Arlington County will conduct a training exercise this week that will test its ability to respond to biological emergencies.
The exercise will simulate the door-to-door delivery of medication in the event of bioterrorism or a natural pandemic. On Thursday, April 25, some 50 volunteers will deliver small bags to the doorknobs of residents at the Gates of Ballston and River Place West apartment complexes, and in the Aurora Highlands and Ballston/Virginia Square neighborhoods.
“The bag will contain emergency preparedness information and other contents designed to simulate the weight and bulk of the actual medication that may be delivered in an emergency,” said Kurt Larrick, communications manager for the Arlington County Department of Human Services.
He continued: “The purpose of the exercise is to enhance the County’s ability to respond in an emergency by understanding how long it might take to reach all doorknobs in Arlington, should the need arise to give out antibiotic medicine and provide important information in a public health emergency where timely delivery to the population is essential.”
Larrick was asked: could the door-to-door delivery of medication also help in the theoretical scenario of a zombie apocalypse?
“We take an ‘all hazards’ approach to our emergency preparedness and response, so I am confident in our ability to respond quickly and effectively to any scenario, including zombies,” Larrick told ARLnow.com.
Before the distribution exercise on Thursday, about 25 volunteers will gather at the Arlington Trades Center (2700 S. Taylor Street) on Tuesday to help assemble the materials that will be used in the exercise.
In the event of a real medical emergency, the county will have the option of delivering medication door-to-door, or setting up a number of “PODs” — or Points of Dispensing — in the community. While delivering door-to-door to Arlington’s 100,000 households sounds daunting, the county has access to more than 300 Medical Reserve Corps volunteers and 3,500 county staffers to do the job.
Advisory Lifted for Local Waterways — A warning from Arlington County to stay out of Arlington Branch, Lower Long Branch and Four Mile Run has been lifted. The advisory was issued on April 9 after a sewage release near Columbia Pike. “The precaution was issued to allow time for the effect of the release to be diminished by natural flushing of the streams,” the county said. [Arlington County]
Husband of Track Coach Caught Boston Chaos on Camera — John Walls, the husband of Bishop O’Connell cross country and track coach Cindy Walls, captured the chaos of the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings on video. Walls was waiting for Cindy and his daughter Katie to cross the finish line when one of the bombs exploded across the street from where he was seated. He was shaken but uninjured. [WJLA]
Burned-Down House Cited for Code Violations — The Hall’s Hill house that was destroyed by fire yesterday has been cited several times in the past for building code violations. Officials are now investigating whether property owner Paul Chretien was in violation of the code by allowing more than four unrelated people to live in the house. [Washington Post]
Police Seek Theft Suspect — The Arlington County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a 21-year-old man who stole an iPhone. “Police believe that the suspect has also been involved in several other crimes,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Pentagon Shooter Sentenced — Yonathan Melaku, the ex-Marine who pleaded guilty last year to firing bullets at the Pentagon, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison. Melaku had planned a terror campaign that included spray painting Arabic statements on gravestones and leaving explosives in Arlington National Cemetery, according to prosecutors. [Washington Post]
Bad Reviews for Rosslyn Safeway — While getting high marks for friendly cashiers, the Safeway supermarket in Rosslyn has earned a dismal 1.5 out of 5 stars in 53 reviews on Yelp. Customers have called the store “disgusting,” “gross,” “cavernous” and the “worst grocery store ever.” [Ode Street Tribune]
Gala Celebration for Wakefield High — The Wakefield Alumni Foundation will be hosting a celebration in May to celebrate the high school’s 60th anniversary. A new Wakefield High School building is expected to open this summer, and the present 1950s-era building will eventually be torn down. [Sun Gazette]
Wakefield Routs Yorktown — The Wakefield Warriors boys basketball team defeated the Yorktown Patriots by the lopsided score of 74-41 on Jan. 11. Wakefield improved to a record of 10-4 overall, while Yorktown fell to 5-8. [Sun Gazette]
Photo by Katie Pyzyk
Major Redevelopment Proposed for Rosslyn — A developer has proposed tearing down four office buildings and two residential towers between N. Kent Street and Arlington Ridge Road in Rosslyn, and replacing them with four new buildings, including 2.5 million square feet of offices, residences, hotel rooms and retail space. If all goes well, the project might even attract a Ritz Carlton hotel and a Harris Teeter grocery store. [Washington Business Journal]
Nuclear Attack Would Be Survivable for Arlington — Most of Arlington would survive a terrorist nuclear bomb attack on downtown D.C., according to a federal report released earlier this month. The biggest danger to Arlington wouldn’t be the initial blast, but would be the nuclear fallout afterward. One scenario suggests the Columbia Pike corridor would be vulnerable to fallout given a specific set of wind conditions. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington ‘Peeps Show’ Contestants — Arlingtonians are a crafty bunch. A number of semifinalists of the annual Washington Post “Peeps Show” diorama contest are listed as Arlington residents. Among them are the creators of “Faster Than the Peep of Light?,” “GOPeep Primary Debate,” “A Peeps Eye View into an Apeepment on M St.,” and “Marine Corps Marathon: The Peep-les Marathon.”
