Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Governor Urges Va. Residents to Wear Masks — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday urged all residents to wear a cloth mask if they must leave their home… In light of the state’s prohibition of wearing masks law, Northam said Friday that “no law enforcement will be bothering anybody because they have a covering on their face.” [Patch]

One-Day Donation Drive Results — Arlington County collected 3,484 food items, 269 boxes of N95 masks, 323 boxes of surgical masks and 740 homemade masks during a one-day donation drive on Friday. [Arlington County, NBC 4]

VHC Gets Mask Donations — “We continue to be amazed by the generosity of our community! Shout out to all of the individuals and businesses who have donated food and supplies to our team on the front lines of COVID-19.” [Instagram]

Pub Owner Now Working As Cop — Mark Kirwin, the Irish-born owner of Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington and Kirwin’s on the Wharf in D.C., has closed both pubs during the coronavirus outbreak and is instead spending his days working as a reserve police office in the District. [RTE]

AM Water Main Break in CourthouseUpdated at 9:35 a.m. — “NB & SB N Courthouse Rd closed between 13th St N & 14th St N until further notice for emergency repairs. Seek an alternative route.” [Twitter]

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(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) During the coronavirus outbreak, healthcare workers are being hailed as heroes.

But one Arlington doctor had the police called to her office this week by a resident who was outraged that she was conducting in-car COVID-19 tests in the building’s parking lot.

Dr. Lillian Hunt owns a ground-floor office condo at The Chatham condominium building, located a mile south of Ballston at 4501 Arlington Blvd. She says she started testing her patients last Monday “as soon as my commercial labs could give me the test kits.”

“I started testing because patients and colleagues with exposures and/or viral symptoms could not get tested by the overwhelmed public sector,” Dr. Hunt told ARLnow. “When Arlington announced public testing the prior week, I sent an order to a patient who returned from Europe just before the international flights were restricted. The patient had a fever of 102.5, dry cough, sore throat, and severe malaise. She drove to the site across from W-L high school but was unable to get the test done due to excess demand.”

Despite her testing protocol reportedly following health department guidelines, some condo residents were incensed and wrote complaints to building management. (An Arlington health department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.)

“Management received some emails yesterday from residents with concerns about the doctor testing patients in their vehicles in the parking lot,” said a notice set to residents this week, adding that the condo association board and its attorney have been informed of the situation.

One resident went so far as to call the police. That resident, whose first name is Erika, reached out to ARLnow with her concerns.

“At the Chatham condominium in Arlington, Va. there is a rogue doctor’s office — Dr. Lillian Hunt — doing COVID-19 tests in the condo parking lot, much to the dismay of its hundreds of residents who live there,” she wrote. “With the closure of the gym at the building, many residents also use the parking lot as a home gym — many unknowingly exercising right next to COVID patients in their cars lining up for tests. Arlington is destined for a spike in COVID cases. And Chatham is going to be the epicenter.”

Erika also posted about her concerns on a Facebook group for the building.

An employee in the doctor’s office says they were “shocked” when police showed up and knocked on the door. Dr. Hunt said she was surprised and “saddened.”

“I was frankly stunned to have the Chatham residents call in a police complaint on me without any communication of their concern directly,” she said. “The officer was unaware that I was operating from a licensed medical office in a condo I own. The officer seemed as confused as my staff as to the complaint and quietly left.”

“My patients in the building did however call to express their support,” she added.

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Morning Notes

Police Searching for Groping Suspect — “N. Glebe Road at 24th Road N. At approximately 7:45 p.m. on April 1, police were dispatched to the report of an assault just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 7:30 p.m., the female victim was walking in the area when the unknown suspect approached her from behind and grabbed her buttocks. The victim turned around and yelled at the suspect, who fled on foot prior to police arrival.” [Arlington County]

Beyer Concerned About Small Biz Loan Program — “U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) this evening held an urgent conference call with representatives of over a dozen Virginia lending institutions to discuss questions and concerns about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan program.” [Press Release]

Caps Player Helping to Feed First Responders — “Caps player Garnet Hathaway may be off the ice during this pandemic, but he’s leaning into giving back. He’s got a program that is providing meals to Arlington County’s first responders.” [Fox 5]

Should Some Lanes Become Pedestrian Zones? — With greatly reduced levels of traffic, and guidelines for those out and about to maintain six feet of distance from one another, some localities are mulling temporarily repurposing vehicle travel lanes into pedestrian zones. A few residents are calling on Arlington to consider something similar. [Twitter, Twitter]

Follow ARLnow on Instagram — Stuck at home and want to see more of what’s going on around different parts of Arlington? Follow our Instagram account for daily updates from ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott. [Instagram]

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The owner of a local store went on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight last night to discuss the arrest of a store employee for shooting a would-be robber.

