. Rigoberto Folgar Hernandez, 61, of Arlington, Va., was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny: Motor Vehicle Theft, Destruction of Property, Hit and Run, and Drunk in Public. He was held on no bond.

UNLAWFUL ENTRY, 2018-09270042, 800 block of 22nd Street S.  At approximately 4:23 a.m. on September 27, police responded to the report of a breaking and entering in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that a known suspect forced entry into the victim’s residence, causing damage. Once inside, the suspect came into contact with the victim, and they became engaged in a verbal dispute, prompting the victim to contact police. The suspect fled on foot prior to police arrival. The victim was not injured and nothing was reported missing from the residence. Warrants for Unlawful Entry, Trespass and Destruction of Property were obtained for the suspect.


County Board Approves $1.5 Million Dawson Terrace Park Renovation

Changes are coming soon to Dawson Terrace Park near Rosslyn now that the Arlington County Board has approved a $1.5 million construction contract.

Currently, there are two small courts at the park. These will be replaced by one larger, multi-use court the size of a high school basketball court.

Project illustrations show eight to 10 foot decorative fences installed on either side of the court, behind the basketball nets. Also included: new lighting and landscaping.

Design for the project began in the second quarter of 2016. Project construction is anticipated to begin in the second quarter of 2018 and wrap up by the end of the year.

A small field along 21st Road N. is not scheduled for any renovations in this plan, but stormwater management and ADA improvements are in the works.

The County Board voted unanimously to grant the park contract to D.C.’s Bennett Group at Saturday’s County Board meeting (April 21), according to a county press release. County staff had recommended that the contract be approved.

“Arlington continues to upgrade and improve its parks, to make them both more accessible and more engaging,” County Board Chair Katie Cristol said in a statement. “These renovations will help ensure that Dawson Terrace will be a great park for everyone to use, for years to come.”

The three and a half acre park in the North Highland neighborhood is home to the Dawson-Bailey House, the second oldest home in the county, and site renderings include a decorative screen and plants that would form a buffer on the building’s eastern facade. In 2016, an archaeological dig at Dawson Terrace Park uncovered approximately 2,000 glass, ceramic, and glass objects from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Also at its Saturday meeting, the County Board approved the planting of over 1,000 trees in parks along Four Mile Run. The plantings are partially funded by a federal grant.

More from a county press release, after the jump.

A federal grant will help pay for the purchase and planting of more than 1,000 seedlings along Four Mile Run stream in Bluemont and Benjamin Banneker parks.

The trees and shrubs will be planted in areas where invasive plants have been removed, to help restore Four Mile Run’s riparian buffer zone. The County plans to host community planting events in fall 2018 to get the seedlings in the ground, and will install deer protection around the plants.

“This project is part of a much larger effort to restore Four Mile Run’s water quality and preserve this natural resource treasure,” Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol said. “Stay tuned for opportunities to help us get these seedlings in the ground.”

The County Board voted unanimously to accept the grant, awarded by the Virginia Department of Forestry.

The $9,657 grant required a one-to-one match from the County. The Department of Parks and Recreation will meet that within its existing budget, contributing $5,864 in local dollars along with a $7,512 in-kind match value for volunteer and staff hours and related supplies.

To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll to Item No. 36 on the agenda for the Saturday, April 19, 2018 Regular County Board Meeting.

Renderings via Arlington County


Dawson Terrace Park Renovation Contract Set For Approval

The contract for renovations at Dawson Terrace Park in North Highlands, northwest of Rosslyn, is set for approval, per a county staff report.

The work will renovate areas of extensive use, including a multi-use court, playground, walkways, and picnic areas. D.C.’s Bennett Group, beating out five other bidders, is expected to be awarded the $1,507,500.45 contract.

Landscaping, stormwater management, and ADA improvements will also be part of the project, but a small field along 21st Road N. will not be within the project’s scope.

The County Manager’s office has recommended awarding the contract and approving a $150,750.05 contingency for change orders.

The Dawson-Bailey House, believed to be the county’s second oldest house, is located at the park, at 2133 N. Taft Street.

The Dept. of Parks and Recreation has submitted documentation to the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board “to ensure the project respected and complimented the historic nature of the site.”


Nesting Eagles Spotted Near Ft. Bennett Park

A pair of eagles and their eaglets have taken up residence along the GW Parkway, around Arlington’s Ft. Bennett Park northwest of Rosslyn.

Glenn Mai, a local resident who spotted the nest, said it is “viewable from Ft. Bennett Park” and “there are currently three chicks in the nest that can be seen with binoculars and/or a spotting scope.”

Another local spotted the nest late last month and has since posted several photos via Twitter.

This isn’t the first bald eagle sighting in the county, though most of Arlington’s bald eagles aren’t cruising around Clarendon.

