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Morning Notes

A jet takes off from DCA (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Settlement in Jail Death Case — “Relatives of a man who died in the Arlington County jail and their attorney would receive about $1.3 million in exchange for dismissal of a lawsuit last year that accused jail officials and a health-care provider of responsibility for his death, according to a settlement agreement filed in federal court.” [Washington Post]

Next Step for Gateway Park Planning — From Chris Slatt: “At long last, the contract for master planning @RosslynVA
Gateway Park is out to bid! Looking forward to this public process to plan an Arlington Park that is rich with unrealized potential.” [Twitter]

Sunday Stabbing in F.C. — “At about 3:40 p.m. today, City of Falls Church Police responded to the outside of 1230 W. Broad Street (Giant) for a report of an altercation between two males who were possibly panhandling. One man fled before the police arrived; the other was still on the scene and suffering from a stab wound. He was transported to a hospital and is reportedly stable.” [City of Falls Church]

It’s Monday — Clear and somewhat breezy throughout the day. High of 47 and low of 39. Sunrise at 7:11 am and sunset at 5:36 pm. [Weather.gov]

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File photo

(Updated at 1 p.m.) A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.

The shooting happened just before 1 a.m. in front of Caspi, located at the corner of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive, next to the Arlington Cinema Drafthouse. It followed a dispute inside the lounge, according to police.

Initial reports suggest that a man was shot multiple times, including in the lower torso, and that a dark-colored Audi or BMW was seen speeding away after. There was at least one bullet hole in the window of Caspi, but no one inside was injured, according to scanner traffic.

Responding officers called for backup due to a large crowd around the scene.

Arlington County police say the man suffered serious injuries and was rushed to a local hospital. He remains hospitalized in critical condition.

It is unclear whether this morning’s shooting is related to recent incidents in and around Arlington, including:

ACPD issued the following press release about the shooting just before 1 p.m.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a shooting that took place on Columbia Pike in the early morning hours of February 4, 2023.

At approximately 12:53 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a shooting in the 2900 block of Columbia Pike. Responding officers located an adult male victim on the sidewalk suffering from gunshot wounds and immediately began rendering aid. Medics transported the victim to an area hospital where he remains in critical condition.

The preliminary investigation indicates a dispute inside a restaurant involving a large group preceded the shooting. The victim then exited the restaurant and the suspect brandished a firearm and discharged multiple rounds, injuring the victim and causing property damage to the building. The suspect fled the scene on foot and officers canvassed the area yielding negative results. The suspect is described as a slim build, Black male in his 20’s.

This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with videos, photos, or other media which may assist the investigation is asked to upload those files to our evidence submission portal. Any additional information related to this incident may be provided by contacting the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] or anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) A march against drugs drew a large crowd of parents and community members to Wakefield High School, where a student died this week.

Sergio Flores was found unconscious in the bathroom Tuesday morning and rushed to the hospital in critical condition. He died Thursday and his death is being investigated as a possible overdose.

Latino parents, mostly mothers, planned the march as a way to show love and support for their children.

Classes were canceled for Wakefield students today (Friday) after the overdose this week and a lockdown Thursday prompted by a possibly armed trespasser. Arlington County police have since arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the trespassing incident.

Still, parents marched, carrying signs saying “Your community is here for you!” and “Queremos lo mejor para nuestros hijos,” Spanish for “We want the best for our children.”

The idea came from a community meeting held by community activists Elder Julio Basurto and Janeth Valenzuela — who wear many hats, but this time, were organizing under their organization, Juntos en Justicia. They have been advocating for more attention to opioids in Arlington Public Schools for more than a year through the organization.

Attendance swelled and other community members, as well as some School Board and County Board members, joined the march.

“It was very scary for me to read the student involved in the drug incident has died,” said Green Valley resident Frederick Craddock. “That just gives you an example: It’s in our neighborhood schools. It’s in the home somewhere, so then parents have a big role. It’s all got to come together. Maybe this will raise more awareness of the issue.”

Rebecca Brunner said three generations of her family have attended Wakefield. The high school needs police officers returned and the school system needs to be more transparent, she said.

“Don’t tell us there’s a medical emergency when a child ODed. Tell us the truth so we know what to tell our children, we know how to talk to them, we know to tell them, ‘don’t take anything,'” she said. “Fentanyl is out there.”

“Yesterday, I’m getting a video from inside the school of the SWAT team coming through the doors with assault rifles and they’re telling us, ‘Oh, we might have a possible trespasser,'” Brunner continued. “Yeah, something way more than that is going on.”

