A robbery attempt in the Penrose neighborhood did not go as planned, after the would-be victim reportedly grabbed and broke a suspect’s replica handgun.
That’s according to scanner traffic and an Arlington County Police Department crime report today.
The incident happened Sunday afternoon on the 2800 block of 8th Street S., two blocks north of the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive.
“At approximately 2:35 p.m. on March 5, police were dispatched to the report of an attempted robbery,” said the crime report. “Upon arrival, it was determined the male victim and two unknown suspects arrived at this location for the prearranged sale of a computer. The suspects showed the victim the computer before brandishing what was later determined to be an air soft gun and demanding the victim’s money.”
“The victim handed the suspects cash and took control of the air soft gun,” the crime report continued. “The suspects then fled the scene on foot, dropping the money in the process. No injuries were reported.”
Scanner traffic at the time suggested that the black handgun, which looked like a Glock, broke when the victim snatched it away from the young suspect.
The suspects — described as in their teens or early 20s — showed up to the sale wearing hoodies and masks, according to ACPD. The computer in question was described as a Mac in a police dispatch.
“The investigation is ongoing,” police said.
Hat tip to Alan Henney
Pock, pock, pock. The local controversy over pickleball continues.
After strongly anti-pickleball flyers were distributed to residents who live around the Walter Reed Community Center, which is set to become a local hub for the noisy but increasingly popular sport, some tongue-in-cheek propaganda posters have started proliferating.
Over the last week, meme-y pickleball posters of presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy talking about pickleball have taken over a signboard on the other side of Columbia Pike, in Penrose Park, as well as in other parks.
The posters have generated some bemusement on Twitter.
One person called the bulletin board “unhinged” and expressed admiration for the “old school insanity” in real life. Another said that, because it’s Arlington, she genuinely “isn’t sure whether this is pro- or anti-pickleball.”
The chief poster creator, tracked down by ARLnow, said it is in support of the ability to play pickleball.
“The entire ‘pickleball wars’ is ridiculous,” says the poster creator, known on Twitter by the handle @ARLINGTONAF. “I’ve never played, don’t plan to, but I’m pro-pickleball because I’m pro-public park.”
Not in My Backyard!!!! pic.twitter.com/n9xtptO7Xf
— NIMBY Patrol (@NimbyPatrol) February 20, 2023
The enthusiastic embrace of pickleball during the pandemic led Arlington County to set aside some $2 million to add dedicated pickleball courts. The enthusiasm has soured slightly, with some neighbors complaining about the incessant “pock” sound made when the ball and paddle make contact.
But @ARLINGTONAF says it angers him to see people distributing over-the-top flyers — accusing pickleball supporters, among other things, of bullying children — or threatening to sue the county over the issue.
The volley of posters in Penrose Park, on Columbia Pike and in other parks with community sign boards feature Cold War-era U.S. presidents JFK and Reagan, as well as the anthropomorphic spokes-animals behind fire and crime prevention, Smokey the Bear and McGruff the Crime Dog.
#pickleballwars in arlington heating up pic.twitter.com/fVjJuSxLmc
— SRtwofourfour (@SRtwofourfour) February 15, 2023
Reagan is included in a number of posters. One quips “It’s true pickleball never killed anyone, but I figure, why take the chance?” in reference to a self-deprecating joke Reagan made about his work habits and the Iran-Contra affair.
One satirical poster utilized AI-generated art and a false history of pickleball’s supposedly Soviet origins. (It was actually invented in 1965 as a children’s backyard game in Washington state.)
“I think the prompt was ‘art nouveau Soviet pickleball players,'” @ARLINGTONAF said.
#pickleballwars continue! pic.twitter.com/jAR1xJwwva
— SRtwofourfour (@SRtwofourfour) February 23, 2023
But the signboard has long been “unhinged,” part of a neighborhood tradition of putting up wacky posters.
“There’s been a culture of whimsy on the Penrose Park bulletin board for a while, with classics like ‘cats on a lake’ and ‘ladder lessons,'” Twitter user @Pulp&Politics tells ARLnow.
That’s in reference to a mid-aughts Baltimore meme for the “3rd Annual Cats on the Lake” event, in which people are told to bring their cats to the Inner Harbor and “say Bon Voyage to a friend!” @ARLINGTONAF says he first saw this idea on a flyer in a building in Baltimore some 15 years ago.
