Animal Shelter at Capacity — “Our dog kennels are at capacity (every single kennel is occupied)… but what about your home? That extra seat on your couch sure would be a lot cuter with a furry friend curled up on it.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Fox 5]
Parents Peeved at Teacher Transfer — From an online petition with nearly 500 signatures: “Dr. Sharon Gaston has worked at Taylor Elementary school for 12 years as the lead reading specialist. For the past 11 years she was appointed under 2 different principals as their designee. This past school year she applied to be the principal and unfortunately was passed over. The new principal… is transferring her to a high school. Why? We want answers.” [Change.org]
APS Announces New Principals — “So happy and proud to announce that Ms. Frances Lee has been appointed as the next principal of Ashlawn Elementary! She is currently assistant principal of Escuela Key.” “At the April 28 School Board meeting, the School Board appointed Ms. Bridget Loft as the new Swanson principal. Her appointment is effective May 3.” [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]
New Japanese Eatery at Mall Food Court — “Sarku Japan… The largest and most successful Japanese Quick Service Restaurant chain in the US is coming! Come celebrate the grand opening of Sarku Japan at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Sample their famous signature chicken teriyaki at the food court.” [Twitter]
Arlington Man Sentenced for Bias Attack — “A man from Arlington, Virginia, was found guilty and sentenced Friday for a hate crime attack on two Latino construction workers back in 2019. A judge sentenced Kurt Madsen, 53, to 540 days — nearly a year and a half — in jail, but suspended his term to time served as long as he completes two years of probation. Before his trial, Madsen spent 160 days in jail.” [WTOP, U.S. DOJ]
Police Memorial Ceremony Planned — “The annual Arlington County Peace Officers Memorial Day Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 10 at 8 a.m. at the Arlington County Justice Center, 1425 North Courthouse Road… The public is invited; the event also will be live streamed through the county government’s Facebook page.” [Sun Gazette]
Metro Starting to Buy Electric Buses — “New details of Metro’s Zero-Emission Bus Transition Plan, presented at this week’s meeting of the Board of Directors, outlines how the agency will transition to a zero-emission bus fleet including testing and evaluation, infrastructure and facility upgrades, and procurement efforts.” [WMATA]
It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 76 and low of 61. Sunrise at 6:10 am and sunset at 8:03 pm. [Weather.gov]
Prison for Convicted Drug Trafficker — “An Alexandria man was sentenced today to 14 years in prison for conspiracy, possession, and distribution of fentanyl and Eutylone, and being a felon in possession of a firearm during drug trafficking… Pills distributed by the conspiracy twice on December 20, 2020, contributed to the mixed drug overdose death of a 20-year-old female in Arlington, whose blood was later determined to contain fentanyl.” [Dept. of Justice, Twitter]
ACDC Lowering Participation Age — “Seventeen-year-olds would be able to participate in operation of the Arlington County Democratic Committee under proposed bylaw amendments. The change, part of a larger swath of amendments to be voted on in April, would allow those under 18 to participate in ACDC activities, including caucuses, if they would turn 18 before the next Election Day.” [Sun Gazette]
History of Columbia Gardens Cemetery — “Columbia Gardens, long run by the Thomas family, is the resting place of historic personages: car dealer Bob Peck, Sen. Robert Byrd, guitarist Roy Buchanan, and a host of prominent locals with names like Ball, Marcy, Mackay and Lyon. Retired superintendent Ned Thomas Jr. confirmed the story his great-grandfather (a co-founder) relayed: ‘Someone in the War Department knew World War I was coming and that Arlington cemetery was basically full,’ he told me. So the partners thought a new cemetery in Arlington would make a lot of money.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Marymount Boosts Local Economy — “A new study suggests Marymount University pumps $236 million annually into the local economy, directly and indirectly, and is responsible for a cumulative payroll of about $90 million. The study, released by the university, looks at both the direct impact of the university on local economic conditions, and indirect impacts, such as spending by students.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Monday — Rain in the evening. High of 75 and low of 57. Sunrise at 6:33 am and sunset at 6:09 pm. [Weather.gov]
A D.C. man convicted of raping a massage therapist in a Columbia Pike apartment building in 2018 has been sentenced to life in prison.
