Arlington, VA

The owner of the Arlington Smoke Shop in Green Valley says charges have been dropped against the alleged burglar shot by a store employee.

Jowan Zuber said this week on a GoFundMe page for the employee, Hamzeh Abushariah, that the “mastermind of the burglary” was “allowed to walk free” by prosecutors — while Abushariah remains under house arrest, facing serious charges in connection to the March 29 shooting.

Two other alleged burglars are still facing charges, after police say they broke into the store at 2428 Shirlington Road early in the morning and attempted to steal items. Abushariah was sleeping in a backroom of the store at the time, but woke up and grabbed the store’s gun. Zuber says the person who was shot is being “protected” by prosecutors.

“I can’t believe they’re protecting the criminal,” he said last night on Tucker Carlson Tonight, his second appearance on top-rated the Fox News opinion show. “I’m sure if the criminal broke into their house they would be doing 10 years in jail right now.”

Prosecutors, meanwhile, declined to confirm that charges were dropped against the suspect, who — like the other two — are juveniles.

“Based on the ethical rules which govern lawyers and prosecutors, we are very limited in what we can say about cases — and even more limited in what we can say about juvenile cases,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti said Monday, in response to an ARLnow inquiry. “The only question I can answer is that the case of the adult (shooter) is still pending.”

ARLnow previously reported that the third suspect had not been charged and was still “in a medical facility” almost one month after the shooting. Zuber told the Daily Caller that he appeared in court in a wheelchair.

Despite the juvenile’s injuries, Zuber said last night that it was not fair for Abushariah to be facing charges and the alleged organizer of the crime to be free, suggesting without additional evidence that there might be a political motivation.

“This is so sad and so shocking, the justice system is not working in Arlington,” he said. “The prosecutor’s office is very upset that I came on your show and spoke the truth and now they’re looking at the whole thing a different way.”

Following a preliminary hearing on July 30, Abushariah’s case is now heading to Arlington Circuit Court. Zuber wants police to release the full surveillance video of the shooting, which he claims shows the now-free suspect “lunging” at Abushariah before the shooting. Prosecutors say the boy was shot “point blank” in the back.

“I hope that Arlington County will share the video exactly,” Zuber said.

Zuber noted that Abushariah is under house arrest and cannot work or take his kids to the park, but still has to pay more than $1,000 per month in child support and fees for his court-mandated GPS monitor. The GoFundMe for Abushariah has raised more than $10,000 since last night’s “Tucker” show, and now stands at $13,349 of a $100,000 goal.

Zuber said the handling of the burglary case sends a bad message to young people.

“Hey you can go rob and steal and the prosecutor will stand next to you and defend you,” he said. “This is sad for justice, this is injustice.”

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Signs are up for a “store closing sale” at Lou Lou, a clothing boutique in Clarendon.

The store at 2839 Clarendon Blvd opened five years ago, selling fashionable clothes and a variety of accessories, like scarves, necklaces, purses and bracelets.

A store-wide sale is being held from now until Saturday, Aug. 15.

“Though we are sad to leave our clients in the Clarendon area, we are excited to offer them a great last two weeks of exclusive deals,” said company spokeswoman Michelle McNaughton, “and will continue to welcome them at our other
locations nearby in Fairfax, Alexandria, and D.C.”

Lou Lou is owned by Middleburg, Va.-based West Federal Retail, which operates 29 boutiques in the D.C. area and along the East Coast. More about the store from a press release:

Lou lou Boutiques is a local, family owned, retailer in business in the Northern Virginia area for over 15 years. Celebrating small business and local retailers is a passion of this woman’s fashion accessory brand. Through their Local Partnership program, lou lou features local artists and vendors in all store locations. Lou lou encourages their customers to continue to shop small and support our local neighborhoods. “It is truly the loyalty of our customers that make retail possible right now and we thank them for their continued to support.”