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Arlington County police responded to an unusual incident on Route 50 this afternoon.

It happened around 1 p.m. at the intersection with Park Drive, near the Arlington Forest Shopping Center and the Outback Steakhouse.

Multiple 911 callers said the driver of a flatbed AAA tow truck parked in the travel lanes, got out, started dancing and “acting erratically.” Callers told police they were concerned for the driver’s welfare.

A traffic camera viewed by ARLnow showed the tow truck stopped in a middle eastbound lane as traffic drove by. The truck driver then drove off just before police arrived on scene.

The tow truck was not found after an initial search of the area. It is unclear whether the driver’s actions constitute anything more than a traffic infraction.

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Police presence at Wakefield High School Thursday afternoon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

An 18-year-old Arlington man is behind bars after police say he snuck into Wakefield High School yesterday to confront a student, triggering a lockdown.

Kenan Owens was arrested around 1 a.m. this morning in the Douglas Park neighborhood by an Arlington County Police Department tactical team. According to scanner traffic, a total of nine people were detained in the operation, which targeted a small house on the 4200 block of 16th Street S., near the intersection of Four Mile Run Drive and S. George Mason Drive.

The police department said Owens “was known to carry a firearm” and “had an ongoing dispute with” the targeted student.

“The suspect fled the scene prior to police arrival and was later observed in the victim’s neighborhood,” said ACPD. Initial reports suggested that the dispute might be related to a recent shooting and that Owens was spotted wearing a ski mask while inside the school.

The trespassing incident triggered an hours-long lockdown of the school and a large police response. Classes were cancelled today at Wakefield, which is also mourning the death of a student from an apparent overdose.

More on the arrest from an ACPD press release, below.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is announcing the arrest of an individual following a trespassing investigation at Wakefield High School. Kenan Owens, 18, of Arlington was arrested and charged with Trespassing at School, Stalking, Remove/Alter Serial Number of Firearm, and Allowing Access to Firearm by Children (x3). He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

At approximately 12:30 p.m. on February 2, police were dispatched to the 1300 block of S. Dinwiddie Street for the report of a trespasser. Initial information received by the Emergency Communications Center indicated the trespasser was known to carry a firearm, however, no weapon was observed during the incident. The school was placed on lockdown as police investigated the incident. The investigation ultimately determined the trespasser was not currently on school property and students were dismissed on time.

The preliminary investigation indicates the suspect allegedly entered the school and attempted to locate the juvenile victim whom he had an ongoing dispute with. Witnesses reported this information to school administration who then contacted police. The suspect fled the scene prior to police arrival and was later observed in the victim’s neighborhood.

During the course of the investigation, detectives identified the suspect and obtained warrants for his arrest. In the early morning hours of February 3, the Emergency Response Team took the suspect into custody at a residence in the 4200 block of 16th Street S. During the execution of a search warrant, three firearms were recovered including one with a removed serial number.

This remains an active investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Hat tip to Dave Statter

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A duplex in Halls Hill (via Arlington County)

(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) The Arlington branch of the NAACP — previously a champion of Arlington’s Missing Middle housing proposal — is claiming the proposal now being deliberated is in danger of violating federal and state fair housing laws.

After hearing nearly 200 public speeches and convening three meetings in mid-January, the Arlington County Board approved a request to authorize hearings on proposed zoning changes that would allow small-scale multifamily buildings with up to six homes in districts zoned exclusively for single-family detached homes.

In so doing, the Board removed an option to consider buildings with seven or eight units and retained an option to impose higher lot size minimums for five-plexes and six-plexes outside of major transit corridors.

NAACP Arlington Branch President Mike Hemminger, Housing Committee Chair Bryan J. Coleman and Secretary Wanda Younger decried the move in a letter released yesterday (Thursday) to Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey.

“The NAACP fiercely opposes these restrictions and urges the County Board to enact only the set of options that will supply our community with the highest number of attainable homes across all of Arlington’s residential neighborhoods,” they write. “The NAACP will not be a bystander as government policies recreate discriminatory effects of the past by preventing people of color from enjoying the same benefits as those living in the county’s wealthiest, whitest neighborhoods.”

Arlington County Board members say they support the zoning changes to partially undo the lasting impacts of housing policy decisions that excluded people of color from many neighborhoods, such as racially restrictive deed covenants, the decision to ban rowhouses — popular among Black people but deemed “distasteful” by local leaders at the time — and a physical wall white residents built to keep out Black people from the Halls Hills neighborhood.