It was the second rape conviction for 63-year-old Salodus Zeloter Hicks, thus leading to the lengthy sentence from Arlington County Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo.
Hicks was arrested less than a week after the crime, after a 16-hour standoff at a home in Northwest D.C. Arlington County police were assisted by D.C. police and the FBI; Hicks was safely apprehended after he finally surrendered.
In a statement, Arlington County Police Chief Andy Penn called Hicks “a sexual predator [who] will never have the opportunity to target another member of our community.” Arlington’s top prosecutor, Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, said the sentence “is severe, but warranted.”
More from a county press release, below.
After being found guilty by an Arlington County jury in September, Salodus Zeloter Hicks, 63, of Washington D.C. was sentenced on Friday, February 25, 2022, to life in prison plus 12 months for a rape that occurred in 2018. Judge DiMatteo imposed a sentence of life in prison on the charge of rape (2nd offense) and 12 months on the charge of assault & battery.
At approximately 4:02 p.m. on September 17, 2018, police responded to the 5500 block of Columbia Pike for the late report of a rape. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim and suspect made contact through an online advertisement for massage therapy. After the suspect arrived for the massage appointment, he asked for sexual services and when the victim refused, he strangled and raped her.
Following the assault, the suspect fled the scene but was captured on surveillance video. A press release requesting the public’s assistance helped identify Hicks as the suspect. On the evening of September 26, 2018, detectives attempted to execute search and arrest warrants on the suspect at his residence in NW Washington, D.C. The suspect refused to exit the residence and following a 16-hour barricade, he surrendered and was taken into police custody with assistance by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Metropolitan Police Department. Once in custody, the search warrant was executed and additional evidence linking him to the rape was recovered.
“Mr. Hicks never made any statements about what occurred, but the evidence did all the talking for him,” said Chief Andy Penn. “The persistent investigative work and prosecution led to an ultimate sentence that ensures a sexual predator will never have the opportunity to target another member of our community.”
“I’m grateful to the survivor for her courage in testifying against her attacker, and to the police and our trial team for their dedication in investigating and prosecuting the case,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. “A life sentence is severe, but warranted, because Mr. Hicks previously had been convicted of rape. Our duty first, last, and always is to protect the community from the sort of harm Mr. Hicks caused while affording him a fair trial, and we did that.”
Rapist Gets Life in Prison — “Michael F. Thomson, 65, of Montross, VA pled guilty and was sentenced on Friday, February 11, 2022, in the Arlington County Circuit Court to life in prison plus 56 years for his role in a 1991 cold case rape series. Judge DiMatteo imposed a sentence of life in prison on one count of rape, 50 years on a second count of rape, 10 years with eight suspended on one count of attempted abduction with intent to defile, and two years each on two counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of the rapes.” [ACPD]
Police Auditor Bill May Pass — “Bills acceding to a request by the Arlington County Board to employ a police auditor have won approval in each house of the General Assembly, suggesting the measure likely will make it the desk of Gov. Youngkin… Adding a police auditor responsible to the board, rather than county manager, was one of the recommendations when County Board members in 2021 approved revisions to policing policies in the county.” [Sun Gazette]
Fire Depts. Adjust to Bridge Issues — “How bad are structural issues with the T.R. Bridge? It isn’t just the public impacted by emergency repairs. STATter911 has learned both @ArlingtonVaFD & @dcfireems are restricting how fire apparatus can access the bridge for emergencies.” [Twitter]
It’s Thursday — Today will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 67 and wind gusts as high as 33 mph. Sunrise at 6:56 a.m. and sunset at 5:48 p.m. Rain tonight and Friday morning. Mostly cloudy through mid morning Friday, then gradual clearing, with a high near 54. Breezy, with a northwest wind 16 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. [Weather.gov]
Lockheed Downsizes Arlington Presence — “Lockheed Martin Corp. has re-upped its Crystal City presence, but for less space. The nation’s largest government contractor renewed its lease at 2121 Crystal Drive, but for only 180,000 square feet, downsizing from 220,000 square feet, according to CBRE. That 18% contraction accounts for one floor of the 12-story, 505,000-square-foot office building.” [Washington Business Journal]
More Office Interest in Ballston — “It’s masks on as Mark Witschorik readies for another tour at Ballston Exchange. The 783,000-square-foot office complex at the heart of the Arlington neighborhood was once the home of the National Science Foundation, but since it left in 2017, developer Jamestown has worked to bring new office users into the building… Witschorik, Jamestown’s senior vice president of asset management, says things are picking up.” [Washington Business Journal]
Local Man Sentenced in Child Porn Case — “An Arlington man was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for production and receipt of child pornography… According to court documents, Abraham Razook, 43, admitted to sexually exploiting a prepubescent minor on multiple occasions and producing videos of this abuse.” [Dept. of Justice]
German Struggles at APS Abate — “Arlington school officials say they’re hoping to be back on track by the end of the month to address yet another crisis that popped up at the start of the school system – the lack of a teacher to instruct students in certain German-language classes. The educator who instructed the classes was among those who left the school system at the start of the school year, requiring some students taking German to receive instruction online as a stopgap measure. That provoked a furor among some impacted students and their parents.” [Sun Gazette]
An Arlington man has been sentenced to decades in prison for killing a man in the Douglas Park neighborhood three years ago.
