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Washington Nationals star Juan Soto in Arlington (via Bleacher Report/YouTube)

(Updated at 2 p.m.) Washington Nationals all-star outfielder Juan Soto says in a new video that he recently moved into a new house in Arlington.

The video, below, shows Soto visiting a mini golf course and a frame shop in the county. Specifically, the mini golf at Upton Hill Regional Park and Italo Frame in Clarendon. The video also features shots of Ballston and a visit to Caribbean Plate restaurant in Falls Church.

The video of Soto’s “day off in Arlington” was published by the sports site Bleacher Report and sponsored by Wells Fargo, which scores some product placement when Soto goes to pay for things.

Soto, one of the brightest young stars in baseball, will soon play in his second All-Star Game. The Nationals have been trying to sign him to a long-term contract extension, which would likely be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

It’s unclear where exactly in Arlington Soto now lives. The video gives no hints of it as he visits the store to get several pictures framed for his new home.

Local real estate agent Matt Leighton, who has previously written about other athletes and their Arlington homes — including former Nats slugger Bryce Harper, who once lived in a penthouse condo in Rosslyn — says the county is particularly attractive for athletes given its proximity to the District, urban amenities and, in some cases, relative privacy.

“Arlington is very popular for D.C. athletes, especially for Caps and Nats players,” Leighton tells ARLnow. “Usually, Commanders players will live out closer to their practice facility in Ashburn while Wizards players will live closer to Capital One area in Downtown D.C. Although John Wall, Marcin Gortat and a few other Wizards have called Arlington home in recent years.”

“The luxury condo buildings in the Courthouse and Rosslyn area are prime spots for D.C. athletes to call home,” Leighton continued. “If the player gets a contract extension, they may buy a house in Arlington. Country Club Hills, Williamsburg, Lyon Park and Bellevue Forest are all popular among athletes as they are conveniently located and offer some level of privacy.”

Leighton added that he is “not sure” where Soto lives. Wherever it is, Soto presumably thought out the privacy implications of his move more so than a young, budding Capitals star a decade and a half ago.

“I guess nobody told [Alexander] Ovechkin about privacy when he bought a home in 2005 as a 20-year-old on a major cut-through street in Ballston,” Leighton said. “Ovechkin’s Arlington house, which has been rented out ever since Ovechkin moved to McLean, will be coming up for sale in the near future.”

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Morning Notes

Lightning over Cherrydale last night (photo courtesy Kennedy Combs)

‘Missing Middle’ Fight Heats Up — “The topic of housing wasn’t even on the agenda for lawmakers in Arlington County, but residents streamed into one recent meeting with a sea of posters to express their dueling views on the issue… That raucous meeting offered a taste of what promises to be one of the most contentious political battles in recent memory in Arlington: a proposal to legalize ‘missing middle’ housing — from townhouses to duplexes to eight-unit buildings — that many are treating as an existential debate over the future of this affluent, deep-blue Northern Virginia suburb.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Has Priciest Local Rent — New data shows that the average rent for one-bedroom apartments in Arlington is the highest in the region, after rising 5% month over month to $2,310/mo. [Zumper]

Video: A Ride in the RainUpdated at 9:20 a.m. — “Was just past the White House on Constitution Ave heading… towards Arlington when I got pummeled by rain.” [YouTube]

Videos: Stormy Evening — Videos posted to Twitter show the strong wind and the spectacular lightning from yesterday evening’s storm. [Twitter, Twitter]

It’s Wednesday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 74. Sunrise at 5:55 am and sunset at 8:35 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Man standing on the edge of the Route 1 overpass over 15th Street S. in Crystal City

(Updated at 1:50 p.m.) A tow truck driver helped to defuse a tense situation in Crystal City yesterday (Wednesday) morning.

Police were dispatched to the area for a man standing on the edge of a Route 1 overpass. It was unclear why the man was standing there, but there was concern that he might jump to the roadway below.

Video shared with ARLnow, below, shows the shirtless man gesticulating wildly while standing above 15th Street S. A police source told ARLnow that a driver with Advanced Towing stopped and “talked this guy down.”

Reached via email, Advanced owner John O’Neill confirmed the report.