“I’ve been putting random posters on the community boards and the like for decades,” he says. “I’ve made them all, sans the classified ones — that’s somebody’s else,” he says.
The classifieds advertise for pet ventriloquy — “I will make your dog talk at a party, or cat or bird: a surprise your guests might actually want” — as well as rentable safes and yard work.
@ARLINGTONAF has been making posters and chalking sidewalks for “as long as I can remember,” and has even sold prints. One oil pastel painting won him a prize at the Arlington County Fair.
And, because no Arlington debate is complete without a reference to the Missing Middle housing proposal — up for a vote by the County Board next month — the following is what JFK might have to say about duplexes and triplexes.
— Pulp & Politics (@pulpandpolitics) February 17, 2023
Arlington County police responded to several shots fired calls on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
No one was reported to have been injured in any of the three incidents of gunfire. The first happened in the Arlington View neighborhood, between Columbia Pike and I-395.
From an ACPD crime report:
SHOTS FIRED, 2022-12310180, 1500 block of 11th Street S. At approximately 6:10 p.m. on December 31, police were dispatched to the report of shots fired. Upon arrival, it was determined the victims were inside their residence when they heard what appeared to be shots fired. Responding officers recovered evidence confirming shots had been fired and located property damage to the exterior window and interior wall of the residence and a vehicle parked outside. No injuries were reported. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.
The next incident happened 24 hours later, on New Year’s Day, in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood just south of I-395.
SHOTS FIRED, 2023-01010187, 1400 block of 28th Street S. At approximately 6:10 p.m. on January 1, police were dispatched to the report of shots heard. During the course of the investigation, responding officers recovered evidence confirming shots had been fired in the area. No injuries or property damage was reported. The investigation is ongoing.
The third happened later that night in the Penrose neighborhood, between Columbia Pike and Route 50.
SHOT FIRED, 2023-01010233, 500 block of S. Veitch Street. At approximately 9:34 p.m. on January 1, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious circumstances. Upon arrival, it was determined the victim had returned home after an extended absence and observed damage to a bedroom. Responding officers recovered evidence confirming a shot had been fired and located property damage to a ceiling within a bedroom. No injuries were reported. There is no suspect description. The investigation is ongoing.
Separately, a juvenile female suspect is alleged to have shot two people in the Crystal City area with a water pellet gun on New Year’s Eve, in yet another drive-by incident.
ASSAULT & BATTERY (Significant), 2022-12310181/12310186, 1200 block of Crystal Drive/3500 block of S. Ball Street. At approximately 6:12 p.m. on December 31, police were dispatched to the report of a suspicious vehicle. The investigation indicates unknown female suspect(s) discharged a water pellet gun from a vehicle, striking at two victims. The victims did not require medical attention. The suspect vehicle is described as a silver or gray sedan.
Update at 3:05 p.m. — Numerous small, scattered outages have been reported around Arlington. The number of Dominion customers in the dark is now down to just over 800, with the larger earlier outage since largely resolved.
Earlier: Today’s frigid wind storm is just getting underway — complete with a recent bout of snow flurries — but many are already without power in Arlington.
As of 10 a.m., more than 1,500 Dominion customers are in the cold, according to the power company’s website.
The following outages were reported on Dominion’s map.
- 718 customers, in Penrose and Lyon Park
- 715 customers, between Ballston and Westover
- 114 customers, in Glebewood
- At least two smaller outages in Bellevue Forest and Ashton Heights
The Penrose outage has closed Arlington’s Dept. of Human Services offices at Sequoia Plaza, the county announced this morning.
DHS is closed today. Due to a power outage at Sequoia Plaza, Dept. of Human Services offices are closed today. Client appts will be rescheduled. Sorry for the inconvenience. @ArlingtonVA
— Arlington County Department of Human Services (@ArlingtonDHS) December 23, 2022
“Dominion Energy continues to closely monitor the extremely cold, windy weather and its potential to impact our Virginia and North Carolina service territory,” the company said in a statement today. “Our crews are positioned and ready to respond to any damage or power outages that may be caused as a result of the ice storm.”
“If you experience a power outage, please make sure you report it to Dominion Energy immediately,” the company added. “Please stay at least 30 feet away from all downed wires and damaged equipment. If you need to report an emergency or a downed wire, please call us at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357)… We appreciate your patience.”
The county is under both a Wind Advisory and a Wind Chill Advisory today. More outages are possible throughout the day, with 50 mph wind gusts expected.
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.”