But removing eight-plexes and entertaining lot size minimums are “land use policies that have significant, unjustified disparate impacts on people of color,” which the Fair Housing Act prohibits, the NAACP said.

These restrictions will result in more expensive new construction and create “unequal housing opportunities in the same neighborhoods from which people of color have long been historically excluded.”

These policies would result in more expensive new construction, they say, citing an Arlington County presentation indicating six- or eight-plexes would be attainable for households making $108,000 to $118,000, compared to the $124,000 to $160,000 needed for three- and four-plexes.

Expected housing costs for new construction, by income level (via Arlington County)

By its calculations, the NAACP leaders say, increasing the household income needed from $100,000 to $150,000 would result in some 44% of white households able to buy, compared to 20.3% of Black and 24.3% of Latino households.

That means the number of Black households who can afford Missing Middle homes would decrease by 43% and Latino households by 38%, compared to white households, 32%.

The issue of whether to allow seven- and eight-plexes split the County Board. Members Matt de Ferranti and Takis Karantonis and Vice-Chair Libby Garvey supported removing these options while member Katie Cristol and Chair Christian Dorsey did not.

De Ferranti has argued against it on the grounds that these are mostly going to be rental 1- and 2-bedroom properties, which are not the types of units that Arlington is aiming to build more of through Missing Middle.

But the NAACP maintains that this line of reasoning tacitly endorses “‘camouflaged’ racial expressions” made by members of the public. Read More

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Many drivers have circled around blocks in Arlington, looking for a quick parking spot to slide into and pick up a mobile food order.

Or they may have skirted around a car double parked in a bike or vehicle travel lane, hazards flashing, rather than waiting for a spot to appear.

During the pandemic, the county created temporary “pick-up, drop-off spots.” Coming out of the emergency, most of these spots were converted to short-term parking spaces, with input from business improvement districts and neighborhood stakeholders, Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien tells ARLnow.

Still, food deliveries and contactless ordering options are likely here to stay. Some businesses that are now more reliant on takeout and delivery are concerned they’ll soon lose revenue as curbside parking spots are repurposed for, among other uses, protected bike lanes.

The county says one solution could be adjusting parking times, armed with data that will be collected through new parking pilot program.

Brooklyn Bagel Bakery in Courthouse (2055 Wilson Blvd), for instance, says it has lost four spots to a bike lane that developer Greystar agreed to install during construction for the “Landmark” block redevelopment project across the street.

(There is also a small private parking lot behind the retail strip.)

Speaking on behalf of Brooklyn Bagel — as well as neighboring businesses Courthouse Kabob, California Tortilla and TNR Cafe — Dawn Houdaigui asked the Board on Jan. 21 for a compromise.

“We believe in the protected bike lanes that have already gone in, that are blocking our spaces now, but we need to understand how we can share the space in front of us and how things can be reconsidered,” she said during the public comment period. “This is super important to the businesses who changed our business model after Covid. We have a lot of deliveries, we have people who come run in out front.”

She asked for more notice of proposed changes as well as notice when spots will be lost.

“A letter went out — supposedly it was hand-delivered by someone having lunch at our bagel store — and supposedly an email went out the same day,” she said. “We missed the meeting. Only one person from the businesses were there.”

County Board Chair Christian Dorsey and County Manager Mark Schwartz referred her to the county’s ombudsman and constituent services.

In general, the county is looking into the twin issues of temporary parking and combatting double-parking both systematically and on a case-by-case basis, O’Brien said.

As for specific cases, like Brooklyn Bagel’s, the county follows a six-step public engagement process for projects that impact neighbors, businesses and property owners.

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Police and firefighters on scene of a reported overdose at Wakefield High School (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) The teen found unconscious in a Wakefield High School boys bathroom Tuesday after an apparent overdose has died.

“The Arlington County Police Department is conducting a death investigation following the teen’s passing yesterday at the hospital,” ACPD said in a statement this morning. “The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death.”

The name of the student was not given but he was identified in an online fundraising campaign and by a speaker at last night’s Arlington School Board meeting as Sergio Flores. He was reported to be 14 years old in the initial fire department dispatch on Tuesday.

A GoFundMe campaign to help pay for his funeral has raised more than $22,000 as of publication time.

“We want to give Sergio Flores the memorial he deserves, to honor his memory and say our last goodbyes,” said the page. “Sergio was a sweet caring person, he was someone who showed what real love was either family or friend wise.”