“One of my drivers… noticed a man [who] walked out on an overpass,” he said. “Ryan called 911 but approached the man and talked him into not doing anything dumb.”

Police were later able to catch up with the man and get him help. A police spokeswoman described the incident as a “mental health call for service.”

“At approximately 9:26 a.m. on June 29, an off-duty officer observed a man walking along northbound Richmond Highway,” Arlington County Police Department Public Information Officer Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Additional calls to the Emergency Communications Center stated the man was standing near the edge of the overpass in the area of 15th St. S. and S. Eads St. The individual subsequently left the area and was located by responding officers in the Crystal City Shops.”

Advanced Towing is arguably the most frequently criticized local business in Arlington, earning the ire of locals for its ruthless efficiency in towing unauthorized vehicles in private parking lots (and, occasionally — allegedly — damaging vehicles in the process). An incident with then-ESPN reporter Britt McHenry made national news and there’s even a website devoted to calling the company a “fraud.”

A lawsuit by former Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring called Advanced “predatory” and accused it of “illegal” tows. O’Neill later told ARLnow that he felt “vindicated” when the case only resulted in a $750 fine, asserting that Advanced only tows vehicles that are parked illegally.

O’Neill said Wednesday’s incident shows that Advanced’s reputation does not match its true character.

“We are always cast in a negative light but if my driver had not been doing his job this man may have hurt himself,” he said. “I’m really proud of my employee for intervening.”

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911 or the Arlington Dept. of Human Services’ emergency services line at 703-228-5160. CrisisLink also has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 703-527-4077 or 800-SUICIDE, or via text at 703-940-0888.

Wonky GPS directions and old road design are some of the factors that have led some drivers to haphazardly cross several lanes of highway traffic at an I-395 exit, leading to multiple crashes.

Videos, captured from a Crystal City high-rise apartment by former local news reporter Dave Statter, show drivers consistently and dangerously moving across four lanes of southbound I-395 traffic specifically to make the lefthand Route 1 exit (8C).

The situation is at its most perilous when a driver is coming from Boundary Channel Drive, takes the I-395 southbound on-ramp, and realizes the exit to Pentagon City, Crystal City and Alexandria is only a few hundred feet on the left. Meaning, in order to take it, the driver has to move their car over four lanes of high speed highway traffic in a very short distance.

Some of the numerous videos Statter posts look something like a real-life game of Frogger.

“Watching these people doing this crazy dance to get to the left hand exit,” Statter says. “It’s just a constant, constant thing.”

Even when we are talking, Statter spots two more drivers attempting to make the same maneuver, despite the fact that VDOT had recently put up a line of orange barrels in an attempt to prevent it.

He also seen plenty of drivers entering I-395 southbound from further down, like the onramp from the GW Parkway, but still realizing too late that they need to take exit 8C on the left.

Since Statter started training his cameras on this section of I-395 back in November, he says he has caught upwards of 18 accidents. All of which involve drivers trying to quickly take the left hand exit.

Statter says that part of the issue here is the design of the roads and the Pentagon, which was built nearly 70 years ago.

“There’s a lot of on-ramps in such a short period of time,” he says. “[It’s my impression] that’s not the standard for interstate highways of today.”

But a culprit also appears to be modern technology. At least until recently, app-based GPS directions like Google Maps and Apple Maps were telling drivers to engage in this dangerous lane-shifting.

Read More

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McDonald’s in Bluemont (file photo)

A video purporting to show two people attacking an employee inside the Bluemont McDonald’s has been obtained by ARLnow.

The attack happened around 11 p.m. Monday, at the restaurant on the 5000 block of Wilson Blvd. Police say two suspects, a man and a woman, were “involved in a verbal dispute with an employee after receiving an incorrect order through the drive-thru.” The incident then allegedly turned violent.

“Suspect One allegedly threw a water bottle through the window, before parking the vehicle and entering the business,” said the Arlington County Police Department. “Suspect One continued the dispute with the employee before the two suspects began physically assaulting and striking the employee.”

The grainy video, below, shows two people holding down the victim, who’s lying on the floor next to the drive-thru window.

“Call the police,” employees could be heard saying.