File photo

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Morning Notes

Death of WeLive? — “WeWork is exploring ending its push into communal living, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The New York-based office-sharing company is working with an adviser and holding talks about handing over operations of its WeLive location in Crystal City, near Washington D.C.” [Bloomberg]

No Fair This Summer? — “Whether the Arlington County Fair will be held as scheduled in August, and how it might change due to the impacts of COVID-19, remain an open question. ‘We continue to closely monitor the evolving situation and are committed to following the facts and recommendations provided by public-health officials,’ organizers of the fair said.” [InsideNova]

School Decision Expected by July 4 — “Arlington students, parents and teachers should know by the 4th of July what the county school system’s plan is for re-starting classes in the fall. In-person classroom instruction ‘is the goal we want to get to,’ new Superintendent Francisco Durán told School Board members on June 4, but he was not ready to commit to having students back in class when the school year begins Aug. 31.” [InsideNova]

Gyms CrossFit Weigh in on Founder’s Comments — Since the founder of CrossFit posted a controversial tweet, CrossFit gyms across the country — including in Arlington — have been posting statements to distance themselves from him. Greg Glassman has since resigned as the CEO of CrossFit. [Instagram, Instagram]

Local Nordstrom Stores Reopening Tomorrow — “Arlington residents hoping for a little retail therapy will soon have their desires granted, at least as far as one local clothing chain is concerned. The Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores in Pentagon City will reopen for customers on Thursday, according to a company release.” [Patch]

Axios Covering Fees for Protesting Employees — “Arlington County-based digital media company Axios distributed a companywide email stating that it would cover bail or medical bills for employees who have participated in recent protests associated with the police killing of George Floyd, The New York Times first reported Tuesday.” [Virginia Business]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Ballston Macy’s Property for Sale — “The Macy’s department store in Ballston is being offered for sale and possible redevelopment as the national retailer moves forward with plans to close underperforming locations across the country. Cushman & Wakefield recently began marketing the store at 685-701 N. Glebe Road to buyers on the company’s behalf.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Firms in Fortune List — Five Arlington-based companies are in the latest Fortune 1000 list of the largest companies in the U.S., including: AES (#310), CACI International (#549), E*Trade Financial (#755), Graham Holdings (#795) and AvalonBay Communities (#912). Amazon, which is building its second headquarters in Arlington, is #2. [Fortune]

More Millions for Snag — “Snag Holdings Inc., the Arlington parent company of hourly jobs board Snag, has raised $8 million in new funding, according to a new Securities and Exchange Commission filing… The company had raised about $10 million in debt funding in February 2019 and has raised a total of about $141 million over its lifetime.” [Washington Business Journal]

Synetic Pivots to Plague Play — “Synetic Theater’s final production of the 2019-20 season will feature a work that may be more than 650 years old, but has a certain resonance in the modern day… Written in Italy in response to The Black Plague of 1347-51, ‘The Decameron’ is structured as a collection of 100 tales told by a group of young people sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the pandemic.” [InsideNova]

Pentagon Officer Back Home After COVID Battle — “Patrick Bright is one of the most grateful people in the D.C. region tonight. He’s home from the hospital after a grueling six weeks fighting COVID-19… ​​​​​​​Friday’s homecoming was enough to inspire a hearty greeting from a convoy of Pentagon police officers who welcomed Bright — one of their own — home.” [Fox 5]

Emergency Power Proclamation Modified — “County Board members this week are expected to adopt an updated proclamation of a community emergency.” The new proclamation removes “a provision that potentially would have shunted aside the county government’s Long Range Planning Committee and various review committees that consider the implications of new development.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone

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Morning Notes

Social Distancing Decline in Arlington? — “On April 20 in Arlington County, Va., nearly half of cellphones that SafeGraph provided data for were staying at home. Over the next couple days in that suburb of Washington, D.C., the number declined to one-third — as low as it was during the middle of March. It has since increased but is still down from its peak.” [NPR]

Masks Now Required at Costco — “Costco has announced new guidelines for its stores and is requiring all customers — age 3 and older — to wear masks before entering stores beginning Monday, May 4.” [MSN]

MU Launches Program for New Economy — “Marymount has launched ‘Upskilling for the What’s Next Economy,’ a unique and comprehensive range of modular graduate certificates and degree qualifications that will provide students with technical, management, entrepreneurial and leadership skills and get them back to work.” [Marymount University]

Most of Foundation’s COVID Funds Exhausted — “Sixty-five Arlington nonprofits have received a total of nearly $800,000 in emergency response support from the Arlington Community Foundation COVID-19 Prompt Response Fund. On Giving Tuesday Now and throughout the week of May 4, the Community Foundation hopes Arlington residents and businesses will help replenish the fund to meet continuing urgent, crisis-related needs.” [Press Release]