Jowan Zuber, owner of Arlington Smoke Shop in the Green Valley neighborhood, said 33-year-old Hamzeh Abushariah was sleeping in the store’s back office when he was awoken by loud noises. He encountered three masked suspects breaking in and fired three shots to scare them off, Zuber claimed.

One of the suspects, a boy under 18 years of age, was struck and suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

To Zuber’s surprise, police and the Commonwealth’s Attorney decided to level felony charges against Abushariah that could land him in prison for upwards of two decades, if convicted. Abushariah was denied bond, Zuber said, leading to concerns for his health while confined during the coronavirus epidemic.

“We thought we’re in the right. Three masked men at 4:30 on a Sunday morning,” Zuber told Carlson. “This is very sad for America today, as American citizens practicing the Second Amendment to protect the store and the lives.”

Zuber claimed that police asked Abushariah, “why didn’t you run out the back door?”

“This [tells] the criminals out there, hey we can rob stuff, kill people, hurt people, and guess what — people have to run out the back door,” Zuber said. “This is mind boggling.”

The Commonwealth’s Attorney Office, led by reform-minded prosecutor Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, defended the decision to charge Abushariah earlier this week.

“There’s evidence we are not at liberty to share that support the charges, the decision was not made lightly,” the office said on Twitter.

Update at noon — The Arlington County Republican Committee has weighed in on the controversy via Twitter, calling for charges against Abushariah to be dropped.

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(Updated at 9:55 p.m.) The coronavirus outbreak hasn’t held back the long arm of the law in Arlington.

Heavily-armed Arlington County Police tactical teams conducted a drug-related operation today, as seen in photos sent to ARLnow.

The incident pictured happened around 4:30 p.m. at the BB&T Bank parking lot (1100 S. Walter Reed Drive) near Columbia Pike. At least one person could be seen standing outside a car surrounded by officers dressed in camouflage uniforms.

A similar operation happened around 3 p.m. in the Green Valley neighborhood, according to a witness and a video reviewed by ARLnow.

ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed to ARLnow that “multiple individuals” into custody today as part of a “narcotics investigation.”

“The investigation is ongoing and there is no threat to public,” Savage said.

Additional details were not immediately available, and there’s no word on what charges, if any, will be filed against those in custody.

A similar amount of SWAT firepower was on display in February during another narcotics-related operation in the Virginia Square neighborhood.

Photos courtesy Michael Owings

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An Arlington man is facing a number of charges after police say he drunkenly charged at officers in an apartment hallway while half naked.

Police were dispatched to one of the RiverHouse apartment buildings in Pentagon City around 2 p.m. Monday, after a caller said someone they knew was intoxicated and “acting disorderly” in an apartment.

“Upon arrival, the subject charged at officers and remained combative,” Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Following the deployment of pepper spray and a taser, the subject was taken into custody. He has been transported to an area hospital for evaluation. No officers were injured.”

An ACPD crime report add that the 40-year-old man was “partially undressed” and that the taser was used after the pepper spray “had little effect on the suspect.” He now faces charges of Indecent Exposure, Obstruction of Justice and Drunk in Public.

More from the crime report:

INDECENT EXPOSURE, 2020-03300111, 1400 block of S. Joyce Street. At approximately 2:04 p.m. on March 30, police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown. The reporting party advised dispatch that the known male suspect was allegedly intoxicated and acting disorderly inside a residence. Arriving officers located the partially undressed suspect in the hallway of the apartment building. The suspect repeatedly ignored the lawful commands of officers to stop and get on the ground and continued to act aggressively and advance towards them. An officer deployed OC Spray, which had little effect on the suspect and he continued to advance towards officers. A second officer then deployed their taser, enabling the officers to place the combative suspect into custody. The suspect was transported to an area hospital for medical treatment. Kenneth Archer, 40, of Arlington, Va., was charged with Drunk in Public, Obstruction of Justice and Indecent Exposure.