“Get off her head,” another says.

“What the [expletive] is wrong with you,” an unidentified person says, before the pair leave the restaurant.

The person who sent the video said the incident started when “the woman wanted free food” and the employee refused. The victim closed the drive-thru window after being splashed with water, but the suspects then went inside, according to the person.

The person alleged that the suspects made negative remarks about the victim being Latina.

The allegations could not be immediately confirmed by police. ACPD also declined to say whether they had the video below in their possession.

“As a result of the investigation, two individuals have been arrested and charged and the case will be processed through the court system where evidence and facts will be presented,” said police spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “To ensure the integrity of the ongoing prosecution, there are no additional details to provide at this time.”

Two suspects were taken into custody after police say they initially ran several red lights in the Ballston area before pulling over. A search of their vehicle turned up a gun, according to ACPD.

“Justice Bridges, 26, of Washington D.C., was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding and Eluding Police,” said an ACPD crime report. “Michael Ritch, 24 of Capitol Heights, Md., was arrested and charged with Assault & Battery and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.”

The person who sent the video said the victim suffered injuries to her torso and her face but is feeling better.

Note: the following video contains strong language and is not safe for work.

A coyote was spotted in Arlington Forest, near Lubber Run (courtesy of Amy Cocuzza)

A black coyote was sighted near Lubber Run this week, and she may have pups.

While sighting the shy canine is relatively rare, the dark fur of the Arlington Forest coyote is a touch more uncommon. Its coloration is what helped the Animal Welfare League of Arlington identify she was not new to the area.

One Arlington Forest resident called the AWLA, which runs the county’s animal control operation, to report a sighting on Monday, and said the coyote had pups in tow, although officers couldn’t locate her or the young to confirm. On Tuesday, an ARLnow reader Amy Cocuzza caught her on camera in the neighborhood.

Cocuzza reached out to a USDA wildlife specialist, who said the Arlington Forest coyote’s dark fur is uncommon but not rare. Coyotes in the East have tremendous color variation.

AWLA’s Chief of Animal Control Jennifer Toussaint tells ARLnow the Arlington Forest coyote is not the only dark coyote she’s seen in Arlington. She saw her first on Route 110 near Memorial in 2013. She compared the uncommon coloration — known as melanism — to that of the more prevalent black squirrel.

She said the coyote Cocuzza saw is likely female and they became aware of her in Arlington Forest last year.

Previous coyote sightings reported by ARLnow were all of a grey or lighter brown colored canine. A coyote was spotted multiple times wandering around in the Fairlington area in 2020. Coyotes have also been seen moseying along Washington Blvd, and in Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Lubber Run and Cherrydale. In 2014, a coyote was struck by a car near Arlington National Cemetery.

Toussaint called coyotes “highly adaptable opportunists” and said they thrive living near people in suburban and urban settings like Arlington where scavenging for food is easy — taking advantage of pet food or trash left out. But she said the presence of a coyote, which can be active both day and night, isn’t cause for alarm. In fact, there are some benefits like free rodent control.

“Urban coyotes are born right in our neighborhoods and are generally familiar with us, our pets, and our routines,” she said. “Occasionally, a curious coyote may need to be reminded to be wary of people, especially if someone has been feeding them, which is not advised or legal.”

Toussaint recommends “hazing” techniques, such as clapping your hands, raising your voice, blowing a whistle or shaking an aluminum can with pennies inside. She said, while coyotes don’t pose a risk to humans, they should never be handled and pets should be monitored closely and kept current on rabies vaccines.

“We don’t see many interactions or conflicts between coyotes and people or pets, but when we do, it’s usually because someone was startled, so it’s a good idea to practice hazing techniques before allowing a pet in your yard, as well,” she said.

Arlington’s Natural Resource Manager Alonso Abugattas writes that “the Eastern coyote is bigger than those in the West, about the size of a border collie or even German Shepherd, often between 45 to 55lbs” with males usually larger than the females.

The USDA specialist suggested to Cocuzza that the black coyote may be wandering out because it’s their mating season, and “they do tend to be more bold and wander out at this time.”