“He was someone that made everyone laugh he always had jokes he always wanted to put a smile on his friends and families face,” the page continued. “He would always be dancing with music or no music. Even if he wasn’t having a good day he always tried his best to make people happy and smile and you will be watching over all your friends and family… we love you fly high little one️.”

In recent months numerous parents and advocates have sounded the alarm to ARLnow about opioid use and overdoses in Arlington’s public schools, including middle schools and high schools.

Arlington police responded to Arlington Public Schools buildings seven times for reported overdoses between January and October 2022, according to ACPD stats. APS has been trying to combat a twin epidemic of opioid use and mental health crises among students, leading to what is now at least three student deaths since Christmas.

Still, some parents say there is more the school system should be doing. A parent march is planned in front of Wakefield High School at noon today, though classes were cancelled after yesterday’s lockdown for a potential armed trespasser.

“Say his name. Sergio Flores,” Judith Davis, Wakefield High School PTSA president, said during blistering remarks at last night’s School Board meeting. She accused APS of a “lack of leadership and inaction.”

Every single one of you in this room has been told by parents, teachers, students, PTSAs, and community leaders that we will have someone die at Wakefield. Since we came back from Covid, that has been the constant conversation and you all failed to address it. After what happened Tuesday, the only two people who contacted parents, students or PTSA were (Chief of Staff) Stephen Linkous and (School Board member) Mary Kadera, while her mother was dying. Entirely unacceptable. Stop celebrating your collective lack of performance and lack of leadership. It resulted in a loss of life. Every one of you knew this day would come. Say his name. Sergio Flores. He died. This kid is not going back to his family. The action items you claim were already happening are not in place at Wakefield. Lack of leadership and inaction is what resulted in what happened on Tuesday and what happened today. Where is the accountability for what happened? Do better. Stop celebrating yourself and talk to the community. Talk to parents. Talk to students.

Four other teens were treated by medics at Wakefield on Tuesday, at least some of whom were believed to have drug-related symptoms. Medics were also dispatched to the school yesterday, during dismissal, for a possible student overdose, according to dispatch recordings.

Police are asking the public for any additional information about Tuesday’s fatal overdose.

“This remains an active investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Tip Line at 703-228-4180 or [email protected],” said ACPD. “Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).”

Morning Notes

Snow on a lawn in Westover (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Pentagon City Rotating Restaurant Reopens — “Skydome, a unique rotating restaurant, has reopened atop the DoubleTree by Hilton Crystal City Hotel in Arlington. The restaurant, which closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, also underwent a conceptual redesign. The restaurant’s menu now features contemporary American fare through a Mediterranean lens, served under the direction of Executive Chef Klaus Happel and bar selections created by Haley Stone.” [Patch]

County Board Candidates Officially Announce — “The Democratic 2023 County Board field rose to five on Feb. 1, as two more aspirants kicked off campaigns. Natalie Roy and Tony Weaver join three others who announced plans a month before to seek the seats currently held by Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey, who are not expected to seek re-election. Also at the Feb. 1 meeting, the Arlington County Democratic Committee voted unanimously to choose its two County Board nominees through a state-run primary.” [Sun Gazette]

Free ART Bus Rides — “To honor the legacy of Rosa Parks, Transit Equity Day will be celebrated this Saturday, Feb. 4th. All ART bus fares will be free for the entire day.” [Arlington County, Twitter]

APS Proposes to Nix Political Posts — “Proposed revisions to the Arlington school system’s social-media policy more directly spell out that the school system needs to stay out of political advocacy.” [Sun Gazette]

Sheriff Names First Female Chief Deputy — “County Sheriff Jose Quiroz selected Tara Johnson as his Chief Deputy within the Sheriff’s Office. She will be the first female Chief Deputy in Arlington’s history. Chief Johnson was hired in August 2000 as a Deputy Sheriff after graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park.” [Arlington County]

Sewer Work in Clarendon Area — From Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services: “Sanitary sewer upgrade work continues on North Edgewood between Franklin Road and Clarendon Boulevard, wrapping up in late March. Whole Foods parking and its dazzling Époisses de Bourgogne are not affected.” [Twitter]

Frigid Day Ahead — From the National Weather Service: “An Arctic front looks to push through late tonight into Fri. AM. A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect for portions of the Allegheny Front where wind chills will approach -10 degrees. Wind chills of 5 to 15 degrees are expected elsewhere heading into Sat. AM.” [Twitter]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy, breezy and cold throughout the day. High of 37 and low of 16. Sunrise at 7:14 am and sunset at 5:33 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated on 02/03/23 at 11:55 a.m.) Many parents of children at Key Elementary School are outraged at the way a possible threat of gun violence by a student was handled by administrators.