Bald eagles, according to Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology, build nests that are about five to six feet in diameter and two to four feet tall — making the nests the largest among birds. It can take up to three years for a pair of eagles to build a nest.

The Center for Conservation Biology keeps a map of eagle nests, as well as Chesapeake Bay herons, ospreys, and nightjars.

Photos courtesy of GM and MB/Flickr


Residents Launch Petition to Change Zoning Ordinance After Home Extension Denied

Two residents have launched a petition to try to change the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance after the Board of Zoning Appeals denied their plan to add a story to their home.

John and Gina Quirk, who live on 20th Road N. in the North Highlands neighborhood north of Rosslyn, had an application to convert an unused attic at their duplex home (pictured above) into a third-story bedroom rejected by the BZA late last year.

John Quirk said the “minimal” addition to make more room for their expanding family had the support of all their neighbors. It also had the support of some BZA members, who said at their December meeting that the fact that it stayed within the property was laudable.

“I think this is a really wonderful attempt to gain more space without increasing the footprint, and if we don’t grant these kinds of variances, then we’re faced with variances where they want to expand with the footprint,” said BZA member Charles Smith. “I think this gives developers and builders a [really] good model on how you can gain more with less.”

But the BZA voted down the proposal by a 3-2 margin on the grounds that the R2-7 zone for the property, a residential zone for townhouses and two-family homes, does not allow for such expansions by homes that were built before the Zoning Ordinance took effect. This home was built in 1939.

Such extensions are allowed for homes in other, similar residential zones, but in the Quirks’ zone it requires a special exception from the BZA.

In denying the extension, BZA members urged the Quirks to petition the County Board to change the Zoning Ordinance to allow the extensions in the zone where their home is.

“There’s hundreds like you, so maybe it could be a worthwhile community project for you to be the poster child for,” said BZA member Peter Owen, who also said the Zoning Ordinance is “broken.”

So the Quirks have done just that, and launched an online petition that has 91 supporters so far. The pair said their efforts could help the county address its lack of affordable housing and help people not be priced out of the county when they need more space.

“New county initiatives champion Missing Middle Housing as a strategy to support walkable, urban neighborhoods,” they wrote. “Duplexes are a perfect example of Missing Middle Housing if they can be improved to be compatible in scale to single family homes.”

Image via John and Gina Quirk


N. Cleveland Street Closed for Water Main Repairs

A section of N. Cleveland Street off Lee Highway will be closed until this afternoon as crews make emergency repairs to a water main.

A spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the repairs on the 1900 block of N. Cleveland Street in the North Highlands neighborhood are being made to a six-inch water main. The spokeswoman said the water for between 50 and 100 customers will be affected.

Repairs are expected to be completed by 3 p.m. The street is closed in the area, with a detour in place.

Photo via John B.


Crime Report: Delivery Driver Robbed By Armed Man

A delivery driver was robbed by a man with a gun early Sunday morning near Rosslyn, according to police.

The crime happened around 1:30 a.m. in the North Highlands neighborhood.

The suspect reportedly fled on foot after robbing the victim of his or her belongings.

More from this week’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ARMED ROBBERY, 2017-08130022, 2100 block of N. Scott Street. At approximately 1:30 a.m. on August 13, police responded to the report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined an unknown suspect approached a delivery person from behind, produced a handgun and demanded the victim’s belongings. The suspect then fled the scene on foot. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6’2″ with an average build. The suspect was wearing a black sweatshirt with the hood covering his face at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

The rest of this past week’s crime report highlights, including some that we’ve already reported, after the jump.

LARCENY FROM AUTO(Series), 2017-08150055, 500 block of N. Hudson Street. At approximately 5:55 a.m. on August 15, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering with auto. A citizen contacted the Emergency Communication Center after observing two male suspects insider her vehicle. The suspects fled the area on foot and were stopped a short time later by an officer canvassing the area. The suspects were in possession of items from unlocked vehicles. Duan Jones, 18, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Tampering with Auto and Petit Larceny. Antonio Lucas, 20, of Washington D.C. was arrested and charged with Petit Larceny (x2). They were held on secure bonds.

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 2017-08120211, 2000 block of 15th Street N. At approximately 5:49 p.m. on August 12, police were dispatched to the report of a stabbing in progress. Upon arrival it was determined that following a verbal altercation, the suspect produced a knife and stabbed two female victims. Passerby’s intervened, assisted the victims and detained the suspect until police arrived. The victims were transported to the George Washington University Hospital in critical condition. Due to immediate medical intervention by witnesses and Arlington County police officers, quick response and treatment by Arlington County Fire Department EMS, and the exceptional skills of the trauma service at George Washington University Hospital the victim’s are expected to survive. Sharon Uwandu, 37, of No Fixed Address was arrested and charged with Aggravated Malicious Wounding (x2). She was held on no bond.