(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agents are conducting a terrorism investigation at a house in Douglas Park.
The FBI, NCIS and Arlington County Police are on the scene on the 1600 block of S. Randolph Street. Earlier, agents could be seen talking to two men outside the home, where the FBI says it was executing a search warrant.
The FBI now seems to be focusing their search on a shed behind the house. Agents wearing latex gloves and face masks have removed dozens of shoe boxes from the shed and piled them in the backyard. Agents have also put up a blue tarp to help shield their investigation from the dozen or so TV, radio and newspaper reporters camped at the corner of S. Randolph Street and 16th Street.
ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck confirms this is an “offshoot” related to today’s arrest of a Moroccan man by the FBI. The man, identified as 29-year-old Amine El Khalifi, planned on conducting a suicide attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to federal prosecutors. El Khalifi was living in Alexandria but was in the country illegally, prosecutors say.
(See the full U.S. Department of Justice press release, after the jump.)
The home raided by federal agents today has been owned by the same man and woman since 1997, according to Arlington County property records.
A longtime family friend who only identified himself as “Fred” was visiting and said he doesn’t know why the FBI would be interested in the couple. He said they have grown children as well as grandchildren, and live a quiet life at home.
“I don’t understand,” he said. “They’re good people.”
Though it doesn’t specify the address of the house in question, a federal court affidavit mentions a “residence in Arlington, Va.” as a place where El Khalifi allegedly discussed terrorism activity. From the Justice Department press release:
According to the criminal complaint affidavit, in January 2011, a confidential human source reported to the FBI that El Khalifi met with other individuals at a residence in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 11, 2011. During this meeting, one individual produced what appeared to be an AK-47, two revolvers and ammunition. El Khalifi allegedly expressed agreement with a statement by this individual that the “war on terrorism” was a “war on Muslims” and said that the group needed to be ready for war.
Board Members Argue for New Taxing Powers — Arlington County Board members aren’t too pleased with the Republican-controlled state legislature’s reluctance to grant new taxing power to localities. County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman called Virginia Republicans “extremists” who want to “wreck government” by not giving localities enough ways to raise revenue. [Sun Gazette]
Arlington Accepts Homeland Security Grants — Arlington will accept nearly $1.35 million in federal homeland security grants, after receiving County Board approval last night. The grants will be used to purchase license plate reading equipment and mobile surveillance trailers, for use by law enforcement agencies throughout the National Capital Region. [Arlington County]
Va. Square Building Sells for $62 Million — The office building at 3601 Wilson Boulevard, known as One Virginia Square, has changed hands. The building was purchased by an investment firm for $61.8 million. The previous owner acquired the building for $42.2 million in 2004. [Washington Business Journal]
New Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery — Arlington National Cemetery is constructing a new columbarium to hold the cremated remains of more than 20,000 deceased military members. Construction on the building is expected to begin in January and wrap up in mid-2013. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
County Adding Historical Preservation Tools — In an effort to preserve historic buildings in Arlington, the county is considering some new policies to its “toolbox.” Among the possible new strategies: purchasing properties threatened with demolition, using a “transfer of development rights” to convince developers to preserve historic properties and further surveying residential property in the county to find and catalog more historic properties. [Sun Gazette]
Man With Terror Links Owned Arlington Condo — Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi Arabian national whose Florida mansion was regularly visited by the 9/11 hijackers, also owned property in Arlington. In the mid-1990s, Ghazzawi owned the Penthouse condo in Rosslyn’s The Atrium building. [Washington Post]
Old ACFD Truck Lives on in S.C. — A retired ACFD fire truck that was among the first to respond to the Pentagon on 9/11 is still fighting fires in South Carolina. Quint 109 was retired from Arlington’s Station 9 in 2005, and was sold to the Anderson County, S.C. Fire Department. Although Anderson County repainted the truck, fire officials were careful to leave its “Operation Noble Eagle” sticker — indicating it was at the Pentagon on 9/11 — in tact. [Independent Mail]
With the “specific, credible” but unconfirmed threat of a terror attack looming this weekend, Arlington County authorities are asking residents to remain vigilant.