Michael Nash, 29, is set to spend nearly 35 years behind bars. Five years and one month of the 40 years sentence was suspended. Nash will have five years of supervised probation.
Earlier this summer, Nash pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing Arlington resident Patricio Salazar, who had tried to intervene when he found Nash sexually and physically assaulting his then-girlfriend. Other charges, including forcible sodomy and robbery, were dropped as part of the agreement.
“It was the most accurate charge for the most serious conduct, and it had the support of the other victims,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said.
At a 2019 hearing, Nash’s then-girlfriend told a judge that they argued loudly enough for police to come, but were allowed to leave together after separate interviews, the Washington Post reported. They continued walking and ended up on near Doctor’s Run Park.
That’s when Nash “pushed her to the ground and began beating her, stripping her of her clothing and touching her sexually,” the Post reports.
Salazar tried to stop him, but Nash beat him and knocked him unconscious, police said at the time. Salazar was transported to George Washington University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Nash fled the scene and robbed a woman of her cell phone, police previously said. Officers and a police helicopter eventually apprehended Nash near the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.
Salazar’s sister Loty launched a GoFundMe fundraiser to honor her brother’s life and raise money for three organizations that support victims of sexual assault in the U.S. and Bolivia. It brought in more than $30,000. Bradley Flood, a witness, also raised money for the family.
His sister remembered Salazar as “one of the most kindhearted and genuine people I have ever met.”
“And, as he showed by his final act of great courage, he was a man of integrity and character, who believed in doing the right thing no matter what the cost,” she wrote.
Flood wrote that it chills him to think what would have happened if Salazar had not intervened.
“He is a Good Samaritan if there ever was one,” he said.
Man Sentenced for Drunken Gunfire — “The Weedsport [New York] man arrested for publicly firing a gun in the Washington area days before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was sentenced April 28 in Arlington County Circuit Court. Moses Geri, 39, was sentenced to two years in prison, with one year and eight months suspended… His sentence was issued days after the court rejected a previous plea agreement that would have made all 12 months of Geri’s probation unsupervised.” [The Citizen]
VHC Now a Level II Trauma Center — “Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, is proud to announce that it has received a Level II Trauma Center designation from the Commonwealth of Virginia, filling a critical community need.” [Press Release]
County Hosting Virtual ‘Healing’ Conference — “The Child and Family Services Division (CFSD) announces Building Healing Communities: Conversations on Mental Health, Resilience, and Equity… The free, four-day virtual community conference — offered with simultaneous Spanish translation throughout — kicks off on Thursday, May 20 at 6 p.m.” [Arlington County]
New Apartment Tower Now Leasing — “Leasing has begun at Aubrey, the first of three high-rise residential buildings at the Highlands, a mixed-use development in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Arlington, Va. Under development by Penzance, the 23-story-tall Aubrey building at 1788 N. Pierce St. includes 331 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Evo, the second apartment tower, is anticipated to begin leasing this summer. The third tower is the Pierce condominium, which is selling now.” [Washington Post]
Big Motorcycle Rally Back On — “Things are coming together for a major Memorial Day weekend motorcycle rally. It now has an official starting area and it looks like more bikers could be coming. ‘At the very last minute, the mayor came through for us,’ said Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS. The veterans service organization is arranging the ‘Rolling to Remember’ event, which is the successor to ‘Rolling Thunder.'” [WTOP]