Photo via Google Maps

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A business along Lee Highway was robbed by a trio of gun-toting robbers last night, according to Arlington County Police.

Police say two suspects entered a business on the 4500 block of Lee Highway shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday. One of the men pulled out a gun while the other grabbed cash from the register, police said, then the pair ran out and jumped in a getaway vehicle driven by a third man.

Police did not name the business, but the block is home to a 7-Eleven store and the Lee Heights Shops. As of Monday morning, the suspects were still at large.

“The investigation is ongoing,” police said of the case.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ARMED ROBBERY, 2020-03290155, 4500 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 11:15 p.m. on March 29, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that two suspects entered a business and demanded the employee open the cash register. One suspect went behind the counter and brandished a firearm at the victim, while the second suspect began removing cash from the register. The suspects then exited the business with an undisclosed amount of cash and fled in a light colored sedan, driven by a third suspect, prior to police arrival. Suspect One is described as a white male, approximately 5’2″, wearing a black and gray hoodie, khaki shorts and white socks. Suspect Two is described as a black male, wearing a black sweater, black shorts, white socks and slip on shoes. Suspect Three is described as a black male. The investigation is ongoing.

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An employee of a local shop is facing charges after police say he shot someone breaking into the store.

The incident happened Sunday morning in the Green Valley neighborhood, shortly before 5 a.m.

Police say a group of three suspects broke into a store on the 2400 block of Shirlington Road and began stealing cash and merchandise. The employee, who was in a backroom at the time, picked up a gun, opened a door into the store, and shot one of the suspects, according to an Arlington County Police press release.

The employee then retreated, before going back into the store and firing another shot, police said.

The wounded suspect was a juvenile male; he suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries. The two other suspects fled the scene before police arrived.

While police did not name the store at which the shooting took place, according to scanner traffic it was the Arlington Smoke Shop at 2428 Shirlington Road. The store’s employee has now been charged in connection with the shooting.

“Following consultation with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the employee, Hamzeh Abushariah, 33, of Washington D.C. was charged with Malicious Wounding, Reckless Handling of a Firearm and Violation of a Protective Order,” police said. “Additional charges related to the breaking and entering are anticipated at a later date.”

More from ACPD:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a shooting that took place in the Green Valley neighborhood on the morning of March 29, 2020.

At approximately 4:53 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of trouble unknown in the 2400 block of Shirlington Road. The preliminary investigation indicates that three subjects forced entry into a business and began stealing cash and merchandise. An employee inside a secure back room heard the break in, retrieved a firearm, opened the door to the sales floor and discharged the weapon, striking one juvenile subject. The employee retreated to the back room but reentered the sales floor and discharged his weapon again as the subjects were attempting to flee the business.

Arriving officers located the injured juvenile subject outside the business. He was transported by medics to an area hospital with injuries that are considered serious but non-life threatening. The other two subjects fled the scene on foot prior to police arrival.

Following consultation with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the employee, Hamzeh Abushariah, 33, of Washington D.C. was charged with Malicious Wounding, Reckless Handling of a Firearm and Violation of a Protective Order. He is being held without bond.

Additional charges related to the breaking and entering are anticipated at a later date.

This incident remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective Henretty of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4237 or [email protected] arlingtonva.us. Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Photo via Google

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A 34-year-old resident of the Los Angeles area is in jail here after an incident involving police in Crystal City.

Officers were dispatched to the Americana Hotel, along Richmond Highway, around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday for a report of a trespasser in a hotel room. After police arrived, the suspect resisted arrest and spit on an officer, according to Arlington County Police.