ATTEMPTED ROBBERY(late), 2017-08110276, 4800 block of Columbia Pike. At approximately 10:27 p.m. on August 11, police were dispatched to the late report of a robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 9:45 p.m. on August 11, a male suspect approached the male victim, displayed a knife and demanded the victim’s personal belongings. When a witness intervened, the suspect fled the scene on foot. During the investigation, police developed suspect information and located the suspect in the 900 block of S. Buchanan Street. Christopher Chavez Flores, 21, of Arlington, VA was arrested and charged with Attempted Robbery, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Schedule II Controlled Substance, and Possession of a Schedule II Controlled Substance. The suspect was held without bond.

BURGLARY, 2017-08120079, 3300 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 6:24 a.m. on August 12, police were dispatched to a burglary in progress. Upon arrival, it was determined that two unknown suspects forced entry into a business and stole cash. Suspect one is described as a white male, wearing sunglasses, a black hoodie and sweatpants. Suspect two is described as a black male, wearing a black hoodie and black pants. The investigation is ongoing.

MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED VEHICLE, 2017-08110095, S. Hayes Street at Army Navy Drive. At approximately 10:11 a.m. on August 11, police were dispatched to the report of an assault. Upon arrival, it was determined that following a verbal dispute between drivers over a stop sign, the suspect threw a plastic water bottle at the victim. The water bottle struck the victim but no injuries were reported. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 28-40 years old, with a larger build. He was driving a gray four door sedan. The investigation is ongoing.

BURGLARY, 2017-08090094, 5500 block of Columbia Pike. Between 8:30 p.m. on August 8 and 8:00 a.m. on August 9, an unknown suspect(s) forced entry into a residence and stole items of value. There are no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.


Literacy Nonprofit The Reading Connection to Close Next Week

A local nonprofit that helps encourage at-risk children and their families to develop a love of reading will close next week after 28 years.

The Reading Connection, which has offices at 1501 Lee Highway near Rosslyn, will close its doors on Friday, August 11. It will hold its last “Read-Aloud,” where volunteers read to children at shelters and community centers, on Wednesday, August 9.

The nonprofit is dedicated to providing low-income children and their families with opportunities to read and be read to, as well as giving them free books when they might otherwise not have any.

Its volunteers held Read-Alouds at over a dozen locations — mostly apartment complexes — across the D.C. metropolitan area, including at Columbia Grove, New Hope Housing, The Shelton, The Springs, Sullivan House, Virginia Gardens and Woodbury Park in Arlington. Other locations are in Alexandria, Annandale, Bethesda and D.C.

The nonprofit’s director of program operations Stephanie Berman Hopkins announced the closure earlier today in an email to volunteers, which was obtained by ARLnow.com.

“I am so proud of the work we have done together and all of the children we have inspired to love reading,” Berman Hopkins wrote. “The impact our programs have had will continue to live on. Thank you for your dedication to this organization, the Read-Aloud program and the kids and families we serve. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you all. Our programs would not have been as strong as they have been without all of your efforts.”

In the email, Berman Hopkins said The Reading Connection’s board of directors reviewed the organization and determined it is not financially viable. TRC’s annual budget was $600,000, according to its website.

Berman Hopkins and The Reading Connection’s executive director, Catherine Keightley, declined to comment on the review, citing privacy considerations for those involved, but Keightley said finding continued funding would have been too difficult.

“What lots of reports are telling us is that funding is going to become more challenging, I think locally and regionally,” she said in a brief interview. “There may be a shift in funding priorities given some of the actions with the new [presidential] administration.”

Prior to its closing The Reading Connection will hold a book and supply sale from Monday, August 7 until Wednesday, August 9.

The email to The Reading Connection volunteers is below, after the jump.

Dear TRC volunteers,

It is with great sadness that I say that after 28 years of service to the greater DC community, The Reading Connection will be closing its doors this month. This decision was not made lightly, but after an extensive and thoughtful review by our Board of Directors based on where the organization is today and what we know of the upcoming funding landscape.

I am so proud of the work we have done together and all of the children we have inspired to love reading. The impact our programs have had will continue to live on. Thank you for your dedication to this organization, the Read-Aloud program and the kids and families we serve.  It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you all. Our programs would not have been as strong as they have been without all of your efforts.