Progress on I-66 Sound Walls — “Glad to see @VaDOT making progress on the installation of new noise barrier walls along I-66E in Arlington and Falls Church.” [@HopeforVirginia/Twitter]

School Board Candidates Worry About Accessibility — “Arlington Public Schools needs to do a better job of designing facilities that provide improved accessibility, candidates for School Board say, and should go well beyond consideration of physical disabilities in its design process.” [InsideNova]

Sims Scores Second Sitting Senator’s Support — “U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Cory Booker have announced their official endorsements for Arlington Virginia School Board candidate Terron Sims II.” [Press Release]

Campbell Elementary Teacher Featured on TV — “An Arlington County teacher is coming up with creative ways to keep her students engaged during distance learning. News4’s Leon Harris introduces Nicole Croce.” [NBC 4]

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) Arlington County Police are now on scene of a big traffic jam on Columbia Pike reportedly caused by a food giveaway.

Initial reports suggest that the Mega Market Express, at 5001 Columbia Pike in the Pike Plaza shopping center, is giving away hundreds of meals as part of a promotion announced on Facebook. Police were not informed of the giveaway in advance, according to scanner traffic.

A large crowd has gathered around the store and Columbia Pike is jammed with traffic in both directions. Streets approaching the Pike like S. Dinwiddie Street are also at a standstill.

“This is absolutely insane,” said ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott, after arriving on scene. “No one is practicing social distancing.”

Officers are working to spread out the crowd and get traffic moving again. As of 5 p.m., the store had closed and was beginning to hand out certificates to let people pick up their giveaway items at a later time, according to scanner traffic.

Arlington’s emergency alert system is encouraging people to avoid the area.

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Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and gourmet gift store The Olive Oil Boom is closing for good.

The store at 2016 Wilson Blvd in Courthouse, which opened in 2015, plans to close soon, after a 15% off sale for both in-store customers and emailed pick-up orders.

“After five booming years, we made the hard decision to permanently close our doors (or as they say in Texas “capping” the oil well),” owners Judy and Lynn Westfall said in a message to customers Tuesday. “We have enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people during this time and have made so many friends, feeling part of the community — however, we must move on.”

While the coronavirus has hit local retail businesses and restaurants hard, the Westfalls said the decision to close was made before the outbreak, but the current situation reinforced it.

“We made the decision to close in December as we want to spend more time with our family,” they told ARLnow via email. “However, Arlington has been a difficult environment for a small business due to high costs. As events have unfolded, it would be increasingly difficult to obtain many of our products which are sourced overseas in countries like Italy and Spain.”

“We appreciate all the support we have received from other local retailers and restaurants and wish them the best during this difficult situation,” the owners added. “We have enjoyed every minute of having this beautiful store! We will miss being part of the community, seeing our friends (both dog and human alike), and supporting the local organizations (e.g., Arlington K-9 unit), but hope to still see some of them around and support in other ways.”

They added that the response to the announcement has been swift, with orders and well wishes gushing in.

“We are overwhelmed with just the two of us with emails, orders, well wishers, phone calls,” the Westfalls said. “It’s heart-warming but exhausting.”

The store was temporarily closed this morning due to the crush of orders they’ve received, said Judy. The last day in business will likely be in mid-May, ahead of the May 31 end of the store’s lease, though that depends on how much inventory remains.

“We can’t thank our customers enough, we’re getting really nice comments,” an exhausted Judy Westfall said in a brief phone call Wednesday morning. “It’s making me cry.”

Closing Our Doors Soon. Last Call!Thanks for the Memories.Dear Loyal Customers and Friends,After five booming…

Posted by The Olive Oil Boom on Tuesday, April 14, 2020

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Before you ask: no, Bill’s True Value Hardware (2213 N. Buchanan Street) does not have any face masks.

Every day, Mark Ploskina — son of owner William Ploskina — says he gets around 100 to 200 calls with people asking whether or not he has masks. He gets one of those calls in the middle of an interview about the number of calls.

Mark said as the pandemic was getting started, the store was buzzing with activity as people rushed to get supplies.

“Before the mandatory shutdown, it was insanely busy in here,” Mark said. “People were looking for everything. Emergency related stuff — toilet paper, paper towels, masks. Since the shutdown it’s been about normal.”