The mother of the child who was targeted told ARLnow what happened the day the threat occurred, on Jan. 19, and the fallout. Parents say school leaders took too long to involve the police and are now providing piecemeal updates that raise more questions than answer them.

“They just really didn’t know what to do in this situation,” the mother, Katherine, said. “No one can tell me their threat response… It’s a lot of blanks.”

Arlington Public Schools says it has identified those involved and “taken steps to provide appropriate consequences and to protect the safety of all students,” spokesman Frank Bellavia said in a statement.

Meanwhile, it is reviewing the decisions that administrators made to determine if protocols need to be re-evaluated, per emails shared with ARLnow. On Tuesday, Acting Principal Iliana Gonzales took over for Principal Marleny Perdomo, a personnel matter on which APS said it cannot comment.

Katherine and other parents say they do not know why the the police were not immediately called and whether gaps in local and state statutes contributed to the delayed involvement of law enforcement.

APS says school leaders are instructed to “immediately call 911 or law enforcement when there is an imminent threat to student or staff safety.” State law and School Board policy, however, only require principals to call the police if a student is found with a gun, and APS maintains it did not have sufficient evidence to search students for one after the Jan. 19 threat.

The seemingly cautious approach at Key Elementary contrats with lockdowns and large police responses over reports of a potentially armed trespasser today (Thursday) at Wakefield High School as well as prior school shooter threats that later turn out to be false reports.

“A lockdown is determined based on established procedures and training that every staff receive at least annually. Lockdowns can be initiated by any staff member or law enforcement based on conditions at the school,” Bellavia said. “Searches are conducted when there is reasonable grounds and reasonable suspicion of a student or group of students. In this case, there was no search conducted.”

Principals are required to immediately notify parents of minor students who are the target of written threats, but Katherine alleges that many hours passed between when the note was found and she was called.

Parents say the decisions not to search for a weapon and not to immediately call the police are concerning following the Jan. 6 shooting in Newport News, Virginia. A 6-year-old boy was able to shoot and seriously injure a teacher because school administrators never called the police, removed the boy from class or initiated a lock down, despite multiple warnings from staff, a lawyer for the wounded teacher alleges.

“I’m so thankful it didn’t end in gunshots like it did in Newport News, but the school didn’t know it wouldn’t and the school didn’t do anything to make sure it didn’t,” a Key School mother told ARLnow, requesting anonymity for fear of retribution.

Administrators have admitted to parents that there were missteps.

“There were some misactions that happened in terms of the response to the threat and subsequently what took place in terms of communication. We acknowledge that,” said Chief of School Support Kimberley Graves during a meeting with Key parents last week, per a recording provided to ARLnow.

“We can’t go back and change what happened,” Graves continued. “There are going to be things that we do to help support this community and things we’re going to do to make certain every effort in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.” Read More

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(Updated at 11:55 p.m.) Wakefield High School was placed in lockdown Thursday afternoon after reports of a trespasser, possibly armed with a gun, and a threat against a student.

The cause for concern is related to a recent shooting in the Green Valley neighborhood, according to initial reports. So far, there are no reports of any acts of violence inside the school.

The initial dispatch went out around 12:30 p.m. A large police presence surrounded Wakefield and officers — some heavily armed — searched the building and classrooms, as well as nearby neighborhoods.

During the search, a student who was not considered a suspect was escorted out of the school by police, ARLnow hears.

The lockdown was lifted and student dismissal started shortly after 3 p.m. under the watchful eye of police.

“ACPD’s investigation determined the trespasser, possibly armed with a gun, is not currently on school property,” Arlington Public Schools said in a statement. “The investigation into the incident is ongoing, according to ACPD… All students and staff are safe.”

“After-school and evening activities are canceled,” the statement added. “The safety and security of your student is our top priority.”

During dismissal, a medic unit was dispatched to the school for what what described as a separate incident unrelated to the trespassing.

Groups of parents started gathering near the school after the lockdown started but were then directed to a reunification center at a nearby church, per scanner traffic. TV news crews also gathered outside of the school.

Wakefield students were dismissed early Tuesday after a student was hospitalized in critical condition after an apparent overdose in a bathroom. Friday classes were cancelled as of Thursday evening, according to APS.

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