A 54-year-old Alexandria man is in jail after police say he broke into and stole items from two cars and tampered with five others.
The arrest happened last night around midnight, in a pair of neighborhoods along Columbia Pike.
The man was caught, police say, after an alert off-duty officer spotted him trying to break in to several parked cars, then detained him until on-duty units arrived.
From an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
VEHICLE TAMPERING (Series), 2022-08250293/08260015, 2500 block of 9th Road S./1100 block of S. Walter Reed Drive. At approximately 11:56 p.m. on August 25, police were dispatched to the report of a vehicle tampering. The investigation determined that an off-duty police officer observed the suspect attempting to enter into parked vehicles in the area before making contact with him and detaining him until the arrival of additional units. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the suspect allegedly entered into and tampered with seven victim vehicles and stole personal items from two of the vehicles. During a search of his person incident to arrest, drug paraphernalia was recovered. [The suspect], 54, of Alexandria, Va., was arrested and charged with Vehicle Tampering (x4), Petit Larceny from a Vehicle (x2), Grand Larceny from a Vehicle, Credit Card Theft, and Possession of Controlled Paraphernalia. He was held without bail.
With temperatures rising and summer now here, the county’s spraygrounds and interactive water features are all now open except for Mosaic Park.
Arlington has four spraygrounds and two interactive water features that are typically open Memorial Day until Labor Day. Among them:
- Drew Park at 3514 22nd Street S. in Green Valley
- Hayes Park at 1516 N. Lincoln Street in Virginia Square
- Lyon Village Park at 1800 N. Highland Street in Lyon Village
- Virginia Highlands Park at 1600 S. Hayes Street in Pentagon City
Interactive Water Features
- Penrose Square at 2597 Columbia Pike in Penrose
- Mosaic Park at 544 N. Pollard Street in Ballston
As of this past weekend, they are all open with varying hours — save for the water feature at Mosaic Park. It’s currently closed for repairs, Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish says, but it should be open in about a month.
“We are still waiting for essential components to repair the Mosaic water feature,” Kalish writes, “It will be open before July 4th.”
The Ballston park underwent a $6 million renovation in 2019 after years of delays. It finally reopened to the public in late 2020.
Spraygrounds and water features are actually two different things, with spraygrounds specifically designed to be a play area for kids.
“A sprayground is a playground for children to get wet. An interactive water feature was designed for people of all ages to have fun viewing and getting wet,” Kalish notes. “Interactive water features do not meet Playground Safety Guidelines.”
The water features at Penrose Square and Mosaic Park are, despite the the all-ages designation, popular with children and families.
Of course, there are rules to follow while using the county’s spraygrounds and water features: No running, horseplay, or climbing on features is allowed. Pets are also prohibited and, please, avoid drinking the water, the parks department says. Enjoyment, though, is allowed.
“Having fun is permissible and highly encouraged,” reads the county’s website.
Just last month, Arlington’s park system was ranked number three in the nation by the non-profit Trust for Public Land. The availability of spraygrounds was cited as one of the reasons for the high ranking.
A new program seeks to increase equity in Arlington by planting more trees in certain neighborhoods.
The local non-profit EcoAction Arlington announced that it’s starting the “Tree Canopy Equity Program” with the goal of raising $1.5 million to fund planting at least 2,500 trees over the next five years in local neighborhoods that have too few.
Insufficient tree canopy is closely tied to heat and temperature increases. The reason certain areas of Arlington are hotter than others, like the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, is due in part to lack of trees, recent data shows.
“The neighborhoods most impacted by insufficient tree cover are communities with higher-than-average minority populations and communities with people living in poverty,” EcoAction Arlington said a press release. “The lack of trees has a real-world impact that can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes, higher utility costs, and a lower quality of life.”
The ten civic associations and neighborhoods that the program will work with are below.
- Arlington View
- Aurora Highlands
- Columbia Heights
- Green Valley
- John M. Langston Citizens Association (Halls Hill/High View Park)
- Long Branch Creek
- Radnor/Fort Myer Heights
The current levels of tree cover in those neighborhoods is between 17% and 33%, according to EcoAction Arlington.
“The goal is to radically increase tree planting in the neighborhoods with the lowest tree cover to align with the average for other Arlington communities of approximately 40 percent,” the press release says.
EcoAction Arlington executive director Elenor Hodges tells ARLnow that that the group has already begun to plant more trees. That includes American hornbeams, pin oaks, river birch, sugarberry, American sycamore, swamp white oak, and American linden.