Sentencing in Arlington Cold Case — “A Virginia cold case closed Thursday as Jose Rodriguez-Cruz was sentenced to 40 years in prison in Stafford County for the killing of his wife. Marta Rodriguez went missing from Arlington in 1989, when her son, Hansel Rodriguez, was just four years old… ‘It almost felt like I was able to breathe for the first time in many years,’ said Hansel, now 36.” [NBC 4]
Wheel Theft Spree Along Columbia Pike — “On April 7, police responded to multiple reports of larcenies from auto. The investigations determined that between 6:30 p.m. on April 6 and 7:35 a.m. April 7, the suspect(s) removed all four tires and rims from the four victim vehicles. There is no suspect(s) description. The investigation is ongoing.” [ACPD]
DCA Traveler Traffic Recovering — “The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reports that passenger originations at Reagan National were down 68.9 percent in March compared to the pre-pandemic March 2019. In a way, that’s positive news – Reagan National typically has been down 80 percent even as airports in other parts of the country have started to see rebounds.” [Sun Gazette]
ACFD Salutes Fallen Officer — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “[On Wednesday] we detailed crews along the I-66 overpasses to salute fallen @CapitolPolice Officer Billy Evans as his procession passed through @ArlingtonVA. Doing this twice within a few months hurts. We’re keeping Officer Evan’s family and the USCP in our thoughts & prayers.” [Twitter]
Firefighters Push for Higher Pay — Updated at 8:45 a.m. — “Brian Lynch, president of the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association (APFPA), called on the Arlington County Board Tuesday to implement a pay increase for county firefighters when it adopts the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. ‘Being firefighters has always meant risking our lives for others,’ Lynch said, during a Tuesday night public hearing.” [Patch]
A man who terrorized businesses in Arlington, Alexandria and elsewhere from 2018 to 2019 is going to prison.
Freddy Lee McRae, 35, pled guilty to a series of bank and retail robberies last year. On Tuesday McRae, dubbed the “Beltway Bank Bandit,” was sentenced to 21 years in federal prison.
“This case involved a chilling armed robbery spree during which innocent community members were threatened with serious injury or death if they did not comply with repeated demands for money,” Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. “We are thankful to our law enforcement partners for their thorough investigation across multiple jurisdictions to bring the defendant to justice.”
As detailed in a press release, McRae’s crime spree included the attempted robbery of a Capital One branch on Columbia Pike, the armed robbery of Legend Kicks & Apparel on the Pike, and a subsequent police chase on the GW Parkway that ended with McRae crashing his car into the river and trying to swim to freedom.
On December 10, 2018, McRae robbed a Burke & Herbert bank branch located in Alexandria. McRae approached a teller, who asked if he wanted to make a deposit. McRae responded, “gimmie your money,” before lifting up his shirt and pulling a pistol from his waistband, which he pointed at the teller. As the teller gathered money, McRae racked the slide on the pistol and demanded all large bills. McRae fled with approximately $1,366 in cash.
On April 21, 2019, McRae robbed the Legend Kicks & Apparel store located in Arlington. McRae brandished a pistol and demanded that two store employees empty their pockets, which they did. McRae then ordered the employees to lie on the floor before taking approximately $2,160 in cash that belonged to the store. McRae fled the store on foot and the area by vehicle. When a law enforcement officer tried to pull over the vehicle, McRae stopped only briefly before leading law enforcement officers on a vehicle pursuit on the George Washington Memorial Parkway. McRae ultimately jumped out of his moving vehicle prior to it crashing and sinking into the Potomac River. McRae tried to flee law enforcement by jumping into the river, but officers pulled him out and placed him under arrest.
As part of his guilty plea, McRae also admitted to robbing a Bank of America branch in Springfield on October 27, 2018; a BB&T branch located in Alexandria on December 20, 2018; and a Capital One branch located in Bowie, Maryland, on January 2, 2019. McRae further admitted to attempting to rob a Capital One branch located in Arlington on February 11, 2019, and to obstructing justice following his apprehension.