Already, there has been a noticeable uptick in calls to Arlington police for reports of suspicious persons, suspicious cars and objects, and suspicious activity. Using the motto “see something, say something,” police are asking citizens to keep it up.
Arlington County issued the following alert this evening:
This weekend will mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001. Residents of Arlington County may be aware of warnings issued by federal, state, and local agencies regarding potential attacks that may occur during this time. Police Chief M. Douglas Scott would like to assure residents that the Arlington County Police Department has plans in place to address needs as they occur. The police department would like to remind our residents of ways that they can assist in preventing future acts of terrorism.
The Arlington County Police Department joins our federal and local partners in the “See Something Say Something” campaign. The campaign is a simple and effective program developed to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism, crime, and other threats and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities. Remember that the suspicious activity does not need to be criminal in nature to report it to the Arlington County Police.
The 7 Signs of Terrorism awareness are listed below:
1. Surveillance: Recording or monitoring activities. May include drawing diagrams, note taking, use of cameras, binoculars or other vision-enhancing devices, or possessing floor plans or blueprints of key facilities.
2. Elicitation: Attempts to obtain operation, security, and personnel-related information regarding a key facility. May be made by mail, fax, e-mail, telephone, or in person.
3. Tests of Security: Attempts to measure reaction times to security breaches or to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures in order to assess strengths and weaknesses.
4. Acquiring Supplies: Attempts to improperly acquire items that could be used in a terrorist act. May include the acquisition of explosives, weapons, harmful chemicals, flight manuals, law enforcement or military equipment, uniforms, identification badges, or the equipment to manufacture false identification.
5. Suspicious Persons: Someone who does not appear to belong in a workplace, neighborhood or business establishment due to his/her behavior, including unusual questions or statements he/she make.
6. Dry Runs/Trial Runs: Behavior that appears to be preparation for a terrorist act without actually committing the act. Activity could include mapping out routes and determining the timing of traffic lights and flow.
7. Deploying Assets: Placing people, equipment, and supplies into position to commit the act. This is the last opportunity to alert authorities before the terrorist act occurs.
Arlington County residents are encouraged to contact the police if they observe suspicious situations by calling 9-1-1 or the non-emergency line at 703-558-2222.
Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott has issued a statement about the threat of a terror attack during this weekend’s 9/11 anniversary.
We adjusted our staffing levels earlier this week in anticipation of the 9/11 anniversary, so you may see additional officers around Arlington County. Our police officers are aware of the recent information regarding a “credible” threat, and the department is in close contact with federal law enforcement for updates. The Arlington County Police Department is committed to the safety of our community and encourages the public to report any activity that they find suspicious to our emergency operators.
Update at 11:00 a.m. — Arlington Police Chief M. Douglas Scott has issued a statement about the terror treat.
The Arlington County Police Department is aware of a new terror threat that U.S. officials are calling specific and credible, but so far the department has not taken any action in response.
NBC News is reporting that police in New York and D.C. have been alerted to a “specific, credible” but unconfirmed threat connected to this weekend’s 9/11 anniversary. The threat, obtained by U.S. intelligence, could involve truck or car bombs in either city, according to news reports. D.C. police officers have been told that they may have to stay on duty longer as a result, NBC’s Pete Williams reported tonight.
ACPD spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal says that the department expects to be told more about the threat tomorrow and will decide then on what action, if any, to take.
“Nothing has changed in terms of how we’re operating at this point,” she said.
Nosal added that Arlington police do have extra SWAT patrols around the county, but that the patrols are stepped up around this time every year for the 9/11 anniversary.
Arlington County is holding a special 9/11 commemoration at the Air Force Memorial on Saturday night
School’s Out for Summer — Today is the last day of school for elementary students in Arlington. High school students had their last day on Wednesday and middle school students had their last day on Thursday. [YouTube]
Man Charged With Pentagon Shootings — Alexandria resident Yonathan Melaku, 22, has been charged with destruction of property and firearm violations in five separate shootings at Northern Virginia military installations last year. Melaku was arrested in Arlington National Cemetery last Friday, authorities say, with a backpack containing a ammonium nitrate, a key component in certain explosives, and a notebook containing referencing Al Qaeda and jihad. Sources tell Fox News that Melaku was “self-radicalized through the internet,” but there’s “no indication he was planning to harm individuals.” [FBI, Fox News]
‘Rabbit’ Coming to Clarendon in July — The new salad-and-cupcakes store ‘Rabbit,’ from the father-son pair behind Tangysweet and Red Velvet Cupcakery, is expected to open in late July. Rabbit’s location in Clarendon is “the perfect place,” says co-owner Aaron Gordon. The 50-seat restaurant will also serve wine, beer and sandwiches. [Washington Post]