The program needs about $150,000 a year to cover operations, marketing, staffing, and the actual planting of trees, Hodges says, with each tree costing about $500 to plant.
Amazon, an inaugural sponsor, has already contributed $50,000. The goal is to raise $1.5 million from other corporate and individual donors, while also obtaining funding from Arlington’s existing Tree Canopy Fund Program. This initiative allows neighborhood groups, owners of private property and developments, and places of worship to apply to have native plants or trees planted on their property.
Residents in neighborhoods lacking sufficient tree canopy note that the the problem is often tied to the construction of large, new homes and not prioritizing trees while building.
“As we lose trees due to infill development of large homes on lots in our neighborhood, they need to be replaced and even expanded,” John M. Langston Citizens Association president Wilma Jones tells ARLnow. “We all know that trees give off oxygen and they reduce stormwater runoff.
Natasha Atkins has been a resident of Aurora Highlands for nearly four decades and has “watched with alarm” the number of trees lost to homebuilding projects.
“With the County’s zoning code, requiring only very small setbacks for residential housing, it is questionable whether there will be much of a tree canopy in the future in the single-family neighborhoods that are being redeveloped,” she says. “Trees are an afterthought in planning and zoning. They should really be a driver.”
Hodges concedes that planting 2,500 more trees over the next five years will only “make a dent” and it will take tens of thousands of trees for all these neighborhoods to reach the 40% tree canopy threshold.
But the Tree Canopy Equity Program is just as much about what one can do today as what one can do tomorrow, says Hodges.
“It’s about behavioral change and teaching people about the importance of having a sufficient tree canopy in Arlington,” she said.
A new series of county-sponsored walking tours will distill the history of Arlington’s bootleggers, rum runners, and whiskey raids during Prohibition.
The “Bootlegger’s Guide to the Parks” trains its focus on the era of Prohibition, a 13-year period when the manufacturing and sale of alcohol was illegal in the U.S. The walking tours begin at a county park before ending at a local brewery, bar, or distillery.
The first tour, which will meet up at Penrose Park, is scheduled for Friday, March 25. Another is scheduled in April, at Rocky Run Park, while a tour in May will meet at Benjamin Banneker Park. Registration opens on Wednesday (March 16) for all three.
In the public’s mind, Prohibition has always conjured images of gangsters and criminal activity, making it a historical period ripe for movies and other popular entertainment. John McNair, a county park historian who is leading the tours, says that while we may associate the exploits that came with Prohibition with large metropolitan cities, Arlington had its fair share of dealings with illegal alcohol activity.
“We might consider these images of, say, Chicago or New York, but Prohibition was very real and very much on the table for people in Arlington County as well,” he says.
Even prior to Prohibition, several Arlington neighborhoods, like near the Key Bridge in Rosslyn, had earned reputations for attracting District residents who wanted to engage in vice. The reputation was well-earned, says McNair, with Arlington becoming a favorite place to grab a drink and play cards for many in the region.
While he doesn’t want to spoil too much about what the tours will cover, McNair says the March 25 event will focus upon the famed Thanksgiving whiskey raid of 1921.
On that day, federal agents joined up with police from across Virginia to raid four illegal distilling sites in Arlington.
“It took the eternity of the day. And at the end of which, they set state records for highest yield of [confiscated] whiskey products in Virginia,” says McNair. “While it made massive headlines at the time, the record would not stand for very long.”
Beyond the scandalous stories, McNair says the hope is that the programs bring in new audiences who want to learn about local history, parks, and public places. Telling stories about Prohibition in Arlington also opens up a window into what life was like here a century ago, during a very important time in America’s development.
“There were issues of suffrage, civil rights, the growing industry of war production that all became factors in how Prohibition plays out in Arlington,” McNair says.
Spots are limited on the walking tours and are open only to those 21 and over, due to a planned visit to a local bar. After all, how would be a Prohibition walking tour be complete without its own “raid” of a serving establishment?