“This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Northern Virginia Violent Crime Safe Streets Task Force, which is composed of FBI Special Agents and Task Force Officers from northern Virginia law enforcement agencies,” the press release noted. “Significant investigative assistance in this case was provided by the Arlington County Police and the Fairfax County Police.”
A South Carolina man who forcibly stole a woman’s car and then fled from police has received a nearly four year prison sentence.
On the evening of June 22, 2020, police say Verdell Floyd carjacked a woman in a gas station near Shirlington. According to police, Floyd approached the woman while she was pumping gas “and demanded the vehicle.”
Floyd, then 19, drove into Fairfax County before driving back into Arlington and fleeing from police at a high rate of speed. He later abandoned the car and was arrested after a K-9 search, according to Arlington County police.
The Columbia, South Carolina resident pleaded guilty to felony charges of carjacking and eluding police in January. Last week, he was sentenced in Arlington Circuit Court.
“The court sentenced Mr. Floyd received a sentence at the mid-point of his sentencing guidelines, which requires that he serve an active sentence of 3 years and 8 months to serve,” Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti told ARLnow, in response to inquiries about the case. “The exact sentence was 15 years, with all but 3 years and 6 months suspended on the carjacking charge, and on the eluding charge, 12 months with 10 months suspended. He will be required to engage in supervised probation for 5 years upon release.”
ARLnow also asked about other cases stemming from the rise in carjackings both in Arlington and around the region, specifically seeking stats on such prosecutions in Arlington and comment on how those cases are being handled.
Dehghani-Tafti replied simply: “As for the other cases, we are prosecuting them.”
Arlington Startup Founder Going to Prison — “An Arlington start-up that promised to help people root out schemes and scams in their own lives was, nearly from the start, a cash cow for the founder’s extravagant lifestyle, start-up CEO Daniel Boice acknowledged in Alexandria federal court Friday… ‘It would be difficult to describe the havoc you created by your fraudulent actions,’ Judge T.S. Ellis III said before sentencing Boice to eight years in prison. ‘It’s an egregious fraud.'” [Washington Post, Dept. of Justice]
Bad Crash on GW Parkway — “A car split in half after crashing into a tree near the First Overlook [of the] George Washington Memorial Parkway Sunday morning, U.S. Park Police confirms. The driver of the car was the only one in the vehicle and was immediately taken to a nearby hospital. U.S. Park Police say their injuries are non-life-threatening.” [WUSA 9, Twitter, Twitter]
Pro-Reopening Parents Blast APS Superintendent — “During the Monitoring Report from Dr. Durán to the School Board, we heard that due to “monumental logistical challenges,” APS will remain hybrid for the remainder of this academic year… Arlington Parents for Education urges the School Board to vote on an urgent and rapid return to school plan when they meet again next — or, if not, propose a vote of no confidence in Dr. Durán for failing to deliver such a plan.” [Press Release]
Group Wants to Save Whitlow’s Building — “As you have seen in the news, Whitlow’s is planning to relocate due to being unable to renegotiate their lease at 2854 Wilson Blvd. However, the building is for sale and presents an investment opportunity and chance to keep Whitlows at its historic location. This form is simply to gauge interest in being part of a group to purchase the building, and is not a commitment to forming any business arrangement, putting up capital, or the like.” [Google Forms, Twitter]
Early Voting Locations for Primary Set — “Members of the Arlington Electoral Board on March 25 approved plans for two satellite-early-voting centers to be used in the runup to the June 8 Democratic primary. Walter Reed and Madison community centers previously had been designated as the locations for early voting by the County Board. The March 25 action set days and hours they will be in operation, although refinements could still be made.” [Sun Gazette]
Local Gov. Candidate Wants to Nix Income Tax — “Could Virginia’s next governor be from Arlington? It’s a longshot, perhaps, but there’s at least one candidate in the running. Arlingtonian Peter Doran on March 24 made his pitch to the Arlington County Republican Committee, saying new thinking is needed if the GOP is to end its drought in statewide elections… Doran pitched the idea of eliminating Virginia’s state income tax.” [Sun Gazette]