While many food, retail and service locations across Arlington are struggling, Mark said the store — considered an essential business under Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s emergency orders — has had a steady stream of customers. Occasionally on weekends it gets too busy and Mark said they have to limit the number of people in the store, but so far they’ve been able to manage.

At first, the main items were coronavirus-related, but as spring has started to bloom Mark said that’s beginning to change.

“Everybody wants to congregate in the same area: plants, seeds and gardening,” Mark said. “[People go for] everything garden related. People are so bored.”

Mark said he’s happy people are coming in, but feels slightly guilty when he sees customers going out and buying non-essentials during the stay-at-home order.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “I want to serve the community, but there’s a lot of people coming in and these are not emergency supplies.”

As the pandemic set in, Mark said the store got a box full of masks — about $150 worth — but they sent the box straight to the hospital for use by healthcare workers.

“It was the right thing to do,” Mark said. “I want customers to be safe, but the hospitals need it.”

Photo via Bill’s True Value Hardware/Facebook

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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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A lot of local businesses are struggling during the coronavirus outbreak, but at least one seems to be doing just fine.

Nova Armory, the Lyon Park gun store that generated controversy when it opened four years ago, has had lines out the door for at least the past week.

The store at 2300 N. Pershing Drive, which did not respond to a request for comment from ARLnow, said via social media last week that it was only allowing six people inside at a time and increasing sanitation efforts, in order to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

Gun stores across Virginia have been seeing an increase in business amid the pandemic, NBC 4 reported.

The News 4 I-Team requested statewide data since the beginning of March and found the highest number of requests for background checks, 3,753, on Saturday, March 7, the very day Virginia announced its first COVID-19 case.

In the 10 days that followed, background check requests were up 45% from the same time period last year.

But Virginia State Police say this uptick hasn’t come close to the single-day record of 5,645 background check requests, set on Black Friday in 2019, shortly after Democrats won control of the Virginia legislature.

On Sunday, Nova Armory said it would be shifting to primarily appointment-based sales, starting Tuesday.

“All appointments will take priority over any walk-in customers,” the store said.

Photos courtesy anonymous

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Morning Notes

APS Creates Learning at Home Guide — “We have created a Learning at Home webpage that pulls details on instruction, additional educational resources for families, activities and resources for coping with stress. If you have questions, please send them to [email protected]” [Arlington Public Schools, Twitter]

How to Report Price Gouging in Virginia — “If you see excessive price increases for coronavirus (COVID-19) necessities, report it to Attorney General Mark Herring’s office.” [Facebook, Attorney General Mark Herring]

Costco Encouraging Social Distancing — Costco in Pentagon City has had lines out of the door every morning since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The line has gotten longer — and more spread out — in the interest of social distancing. [Twitter]

Airports Remain Open — Reagan National Airport remains open, reportedly with no plans to limit access. Most stores and restaurants at DCA also remain open, but with modified hours. [Twitter, Twitter]

Signature Theater Show Goes Online — “Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., is looking to make its production of Dani Stoller’s ‘Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes’ available online to ticketholders.” [New York Times]

Ramen Shop Offering Free Food for Seniors — “Gaijin Ramen Shop management and staff are heartbroken by elders without food because of the COVID-19 pandemic… We are offering FREE delivery of fresh vegetable ramen soup to any elderly in need.” [Community Post]

Free Pizza for Kids at Troy’s Italian — “On March 20, from 12-8 p.m. we will be doing free pizza slices for kids. We are also offering contactless curbside pickup. Call us at (703) 528-2828 when you get here, and we will bring the food out, and put it into the trunk of your car for you.” [Facebook]

Vehicle Inspection Enforcement Suspended — “Governor Northam has directed the Virginia Department of State Police to suspend the enforcement of Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections for 60 days.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

New Local Facebook Page — “Community activist and Arlingtonian Kellen MacBeth has centralized tools and resources for people in need during the coronavirus outbreak. His Facebook page, Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19, is up to 2,000 members in just one day of its existence.” [WDVM]

Nearby: Coronavirus Strikes Falls Church Senior Center — “A resident at The Kensington assisted living center in the City of Falls Church has tested positive for COVID-19, the Fairfax County Health Department reported today. It is the first reported case of the coronavirus in the City.” [Falls Church News-Press, Twitter]

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