Hat tip to Amy Cocuzza 

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Morning Notes

Ballston in the snow (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

More Snow Looks Likely This Week — “Believe it or not, we have a chance of more accumulating snow Thursday night. This is unlikely to rival today’s storm, but could produce a few inches in parts of the region depending on how it evolves.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Local Legislative Event Now Virtual — Today at 7 p.m., the League of Women Voters of Arlington and Alexandria City will host a public forum for locals to speak with their representatives to the state Senate and the House of Delegates. The event has moved to Zoom due to rising Covid concerns. A Zoom link will be provided to those who register online. [Eventbrite]

Video: Motorcycle Ride in the Snow — “Last time I rode a scooter in the snow was in Seoul Korea. Wanted to see how it is in Northern Virginia. Took it from Clarendon to Courthouse for lunch. The snow is packed and icy, so not possible to drive fast except on the main roads in some parts. I had a couple close calls where the tire slipped sideways.” [YouTube]

Bill Would Nix Arlington SRO Decision — “The Arlington School Board would be required to reinstate school-resource officers at local schools under legislation to be considered in the upcoming General Assembly session. Among those putting in bills on the topic is Del.-elect Timothy Anderson (R-Virginia Beach), whose measure – HB37, filed Dec. 30 – would require every school system to sign agreements with law-enforcement agencies to provide at least one resource officer for every high school and middle school, and at least one officer for every five elementary schools.” [Sun Gazette]

Reminder: Bag Tax Now in Effect — “Arlington County will begin imposing a 5-cent plastic bag tax… Effective Jan. 1, 2022, [Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County] will tax plastic bags from grocery stores, convenience shops and drugstores.” [ARLnow]

It’s Tuesday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 37 and a low of 27. Sunrise at 7:27 a.m. and sunset at 4:59 p.m. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy, with a high near 44, a low of 32 and wind gusts as high as 18 mph. [Weather.gov]

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Arlington police about to pull over someone who rolled through a stop sign (video courtesy Kevin F.)

Arlington County Police Department motor officers had no shortage of drivers to pull over at a Rosslyn area intersection this year.

A resident who lives near the intersection of N. Pierce Street and 16th Street N. sent the following video, a compilation of drivers being pulled over for rolling through the intersection’s stop signs.

“This guy’s done. Oh, he’s so done,” the resident can be heard saying, as sirens started blaring and the police motorcycle started rumbling towards its prey.

An ACPD spokeswoman tells ARLnow that the department indeed engages in proactive traffic education and enforcement.

“Transportation safety is a key initiative of the Arlington County Police Department and officers take a two pronged approach of education and enforcement to ensure the safety of all travelers on our roadways,” said Ashley Savage. “As part of the Department’s traffic safety program, we work collaboratively with other County agencies and community members to address areas of concern.”

“Failure to stop at stop signs is a common concern we hear from community members throughout the County… It is a violation of Virginia Code § 46.2-821 to fail to come to a complete stop at a stop sign,” Savage added. “Officers conduct enforcement in identified areas of concern on a random rotating basis with the goal of compliance even when police are not present.”

As of last week, ACPD officers had issued more than 3,000 traffic tickets (or summons, in Virginia law enforcement parlance) and 1,000 warnings for stop sign violations over the course of 2021, according to data provided by the department.

Stop sign tickets and warning issued in 2021 (via ACPD)
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Rescue of dog caught in fence along I-395 (via Animal Welfare League of Arlington)

A dog is lucky to be alive after getting caught in a fence along I-395.

Animal control officers from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington rescued the petrified pup from along the busy highway earlier today. A video and account of the rescue was posted on social media.

From AWLA:

Chief Toussaint and Officer [Elpers] made a life-saving rescue today, after this terrified dog somehow got himself stuck between two fences right next to interstate 395.

Chief Toussaint had to cut the fence with bolt-cutters to get to him, and after trying treats and a few other methods, put dog food on her slip lead, waiting for him to start eating, and then slowly slipped the leash over his head. In total it took about an hour and half to get the dog safely into a crate, all the while traffic was roaring by right next to them.

The dog is now safe and sound here at AWLA while we look for his family. We are so grateful to Chief Toussaint and Officer Elpers for getting this dog to safety!