The responding officer called for backup as the suspect resisted, per scanner traffic.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT, 2020-03240048, 1400 block of Richmond Highway. At approximately 9:31 a.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the report of a trespasser. Upon arrival, it was determined that prior to police arrival, an employee of a hotel located the suspect asleep inside a room and instructed him to leave, however he refused and began acting disorderly. Arriving officers made contact with the suspect, who continued to yell and refused to identify himself. As they attempted to place the suspect into custody, he actively resisted and spit on an officer. Eric Slocum, 34, of Manhattan Beach, Ca., was arrested and charged with Assault and Battery on Police, Obstruction of Justice, Trespassing and Drunk in Public. He was held on no bond.

Photo via Google Maps

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Some people hoping to get out of the house and get some exercise are defying government efforts to maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday, Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools closed all athletic fields and courts, as well as playgrounds and other outdoor recreational facilities where people congregate.

On Tuesday, people could be seen climbing through a gap in the fence at the popular Washington-Liberty track, in pursuit of maintaining their exercise routines. The two missing bars on the fence appear to have been “kicked in,” a tipster said.

Experts say that people deliberately ignoring government-imposed closures and social distancing measures is a “formula for disaster” that can accelerate the spread of the virus. Such people may think they’re doing something innocuous, or that they’re at low risk of health consequences should they contract COVID-19, but the collective defiance can collectively lead to bad outcomes.

Arlington police, meanwhile, say they’re working with county park rangers to educate the public about the closures.

“Arlington County Police Department is supporting Department Parks and Recreation Park Rangers and Rovers in educating the public regarding the closures of County and APS parks, playgrounds, fields, restrooms, tracks, dog parks and athletic courts,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “The goal is to gain voluntary compliance with the closures through education and signs will be posted at all affected locations. Rovers/Officers responding to these areas are informing the public of the closures and requesting individuals to move along and practice social distancing.”

“If the public sees large groups gathering in these locations, they can contact the Department of Parks and Recreation Roving Monitor at 571-238-0265 from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays,” Savage continued. “Afterhours concerns can be reported to the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.”

Savage said police are also working to ensure compliance with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s recent order for non-essential businesses to close.

“In accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order 53, officers are conducting proactive checks of all businesses to ensure compliance with those that are required to be closed and those permitted to be open while complying with social distancing requirements,” she said. “The County has disseminated information to the business community regarding the Order utilizing listservs, phone calls and officers personally handing out copies during proactive checks. The goal continues to be 100% voluntary compliance and no criminal enforcement action has been taken related to Executive Order 53.”

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A Falls Church man has been arrested after police say he was seen pulling on car door handles in the Bluemont area early Tuesday morning.

The incident happened around 3:30 a.m. on the 5700 block of 8th Road N.

Arlington County Police say Kevin Gomez, 24, “was found to be in possession of alleged stolen items” and is now facing a theft charge. He also had outstanding warrants for his arrest from Fairfax County.

More from an ACPD crime report:

LARCENY (Significant), 2020-03240023, 5700 block of 8th Road N. At approximately 3:36 a.m. on March 24, police were dispatched to the report of suspicious persons pulling on door handles of parked vehicles. Upon arrival, officers canvassed the area and observed a subject matching the description provided by the witness. When stopped by police, the subject provided false information related to his identification. During the course of the investigation, the subject was found to be in possession of alleged stolen items. Kevin Hernandez Gomez, 24, of Falls Church, VA was arrested and charged with Petit Larceny and Providing False Identity to Law Enforcement. He was also served with outstanding warrants out of Fairfax County.

Arlington experienced a string of car break-ins since mid-2019, though police have announced a number of arrests over the past month or so. Many of the break-ins have been crimes of opportunity, involving unlocked car doors or valuables in plain sight.

The police department is continuing to remind residents to take precautions, even as officers step up patrols.

From an ARLnow article on a break-in spree in January:

Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage said police are taking a number of steps in response, but still need the public’s help.

“ACPD officers proactively patrol Arlington’s neighborhoods to identify and prevent criminal activity,” Savage told ARLnow. “The department’s efforts are enhanced by the active involvement of residents. Residents are encouraged to report suspicious activity to police for investigation by calling 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency.”

“We also encourage residents to reduce the opportunity for crime by participating in the 9 P.M. Routine,” Savage added, referring to the department’s campaign to remind residents to lock their doors and remove valuables from their cars.

 

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