‘Kindness Yard Sale’ in Penrose — “Susan Thompson-Gaines wants to spread kindness. This weekend, she’s doing it through a big yard sale at her house. She says it’s hard to miss the home she shares with her husband, David — it’s the yellow house with purple trim at the corner of South Second and South Fillmore streets in Arlington… what makes this yard sale different is that the proceeds are all spent on acts of kindness.” [WTOP]
Flood Cleanup for Pike Businesses — From WUSA 9’s Matthew Torres: “A dental hygienist sent me this other video of the flash flooding in Columbia Pike in Arlington. Their business had to close today as they clean up the water that seeped through. Other businesses are having to do the same thing.” [Twitter]
More Vaccinations Added to State Stats — “Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has incorporated vaccination data from jurisdictions in Maryland. Virginians who received vaccinations in Maryland that were not reported through the Virginia Immunization Information System are now included in the locality and statewide dashboards. The updated data reflects an increase in COVID-19 vaccine first dose rates of 0.33% Alexandria, 0.46% Arlington, and 0.39% Eastern Shore.” [Virginia Dept. of Health]
AFAC Gets Donation from Library Program –“Representatives of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library (FOAL), together with the Arlington Public Library and Arlington County Department of Technology Services, presented a check for $4,525 to the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). The donation represents the number of Library readers who successfully completed the 2021 Summer Reading Challenge. The Library’s popular Summer Reading program helps children avoid the ‘summer slide.'” [Arlington County]
Fmr. County Board Member Dies — “Jay Edwin Ricks, 88, passed away at home in Arlington, Virginia on July 18, 2021 due to complications of Parkinson’s Disease… In 1967, Jay was elected to the Arlington County Board where he served until 1971. During this time, he was active in transportation issues and Vice Chairman of Metro during the critical phase of planning the Metro system.” [Legacy]
Local Church Adapts to Pandemic — ‘As another wave of the pandemic comes at us, we are different as a congregation,’ said the Rev. Amanda Poppei, senior minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Virginia… Poppei’s congregation began hosting outdoor events in spring 2021, including a handbell parade to ring in Pride Month in June and a Flower Communion in May, which they intentionally designed as a multiplatform event.” [UUWorld]
The Penrose community helped save a wounded snapping turtle from being stuck in a window well last week.
On Wednesday (June 23), The Animal Welfare League of Arlington received a call from a concerned citizen about a rather large turtle inside of a window well of a Penrose house on the 800 block of S. Wayne Street.
AWLA dispatched an officer, who removed the turtle and contacted the licensed Virginia rehabber Olivia Lobalbo of Animal Education and Rescue Organization. It was thought that the turtle was female and potentially a mother-to-be since they often only come on to land to lay eggs.
“The rehabber assessed the situation and stated that the turtle was likely laying eggs in the area and to place it nearby in a safe space,” Jen Toussaint, Chief of Animal Control for the AWLA, tells ARLnow.
They decided to allow the turtle to make its way back home. So, AWLA asked folks in the neighborhood to monitor the turtle and stay in touch with the organization.
Over the next few days, the likely mama turtle was seen (slowly) moving through multiple Penrose yards. Eventually, it made its way to the corner of 9th Street S. and S. Wayne Street, according to a post on Nextdoor. At that point, it became clear that action needed to be taken.
“She had gone through multiple yards but was heading in the direction of attempting to cross Columbia Pike and one person noted seeing some flies,” wrote Toussaint. “Flies can be a sign that something is wrong or there is an injury.”
An AWLA officer again came back out on Saturday (June 26), as did Lobalbo from AERO, who took the turtle into their care.
Later, upon inspecting, Lobalbo found the turtle had a hole in its shell and an infected wound.
“I realized that there is a little bit of tissue that grew over the hole in the shell, but underneath was very much infected, and not healing well at all,” Lobaldo writes to ARLnow. “I have done my best to debride it… which seems to been a huge benefit as she is feeling better already. I’ve even gotten her to eat!”
Lobaldo confirms that she expects the turtle to recover and be released back into the wild soon.
Snapping turtles are not uncommon in the area, Toussaint notes. However, this was the first time she can remember finding one stuck in a window well.
“Window wells can be very dangerous for small wildlife this time of year,” writes Toussaint. “We strongly encourage residents to have window well covers that prevent debris and small animals like bunnies and chipmunks and now turtles from falling in and being trapped.”
It was due to the Penrose community’s diligent monitoring of the wounded mother turtle, says Toussaint, that AWLA was able to get her the help she needed.
“Extend my thank you to the Penrose community and AERO for looking out for this little girl and helping us ensure her safety,” Toussaint writes. “Arlington is such an amazingly animal friendly community and it’s a pleasure to work here in service to our community’s wild neighbors!”
In recent months, AWLA has been called on a number of times to help out Arlington’s animal neighbors including birds, a baby fox, and a really old cat.