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A man walked up to an American flag outside of a home in the Arlington Heights neighborhood early Friday morning and lit it on fire.

Arlington County police and fire investigators are now trying to find the suspect, a younger man who was wearing a hooded windbreaker and a backpack at the time. The motive for the crime is unclear.

The incident happened around 3 a.m., in the residential neighborhood several blocks away from Thomas Jefferson Middle School. It’s being investigated as arson.

“The unknown suspect approached an American flag on the victim’s porch and set it on fire,” said an ACPD crime report. “A witness observed the flag on fire and extinguished it. The suspect is described as a White male, 18 – 30 years old, 5’4″ – 5’11” tall and wearing a dark hooded windbreaker, jeans, white sneakers and carrying a backpack. A joint investigation with the Fire Marshal’s Office is ongoing.”

The resident of the home, who did not wish to be named, recounted what happened to ARLnow.

“We awoke to a neighbor banging on our front door and a burning flag, which had spread to the bush in our front yard,” he wrote. “Our neighbor put out the fire with a hose. We then saw the video of the person lighting the flag on fire.”

The video was shared with neighbors on an email listserv.

“No idea,” the resident said, when asked why someone would do this, adding that nothing like this has ever happened before in the area.

Hat tip to Smiley456

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Morning Notes

Blue and Orange Line Changes Today — “There will be no rail service between Rosslyn and Pentagon stations due to the ongoing investigation into Tuesday’s derailment between Rosslyn and Arlington Cemetery stations. Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Rosslyn, Arlington Cemetery, and Pentagon stations. Blue Line service will operate between Franconia-Springfield and Mt. Vernon Square stations only… Orange Line service will operate between Vienna and New Carrollton stations and Silver Line service will operate between Wiehle-Reston East and Largo Town Center stations, with single tracking between Clarendon and Foggy Bottom.” [WMATA]

Suspicious Object in Pentagon Parking Lot — From the Pentagon Force Protection Agency yesterday afternoon: “At approximately 6:30 a.m., a Pentagon Force Protection Agency (PFPA) Police unit on routine patrol in South parking when they observed a suspicious object. The area was immediately cordoned off, and vehicle and pedestrian traffic was blocked from the area. PFPA Hazardous Device Unit responded and the object was rendered safely at about 6:50 a.m. The all clear was given at 7:35 a.m… There is no threat to the Pentagon and surrounding area. The incident is under further investigation.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Arlingtonian Swims Around Manhattan — “What’s that popular phrase often given as the reason climbers attempt to scale Mount Everest: ‘Because it is there.’ That’s pretty much the same explanation Andie Nelson gave, in addition to being a new challenge, for successfully completing the 28.5-mile 20 Bridges Manhattan Swim around the famous New York City island-borough on Aug. 24. It was the first time the Arlington resident attempted the swim.” [Sun Gazette]

Pair Face Drug, Robbery Charges — “800 block of S. Frederick Street. At approximately 5:43 p.m. on October 10, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary just occurred. Based upon information provided by dispatch and witnesses in the area, a lookout was broadcast and two of the three suspects were located and taken into custody without incident. The investigation determined that the three known suspects allegedly forced entry into the victim’s apartment and physically assaulted her before stealing two cell phones and fleeing the scene on foot. During a search of the two suspects incident to arrest, items consistent with drug paraphernalia were recovered.” [ACPD]

Clarendon Road Closure Today — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “Wednesday 9am – 1pm: Temporary closure of EB Washington Blvd between N Kirkwood and Wilson Blvd for roadway infrastructure. Expect detour at Kirkwood to 10th St North, then to Wilson. WB Washington Blvd open but expect delays.” [Twitter]

Volunteer to Remove Trail Bumps — From Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail: “Tired of those bumps on the trail? Volunteer to help us fix them. Volunteer to fix the bumps near Memorial Bridge on 10/16.” [Twitter, Eventbrite]

Video Tour of Local Fire Station — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “Since COVID prevented us from opening up our fire stations to tours during fire prevention week, we hope our community enjoys this video tour of Fire Station 5 given by the members assigned there on C Shift.” [Twitter, YouTube]

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