Now for a few logistics. The last Read-Aloud will be held on Wednesday, August 9 and our office will close permanently at noon on August 11. We’ll be announcing the news publicly later today. […]

If you’d like to volunteer for another reading-focused organization, here are a few recommendations:

We will be having a sale to find good homes for all of our books and supplies on August 7 to 9 from 10am to 2pm (until 1pm on August 9).  Registered 501c3 organizations, including our partners, can pick up items as donations with their tax ID letter and EIN and the public is welcome to buy books and supplies at yard sale prices.  If you want more specifics about the sale, just let me know and I’m happy to share. Feel free to come by if you’re available.  We’d love to have the opportunity to say “see you later”.

You and all of our wonderful volunteers have been the heart and soul of The Reading Connection and we are so grateful for all that you’ve done to help us fulfill our mission.  Thank you!

Photo (middle) via The Reading Connection


UPDATED: Dog Dies in Apartment Fire Near Rosslyn

(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters are on the scene of an apartment fire in the North Highlands neighborhood, near Rosslyn.

The fire was reported on the 1600 block of 21st Street N., in the living room of a second floor apartment, just before 1:45 p.m.

The blaze was quickly extinguished. Firefighters located a dog that had been in the apartment and attempted CPR, but the dog was later pronounced dead, we’re told.

No person was inside the apartment at the time and no injuries were reported. Firefighters are currently ventilating smoke from the building and investigating the cause of the fire.


Letter to the Editor: What, Exactly, is a ‘Weed?’

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Mary McCutcheon, a North Highlands resident.

Bristlegrass and Conyza Canadensis (photo by Mary McCutcheon)What is a “weed?” I posed this question to two of the inspectors in Arlington’s Code Enforcement office and was told by both that their definition comes from Webster’s dictionary. Before you continue reading, you should look it up and see for yourself if this venerable old lexicon provides any clear standard. O.K. Are you finished? So now that we know what we’re up against, I want to say that this vague and subjective definition is the basis for Arlington’s property maintenance code and people are getting citations that can incur very material and costly, not to mention invasive, penalties for those who are defiant.

I have a vacant piece of land where I am about to build a new house. Over the summer it became covered with multiple species dominated by Conyza canadensis and bristlegrass, both native meadow species, as well as Tradescantia virginiana, perennial lilies, and Monarda which had all begun to look droopy as their flowering season came to an end. Until construction begins, I thought the land was better off with a cover of vegetation, especially these species which attract birds and pollinators. When I got a notice that I had violated the weed ordinance, I was hurt and ashamed and a little indignant all at once.

I phoned the inspector who had issued me the citation and asked what a weed was. That is when I learned that Webster’s dictionary is the botanical reference book that Arlington County uses (per directions of one of Arlington’s attorneys, I learned). I then asked this inspector if Joe Pye weed, Butterfly weed, and Milkweed were “weeds” and, after a painful pause, he blurted “Ma’am, I’m not an arborist.”

In the meantime, the people promoting native plants and rain gardens are explicitly encouraging Arlington citizens to plant more and more of these “weeds.” Let’s make sure the code is consistent with the policy and protect the residents, as well as the flustered inspectors, from confusion.

Responding to my objection that code enforcement is mostly complaint-driven, the inspector replied that citations mainly result from routine drive-by surveys. When I pointed out that a property only a block away from my property had poison ivy tumbling into the road and porcelain berry and other invasive vines growing all over the chainlink fence and it’s barbed wire top, the inspector replied: “Well, if you want something done about it, you should file a complaint.”

Why do we have such codes in the first place? It is not to keep up an aesthetic standard in neighborhoods, as you might have thought; it is, according to the code itself, only to address health and public safety threats. And, according to the inspectors, “weeds” are more often associated with insects, rats and snakes than non-weeds. The truth is that scorched earth clearing and exposed pools of standing water are most often associated with mosquito larvae; vegetable gardens, bird feeders and exposed food waste are most often associated with rats; and the rocky edges of streams such as Four Mile Run are havens for copperhead snakes.

Home owners should not be denied their property rights without compelling public interest. The remote suspicion that one might possibly imagine that there may conceivably be a non-zero probability that a mosquito, a rat, or a snake lives on someone’s land doesn’t cut it.

Photo by Mary McCutcheon


Armed Man Turns Out to Be Art Student

Arlington County Police Department badgeThere was a tense moment for Arlington County Police today as officers confronted a man dressed in camouflage and armed with a shotgun near Rosslyn.

The incident happened just before noon on the 2100 block of N. Scott Street, in the North Highlands neighborhood. A resident called police, reporting a man dressed in camouflage in the woods of Dawson Terrace Park. The man was pointing a shotgun at something, the caller said.

Officers located the man, ordered him to drop the weapon and then took him into custody. Upon further questioning, officers determined that the man was an Art Institute student videotaping himself for a school project, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The man was informed that possessing a firearm is prohibited in county parks, then released without charges.

“He was not aware that he was in the wrong,” Sternbeck said. “No charges were filed. He just packed up his truck and left.”


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